Credit: Tim Fuller-USA TODAY Sports
Wide receivers are similar to running backs on an elite level. Just five receivers topped 200 fantasy points last year. However, 16 topped 150. The difference here is that depending on the offense and role, it’s much easier to find an elite fantasy receiver later in drafts.
For instance, last year’s number one fantasy receiver, Josh Gordon, was generally drafted in round eight in 2013 fantasy drafts. He was serving a two-game suspension to start the year, but clearly that is insane value.
There are more instances, though, as Alshon Jeffery was the 8th best receiver and was taken in round 10 on average.
This is why wide receiver is probably viewed as the deepest fantasy position. For one, the NFL has turned into a complete passing league where teams often throw the ball well over 500 times a year, if not 600+ times a year. That makes even the third options in passing offenses solid options from week to week, while number two options can border on elite numbers in the right situation.
Just like the running back position, though, if you want a truly elite receiver, you need to spend a first or second round pick to get them. Unlike the running back position, however, you can still get very solid wide receivers in the middle rounds. Using last year as an example alone, you could have waited until rounds 4-6 to draft three wide receivers if you wanted to. In that draft range, you could have potentially come away with Vincent Jackson (4th round), DeSean Jackson (5th) and Eric Decker (6th). That would have given you the 14th, 10th and 9th best fantasy wide receivers.
If you pick the right guys at the right spots, you really don’t need to reach for the elite wide receivers. In fact, if you played it right in 2013, you could have taken your two stud running backs early (say, Matt Forte and Alfred Morris), spent your third round pick on a quarterback (although I still suggest waiting even longer) or a tight end, and then snatched up those three eventual stud receivers with three straight picks.
That doesn’t have to be the draft strategy, but it’s one that definitely works and probably would have equated to a trip to the fantasy playoffs (if not a league title) in 2013.