It’s finally time to lock in those fantasy football drafts and gear up for Week 1 of the 2016 NFL season. With a week left until the action, it means that the drafts are probably locked into your schedule (assuming you haven’t already drafted), and we’re going to talk about one of the most important things for you fantasy roster heading into the season — who those mid-round wide receivers that you should target are.
Finding steals in the mid-rounds of your fantasy drafts can wind up making or breaking your entire season. While you’ll get a stud in rounds one or two, you can’t overlook what it means to grab talent in one of the middle rounds of your draft.
Now, in this scenario, we’re going to be using the average draft position (ADP) from Fantasy Pros, based on point-per-reception (PPR) scoring. This is based on anything between a 16-18 round draft, so we’ll look at players who are going anywhere from rounds 7-10 typically, but may vary off that a bit and go down into round six or up to round 11. Let’s jump into the three mid-round wide receivers who you’ll want to target, as they’re going to outperform their ADP.
Marvin Jones, Detroit Lions
Jones has an ADP of 73 currently, which in a 12-team league would place him in the early part of the sixth round. That’s right on the fringe of what we’re looking for, but this is a player who could be poised for a monster year. Fantasy Pros has him going as the No. 31 wide receiver, but he should produce like a top-15, or even top-12 receiver when all is said and done.
With Calvin Johnson now retired, it’ll be Golden Tate, Jones and veteran Anquan Boldin running the show. Jones is a homerun-hitting receiver, and the Lions didn’t pay him $40 million over five years to come in and not have a big role. He’ll be asked to contribute early, often and in many ways. If you can grab Jones in your draft, jump all over it.
Josh Gordon, Cleveland Browns
Here’s a fun one. While the rest of your fantasy league gets terrified by Gordon’s four-game suspension, you could land him in one of the middle rounds after you’ve already filled out all of, or at least most of your lineup. Gordon has an ADP of 90, meaning he’s typically going in the middle of the seventh round. He’s listed as the No. 38 wide receiver, but even without four games of his season, we still expect Gordon to outperform that ADP.
This is a guy who caught 87 passes for 1,646 yards and nine touchdowns while missing two games back in 2013. Oh, and for those curious, his quarterbacks in 2013 were a trio of Brandon Weeden, Jason Campbell and Brian Hoyer. Do you think Robert Griffin III can do as well, if not better, than that trio? It’s locked in. Expect to see Gordon top 1,300 yards, score 10-plus touchdowns and be one of the top-12 fantasy wide receivers this season, even with his suspension.
Mohamed Sanu, Atlanta Falcons
Sanu has landed in an absolutely amazing spot this offseason as a free agent. The Falcons paid Sanu $32.5 million over five years to be the man opposite of Julio Jones, and he’s not going to let them down. Sanu wasn’t utilized nearly enough during his time with the Cincinnati Bengals but still wound up scoring 13 combined receiving and rushing touchdowns over his four years there.
The Falcons had hoped that Leonard Hankerson could fill the No. 2 position next to Jones last season but was unable to do so. Even with that said, Hankerson, who is not nearly the playmaker that Sanu is, wound up catching 26 passes for 327 yards and three touchdowns in eight games. Sanu will have no problem excelling across from Jones, and should roll past those numbers in the first four or five games of the season.
Best of all? Sanu comes along with an ADP of 133, meaning that he’s going in the 11th round of 12-team fantasy drafts. That’s great value for a player like Sanu, and he could not only be an excellent bye-week filler, but may wind up being a strong flex play within the first few weeks of action.