Undervalued Wide Receivers for Fantasy Football 2019
Gary Davenport highlights the undervalue wide receivers he thinks could break through to be huge fantasy values in the coming season of fantasy football.
When it comes to wide receivers in fantasy football, everyone wants the big dogs—the target-hog top wide receivers like Julio Jones of the Atlanta Falcons, Odell Beckham of the Cleveland Browns and Michael Thomas of the New Orleans Saints.
However, sometimes the No. 2 receiver for an NFL team shakes up the pecking order a bit. Youngster JuJu Smith-Schuster of the Pittsburgh Steelers may have entered 2018 as the second option in the passing game behind Antonio Brown, but by season’s end Smith-Schuster had put up a top-10 fantasy stat line of 111/1,426/7 in his own right—and shown the Steelers he could serve as the focal point in Pittsburgh’s passing attack.
Now, the wide receivers listed in this piece aren’t especially likely to crack the top-10. But given that all rank outside weekly starter territory in 12-team fantasy leagues (per the ADP data at Fantrax) each of these undervalued wide receivers is likely to return significant value on draft day.
And in fantasy football, value is the key to a successful season.
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2019’s Most Undervalue Wide Receivers
Marvin Jones, Detroit Lions (ADP: WR38)
As Jordan Cohn wrote for Radio.com, an injury-marred 2018 season appears to have blinded many fantasy drafters to just how good Jones was the year before.
“Not many people remember that Marvin Jones finished ahead of Julio Jones, Brandin Cooks, and Michael Thomas in 2017,” Cohn said. “Finishing with 1,101 yards, nine touchdowns, and a league-best 18 yards per reception, Jones was a force in fantasy for the owners lucky/savvy enough to roster him. Last year, Jones was only able to play nine games, and Kenny Golladay took advantage of that missed time. Entering 2019, Golden Tate is gone, Jones is back to full health, and he and Stafford have the longest-running rapport on the team.”
Jones wasn’t on a top-10 pace over the first half of last season before he got hurt—but he was on a pace that would have seen the 29-year-old finish a number of spots higher among wide receivers than where he’s being drafted this summer. At worst, Jones has the look of a reasonably-priced third starter or “flex” option. At best? He’s got legitimate WR2 upside available for the cost of a WR4.
DeSean Jackson, Philadelphia Eagles (ADP: WR44)
At 32 years of age, Jackson may not be the player he was in his heyday. But as Cam Mellor pointed out at Pro Football Focus, there still isn’t a more dangerous deep threat in the National Football League.
“Jackson returns to Philadelphia where he did a lot of his damage early in his career on deep threats, returning as the NFL’s leader in deep receiving yards over the past 10 seasons,” he said. “He leads the league not only by a handsome margin in deep receiving yards but also leads the entire cast of WRs in receptions, yards after the catch, touchdowns, explosive plays all while averaging the second-highest yards per reception (40.0) among receivers with at least 100 deep targets over the past 10 years. Jackson, even at this stage of his career, has speed to burn and an incredible burst when necessary while possessing the skills to locate, navigate to and track the ball while keeping his top-end speed.”
Jackson isn’t getting any younger. And he’s going to be a high-variance option from week-to-week, just as has been the case for most of his NFL career. But he’s also shown the ability to post the sort of gonzo weeks that win matchups. Just last season, he was a top-20 PPR receiver over the first half of the season. He’s more than worth his mid-range WR4 asking price in drafts.
Geronimo Allison, Green Bay Packers (ADP: WR47)
Allison showed more than a little promise over the first month of his third season before injuries spoiled things. Teammate Davante Adams told Wes Hodkiewicz of the Packers website that he expects the 25-year-old to use that as a springboard in 2019.
“He’s the guy who’s been working a lot in the slot, and he’s used to playing a little more outside, but this is making him a little more dynamic,” Adams said. “I think Matt has really tested him or challenged him to widen it out so he can play multiple spots. … Him being able to move around right now and be healthy, be himself and just play, being able to have all those things, it’s going to be dangerous.”
Allison, who was a high-end fantasy WR3 in 12-team leagues over the first four weeks a year ago, appears to have a pretty good grip on the role of slot receiver in Titletown. He’s admittedly the most speculative pick of the undervalued wide receivers listed in this piece, but someone has to emerge as Green Bay’s No. 2 wideout in 2019. And whoever that player is will see a boatload of single coverage given all the attention Adams is going to get from opposing defenses.
Tyrell Williams, Oakland Raiders (ADP: WR54)
The arrival of Antonio Brown in Oakland hogged up all the headlines this offseason, but the Raiders also invested over $40 million in free agent Tyrell Williams. Dan Israeli of FanDuel thinks it’s a contract that could pay sizable dividends in 2019—for fantasy owners.
“Williams experienced a major dip in targets over the past two seasons, as the Chargers limited his role in the offense in favor of players like Mike Williams, a big-play threat in his own right,” Israeli said. “When Tyrell did get the targets, he was a major force in fantasy football, as he totaled 69 catches, 1,059 receiving yards and seven touchdowns (on 119 targets) back in 2016. With limited WR depth competing for targets and no major threat at the TE position after losing Jared Cook in free agency, it’s likely that Williams returns to the 100-plus target range in 2019. More targets means more balls downfield for Williams, which can result in some monster fantasy weeks, just as long as Derek Carr can connect with his new deep threat.”
In Williams’ only 100-target season in 2016, the 27-year-old finished 18th in PPR fantasy points among wide receivers. Playing across from Brown will all but certainly mean lots of man coverage for Williams. If that’s the case and Carr has even a decent season in 2019, Williams will sail past his draft slot and into contention as a viable weekly starter.
Who are your favorite undervalued wide receivers for 2019? For more from Gary and all of our football crew head on over to the 2019 Fantrax Fantasy Football Draft Kit for more great strategy, analysis, and rankings.
A member of the Fantasy Sports Writers Association and Pro Football Writers of America who resides in Columbus, Ohio, Gary Davenport has been featured on a number of fantasy websites and in nationally circulated publications, including the USA Today Fantasy Football Preview and the magazines distributed by Fantasy Sports Publications Inc., for whom Gary is both a contributing author and associate editor. Gary is an eight-time FSWA Award finalist and two-time winner who has been a finalist for that organization’s Fantasy Football Writer of the Year award each of the last three years. He won the honor in 2017. Gary also appears regularly on Sirius XM Radio (including live from Radio Row at Super Bowl XLIX) and over-the-air stations across the country. He knows football. Or so he’s heard.
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