2012 Fantasy Football: Top Wide Receiver Sleepers
VALUE. VALUE. VALUE. As all experienced fantasy owners know, the key to fantasy football is all about value.
That’s how you win fantasy football leagues: You draft Arian Foster in 2010 in a late round and he turns into the most valuable player in fantasy football. You pick up Victor Cruz in 2011 knowing his upside, and he turns out to be the answer you’ve been looking for at WR. You take a chance on Matt Stafford not getting injured in 2011, and he provides you with 5,000+ passing yards, 40+ TDs, and a boatload of fantasy points.
Here are some names at the receiver position that could provide similar value in 2012:
Titus Young (Detroit Lions)
MLive’s Anwar Richardson reported from Lions’ OTAs that Titus Young has been “tremendous so far” and that “nobody can defend him”. As Nate Burleson’s age continues to rise, look for Young to break through as the #2 receiver, which is a valuable position for fantasy owners given the #1 in Detroit. Obviously in game-planning against the Lions, all of the focus is on Calvin Johnson, so Titus Young will get plenty of open looks as opposing secondaries key on Johnson. Burleson succeeded in this role; I don’t expect anything different as a younger, more explosive Young takes away those looks from Burleson.
Lester Jean, Texans- Who? Unless opposing fantasy owners do some serious homework (which YOU are doing now), they won’t have Lester Jean on their board. Take a chance on Jean late! Jean has been opening eyes this offseason in Houston which recently led WR coach Larry Kirksey to compare him to Jerry Rice and Terrell Owens! If Jean can establish himself over Kevin Walter as the #2 in Houston, he could be a great option to have each week given Andre Johnson drawing most of the attention. He would be in a very similar boat as Titus Young as seen above.
Eric Decker (Denver Broncos)
Decker could be a serviceable WR2 or WR3 option for you, and he should be available in most late rounds. DeMaryius Thomas will see a lot of downfield action from new Broncos QB Peyton Manning, but Decker will definitely get his fair share of targets this season too. Reports from this offseason indicate that Manning and Decker have established a great rapport already. Manning called Decker’s size and speed “pretty rare” and praised his work ethic.
Oh and Decker’s fiancée is a smokeshow, which, as demonstrated by the Vanderbilt Head Coach who only hires assistants with hot wives , counts as a positive for Decker.
Santana Moss (Washington Redskins)
Moss disappointed last year in large part due to a hand injury. It also didn’t help that his options at QB were Rex Grossman and John Beck. Despite the Redskins signing Josh Morgan and Pierre Garcon to surround RG3 with weapons, Moss, who is apparently at full health and in great shape can be the top guy in Washington and could be surprisingly effective thanks to RG3. Many fantasy owners won’t even consider Moss as an option to draft in 2012, so if he’s there in a later round, take him for there are certainly reasons to believe Moss can squeeze out another productive year given his new situation.
Mike Williams (Tampa Buccaneers)
Yes, I know Williams disappointed last year after hype heading into his sophomore campaign last year. But trust me as a Bucs fan when I say Williams will be a solid late-round WR2 pickup. Most fantasy owners in your league will stay far away from him; I’ve seen him on many “bust” lists around the internet already and his sophomore slump logically puts him there.
But you have to understand that Williams isn’t a true #1 receiver for a team, and he will finally relinquish that forced role this year. Vincent Jackson will draw a lot of attention as a true #1 this year which will free up Williams to flourish as a #2, where he more naturally fits.
The Bucs’ play-calling last year under former offensive coordinator Greg Olsen was usually something along the lines of dive-dive-quick slant-punt. EVERY SINGLE POSSESSION. Oh, and there was an occasional end-around reverse mixed in too. No more of those shenanigans in 2012 as the Bucs add Doug Martin and Carl Nicks to improve their running game which will extend drives and take less focus off Williams in the passing game, especially when most of the attention in that respect will be given to Vincent Jackson, a true #1 receiver.
Torrey Smith (Baltimore Ravens)
I’m still up in the air about Smith, to be honest. He has enough upside, though, to select in a late round if you’re scrambling.
As a rookie in 2011, Smith didn’t have a legitimate, full offseason and it showed as he was a non-factor the first two weeks of the season. His three touchdown performance in Week 3 though is telling. He scored last year in spurts which shows his ability to take over games, yet his non-existence in other games still worries me (only scored in 5 of the 16 games last year).
He can surely be Flacco’s deep threat and stretch the field vertically, but he needs to become a more complete receiver to be a star in this league. With a full offseason and experience in the offense, Smith will have the opportunity to have this breakout season in 2012. Monitor his progress in training camp and the preseason to see where he is at before you take a chance on him.
Also look into: Michael Floyd (Cardinals) and Jonathan Baldwin (Chiefs)