Fantasy Football: 3 Late-Round Receivers With Week-Winning Upside
Who doesn't love bragging about having that random weekly fantasy player who goes off in their lineups?
Guys like Tyler Lockett in 2018, Robby Anderson in 2017, Tyrell Williams in 2016, and Allen Hurns in 2015 were all guys with average draft positions (ADP), per Fantasy Football Calculator, in the 10th round or later in PPR formats who ended up finishing the season as a top-20 wide receiver. The majority of the time, these boom-or-bust wide receivers are drafted as bench players in season-long leagues or are very cheaply priced in DFS, but they can put teams over the top when those big spike weeks come.
Actually putting these guys into lineups on those spike weeks is a whole separate conversation, but trying to identify these big-play guys is something we can do. When looking at the current ADP heading in to the 2019 fantasy draft season, here are a few pass catchers to be found in round ten or later that can provide big time weekly upside.
DeSean Jackson (ADP: 10.06, WR48)
DeSean Jackson became a household name back in 2009 as a member of the Philadelphia Eagles, and now he is back in Philly after six years in which he played on Washington and Tampa Bay. While Jackson is now almost 36 years old, he's still got those burners that he has made a living off of. NFL Next-Gen Stats tracked him at 21.48 miles per hour on a play last year, which put him on the list of fastest ball carriers, and he topped 20 miles per hour on eight different plays in 2018.
That speed brings an element to the Eagles' offense that Doug Pederson and Carson Wentz have never had before.
What makes Jackson so attractive as a fantasy player is the value of his targets. His targets come way down the field, and he has consistently held a high average depth of target (aDOT). Josh Hermsmeyer has gone through the data and proven that aDOT is a stable stat year to year. Using data from Hermsmeyer's AirYards.com, we can see what kind of upside DJax has had throughout his career. Data goes back to 2009, Jackson entered the league in 2008.
Jackson has had success with nearly every quarterback he has played with and improved their deep-ball statistics. However, Jameis Winston was an outlier in that situation as he struggled and actually got worse. Scott Barrett from Pro Football Focus pointed out how inefficient Winston was last season when targeting his outside receivers.
- 2nd-most efficient QB in the league when targeting TEs
- worst at targeting outside WRs
- 4th-worst at targeting slot WRs
- 5th-worst when targeting RBs
Read more here: https://t.co/LUiuQhTtQd pic.twitter.com/u3BskNUAnD
— Scott Barrett (@ScottBarrettDFB) July 17, 2019
Now we get to pair him with Wentz, who has shown some success throwing the deep ball. In the best season of his young career (2017), Wentz was second in Average Completed Air Yards, a stat measured by NFL Next-Gen Stats.
Using PPR scoring, Jackson has registered 30 games of 20 or more fantasy points throughout his 10-year career. He has had four seasons with four or more 20-point fantasy games, and with Wentz tossing him the ball, there could be another one in store for 2019.
John Brown (ADP: 13.03, WR57)
Another absolute burner, John Brown is now been paired with the perfect quarterback to optimize his skill set. Buffalo Bills quarterback, Josh Allen paced the NFL in Average Intended Air Yards (IAY) with 11, meaning he pushed the ball down the field at the highest clip amongst all qualified quarterbacks. Allen also lead the NFL in deep passes per attempt.
Josh Allen led the NFL by attempting a deep pass on 19.7% of his attempts last year. Unfortunately, his 62.9 passer rating on such passes ranked just 29th. pic.twitter.com/GCbHSjJFYJ
— PFF (@PFF) May 22, 2019
While the efficiency was not great on Allen's deep balls, the Bills have retooled their wide receiver group to fit the young quarterback's aggressive attitude. One of those new weapons is Brown, who finished fifth in Average Targeted Air Yards in 2018 (16.3) and third in 2017 (15.7). (This is another stat created and measured by NFL Next Gen Stats.) Brown has scored 22 receiving touchdowns so far in his career, and 36.4% of them have been plays of 20 yards or longer.
Brown's quarterback play has been suspect since 2017, but his weekly upside flashed in a few different spots. Last year, before the Baltimore Ravens handed Lamar Jackson the keys, Brown ran deep routes for Joe Flacco. Brown posted three weeks of 19 or more PPR points over the first seven weeks, and in that span, Brown had an absurd aDOT of 18.8.
We might be able to look at the way Robert Foster finished the season with Allen last year to get a glimpse into what Brown may see. Over Foster's final seven games, he had a ridiculous aDOT of 20, and topped 17 PPR points in three games, including Week 15, when he was the WR8 with 20.8 PPR points. If Allen treats Brown similarly to the way he did Foster, Brown could find himself with multiple difference-making weeks throughout 2019.
Michael Gallup (ADP: 14.01, WR62)
A few things worked against him -- the Cowboys were in the bottom-third in pass attempts, and he saw only about 4.3 targets per game. Now heading into 2019, Dallas has made the move to Kellen Moore as their new offensive play caller, and the Cowboys have 198 targets vacated from last year's squad, both of these things should improve Gallup's weekly floor.
But we aren't here to discuss floor, this is about week-winning upside and Gallup demonstrated that in a few different ways last campaign. When we take look at the 2018 rookie wide receiver class, we can see that Gallup finished with the second-best aDOT and third-most total air yards despite finishing sixth out of eight in targets. The data shows only rookies with 50 or more targets.
|Rookie Wideout||Targets||Air Yards||aDOT|
When we take a look at this list, Gallup is currently being drafted far behind all of these receivers other than Antonio Callaway. While it is not surprising based on those names, Gallup is now entrenched as the Cowboys number-two receiver in an offensive system that has the arrow pointing up with Moore, and there's a chance for increased passing in the offense if Ezekiel Elliott were to continue his hold out into the regular season.
Gallup's targets are coming pretty far down the field, and his quarterback, Dak Prescott, has shown a history of being pretty accurate when throwing deep. Via research from Eli Cuellar of The Cowboys Wire, Dak's completion percentage is above league average on attempts between 20-25 yards and 30-35 yards, per data from Elias Sports Bureau.
All noise coming out of the Cowboys' training camp is telling us that Moore is increasing Dak's deep-ball attempts. If that is the case, Gallup could be in store for a big second-year leap.