My pal Jared confirmed in this article last year what we all assumed to be true: More target volume leads to more PPR scoring.
So if we’re mining for WR sleepers in a PPR draft, we’re looking for more than just undervalued wideouts. We’re interested in players and situations that could deliver much greater volume than even we might be projecting.
The players on this list aren’t particularly strong bets to feast on TDs, but a few could wind up leading their teams in targets.
Emmanuel Sanders, Broncos
Sanders looks undervalued in general. As Jared pointed out in late June, Sanders finished both 2015 (with bad Peyton Manning) and 2016 (with regular Trevor Siemian) among the top 20 PPR wideouts. That’s a long way from the low-WR3 territory that has been his draft home so far this year. And Sanders’ ADP hasn’t climbed.
Does a WR going in WR3 range count as a sleeper? That’s up to you.
Sanders has topped 6 TD catches just once in his 8-year career. So we’re not projecting a monster season. But he looks like a pretty good bet to outperform his draft position.
Randall Cobb, Packers
We have 159 WRs projected at the moment. When you compare our total projected PPR points to non-PPR, just 31 wideouts see a bigger scoring spike (by percentage) than Cobb. Among the 86 WRs we project to score 100+ PPR points, only 4 see a bigger PPR spike than Cobb.
So Cobb’s greatest upside might lie in the possibility that he goes back to being a key red-zone target for a healthy Aaron Rodgers. The Green Bay QB has ranked top-2 in red-zone pass attempts each of his past 3 healthy seasons. But even if Cobb doesn’t recapture the TD glory of 2014 and 2012, he holds significant scoring potential for PPR formats.
The Packers’ #2 WR in Rodgers’ 8 healthy seasons has averaged a 21.3 finish among PPR wideouts -- with a median finish of 19.5. Cobb sits 39th among WRs in July ADP.
Kelvin Benjamin, Bills
Zay Jones has had knee surgery and shoulder surgery -- plus that March episode in L.A. -- since the end of his terrible rookie season. Jeremy Kerley and his 2.7 career catches per game looks like the slot favorite. Undrafted rookie Robert Foster got starter work in the spring.
This is a terrible WR situation. And that’s good for Benjamin.
Only LeSean McCoy cracked 50 receptions among Bills last year. Charles Clay was the only other Buffalo player to reach 30. Benjamin managed only 27 targets across 6 games after arriving in trade, thanks to a right meniscus tear that required November surgery.
He’s back healthy now, though, and reportedly showed well in spring. An even uglier situation at QB (arguably) promises to lower the ceiling for all Buffalo pass-catchers. But Benjamin could challenge for the league lead in target market share.
We don’t have a single Dallas wideout projected for more than 78 targets. Someone will probably eclipse that number, though.
Six players did over the past 2 years, despite a run-heavy offense, a rookie starting at QB 2 seasons ago and the pass offense struggling over the 2nd half of last year. In 2016, Cole Beasley (98), Dez Bryant (96) and Jason Witten (95) each nearly reached 100 looks. Last year found Bryant back dominating the target landscape (132), followed by Witten (87) and Terrance Williams (78).
We like Michael Gallup best among Cowboys wideouts for 2018, especially at an ADP about 5 rounds behind Allen Hurns’. But Hurns is still going in Round 11, while Beasley and Williams regularly go undrafted.
Gallup is your top target, but the draft prices mean you can take shots at any and/or all of them.
Albert Wilson, Dolphins
DeVante Parker and Kenny Stills look like value options at their ADPs as well. But if Parker makes you queasy or you just happen to not draft either of them, Wilson presents another upside opportunity.
The Dolphins committed about $13 million to him over the next 2 years when they signed him just after trading away slot stud Jarvis Landry. That also came the same day they committed just 2018 money to WR Danny Amendola.
Wilson also profiles similar to Landry in style. Only 4 players in the league saw a shorter average depth of target than Wilson’s 5.7 yards last season, including just 1 WR (Golden Tate). That put Wilson just 3 spots ahead of Landry. And Wilson’s rate came in a Chiefs offense that threw downfield more than in any previous Andy Reid-Alex Smith campaign.
The short-range stuff doesn’t create huge yardage or TD upside, but it’s good for catch rate and reception scoring. Among the 86 wideouts we project for 100+ PPR points, only 3 see a larger scoring spike (by percentage) in PPR than Wilson. And if he emerges ahead of Stills or Parker in the Miami target picture, the ceiling could rise much higher.
Christian Kirk, Cardinals
Let’s finish with a pair of rookies fighting for roles in open situations. We have Larry Fitzgerald tied for 8th in our WR target projections. The next Cardinals wideout: Kirk, at 68th. Only 2 teams present larger gaps between their 1st and 2nd WRs on that list: Cincinnati, and the final team represented on this list.
We all expect RB David Johnson to follow Fitzgerald in the team target rankings, with that pair controlling the category. But what if Johnson succumbs to another injury -- even something far less serious? He ranks among the top half of RBs in injury risk at 55.3% probability of missing time, according to Sports Injury Predictor. So that’s not a stretch. Or what if Fitzgerald -- at 35 -- finally cedes more targets to an enhanced #2? Or what if Kirk’s simply better-equipped to garner work than last year’s #2 in looks (Jaron Brown, 69)?
Jaron Brown and John Brown left behind 124 targets when they departed in free agency this offseason -- 37 fewer than Fitz tallied in 2017 and just 4 more than Johnson’s 2016 total. Even with Johnson at 120 and Fitzgerald at 150 two seasons ago, the Cardinals still had 3 wideouts crack 70 targets. We’ll see if things stay that spread out, or if the rookie’s ready to concentrate those targets.
The point is, Kirk arrives in a pass offense with room for opportunity -- plus, a whole new set of QBs not yet familiar with any Arizona pass-catchers.
Anthony Miller, Bears
Like classmate Kirk, Miller joins an offense with an established #1 WR. In his case, though, Allen Robinson established himself with the Jaguars and then spent 2017 on the sideline with a repaired ACL.
Robinson’s not at high risk for re-injury, according to Sports Injury Predictor. In fact, Miller carries greater risk on that front into 2018. That might matter if he were going earlier than the Round 15-16 turn in July ADP.
At that stage, though, we don’t care if he winds up missing a few games. We loved the prospect, who combined exciting tape with strong market-share numbers at Memphis. Now Miller’s already generating buzz, looking like at least the slot man right away.
That’s in an offense with a new lead wideout coming off an ACL tear, a new TE who hasn’t caught more than 37 passes in the NFL and didn’t top 38 in any college season and a whole new coaching staff. And Miller’s other competition in the WR corps is Taylor Gabriel (high of 36 catches through 4 seasons) and Kevin White (you know).
Like with Kirk, the point is that there’s opportunity available.