After years of RB Zero holding serious weight in fantasy football circles, we have now gone full circle. The last few seasons saw as many as six wide receivers go in the first round of fantasy drafts. This year’s first round has only one sure-fire lock: New Orleans target hog Michael Thomas. Packers WR Davante Adams usually goes around the turn and, occasionally, a Tyreek Hill shows up. That’s it.
High-stakes gamers, as well as respected fantasy analysts, are aligned in their consensus approach: the RB position should be addressed early in 2020-21 fantasy drafts. Last season, we saw six running backs finish in the top 7 of all non-QB scorers in PPR. Early drafters expect more of the same this year.
Overall scoring and positional scarcity have been the largest drivers of this team-building philosophical change. It is as simple as supply and demand. We have also seen NFL teams using 11 personnel (3-WR base) at a higher rate. While these sets help with overall passing numbers, they create less opportunity for a Michael Thomas-type outlier season to exist.
From Christian McCaffrey at the top of all boards to players like Austin Ekeler and Nick Chubb in the second round of drafts, RB-RB starts have been a popular approach so far this year. But once you start your team build with two running backs, what receivers will be available that can ensure balance and weekly production to your team? And what rounds do we really want to hone in on?
Using NFFC ADP from the $350 Rotowire Online Championships from August, here’s a look at the best wide receiver values in each round for rounds 3-10.
Note: The NFFC format consists of three starting wide receivers and one flex. It tends to be WR-heavy. In the FFPC and other formats, some of these players can go slightly lower.
Sharp drafters have realized all summer-long that Round 3 is the money round for wide receivers. Kenny Golladay (ADP no. 25), Allen Robinson (26), Odell Beckham (27), Mike Evans (30), DJ Moore (32) and Juju Smith-Schuster (34) all present the upsides and floors necessary to provide RB-RB drafters with a potential top 5 overall wide receiver. This round is easy to find value in and an argument can be made for several players. (On a side note, this is the lowest we have seen OBJ ADP-wise since his rookie year.) It is very hard to pass up a wide receiver in this round unless you absolutely have to have Lamar Jackson or Patrick Mahomes, or you want to lock up RB Jonathan Taylor.
Values: All of these players are good values. Moore seems like an ascendent talent in a great situation. Robinson provides high upside and a safe floor. If you want a high-ceiling player that comes with a bit more risk, consider Beckham Jr.
If any of the Round 3 wide receivers fall to the 4th round, consider them as values. Round 4 is where we see some younger wide receivers with immense talent, but who might lack the year-to-year production of the Round 3 group. Second and third-year players like A.J. Brown (ADP 43), Calvin Ridley (37) D.K. Metcalf (45) DJ Chark (47) and Terry McLaurin (48) could all have ADP’s in the second- and third-rounds a year from now. I personally love McLaurin and expect him to challenge for a WR1 finish. He could see 125-150 targets as the main offensive weapon in Washington.
Amari Cooper (38) and Adam Thielen (40) are also regularly drafted in this range. Both these players should see immense target volume as the top wide receivers on their teams. They are safe, proven players. Cooper struggles with high variance on his point totals, but should challenge for a WR1 finish again. Thielen is arguably the best value here. He could lead the NFL in targets.
Robert Woods (44) is a high-floor candidate that will see a ton of targets. He makes for a safe pick.
Values: My favorite pick among these players is Thielen. All players listed here are fairly priced. If any of the Round 3 wide receivers fall here, they should be considered as well. Evans has started to slip to this round. He would have immense upside as a 4th rounder.
In the NFFC, Round 5 is usually more balanced. Some top tight ends and quarterbacks are often drafted here, and we see the last of the perceived RB2s get gobbled up. While there are not as many names to choose from as there are in the earlier rounds, we can still find some incredible value here. Keenan Allen (ADP 58) finished as WR6 in PPR scoring last year. He now goes in Round 6 mainly because of apprehension a bout his QB situation. He is still a fantastic value — especially this late — and even if his targets go down 10 percent, he is still a WR2.
Marquise Brown (59) is another second-year player with potential to finish way higher than his ADP suggests. He is now healthy and has put on the necessary weight. Brown seems to mesh with Jackson and has been praised in the offseason by the media and his teammates.
Devante Parker (56) finished as WR11 in PPR scoring last year. Parker suffers from fantasy players with long memories who are apprehensive about drafting him due to his disappointing seasons in years past. It is like last year did not exist. Miami also gave Parker a large contract this past offseason and did not target a single wide receiver in the draft. The Dolphins loves Parker and so should you.
The best value in this round is Tyler Lockett (53). Lockett finished as the WR15 despite playing injured late in the season. He is explosive, productive and tethered to one of the best quarterbacks in football. Even if you believe Metcalf is a stud (which I do), Lockett is very hard to pass up at this range.
Values: Lockett would be my favorite player in this range.
We continue to see some solid names in Round 6.
Michael Gallup (72) finished as WR20 and was neck-and-neck with his teammate Cooper in PPR points. Now Gallup goes almost 30 spots later in drafts. He is being viewed as the wide receiver who loses value to 2020 NFL fist round draft stud CeeDee Lamb. Even if Lamb comes in and is well targeted, free agent departures Randall Cobb and Jason Witten combined for 166 total targets last year. There is no reason to fade Gallup.
Stefon Diggs (66) was traded to the run-heavy Bills. After being a third rounder in drafts last year, Diggs now is going 30 spots later. Buffalo traded four draft picks to acquire Diggs. No reason to fade him at this price.
Tyler Boyd is coming off a 90-catch season. He is a safe floor play here.
Will Fuller (69) is moving up ADP-wise. He has a terrible injury history, but immense upside as Deshaun Watson’s top target. Fuller is a high-risk/high-reward play. AJ Green and TY Hilton are former WR1s. I have not drafted much of either, but won’t talk you out of it at this range. Both offer age/injury discounts.
Values: Devante Parker and Marquise Brown often slide to this round. Among the players listed, Keenan Allen seems the most egregiously priced.
Browns receiver Jarvis Landry (73) is a great value here. Last year’s WR13 finisher in PPR, he continually provides a high floor. He is a discount version of Woods and Boyd. Depending on your team build, a safe player like Landry may make sense.
Diontae Johnson (75) does not quite have the juice of the other second-year studs going in Round 4, but he flashed big-time potential last season and presents an upside option.
Brandin Cooks (78) is a bit of an outlier. He usually is being drafted 3-4 rounds earlier. He finished WR62 last year in Los Angeles and now has a real opportunity to regain his fantasy value in Houston. Cooks is a concussion risk (he has had multiple incidents) but presents upside.
Julian Edelman (79) has been dinged up this preseason, but he finished as the WR7 last season. Despite a QB change in New England, Edelman is fairly priced.
Marvin Jones (80) had similar per-game scoring as Golladay last year. He is a boom/bust option who has massive spike weeks.
One player I have drafted often is Christian Kirk (83). He regularly falls to the 8th round. He was a second-round pick a year ago and is entering his third NFL season in an ascending offense. Kirk showed chemistry with QB Kyler Murray and presents a high-ceiling option with a solid floor. He could prove to be a steal in the 8th and 9th. He is certainly a solid value in the 7th who could exceed his ADP, easily.
Values: If you want to swing for the fences, Cooks is the pick. If you need a floor play that provides stability, consider Landry.
Deebo Samuel (ADP 89) would have gone in the 4th or 5th round if he did not suffer a foot injury. For drafters who want an injury stash who could pay great dividends in the second half of the season, Samuel is a nice pick.
Darius Slayton (91), CeeDee Lamb (87), and Jerry Jeudy (96) are all upside selections here. Lamb and Jeudy were both first-round NFL Draft picks who will be going much higher next season. Jeudy should see a higher percentage of his team’s targets and Lamb should flash as the WR3 in a loaded Cowboys offense. Both present upside. Drafting Lamb here is a great way to grab a piece of the Dallas Cowboys passing attack at a discount. Slayton broke out last year when the Giants were decimated. He hauled in 8 TDs as a rookie. How he performs with a healthy Sterling Sheperd and Evan Engram alongside of him remains to be seen. He certainly is a deep threat.
Jamison Crowder (90) should be heavily targeted on a bad Jets team. He has a chance for a lot of catches but does not provide a ton of upside for yards and touchdowns. A return of Chris Herndon at TE and a healthy LeVeon Bell could also take away some low ADOT targets to Crowder.
Emmanuel Sanders (94) was very good in his short time with the 49ers last season. He now joins a strong offense in New Orleans. He is not a must-draft player for me this year, but this is a fair place for him to be going.
Values: When Kirk is available in this range, it is hard for me to pass him up. Among the players listed, Lamb has the sort of high upside you want in this round.
Mecole Hardman (99) and Henry Ruggs (104) are two of the fastest wideouts in football. Hardman saw few targets last year but made the most out of them. He is an intriguing pick at this range if you want a piece of the Chiefs offense. Ruggs has been maligned by “experts” but he will have an opportunity to shine this year. Sometimes they fall and I would consider them a bit later. I was able to take Hardman in the 13th round of a recent FFPC draft and loved that upside there.
A more stable 9th round WR is Sterling Shepard (108). Shepard will be moved around and targeted often. He is a great value in this range.
Values: Kirk sometimes falls to this round. Shepard can provide a solid floor play.
Mike Williams (117) was a 4th or 5th rounder last year. He had a disappointing season and like Keenan Allen, is in a QB-change situation that fantasy players are not thrilled about. That being said, he is a big, strong receiver, with high-TD upside. Keep an eye on a recent training camp injury he sustained.
John Brown (119) was a WR2 last season for Buffalo. He had some huge weeks and is now discounted because of the arrival of Diggs. He has the potential to beat his ADP for a second straight season.
The Eagles’ Jalen Reagor (109) looks like one of the best bets of all of the rookie wide receivers to produce early. He should be a Top 2 target for a healthy Carson Wentz.
Another wide receiver to consider in this range is Anthony Miller (112). He sometimes goes in the 9th round and can often fall to the 11th. He has a chance to be the second-most targeted player in Chicago. He had very solid production in the latter portion of last season and provides a nice floor and upside.
When examining these rounds, there is talent galore. If you start your draft RB-RB, strongly consider drafting three wide receivers in rounds 3-6. These are quite possibly the strongest wide receiver rounds in the entire draft. Then look to add one or two more receivers between the 7th and 10th rounds.
A team drafting from the middle of the first round could walk away from the first 10 rounds with running backs in the first two rounds, followed by DJ Moore in the 3rd, Adam Thielen in the 4th, Keenan Allen in the 6th, Sterling Shepard in the 9th and Jalen Reagor in the 10th.
Consider these names when formulating your draft plan. Understanding where these players are being priced in high stakes formats such as the NFFC will give you a leg up on your opponents and prevent you from reaching. Good luck drafting in the upcoming weeks.