What a difference a year makes in fantasy football. Last year there were five or six WRs taken in the first round of many fantasy football drafts. This year, in a 12-team league, it looks like there might only be two or three at the position taken in the first round.
What this means is that the general consensus is that there is plenty of wide receiver value this year and a premium is being placed on running backs.
While there may be no lack of wide receiver options as your draft unfolds, you want to make sure that you are getting the best value for your pick. You never want to reach for someone that you could have had a round (or two) later.
Here are five wide receivers currently being undervalued and are definitely under-the-radar steals.
Marquise Goodwin, San Francisco 49ers
The 49ers barely did anything to add to their pass catchers this offseason, which isn’t a bad idea considering the way they ended last season. However, they are entering a new season with increased expectations and the team's projected top target, Pierre Garcon, is 32 years old and coming off of a neck injury. Tight end George Kittle is getting plenty of buzz of his own, but as a second-year player he's still unproven and already dealing with a shoulder injury that will keep him out of the rest of the preseason. But don't forget about Goodwin (above, right), who is only 27, runs a blazing 4.27 40 and clicked immediately with Jimmy Garoppolo when he took over at QB. If you are looking for a late-round flier who could end up as a possible WR3 or even a WR2, Goodwin is your man.
Sammy Watkins, Kansas City Chiefs
Is this the year that Watkins finally puts everything together and finally has that fantasy season we all thought that he was going to have after Buffalo took him fourth overall in the 2014 draft? Now that he is a Chief, Watkins could easily go for more than 1,000 yards and eight or more touchdowns, especially with strong-armed Patrick Mahomes throwing him the ball. It’s true that Watkins has to fight with Travis Kelce and Tyreek Hill for targets, but their presence also should lead to more opportunities for Watkins to make plays. Don’t forget that Kansas City's defense struggled last year and the team was involved in plenty of high-scoring affairs. The defense doesn't appear to be drastically improved, so the offense should receive more than enough possessions to help Watkins outperform his ADP.
Chris Hogan, New England Patriots
Did you know that Tom Brady and the Patriots like to throw the ball deep? Yeah, it’s true. Brandin Cooks and Rob Gronkowski led the Patriots with 18 receptions of at least 20 yards last season. But with Cooks now on the other coast with the Los Angeles Rams, Hogan is likely to be the one to become New England's deep threat. Hogan had six receptions of at least 20 yards(and four more for 19) in just nine games, and he has more catches of at least 40 yards than even Gronkowski in his two seasons with the Patriots. With Julian Edelman suspended for the first four games, and Eric Decker trying to learn the offense, Hogan is a steal at his current ADP.
Corey Davis, Tennessee Titans
Davis had a rough rookie season last year. He missed five games because of a hamstring injury that also impacted him in training camp, but still find a way to make an impact. From Week 9 on he led his team and ranked 38th among all wide receivers in snaps with 452. There have been talks about the Titans implementing more of a downfield passing attack under new offensive coordinator Matt LaFleur and if that is true, Davis will be the one to benefit. He has more than enough talent and ability to be a top-20 fantasy WR this season if he can stay healthy.
Randall Cobb, Green Bay Packers
Just the thought of drafting Cobb can get people shaking their heads because he has been a huge fantasy bust the past couple of seasons, but that could change this year. Jordy Nelson is now in Oakland, leaving Davante Adams as the clear-cut No. 1 WR and Cobb presumably checking in behind him. The last time Cobb played without Nelson was in 2015, and he was targeted 129 times. He may not see that many this year, especially with Jimmy Graham now part of the mix, but Cobb should see plenty of looks from Aaron Rodgers. For what it’s worth, during that 2015 season, Cobb ranked fourth in the NFL in targets from inside the 10-yard line with 14.
-- Written by Michael Horvath, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network. Horvath is a Canadian who also happens to be a fantasy football (not to be confused with CFL) and fitness nut. Follow him on Twitter @realmikehorvath.
And don’t forget to pick up your copy of Athlon Sports’ 2018 Fantasy Football magazine, available for purchase online and at newsstands everywhere.