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Fantasy football managers have historically been more apt to attack the running back position than any other position in the game. In recent years, wide receivers have become more popular with drafters, particularly in salary cap drafts. This year in a typical 12-team league, five wide receivers are expected to be taken in the first round in a normal serpentine-style draft. But, despite the trend, managers can still reliably count on wide receiver points being cheaper than running back points in a salary cap draft. For example, the consensus top running back Jonathan Taylor is going for $55+ in most drafts, while the consensus top wide receivers Cooper Kupp and Justin Jefferson can consistently be had for less than $50, and sometimes as low as $45. That’s a significant difference, and salary cap drafters appear to be catching on. But, the wide receiver fantasy landscape has never been deeper, and it should be possible to chase a top guy while still building depth to count on. It may cost a few extra dollars than in years past, and the pricing may be sustained a bit higher than before, but wide receiver is still a good place to find value because of the sheer number of options. Here are some targets for your salary cap drafts.
The general sentiment around Diggs’ 2021 season was that it was a disappointment. He only saw 13 fewer targets than his monster 2020 season, but he had 30 fewer catches and over 400 fewer yards. As a result, the fantasy community is dealing with some recency bias. His price is down in WR5/6 territory, and there is a significant gap between the top three guys (Kupp, Jefferson, and Ja’Marr Chase) and the next tier. This makes Diggs the perfect target if you want a shot at a wide receiver who can finish near the top of the position for a mid-WR1 price. Getting a deal on top players isn’t easy, but Diggs could have a discount in salary cap drafts.
The fantasy community isn’t buying the year that Samuel had in 2021. His 8 rushing touchdowns on 59 attempts are not sustainable, but otherwise, what is there not to like about his PPR WR3 finish? They pulled some of the targets from his workload when he got more carries at the end of the year, but after complaining about being used as a running back this offseason, expect his workload to look more like the beginning of the year than the end. This should help mitigate whatever losses he sees from the rushing efficiency regression. The good news for salary cap drafters is that his price is drifting into the upper $20 range, and his WR7 ADP leaves a lot of room for value. Nominate Samuel as early as possible before the market is set, and see if you can land him for $30 or less as your top wide receiver.
For the second year in a row, Allen makes this list. Despite the ascension of Mike Williams up draft boards, Allen is still the rock-solid bet between those two and makes the perfect WR1 for salary cap drafters that want to spend up at other positions. He out-targeted Williams by 28 targets and had another 100-reception season – his fifth in a row. He’s attached to one of the best young quarterbacks in the game so don’t overthink it and go try to get Allen for mid to low $20s as an electric WR2 or a reliable WR1.
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In four years in the league, he has never topped four touchdowns in a season. This frustrating fact is a large part of the reason that fantasy managers aren’t willing to pay more to roster a guy who has over 1,100 yards receiving in each of his last three seasons despite a poor quarterback situation. Last year Sam Darnold was one of the least accurate quarterbacks in the league, and despite the limitations of Darnold, Cam Newton, and P.J. Walker throwing Moore the ball he still piled up a career-high 93 catches. With an upgrade at the position in newcomer Baker Mayfield, Moore has a real shot to top his previous high of four touchdowns and become a Top 12 wide receiver by year’s end. With a current ADP of WR14 and a price that shouldn’t be much more than $20, Moore is a dynamite WR2 who could make a leap if Mayfield can get him the ball.
Robinson also makes this list again despite being a colossal bust in 2021. He leaves a bottom-third passing offense in Chicago to come to an offense that was Top 5 in passing yards last year and had a quarterback who threw 41 touchdowns. Robinson burned so many people last year that his ADP still lingers at WR20. For a guy who is only one year removed from back-to-back seasons with over 150 targets and 98+ receptions, it is the perfect opportunity for salary cap drafters to get back in on Robinson for a reasonable price. He will play in the best system with the best coach, quarterback, and highest-scoring offense of his entire career. It is possible to grab Robinson as a WR3 in salary cap drafts, and that’s exactly how salary cap rosters explode.
The Steelers head into the season with an uncertain quarterback situation for the first time since 2004. Fantasy managers appear to be concerned enough to push last year’s PPR WR7 down to WR19 off the board. But even though Ben Roethlisberger is gone, what kind of player was he in 2021? He had one of the lowest average target depths among all starting quarterbacks, his on-target throw percentage was poor, and his average net yards per attempt was also weak. Nothing about what Roethlisberger did in 2021 was particularly appealing. Perhaps the new quarterbacks will sometimes struggle, but does it justify pushing Johnson down to WR19? He should be a salary cap value this year.
He joins players like Kirk Cousins and Keenan Allen as guys who fantasy drafters perennially underrate. Cooks has finished as the PPR WR19 and WR17 in fantasy points per game the last two seasons, yet his ADP is WR21. That is the definition of value. Being able to draft Cooks below his floor with a young quarterback who appears to be on his way up is the recipe salary cap drafters should be looking for.
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