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Finding Mid-Round Wide Receiver Gems


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So, you can’t help but notice the many articles touting the incredibly deep crop of wide receivers available in fantasy this year. You are starting to settle into an early draft strategy that involves grabbing an elite quarterback, two stud running backs, and a Top 3 tight end. You know there is great value to be had with your wide receivers, but you are not sure which ones you should draft. No sweat. We’ve got you covered with a list of wide receivers that have many reasons why the 2012 season will be productive for them and your fantasy team!

The following list of pass catchers meet two out of the three categories most researched by fantasy team owners when ranking wide receivers. The three categories are as follows: the magical third year in which many young studs join the big time; a strong finish to last year’s season; and a strength of schedule rating that is in the top half of their position.

Player

Third-year player

Strong finish to 2011

Favorable Strength of Schedule

Antonio Brown (Pittsburgh)

X

X

Dez Bryant (Dalasl)

X

X

Demaryius Thomas (Denver)

X

X

Eric Decker (Denver)

X

X

Brandon LaFell (Carolina)

X

X

Antonio Brown came out of nowhere early last year to pass Emmanuel Sanders on the depth chart. He is a sure bet to improve his touchdown totals while playing in offensive coordinator Todd Haley’s pass-heavy offense.

Dez Bryant recently admitted to being injured early on last season. A healthy, more dedicated Bryant should be able to match or exceed the nine touchdowns he scored in 2011.

Demaryius Thomas and Eric Decker showed glimpses of brilliance last year despite playing with subpar quarterback performance. Imagine what a full offseason of working with Peyton Manning will do for them. Thomas is shooting up draft boards already and will likely be drafted in the Top 10 come August. I would prefer to wait a few rounds later and grab Decker. Manning could prefer his route-running ability and sticky hands over Thomas.

Brandon LaFell is worth taking a late-round flier on. Cam Newton will have a full preseason to develop chemistry with him, and Steve Smith has to start slowing down at some point.

Other wide receivers I like that do not fall into two out of three of the above categories but could provide terrific value given their draft position include Percy Harvin, Kenny Britt, Jeremy Maclin, DeSean Jackson, Sidney Rice, Malcolm Floyd, and (gulp) Randy Moss.

There you have it. Stock up at the other positions knowing that there will be plenty of excellent wide receivers sure to outperform their average draft positions. Do your research, partake in plenty of mock drafts, and determine which mid-round receivers are right for your team!