It seems that every year fantasy owners are looking for a few wide receiver names to stash away on the back of their cheatsheets. You know the type of players I’m talking about … young, speedy second- or third-year guys who are ready to break out … provided that a little bit of luck comes their way.
This year is no different. Identifying (and then landing) that wide receiver you’ve had your eye on all summer can make or break your fantasy team. Let’s take a look at six such players who could help you dominate your league.
Christian Kirk, Arizona Cardinals
Arizona is a “new look” team across the board this year, with a new head coach in Kliff Kingsbury, and a new quarterback in Kyler Murray, who went with the first pick in this year’s draft. The offense should look drastically different, as well, and that could allow someone on that side of the ball to break out, if it all goes according to plan. Second-year wideout Christian Kirk could be that guy.
Although he played in just 12 games a year ago, his numbers indicate that he definitely has the potential to be everything the former staff thought he would. Kirk finished the year with 43 catches on 68 targets for 590 yards and three touchdowns.
Projected Stats: 60 receptions/750 yards/6 TD
Keke Coutee, Houston Texans
Although a nagging hamstring injury limited him to just six games, Coutee showed flashes which indicate that he could be poised for a break out year. Even though he missed 10 games, Coutee still finished the season with 41 targets, or 6.8 per game. Projecting that out over a full slate of 16 games, Coutee could see a whopping 109 targets in 2019. DeAndre Hopkins is still the “go to” receiver in Houston, but if Coutee stays healthy he could very well challenge fellow wide receiver Will Fuller for the WR2 role.
Projected stats: 61 receptions/677 Yards/4 TD
Mecole Hardman, Kansas City Chiefs
Hardman’s fantasy value goes up with the suspension for Tyreek Hill. Don’t expect Hardman to put up Hill-like numbers, but with Patrick Mahomes leading one of the league’s most prolific offenses, Hardman is in a position to succeed. The second-round pick out of Georgia has 4.33 40-speed and could be a downfield threat for Mahomes in Hill’s absence, making him someone worth drafting.
Projected stats: 40 receptions/525 yards/4 TD
N’Keal Harry, New England Patriots
New England will be looking to replace a lot of lost production due to the departures of Chris Hogan and Cordarrelle Patterson in free agency, and the retirement of tight end Rob Gronkowski. There is also the uncertainty of whether wide receiver Josh Gordon will return from another indefinite suspension (I’m not expecting him to). All of that roster movement opens the door for Harry, the only wide receiver taken in the first round of this year’s draft, and I expect him to be thrust into a starting role in Week 1.
The Arizona State product stands 6-foot-2 and 228 pounds, making him an excellent red zone target for Tom Brady. Gronkowski and Hogan had 12 targets between them last season, so look for Harry to replace a good portion of those.
Projected stats: 80 receptions/1,210 yards/4 TD
Marquez Valdes-Scantling, Green Bay Packers
Valdes-Scantling had his moments in his rookie campaign after being rushed into action following injuries to Randall Cobb and Geronimo Allison. He is, of course, hoping to expand on that now that Cobb has departed in free agency. The 24-year-old played the second-most offensive snaps for Green Bay last year (691) and was targeted 73 times for 38 catches and 531 yards with three touchdowns. He had three games of at least 75 receiving yards, including two 100-plus yard games. Look for Allison to fill Cobb’s old slot role, opening the door for Valdes-Scantling to take on the WR2 role full time. His closest competition should come from fellow second year man Equanimeous St. Brown.
Projected stats: 50 receptions/750 yards/4 TD
Courtland Sutton, Denver Broncos
Sutton put up solid numbers as a rookie with 42 catches for 704 yards and four touchdowns on 84 targets. Denver used Sutton as a deep-ball threat but former quarterback Case Keenum does not quite have the big arm that newly arrived Joe Flacco does. While Flacco may not be the same quarterback he was five years ago, he can still throw the ball downfield, which could lead to even bigger numbers for Sutton. Of course, Flacco struggled to find consistency with Baltimore in recent years and if that is the case, Sutton would come with some boom-or-bust risk.
Projected stats: 48 receptions/838 yards/5 TD