Typically, elite running backs are the first to go on draft day. After that, elite wide receivers. And while you want to stock up on suitable backup running backs, you need players who perform and crank out numbers on a consistent basis.
Enter the opportunistic wide receivers.
These are wide receivers on offenses that throw a lot and have quarterbacks that seldom get injured. Using 2016 statistics, I looked at teams that had a minimum of 575 pass attempts, a minimum of 4,000 passing yards, and a minimum of 25 passing touchdowns. Instead of taking a No. 1 wide receiver on an average or below-average passing team (with a questionable quarterback), take a look at these No. 2 or 3 wide receivers on these productive offenses.
Green Bay Packers
Green Bay led the 2016 season with forty passing touchdowns. Of those touchdowns, Jordy Nelson had 14. He also had 1,257 receiving yards with 152 targets. Clearly, he is No. 1. But Davante Adams had 121 targets for 997 receiving yards and 12 touchdowns. He’s basically a 1A wide receiver. Randall Cobb was Davante Adams in 2014 when he had 127 targets for 1,287 receiving yards and 12 touchdowns. Last year, he had 84 targets for 610 receiving yards and four touchdowns. This decline may be because Aaron Rodgers loves to spread the ball around, and with weapons like Nelson, Adams, Ty Montgomery and even Jared Cook last year (and James Jones in 2015), the targets might drop for Cobb. Davante Adams therefore should see Jordy Nelson-like numbers this year.
Take Davante Adams.
New Orleans Saints
In 2016, New Orleans threw for 5,074 yards on 674 attempts and 38 touchdowns. With the departure of Brandin Cooks, Michael Thomas is now the No. 1 target for Drew Brees. While Thomas will get picked up quickly, there are two other wide receivers who should benefit from Cook’s departure. Willie Snead has steadily compiled respectable numbers in the past two years. In 2016, he had 104 targets for 895 yards and four touchdowns. In a bit of surprising news, Ted Ginn Jr. joined New Orleans this year. His 2016 numbers were similar to Snead’s (95 targets for 752 yards and four touchdowns), but now with Brees as his quarterback, Ginn should see more action. However, Ginn’s name has become synonymous with “boom-or-bust.” He’ll certainly get his fair share this year, but Brees has learned to trust Snead. With that, Snead should see an increase in targets.
Take Willie Snead.