Fantasy Factor: Second Receivers With Huge Value
In today’s NFL, it’s sometimes hard to differentiate between a team’s number one wide receiver and their number two guy. While depth charts set the order, important statistics such as targets, receptions, yards and touchdowns can tell a different story.
Here are four WR2s that have more fantasy value than the guy ahead of him on the depth chart.
Maclin’s production dropped in 2011 due mostly to lingering shoulder and hamstring injuries that forced him to miss three games. Still, Maclin was on pace to have his best statistical season of his career, at least with receptions and receiving yards. Maclin has been steady throughout his career, and at just 23 years old he still has plenty of upside. Despite missing those three games, Maclin (109 points) nearly outscored Philadelphia’s top wide receiver DeSean Jackson (115 points) in standard scoring leagues last year.
Cruz was dynamic for the Giants out of the slot in 2011. It’ll be interesting to see if he can get open consistently when defenses are focused on stopping him. Still, he’s a playmaker who will get a ton of targets, especially with Mario Manningham now in San Francisco. He gets the nod ahead of teammate and Giants top receiver Hakeem Nicks, only because of Nicks’ durability concerns. Nicks hasn’t played a full season in his three years in the league. Plus, Cruz outscored Nicks 198 to 152 in standard scoring leagues last season. That’s a large gap for Nicks to make up next season.
At the end of last season, Smith was one of Joe Flacco’s favorite targets. Smith averaged nearly 17 yards per catch as a rookie and has the downfield speed to make big plays on a consistent basis. If he can improve his intermediate route-running this offseason, his fantasy value will only go higher.
The Ravens’ WR1 is Anquan Boldin, who turns 32 this season and is coming off his worst statistical season in eight years in 2011. He finished the year with 57 receptions for 887 yards and three touchdowns, he also missed two games with a knee injury. During Weeks 10-15, before Boldin’s knee injury, Boldin had 33 targets. During that same span, Smith had 38 targets.
Nelson made people take notice during the Packers Super Bowl run in 2010-2011. Now, after a very successful 2011 season, he’s a fantasy darling. Nelson had five fewer targets (94) than Packers WR1 Greg Jennings (99), despite playing in three more games. However, Nelson made the most of his opportunities, outscoring Jennings 210 to 143 in standard scoring leagues. Packers head coach Mike McCarthy has vowed to get Nelson more targets in 2012.