When playing in any PPR leagues like Apex, receptions are one of the top factors in evaluating players. Running backs who catch passes become more valuable than the Hope diamond, while 100+ reception receivers are revered to a similar extent. But what happens when you still need to find value in the later rounds, and all of the obvious choices are gone? Let’s find some players who can be a cheap source of receptions to help lessen the blow of injuries and bye weeks.
2015 ADP: 14.01
Dunbar was a popular sleeper pick last year but that was before DeMarco Murray came in and took the fantasy football community by storm, combining durability, volume, and effectiveness to a historical fantasy season. Dunbar struggled to the tune of a meager 18 catches and 0 touchdowns. But with Murray now in Philadelphia, Dunbar has a real shot at making a serious fantasy contribution this year.
Apex’s own Mike Braude already made a case for him being this year’s Justin Forsett, and it’s beginning to become clear as to why that is. The Cowboys, as of right now, have only oft-injured (and currently injured) Darren McFadden, and unproven Joseph Randle as Dunbar’s running back competition. A scat-back in the Shane Vereen mold, reports out of Dallas say that the Cowboys are sincerely intent on getting him the ball this year and that he is going to be a real part of the offense. With so little clarity in the backfield, Dunbar’s experience on the Cowboys combined with the fact that they may be passing more will probably lead to a very productive season. At his 14th round ADP, there isn’t any risk attached.
2015 ADP: 9.08
Death, taxes, and Anquan Boldin. Even with San Francisco’s well-chronicled struggles the past two seasons, he’s still somehow produced back-to-back 83+ catch season well after his 30th birthday. He turns 35 in October, which is a bit concerning, but he doesn’t win with speed anyway. His savvy route-running combined with his ferocious ball-skills are what makes him productive during his “golden years”. Let’s see what the Rotoviz WR Similarity Scores have to say about his prospects this year:
Although his ceiling isn’t exactly gangbusters, we are looking for a cheap source of reliable receptions and Boldin fits the bill. Gone is the inefficient Michael Crabtree, and in is Torrey Smith who is probably going to command less targets as a deep threat. Vernon Davis looked awful last year. And can Kaepernick really be much worse? A slight improvement would be fantastic for his trusted Boldin, the clear number one on San Francisco. Anytime you can get a near-lock for 75+ receptions in the 9th-10th round, you take it.
2015 ADP: 12.05
Two years ago, you would probably have to invest a top-50 pick to acquire Stevie Johnson. But after an injury-riddled 2013 and a lost 2014 in San Francisco, Johnson is on arguably the best offense of his career in San Diego. After dealing with mostly Ryan Fitzpatrick and Colin Kaepernick during his career, Johnson is going to be very pleased with accurate and savvy Philip Rivers delivering him the ball. At first thought by many to simply to help spell Keenan Allen and fill some of the void left by Eddie Royal’s departure, even Philip Rivers is now saying he hopes Johnson and Allen can become interchangeable. They’ve already started to develop some serious chemistry in practice, while the suspension of Antonio Gates only opens up more targets to start the season.
After Keenan Allen’s down 2014, his “free pass” from his rookie year is gone. It’s doubtful Johnson overtakes him as the number one, but being possibly a rich man’s Eddie Royal (last year’s WR31 on a mere 91 targets) is well within reach. At his WR56 ADP during rounds when you are simply blindly throwing darts at players, he is more than worth a small reach.
2015 ADP: 13.11
Often thought of as a mere fantasy parasite for Antonio Gates and Keenan Allen, Royal quietly had a fantastic fantasy season, finishing with a 62-778-7 statline as WR31 on only 91 targets. Although small, Royal was routinely targeted in the red zones with screens and bubble plays, even finishing with more fantasy points than more-heralded teammate Keenan Allen. Now, Royal is back in Chicago, back with Jay Cutler.
Yes, the same Jay Cutler with whom Royal posted a 91-980-5 statline during Royal’s rookie season (his only year with Cutler). Cutler is a worse quarterback than Philip Rivers, but can make up for that deficiency by peppering Royal with an increase in targets. Chicago, after losing Brandon Marshall, is currently a bit thin at wideout with Marquess Wilson a question mark and Kevin White missing precious practice time with a shin injury. Royal is very likely going to be the number two wide receiver on the team- the Bears apparently have big plans for him, while other reports are also predicting a big season from Royal. Anytime you can get a player with a great shot at 100+ targets in the 13th or 14th round, you take it. He may not be flashy, but is likely to give you a solid 5-70 line during bye-week crunches.