Fantasy Draft Day Sleepers 2017: WRs and TEs

Wide Receivers

Pierre Garcon

New 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan and Pierre Garcon have a viable history together. The wide receiver led the NFL in 2013 with 113 receptions with Shanahan as the offensive coordinator in Washington. That history bodes well for Garcon; in addition, Shanahan uses his “X” receiver with great frequency — i.e. Julio Jones, Santana Moss, Andre Johnson. Garcon will be the top target in San Francisco with a catch rate of 65% over the past 4 years, making him a very valuable PPR WR.

Cameron Meredith

This is one reason certain football fans have such distaste for fantasy football. “Why would anyone care about any player on the Chicago Bears?” Correct, the team isn’t promising to be very good; and with either unproven Mike Glennon at QB or rookie Mitchell Trubisky, the offense is sure to go through some major growing pains. But…..fantasy football owners DO care.

The Bears have few weapons on offense aside from Jordan Howard. But someone has to catch passes from Glennon or Trubisky — and that man is probably going to be Cameron Meredith. Last year, the Illinois State product caught 66 balls for almost 900 yards. With Alshon Jeffery and his 8 targets per game gone for Philly, Meredith is worth a draft pick somewhere after the 10th round.

Ted Ginn, Jr.

Any fantasy owner has to give a second look to any WR in New Orleans. As long as Drew Brees is at the helm and Sean Payton is on the sidelines, the Saints are going to have a potent offense. This year the biggest benefactor could be Ted Ginn, Jr., with the departure of Brandin Cooks to New England.

The speedster has the ability to stretch the field, giving Brees that deep threat option every week. And even though the Saints’ offense is mostly predicated on shorter, quick routes, Ginn’s downfield breakaway speed should be enticing for Brees. Ginn might be more “boom or bust” from week to week, but he’s worth a late round pick.

Tight Ends

Hunter Henry

Everyone has been searching and waiting for the right guy to supplant Antonio Gates as the Chargers top tight end option. It looks like we have a winner. Henry put up 36 catches for 478 yards in 2016 as a rookie; and when targeted 4 or more times, he scored 7-plus fantasy points in 7 of those 8 games. Last season, Gates’s catch percentage was the lowest of his career at 57% — 10 points lower than Henry’s; and at 37 years old, it’s likely Gates will continue trending downward. In addition, Henry caught one more TD than Gates in 2016 despite 17 fewer receptions.

Henry should be one of Phillip Rivers’s go-to guys — especially with the bad luck of injuries that the Chargers continue to face with WRs (rookie Mike Williams could miss up to 8 weeks, and maybe the year).

Julius Thomas

A reunion with head coach Adam Gase is just what the doctor ordered for Thomas, who’s been relegated to a benchwarmer since 2015 when he left Denver (and OC Gase at the time) and went to Jacksonville. Gase uses his tight ends as well as any head coach in the league. In Denver as the offensive coordinator, Gase’s playcalling led Thomas to top-7 TE status in fantasy leagues in 2013 and ’14; then in Chicago, Gase did much of the same with Martellus Bennett and Zach Miller — the two combined to be top-7 in TE production in 2015. In 2016 in Miami, Gase’s 4-man combo at the position put them 10th in fantasy production.

In short, Gase uses his tight ends and uses them productively. And now he’s got Jay Cutler under center — and while many Dolphins fans are cringing at this thought, Cutler experienced one of his best seasons as a pro in 2015 under Gase’s tutelage in Chicago.

 

Feedback is always welcome through the website in the comments box or on my Twitter feed, @brian22goodwin.

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Author: Brian Goodwin

An educator for 15 years. I have a passion for sports and a passion for writing about sports. I'm very excited to run this blog and have conversations with people about relevant topics, mostly pertaining to sports but also in all aspects of life.

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