Punch Drunk Wonderland

5 Undervalued Wide Receivers for your 2015 Fantasy Football Draft

The 2015 NFL season is drawing ever closer and our fantasy football draft prep is in full swing. Last week we took a look at the reliability of running backs in the 2014 season. This week the focus is wide receivers. As we pour over mock drafts and player rankings it’s always important to keep a keen eye out for those value gems at each position. Here is a look at some undervalued wide receivers heading into 2015 fantasy drafts courtesy of our friends at numberFire.com.

All fantasy footballers (should) know that draft day is the most important day in shaping the eventual outcomes of their respective leagues. But what seasoned heads know is that, for the most part, fantasy championships not captured based on drafting prowess in the first three or four rounds.

Yes, surefire first- and second-round picks, particularly running backs, can go bust, whether it be due to injury, accelerated aging processes, awful offensive surroundings, or other football variables. And, yes, there is something to be said for having the foresight to know a bad situation when you see one.

But who you draft in the first four rounds often has much more to do with the position you are actually drafting in because early round picks forge a lot more consensus in fantasy circles. Unless you’re in a league with a bunch of fantasy luddites, you’re not getting Jamaal Charles if you pick last in a 10- or 12-person league. It just ain’t happening, and it ain’t your fault.

What really wins fantasy drafts, and as a result, puts you in a more likely position to win your season, is finding value where it isn’t readily apparent, and being able to find suitable replacements, or diamonds in the rough to replace early round picks that don’t work out as you anticipated. Fortunately, numberFire’s newly released projections is a good place to start when mining for value. The draft kit itself includes fantasy point projections for the entire season and ranks players by position.

By comparing a player’s in-position rank based on numberFire’s projections to their Average Draft Position (ADP), we can find players being drafted in rounds way lower than their actual worth.

So who among this upcoming season’s wide receiver class is undervalued? Let’s have a look at five receivers you can get for a crazy bargain (as of now).

Anquan Boldin

Our own JJ Zachariason wrote about the insanity of Boldin’s value recently, but his message is worth repeating. Anquan Boldin is getting sold short by the fantasy football community, and those owners who scoop him up won’t be sorry for two primary reasons. First, you won’t have to spend a premium pick to get him. According to FantasyFootballCalculator.com, Boldin’s current ADP rests as the 51st wide receiver being taken off of draft boards. numberFire’s projected rank for Boldin among wide receivers? 29th!

That brings me to point number two. Anquan Boldin is a good football player, age be damned. Boldin’s only had one season in his illustrious career for which he’s fallen short of 100 targets (2007, 99 targets). And Boldin experienced a career revival in his last two seasons as a 49er.

Using numberFire’s primary metric for determining on-field effectiveness, Net Expected Points (NEP), which measures the effectiveness of a player based on his performance above or bleow expectation, we can determine just how good Boldin’s been as a 49er. With each play comes a general performance expectation that is calculated based on historical patterns, current down, yardage-to-go for a first down, and other football variables.

With Michael Crabtree out for most of the 2013 season, Boldin did grown man’s work, finishing sixth in the league among receivers targeted at least 95 times in Reception NEP. Not only that, but he was incredibly efficient while doing it, besting all of these receivers in per-target efficiency with a 0.93 Reception NEP per target. Basically, every time Boldin was targeted in 2013, he added nearly point to his team’s score. That’s impressive.

While his 2014 season wasn’t quite as effective, it was still nothing to scoff at, and he finished with efficiency levels well above average among qualifying receivers.

With the exit of Crabtree, Stevie Johnson, and Brandon Lloyd, Boldin should continue to see, at bare-minimum, the 130-target average he’s received in the past two years in San Francisco. With the addition of Torrey Smith and his ability to blow the top off of defenses, Boldin can continue to focus on what he does best: getting separation in shorter and intermediate routes and snagging every possible catchable ball thrown his way.

When it comes to Boldin, buy now.

Continue reading at numberFire.com… (@numbefire)



K. Smelser About K. Smelser
Kelly Smelser is Owner/Senior Writer for Punch Drunk Wonderland and PDFantasy Sports. Architect of the PDW fantasy football world and general spinster of NFL and Fantasy Football news and analysis. Long walks on the beach, sunsets, and other such niceties are also fine...