Anybody can plug Julio Jones or Antonio Brown into a lineup. But it takes a genius to get big fantasy points out of a player drafted in the 13th round or to pick a WR-1 off the waiver wire. Here’s our NFL fantasy sleeper wide receiver of the week and a few other thoughts, in case you need more than one.
Best bet: Kendall Wright, Chicago Bears (vs. Atlanta)
Here is an interesting stat line for you: 93 receptions, 1,185 yards, and seven touchdowns. Not too bad, right? Unfortunately, no one on the current Bears roster had a stat line like that last season. In fact, those numbers represent the grand total of all six current roster wideouts in 2016. Jordy Nelson had four more catches and twice as many touchdowns by himself.
Here’s another interesting stat line: 94 receptions for 1,079 yards and two touchdowns. That was Kendall Wright’s line in 2013 with the Tennessee Titans. He missed a couple of games the following year but came up with six touchdowns and 715 yards on 57 receptions. Wright tailed off further before Tennessee let him walk away as a free agent this year.
What happened in Tennessee is open for debate, but Wright feels the Titans under-utilized him. He was not happy taking a back seat to last year’s draft pick, Tajae Sharpe, and Rishard Matthews. So he comes to Chicago offering experience as a top receiver and a chip on his shoulder. He wants to show that he is a top-flight receiver.
Then Cameron Meredith went down for the season. Kevin White assumed the WR-1 designation but is a lesser-known commodity after seeing limited action as a first-round draft pick last season. Wright finds himself in a “put up or shut up” position. He can become a top receiving threat for the Mike Glennon-led Bear offense or he can fade back into the pack with the likes of Markus Wheaton, Josh Bellamy, Deonte Thompson, and Tre McBride.
By all accounts, Wright realizes the opportunity in front of him and can’t wait to start the season. I am betting that he starts off with a nice game against the Atlanta Falcons. Extended garbage time is possible, but it wouldn’t be a bad thing for your NFL fantasy score if Glennon (or Trubisky) throws every down in the second half.
Chicago’s tight ends and running backs will take a portion of passing targets by design. But there is enough left to say that White and Wright come up with eight catches each. Wright converts his to 98 yards and touchdown, good for 15 standard league NFL fantasy points from the ADP WR81.
Good bet: Ted Ginn Jr, New Orleans Saints (at Minnesota)
They’re not in New Orleans, but they are in a dome at Minnesota. Drew Brees will air it out as usual and he has to throw to someone other than Michael Thomas. Look for Ginn to have a big day in Minny. 11 catches, 120 yards, and a touchdown go to Ginn.
Worth a bet: Cole Beasley, Dallas Cowboys (vs. New York Giants)
Fans seem to forget there are other receivers in Dallas besides Dez Bryant and tight end Jason Witten. The Giants took Bryant out of last years’ games and kept Witten in front of them. Quarterback Dak Prescott will look for Beasley earlier than he did in last season’s games, to the tune of eight receptions and 100 yards.
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