Mid-Round Wide Receiver Edition (PPR Leagues 2022)
When you draft, it is very tempting to select a wide receiver with your first or second-round picks – there are a ton of stud wide receivers who could end up as an anchor for your squad. Last season, Coop Kupp was a cheat code and helped a ton of fantasy managers make the playoffs and ultimately win championships. In half-PPR leagues, loading up on WRs within the first couple of rounds isn’t advisable as the opportunity cost of giving up a workhorse running back or two is deadly.
There are times you can get lucky and grab an RB off waivers, but if your league is competitive, they can be tough to acquire. With that being said, the opportunity to grab wide receivers off the waiver wire is much easier as teams don’t tend to just throw to one or two players on the team. Even more so, if you load up on running backs in the first couple of rounds, you can find a lot of good value in the middle rounds on receivers that could break into the top 20 at the position.
If you keep up to date with our current half-PPR rankings throughout the summer heading into draft season, you will be able to identify changes in half-PPR ADP for the wide receivers and for every other position. Training camp and preseason will have the largest effect on moving ADP, so be sure to check in early and often so that you are up to date heading into your drafts.
Let’s take a look at five players you can acquire in the middle rounds of your fantasy drafts that provide a ton of upside for your fantasy squad. All ADP figures come from our half-PPR ADP rankings which can be filtered based on position and the number of teams in your league.
DeAndre Hopkins (ADP 4.09, WR 18)
Hopkins is a usual no-brainer pick in the early rounds, however, he has to serve out his current 6-game suspension for PEDs. He is looking to possibly appeal this to reduce the penalty, but I doubt it gets overturned at this stage. As a result, he is listed lower than usual at WR18 but in reality, he is falling much lower in drafts to around WR 44 as a middle-round pick.
If you can draft a stable core of receivers you can likely rely on for the first 6 games, Hopkins is a fantastic pick to sit on your bench. If he can slip to the 6 th or 7 th round there is no one in this range that is going to offer 2 nd round value as an elite WR. If you are in a league with only 2 WRs and 1 flex you can definitely take a chance and grab Hopkins as the likelihood of needing a huge overhaul at WR is unlikely in the first few weeks. In leagues with 3 WRs and 2 flex spots, this becomes a little riskier. You will want to have a consistent group of WRs you can count on and need right away, especially in full PPR leagues, and you will need to assess the cost-benefit of drafting him in the middle rounds compared to who is around him.
Robert Woods (ADP 6.06, WR 28)
After tearing his ACL in November, Robert Woods is currently on track to start in Week 1 for the Tennessee Titans. After trading elite receiver AJ Brown to the Eagles, the Titans went and drafted rookie Treylon Burks who looked amazing in college, however, he has already had to miss OTAs with problems relating to his asthma and he also has missed a few practices during minicamps. This isn’t the start the Titans were expecting when they took a chance on the rook and shipped off a top 10 WR to Philly. While Woods is still recovering from his injury, he is in line for a lot of work as the Titans’ WR1.
Last season AJ Brown demanded over 100 targets and was able to surpass 1000 yards in two of his three seasons with the Titans, scoring 16 touchdowns over his past two seasons. Woods is an obvious downgrade to Brown but he is going to see a ton of targets. Tannehill is going to lock in on Woods and it wouldn’t be unreasonable to see Woods scoring 8+ TDs while approaching 1000 yards on the season. At his current ADP, that’s great value and in some leagues, he could be an even bigger steal as you can find him as the WR 44 or later in some rankings. This is why it is important to cross-reference your rankings with the ADP of the draft site you are using to pick out great values like Robert Woods.
Courtland Sutton (ADP 7.08, WR 33)
With Russell Wilson coming to Denver, we could see another scenario where he sustains two fantasy-viable wide receivers in Courtland Sutton and Jerry Jeudy. Sutton is currently being drafted after Jeudy but offers a lot of upside for a mid-round pick. Lots have seemingly forgotten how good he actually is when he’s on the field. When Sutton is healthy, he’s one of the league's best in terms of yards per route run and we have seen Wilson not be afraid to air the ball out in Seattle to Metcalf and Lockett. With an ADP of 7.08 as the 33rd WR off the board, you can count on Sutton’s fantasy floor and he has the chance at posting a lot of spike weeks for your team.
Sutton’s ADP has been trending up since the Broncos’ acquired Russell Wilson but I would not shy away from having Sutton as a WR2 on your team. If you can get him later, great, but I think as training camp unfolds Sutton will find himself in the 5th round (or earlier) depending on all of the hype; he even has the chance to surpass Jeudy in ADP and I would count on Sutton finishing the year with more fantasy points. While Jeudy did have poor quarterback play last season, he finished with 52 receptions on 113 targets (yikes) for 856 yards and 3 touchdowns. Jeudy will likely still see his respective opponents’ top cornerback each week but he showed he was unable to break out when Sutton was injured very early on last year.
Reshod Bateman (ADP 9.08, WR 43)
With the departure of Marquise “Hollywood” Brown, the depth chart at WR consists of Rashaod Bateman, Devin Duevernay, James Proche II, and Tylan Wallace. Of these receivers, Bateman is the far and away WR1 on this team. Mark Andrews will still be the number 1 pass-catcher on the team, but for a team that could again be riddled with RB injuries, Lamar is going to need to pass the ball if they want to win the division or make the playoffs.
Last year, Hollywood Brown had 91 receptions on 146 targets for 1008 yards and 6 touchdowns - the targets are waiting to be scooped up and Bateman is the most likely to step up. Bateman didn’t play a full slate of games last season but was fairly productive when he was on the field. In 12 games he totaled 46 receptions for 515 yards and 1 touchdown. There is some uncertainty with Bateman never breaking out yet, but the offense bottlenecked to the WR1 and TE on this team in the passing game, so I don’t believe the vacant target share left by Brown will be spread out amongst 3-4 receivers. We will have to see how the offense involves Bateman during the preseason, but as it stands, Bateman provides excellent value in the 9th round as someone who can be the WR1 who is attached to an elite quarterback.
Russell Gage (ADP 10.02, WR 45)
Russell Gage is currently the 45th receiver off the board per FFC’s ADP and he’s an absolute steal for the potential upside. Rob Gronkowski is retired (for now) and Chris Godwin is not a sure thing to start in Week 1, although recent reports are optimistic that he will. Even if Godwin does return to the lineup, he’s not going to be 100%. The Bucs, led by Tom Brady, are a pass-heavy team and while Evans and Fournette will have their share in the passing game, there are a lot of opportunities for Gage to slide in and be a weekly fantasy contributor.
Tom Brady has already come out and said that Gage has to have a big year for the Buccaneers and he’s already been impressed with what he’s seen so far from Gage. He is not going to be a top-10 receiver every week, but if any receiver misses time, his target share has the chance to skyrocket. The Buccaneers will be one of the higher scoring teams again in the league this year, and Gage will undoubtedly have a piece of that, even as the WR3 in the offense. In the 9th or 10th round you can’t find another player with as much upside that Russell Gage has.
Be sure to complete our mock drafts to keep up with the ever-changing ADP data to see if you can land a couple of these WRs. You can mock for any type of league: Super-flex, standard scoring, full-PPR scoring, and many others.
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