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Fantasy Football Average Draft Positions Sure to Rise: Wide Receivers

Dwayne Bowe
Dwayne Bowe

Kansas City Chiefs wide receiver Dwayne Bowe (82) makes a catch while being defended by Cleveland Browns cornerback Joe Haden (23) in the first quarter at Cleveland Brown Stadium. Andrew Weber-USA TODAY Sports

Spotting wide receivers with artificially depressed average draft positions (ADP) is a little easier than pinpointing quarterbacks and running backs who will see an ADP uptick because, for better or worse, there’s only a certain kind of fantasy owner participating in mock drafts today.

Call them obsessive, call them degenerate, call them any manner of insulting names as they try to wrap their brains around current player market values, but it’s only these fantasy owners who are mocking in the dark days of spring, and I think that’s reflected in MyFantasyLeague’s ADP reports.

It’s this brand of fantasy enthusiast – using mock drafts as methadone to limit the inevitable offseason withdrawal symptoms – that have driven up running back ADPs at the expense of receiver ADPs. There’s consensus in the obsessive community, of which I’m a card-carrying member, that backs in the early going is essential to a decent fantasy squad in 2013.

The wide receiver position is as deep as it’s ever been, we’ve decided (and it’s true), so we invest our most precious draft picks on the scarcest position, running back. This will change when the casual owners meander into Fantasy Football Land from whatever healthy lifestyle they live, filled with things other than LaVonn Brazill’s fantasy value.

Read more about potential ADP spikes…
Fantasy Football ADPs Sure to Rise: QBs and RBs

I think we’ll see plenty of receivers’ ADPs climb in July and August. And in case you’ve forgotten, wild summertime ADP swings are not exactly unprecedented. In fact, they’re expected, and changed the draft day values of plenty of players in 2012.

Even a cursory glance at 2013 ADPs shows that there are a couple handfuls of fantasy assets whose value will tick upward in the coming fourth months. Identifying these guys is important, I think, because it helps us come to terms with the sad fact that these players won’t be such ridiculous draft values come August, when it (finally) counts. Adjust your expectations accordingly.

Dwayne Bowe, WR, Kansas City Chiefs (Current ADP: 4.10): Bowe, the quintessential outside big body who has long been a muse for fantasy owners who target red zone-relevant pass catchers, has most recently caught pigskins from the following future Hall of Famers: Brady Quinn, Matt Cassel, Tyler Palko, and Kyle Orton. Bowe, in other words, has endured the unendurable.

I think Bowe’s upward draft movement will the product of Andy Reid’s love of the pass.  Alex Smith is clearly a stopgap measure in Kansas City, but the guy is an efficient passer who can do what Cassel did in 2010: Get the ball to Bowe in favorable match-ups. Per Kyle Wachtel’s research, the Chiefs have attempted an averaged of 515 passes since 2007. Reid’s Eagles, during that same span, averaged 578 pass attempts a year. Reid’s teams threw for almost 700 more yards per season than the Chiefs’ offense from 2007-2012. Bowe’s per-game fantasy point production average of more than eight points in four of his six pro seasons makes him a legit top-12 threat.

As the unquestioned No. 1 wide receiver in an offense sure to throw and throw some more, I could see Bowe’s ADP climbing into the late third round, leapfrogging guys like Mike Wallace, Eric Decker, and Marques Colston.

Danny Amendola, WR, New England Patriots (Current ADP: 7.03): Just the sound of Amendola’s mock draft ADP triggers a reaction among fantasy owners not unlike Pavlov’s dogs. If real drafts were held today, I think Amendola could be among the five best values at any position. That has to change when his role is better defined during Patriots’ training camp, the very place where hype surrounding Aaron Hernandez catapulted the tight end moved him three rounds higher over the last couple months of the offseason.

Amendola will see the same kind of ADP spike.

Expect quotes like the one from an unnamed NFL scout become more commonplace as Amendola’s role in New England’s offensive machine – a role that will be quite different from Wes Welker – comes into focus in July and August.

“He does all the things the other guy was doing, but he’s younger right now — suddenness, route savvy, a feel for leveraging defenders and finding openings,” the scout said when asked to compare Amendola to Welker. “You name it, he did it. … Watch (the San Francisco game from last year) — he (stood) out.”

That’s the sort of chatter that drives a player’s fantasy value, and helps owners look past injury concerns, which helped depressed Amendola’s draft position last year. Chemistry with Tom Brady still in question, I think the mere prospect of Amendola running a more diverse route tree from more varied positions across the Patriots’ offensive formation will be enough to push him into the mid-fourth round. In PPR leagues, he could reach the latter half of the third round.

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