2020 Fantasy Football Draft Strategy: Which Wide Receivers to Target in Rounds 4-5 - Roto Street Journal
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2020 Fantasy Football Draft Strategy: Which Wide Receivers to Target in Rounds 4-5

If you follow Roto Street Journal, then you know we’re all about targeting high usage, workhorse running backs in the early rounds. If you subscribe to that 2020 fantasy football draft strategy, then it is critical that you target the right receivers in the “meat” of the draft. We’re talking about Round 4 and Round 5.

It’s where you win or lose, your fantasy football draft. 

Part II: Which Wide Receivers to Target in Rounds 6-7

Two fantasy co-owners (Kendall Brown and Tailback Tino) are going to take you through exactly how to build your championship roster, giving you our favorite picks in each round.

Who to Target in Round 4

HOME RUN PICK:

AJ BROWN, WR, TEN

ADP: 31 overall, WR15

Kendall’s take:

Before I get the AJ Brown hype train started, let me talk about why people are fading him at his current ADP. The main arguments are that he’s a low reception player in a run-heavy offense, which makes him a bit game script dependent. While I totally understand those concerns, at the end of the day it comes down to talent vs. opportunity. Which would you rather have?

Personally, I’ll take the talent when it comes to AJ Brown. Listed at 6 feet, 226 lbs, not only is he thicker than the likes of Mike Evans, but he’s faster too. He was able to eclipse the 1,000-yard mark in his rookie season, despite not having good quarterback play until Week 7 when Ryan Tannehill took over.

But after getting past the initial rookie wall (and mediocre play from Marcus Mariota), Brown was a beast the second half of the year. From Weeks 7-to-17 Brown was the WR7 (PPR) and from Weeks 12-to-17, he was the WR2.

While others are scared off by his lack of volume, his big-play ability with the ball in his hands is what makes him a threat to take it to the house on any opportunity. Brown averaged 8.8 YAC/rec, ranking him first in the NFL, and averaged 20.2 YPR, ranking him third in the league.

Although I concede that AJ’s efficiency will likely decrease a little in 2020, a full season of targets from Tannehill and a similar target share locks him in as a WR2 with upside to be a top 10 fantasy receiver. 

Tino’s take:

Watch any AJ Brown highlight reel and you will be chomping at the bit to draft him in the fourth round. I completely agree with Kendall’s analysis of Brown being a WR2 with legitimate WR1 upside. 

OTHERS TO CONSIDER:

ALLEN ROBINSON, WR, CHI

ADP: 36th overall, WR16

Kendall’s take:

This is a really tough one for me. On one hand I understand that Allen Robinson has produced two top-eight WR seasons with Blake Bortles and Mitchell Trubisky… a truly impressive feat. But on the other hand, his 2020 QB will be one, or a combination of Trubisky and Nick Foles.

Robinson NEEDS to see a ton of targets to produce at the same rate he did last year, as he was not one of the most efficient receivers in the league. Last season, Robinson saw the third-most targets (154) at his position and if that decreases, he’ll likely be on the outside, looking in at a top-12 WR finish.

With that being said, it’s a lock that a healthy Robinson gets 100-plus targets and 1,000-plus yards receiving. I like the very high floor for Robinson, but I personally don’t see a high ceiling. 

Tino’s take:

This is not very tough for me. If Allen Robinson is sitting there in the 4th round, hammer the “Draft” button and don’t look back.  

A true target hog on a team with no significant WR2 (Anthony Miller), Robinson is in line for a massive target share. He is entering a contract year, and I think the Bears will have no choice but to force the ball into Robinson’s hands to score points.  

The Bears have an inefficient run game, poor secondary WR options, and a question mark at QB. With that said, Robinson has produced despite these drawbacks throughout his career. I see no reason why Robinson’s volume would decrease, and I even expect him to see 160-plus targets this season. He finished last season as the WR7 in fantasy last year, and I expect him to finish this season in the WR5-to-WR10 overall range, catching passes from Nick Foles. Robinson is a no brainer pick in the fourth round.

ADAM THIELEN, WR, MIN

ADP: 39th overall, WR14

Kendall’s take:

Adam Thielen is one of my favorite targets in the fantasy football drafts this season. Despite being a member of SKOL Nation, my Vikings bias has (almost) nothing to do with my projection of Thielen. The main reason for my bullishness on Thielen is the fact that we’ve seen him produce at a top-10 WR level before. I’m sure we all recall Thielen’s historic start to the 2018 season when he tied Calvin Johnson with eight straight 100-yard games to start a season. 

The last we saw a healthy Adam Thielen, he finished as the WR7! However, things changed in 2019 for a couple of reasons.

For starters, Thielen missed 5 games due to a hamstring strain. Then, Minnesota focused on (and had success) running the ball. The Vikings ranked 30th in passing attempts and 31st in pass-play percentage and Mike Zimmer’s run-heavy tendencies is exactly what drove star wide receiver Stefon Diggs to demand a trade.

Although the Vikings drafted a promising young receiver in Justin Jefferson, I don’t expect him to eat away at Thielen’s target share. While this strategy worked for Minnesota last year, many key veterans departed from their defense (Everson Griffen, Xavier Rhodes, Linval Joseph), meaning they are going to find themselves in many more negative game scripts. 

With no other established receivers to eat targets, a weaker defense,, and a (hopefully) healthier season, Thielen has as good a chance as any to return to fantasy superstardom in 2020 and SMASH his ADP.  

Tino’s take:

As I write this article I am struggling to think of someone in this range with a higher floor than Adam Thielen.

With the departure Diggs, Thielen is the remaining head of the two-headed monster that Minnesota enjoyed these past five years. The former undrafted free agent is now the alpha receiver for a team with very little WR depth, with Jefferson and Bisi Johnson fighting for the WR2 role. 

With a declining defense and his target competition drastically decreased, Thielen is a healthy season away from producing top 10 WR numbers.  When this run-heavy team needs to claw back in games, Thielen is going to absolutely eat. The true definition of a “target hog.”

Talent? Check.
Opportunity? Check.
Me Drafting Him? Check.

Who to target in Round 5

HOME RUN PICK:

TERRY MCLAURIN, WR, WAS

ADP: 65th overall, WR25

Kendall’s take:

If you read my piece on Terry McLaurin, then you already know exactly how I feel about him. But you know what? I’ll make my case again.

First, we know that Terry had the second-best rookie season EVER for a WR, only behind Odell Beckham Jr. Then, McLaurin is poised to have a breakout season with the implementation of Scott Turner’s Air Coryell offense, an offense predicated off the success of a power run game and stretching the defense with deep play-action passes. This plays directly into Terry’s strengths as an excellent contested catch, deep-ball receiver.

Then there’s the departure of Chris Thompson, the team’s second-highest target getter, and the loss of Kelvin Harmon, which should guarantee even more targets for McLaurin. The former Buckeye was on a 100-plus target pace in his rookie season, on a team that threw the ball at an extremely low clip. If McLaurin can get slightly better QB play from Dwayne Haskins, as we saw at the end of last season he will absolutely outperform his ADP as the 27th WR off the board. 

Tino’s take:

“F1” might be the highest upside WR drafted during these two rounds. He is oozing with talent and has a massive workload incoming from the new regime’s scheme. You are drafting McLaurin at his floor as the WR27, and if things go well in Washington, you could very realistically get a top 10-to-15 WR. 

Kendall’s article pretty much says everything I have to say. I cannot understate how much I would love to snag McLaurin in this range. Absolute league-winning potential.

OTHERS TO CONSIDER:

KEENAN ALLEN

ADP: 45th overall, WR19

Tino’s take:

Read my piece on Keenan Allen to get a more in-depth view of how I view him for this season.

I’ve always been a huge believer in Allen’s talent. He is one of the best pure route runners in the NFL and has unbelievable ability to create separation. Not to mention, he has single-handedly won me crucial matchups over the years. That being said, the idea of drafting Allen does scare me a little bit this season.

Tyrod Taylor has only supported one 1,000 yard receiver in his career, and the second most productive receiver could not even eclipse the 650-yard mark. He was forced to spread the ball around to no-name receivers during his three-year tenure in Buffalo and showed no sign of bucking the trend during his short stint in Cleveland. The Chargers are going to be a run-heavy team that does not take a lot of shots downfield. I just don’t see Keenan providing the needed upside to draft him at this spot.

If you want a high ceiling at this draft slot, Keenan Allen is not your guy. When drafting him, you’re getting a large piece of a really bland pie. Sure it will fill you up with volume, but it definitely doesn’t excite you.

This is a discussion searching for league winners, and Allen doesn’t fit the mold this year.

Kendall’s take:

The idea of drafting Keenan Allen kind of terrifies me and it’s got almost nothing to do with Keenan the player. We know he is one of the most talented route runners in the NFL and he’s clearly the alpha receiver on this LA Chargers squad. But with Taylor and/or Justin Herbert throwing him passes, it does not get me excited.

Not to mention, that there are a lot of mouths to feed in LA. There’s Austin Ekeler, Mike Williams, and Hunter Henry who will also demand targets, and to Tino’s point, Tyrod has only supported one 1,000-yard receiver in his career.

In conjunction, the touchdown upside isn’t really there for Keenan. Tyrod’s best statistical season came back in 2015 when he threw for just over 3,000 yards and 20 TD’s. We’ve seen talent trump opportunity many times, but in this instance, I think that there just won’t be enough opportunity for Keenan to outperform his current WR20 ADP

TYLER LOCKETT, WR, SEA

ADP: 50th overall, WR18

Kendall’s take:

It AMAZES me that people are down on Tyler Lockett. Specifically, I don’t understand how DK Metcalf is being selected ahead of Lockett. While I will concede that Metcalf has more potential than Lockett, he won’t be the alpha receiver in Seattle just yet.

Lockett had the second-highest catch rate among wide receivers last year (74.5 percent) and in 2018 (81.4 percent), only trailing Michael Thomas. The low-volume passing offense is a concern for Lockett, but he is arguably the most efficient WR in the NFL and he has the numbers to back it up.

Despite averaging only 90.5 targets over the last two seasons, Lockett finished as the WR16 and WR13 in 2018 and 2019, respectively. Lockett was targeted 23 times in the red zone, the most in the league, which resulted in seven scores. He also has the second-most touchdowns in the league since 2018, with 18. Lastly, he’s coming off a career year where he surpassed 100 targets and 1,000 yards for the first time in his career. Lockett is an ascending and very underrated talent.

Tino’s take:

Tough to disagree with Kendall on this one. In my opinion, Lockett and Metcalf are both terrific options at this stage of the draft, with Lockett being the safer option. DK likely provides the higher ceiling, but fantasy owners may be getting ahead of themselves crowning DK the WR1 in Seattle.

The fact that Lockett is available in the fifth round is a glaring example of why you need to start your draft with at least two bell-cows. I have both Lockett and Metcalf finishing the season as quality WR2s for fantasy teams.

DEVANTE PARKER, WR, MIA

ADP: 52nd overall, WR23

Tino’s take:

DeVante Parker is my “pound the table” must-draft player of 2020. Parker is the rare WR in this range who has a guaranteed heavy workload with the opportunity to explode based on talent.

Parker won thousands of fantasy players their leagues last year, exploding as the overall WR2 during Week 8-to-16. He single-handedly made one of my student loan payments with his fantasy playoff performance. This was catalyzed by the season-ending injury of Preston Williams, but I think Parker is set up for another massive workload.

The Dolphins receiving corps are alarmingly thin after Allen Hurns and Albert Wilson chose to opt-out due to COVID-19 concerns. To make matters worse in Miami, Preston Williams is far from a lock to be back in time for Week 1 from his ACL injury. Parker is the alpha-dog on a team projected to trail in most games. Coach Brian Flores impressed me in his first year at the helm and clearly loves Parker. Flores couldn’t even wait until the offseason to give Parker a 4-year, $40 million extension.

Parker is now being paid by the organization as a WR1, and I expect them to force-feed him the ball for the duration of 2020. Whether Fitzpatrick or Tua is under center for the ‘Fins in 2020, Parker will be their most reliable option.

Kendall’s take:

The arguments for Devante Parker are tempting. Yes, the organization has paid him to be a WR1. Yes, Parker finished last season as the WR2 during Weeks 8-to-16, and yes Parker won thousands of fantasy players their league title last season.

But there is cause for concern for Parker.

For starters, Parker has been disappointing fantasy owners since he was drafted in 2015, having never finished better than WR50 until last season. Additionally, Parker’s productivity really didn’t start until after Preston Williams tore his ACL in Week 9. From Week 10 on, Parker received 10 or more targets in six of eight games, but from Weeks 1 through 8, Parker only received 10-plus targets once.

Don’t hear what I’m not saying here. I think Parker can still be a good option for your fantasy team and is probably still undervalued. However, the splits with and without Williams in the lineup are a bit alarming and I don’t expect Parker to replicate his 2019 season. Parker’s 16 game pace with Williams on the field would have slotted him at WR34, finishing around Cole Beasley, Larry Fitzgerald, and Curtis Samuel.

If Parker picks up where he left off last season (9.5 targets per game), then he’ll be extreme value in drafts. But I think the emergence of Mike Gesecki and Williams will take targets away from Parker, leading him to finish closer to his WR23 ADP.

Check out Part 2 of our league-winning WR series

Author

  • Hockey player turned fantasy football addict. Hoarder of running backs. Jets fan whose childhood was ruined by Tom Brady.

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