Win The Draft By Targeting These Mid-Round Wide Receivers

by Ikey Azar · Draft Strategy

Looking at positional ADP is a good way to start building a draft strategy. While the top running backs will be off the board by the end of the fourth round, great values will still be available at the wide receiver position in the middle rounds. Here are five wide receivers who the advanced stats and metrics suggest will give us an edge in our leagues if we draft them in rounds 5 through 8.

Terry McLaurin (FFPC ADP: 56.55)

Many detractors will be worried about taking Terry McLaurin with Dwayne Haskins under center. However, in the seven games that Haskins started last season, McLaurin saw the same volume and sixteen game-pace as he did the first nine weeks.

Terry McLaurin 2019 Stats with Dwayne Haskins

McLaurin’s 23.0-percent Target Share already ranked No. 22 among qualified wide receivers last season. There’s room for it to grow, with the only real target competition brought in being Antonio Gibson, who currently projects as an RB/gadget player. Despite the high Target Share, he did not crack 100 targets. However, a major shift in that volume is on the horizon with Scott Turner being brought in as the new offensive coordinator. Combined with the looming positive mean reversion, Washington should throw well over 500 times in 2020. This will provide plenty of extra opportunities for McLaurin to build on his already impressive rookie season.

D.J. Chark (ADP: 58.83)

At 6-3, 199-pounds, with a 98th-percentile 40-Yard Dash, 96th-percentile Speed Score, and a 93rd-percentile Burst Score, D.J. Chark is an athletic freak. After a lackluster rookie season with 14 (No. 131) catches for 174 (No. 132) yards on 32 (No. 114) targets, Chark broke out in Week 1 of last season. He caught four balls for 146 yards and a touchdown against the Chiefs, finishing with 24.6 (No. 11) fantasy points. He finished the 2019 season with 73 (No. 19) catches for 1,008 (No. 24) yards and eight (No. 8) touchdowns. He enters his third NFL season as the unquestioned alpha wide receiver on the Jacksonville Jaguars.

Check out D.J. Chark’s 2020 Projection on PlayerProfiler’s “World Famous” Draft Kit:

Chark cooled off considerably over the final six games of last season. However, that was after Jacksonville decided to insert Nick Foles back at quarterback despite solid play from Gardner Minshew over the season’s first half. Through the first nine games, Minshew and Chark connected for a 43-692-6 stat line on 70 targets, which would have paced Chark for 124 targets and a 76-1230-11 line. This would have easily placed him into fantasy WR1 territory for the year. During that stretch, he had a 22.8-percent Target Share, but that plummeted to 17.6-percent after Minshew’s benching.

The team is fully committed to Minshew entering 2020. He ranked No. 5 in Deep Ball Completion Percentage, making him a perfect compliment to Chark’s size and speed on the outside. The Jaguars also own the lowest projected Vegas team win total combined with the No. 1 easiest schedule of opposing defenses in the first half of the season per Sharp Football. A team constantly facing negative Game Scripts and low-efficiency defenses will tee up Chark to smash his mid-round ADP.

DeVante Parker (ADP: 68.52)

It took four seasons, but DeVante Parker’s breakout finally happened in 2019. He finished as the WR11 overall and ranked No. 14 with 15.4 Fantasy Points per Game. He finished with 1,202 (No. 4) receiving yards, nine (No. 3) touchdowns, 28 (No. 5) Deep Targets, and 952 (No. 4) Completed Air Yards, with a 51.4-percent (No. 8) Contested Catch Rate. While many have been quick to point out Parker’s first and second half splits after Preston Williams tore his ACL, this entails a closer look. They split an equal 22.9-percent Target Share in Weeks 7-9 before Williams went down. Through the first five games, the Dolphins shimmied between Josh Rosen and Ryan Fitzpatrick at quarterback. Looking at the numbers, the full time benching of Rosen and committing to Fitzpatrick improved the entire offense, and is the biggest reason behind Parker’s phenomenal 2019.

Miami Dolphins 2019 Team Splits – First 5 Games vs. Final 11 Games

Over the final 11 games of the season, Parker was on a 16-game pace of 145 targets, 1,415 yards and 10 touchdowns, correlating to a No. 2 fantasy WR finish behind only Michael Thomas. He now walks into a situation where can match, or even exceed, last year’s breakout. Fitzpatrick returns as the starter, and if anything were to happen to him, they would no longer be turning to Rosen. They’d be turning to No. 5 overall draft pick Tua Tagovailoa, one of the most efficient college QBs in history, who was only drafted behind Joe Burrow due to his injury history. In addition, Parker’s situation has only gotten stronger. Williams is returning from the aforementioned mid-season ACL tear, and both Albert Wilson and Allen Hurns have opted out of the season. Parker is drafted as a back end WR2, but has WR1 upside.

Marquise Brown (ADP: 69.07)

Marquise Brown entered his rookie season with a Lisfranc injury, missed two games, and exceeded a 70-percent Snap Share in only four others. Despite this, he was still able to command 71 (No. 59) targets on a mere 401 (No. 26) Lamar Jackson passes, converting those into a 123.2 (No. 6) QB Rating When Targeted, 0.56 (No. 8) Fantasy Points per Pass Route and 2.06 (No. 19) Fantasy Points per Target.

Marquise Brown 2019 Efficiency Metrics

The Baltimore Ravens are a prime candidate for Game Script mean reversion which, being among the most efficient teams in league history last year, should lead to more passing. Baltimore comes into the season having traded away Hayden Hurst and having only brought in Devin Duvernay and James Proche with third and sixth-round picks in the NFL Draft. By trading their second-best receiving tight end and bringing in Duvernay, who profiles as a slot receiver, the team’s offseason moves point to more 11-personnel groupings, a category where they ranked No. 28 in 2019. The combination of Game Script reversion, offseason moves and lack of target competition makes Brown a monster upside pick at his current ADP.

A.J. Green (ADP: 77.97)

It has been almost two years since we last saw A.J. Green on a football field, but do not forget the player he was before exiting the 2018 season with toe and ankle injuries. In the half a season he did play, Green averaged 2.11 (No. 11) Yards per Pass Route and had a 31.9-percent (No. 6) Dominator Rating, while posting impressive marks in many of PlayerProfiler’s opportunity-based metrics.

A.J. Green 2018 Efficiency Metrics

A.J. Green is still a fantasy WR1. When health permits, he has never had a Target Share under 26.0-percent. In the six seasons where he has played at least 13 games, he has averaged 81 catches, 1,208 yards and nine touchdowns, with the obvious caveat being health. He has now missed 29 games over the last four seasons.

A.J. Green 2018 Stats

Per FFPC ADP data, Green is currently being drafted as the WR30 on average. No wide receiver available at that range offers the kind of league-winning upside Green does.