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Finding explosive receivers in leagues that reward long plays

By Larry Hartstein | Senior Analyst

Justin Hunter averaged 19.7 yards per catch in limited duty last year. (USATSI)
Justin Hunter averaged 19.7 yards per catch in limited duty last year. (USATSI)

Many Fantasy leagues award bonus points for long plays and long touchdowns. The bonuses often start at 40 yards and rise at 60 yards. Other leagues go further and award double points for long scores.

When the payoff is that high, it makes sense to consider a player's explosiveness when choosing between similarly ranked performers.

A reader, Will from NYC, plays in a 12-team PPR league that gives double points for scores of 40-plus yards. He wants to know which wideouts to target in the middle rounds, those likeliest to break big plays.

Here's a look at the 21 receivers who had at least four receptions of 40-plus yards last year:

Josh Gordon: 9

A.J. Green: 9

DeSean Jackson: 8

Torrey Smith: 8

Alshon Jeffery: 7

Antonio Brown: 6

Riley Cooper: 6

Eric Decker: 6

T.Y. Hilton: 6

Calvin Johnson: 5

Demaryius Thomas: 5

Vincent Jackson: 5

Jimmy Graham: 5

Kenny Stills: 5

Mike Wallace: 5

Harry Douglas: 5

Vernon Davis: 4

Justin Hunter : 4

Dez Bryant: 4

James Jones: 4

Hakeem Nicks: 4

Stills and Hunter are in bold because they provide the best value based on their low ADP. Stills is going 107th on average in early drafts, Hunter 146th.

We talked about Stills' breakout potential here. He did not have a touchdown last year shorter than 34 yards. His five scores went 34, 69, 42, 52 and 76 yards! Imagine what he'll do with a lot more than 50 targets.

Hunter, one of Jamey Eisenberg's early sleepers, made the list despite catching only 18 passes. He has big-play ability (19.7 yards per catch) and his four touchdowns went 34, 16, 54 and 41 yards. With a much bigger role in 2014, Hunter could pay big dividends as a flex or WR3.

Will also asked about targeting Cordarrelle Patterson in the 5th round or even sooner. He's a lock to supply bonus scoring; 5th round is about right. He's currently going early in the fifth round in mock drafts on fantasyfootballcalculator.com.

While Patterson only had one reception of 40-plus yards, a 79-yard score Week 14, he had touchdown runs of 50 and 35 yards. Put him in the Percy Harvin category and expect new offensive coordinator Norv Turner to maximize his talent.

The first thing Turner did upon being hired was "put in 10 plays for Cordarrelle Patterson," according to general manager Rick Spielman.

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