2015 Fantasy Football Draft Prep: Wide receiver strategy

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The receiver position took a serious hit through the first two weeks of the preseason with season-ending injuries to two stars. First it was Kelvin Benjamin going down for the year with a torn ACL, and then Jordy Nelson followed suit with the same injury.

The good news is the position is deep, and there are plenty of receivers who can replace Benjamin and Nelson and still play at a high level. It's just a matter of when to draft your receivers and how many to invest in for your roster.

I don't remember ever being as excited about the receiver position as I am this year. There are so many guys I want on my Fantasy team.

Last year, there were 45 receivers who scored at least 100 Fantasy points in a standard league. There were only 32 running backs who reached that mark. In PPR leagues, there were 47 receivers with 150 Fantasy points, and only 19 running backs did it. I would expect similar results this year.

Now, you still need quality running backs to help you win Fantasy titles, but we're seeing more and more Fantasy owners start to realize that receivers can carry your team. And there are many ways to approach receivers on Draft Day.

You can definitely start your draft with two receivers in the first two rounds from the Super Seven -- Antonio Brown, Dez Bryant, Julio Jones, Calvin Johnson, Demaryius Thomas, Odell Beckham and A.J. Green -- and find enough talent at running back beginning in Round 3. That's my favorite way to build a team, and I would consider that strategy beginning at No. 8 overall in standard leagues and No. 6 overall in PPR.

My No. 1 receiver is Brown, and I would draft him at No. 8 in standard leagues after Adrian Peterson, Le'Veon Bell, Eddie Lacy, Jamaal Charles, C.J. Anderson, Marshawn Lynch and Rob Gronkowski came off the board. In PPR, I would take Brown after Peterson, Bell, Charles, Lacy and Gronkowski.

There are at least five receivers worth drafting in the first round -- Brown, Bryant, Jones, Johnson and Thomas -- and then you can try to pair one of those receivers with Beckham or Green in the second round. It obviously won't work out that way for every owner, but that would be my goal.

And then the running backs you should have the chance to draft beginning in Round 3 include Lamar Miller (ADP is No. 32 overall), Frank Gore (No. 37), Alfred Morris (No. 38), Carlos Hyde (No. 39), Mark Ingram (No. 40), Latavius Murray (No. 42), Andre Ellington (No. 45), Joseph Randle (No. 47), T.J. Yeldon (No. 55) and Jonathan Stewart (No. 59). I like all of those guys, and you could conceivably draft three of those running backs from Rounds 3-5 after starting your team with two stud receivers.

If you choose to wait on receiver and draft two running backs with your first two picks or a running back mixed in with a tight end or quarterback then you're missing out on one of the Super Seven. But all is not lost. The receivers in Rounds 3 and 4 are still extremely talented with Randall Cobb (No. 25 overall), T.Y. Hilton (No. 29), Mike Evans (No. 30), Alshon Jeffery (No. 31), Emmanuel Sanders (No. 32), Brandin Cooks (No. 42), Jordan Matthews (No. 45) and DeAndre Hopkins (No. 48).

I have no problem pairing two of these guys together as my top options, and all have the chance to be Top 10 receivers this season. There are so many talented receivers this year, and we're just getting started with the guys to target in the early rounds.

Every league is different, and the strategy with receivers varies from standard to PPR formats and leagues that start three receivers. With that in mind, let's look at some examples using ADP on CBS Sports. The projected Fantasy points are based on CBS Sports 2015 projections.

Going WR-WR with your first two picks

From No. 10 overall …

Round | Overall selection | Player | Projected Fantasy points for 2015

1 | 10 | Demaryius Thomas, WR, Broncos | 209
2 | 15 | Odell Beckham, WR, Giants | 201
3 | 34 | Frank Gore, RB, Colts | 135
4 | 39 | Mark Ingram, RB, Saints | 148
5 | 58 | Jonathan Stewart, RB, Panthers | 111
6 | 61 | Martavis Bryant, WR, Steelers | 123
7 | 82 | Eli Manning, QB, Giants | 302
8 | 87 | Doug Martin, RB, Buccaneers | 95
9 | 106 | Dwayne Allen, TE, Colts | 90
10 | 111 | Charles Johnson, WR, Vikings | 103
11 | 130 | Duke Johnson, RB, Browns | 30
12 | 135 | Danny Woodhead, RB, Chargers | 48
13 | 154 | Vikings DST | 139
14 | 159 | Matt Bryant, K, Falcons | 126
Total points: 1,860

I love building my team this way in standard or PPR leagues when you pick toward the back end of the first round, especially in leagues that start only two receivers. I also expect more Fantasy points for Duke Johnson and Woodhead, which makes them excellent late-round fliers at running back. Gore, Ingram and Stewart are the perfect running backs to target if you start your team with two receivers, and both should be available in that range. All three running backs have Top 10 potential, and even Martin could surprise us this season. If two or more of those guys have big seasons then a team that starts with two stud receivers should be dominant if those pass catchers play to their expectations.

Waiting on WR until Round 3

From No. 6 overall …

Round | Overall selection | Player | Projected Fantasy points for 2015

1 | 6 | Marshawn Lynch, RB, Seahawks | 228
2 | 19 | Jeremy Hill, RB, Bengals | 180
3 | 30 | Mike Evans, WR, Buccaneers | 173
4 | 43 | Jordan Matthews, WR, Eagles | 132
5 | 54 | Amari Cooper, WR, Raiders | 108
6 | 67 | C.J. Spiller, RB, Saints | 86
7 | 78 | Tom Brady, QB, Patriots | 247
8 | 91 | Nelson Agholor, WR, Eagles | 120
9 | 102 | Allen Robinson, WR, Jaguars | 105
10 | 115 | Sam Bradford, QB, Eagles | 278
11 | 126 | Knile Davis, RB, Chiefs | 85
12 | 139 | Tyler Eifert, TE, Bengals | 59
13 | 150 | Colts DST | 148
14 | 163 | Matt Prater, K, Lions | 108
Total points: 2,055

How can you be upset with a roster like this? You would end up with two Top 10 running backs coming into the season and then receivers with Top 20 upside. Evans and Matthews could easily be Top 10 receivers this year, and Cooper has the chance to be the No. 1 rookie receiver. We then backed up those top three options with Agholor and Robinson, who are oozing with upside. Now, the ADP for Agholor and Robinson should rise over the next couple of weeks, but the point would be that with three high-end running backs like Lynch, Hill and Spiller you can focus on filling out your receiving corps with guys who have a lot of potential.

Heavy WR in a three-receiver league

From No. 7 overall …

Round | Overall selection | Player | Projected Fantasy points for 2015

1 | 7 | Antonio Brown, WR, Steelers | 212
2 | 18 | Calvin Johnson, WR, Lions | 178
3 | 31 | Lamar Miller, RB, Dolphins | 177
4 | 42 | Brandin Cooks, WR, Saints | 136
5 | 55 | T.J. Yeldon, RB, Jaguars | 129
6 | 66 | Martellus Bennett, TE, Bears | 108
7 | 79 | Isaiah Crowell, RB, Browns | 110
8 | 90 | Ryan Tannehill, QB, Dolphins | 295
9 | 103 | Darren McFadden, RB, Cowboys | 89
10 | 114 | David Cobb, RB, Titans | 91
11 | 127 | Kendall Wright, WR, Titans | 104
12 | 138 | Devin Funchess, WR, Panthers | 85
13 | 151 | Lions DST | 148
14 | 164 | Blair Walsh, K, Vikings | 123
Total points: 1,985

When I want to go all in on receiver, especially in a three-receiver league, I'm going to make sure I get three guys I want. Now, in this scenario, most likely Johnson doesn't last until No. 18 overall like his ADP suggests. So it could be Green or Cobb at that spot. I wouldn't sacrifice running back completely, which is why Miller is a great pick in Round 3 or someone like him with Top 10 potential, and after drafting Cooks in Round 4 I looked at another high-upside running back like Yeldon. Crowell, McFadden and Cobb could all be starters if need be if things break right for them, especially Crowell and Cobb, and we got high-upside reserve receivers in Wright and Funchess. We might not see Funchess in this ADP spot for long after Benjamin's injury, and he'll be worth a late-round flier now with his expanded role.

It should be fun to draft receivers this season because there are great players in almost every round. The position is so deep that the talent pool doesn't dry up like it does for running backs.

Once you get past Hopkins in Round 4, the next receivers I like to target in the middle rounds are Andre Johnson, Cooper, Martavis Bryant, Jarvis Landry, Brandon Marshall, Agholor, Vincent Jackson, Steve Smith, Anquan Boldin and Robinson, who are all available through Round 9 based on ADP. And look for Davante Adams to be in this group following Nelson's injury, and I'm excited about his outlook now. The guys I like in double digits include Larry Fitzgerald, Charles Johnson, John Brown, Wright, Eddie Royal, Funchess, DeVante Parker, Brian Quick and Steve Johnson.

My favorite breakout receivers are Matthews, Cooks, Hopkins, Bryant and Landry, and the sleepers I target are Adams, John Brown, Charles Johnson, Robinson, Agholor, Royal and Wright. The guys I'm staying away from this year include Jeremy Maclin, Roddy White, Sanders and Golden Tate because I expect a drop-off in production.

The good thing is with receivers there are plenty of guys you should like who will deliver in a big way. The position is deep, and there is talent everywhere throughout the draft, even with Nelson and Benjamin lost for the season.

Senior Fantasy Writer

Jamey Eisenberg has been a Senior Fantasy Writer for CBS Sports since 2006 with a focus on Fantasy Football. A University of Florida grad (class of '98), Jamey got his start in the newspaper business and... Full Bio

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