There are some amazing players the NFL produces every season. We as fans also get to see the emergence of new young players breaking out to achieve elite status each year it seems. With much of the fanfare typically going to the new shiny toy on a high-scoring offense, there are some unsung heroes of the NFL. I want to talk about several wide receivers just recently getting the recognition they deserve as valuable fantasy assets, but are still available in drafts at great value.
5) Brandin Cooks
Brandin Cooks has been incredibly consistent over his six year NFL career. Four of those six seasons Cooks has been WR15 or better in PPR formats. One of the seasons he didn’t achieve that elite status was his rookie year in New Orleans.
The feeling around fantasy communities is that Cooks is just a hit away from being finished. Last year, with the Los Angeles Rams, Cooks played in 14 games, but was hampered by injuries which minimized his usual effectiveness. The feeling of “What have you done for me lately?” is permeating throughout fantasy circles.
The soon to be 27-year-old receiver is on a new team, as the Houston Texans traded a 2020 second-round pick (No. 57 overall) for Cooks. With the chance to be the number one target right away, Cooks is poised for a rebound season with the Texans. He’s been criminally undervalued in drafts as the 35th wide receiver taken on average by FantasyPros.
4) Stefon Diggs
The Buffalo Bills invested heavily when they traded the Minnesota Vikings for Stefon Diggs. Diggs has played at an elite level over the last three seasons, finishing no lower than WR24 (2019) and as high as WR10 (2018). He is consistently a top producing wide receiver in the NFL while playing on teams featuring run-heavy offenses. Last year, Minnesota had the fourth highest rushing play percentage in the NFL. Diggs still was WR2 with only 94 targets in 15 games.
The Bills are still a rush heavy team (7th highest run play percentage), but Diggs is now the unquestioned number one receiving option with one of the most powerful arms the NFL has to offer in Josh Allen. Allen has improved his accuracy six percentage points from his rookie seasons, but still has room to grow. Say what you will about Josh Allen as a passer, but his arm strength isn’t one of his weaknesses. Diggs is known as one of the best ball trackers in the league also. This actually seems like an exciting connection. Diggs also turns 27 halfway through the 2020 season and still has many good years ahead of him. He’s a superb buy low candidate.
3) Robert Woods
Los Angeles Rams
LA is known for its glitz and glamor from Hollywood stars, runway models, and the art scene. Robert Woods isn’t a “sexy” wide receiver. He isn’t blowing by opponents or towering over them. Woods just shows up to work every day and does all the things necessary to move the chains.
Woods has been a high upside WR2 for the last three years. He missed time in 2017 due to a shoulder sprain but was on pace to finish as a top 20 receiver then also. His lack of allure is something of an anomaly.
Woods now rests squarely entrenched as the Rams best outside receiving option. Brandin Cooks was traded to the Houston Texans in the offseason, and Cooper Kupp remains a favorite target of Jared Goff out of the slot. Robert Woods is about to turn 28 years old, but could be ready to post his biggest statistical season yet. It wouldn’t be surprising to see Woods finish as a WR1 again in 2020.
2) Jarvis Landry
Jarvis Landry has been taking defenses to school since he came into the league with the Miami Dolphins in 2014. He was selected in the second round out of LSU and was considered an elite pass catcher with below average athleticism. Landry burst onto the NFL stage his rookie year as a target monster (112); converting 84 into receptions.
Landry has always been known to be an outstanding possession receiver, but lacks the athleticism to gain yards down the field or to beat men on the outside. It’s this narrative that has lowered his value over the years, but it shouldn’t.
The Cleveland Browns receiver is an excellent fantasy receiver, finishing as high as WR5 overall in 2017. Landry has also never finished below WR18 overall since 2015. His rookie year he still finished as WR31. This just means that he is one of the most consistent fantasy assets over the last five seasons combined.
With an ADP of 69, Landry is one of the best values in all formats. If you’re lucky enough to get the 28-year-old receiver, deploy him every week regardless of matchup.
1) Allen Robinson
A former Penn State standout, Allen Robinson has been the most underrated wide receiver in the NFL for years. His numbers aren’t as consistent as Woods or Landry, but he has dealt with one of the worst bad throw percentages of any wide receiver the last six years.
Drafted in the second round, Robinson came to Jacksonville with high hopes for teammate and number three overall draft pick Blake Bortles. Unfortunately for Robinson, Bortles struggled with accuracy and pressure. Even with the lack of elite play at quarterback for the Jaguars, Robinson was able to have a monster season in 2015 with 80 receptions, 1,400 receiving yards, and 14 touchdowns, finishing as the WR6.
2016 was one of the worst possible seasons for Robinson and the Jaguars. He was targeted 151 times, but only had 73 receptions for 883 yards and 6 touchdowns. His production was still good enough to be WR24 overall.
Over the next two seasons Robinson battled injuries and left Jacksonville for the Chicago Bears and a change of scenery. Robinson had the chance to play with hopefully a more accurate quarterback.
Robinson and Mitchell Trubisky took some time to build rapport, but Robinson averaged 12.5 fantasy points per game and finished as WR24 overall even while missing four games due to injury. The future looked bright in Chicago with a young quarterback leading the Bears to a playoff berth.
2019 saw Robinson return to form, finishing as the WR8 overall. The downside was that Trubisky regressed and saw his accuracy falter. Even with the reduced level of play, Robinson was bailing out his quarterback at a high level. Advanced metrics had Trubisky in the bottom quarter of bad throw percentage for starting NFL quarterbacks by pro football reference.
Robinson has been seen as an injury-prone, underachieving possession receiver. That’s likely why his ADP of 66 unfairly values the most underrated receiver on our list. If the 26-year-old receiver can get more help at the quarterback position, he’s likely to finish as a WR1 each year he remains healthy. He’s already proven he can do it with below average quarterback play over his career. Go get Allen Robinson wherever you can in any format!