The 2018 NFL Preseason starts in the fist week of August. That's not far away at all. One of the deeper positions appears to be at wide receiver where after the Top 3 standouts: Pittsburgh's Antonio Brown, the New York Giants' Odell Beckham Jr., and Atlanta's Julio Jones, hit and misses abound.
I've decided to look past Round 1 through Round 4 and into Round 5. My crystal ball tells me that the following 10 wide receivers could have stand out seasons. They could also all fall to Round 5 or beyond.
Check it out!
NFL Fantasy: Round 5 and Beyond WRs Who Should Be on Your Radar
1. Josh Gordon, Cleveland Browns
Josh Gordon has been taking things day to day. That's pretty much the only thing he can do after being suspended for the past few seasons do to violating the NFL's substance abuse policy. Gordon only played in 5 games last season. He caught 18 passes and caught a TD pass.
Last season, Cleveland's quarterbacks were DeShone Kizer and Cody Kessler. Kizer started the 5 games that Grodon played. I believe coach Hue Jackson wanted to see if Kizer could develop a rapport with the Browns' top wide receiver. He sort of did. It wasn't enough for Jackson and Cleveland's front office to keep DeShone around.
That's music to anyone thinking of drafting Josh Gordon in season long NFL Fantasy. The Browns might have finally discovered their QB of the future in Heisman Trophy winner Baker Mayfield. Mayfield has something you can't teach, a winning attitude. He's also strong willed and willing to work as hard as it takes.
What's great about Gordon's situation in Cleveland this season, though, is that Mayfield won't even have to start for Josh to put up huge numbers. QB Tyrod Taylor has experience. He's a huge upgrade from Kizer and Kessler. Gordon could be the WR steal of most fantasy drafts this season.
2. Brandin Cooks, L.A. Rams
Brandin Cooks has played for the New Orleans Saints and New England Patriots in the past couple of seasons. He developed a decent rapport with both Drew Brees and Tom Brady. Jared Goff isn't Brees or Brady…yet. Cooks' involvement this season could help Goff become Brees or Brady, though.
I'm confident in writing that because the most important thing that Brandin Cooks showed us last season is that he can pick up a different offensive system, New England's compared to New Orleans', and still thrive. He caught 65 passes for over 1,000 yards and scored 7 TDs.
Cooks immediately becomes the Rams' top deep threat. He should shine playing for Sean McVay.
3. Sammy Watkins, Kansas City Chiefs
The Kansas City Chiefs have a WR1 in Tyreek Hill. No worries. Andy Reid appreciates big, possession type, receivers that can also grab the ball and run with it. Once WR Jeremy Maclin went to KC, his career blossomed. Until getting hurt, Maclin had been one of the more reliable WRs in the NFL.
Watkins never caught on in Buffalo. That was due to injuries and Buffalo's offensive strategy. Last season, with the L.A. Rams, Watkins faced double-teams on most plays. When he didn't face double-teams, he had some decent games. Not only that, but he caught 8 TD passes in 2018. So, even though the catches didn't add up, only 39 for the season, he made the most of his catches by scoring touchdowns.
Watkins still has a high ceiling. Reid should be the guy that can get the most out of Watkins. I think Sammy has a great 2018.
4. JuJu Smith-Schuster, Pittsburgh Steelers
Wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster had a fantastic rookie season. He caught 58 passes for 917 yards. He also caught 7 TD passes. Smith-Schuster should have an even better season in 2018. The reason is two-fold. First, the Steelers are desperate to not have to rely so much on WR Antonio Brown. It's not because Brown doesn't produce. It's the opposite. They're afraid he could get worn down before the playoffs.
Second, Pittsburgh has had enough of RB Le'Veon Bell. Every season, without fail, Bell has a contract problem. Why not turn Smith-Schuster into a true second weapon while they break in RB James Connor? These are the Pittsburgh Steelers. They've always had a great rushing attack no matter who carries the football.
5. Sterling Shepard, New York Giants
I'm of the mindset that the New York Giants aren't in love with Odell Beckham Jr. Sure, he might be the most unique talent in the NFL. Yes, it's almost impossible to cover Odell one-on-one. Last season, while Odell was injured, Sterling Shepard stepped it up, though.
Shepard caught 59 passes for 731 yards. He also caught 2 TD passes. The starts aren't mind-blowing. But, Sterling became the Giants' WR1 by default. Not only that, QB Eli Manning played behind one of the worst offensive lines in the NFL. Plus, the Giants had no semblance of a rushing attack.
Beckham Jr. will expect to be paid like what he is, one of the Top 5 players at any position in the NFL. It's going to be tough for an old school organization like the Giants to pay a wide receiver that kind of money. NYG should utilize Shepard in the middle of the field. Sterling's number could actually be better if Odell plays in every game this season.
6. Marquise Goodwin, San Francisco 49'ers
Most fantasy football players have Pierre Garcon as San Francisco's WR1. I don't believe that will be the case in 2018. To me, Goodwin is easily the top wide receiver on San Francisco's roster. Coach Kyle Shanahan's offense revolves around a strong rushing attack, and throwing the football to running backs and a WR1.
If Goodwin becomes that WR1, he could excel in Shanny's offense. The rushing attack might be set with Jerrick McKinnon as the starter. Matt Breida is a decent RB2. That means, either Goodwin or Garcon will be the guy. My money is on Goodwin, who caught 56 passes for 962 yards and scored 2 TDs last season.
7. Michael Crabtree, Baltimore Ravens
Crabtree's stats last season, 58 catches, 618 yards, 8 TDs, weren't as great as they could have been had he not played for the Oakland Raiders. The Raiders had some problems with their offensive system. That's why a team loaded at every skill position couldn't make it to the playoffs.
This season, Crabtree is the lone wide receiver who can step it up for the Baltimore Ravens. Baltimore might finally have an okay rushing attack with Alex Collins. Crabtree will be Joe Flacco's primary target on passing downs. Crabtree is good enough to catch 100 passes. Don't get me wrong, he won't with Baltimore. But, he's good enough.
If the Ravens want to open up the offense, they'll look to do it by going with Crabtree. 10 touchdown catches isn't out of the question.
8. Marqise Lee, Jacksonville Jaguars
I'm a big Marqise Lee fan. Donte Moncrief will get plenty of looks. The Jags could decide to lean more on the passing attack then they did on the rushing attack this season, though. The reason? Second-year RB Leonard Fournette carried the football 268 times last season. If you add that to how many times Leonard carried the ball as an LSU Tiger, you're looking at a 4-year veteran RB instead of a 2-year pro.
The Jags won't want to break down their best offensive player. That means having QB Blake Bortles throw the football more this season.
9. Josh Doctson, Washington Redskins
Doctson is expected to be Washington's WR2. WR1 Jamison Crowder should get most of the looks from veteran QB Alex Smith. Like the Garcon vs Goodwin situation in San Francisco, I don't believe that will be the case.
Doctson has great hands. He's a good wide receiver. It's up to Washington to use him more than they did last season. Washington's rushing attack might not be up to par. Also, if Crowder gets most of the attention from defenses, Doctson could end up open more than he was in 2017.
I believe he's worth a look as a flex WR, or even a WR2, in Round 5 or beyond.
10. Cameron Meredith, New Orleans Saints
I'm going out on a limb here, but by all accounts Cameron Meredith has been great with the New Orleans Saints. Meredith was a top wide receiver playing with horrendous quarterbacks in Chicago. Now, he gets to play with Drew Brees.
Yep, the Saints are loaded at every skill position and they throw to their running backs with abandon. Still, coach Sean Payton calls everyone's number at least once each game. Meredith is both a burner the way Ted Ginn is, and a possession type receiver the way Michael Thomas is. His versatility means that Payton might call Meredith's number more than anyone believes.