Did you see Victor Cruz coming last year? How about Torrey Smith, Jordy Nelson or Antonio Brown? What about Eric Decker in the first half of the season?
Some of you did, many others didn't. And had you been able to predict the breakout years each produced, you may have come closer to winning your league title.
Well, I'm here to help.
While the below names may not be as unknown as some of the players above were before last season, all seem poised to have breakout seasons, perhaps unexpectedly to some. From a wide receiver who languished previously on a team that spread the ball around to a second-year man ready to explode, the following three players are great values you need to be targeting at your draft.
You can gain Crabtree on the cheapest of the cheap, as in ESPN snake drafts his average draft position is 106.8. But why is Crabtree worth your attention for all?
For one, in all three seasons of his career he's shown a steady increase in production:
For another, the 49ers have legitimate depth in the passing game this year, with the additions of Mario Manningham and Randy Moss now supporting Vernon Davis and Crabtree. You may see that as players taking touches away from Crabtree, but I see it as players attracting the attention of defenders and opening up the field more for the young receiver.
He's not going to be a top-10 wide receiver, but he could end up being a bargain WR2 or flex option for your team at a discount price. Keep an eye on Crabtree as the season draws near.
Robert Meachem, San Diego Chargers
No more Marques Colston. No more Lance Moore. No more Devery Henderson. No more Jimmy Graham. No more Darren Sproles. No more of Drew Brees spreading around the wealth and limiting his fantasy value.
In San Diego, Meachem should be the man. While Malcom Floyd and Vincent Brown—once he returns from his broken ankle—should also have nice value, Meachem has by far the most upside. And with an average draft position at ESPN of 85.4, you won't have to pay a steep price for it.
Sure, there have been whispers that he and Philip Rivers haven't developed a great on-field chemistry as of yet. But as anyone who has had San Diego receivers when Vincent Jackson was injured in the past can tell you, Meachem is in a great situation in San Diego.
He may not be the new Jackson for Rivers, but he's sure to put up nice numbers at a great value in your draft.
Titus Young, Detroit Lions
In his rookie campaign, Young was good for seven or more fantasy points eight times. And in a Detroit offense guaranteed to throw the ball around—and with Calvin Johnson attracting a lot of attention—Young could end up being the sort of deep sleeper who emerges in a big way and helps you win your league.
There's basically no risk to selecting Young. In ESPN snake drafts, his average draft position is 117.0. All indications are that he's really impressed in training camp. Selecting wide receivers in pass-heavy offenses with elite quarterbacks—and yes, Matthew Stafford is now an elite fantasy quarterback—is always a good strategy.
It's possible he may be a poorly kept secret by the time your draft comes around. Don't be afraid to jump the gun a little on Young—he's going to be a stud this year.
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