Football Memo

Top 5 WR Looking to Rise Up in 2014

Dolphins need Wallace to play to his contracts worth.

In recent years, the NFL has shifted to a pass-heavy game, but who are the best sleepers on the rise? We tackle that here.


1. Alshon Jeffrey (CHI)
Alshon had an explosive second season with the Chicago Bears in 2013, including seven touchdowns, two games of over 200 yards receiving, and plenty of highlight-reel catches in traffic. Of course, one of those games was against a horrible Minnesota Vikings secondary, but that is beside the point. He has a tremendous combination of size at 6’3″, 216 and speed, as well as a great pair of hands. What you will be getting in 2014 is a third-year receiver in a very good offense. Typically it is in the third year that receivers tend to go off and that means Jeffrey could put up some scary stats. The only downside is that he will have Jay Cutler – not Josh McCown – throwing to him. This means his targets may not be there as consistently because Cutler likes to distribute the football and throws to the other team’s defense quite a bit. The other negative is that Brandon Marshall will still be there to take away a lot of targets. At the same time, however, it will help Jeffrey because Marshall continuously  attracts double coverage. Jeffrey will continue where he left off in 2013 and will be a must-start player.

FIRST THREE GAMES: vs. BUF, @ SF, @ NYJ2. Cordarrelle Patterson (MIN)

In his rookie season, Patterson was quite impressive from a fantasy perspective, especially towards the end. Using his electric speed and dangerous open field running, Patterson scored five TDs (two rushing) in his last four games, and compiled 215 receiving yards and 126 rushing yards in the same span, so the dual-threat ability he poses was very evident. Coming into 2014, he will have an entire offseason under his belt, but also may have a new quarterback. The Vikings selected Teddy Bridgewater at No. 32 overall and he is known as an exceptionally accurate and technically sound thrower, especially over the middle of the field. This might actually help Patterson, as he did most of his damage at or behind the line of scrimmage last season. View him as a high end WR3 heading into 2014. 

FIRST THREE GAMES: @ STL, vs. NE, @ NO3. Mike Wallace (MIA)

Wallace struggled in 2013 while trying to find consistency in Miami’s offense. Only a few times did it click, and the overall numbers look mediocre (five TDs, 930 receiving yards). Wallace has straight line speed and can get down the field in a hurry and the problems he had getting in sync with Ryan Tannehill were not totally his fault. Tannehill was sacked an NFL-leading 58 times, and seemed to be constantly under pressure. He has the arm strength to bomb it downfield, but he rarely had the time to do so. The Dolphins brought in new offensive coordinator Bill Lazor, who previously was the quarterback coach responsible for making Nick Foles look like Peyton Manning in 2013. Though he has been rather inconsistent, if Tannehill’s issues are resolved, then you have to like Wallace’s chances to increase his TD and yardage production in 2014. 

FIRST THREE GAMES: vs. NE, @ BUF, vs. KC4. Emmanuel Sanders (DEN)

Sanders finds himself in a great situation in Denver with Peyton Manning throwing him the ball. Ideally, you want your fantasy receivers to be in a pass-happy offense, and Denver was first in the NFL last season with 340 passing yards per game. Sanders should slide right into being Denver’s No. 2 receiver, behind Demaryius Thomas, though, in that offense, there really is no set hierarchy after Thomas as Peyton spreads it around evenly. With Pittsburgh in 2013, Sanders posted career highs in TDs (6), receptions (67), and receiving yards (740). He should finish around 6 TDs in 2014 with Peyton throwing him the ball, so there likely will not be a regression in that category. He is also a durable guy and has played a full 16 games the past two seasons. Target Sanders in the middle rounds of drafts, and this could provide excellent value by seasons end. 

FIRST THREE GAMES: vs. IND, vs. KC, @ SEA5. Marvin Jones (CIN)

Jones hauled in 10 TDs in 2013 with Andy Dalton pulling the trigger. This season, he will have Dalton again, and despite what many think about his skills, he did have a great passing season. Unfortunately, that was also with Jay Gruden as offensive coordinator. The Bengals have moved on from him but do not let that scare you away. Jones showed some elite ability last season, and is poised to only improve. He will be entering that golden third year in the NFL, and playing opposite A.J. Green, along with an improving run game will only help him continue to get one-on-one coverage on the outside. Jones isn’t afraid to go over the middle either, so look for mid-range WR2 production from him in 2014.

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