As we approach the second week of August, fantasy football experts, enthusiasts, and novices alike are gearing up for what should be another NFL season laden with enough storylines and plot twists to make a soap opera jealous.
Although there’s plenty of moves that can be made during the fantasy season that can help propel you to a championship win, being prepared for draft season is paramount and there isn’t an abundance of time remaining to get your research done.
A number of wide receivers who failed to make an overwhelming impact during the 2015 fantasy season most assuredly will in 2016. Here’s a look at five players who potentially fall into that category.
DeVante Parker – Miami Dolphins
Let’s be honest: The Miami Dolphins were an unmitigated disaster during the 2015 season. Many fantasy experts expected DeVante Parker to dominate in his rookie campaign, but he instead devastated fantasy owners by tallying just 26 receptions, 494 yards, and a lackluster three TDs. Perhaps most discouraging where fantasy was concerned was the fact that DeVante was targeted just 50 times.
But as Ryan Ward of numberFire noted, Dolphins quarterback Ryan Tannehill excelled during the final six games of the season when he finally made a sincere effort to get Parker heavily involved. During the stretch, DeVante racked up 22 catches, 445 yards, and four TDs, which is far more indicative of what he’s capable of as a fantasy option.
With RB Lamar Miller now in Houston, fantasy owners can expect the Dolphins to rely a tad heavier on their pass attack in 2016, which is a trend that projects to reward those who roll the dice on Parker.
Donte Moncrief – Indianapolis Colts
A plethora of fantasy football experts expected Donte Moncrief to have his breakout season in 2015. Unfortunately, QB Andrew Luck suffered a devastating kidney injury and only managed to play in seven games. Despite the fact that Moncrief was playing without his star gunslinger, he tallied a relatively impressive 64 receptions, 733 yards, and six TDs.
While T.Y. Hilton is the first Colts wide receiver many fantasy owners will target this season, there’s reason to believe Donte will breakout if Luck and Co. can stay healthy, as Indianapolis still lacks an adequate running game and will be forced to move the chains aerially.
Tyler Lockett – Seattle Seahawks
While it may seem strange to see a player who made the Pro Bowl as a rookie in 2015 on a list of potential breakout candidates, keep in mind that Tyler Lockett received the honor as a return specialist — not as a wide receiver. However, Lockett far exceeded expectations as a wide receiver as well last season, tallying 51 receptions for 664 yards and six TDs.
Tyler possesses incredible speed and QB Russell Wilson has grown as a deep-ball passer over the last season, which is a recipe for success in fantasy. RB Marshawn Lynch retired over the offseason and while Thomas Rawls undoubtedly has the talent to step in and do an admirable job once again, you can expect the Seattle Seahawks to rely far more heavily on their pass attack than they have since the Wilson era began.
Lockett is being ranked in the same company of the likes of DeSean Jackson and Michael Crabtree on most fantasy sites but has way more upside.
Markus Wheaton – Pittsburgh Steelers
Markus Wheaton is receiving a bum rap among the majority of fantasy writers this summer. While he may not have taken full advantage of his opportunity in Martavis Bryant’s absence during the 2015 season, he undoubtedly had a solid fantasy campaign. Wheaton finished with 44 receptions, 749 yards, and five TDs.
Bryant is suspended for the entire 2016 season, which means Markus has another chance to prove his naysayers wrong. Sammie Coates might see a fair amount of targets of his own this season, but that shouldn’t deter fantasy owners from rolling the dice on Wheaton in a pass-happy offense that projects to be without RB Le’Veon Bell for four games pending a suspension of his own.
Tavon Austin – Los Angeles Rams
Prior to the 2015 season, Tavon Austin had widely been labeled a bust among fantasy football aficionados. But last season, he finally managed to put together a solid fantasy showing. Austin tallied 52 receptions, 473 yards, and five TDs through the air, in addition to 434 rushing yards, four rushing TDs, and one TD on special teams.
Tavon will likely be used in multiple facets of the Los Angeles Rams offense again during the 2016 season, but the strides he’s made as a wide receiver — as evidenced in the video above and in his 2015 stat line — lead me to believe we may finally see Austin blossom into a major contributor in the Rams pass attack.
Austin’s burned many a fantasy owner in the past so it’s understandable if you’re apprehensive about obtaining his services this season, but the upside is there if you elect to roll the dice.
[Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images]