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Road to #1 Receiver - NFC West

Each year, elite wide receivers are some of the mainstays of fantasy football rosters. With high target shares and production values, these consensus top-tier wide receivers are some of the first names off of draft boards and consistently perform well throughout the season.

However, there is also a good amount of unpredictability at the position, with breakout players appearing from out of nowhere year-in and year-out. Whether they dominate for stretches over the year or end up as top-level talents themselves, unproven or underrated wide receivers represent a very good opportunity for fantasy owners entering drafts due to their lower draft capital and high production premiums.

In this series, we will go through each NFL division and point out one wide receiver on each team in that division that is currently ranked outside of the top-12 at the position who could finish among the league's best when all is said and done. Today, let's look at the NFC West and see who could be that next elite fantasy receiver.

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Wide Receivers - NFC West

Brandin Cooks, LARĀ 

Brandin Cooks has had quite the NFL career in his four years in the league. After playing in only ten games in the 2014 season with the New Orleans Saints, Cooks broke out in 2015, recording 84 receptions for over 1,100 yards and nine touchdowns to boot. Many expected him to repeat his performance in 2016, and he did not disappoint, recording another 1,100 yard season and finding the endzone eight times. Surprisingly, 2017 saw Cooks traded for a first round pick to the New England Patriots, where many expected him to shine. True to his model of consistently, Cooks recorded another 1,000 yard season and scored seven times in an offense that is notorious for spreading the ball.

However, 2018 has seen Cooks traded once more, this time to the Los Angeles Rams. It is clear that the Rams view Cooks as an important part of the team's offense, given the first round draft pick that the Rams traded to New England in order for them to acquire the skilled wide receiver, On top of this, the team handed Cooks, who is still 24 years old, a massive extension for the next five years worth over $80 million. It is clear that Cooks has been brought in to be a key part of the team's offense, more than replacing departing wide receiver Sammy Watkins and his contributions in 2017. Although there are a lot of mouths to feed for the Rams, including wide receivers Robert Woods and Cooper Kupp as well as running back Todd Gurley, Cooks is still expected to receive more than his fair share of work despite the crowded offense and stud-filled defense that should keep games low-scoring. You have to trust in Cooks' talent on this one - at his 5th round ADP, he could end up finishing as a WR1 if he is able to dominate the team's targets from the get-go.

Tyler Lockett, SEA

After breaking out in his rookie year with 664 yards and six touchdowns, Tyler Lockett has performed at relatively the same level for the past three seasons. The wide receiver and return man has had at least 500 yards in each of his three seasons in the league, but only has four receiving or rushing touchdowns in his past two seasons combined. However, over the past few seasons the team has lost supporting wide receivers Jermaine Kearse and Paul Richardson, opening up the route for Lockett to become the second receiver for the Seahawks (behind Doug Baldwin). Although Baldwin is expected to get the lion's share of the targets, Lockett has never been a target hog and has still put up respectable numbers with the looks that he has been given. Entering a contract year, it is very important for Lockett to put on a good performance in order to secure an extension with the Seahawks or lucrative contract in free agency. With Lockett's deep threat upside and 13th round ADP, he is worth the pick as he is playing with talented quarterback Russell Wilson and a Seahawks team that will be required to throw the ball quite a bit in the upcoming year.

Larry Fitzgerald, ARI

Future Hall-of-Famer Larry Fitzgerald has yet to come face to face with Father Time. Despite turning 35 at the end of August, Fitzgerald has never had a season below 100 targets and has recorded 109, 107, and 109 receptions in his last three seasons with the Cardinals. Regardless of who is the quarterback or what his supporting cast looks like, you can bank on Fitzgerald turning in a good year and capitalizing on the massive amounts of targets he will inevitably receive. Look for Fitzy to have a huge chunk of receptions and once again cross the 1,000 yards threshold, scoring a few times in the process. If Fitzergald is able to get a similar amount of receptions as the last few seasons, he should be a locked-in WR1 who fantasy owners will most certainly be able to draft in the WR2 range.

Pierre Garcon, SF

With some of the hype surrounding quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo this offseason, it seems only natural to have high expectations on the team's top wide receiver. Right now, that would be Pierre Garcon - the possession receiver who was on pace for a 1,000 yard season (without playing with Jimmy G) before suffering an injury that kept him out for the rest of the year. The 49ers clearly have a lot of faith in Garcon's abilities, signing him to a five-year deal last offseason despite Garcon's advanced age. Nevertheless, we can expect some big numbers from the team's wide receivers working in Kyle Shanahan's offense, making Garcon a terrific mid-round value pick who will most certainly provide WR2 value and could break into WR1 territory if he is able to find the endzone more than he did last season (zero times).


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