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Throw-In Pieces – Wide Receiver Edition

Matt Plumb breaks down four wide receivers with minimal acquisition cost who could outperform in 2024.

This is part one of a multi-series on players currently valued as a throw-in. What is a throw-in?

A throw-in asset refers to a player with minimal value but enough to offset the perceived difference in trade values. In terms of draft picks, this is mid-to-late third round and on. A player valued in that range would qualify as a throw-in. These players have minimal value due to low draft capital, minimal production, and age. This first article will outline four wide receivers that could provide more upside in 2024 than their current value.

Calvin Austin

Calvin Austin was a 2023 fourth-round draft choice for the Pittsburgh Steelers. His main statline was 17 catches for 180 yards and one touchdown. He got 30 targets on the season. See below his stats pulled from Pro Football Reference:

These stats aren’t great, but he played behind Diontae Johnson, George Pickens, Pat Freiermuth, and Allen Robinson. Here’s why I think he has a chance to improve significantly in 2024. In 2023, Allen Robinson caught 34 balls for 280 yards on 49 targets. His 2024 cap hit is $11,917,500. However, only $1,917,500 will be left as dead money if the Steelers cut him. Currently, the Steelers are $13 million over the cap (as of 2/16). The owner has come out and voiced his displeasure with the quarterback room. Mitch Trubisky is no longer with the team. I anticipate some more changes there, and quarterbacks aren’t cheap. Cost cutting will be the Steelers first priority. I anticipate roster cuts more than restructures to bring down cap hits.

If Allen Robinson is gone, this opens up a starting spot for Calvin Austin. His roster spot on the team appears secure, as he was almost the sole punt and kick return man for them in 2023. At a fourth-round pick value, Calvin Austin is a great throw-in asset that could provide upside next season.

Demario Douglas

Demario Douglas was a 2023 sixth-round pick for the New England Patriots and immediately contributed to this offense. He had 49 catches for 561 yards in the 14 games he played. He was #1 in targets and #2 in receptions on the team as a rookie, only behind Ezekiel Elliott. If you remove Weeks 2-5, he averaged 6.9 targets and 4.3 catches per game.

Contract from

He just finished his rookie season and has three more years on his deal, averaging $1 million a year. With a contract like that and his production with the rotten quarterback play, I expect his production to only increase with the additions at quarterback anticipated this offseason, either through the draft or free agency. There have been very few trades involved with Douglas, which leads me to believe he is severely undervalued. A fellow Nerds’ team member recently traded away Douglas in a 10-team 1 QB PPR league:

I love to have this kind of value as a throw-in piece to a larger trade.

Tyler Boyd

In 2016, the Cincinnati Bengals drafted Tyler Boyd. He has been the second or third option in the passing offense in all his years with the team. His first years were with AJ Green, and the past four seasons have involved a combination of Ja’Marr Chase and Tee Higgins. Since 2018, Boyd has averaged 73 catches for 862 yards and 4.5 touchdowns. In PPR leagues, this equates to 186.2 fantasy points. For 2023 PPR stats, this would be good enough for overall scoring player #90 and the WR #36 on the year. While this is the top end of what I think he can produce, he has some upside going into next season.

Tee Higgins and Tyler Boyd are free agents this offseason, and I expect them to let Boyd go and franchise tag Higgins. Many teams need a cheap veteran WR who is reliable to move the sticks. Tyler Boyd has shown that when any of AJ Green, Ja’Marr Chase, and Tee Higgins are injured or not playing, Boyd has been able to step into the void and pick up the slack, sometimes even outproducing the previously mentioned WRs. Recent trades for Boyd:

1QB PPR League Trade
SF TE Premium League

While I like the 1QB league trade more than the Superflex one, both trades give us an understanding of Boyd’s value, and for a third/fourth-round pick, I would happily acquire Tyler Boyd in the hopes he lands on a team that uses him

Xavier Hutchinson

The Texans drafted Xavier Hutchinson in the sixth round of the 2023 draft. He saw limited playing time in the 2023 season. Robert Woods was ahead of him on the depth chart and had minimal impact in 2023, being ninth on the team in targets with 19. He only had eight catches for 90 yards and zero touchdowns. 

However, Robert Woods will be 32 years old at the start of the 2024 season and currently counts $9,750,000 against the cap in the final season of his deal. The Texans have an abundance of cap space, but with how CJ Stroud excelled in 2023, they may want to get as much cap space as possible to bolster the team while Stroud is on his rookie deal. Cutting Woods saves $5 million on the cap, which, if no significant adds are made to the wide receiver room, would make Hutchinson the WR3 on a high-scoring passing offense. 

Hutchinson is currently valued at a late third-round pick/early fourth-round pick, and most of the trades in the trade browser have him as a throw-in to larger trades (some owners were ahead of me on this one). Earlier in the 2023 season, Garret Price highlighted Hutchinson as someone to keep an eye on for future growth in this offense, and his Nerd Score was 71.68. His nerd score was the 10th highest in the 2023 WR draft class.

There you have it, folks. These are players that I am targeting in all my leagues, hoping for future success. Stay tuned for more pieces covering running backs and tight ends.



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