July 17, 2018


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LeSean McCoy

Buffalo Bills

McCoy starring down 30 with uncertainty

LeSean McCoy, despite ending the year as the #7 fantasy running back in standard leagues was a slight disappointment for fantasy owners last year. McCoy played in all 16 regular season games, but only cracked 100 yards rushing 4 times, and averaged 4.0 yards per rush, which was 23rd in the NFL. That all happened with a formidable QB with a scrambling ability that defenses had to respect, presumably allowing McCoy some more room before tacklers ascended.
The Bills have the least sexy QB situation in the entire NFL in my opinion. With Tyrod Taylor at the helm for most of the season last year, the bills had the 31st passing offense. None of the QBs on the Bills roster are considered mobile and without a wide receiver on their roster worthy of drafting in any fantasy formats, defenses can stack the box against McCoy. McCoy will be overused, underperform and probably get hurt because of it. McCoy’s ADP is in the second round, but wouldn’t touch him until the fourth or beginning of the fifth round.

06/29/18, 12:42 PM CDT by C-wags


Tyreek Hill

Kansas City Chiefs

Hill lookin' busty with chiefs new look.

Tyreek Hill had a great 2017, amounting 75 receptions for 1183 yards and 7 touchdowns in 15 games. He’s currently being drafted in the middle of the third round in standard leagues, which would appear to be a great value. However, with promoted RB coach Eric Bieniemy presumably in-line to be the primary play caller, a new QB, Travis Kelce receiving the #1 target share and the addition of Sammy Watkins, I expect Hill’s numbers to decrease dramatically.
I believe Hill to be more of a boom or bust player this year. There’s no denying his break-away speed and ability to separate from defenders, and with Mahomes cannon of an arm, I expect them to connect deep on occasion. However, I believe Sammy Watkins to be the more complete receiver and likely to take more of the target share from Hill. Bundled with the change in offensive strategy toward the end of last year to run the ball more, the change to a young QB presumably resulting in a more conservative game plan, I see a major decline in the amount of touches Hill will get and see him as more of a 5-6 round flex play guy.

06/21/18, 10:54 AM CDT by C-wags


Eric Ebron

Detroit Lions

Ebron Could Use Some Luck

Colts signed TE Eric Ebron, formerly of the Lions, to a two-year contract. Coach Frank Reich called Ebron an "elite tight end."

The last time we saw Andrew Luck healthy (2016), the Colts used 2+ TE sets at the 3rd-highest rate in the NFL and had the 6th-highest target share to TEs.

04/01/18, 11:32 AM CDT by Wheeler


Carlos Hyde

San Francisco 49ers

Hyde and Seek

Browns agreed to terms with RB Carlos Hyde, formerly of the 49ers, on a three-year, $15 million contract.

Obtaining Hyde has several trickle-down effects; first it replaces Crowell who signed with the Jets, it probably diminishes Duke Johnson’s value a bit. Hyde is a better all-around back than Crowell was and will certainly take over the goal-line work seeing that he’s got 20+ pounds on Duke. It also reduces the likelihood that Cleveland takes Saquon Barkley with the 4th pick in the draft. They will most likely look to draft a defensive player (Chubb) or trade down again.

04/01/18, 11:28 AM CDT by Wheeler


Jerick McKinnon

Minnesota Vikings

McKinnon Goes West For Gold-Rush

49ers agreed to terms with RB Jerick McKinnon, formerly of the Vikings, on a four-year, $30 million contract.

McKinnon averaged a ho-hum 3.8 yards a carry for the Vikings and scored three rushing touchdowns. By contrast, San Francisco's former lead runner, Carlos Hyde, averaged 3.9 yards an attempt in 2017 and had eight rushing touchdowns.

It appears as though Shanahan is enamored with McKinnon's athletic metrics, but I'm not so sure he was "pounding the table" to get him. This move could push the Niner's to cut Joe Williams.

04/01/18, 11:12 AM CDT by Wheeler


Mike Wallace

Baltimore Ravens

Eagles Keep Improving

Eagles signed WR Mike Wallace to a one-year contract.
Mike Wallace can still move posting a top five max speed among wide receivers last season. He will fill the void left by Torrey Smith as a speed vertical threat.

04/01/18, 11:08 AM CDT by Wheeler


Terrelle Pryor

Washington Redskins

Jets Searching For Weapons

Jets agreed to terms with WR Terrelle Pryor, formerly of Washington and Cleveland.

Second year in a row on a new team doesn’t really help Pryor's cause, but I like the idea of him on the field with Teddy Bridgewater at some point. I would imagine, with some creativity, the Jets could really design some innovative gadget plays.
The Jets receiving corps really looks like a bunch of question marks at this point though, no telling what the week-to-week outcome will be with these guys.
Jermaine Kearse: 65 catches, 810 yards, 5 touchdowns (2017)
Robby Anderson: 63 catches, 941 yards, 7 touchdowns (2017)
Quincy Enunwa: 58 catches, 857 yards, 4 touchdowns (2016)
Terrelle Pryor: 77 catches, 1007 yards, 4 touchdowns (2016)

04/01/18, 11:04 AM CDT by Wheeler


Carlos Henderson

Denver Broncos

Sleeper Watch

Broncos coach Vance Joseph said the team is "counting on" Carlos Henderson making an impact in 2018.

If you are paying attention to Staggs projections there is plenty of opportunity for Henderson to step into a solid number of targets in the slot. Henderson was hindered by injury and awful QB play last year. Being drafted in the 18th round or later in best-ball leagues, Henderson is the late round flyer that should be on your radar.

04/01/18, 11:00 AM CDT by Wheeler


Ben Watson

Baltimore Ravens

Watson Returns To Big Easy

Saints signed TE Ben Watson, formerly of the Ravens, to a one-year contract.

Watson had 74 catches on 110 targets for 825 yards and 6 TD’s when he was with the Saints in 2015. After missing 2016 he had a pretty good year with Baltimore last year despite an anemic offense, with 61 catches on 79 targets for 522 yards and 4 TD’s. He’s not a bad late round flyer TE. He’s basically free right now, but I expect by the time the season starts he’ll be being drafted within the top 20 at the position.

04/01/18, 10:54 AM CDT by Wheeler


Jeff Janis

Green Bay Packers

Janis Truthers Challenged

Browns officially signed former Packers’ WR Jeff Janis.
The combine superstar never amounted to anything in Green Bay, I highly doubt Cleveland is the place for him to finally break-out.

04/01/18, 10:50 AM CDT by Wheeler


Thomas Rawls

Seattle Seahawks

Jets Sign Rawls

Rawls had five RB1 games in 2015, one in 2016, and has been a disappointment since. He’s not worth your time in fantasy, but he could cause enough disruption in the Jets backfield to cut any upside we might have hoped for from Isaiah Crowell.

04/01/18, 10:48 AM CDT by Wheeler


Allen Robinson

Jacksonville Jaguars

Coo coo ca choo Mr. Robinson

Bears signed WR Allen Robinson, formerly of the Jaguars, to a three-year, $42 million contract.

This is a great move for Robinson and Chicago. Nagy’s offense and the young QB, Trubiski, should benefit Robinson at least as much as Bortles did, and Chicago gets the top WR in free agency.
Everyone on the team will be in a new scheme so there will be an adjustment, but as they start to gel we should see a big second half. Robinson’s recovery from a torn ACL doesn’t scare me away from drafting him in the late third/early fourth, his current MFL10 ADP is 43 overall while his Draft app ADP is 59.9. I expect Robinson to be somewhere in the range of 75 receptions, for 1100 yards and 8 TD’s.

03/24/18, 08:25 PM CDT by Wheeler


Sammy Watkins

Los Angeles Rams

KC Building Strong Air Attack

Chiefs signed Sammy Watkins, formerly of the Rams, to a three-year, $48 million contract.

I’m a big Sammy truther so getting him in the 5th or 6th round is a pure power move. His current Draft app ADP of 87.1 is an absolute steal, his MFL10 ADP of 69.5 is still a great value in my opinion. There are quite a few options for high targets in KC so I don’t expect him to see the 128 targets he saw his rookie year, but he should definitely see more than the 70 he saw last year. He’ll have an entire offseason to work with the near-rookie QB, and at age 25 he should have enough burst left to have a 70 catch, 1050 yd, 8TD line. For his career he has 16 receptions on 30 targets for 12 TD’s in the Red Zone, and 9 receptions on 13 targets, for 8 TD’s inside the opponents 10. He should be the exact WR the Chiefs need to get over the hump. As a team the Chiefs were 34/75 for 13 TD’s in the Red-Zone last year and 12/24 for 10 TD inside the 10.

03/24/18, 08:19 PM CDT by Wheeler


Kirk Cousins

Washington Redskins

Vikings Like That

Kirk Cousins plans to sign a three-year, fully-guaranteed contract from the Minnesota Vikings on Thursday. The deal is believed to be for around $86 million, and reports are it will be fully-guaranteed, a landmark for an NFL free agent.

Should be a lateral move for Kirk as far as fantasy, better WR’s, but fewer passes thrown in this offense. A healthy Dalvin Cook should be able to run out the clock if they are up in the second half of games and take the ball out of Cousins hands near the end zone. It should also help the overall efficiency of the offense so all in all it increases his floor, but cuts any garbage-time production we’ve seen with Washington. Kyle Rudolph becomes a big benefactor here, Cousins loves his TE, especially near the end-zone.

03/24/18, 08:16 PM CDT by Wheeler


Case Keenum

Minnesota Vikings

Denver Makes Case

Broncos signed QB Case Keenum, formerly of the Vikings, to a two-year, $36 million contract.

Well, I was hoping for more than a bridge QB for my favorite WR (D. Thomas), but this is a definite upgrade from the three stooges Denver put behind center last year.

03/24/18, 08:13 PM CDT by Wheeler


LeGarrette Blount

Philadelphia Eagles

Detroit Sparks Up Blount

The Lions signed free agent RB LeGarrette Blount to a 1-year deal worth $4.5M. He’s back with Matt Patricia, as the New England ties are strong.

The Lions have needed a true goal-line/power-back for years. I expect Blount to get between 150-200 touches and all the short-yardage carries. Detroit’s offense doesn’t really fit what Blount brings to the table, but I expect Patricia will have some influence over how the offense will operate from here-on-out.

03/24/18, 08:10 PM CDT by Wheeler


Cleveland Browns

Money Ball: The Sequel

Hate to start out the offseason with the Cleveland Browns, but they are makin’ moves!
Browns acquired: Tyrod Taylor, Jarvis Landry, Damarious Randall
Browns gave up: 2018 3rd-round pick (No. 65), 2018 4th-round pick, 2019 7th-round pick, DeShone Kizer

Building with experienced quality performers that have something to prove, by selling inconsequential draft picks is exactly what Sashi Brown was building up for. It’s a shame he won’t be around to reap the rewards, but these are quality moves for a win-now mentality.

03/09/18, 09:37 PM CST by Wheeler


Tyrod Taylor

Buffalo Bills

Hue Looks To TyGoat

Browns left tackle Joe Thomas, who's pondering his future, is a fan of Tyrod Taylor and has said so on the ThomaHawk Show podcast.

Tyrod is just one season removed (2016) from being the QB11 in average fantasy ppg, including seven 20+ point weeks and six 15+ point weeks. Given the current talent on the O-line and skill position weapons he could improve on those numbers. He has the potential to be this year’s Alex Smith, definitely heading my late-round (12+) QB picks now.

03/09/18, 09:32 PM CST by Wheeler


Deshone Kizer

Cleveland Browns

Packers Get In On The Fun

The Packers have traded for QB DeShone Kizer from the Browns to Green Bay.

This is the best possible scenario for Kizer, who was thrown into the fire last season. Getting the chance to develop and learn behind the best in the business is the best chance he has for longevity.

03/09/18, 09:30 PM CST by Wheeler


Torrey Smith

Philadelphia Eagles

On The Move Again

The Eagles trade WR Torrey Smith to the Panthers for CB Daryl Worley. Torrey Smith could fill the old Ted Ginn role which makes this fairly interesting. Stagg Party says it’s more of a boost for Cam than Torrey himself.

This is an absolute perfect fit, someone who isn’t going to demand the ball, but can take the top off a defense while McCaffrey, Olsen, and Cam work underneath. Torrey is looking like a great late-round flyer.

03/09/18, 09:28 PM CST by Wheeler


THE HARTBEAT IS A BEAST! yet another Gold Digger piece by our boy, this time he dives into 75 wide receivers...

Pyro Gold Diggers - FF Outlook Nuggets for Wide Receivers Vol. 1

Posted by d-Rx on 07/25/17

by   The Archer


More Articals


The Wide Receiver position has been vastly overlooked, this issue was never more prevalent than in 2013 when only one WR was drafted in the first round of fantasy drafts. As the league has realized the increased success rate of pass plays versus rushing plays the WRs have surged into the first round. Last year six receivers were taken in the first round and that number looks to continue to rise this year. On average 25 receivers went in the first 4 rounds. While the price tag for WRs continues to rise, the ability to find late round value is what will set you apart from the competition. Whether you are trying to decide between the elite WRs early or finding sleepers in the later rounds, do not go into your fantasy draft without this resource!


Antonio Brown – What cant Antonio Brown do? Since 2014 AB leads the league in Yards after Catch with 1,634. Over the past 3 years AB has had only 4 games with less than 50 yards and no touchdown. AB is the safest play in the NFL and he offers tons of upside!


Odell Beckham – OBJ is a big play waiting to happen, and the Giants added two starting caliber pass catchers to keep defenses from overloading coverage on him. Beckham ranks in the top ten in practically every receiving category. He even has more room for upside too as he saw the 2nd highest Red Zone target share at 35.4% however he only converted 10 catches on such plays. With these new pass catchers OBJ will have more space to work, don’t be surprised if the majority of those 13 Red Zone incompletions are converted this year.


Julio Jones – Julio Jones is consistently on Cornerbacks ‘Top 5 toughest to cover’ lists that the players post on the Players Tribute and you can tell why. Let’s highlight what Richard Sherman said “There are no weaknesses in his game.” The Falcons offense broke out last season jumping from the 21st most points scored in the NFL to 1st overall, and the 7th highest total in NFL history. In 2015 Julio had the highest percentage of targets to snaps, in their breakout season Julio dropped to only 4th. He’s debatably the best WR in the league and the Falcons are going to continue to feed him targets.


Mike Evans – Mike Evans exploded onto the scene in 2016, leading the league in targets. He may be the most likely player to repeat Nuk trend though. Despite having a career year, Jameis Winston only registered a passer rating of 86.4 when targeting Evans. There were 59 WRs that registered a better figure than Evans. Unlike Nuk, Evan’s QB should be improving from last season so he should have a pretty safe floor. But regression is almost guaranteed with Evans in this coming season.


A.J. Green – AJ Green finished with the 4th most fantasy points per game in 2016 despite only finishing 9 games on the year. The additions of the speedster John Ross and the top-notch talent, RB Joe Mixon should open up the middle of the field for A.J. to work. Also, there were only 2 games last season where A.J. and Tyler Eifert were both healthy. Expect to see a very efficient Bengals offense centered around their star WR this year.


Jordy Nelson – 2016’s Comeback Player of the Year, Jordy led fantasy receivers in some scoring formats and could be primed for even more in 2017. Although his ACL comeback doesn’t hold a cap to Eric Berry’s comeback from Hodgkin lymphoma, Jordy was well deserved of the award. What is scary is that Jordy did not feel like he was fully healthy until Week 10 of 2016. If you extrapolate Nelson from Week 10 on; he would have been in line for 121 catches for 1550+ yards and 16 TDs.  Of WR’s who were targeted over 100 times on the season no player had a higher Success Rate than Jordy. Jordy has also shown an affinity to dominating over shorter CBs, standing at 6’3” Jordy has averaged 2.47 PPR points per target against CBs who are 5’11” or shorter, this is 0.48 points higher than when up against CBs 6’0” and taller.


Michael Thomas – Michael Thomas had the best rookie WR season since Randy Moss. Thomas finished with the 9th most receiving yards in 2016 and he did so despite the fact that he saw only the 22nd most targets on the year. Thomas should be in line for an increase in targets as the Saints traded away Brandin Cooks and his 117 targets. Typically the curl route is one where the QB needs multiple seasons to develop a trust with a WR, but Thomas led the NFL in catches and yards on curl routes with 27 and 257 respectively.


T.Y. Hilton – T.Y. led the NFL in yards and was second in air yards last season and he did so on a season where his QB Andrew Luck had shoulder problems all year. Only two receiver earned more yards on deep passes than Hilton did with 528. Hilton will be Andrew Luck’s WR1 and deep ball target, he can find the end zone on any play.


Amari Cooper – Cooper is entering his 3rd season which is what we see as the typical breakout year. Cooper had a lot of flaws in his game in 2016, one of them was having the lowest percentage of Successful Plays among WRs targeted over 100 times. In 2017 the Oakland Raiders will face the lowest number of bottom 5 defenses at only 1. There were 49 players who were targeted on a higher ratio to routes run and Cooper was targeted on 14% of the time in the Red Zone. If Coop is going to make the next step he is going to have to become a much more efficient WR.


Dez Bryant – The Cowboys were very hesitant to take the training wheels off of rookie QB, Dak Prescott and this caused Dez to see double digit targets on only 4 games. Dez’s big question mark is health as he missed 7 games in 2015 due to multiple foot surgeries. Dez will start this season matched up against Janoris Jenkins, Aqib Talib, Patrick Peterson and Trumaine Johnson all four were top 25 CBs last season. Dez has been the most sensitive WR against top 25 CBs over the past 3 seasons. Although I think Dak/2015 poor QB play accounts for a lot of this sensitivity, you might be best off fading Dez and trying to buy low heading into Week 5. The good news for Dez is Julio underwent the same two injuries and has not recorded less than 1,400 yards on a season since. With the training wheels coming off and foot fully healed Dez should be back to his 90 catch 1,300 yard and double digit TD ways.


DeAndre Hopkins – How the mighty have fallen. After leading the league in targets in 2015 Hopkins was barely start-able in fantasy football for 2016. After paying the Browns a 2nd round pick just to take Brock Osweiler the team clearly feels that QB play has been the issue.  Hopkins was top 6 in all production categories other than his abysmal Yards after catch. With the combination of Tom Savage and rookie Deshaun Watson, Hopkins should be able to get the production he did in 2015 if he continues to be a top 7 targeted WR.


Doug Baldwin – Of players targeted more than 100 times, only Jordy Nelson yielded a higher QB rating when targeted. After another 90 catch season we can say that Baldwin is a top end WR after second guessing his extremely hot finish to the 2015 season. With some regression accounted for because of Baldwin’s historically high efficiency, his outlook is still WR1 level. The red flag for Baldwin is the Seahawks are throwing 150 times more per season than they were with Marshawn Lynch as the full-time starter. With the addition of Eddie Lacy, we could see the Seahawks look to shift their offense back to a rush heavy attack, which would clearly impact Baldwin’s upside.


Brandin Cooks – Brandin Cooks is the most difficult player to project this upcoming season. The last time Tom Brady played with a first round WR they hooked up for 98 catches, 1,493 yards and 23 TDs. This is not a repeatable stat as it was a top 3 WR in the history of the NFL with a younger Brady and significantly less mouths to feed in the offense. Cooks had the 7th highest volatility on week to week production among WRs, but for those worried about who will play the slot, Cooks was in the slot only 19% of the time last season.


Demaryius Thomas – Demaryius Thomas attributed a down season to his hip injury that nagged all of last year.  Despite the “down year” in his 5th consecutive year of 90+ catches and 1,000+ yards, Demaryius was the 14th rated WR when you adjust his receiving success adjusted for targets and output. With either a second season of Trevor Siemian or last year’s first round pick Paxton Lynch, we should see improved QB play. Demaryius, standing at 6’3” has dominated short CBs for 2.14 PPR points per target when given a 4” advantage, this compares to his 1.8 PPR points per target against taller CBs. Demaryius is a high floor player that is coming at a value again this season. 


Allen Robinson – Robinson had four games with under 20 yards in 2016 and he saw only 3 Red Zone targets over the last 6 weeks of the season. Robinson is in a similar situation as Nuk Hopkins, as his lack of production can be traced to poor QB play. There were only 9 players who yielded a lower passer rating than Robinson and no Jaguars WR was above 78. Allen Robinson also gotten a whopping 72% of his Fantasy points while his team is trailing over the last 3 seasons, if we are expecting Fournette and their improved defense to keep them in more games that is a terrible sign for Robinson’s fantasy value. Despite news in the offseason that Bortles has fixed his mechanics, that takes a minimum of 5,000 repetitions and Robinson will always have his upside limited by Bortles.


Sammy Watkins – Watkins has the potential to be in the discussion for a top 5 fantasy WR, but injuries and Buffalo’s play tendencies have deflated his value. Sammy is a killer on the Go route, he has amassed 30% of his fantasy points on Go routes from 2014 to 2016. Watkins was the most efficient WR in the NFL in 2015 with 10.9 yards per target and second most with 2.28 fantasy points per target. When throwing to Sammy, the Bill’s say a premium of 43.8% expected fantasy points when targeting Watkins vs any other receiver. Like Dez and Julio, among others, Watkins now falls outside of the 2 year recover period that Julio has never recorded less than 1,400 yards in a season.


Keenan Allen – The Chargers have a few more mouths to feed in Los Angeles than they did in San Diego, luckily for Keenan he shouldn’t be largely affected. With Allen, the Chargers ran almost 100 more passing plays than they did in 2016. In his 8 games, Allen did not miss an offensive snap and he put together the 3rd best catch rate of 75% and the 4th highest Red Zone catch rate at 85.7%. Allen does not need a high volume of targets to be effective with them and will be able to produce with more receiving options being targeted.


Alshon Jeffery – Carson Wentz played spectacularly to open the 2016 season, but trailed off a bit once Lane Johnson was suspended. With Johnson back, the Eagles also added Alshon Jeffrey and Torrey Smith to add another dimension to their pass game. Alshon Jeffrey is the most likely player to not return value on his ADP. Doug Pederson has had only 1 WR surpass the 1,000 yard mark (Maclin, 2015). That being said, 3 of the top 5 catch volume players in Pederson’s offenses have been non-WRs, this was highlighted by a 19 game stretch across 2013 and 2014 where no WR scored a receiving TD. Don’t expect Pederson to change the game plan now as he tries to breed Wentz into his QB model.


Jarvis Landry – You’ve probably heard that since Jay Ajayi took over Landry saw his targets per game drop by over 2 per game. Although that is true, if you look at all of the games the Dolphins played against winning teams, Landry averaged 10.1 targets. In Adam Gase’s second year expect him to realize Landry’s talent and figure out how to effectively use both Ajayi and Landry.


Davante Adams – After Davante Adams failed to finish in the top 100 in fantasy points per target without Jordy Nelson in 2015 that figure sky rocketed to #10 in 2016. On only 20% of the teams Red Zone targets, Adams grabbed the 4th catches I the Red Zone and 2nd most TDs overall. This is more of a reflection of Aaron Rodgers dominance than Adams as Rodgers increased his Red Zone completion by 15% and attempted the most passes in the Red Zone in the NFL with 115. We should expect the overall GB passing game to regress in effectiveness and Adams to see the largest decline, he had the 5th most drops among WRs. With his volatility season to season, draft Adams with that risk baked in.


Terrelle Pryor – Terrelle Pryor was the number 1 overall recruit out of high school and it has been a long awaited climb back to prominence. At 6’4” 233 pounds, Pryor is a physical beast and tested in the 99th percentile for his Speed Score. His rare size and speed combination showed in his first season as a WR as he posted the 9th best contested catch rate at 81.8%. With a DVOA of -3.3% in Cleveland, Pryor is stepping into the Pierre Garcon/ DeSean Jackson role which garnished them a 16.3 and 16.5% DVOA respectively.


Michael Crabtree – Derek Carr has targeted Crabtree on 18.9% and 17.4% of the time that is on the field, those figures are good for 5th and 7th respectively. Carr heavily targeted Crabtree within 15 yards of the End Zone with 24. Crabtree converted 7 of them into TD’s as he scored only once outside of the Red zone (21 yards). Although we would expect this number to regress, Carr has shown no signs of slowing down while Crabtree is still a threat. Crabtree caused more defensive pass interferences than all but 2 WRs in 2016.


Martavis Bryant – Martavis will likely lead the NFL in drug tests, he is currently set up to be tested three times per week with two counselor visits as well. Bryant will turn 26 years old this season, and to this point he has played in only 21 games. Bryant has the 18th most fantasy points in his first 21 games since the NFL merger among WRs. Physically, Bryant is not from this world as he finds himself in the top 95th percentile in Speed Score and 94th in Catch Radius. Despite playing alongside the best WR in the NFL, Martavis was targeted on 19.1% of his snaps, that’s good for 4th in the league. Martavis may have the most upside of any WR in the NFL, but one more hit from the bong will effectively end his NFL career.


Tyreek Hill – No WR saw a higher percentage of targets per snap than Tyreek Hill did in 2016. This is largely due to him playing only 43% of the team’s snaps. This led Tyreek to be one of if not the most efficient fantasy WR last year, with 0.48 fantasy points per snaps (#1) and 2.42 fantasy points per target (#2). With Jeremy Maclin now in Baltimore, the Chiefs will look to expand Hill’s role and develop him into a true WR1. Hill vastly out performed his situation, based on Actual Opportunity, a Scott Barrett figure that measures expected fantasy points based on field position (and multiple other figures) Hill was expected to score 157.1 PPR points, instead he scored 219.6. Defenses will be adjusting to stop Hill, and these super-efficient stats are not sticky in a year over year basis, this screams regression!


Stefon Diggs – In 2012 Diggs was the #2 rated WR coming out of high school, he stuck with his hometown team and went to the Maryland, despite being the 13th overall prospect. By the time his junior season rolled around Diggs found himself on the 67th ranked scoring offense and he fell to the 5th round for the Vikings. Diggs now is finally getting the respect he deserves as a player, and he has shown he can contribute at the highest level. Diggs received 35% or more of the team target share on 4 separate occasions, and 25% or more 3 more times. On his varying volume Diggs produced the 5th best catch rate at 75% and an outstanding 91.7% in the Red Zone. We are still waiting for Diggs to put together a full season of high efficiency, but what I like most is that Diggs finished as WR9 or better against all of his NFC North rivals in 2016 including WR1 overall in Week 2 vs the Packers. Diggs may be a better play in Best Ball, but entering his 3rd season this could be his breakout.


Golden Tate - Golden Tate has been a 90+ catch guy every year he has been in Detroit. His bottom line figures were almost stagnant despite losing one of the most talented WRs in the NFL. Tate is consistently a top end WR despite maintaining a low dependency on TDs for his fantasy points. To that point, TDs accounted for only 18% of his total points in 2016. Tate was able to rebound from a slow start to the season by recording 6+ catches in every game except for two starting in Week 6. Golden Tate is able to produce in fantasy despite having the 33 WRs having a higher target share on their respective teams.  Tate will remain as a consistent WR option at value due to his ability to create yards after the catch, which he led the NFL with 676 in 2016 including an increase of 0.8 yards after the catch per target from 2015.


Larry Fitzgerald – The ageless wonder Larry Fitzgerald, will be 34 years old by the start of the 2017 season. After seeing a decrease in catches in each season from 2009 to 2014, many thought that Fitz was done for, then Arians showed up. Since Bruce Arians has moved him into the slot, Fitz has looked like he is 24 years old. He has had two 100 catch seasons, and has excelled in advanced statistics. Fitz has led the NFL with 26 start worthy games (WR36 or better), which is good for 81% of the time over the last two years. Warren Sharp’s Target and Output adjusted Receiving Success put Larry as the 5th best WR in the NFL. Also remember that Larry is the best playoff WR ever on a per game basis, averaging 9.8 catches, 114 yards and 1.25 TDs per game. Each one of those stats surpasses the GOAT Jerry Rice.


Willie Snead – Willie Snead’s 184 PPR points was the 3rd most for a team’s WR3 in the past decade, and with the departure of Brandin Cooks we expect Snead to see more targets and better overall production right? I’m not so sure about that, as Snead enters his peak athleticism at age 25, his measurable fail to reach the 25th percentile in any category. That being said, Brees most productive weapons over the last few years Colston, Graham, Cooks and Thomas all posted above average measurable with Thomas’s 68th percentile Speed Score being the worst. If Snead is able to maintain his starting role in the slot, he should be in for some really good games with the 3rd easiest strength of schedule among slot WRs and playing on the Saints, who have run the second most pass plays in the NFL for the last two seasons.


Emmanuel Sanders – Emmanuel tanked 20th in total points among WRs, yet he was 55th in consistency. Despite matching Larry Fitzgerald’s total number of top 36 weeks over the past three years, he has been swinging in the opposite direction as he has seen his number of start worthy week’s trend below 50% of the time. Because of this we are likely to see Sanders 13th most targets in the NFL and 5th most Red Zone targets experience a dip. Sanders is a better Best Ball player due to his 4 top 10 finishes among WRs meshed with his 6 games finishing outside the top 50.


Jamison Crowder – Jamison Crowder is a very interesting WR. He broke out in college at the age 19.2 years, where under 19 is considered to be a Phenom. Yet he finished as WR 29 in the Pyromaniac End of Season Tiers, he did so while having only the 64th largest target share and 32nd in the Red Zone. Crowder had a very hot and cold 2016 with a 5 week stretch from Week 6 to Week 13 as a top 30 WR in those respective weeks, but his best finish during the fantasy playoffs was WR65. With Garcon and D-Jax out and Pryor and Doctson in this year, Crowder should see an overall increase in usage, but will likely have a very high weekly volatility again.


Julian Edelman – Jules was a beast in 2016 seeing 160 targets, and 488 yards after the catch. He saw 10 games with over 25% of the Patriots target share, seeing less than 5 targets in only one game.  He finished the season with 10 straight WR3 or better finishes. Because Edelman has only been a feature in the Patriots offense from 2013 to present, some people do not realize that he is actually 31 years old. With Gronk returning from injury, trading for Brandin Cooks and Dwayne Allen, and Malcolm Mitchell entering his second season it is more likely than not we see a significant decrease in targets. When looking at Edelman’s efficiency rating, his 72nd rated yards per target, 65th rated contested catch rate and 9th highest drops per game one would think that Edelman will be significantly impacted by seeing a lower volume. However, when we look at his 2015 when Edelman had the 21st target share vs #2 in 2016 he was significantly more efficient. His yards per target remained low due to his role in the slot, his catch rate was 8% higher and his fantasy points per target rose by 0.53 jumping him from 80th to 21st among WRs. Edelman will certainly have less overall value, but he will be more efficient with his work especially when accounting for having a better matchup week in and week out with defenses focusing on Gronk and Cooks.


Pierre Garcon - The number that everybody is looking at is 184, which is the number of targets that Garcon got in 2013 for the Redskins. This is important because it was the last time Garcon and new Head Coach Kyle Shanahan were together. An interesting note is Hoyer in 2015 had the 5th highest Air Yards per Attempt, although Garcon no longer has top end deep speed, he did see the 14th most Air Yards in 2016. The 49ers are tied with the Jets and the Rams for the second lowest Win/Loss via Oddshark at 4.5, this says that Hoyer and Garcon will get a lot of 4th quarter comeback attempts through the air.


Donte Moncrief – Moncrief received the kiss of death last season when he was included in Matt Harmon’s ‘Must Own WRs’ based on his Reception Perception data. What was amazing about this article is 9 out of the 11 highlighted players missed at least 1 game due to injury, that’s an amazing 81% rate. Moncrief has significantly underwhelmed averaging 3 catches, 38 yards and 0.4 TDs per game across his career. This is a contract year for Moncrief and Luck has shown an affinity to target his contract year WRs headlined by Hilton’s 82 catch 1,345 yard and 7 TD season in his 2014 contact year. If Moncrief is to return his ADP value he will have to remain healthy and match his 70% success rate on Red Zone targets as he did in 2016, but on a much larger volume.


Kelvin Benjamin – “I will not draft Kelvin BenjaMAN, Devin Funchess is about the go HAM, I will not draft him on a box, Devin Funchess is a lock”. With Ron Rivera implementing the team’s desire to reduce the number of his on Cam, they will be calling more 3 step drop plays to get the ball out quickly. This will cause the Panthers to utilize the RBs in the flats and TE over the middle at a higher rate. Kelvin’s 12.3 aDOT will most certainly be coming down and with McCaffrey and Samuel joining the team as high draft capital dual threat players – Benjamin’s targets are more likely to see another drop, maybe not as drastically as his decrease by 2 targets per game from his rookie season. Benjamin is likely to become strictly a Red Zone threat, a similar player to Donte Moncrief in a lower volume offense.


DeVante Parker – DeVante Parker changed his offseason routine this year, he cut out fast food, allocates more time for rest and is focused strictly on leg workouts to strengthen his hamstrings. Over the last seven games on 2016 Parker saw 23 less targets than Jarvis Landry, but he managed to amass 14 more yards, 3 more TDs and finished just 1.6 PPR points behind Landry. With teams historically showing dramatic increases in their second year in an upgraded offensive system expect Parker to be a shoe in for a dominant WR role, it’s up to him to fend off Kenny Stills and Jarvis Landry. The Dolphins have not committed a long term contract to Landry who is set to be a Free Agent after this year. If Parker has the breakout many expect from him, he is likely to secure the Dolphins WR1 role.


Brandon Marshall – Marshall is coming off the worst season of his career. When targeted he yielded the lowest passer rating at 49.9 among qualified players. He dropped as many passes of 20+ yards as he caught last year. After such a disappointing season, Marshall will be at a value that we haven’t seen him since his Denver says. When changing teams as Marshall did this offseason, Brandon averages 104 catches on 170 targets for 1,341 yards and 9 TDs. While these numbers are an impossibility for the 33 year old WR especially playing alongside the budding superstar Odell Beckham Jr, it is very likely that Marshall could duplicate that type of efficiency on a much smaller total volume. Also, if Eli hasn’t yet fallen off the cliff, he should regress back to his 4,400 yard and 30+ TDs, Marshall will be a main beneficiary.


Jeremy Maclin – The newest Baltimore Raven will lead the NFL in 2017, he will lead the league in crab cakes eaten. Maclin was promised free crab cakes for like at Jimmy’s Famous Seafood. Maclin is stepping into a Ravens team that led the league in passing plays in 2016 and have 321 vacated targets. Maclin had the worst season of his career in 2016 in part due to a lingering groin injury that held him out of 4 games and limited him for the entirety of the season. Maclin should be coming back healthy this year and is a great value. Little know Maclin fact, he leads the league in TD rate on targets within the 10 yards line at 53% (15/28).


Randall Cobb – Cobb and Adams seemed to switch roles last season as Adams was Aaron’s #2 target finishing just 3 yards shy of the 1,000 season and adding 12 TDs. Cobb missed Week 8 and was limited by the hamstring for the rest of the season. However, if you extrapolate Cobb’s 7 weeks prior to the injury he would have projected out to 146 targets for 104 catches, 1,034 yards and 5TDs. Randall Cobb was among the most effective WRs in the league as he caught 100% of his targets that were deemed catchable. That is the Randall Cobb that we know and love, you should expect Randall to get back to form entering his age 27 season. Consistently going around overall pick 100 on both MFL and Fantasy Pros, Cobb offers amazing value even if the Packers offense becomes a more balanced rushing team.


Eric Decker – After an injury plagued season, Decker was placed on IR prior to Week 4. Going to Tennessee was likely due to his wife, Jesse James budding country music profession rather than Decker’s ideal NFL landing spot. Decker will look to get back into his 2015 form where he saw 38% of his targets in the Red Zone, the highest percentage in the league. Although he is going to a Titans team that wants to run the ball, he will be paired with Marcus Mariota, the only QB to have never thrown an interception in the Red Zone. On paper this is a perfect match, Decker has double digit TD potential in Tennessee. Being drafted as a WR4 in MFL and based on Fantasy Pro’s Decker is a high upside play with relative low cost based on how he has performed throughout his career.


DeSean Jackson – Despite being on the wrong side of 30, D-Jax is still one of the biggest deep threats in the league. He is joining an ascending Tampa Bay Buccaneers team that we will have the opportunity to get an inside look on prior to fantasy drafts due to our friends at HBO’s ‘Hard Knocks’. In his last year in Washington, D-Jax had the 4th highest aDOT in the league at 15.9. Jameis Winston attempted 5.4 deep shots per game last season which was 3rd highest in the league. Jameis was only able to complete 26% of these shot, D-Jax will have the opportunity to get behind the defenders and Winston will be looking for him early and often.


Cameron Meredith – Cameron Meredith was one of the bright spots on the Bears season. Meredith showed that he a true threat at WR as he posted the second highest catch rate on deep balls last year at 70%. Meredith separated himself from the Bears other pass catchers, including Alshon Jeffrey, by posting the 9th best target premium among WRs. This means that targeting Meredith yielded 17.9% more fantasy points per target than the rest of his Bears counterparts. Meredith had the 15th highest weekly volatility among WRs though as he saw 27 targets over two weeks and followed that up with 3 consecutive weeks of 2 targets, none of which being in the Red Zone. The undrafted 25 year old will likely continue to see this high variance in play depending on matchup and therefore, is a better WR3/4 on your team than an every week WR2.


Corey Davis - The most prolific wide receiver in the history of the FBS is Corey Davis and his 5,285 yards. He finished in the top 10 in receiving yards per route run in each of the past three years. Davis is in the 95th percentile as a Phenom as he experienced his breakout at age 18. He only had one fumble on his 266 catches over the past 3 years. Davis has an incredibly high upside for his career with comparisons to Terrell Owens and Demaryius Thomas. Davis will have a very capped upside this season though as the Tennessee Titans target WRs on only 55% if their passes. The only team that targeted WRs less than Tennessee last year was the Buffalo Bills. It is unlikely that the Titans will target WRs over 300 times based on recent trends and then those targets must be split among at least the 3 major names of Davis, Decker and Matthews.


John Brown - Unfortunately, John Brown was diagnosed with the sickle-cell trait in 2016 which put a major stop gap in his development. With Larry Fitz entering his age 34 season the Cardinals will have to pass the torch, and with his Sickle-cell trait reported to be properly managed now Brown is first in line to take the torch. The Cardinals have changed Carson Palmers workout regimen to keep him fresher as he will be 38 by the end of the season. Expect Brown to come back to his 2015 form where he was in the top 24 in both Air Yards and Yards after the Catch.


Kenny Britt – Has any WR ever played on two worse passing attacks than Britt will in consecutive years? With that being said, Britt ran 36% of his routes against top-25 rated CBs, which was the largest ratio for all WRs in the NFL. This is largely because of the top end talent at CB in the NFC West, moving to the AFC North will likely benefit Britt in his ease of schedule. An interesting note is that Kenny Britt had a perfect WR rating on crossing routes, and the presumed Browns starter Cody Kessler had the highest passer rating on crossing routes of any QB. Yes, a Browns QB was the best in the NFL at something. Britt is a great value play for the Browns, but keep in mind that Josh Gordon is likely to apply for reinstatement before the season starts.


Jordan Matthews – From 2014 to 2016 Jordan Matthews had the largest difference in hi WR rate versus the expected Passer Rate at 19.4. This means that targeting Matthews caused the most favorable difference in passer rating compared to the rest of the Eagles pass catchers. Unfortunately for Matthews, the Eagles also added Alshon and Torrey Smith. Since Pederson has taken over in KC he has never had more than 2 WRs among his top 5 targeted players. Alshon Jeffrey is expected to be the top target at WR, this would place Jordan as the 4th or 5th receiving target in a system that has only had a receiver surpass 1,000 yards once.


Tyrell Williams – If you removed the two games against the Broncos, Tyrell would have been the 13th ranked WR on a points per game basis. The biggest question mark is who will work the slot for the Chargers this year, Tyrell was in the slot 23.3% of the time last year, but the returning Keenan Allen was 18% when he played in 2016. With rookie Mike Williams likely to be out for a large portion of the season with back issues, Tyrell will look to improve on his 439 Yards after Catch in 2016, which was good for 8th in the league.


Quincy Enunwa – Quincy led the NFL with an 80% catch rate on deep balls last year. He did so working out of the slot 53.4% of the time, with Brandon Marshall and Eric Decker both jettisoned out of the Jets passing attack, Enunwa is in line for a significant increase in targets, especially with Robby Anderson facing a suspension to open the season. Enunwa will likely see the opponent’s best cornerback each week, so we can’t assume an exponential increase in production. However, it is interesting to note that Enunwa’s best comparable player in Player Profiler is Josh Gordon. Remember that Gordon broke out to be fantasy football’s best WR in 2013, which happened to be the second year in which Gordon saw 50+ targets. This will be Enunwa’s second season that he should see 50+ target, take that for data.


Adam Thielen – Adam Thielen was one of the best well kept secrets in the NFL up in Minnesota as he burst on to the scene in week 5 with the 7th most points among WRs. He had a pretty quiet remainder of the season until he led all players with 44.6 points in the fantasy championships. A cause for concern is that 70% of Thielen’s fantasy points came from those two games. Adam was the 7th most efficient player converting 9 of his 15 deep passes. Thielen generated the 6th best passer rating when targeted. He also had the 9th best defense-adjusted yards above replacement among all WRs. Thielen is best suited for best ball leagues. But at his current price he is worth storing in all formats.


Marvin Jones – There are two perspectives on Marvin Jones, either you drafted Jones and traded him high after his stud performance in Week 3 with 205 yards and 2 scores. Or you traded for Marvin and hot his pedestrian 8.46 fantasy points per game, with a three game stretch where he failed to put up ten points, combined! With the Lions drastically upgrading their offensive line, Stafford should have significantly more time to get the ball out, which would in turn give Marvin the opportunity to work downfield, which is what he’s best at.


Mike Wallace – The speedster is now on the wrong side of 30, although due to modern medicine we have seen WR continue to produce solid outputs more towards their year 33 season. Wallace has been more dependent on QB play for his own success due to his play style, playing with Teddy Bridgewater in Minnesota and Tannehill in Miami he failed to produce 1,000 yards in a season despite seeing 115+ targets in two of those season. If we remove his rookie season, when not playing with QB’s with top end arm strength (top 7 based on an article) Wallace averaged 109.6 targets, for 59.6 catches, 755 yards and 5.6 TDs. When playing with top end arm strength QB’s Wallace averages 104.8 targets and 61.4 catches but he has been significantly more effect producing 1011.8 yards and 7.2 TDs, that’s good for 256.8 yards and 1.5 TDs more. At 31 this may be Wallace’s last season of his top end production. Flacco gives him a good chance to be a WR2 or better.


Josh Doctson – Since 2006, there are 173 rookies who failed to manage 20 or more catches in their rookie campaigns. Only 7 of them put up more than 800 yards the following season. Only 13 of them managed to get between 500 and 800 yards. There were 24 players who put up between 300 and 500 yards. The majority, 129 players failed to surpass 300 yards in their sophomore season. This doesn’t bode too well for Doctson who had only 2 catches in his rookie season. To further extrapolate, of rookie receivers who have 5 or less catches, only Tyrell Williams, Cecil Shorts and Preston Parker went on to get over 500 yards their sophomore season. With Jordan Reed, Terrelle Pryor, Jamison Crowder and Chris Thompson ahead of him in the pass catching pecking order the odds are even in your favor if you fade Doctson.


Kevin White – 7th overall picks in the NFL draft haven’t fared all too well since 2011. Aldon Smith is no longer in football, Mark Barron is no longer on the team that drafted him, Jonathon Cooper has struggled to make the 53 man rosters, Mike Evans is a bright spot, DeForest Buckner has been solid, but joining them are Kevin White from 2015 and Mike Williams this year. White was a stud coming out of West Virginia highlighted by a 10 TD 1447 yards senior season. He tested off the charts in the combine as his SPARQ-x Score of 135.1 puts him in the top 98th percentile of the NFL. White has failed to surpass 20 catches in his NFL career and with a new QB in town in Glennon and Trubisky waiting in the reins it will be very hard for White to create a rapport with any QB in the near future in Chicago. The physical freak has crazy upside as he saw a 26.1% target share in his 4 healthy games, however availability always trumps ability. The question is whether you will have the ability to pass up White on draft day, given his injury history and lack of proven output White is not a necessity to win in fantasy.


Rishard Matthews – It is not often that a WR who put up 945 yards and 9 TDs goes as the WR60 in the following year. Matthews was the 14th rated WR in the NFL in Defense-adjusted yards above replacement, and 16th in defense-adjusted value over average. Matthews dropped only one of his 66 catchable targets which yielded the 4th best drop rate among WRs. Delanie Walker will be 33 this season and Mariota has never played with the Titans incoming pass catchers in Corey Davis and Eric Decker. Matthews has shown that he can produce, it is silly to not give Matthews consideration especially as he is going as a WR5 in drafts.


Robert Woods – Woods brings a dimension to the Rams offense that it was severely lacking in 2016, the deep threat. Woods produced a catch rate of 63.6 on deep balls that was good for 3rd best in the NFL. Woods also played 43% of the time in the slot, where he produced the 4th best catch rate at 80%. If the young Goff can make the next step as a QB it will likely due in large part to peppering Woods with targets. Woods has the ability to impact the entire offense as Gurley saw 8 or more in the box 31% of the time. Woods also will have the added incentive of playing in front of the same crowd that he did for 3 years at USC playing again in the Coliseum.


Ted Ginn Jr. – It has been quite a while since we saw Ginn explode through the Gator kickoff coverage into the End Zone. After going as the 9th overall pick Ginn has left us disappointed, never putting together a 1,000 yard season. This has the potential to be Ginn’s best year despite turning 32 years old. Ginn is going from a Panthers team within the division to the Saints who throw the ball 100 more times a season. Despite his age, Ginn has remained a very efficient deep threat weapon. Last season Ginn recorded 236 yards and 4 TDs on just 6 targets that were 20+ yards and in the middle of the field. That’s the sweet spot. And it doesn’t hurt that Ginn is staying in the division as he will get 2 revenge games this season. It is also note-worthy that Brandin Cooks finished with the 19th best catch rate on deep balls, Ginn sitting right behind him with a catch rate only 1.4% lower than Cooks.


Breshad Perriman – Perriman is in the 100th percentile for speed by WR’s, his 4.3 speed made him a first round pick after having only one 50 catch season in college. In the second half of the season Perriman improved his catch rate from 42% to 61%. Despite these improvements, Perriman still had a high of 4 catches and 64 yards on different games. He did have 2 top 24 games in a 3 week stretch, but they were against an awful Browns team and a Dolphins team that gave up the 8th most fantasy points to WR1s and 5th most to WR3s.


Cole Beasley – Beasley looks like he belongs in the Shire rather than in an 80,000 seat entertainment mecca that we know as ‘Jerry’s World’. Beasley’s 2016 had us craving for the Beasles like they were the precious. In this story however, doesn’t come crashing down in Orodruin. Okay, now that I got that nerdgasm out of my system; Beasley was one of the most efficient weapons in the NFL last year. His Defense-adjusted Yards above Replacement and Defense-adjusted Value over Average ranked as 5th best among WRs. Yes, higher than the likes of the Mike Evans and Antonio Brown’s, and he yielded a 122.8 passer rating when targeted, another metric in the top 5. Beasley saw 92 targets last season. A career high. Only 77 of those targets were deemed as catchable and Beasley hauled in an extraordinary 97.4% of them, only 4 WRs saw more targets and caught them at a higher rate. With Dez Bryant expected to go through a gauntlet of top 25 CBs this season, Beasley could be in line for a monster year. Please refer to Scott Barrett’s WR’s most impacted by top 25 CBs data, which conveys no WR has been as sensitive to tough CB competition as Dez. Oh yeah, Dak has never thrown an interception when targeting Beasley, take that for data.


Sterling Shepard – What do we do with Sterling this year? He finished second among rookie WRs in targets, catches, yards and touchdowns. In general, second year WRs see a jump in fantasy production by 16%, but Sterling is more likely to move in an inverse fashion. With the Giants bringing in Brandon Marshall and Evan Engram, Shepard is the most likely to see a decrease in targets. This is significant because Sterling led the NFL with 74% of his routes coming from the slot. Evan Engram projects to play more in the slot than as and inline, as he led the nation in slot at 73.2% of his snaps, he also led the nation in receptions as well as yards in his last year at Ole Miss. Even Brandon Marshall, who is an outside the numbers guy, produced 14 yards per reception from the slot to Shepard’s 10.3. With all of these factors in place, fade Shepard in 2017.


Zay Jones – Over the past few years, Jones was one of the most productive wide receivers in college football. Jones re-wrote record books, becoming the FBS' all-time career leader in receptions as he dominated his level of competition. His 216 targets in 2016, the most for a wide receiver in a single season over the past three years. He has strong and natural hands, dropped only six of 164 catchable passes in 2016. Zay had 4 games with 17+ catches in 2016, and 10 with double digit catches.


Tyler Lockett – Tyler Lockett got the Matt Harmon kiss of death last season as a Matt Harmon’s favorite player. Lockett rewarded owners by finding him outside of the top 50 on all productivity and efficiency figures. I guess, WRs just can’t be graded on route success rate independent of CB play. Maybe Lockett would have been a WR1 in flag football. Lockett provided great value with two top 3 finishes in the fantasy playoffs (Week 13 & 15). Lockett is a prime candidate for a post-hype sleeper as he finished 14th in Depth-adjusted yards per target over expectation, another mouthful of a statistic from Scott Barrett. He finished 14th in 2015 as well, he is a better Best Ball play to counter his high volatility.


Marqise Lee – The ‘Albino tiger’ played his first 16 game season, and he produced a team high passer rating when targeted at 78.4. The former Trojan finished among the top 15 WRs with 5.6 yards after the catch per reception. People tend to forget that Lee was drafted 22 slots higher than Allen Robinson in the heralded 2014 draft class. Marqise Lee has room for improvement in the form of Julius Thomas’ 5.66 targets per game vacated and a more effective Blake Bortles based on the impact that Leonard Fournette could provide.


Mike Williams – Mike Williams likely won’t play the 2017 season due to his herniated disk in his back. Also, he will struggle to separate from some NFL cornerbacks, as many will be able to run with him. He won't challenge NFL corners with speed as a deep burner. It also will be harder to complete 50-50 passes against them because they're bigger and much better than the corners Williams typically faced in the ACC. The chargers used the 7th overall pick on Williams, they were high on him because he caught 51.9 percent of deep targets, well for sixth in the nation. He is a huge Red Zone target, but how will he fit in a long-side Gates and Hunter Henry who are bigger targets who already have rapport with Rivers.


Will Fuller – The South Bend speedster had to play his first NFL season with Brock Osweiler, who finished next to last in accuracy and deep ball ratings for consecutive years. 35% of Fuller’s targets were on 20+ yards downfield, and he had the 6th highest aDOT at 15.3 yards. He should see a vast improvement regardless of who wins the starting QB job in Houston, however, in Fuller’s case Watson may be the better fit. Watson was the eighth most accurate deep ball passer in the 2017 draft class, he yielded 1,048 yards with 14 TDs and 3 interceptions on such passes.  Fuller failed to finish as a WR3 from Week 3 until the end of the season. With adept QB play, don’t expect Fuller’s WR2 drought to continue much longer.


John Ross – Ross will always be best known for breaking Chris Johnson's combine record in the 40-yard dash with a blistering time of 4.22 seconds. Last year he took the Pac-12 by storm. Ross had 81 receptions for 1,150 yards and 17 touchdowns on the year. His 3.04 yards per route run last season was the 14th-highest among receivers with at least 100 targets. He runs a variety of routes, doesn’t just run straight downfield every play. Has one of the best slant routes in college football. Ken Zampese uses an aggressive play calling style that had Andy Dalton pushing the ball downfield on 13.5% of his passes (6th in the NFL). The one major drawback is his health, he tore his MCL in the 2014 season, then missed the entire 2015 season with a torn ACL.


Kenny Stills – Still produced the sixth most TDs among WRs in 2016, he did so by being incredibly efficient downfield. Eight of his scores came on passes 20+ yards downfield, what is crazy is that he did so on only 10 targets. Stills has a career average of scoring on 8.8% of his catches, so we expect regression right? Not necessarily, extrapolating Stills 8.8% TD rate would yield 7.12 TDs in 2016. Jarvis Landry is entering a contract season, this is due to the Dolphins not extending him, with speculation he could leave and DeVante Parker still not showing that he can consistently compete for a starting job. Stills signed a $32 million dollar 4 year contract this offseason. Targeting Stills yielded a target premium of +14.6 compared to Landry and Parker who finished at -8.1 and -8.3 respectively. He was the Dolphins best WR last year, and remains as their top option until he is dethroned.


Taylor Gabriel – No player yielded a better passer rating than the 148.1 that Gabriel produced on his 46 targets. Gabriel hauled in 35 of his 36 targets that were catchable and he was rewarded with a $2.8 million dollar contract to stay in Atlanta. 12 times the Falcons asked him to convert down and distances over 9 yards away on screens, and all 12 times Gabriel delivered. He averaged 15.8 yards after the catch on screens including a league high two scores from 29 yards and 40 yards respectively. These numbers are unsustainable as standalone figures and we expect overall regression from the Falcons historical 2016 offense. Gabriel was the best in the NFL on fantasy points per target, and despite playing across from the highest rated WR by PFF in Julio Jones, Gabriel produced the 3rd best fantasy point per target compared to his teammates and the best smoothed for game script efficiency in the NFL.


Tavon Austin – Tavon Austin has the 3rd highest cap his among WRs in 2017, Tavon also was the 8th overall draft pick in 2013. Tavon has never reached 1,000 scrimmage yards, the Rams commitment to Austin doesn’t seem to make sense. Austin has a ridiculously low aDOT of 4.8 and his Yards after Catch of only 2.5 yards per target was underwhelming at best. The poor QB play impacted Austiin, but he may have played more of a role in the play being poor than most think. When targeting Austin the Goff/Keenum combo generate a 56.1 passer rating, 19 points lower than targeting the other Rams receivers. It wasn’t just last season either, since 2000 Tavon has the worst yards per target average, dead last. Here is why Tavon is worth a late round flier, Tavon has carried the ball 125 times over the last 4 seasons and no player has come within 85 of that number. With that high volume for a WR, Tavon has two 2nd rushing grades and the other two grades were first. Tavon finished 21st in fantasy points among WRs in 2015 due to his 434 yards and 4 TDs, if you believe that Tavon can get back to this level of production on the ground then he is a solid boom-bust player going very cheap.


Allen Hurns – Hurns in 2016 had us believing that the Jaguars WR core was among the best in the NFL. The dynamic duo of Hurns and Robinson followed up their combined 144 catches, 2430 yards and 24 TDs by failing to match the numbers that Robinson had alone in 2016. The duo saw their receptions drop by 25%, yardage decrease by 44% and a whopping 62.5% decrease in TD production. This was largely due to Hurns struggles and injuries. With the addition of Leonard Fournette and Marqise Lee’s breakout season there may be too many obstacles for Hurns to return to fantasy relevance. The only bright spot for Hurns was his 5.9 yards after the catch was tied for 10th best. Keep Hurns on your watch list, but the undrafted free agent is unlikely to see a season as efficient as his 2016 was.


Mohamed Sanu – Sanu surprised many last year by grading out as the 19th rated WR by PFF and generated a 117.1 passer rating when targeted. Sanu produced WR2 or better 3 weeks but failed to produce more than 5 fantasy points on 5 occasions.  Sanu was targeted less than Taylor Gabriel on 4 of the last 6 games. His saving grace was his 72.8% catch rate. Sanu is still holding on to the WR2 role in Atlanta, but expect his production to regress as new OC Sarkisian  has made it clear they want to target Julio like they did in 2015 and Gabriel should see more opportunities leaving Sanu as the odd man out in Atlanta.


Curtis Samuel - Samuel became one of the featured play-makers for the Buckeyes in 2016, recording 74 receptions for 865 yards and seven touchdowns through the air. On the ground, he averaged 7.9 yards per carry for 771 yards with eight scores. He ranked second in the RB draft class with 2.76 receiving yards per route run. Lined up in the slot on 425 snaps in 2016 compared to 220 snaps in the backfield, including 11 direct snaps. His downside is his lack of competition, he only has 107 carries and 65 receptions in his career against Power-5 opponents. Samuel has Percy Harvin type of upside, but that will be capped in the Panthers offense where Cam has shown the affinity to keep the ball and make plays himself, he will also have competition for reps with their first round pick Christian McCaffrey.


Chris Conley - When the Chiefs released veteran WR Jeremy Maclin the fantasy football industry imploded with hot takes on what this means for Tyreek Hill. After seeing a very similar situation in Minnesota with Cordarrelle Patterson who outplayed his potential in his rookie season by breaking off a number of big plays. Then Matthew Berry of ESPN proclaimed Cordarrelle to be a top 5 WR and we went crazy drafting him with a 4th round ADP. Tyreek Hill is also a special playmaker, who may not be a fulltime WR as we’ve seen with Patterson, Devin Hester and Dante Hall. Chris Conley is being criminally overlooked right now, as Andy Reid has put Conley in the X position, otherwise known as the possession WR. Conley has showed flashes, but he is entering his 3rd season and I expect him to make that next step. Chris Conley has some of the best measurable in the NFL, let’s put him up against one of the best. Conley is 3 inches taller, 15 pounds heavier and has an extra inch on his wingspan than superstar WR Odell Beckham Jr. He also ran a faster 40 time by 7 hundredths of a second, he tested in the 97th percentile or above in his Speed Score, Burst Score, and Catch Radius, besting OBJ in all categories other than the Agility Score. No, these do not mean that Conley is a sure thing to be a star, and I am not saying that Conley will be better than OBJ. But if fantasy football really is talent time’s opportunity, Conley checks every possible box for a potential breakout star, and I’m buying all I can while he’s still cheap.


J.J. Nelson – Weighing in at 156 pounds, J.J. Nelson is by far the lightest player in the NFL. Although this isn’t necessarily a good or bad stat, if you lets Nelson get off the line of scrimmage cleanly, he’s gone. Nelson has blazing 4.28 speed and at 156 pounds he is shifty enough to make you miss, and once you miss, there are no defenders in the NFL who can match him step for step. With John Brown dealing with sickle cell trait along with a long list of other injuries, Nelson is the more consistent receiver of the two. His aDOT of 17.7 was second in the NFL. Nelson found the End Zone in 4 of the final games of the season, with the one scoreless game being during the fantasy wasteland of Week 17. Nelson is ideal for Best Ball leagues where you don’t need to guess his boom and bust games correctly.


Kenny Golladay - Golladay had an impressive performance at the combine to help himself. He ran faster than expected and has good size. As a senior, Golladay caught 87 passes for 1,156 yards and eight touchdowns. He had 73 receptions for 1,129 yards and 10 scores the year before. He dropped only five of 165 catchable passes over the past two seasons.


Laquon Treadwell – MegaQuan will close out this year’s deep dive on receivers, Treadwell played only 79 snaps and saw only 3 targets after being drafted as the 23rd pick in 2016. Minnesota beat reporters have Treadwell working with the first team in 3 WR sets this offseason. Treadwell excelled at making people miss after the catch in Ole Miss, he had 7 forced missed tackles in one game. Treadwell was the #1 WR prospect coming out of high school and with prototypical WR1 measurable and elite production as a junior, it is easy to see Treadwell having an effective NFL career despite the slow start. 



By The Hartbeat




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