It’s that time of year to clean out the bottom of our dynasty rosters and restock with players still on the upslope of their career, preferrably with opportunity on the horizon in a good situation. This week, wide receivers.
Kenny Stills, MIA - Stills will be a 24-year-old free agent next year. I don’t know why the Saints were so eager to move on from him, but he could draw interest as a stretch-the-field starter on the open market.
Robert Woods, BUF - Woods was lackluster and hurt for a good part of his rookie contract with the Bills, but when healthy, he had the look of a competent #2 receiver. The hunger is real out there at wide receiver, with Mohamed Sanu getting big money and a starting job. Woods has a chance to move up if he gets a ticket out of the Buffalo pass offense.
Cordarrelle Patterson, MIN - Patterson is still rough around the edges as a receiver, but he has earned enough trust to get on the field at the position, and his prowess and meddle as a runner are still apparent. The free agent market will sort out his opportunity a bit, as the team that signs him will surely have a plan for him on offense.
JJ Nelson, ARI - Michael Floyd is gone, so Nelson is set up to have an even bigger role in his third year as the small receiver’s game hopefully grows even if his body is going to remain on the very low end of NFL wide receiver body types.
Jaron Brown, ARI - Brown is out with an ACL tear, but he’s still under contract next year in Arizona with the void left by Michael Floyd representing opportunity. Some suggested he should have been running ahead of Floyd before his injury.
Kendall Wright, TEN - Wright has been a disappointment, and a lot of the fault is his own, but a new team in free agency could represent a new outlook and usage for the receiver has at moments reminded us why he went in the first round.
TJ Jones, DET - Jones had an impressive offseason for the Lions, but Anquan Boldin usurped his chance to settle into the slot. Boldin is a free agent again next year and Jones was productive in a small audition this year. He could go into 2017 as the team’s #3 receiver.
Kamar Aiken, BAL - Aiken was very productive when injuries forced him into a larger role in 2015. While Mike Wallace, Breshad Perriman and Steve Smith have mostly stayed healthy and denied him a chance to build on that campaign, Aiken will enter free agency with that year on his resume and a chance to compete for more playing time if he leaves Baltimore or even in Baltimore if he re-signs and Smith retires.
Chester Rogers, IND - Rogers made the Colts as an undrafted free agent and he has proven to be more than quick, fast, and explosive enough to hang on an NFL field. No immediate opportunity will present itself at wide receiver without injuries in Indianapolis, but all three of the top trio have had their issues with injuries this year, and Rogers plays in a very good pass offense.
Roger Lewis, NYG - Lewis was pushing Victor Cruz for playing time this year, and it’s only a matter of time before he’s the team’s #3 receiver. He had his moments, both good and bad, but the undrafted free agent projects to be a potentially dangerous downfield target for Eli Manning as his game grows
Jeff Janis, GB - You’ll have to hold onto Janis through 2018 to see what you really have. He just isn’t working with Aaron Rodgers, but Janis curiously made a big splash last year in the playoffs when given the chance to play more. The team that seeks him out in free agency in two years will give him a chance again.
Brice Butler, DAL - Butler has looked like a legit downfield target in both speed and playing the ball in the air, and the Cowboys have carved out a role for him in a crowded passing game. He is going to be a free agent next year and he could either return to the Cowboys to start if Terrance Williams leaves, or vie for a bigger role elsewhere.
Terrance Williams, DAL - Williams has never particularly impressed me with the Cowboys, but he has been productive enough and flashed enough to possibly land a starting job or at least a ticket in a competition for a starting job in free agency next year.
Keyarris Garrett, CAR - Garrett was ultraproductive with a long-limbed frame and smooth, fluid athleticism to fit in the big body passing attack the Panthers have assembled. Kelvin Benjamin and Devin Funchess haven’t exactly advanced their case this year, so the practice squad receiver can give the Panthers something to think about in 2017 if he has a good offseason.
Paul Richardson, SEA - Richardson has endured multiple serious injuries, but he’s only 25 and the Seahawks continue to find snaps and targets for him. There could be another chapter to his story after he becomes a free agent in 2018.
DeAndre Smelter, SF - Smelter is back on the 49ers active roster. The size/speed specimen is struggling to get all the way back from a 2014 ACL tear, but the 49ers depth chart is wide open at wide receiver.
Cody Core, CIN - Core made a big downfield catch in a limited opportunity, which is more than his college teammate Laquon Treadwell has done. If Brandon LaFell is one and done with the Bengals, Core could be the #3 next year.
Jaelen Strong, HOU - Strong was impressing this offseason with his new physique, but unfortunately he landed on injured reserve with an ankle injury. He’s struck behind other young receivers and probably needs to get to a second team in 2019 first, but Strong’s best football is still ahead of him.
Chris Moore, BAL - Moore was generating good buzz this summer, but he was stuck behind Mike Wallace and Breshad Perriman this year. Wallace has a 4.75 million dollar price tag and Perriman’s injury history is long, so opportunity is not as far away as it seems for him.
Demarcus Robinson, KC - Robinson’s ceiling was high for a third day pick, but he is stuck in a Chiefs organization that probably won’t make much of him for fantasy over the next three years. Still, he can generate enough buzz as a preseason stud or developmental project that he is worth a stash in deep leagues to see if his name warms up this offseason.
Darius Powe, NYG - Powe turned some heads this summer and he has the physical profile to stick on Sundays. As Victor Cruz gets phased out, the practice squad receiver can throw his hat in the ring for the #3 job soon to be vacated.
Damiere Byrd, CAR - Byrd has the speed to fill the role Ted Ginn could vacate in free agency, and the Panthers have appeared to like the local product the last two summers. The third time could be the charm for the practice squad receiver this offseason.
Tanner McEvoy, SEA - McEvoy is an odd bird, with some safety and quarterback in his background. He stuck with the Seahawks and has a size/speed/athleticism combination that makes him worth tracking long term.