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Critical Tier Drops: Wide Receivers

Identifying the key value drop off points in 2017 at the wide receiver position

Each fantasy football season the landscape of the skill positions change. One year offers more depth, while another turns into a studs and duds feel to the available player pool. Dissecting key drop off points in the position ADP is critical to maximizing draft day value. Here are the key pivot points for 2017 at wide receiver:

The No Doubt Top-10

The top-10 receivers in ADP this season have a combination of unquestioned depth chart pecking order (at the top of the food chain) plus a quarterback at least middle of the road by NFL standards, if not in the top tier. By the middle of the second round Dez Bryant (WR10-ish) is typically gone to end this group. However, a name standing out is Jordy Nelson. With arguably the best quarterback of the bunch, Nelson is in the overall 10-15 zone of a draft despite having just as strong a profile to finish No.1 or No.2 at the position as the residents earlier in the first round like Antonio Brown, Odell Beckham Jr, and Julio Jones.

Take a shot on a lead receiver

Outside the top-10 in positional ADP begins the different subsets. With rare exception, take draft pick shots on receivers with a chance to be the unquestioned No.1 target on their depth chart. First, let's start with the exceptions to this rule:

The Patriots depth chart and target allocation are up in the air by the week, but Tom Brady - like Aaron Rodgers' impact on Davante Adams as the No.2 - can churn out a second top-20 option, a level few quarterbacks can touch.

Now, back to the search for No.1 receivers:

Demaryius Thomas: Why is he priced at WR14 instead of in the top-10? The quarterback situation is far from settled and Emmanuel Sanders is a strong challenger for targets on a middling passing game.

Terrelle Pryor: The Washington depth chart is unsettled and Pryor is by far the most expensive of the bunch. His physical attributes rival the best in the NFL at the position. The biggest question is if Washington's passing game continues on its course after losing Pierre Garcon and DeSean Jackson.

Allen Robinson: No questions on Robinson's standing, but with Blake Bortles' hold (if he even has one) on the starting job like a limp handshake at this point, the entire passing game can be a low-upside proposition as Jacksonville attempts to run the game and play defense (if game script allows).

Alshon Jeffery: One of my favorite plays in this Round 3-4 zone. Jeffery gets a quarterback upgrade in Carson Wentz and Jordan Matthews' trade to Buffalo clears the runway even more for high-volume targets. Jeffery's profile is similar to receivers in the Round 2 range of ADP.

Tyreek Hill: His intermediate to deep targets were sparse in 2016. With Jeremy Maclin gone is Hill really the No.1? Hill is one of the best athletes in the entire NFL, but we have yet to see a decent share of the route tree to-date. 

Jarvis Landry: DeVante Parker enters a critical year to break out and justify his Round 1 draft pedigree and this depth chart feels like a 1A/B scenario where neither has WR1 potential. Parker is far cheaper by around 15 positional ADP spots, giving him the nod of the two.

Sammy Watkins: Will Watkins be the clear No.1 option for the Rams? Cooper Kupp and Robert Woods have a leg up in terms of time with the team as Watkins is a late arrival with his trade. Watkins is fairly priced with a mid-range quarterback option at best in Jared Goff and WR25-ish ADP.

Kelvin Benjamin: Based on my historical research, Benjamin has one of the best chances to outperform his WR25-30 ADP. Without a challenger to the No.1 role and Cam Newton has been a strong fantasy option in every career year outside of 2016, Benjamin is a strong bet to be a WR2 or better.

Stefon Diggs: Like Watkins or Hill, the question with Diggs is more on the quarterback level and ultimate upside than depth chart standing.

Cameron Meredith vs Kevin White: Both are affordable considering the Bears' No.1 role is up for grabs. Meredith is more expensive in the WR40 range (Round 8-10). White has yet to show much athleticism despite his pre-draft testing. Mike Glennon could be an early-season speed bump to any notable passing game production if under center before Mitch Trubisky offers more promise.

Pierre Garcon: In Round 6-8, Garcon is one of my favorite bets at receiver. Brian Hoyer is a strong upgrade for San Francisco under center and the Kyle Shanahan factor is in effect. Garcon is the clear No.1 option and should rival his career high in targets to beat his WR36 ADP without much effort.

Eric Decker: While the ADP favors rookie Corey Davis as the Titans' top option, I side with Decker as the touchdown maven over the years with a strong profile of production. Davis will be the No.1 receiver there soon, but Decker is the favorite in 2017 as a stopgap. At WR40-45 prices, Decker is Garcon-like in terms of value-based appeal.

Jordan Matthews: Buffalo could turn into a Jets-like horror show on offense this season, but Matthews is the leading candidate to be the No.1 option. Near WR50 and Tyrod Taylor being a functional quarterback, the combination is strong historically to bet on a profit from Matthews.

Kenny Britt: Corey Coleman has a slightly higher ADP (both in the Round 10 area), but if Britt can log a 1,000-yard season with the 2016 version of the Rams offense, Cleveland this season should be a breeze in terms of the production floor. Like Eric Decker versus Corey Davis in Tennessee, Coleman is the future, but Britt offers the veteran appeal in the short term to outproduce his WR50-level ADP.

Robbie Anderson: The Jets, no surprise, offer the lowest cost to bet on a No.1 receiver in 2017. The quarterback situation is unsettled and the offense looks like a bye week level unit already thinking about the offseason and ideally a top quarterback from the 2018 NFL Draft class. The historical metrics like Anderson at WR57 ADP, but it is a tough bet to see much profit as Anderson's profile features a rail-thin build and more secondary receiver traits, while the starting quarterback is likely in the bottom-3 each week in terms of appeal.

Sneaky Deep Targets

Mohamed Sanu: At WR64, Sanu is low-priced considering the level of his quarterback Matt Ryan in fantasy appeal. Sanu, not Julio Jones, has been the touchdown producer of choice in the Atlanta receiver corps. Without a strong No.3 and Austin Hooper becoming the tight end starter for the first time in Year 2, Sanu has a strong floor and ceiling combination considering his Round 15+ sticker price.

Cooper Kupp: One thing was apparent during the NFL Draft process with Kupp - he is a technician of the position from the Senior Bowl practices to interviews to the NFL Combine. The one thing apparent from the Rams' preseason games is Kupp is a quarterback's best friend. Jared Goff has consistently looked for Kupp on critical downs and Kupp has delivered. His upside may be capped to WR2-land, but Kupp is a good bet to be a positive factor near the top of the Rams' passing game.

Terrance Williams: In the near-free zone of ADP, Williams is the No.2 option with a strong quarterback. Williams' greatest appeal is his WR2-like numbers when Dez Bryant has missed games in recent seasons. Williams is a better best ball play than in head-to-head formats but is one of the better options from outside the general top-250 of draft ADP.

Marquise Goodwin and Jeremy Kerley: The No.2 option for San Francisco projects as Goodwin with Kerley active in the slot. Kerley saw more than 100 targets a year ago and Goodwin possesses one of the better athleticism profiles in the NFL. Kyle Shanahan produced viability out of the ancillary weapons in Atlanta last season and beyond Pierre Garcon the opportunity is there for Goodwin and Kerley as late draft bets.