The flip side of succeeding with value players is failing with overvalued players. These are players that will not put up stats commensurate to their draft spot, and avoiding them is another of the important keys to a successful fantasy team. In an attempt to point out these players, we asked our staff to look through the top 150 players and identify players that should underperform their draft position.
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Player Receiving 8 Votes
Kelvin Benjamin, Carolina
Phil Alexander: Benjamin continues to be least desirable third round pick in 2016 fantasy drafts. He finished as a top-15 wide receiver in his rookie season but needed a massive 29.3% target market share to make it happen. His current ADP assumes Benjamin will once again see close to 150 targets because his career 6.95 yards per target average suggests it's the only way he'll sniff 1,000 receiving yards. It's more likely Benjamin sees closer to 120 targets this year, which caps his upside in the WR26-30 range. If the buzz from training camp can be believed, Devin Funchess will command more targets in his second season. Ted Ginn Jr Jr. proved deserving of his role as Carolina's primary deep threat. And last year's team target leader, Greg Olsen, is locked into his usual 120+ looks from Cam Newton. Speaking of Newton, we should expect his league leading 7.1% touchdown rate to normalize a bit this season, which is more bad news for Benjamin, who contrary to popular belief is not exactly a red zone monster. Benjamin converted only three of his team-leading 17 red zone targets into touchdowns in 2014 -- a full 5% below the league average.
Sigmund Bloom: Benjamin still isn't in good enough shape to finish out all of his deep routes or play a full complement of snaps, so a third round ADP seems entirely overaggressive. He is being pushed by Devin Funchess, who had an outstanding camp and offseason. If Funchess gets to spell Benjamin while Benjamin is still getting up to game speed, he could impress enough to get first team snaps every week. Benjamin's rookie year numbers were great, but also came in garbage time and on an inefficient level of play. With more viable targets, Benjamin will have to be more efficient, and he won't face as many prevent defenses with the Panthers now a winning team.
Mike Brown: In addition to coming off a torn ACL, Benjamin's conditioning has been drawn into question throughout camp. Not to mention Devin Funchess breathing down his neck as the number one option in the passing game. Not to mention the likelihood of Cam Newton's touchdown totals regressing. Not to mention the fact that Benjamin is being taken as the #18 wide receiver on average. Not to mention...
Ryan Hester: Benjamin being drafted as a fantasy starter is quite confusing. He missed last year with injury, and his fantasy valuable rookie season came mostly on garbage time. Until he gets in shape, he’s not guaranteed to be the favorite target of Cam Newton.
Justin Howe: It would take a lot of Taser voltage to get me to spend in the WR2 range for Benjamin. He's a shaky prospect, with mediocre explosiveness and a penchant for inattentive mistakes. His college resume was very bumpy – he was never relevant until age 22 – and even his outstanding first NFL season was wildly inefficient. Benjamin largely feasted on wild late-game passing barrages, with a hefty chunk of his production coming late in blowout losses. That doesn't happen much anymore in Carolina, and Benjamin has a talented, useful set of bodies to contend with for attention anyway. He might struggle just to reach weekly fantasy WR3 value.
John Mamula: Kelvin Benjamin is less than 12 months removed from ACL surgery and is currently being drafted as the 18th WR. There is no value to be gained with that current ADP. Cam Newton has more passing options with Devin Funchess and Ted Ginn Jr Jr. as compared to Benjamins rookie season in 2014 when he was the main WR in Carolina. If I am targeting a WR in the third round of my draft, I am looking for one with both a high floor and a high ceiling. While Benjamin may have a decent ceiling with Newton throwing him the ball, his floor is rock bottom.
Daniel Simpkins: Benjamin surprised us as a rookie, but he benefited from target volume in 2014 that he is unlikely to see again in 2016. He’s not the only wide receiver in town anymore -- both Ted Ginn Jr Jr. and Devin Funchess have emerged to play their varied roles in the passing game. We are hearing that Benjamin is struggling with conditioning in training camp and that is not reassuring for a wideout coming off a significant knee injury. Benjamin will have a hard time outproducing Sammy Watkins, Michael Floyd, and Donte Moncrief, all of whom are players that are being drafted behind him.
Jason Wood: My issue with Kelvin Benjamin relates more to the tier he's being drafted in rather than the player's abilities. Benjamin was the 16th ranked receiver as a rookie, but missed his 2nd year with a torn ACL. Now that he's fully healthy, is it too much to expect Benjamin to at least reprise his rookie heroics? I'm afraid so, simply because the Panthers are a far more balanced offense now than they were in 2014. Ted Ginn Jr scored 10 touchdowns last year. Devin Funchess is having a solid preseason. Greg Olsen remains elite. I just don't see Benjamin getting the target volume to finish as a Top 20 option; caveat emptor.
Player Receiving 6 Votes
Jordy Nelson, Green Bay
Sigmund Bloom: Nelson has performed up this early 2nd ADP before, but it's tough to pay for him at his ceiling when his "good" knee sidelined him for most of camp with tendonitis. He is coming off of an ACL tear in the other knee, and Nelson turns 31 this season, so he is not at his peak of recuperative powers. If Nelson struggles to stay healthy or return to his old form, it should come as no surprise. There are receivers with similar ceilings and two completely healthy knees available in the second.
Mike Brown: Players returning from a torn ACL typically take a little extra time before rounding into shape. By midseason, Nelson should be hitting his stride and will be a very effective weapon come fantasy playoff time. I would just fear whether fantasy owners are expecting him to step back into the lineup and be Jordy Nelson right away. His price tag is rather high for a guy we still haven't seen on the field in a year.
Will Grant: I don’t know what the fascination with taking Jordy Nelson is this year, but people need to pump the breaks. Nelson’s going in the middle of the second round, despite never having played a down last season. The problem is that he’s still not healthy. He’s not practicing at 100% for the Packers yet, and he could miss the entire pre-season as well. Sure QB Aaron Rodgers doesn’t see an issue because they’ve played together forever, but without being able to practice at full speed, there is little chance Nelson will be in ‘game shape’ when the season starts. Is that what you want to hear from a guy going in the second round?
Stephen Holloway: Nelson missed the entire 2015 season and the wheels fell off the Packers’ offense. They finished 23rd with 335 yards per game and 15th in scoring with 23.0 points per game. Nelson returns, but will the offense again pick up their production. They definitely have multiple receiving options and Nelson, who might start slowly could see decreased opportunities, even after leading the team in targets, receptions, receiving yards and TDs in 2013 and 2014.
Devin Knotts: Jordy Nelson missed the entire season with an ACL injury and is back to being drafted as if nothing happened in the second round. This is very concerning as Nelson is now 31 years old and relies heavily on his separation speed between him and his defender to get open. This early in the draft you want a wide receiver that can be relied on for consistency on a week to week basis, and there are too many questions for Nelson on how he will respond and if he will be back to full health.
Daniel Simpkins: As we found out from the disaster of last season, Nelson certainly is an important cog in the Green Bay offense. However, his knee injury rehab should make owners leery of spending a late-second or early-third-round pick on him. Nelson is coming off a serious knee injury and has had some problems with what appears to be a compensatory injury in his other knee. At age 31, we may be seeing signs of decline. Mike Evans, Brandin Cooks, and Amari Cooper in particular present as options with similar upside to Nelson in their respective offenses without the same types of age and durability concerns.
Player Receiving 5 Votes
Laquon Treadwell, Minnesota
Sigmund Bloom: Treadwell ended up in a good long term spot in Minnesota - at least for long term opportunity - but 2015 offseason star Charles Johnson is ahead of him right now, and Treadwell is running as the third and even fourth wide receiver. He should play a role in the red zone, but in a low volume pass offense, it's difficult to justify waiting on his breakout when there are other intriguing young receivers in the same part of the draft with better momentum and pass offenses.
James Brimacombe: Treadwell is the shiny new toy as he entered the preseason, he says all the right things, goes the extra mile in his training but he is still a rookie WR on a run first team. You can draft Stefon Diggs right around the same time in drafts and we already saw what he can do on the field as he lead the Vikings in receiving as a rookie last season.
Dan Hindery: The default assumption with rookie receivers should be that they are unlikely to make a real fantasy impact as rookies. Historically, it has been relatively rare. If we are going to invest an early or mid-round pick on a rookie wide receiver, we want to have some strong indications from preseason and camp reports about a young guy showing exceptionally well. With Treadwell, we have seen the opposite. Most indications are that he is a little more of a project than believed and not a plug-and-play #1 receiver like many draft analysts predicted. In fact, Treadwell is running behind Stefon Diggs and Charles Johnson and looks unlikely to start. Plus, unlike some of the other rookie receivers who landed in high-volume passing offenses (Michael Thomas and Sterling Shepard), Treadwell is on the most run-heavy team in the NFL. Let someone else reach for Treadwell at his current ADP.
Cian Fahey: If you were paying attention, you won't have been caught off guard by the Titans trading Dorial Green-Beckham. Now, if you're paying attention, you won't be caught off guard by the situation facing Laquon Treadwell. Treadwell has been given nothing by the Vikings coaching staff. He is running with backups in preseason games and struggling in practice on most days. Treadwell won't be starting ahead of Charles Johnson and he will need to thrive over the coming weeks to feature in three receiver sets. Treadwell could have value over the second half of the season but when he's still being drafted in the first 10 rounds he's not going to offer anything close to value.
Jeff Tefertiller: Rookie Laquon Treadwell should not be drafted as high as his ADP suggests (eighth round). Treadwell is currently drafted before teammate Stefon Diggs. That is crazy the way Diggs played as a rookie in 2015. Further, Treadwell has yet to beat Charles Johnson for the right to start opposite Diggs. To summarize, the WR3 on a team that does not throw the ball frequently should not be drafted in the first ten rounds, much less the eighth.
Player Receiving 4 Votes
Demaryius Thomas, Denver
Andy Hicks: With the departure of Peyton Manning it is expected that Demaryius Thomas will have a little bit of a drop off, but Emmanuel Sanders a big decline. Why? Demaryius Thomas, for a variety of reasons did not look the same receiver as before he signed his contract extension. No matter who the Broncos start at quarterback, I expect Sanders to be the more productive as he can play a greater variety of routes, especially of the shorter variety. With the Broncos expecting to run it more as well, the big play that Thomas brings may be severely diminished.
Chris Kuczynski: Not long ago, Thomas was considered one of the elite WRs in the league after he put up very impressive numbers during Peyton Manning’s first few years in Denver. Last year he had a fair amount of catches and yards, but his touchdown numbers plummeted (only one in the first half of the season) and he completely disappeared in certain games (particularly the playoffs) by either failing to gain separation from the defender or having costly drops. Additionally, most of these stats came in the only 4 games he surpassed 100 receiving yards. We are quickly approaching the start of the season and the QB situation is still totally up in the air between Mark Sanchez, Trevor Siemien and Paxton Lynch because none of them have been very impressive. Gary Kubiak will take this opportunity to finally implementing his conservative run-first strategy so that the poor QB situation doesn't make or break the offense. Thomas should be looked at more as an average WR2 this year despite the name recognition.
Chris Feery: Despite winning the Super Bowl, the Denver Broncos offense took a leap backwards last season from a fantasy perspective. Nowhere was that more evident than in the production of Demaryius Thomas, who saw his touchdown numbers nearly cut in half from 2014, and his receiving yardage drop by more than 300 yards – despite receiving only eight fewer targets. The Broncos enter 2016 with a ton of question marks at the quarterback position. That doesn’t exactly point to a bounce in productivity for Thomas. He’s currently being drafted ahead of receivers such as Jarvis Landry and Jeremy Maclin, both of whom have very real chances to out-produce him in 2016. Thomas definitely remains a fantasy asset, just don’t be overly optimistic about his production this season.
Mark Wimer: Peyton Manning is retired, and Thomas may well have to work with rookie Paxton Lynch as his quarterback for much of the season - the other options are Trevor Siemian or Mark Sanchez. With inexperienced/sub-par quarterbacking, I'm not banking on Thomas to return to his Manning-era glory days. Thomas is off my draft boards at wide receiver as of August 23 unless he comes at a very reduced cost (unlikely given his high ADP) - I don't want to roll the dice on him/his situation this year.
Players Receiving 3 Votes
Jordan Matthews, Philadelphia
Sigmund Bloom: Matthews finished the year with solid numbers, but that masks that he only had five top 25 weeks in 15 games between Weeks 1 and 16. The Eagles pass offense will be as morose as Sam Bradford - at best - and might rely on Chase Daniel or rookie Carson Wentz before the season is done. Matthews is also starting the season with a bone bruise that took him out for most of camp and the preseason. He should have targets by default, but he had that last year in one of the highest volume pass offenses in the league, and was useless in our lineups for most of the season.
Ryan Hester: The Philadelphia offense is a tough sell this season with Chip Kelly and his break-neck pace leaving town. They will run far fewer plays, which should be factored in when evaluating all participants. Green Bay and Philadelphia’s offenses both showed that it's difficult to run a fully-effective passing game through a mostly interior wide receiver. Philadelphia's new staff could see that and opt to spread targets elsewhere. He was also wildly inconsistent, registering over 100 yards on four occasions but also registering 50 yards or fewer seven times.
Matt Waldman: He's a good big slot receiver but he's working in a new offense and the team wanted to make him a perimeter player and he failed to prove he could do it. He failed so early in the process that he was returned to the slot before mini camp closed. The Eagles may make enough adjustments to get Matthews on the field more in this role but most NFL coordinators, for good or bad, are stubborn about forcing players to match scheme rather than fitting the scheme to the player. Unless Zach Ertz gets hurt, I anticipate Matthews' upside is his ADP and his baseline is 10-12 spots lower in this ADP list of wide outs.
DeVante Parker, Miami
Jeff Haseley: I have zero shares of DeVante Parker in my leagues this year. Could I be wrong about him? Maybe, but I don't see him turning into an elite receiver. Not on this offense, not with Jarvis Landry handling such a high number of targets. Parker may reach upwards of 8 touchdowns (I'd say that's his ceiling), but I don't see him being a reliable consistent option for Ryan Tannehill. My dislike for Parker also reflects my uncertainty of the Dolphins offense in general. Even with the addition of Adam Gase calling the shots, I think we'll see some growing pains for Miami this year.
Devin Knotts: While the raw talent is there, Parker is being taken as the 30th overall wide receiver ahead of players such as Emmanuel Sanders, John Brown, and Allen Hurns all who are coming off of 1,000-yard seasons in 2015. Parker is a former first round draft pick in 2014 and dealt with injuries in his rookie year before coming on strong in his last six games as he averaged 74 yards per game and had three touchdowns in those six games. The issue for Parker is that he has a long history of injury concerns dating back to college and has already missed time due to a hamstring issue. Parker has missed significant time in each of the last two seasons dating back to college. If you draft Parker that early you are paying for him to breakout to become Allen Hurns of 2015 when you can just take Allen Hurns instead of Parker.
Matt Waldman: The second-year player is still leaning too hard on his "God-given talent" and not enough on the opportunity to work at his craft and become a great receiver. He struggled to beat press coverage last year and the Dolphins used him in the slot, which led to good production down the stretch. I have not seen Parker make the leap with his technical skills. He's still not technically sound at the line of scrimmage with his releases and he has not learned to make harder breaks on routes that demand it. The skill to rebound passes is great in specific circumstances but there are many other scenarios where it doesn't work. Parker is a one-note player right now and I'll be surprised if he merits every-week starter production.
Players Receiving 2 Votes
Doug Baldwin, Seattle
John Mamula: Doug Baldwin is due for some serious negative touchdown regression. Baldwin had 14 touchdowns last season while only combining for a total of 15 touchdowns during his previous four seasons. Second year WR, Tyler Lockett, is going to continue to trend upward in the Seahawks passing offense. Let somebody else pay for last season’s touchdowns while you look for this seasons value.
Daniel Simpkins: Baldwin is one of those underdog stories we love so much. An undrafted free agent, Baldwin did not only fight and claw for a starting spot with a perennial Super Bowl contender, he also played well enough to be paid big money to stay in Seattle. It seems that narrative, paired with his historic production from last season, has lead owners to overvalue Baldwin. He is sure to see touchdown regression after scoring 14 times in 2015, which will take a sizeable bite out of his fantasy totals. While his fantasy floor is certainly high, it’s his ceiling that makes Baldwin a losing proposition at his current average draft position at the end of round four.
John Brown, Arizona
Will Grant: Brown had some big games last season, and he came into this year with a lot of expectations. But he’s been sidelined with concussion protocol, and has just recently been cleared to practice. He should see some action this week, but he’s still considered the third receiving option on this offense. With Larry Fitzgerald not ready to surrender his position as the team’s #1 WR, Brown is going to have to fight his way into a bigger piece of the action, and that should concern fantasy players. As a 6th round pick, you’re taking a big risk, hoping that he won’t be injured and he’ll exceed value again this year.
Jason Wood: All three Cardinals receivers have appeal; particularly because all three are capable of WR1 production with a consistent share of targets. If one of the trio gets hurt, the other two become every week starters. Yet, I would avoid John Brown at his current ADP because I think he's the clear-cut #3 option behind Michael Floyd and Larry Fitzgerald. Fantasy owners are forgetting that Michael Floyd hurt his hand badly last preseason (bones protruded from skin!) and he didn't round back into shape until Week 6 at the earliest (others say it wasn't until Week 8). If you look at the Cardinals productivity with Floyd healthy, Brown's numbers took a major tumble. From Week 8 onward, Brown averaged 3.6 receptions for 57 yards and 0.43 TDs (57 receptions for 910 yards and 7 touchdowns over a full 16-game season) compared to Floyd at 4.6 receptions for 79.5 yards and 0.5 touchdowns (72 receptions for 1,272 yards and 8 touchdowns).
Dez Bryant, Dallas
Mike Brown: Bryant's recovery had been going relatively well until the concussion he suffered in practice earlier this week. But even before then, I wasn't getting great vibes from Dallas. Tony Romo is returning from injury, Bryant is returning from injury, newcomer Ezekiel Elliott is already injured. And for all his talent, I don't see Bryant performing a whole heck of a lot better than the handful of guys on the list behind him.
Mark Wimer: I was worried about his production this upcoming season before he incurred a concussion in practice on 8/22/16 - I am not considering Bryant for #1 fantasy wide receiver on any of my teams, which means he'll be gone way before I would pick him.
Corey Coleman, Cleveland
Devin Knotts: The 2014 rookie wide receiver class has skewed the way that we look at wide receivers. 2015 was more normalized where there were six wide receivers selected in the first round and only one made a significant fantasy impact which was Amari Cooper. Corey Coleman comes into a situation where they have a lot of questions surrounding their offense. Robert Griffin is a wild card at quarterback and the passing game is going to be crowded with Josh Gordon, Duke Johnson Jr, Gary Barnidge, Corey Coleman, and the potential emergence of Terrelle Pryor. Corey Coleman is currently being drafted as the 39th overall wide receiver. There are more established wide receivers in that range as there are still significant questions regarding Cleveland, and while Coleman is extremely talented he is undersized and will likely take some time to develop into a weekly fantasy contributor.
John Mamula: After suffering a hamstring injury, a couple of weeks ago during training camp, Corey Coleman’s value has dropped. Hamstring injuries are tough for wide receivers, especially rookie wide receivers trying to learn the offense. Coleman will be behind due to all the practice time that he has missed. Coleman is currently being drafted 85th overall. That is assuming too much risk at that ADP.
Amari Cooper, Oakland
Ryan Hester: Cooper is an interesting case as he started his rookie year exceptionally well and then trailed off late in the season. It has been said that much of the fall-off was due to injury, but Cooper’s outlook must also consider Michael Crabtree, who out-targeted Cooper last season. Aside from the competition for looks, Oakland’s defense should be much improved this season, which would allow for a more run-heavy, slow-paced offense. Coaches have already said they want Latavius Murray to have more carries than last season, implying they want to be run-heavy if game scripts allow.
Justin Howe: It's not that I'm betting against Cooper's success. I'm sure he'll keep ascending into the upper ranks of NFL wideouts, and 2016 could represent a huge step forward. But in this ADP range, I'm wary of targeting a receiver with a shaky touchdown outlook. Cooper made big plays down the field last year, but was entirely uninvolved near the end zone, failing to draw a single target from inside the 10-yard line. That'll improve, of course, but not enough to tempt me over guys with similar ADPs but far more TD upside.
Julian Edelman, New England
Jeff Pasquino: No wide receiver in New England is going to perform at very high fantasy levels this year. Tom Brady is going to have a pedestrian season (by modern standards, no more than 4,000 yards and about 25 touchdowns) thanks to a four-game suspension, and I predict none of his receivers get 1,000 yards. Only Rob Gronkowski will have significant fantasy value, and all of the wideouts - Edelman, Danny Amendola, Aaron Dobson, Nate Washington - or anyone else they throw out there - will be barely worth a roster spot this season.
Jason Wood: Edelman is capable of 10 catches per game under the right circumstances, but I doubt we'll get those circumstances more than a handful of times this season – if at all. Tom Brady is suspended for the first four games. Edelman is constantly battling nagging injuries. The team added Chris Hogan and Martellus Bennett in the offseason – both can and should command a ton of targets. The offensive line has questions. I can go on and on, but ultimately Edelman is a guy that's better suited as a WR3 or flex option yet is being drafted as a WR2.
Josh Gordon, Cleveland
Jeff Haseley: Josh Gordon could come out and smell like a rose and be back to his previous form that saw him reach great heights, or he could struggle to make an immediate impact and wind up hurting those who gambled on him as a higher draft pick. Sometimes you have to take risks to gain traction. Hopefully, Gordon works out, but there is definitely some risk involved, especially if you draft him as your WR3 or higher.
Jason Wood: I understand the appeal of Josh Gordon – you get to draft a receiver with Top 5 potential at WR4 prices. Yet, what's the likelihood we ever see Gordon atop the receiver standings again? Even a minor infraction is going to end his career – immediately. The Browns are no longer bereft of talent. Rookie Corey Coleman projects as an all-around starter. Gary Barnidge is a legitimate target magnet. Terrelle Pryor has been explosive throughout the preseason. Duke Johnson Jr can catch 80 passes out of the backfield. Meanwhile, Gordon's last season was not impressive. We all remember his 2013 season (87 catches for 1,646 yard and nine touchdowns) but forget his 2014 campaign (24 catches for 303 yards and zero touchdowns). There are purer lottery tickets in the late rounds who aren't one bad decision away from irrelevance.
DeAndre Hopkins, Houston
Justin Bonnema: There’s no question that Hopkins is one of the most gifted wide receivers in the league and should be a pleasure to watch for years to come. But the price to acquire him doesn’t factor in the inherent risk of drafting the Houston Texans top player. We can assume he’ll be a target hog and the top option for Brock Osweiler. But ignoring the fact that A) Osweiler isn’t very good, and B) the Texans grabbed Lamar Miller in free agency, ignores their change in philosophy. Through the first half of 2015, Hopkins was our second highest scoring wide receiver. From Week 9 on, he tumbled to 13th. What happened? The Texans started winning games and stopped force-feeding him targets. It’s safe to say they’ll take a more balanced approach in 2016, especially with Miller as a receiving threat out of the backfield, and a much stronger group of wide receivers than in years past. Expecting Hopkins to see 192 targets again would be foolish. There are safer options in Round 1.
Mike Brown: Hopkins is one of the league's premier wide receivers, and deserves to be a high draft pick. But if you're asking me who is the most likely of the first round wide receivers to fall out of the first round next year, Hopkins is the easy choice. He was almost force-fed the ball a year ago, but the team has added Will Fuller V and Lamar Miller. It stands to reason that the targets will drop, and with that so will Hopkins' upside. Still a force, just not a first round force.
Allen Hurns, Jacksonville
Stephen Holloway: Hurns, like Allen Robinson saw much greater success and efficiency in 2015 than the year before. His yards per catch rose from 13.3 to 16.1 and he had 13 more receptions on only eight more targets. His touchdowns also climbed from 6 in his rookie season to 10 last year. Expect less yards per catch and touchdowns for this season and possibly fewer catches as the Jaguars pursue a more balanced offense as their defense improves greatly.
Ari Ingel: In a season where the Jaguars played from behind a ton and had to air it out early and often, Hurns finished with only 64 catches. He did have 10 touchdowns, but touchdowns can be a fluky thing in the NFL and with Julius Thomas fully healthy and with a better defense and run game, look for that touchdown total to drop.
Alshon Jeffery, Chicago
Jeff Haseley: I am concerned about Alshon Jeffery for two reasons - his overall health and susceptibility of soft tissue injuries has me concerned. It's possible that he will be fine and this is a non-thought come Week 5. It's also possible that his hamstring tendencies and current situation keeps him sidelined or at least less than 100%. The other concern I have is the potential emergence of Kevin White that could take away targets and production from Jeffery. I have often passed on Jeffery in the second round of drafts due to the uncertainty that surrounds him this year.
Daniel Simpkins: How a team treats a player tells us how much or how little faith they have in him. Not only did the Bears spend a premium pick on Kevin White just two years ago, they also refused to pay Jeffery big bucks to stay, instead using their franchise tag to keep him in the fold. Jeffery recently battled a mild hamstring injury in camp, reminding us that repeated soft tissue injuries are always a concern for the Bears’ wideout. A late-second or early-third-round pick is the going rate for Jeffery, which is just too steep a price to pay for a player with such sizeable risks.
Tyler Lockett, Seattle
Jeff Haseley: The love for Tyler Lockett is strong. Many are expecting a giant jump in production from Lockett, but I am not fully on board with this. In fact, I would not be surprised to see Jermaine Kearse have equal or close to equal stats this year. In 2015, in the same number of games, Kearse had 109 more snaps than Lockett. Doug Baldwin and Kearse occupied the X and Z roles, while Lockett lineup primarily out of the slot. He was generally not on the field in two wide receiver sets. The addition of Jimmy Graham could keep that ratio intact in 2016. Lockett has deep threat skills and will see his share of big fantasy plays, but I don't see him all the sudden turning into a possession receiver who will soak up countless targets (he never exceeded 7 targets in a game last year). Lockett could have an improved season, but not to the extent of where he's being drafted.
Stephen Holloway: There are a lot of reasons to like the speedy and shifty Lockett. But the quantity of targets is not one of them. Even if Seattle increases the passing game focus, he is but one of a trio of wide receivers and that is not even counting the possibility of the return of Jimmy Graham. A year ago, Lockett had 51 receptions and scored 6 touchdowns. He should have a few more catches, but the touchdowns could easily fall short this year.
Players Receiving 1 Vote
Tavon Austin, Los Angeles
Matt Waldman: A contact of mine who works with several NFL teams does a lot of film and analytical work. His observation based on research: gadget players rarely succeed in the NFL over the long haul and Austin is a classic gadget player who doesn't succeed in a traditional wide receiver role. The presence of Todd Gurley may help Austin because opposing defenses have to cheat their positions on the field to attack Gurley but I'm not buying it leads to consistent production a fantasy owner can count on.
Stefon Diggs, Minnesota
Chris Kuczynski: Diggs was an incredible waiver-wire pick up last year when he broke out into the scene week 4 as the Vikings top target, but it did not last very long. His streak of consecutive big games came to an end week 8, and he never really regained that spark. This season, Minnesota spend their first round pick on Laquon Treadwell and he is expected to earn the number 1 WR role in the passing game. The run first (and second, and third) offense might not have enough balls to go around since everything is schemed around Adrian Peterson, and over the last two seasons Teddy Bridgewater has only averaged 3100 yards and 14 TDs. It is hard to recommend Diggs as any more than a low end WR3 or a flex based on matchup.
Mike Evans, Tampa Bay
Mark Wimer: Evans underwhelmed last season while enjoying a huge number of targets - 148 targets but only 74 receptions (50%) - and his TDs plummeted from 12 to just three. While some of the problems were due to having a rookie quarterback under center, I am concerned that Evans doesn't have the work ethic to rise to the top ranks of his position. I'm cool on his prospects as the lead receiver for the Buccaneers despite the likelihood that he'll receive a huge number of targets again this year. Evans showed us last season that targets don't necessarily translate into top-flight fantasy production.
Larry Fitzgerald, Arizona
Ryan Hester: The veteran started out last season on a mission. He was outstanding early in the season, but his fantastic performances fell in line with fellow receiver Michael Floyd’s fluky-yet-significant preseason hand injury and recovery. Fitzgerald is more “real football” valuable than fantasy football valuable at this point, but he’s being drafted as though he’s a real asset.
Michael Floyd, Arizona
Andy Hicks: Michael Floyd has never developed into the number 1 receiver the Cardinals thought they were getting when they spent a first-round pick on him in 2012. Right now diminutive 3rd year man John Brown is getting more looks and doing more with the ball. If he retains that role, then Floyd is in big trouble if the 37 year old Carson Palmer regresses in any way. Larry Fitzgerald is still the class in this receiving corps and more adaptable, so I'm struggling to see how Floyd presents any return on the draft price you'll need to invest to get him.
A.J. Green, Cincinnati
Mark Wimer: Losing quality surrounding talent like Marvin Jones Jr, Mohamed Sanu, and Tyler Eifert (for at least part of regular season, most likely) has me pessimistic about Green's ability to be a top five fantasy wide receiver this year. He'll be good (top 12), but the abundance of targets he will enjoy will come at the price of even more defensive pressure/coverage than he's drawn in previous years. Green is overvalued as of late August - as we saw with Mike Evans in Tampa Bay last year, being the obviously best receiver on a team without a supporting cast can limit upside.
Chris Kuczynski: The Titans are not exactly overflowing with talent at the WR position and they traded away their high 2nd round pick from last year for depth on their offensive line- this should tell you all you need to know about Green-Beckham. Yes he has the measurables you want to see in a prototypical WR, and he has quite a bit of potential, but he is extremely raw and now goes to a new team in an new offensive scheme weeks before the start of the regular season. His route tree will clearly be limited as he learns the playbook, but the good news is the Eagles don't have much in the WR department themselves with just Jordan Matthews and a few players behind him with minimal fantasy appeal. Green-Beckham’s long term potential and opportunities to crack the starting roster warrant a late round “swing for the fences” pick after you feel comfortable with your starting lineup and immediate backups, but he should just be looked at as a late upside pick and not be expected to contribute right away to your team.
Brandon Marshall, NY Jets
Andy Hicks: Brandon Marshall has a track record of doing very well on a new team. After all he has had a lot of practice at it as he is on his 4th team in 10 years. Posting career bests in touchdowns and just short of his reception and yardage bests mean that his 3rd place finish in 2015 is unlikely to be repeated this year. The resigning of Ryan Fitzpatrick helps his case for a good 2016 NFL season, but at age 32 I have a feeling we have seen his best and this will be the start of a decline. How bad remains to be seen. Trusting him to be a fantasy WR1 this year is too big a gamble.
Donte Moncrief, Indianapolis
Andy Hicks: Donte Moncrief is seeing his ADP get lower and is going to be drafted on potential rather than production at this stage of his career, while Philip Dorsett is being seen as the guy that misses out. With T.Y. Hilton also around either someone misses out or Moncrief and Dorsett have to share targets. I don't think there is enough upside in this offense, especially if Andrew Luck can't play within his limits, for 3 starting fantasy receivers. Dorsett is value in fantasy drafts, Moncrief isn't.
Emmanuel Sanders, Denver
Jeff Pasquino: Denver is not going to be known as a pass-centric offense this year. Either Mark Sanchez or rookie Paxton Lynch will be the quarterback, and I believe that Gary Kubiak will focus on both the run and defense first. Couple that with Demaryius Thomas as the primary receiver and you leave Sanders as the second receiver in a run-heavy scheme. That’s not a recipe for success for Sanders. He may have WR4 or flex appeal, but I would not take him as a Top 25-30 option this season.
Steve Smith, Baltimore
Cian Fahey: Anyone drafting Steve Smith ahead of Vincent Jackson or Kamar Aiken is buying into the mythology of Smith too much. He's the oldest wide receiver in the league and coming off an Achilles tear. This shouldn't even need to be explained really, but such is the nature of Smith's reputation. Fortunately, I wrote about it in greater detail here.
Golden Tate, Detroit
Jeff Pasquino: Calvin Johnson’s surprising retirement this past offseason leaves the Detroit offense in a state of disarray. Golden Tate was a great WR2 to complement Johnson, but he is not ready to be a WR1. I expect the Lions, Matthew Stafford and the entire passing game and offense to struggle. Drafting Tate as a Top 25 receiver is a big mistake in my mind for this year.
Sammy Watkins, Buffalo
Jeff Pasquino: I have a hard time believing that Watkins will be worth a Top 20 wide receiver pick this year, given that the Bills are going to be all about the run game and defense once again this season. His quarterback (Tyrod Taylor) is not going to drop back 30+ times in a game very often (he attempted 30+ passes just five times in 2015) and that limits Watkin’s upside to be an elite WR1 or strong WR2 for me. Last year, Watkins had under 100 targets in 13 total games, and he only topped five catches four times. Putting Watkins in your lineup every week seems like a recipe for both disaster and an ulcer.
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