A fantasy draft is all about obtaining the most value with each selection. There is value available throughout a draft, and grabbing it is one of the most important keys to a successful fantasy team. In an attempt to point out this value, we asked our staff to look through the Top 150 and identify players that should outperform their draft position.
Players Receiving 6 Votes
Pierre Garcon, San Francisco
Chris Feery: There’s not many things to get excited about when it comes to the San Francisco 49ers for 2017, but Pierre Garcon’s current value is one of them. He’s currently being drafted in the range of a WR3, and that’s just too low based on the amount of volume he’s projected to receive. Head coach Kyle Shanahan will have his hands full in year one of what could be a lengthy turnaround project, but we can say with certainty that he won’t be skittish about airing it out. Garcon is in line for a serious amount of targets, and he could easily do enough damage to qualify as a solid WR2 for your fantasy squad.
Ryan Hester: Garcon, who will enter the season at age 31, has seen better days. But he’ll be San Francisco’s number-one receiver. And San Francisco’s new Head Coach is Kyle Shanahan – a coach with a tendency to pepper his top receiver with huge targets shares. One of those huge target shares was Garcon’s career season in 2013 (113 receptions and 1,346 yards on a whopping 182 targets) when Shanahan coordinated the offense in Washington. San Francisco also figures to be in some pass-heavy game scripts this season as a team in rebuilding mode. There is also little competition from inside the position group in San Francisco, leaving Garcon likely to maintain his role all season long. Garcon won’t be a fantasy WR1 in anyone’s wildest dreams, but the volume he should get isn’t often found at his price. That makes him a sound investment.
Justin Howe: Sometimes, #NarrativeStreet takes us where we need to go. It's not always wise to follow offensive coordinator trends from one team to another, but it's hard to ignore the effect Kyle Shanahan tends to have on his starting X receiver. Studs like Julio Jones and Andre Johnson have been fed massively under his leadership, as well as more middle-of-the-pack guys like Jabar Gaffney and late-career Santana Moss. Garcon and Shanahan reunite after teaming up for 156 catches and 1,979 yards over 26 games together in Washington. And even if we ignore the Shanahan storyline, we still see Garcon firmly atop the league's worst WR depth chart. Only suboptimal slot "specialist" Jeremy Kerley - a generally inefficient producer - stands between Garcon and a truly dominant stake in WR targets. Regardless of the 49ers' 2017 offensive efficiency or their run/pass ratio, Garcon looks poised for a run at 90 receptions, yet he's often priced behind huge question marks like Corey Coleman and Corey Davis.
Chris Kuczynski: Garcon is the de facto number one target on the 49er’s offense because of question marks and a severe lack of playmakers in the receiving core. In 2013, Garcon had his best season with Shanahan as his offensive coordinator so his new head coach knows how to utilize him. With much more competition in Washington, Garcon still continued to get plenty of targets every season, averaging 112 the last two seasons. Although the quarterback situation may not be as good as Garcon had the past few seasons in Washington, Brian Hoyer can still rack up fantasy stats for his receivers, considering the 49ers will be throwing a lot in garbage time, and Garcon will get a bulk of the targets.
Jeff Pasquino: Pierre Garcon leaves Washington to join his former offensive coordinator, new head coach Kyle Shanahan, in San Francisco. The 49ers are going to need playmakers in the passing game, and Garcon looks like the top option for the coming season. Garcon has performed well in Shanahan’s offense in the past, and Brian Hoyer is a capable option under center. Grabbing Garcon as WR3 or even WR4 for a fantasy roster provides a solid base of a team’s top receiver on a team likely to be throwing a lot and playing from behind in most contests this year.
Jason Wood: Pierre Garcon is a decidedly average talent. Over the last five seasons, he ranks outside the top 70 in fantasy points per target. However, he’s produced WR2 fantasy stats thanks to an inordinately high target share. His best season – 2013 – came with Kyle Shanahan calling the shots, and Garcon reunites with Shanahan in San Francisco after signing a shockingly rich free agent contract. With Jeremy Kerley the second best receiver on the roster, Garcon need only stay healthy to see a massive target load. Brian Hoyer isn’t a world beater, but the 49ers will struggle to stay competitive and forced into pass-first situations. Garcon lacks WR1 upside, but his floor is substantively higher than his current ADP implies.
Tyrell Williams, LA Chargers
Jeff Haseley: Last year, only two players had 100+ targets, 50+ receptions, 7+ receiving touchdowns, and 15+ yards per receptions. Brandin Cooks was one, the other is none other than Tyrell Williams. Williams saw his role expand after Keenan Allen's early-season ACL injury and it's widely known that Allen will be back in the fold this season. The Chargers also drafted Mike Williams as the 7th overall pick in the draft. So why do I like Williams? He and Philip Rivers established a good rapport that will be difficult to forget. The two have confidence in each other and I don't see that going away. The latest news of Mike Williams' recent back troubles is another reason to be excited about Tyrell Williams in 2017. He is one of the best value picks at wide receiver based on his current ADP outside of the Top 150.
Andy Hicks: With players falling left, right, and center in San Diego last year, Tyrell Williams stood up and produced a 1000-yard season with 7 touchdowns. He ranked 13th. Now with the Chargers taking Mike Williams in round 1 and seeing the return of star receiver Keenan Allen, Tyrell Williams becomes a fantasy after thought. Big mistake. Allen could return to being a stud, but he seems to always be injured and expecting Mike Williams to produce immediately is placing expectations way too high, especially with a back injury holding back his learning curve. Tyrell Williams only needs one of these guys to underperform or miss time and he immediately moves into at least fantasy WR3 territory, well above his current draft slot.
Chris Kuczynski: The selection of Mike Williams so high in the draft should not have impacted Tyrell Williams’ value as much as it has this offseason. When Keenan Allen got injured early last season, Tyrell quickly rose up the depth chart and finished with the most catches and receiving yards on the team with 64 and 1059, respectively, to go along with 7 touchdowns. Even with so many receiving options on the field, Philip Rivers has averaged 4600 yards and 31 touchdowns the last two seasons, so there is plenty to go around, especially with question marks with Allen’s ability to stay healthy (and likely being the main focus of the defense), and rookie Mike WIlliams’ injury issues himself which are slowing his assimilation into the offense.
Matt Waldman: A top-15 fantasy starter at his position last year, Williams was a reliable third-down option with big-play ability. However his ranking on this list means that fantasy owners think the third-year receiver is on the Charles Johnson track—a big-time, small-school athlete who only produced due to injuries and then disappeared. The acquisition of Mike Williams as a top-15 pick will aid that perception. If Mike’s ranking was a reflection of fantasy owners’ distrust of Keenan Allen’s durability, Allen would have his current ADP. Mike has already been limited with a back injury that has put him behind the learning curve. Maybe there’s a scenario where Mike, Tyrell, and Keenan Allen all coexist as significant parts of a three-receiver rotation, but it’s unlikely. Look for Mike to merit his 2016 preseason ranking—and likely more—next year, if the Chargers don’t re-sign Tyrell.
Mark Wimer: Right now, fantasy owners are in love with another Williams (Mike Williams), but the young breakout star from 2016, Tyrell Williams, is the team's #2 wide receiver across from Keenan Allen. Tyrell Williams enters his third NFL season having crossed the 1,000 yards receiving barrier last year (69/1059/7), yet fantasy owners are rushing to anoint a rookie as a near-equal of this emerging, and now veteran, star. I think that is a huge mistake. Tyrell Williams is a steal - a starting caliber wideout considered by the fantasy community as a reserve wide receiver according to his ADP. Recent news that Mike Williams is out for the rest of 2017 OTAs due to a disc injury in his back reinforces my optimism about Tyrell Williams - and my skepticism of Mike Williams.
Jason Wood: Tyrell Williams’ ADP makes absolutely no sense. The 3rd year receiver is coming off a 69-catch, 1,059-yard and seven touchdown breakout season with the Chargers; he finished WR13 in standard fantasy leagues. Why then is Williams being forgotten on draft day? Yes, Keenan Allen is ‘healthy.” Yes, the team drafted rookie Mike Williams early. So what? Teams play great players. Williams is a 25-year old, 6’4”, 205-pound physical presence with deep speed. He was Philip Rivers’ best receiver last season, has undeniable rapport and gets the added benefit of running as the 1st team starter in the preseason for the first time this summer. Let everyone else overvalue Mike Williams (who I expect to be a non-factor this year) while you grab a high-end fantasy WR2 for a pittance.
Player Receiving 4 Votes
Larry Fitzgerald, Arizona
Jeff Haseley: As long as Larry Fitzgerald is on the field, he'll be involved in the offense. His conditioning is among the best in the league and it shows in his consistency and durability over the years. Fitzgerald has never had a season with fewer than 100 targets, and he's coming off two consecutive years with 100+ catches. Even though he will be 34 years old and entering his 14th year this September, he is still among the best receivers in the league and is more deserving than his WR28 ADP.
Stephen Holloway: Fitzgerald has a great connection with Carson Palmer and he has led the Cardinals in targets every season since 2006. He is als very reliable, missing only two games since 2008. His career catch percentage is over 60% and has been 69.6% over the past three seasons as he averaged over six receptions per game and 93 per year. His ADP is definitely aged biased, but I expect him to easily exceed expectations again this year, his 14th NFL season all with Arizona.
Chad Parsons: The Cardinals offense last year ran through David Johnson and Larry Fitzgerald. With Michael Floyd gone, there is little changing this year for Arizona on offense. A healthy John Brown can offer viability on the outside, but Fitzgerald has continued to churn out production in his 30s by shifting to the slot. As a WR3 in price, Fitzgerald has built-in risk protection with top-18 finishes each of the last two seasons.
Jason Wood: Did Larry Fitzgerald announce his retirement when I wasn’t looking? That’s the only explanation for his ridiculously low ADP. Fitzgerald is no spring chicken (33 years old), but fantasy owners are treating him like a washed up has-been. The 14-year veteran led the league in receptions last year, with 107! Even if you think last year’s 9.6 yards per reception relegates him to possession-receiver duties, who cares? He finished WR18 last season and his role will remain intact as Carson Palmer returns under center and Bruce Arians calls the plays. I understand avoiding Fitzgerald as your WR1, but he’s a fantastic value in PPR leagues as a WR2.
Player Receiving 3 Votes
Brandon Marshall, NY Giants
Andy Hicks: Brandon Marshall will now be on his 5th NFL team and at his age is probably on his last contract. At his last 2 stops, with the Bears in 2012 and the Jets in 2015, his first season with them has been sensational with 1500 yards and double digit touchdowns. It would be a surprise if he did that with the Giants at age 33, but he has a very high upside in redrafts. Of course the Giants can cut him loose relatively easily if it doesn't work out, so his time left in the NFL will be purely performance related. With Odell Beckham Jr scaring opposing defenses I would expect Marshall to receive softer coverage and take advantage of it.
Jeff Pasquino: Marshall has been the top receiver on his team for many years, but now he moves toward a secondary role behind Odell Beckham Jr. with the New York Giants. Marshall was a Top 10 targeted receiver as recently as 2015 and was in the Top 20 with the Jets in a highly frustrating 2016 season. His best days could easily be behind him at this point, but he is still viable at age 33 and continues his remarkable career with team number five on his resume. Eli Manning may be the best quarterback he has had in his lengthy career, and a secondary role may be to his benefit with defenses forced to make tough coverage decisions between Marshall and Beckham.
Matt Waldman: After experiencing a precipitous drop in reception, yardage, and touchdown totals in 2016, many fantasy owners have downgraded Marshall as an aging receiver on the downside of his career. While possible, Marshall earning 44 fewer targets while performing with multiple quarterbacks last year is a factor that shouldn’t be ignored. Marshall has always functioned best in a high-target, tight-window environment where the quarterback must have the confidence to let his receiver win the ball against coverage that doesn’t appear “open” by the standard convention of the term. Marshall will join a Giants squad where Eli Manning gave Plaxico Burress, a similar option, new life. I expect Marshall to out-produce all Giants receivers save Odell Beckham, Jr. Look for a Top-20 season that’s closer to the top-15.
Players Receiving 2 Votes
Jeremy Maclin, Baltimore
Ryan Hester: Of Baltimore’s 679 passing attempts from 2016, 333 were intended for players who won’t be suiting up for the team in 2017. That easily leads the NFL in terms of unaccounted for passing game opportunity. 151 of those targets were to wide receivers; another 121 were to Dennis Pitta (who led the team). With only Wallace and Breshad Perriman as fellow wide receivers slated for a regular role, Maclin projects as the only player with the skill set required to fill the short-to-intermediate parts of the field. Maclin is new to the team, but Baltimore has had great success integrating new acquisitions into the offense. Smith had 79 receptions, 1,065 yards, and 6 touchdowns in 2014, while Wallace had 72 receptions, 1,017 yards, and 4 touchdowns in his first season in Baltimore last year.
Chris Kuczynski: In terms of fantasy football value, the best thing that could have ever happened to Jeremy Maclin is leaving the Chiefs who have ranked 25th and 29th in pass attempts the last two seasons, to join the Ravens who have lead the league in both seasons. He has to opportunity to claim a large share of those pass attempts with the departure of Steve Smith and Dennis Pitta, previously the top two options. Before joining the team, the top two incumbent receivers where Mike Wallace and Breshad Perriman, who both translate to more of a deep threat role (with Perriman continually battling injuries), but the team is in need of a possession receiver like Maclin, especially since there are so many question marks at the tight end position. He had a down year due to injury last season, but in 2015 he had put up 87 catches for 1088 yards and 8 touchdowns on 124 targets, with Alex Smith only compiling 3486 yards. With an equal or larger target share, there’s every reason to believe Maclin can surpass those totals.
Donte Moncrief, Indianapolis
Justin Howe: I remain enamored of Moncrief, who's produced decently (if unevenly) at a solid clip over his roughly 2.5 seasons. He hasn't yet reached my (high) expectations, but it's fair to note that, for much of that time, he's shuffled QBs from Andrew Luck to the likes of Scott Tolzien and Josh Freeman. Moncrief enters his fourth year still just 24 years old, and still owner one of the most impressive WR combines in recent memory. He's big, explosive, athletic, and he certainly boasts a nose for the end zone: over his last 15 games alongside Luck, he's produced 11 touchdowns on 58 receptions. That's a truly elite TD rate that could simply win fantasy leagues if extrapolated over a 16-game season. If he and Luck can stay on the field all year, the Colts offense would improve markedly, and Moncrief would look like a shoo-in for WR2 production.
Ari Ingel: Big-time talent that is only 23 years old. Last year's breakout season was hampered and cut in half due to a serious shoulder injury. Despite playing in only 8 full games, he showed red zone mojo with Andrew Luck catching 7 touchdowns. In fact, he had the 2nd best redzone conversion percentage in the league last season, catching all 6 of his targets inside the 10 yard line for touchdowns. Now fully healthy, he has a realistic chance to catch 85+ passes, gain 1,100+ yards and score 10+ touchdowns.
Terrelle Pryor, Washington
Ryan Hester: 607, 114, and 100; those numbers represent the total passing attempts for Washington in 2016 and a number of times Pierre Garcon and DeSean Jackson, respectively, were targeted in 2016. Garcon and Jackson are now on other rosters, leaving a huge void to fill in the Washington passing game. Enter Pryor, who turned 141 targets into 77 receptions; 1,007 yards, and 4 touchdowns in 2016. That’s not wildly efficient, but consider his quarterbacks and team when putting those numbers into context. Pryor is the only player on this roster who profiles as a true number-one receiver. Second-year man Josh Doctson is the closest thing, but he’s unproven to this point. Jamison Crowder is an excellent slot man, Brian Quick has seen better days, and Ryan Grant is mostly for depth.
Matt Waldman: Last year was Pryor’s first year as a starter and he earned 1000 yards and 4 touchdowns as the primary option paired with three different quarterbacks not fit to start for 90 percent of the NFL. He was in an offense that also lacked a healthy and experienced secondary receiver opposite him. And, Pryor was three touchdowns shy of the No. 12 fantasy spot despite his surrounding talent that contributed to poor red zone production. Despite a healthy, productive, and still emerging Pryor will join a Washington offense that supported three fantasy starters last year in a scheme similar to Cleveland’s, fantasy owners have a sensible ADP for him. However, I believe Pryor will build on his red zone totals while repeating last year’s yardage and reception totals. Projecting another 3-4 scores is modest, but it could be the reason he earns top-15 or top-10 production.
Willie Snead IV, New Orleans
Justin Howe: Snead projects right around this ADP slot - a mid-tier WR2 - but carries the upside for much more. With Brandin Cooks out of town, Snead will serve as the every-down No. 2 wideout in an offense that runs more plays and throws more passes than just about anyone. Drew Brees presides over a spread-it-around passing game, but it's also one that starves for talent behind the starting wideouts. Without much behind him by way of proven, reliable depth, Snead will likely be forced into a more voluminous role than past Saints No. 2 receievers have enjoyed. It would be no real surprise to see Snead reach 85 receptions and 1,200 yards, though early drafters aren't really pricing in that upside.
Chris Kuczynski: With the departure of Brandin Cooks and his 78 catches, 1178 yards and 8 touchdowns, the Saints will just call on the next man up in Snead, who does a lot of the same things as Cooks, serving as a speed threat to go deep. As the number three receiver, Snead himself had 72 catches for 895 yards and 4 touchdowns, so the catches and yards were not all that far off even last year. Drew Brees typically leads the league in pass attempts and passing yards, and theres no reason to believe the offense will operate any differently this year, so Cook’s target share has to go to somebody. As the Saints number two receiver, Snead should be able to put up WR2 numbers without much trouble.
Adam Thielen, Minnesota
Mark Wimer: Thielen emerged as a favorite target of Sam Bradford after Bradford was rushed into service as an emergency replacement for Teddy Bridgewater. Thielen handled 92 targets for 69/967/5 receiving in his breakout season, and enters his fourth NFL campaign here in 2017. He's a tested NFL veteran now, and he'll benefit from a full offseason and preseason of work with Bradford (by the way, Bradford completed over 70% of his throws last year despite the unfavorable circumstances surrounding his addition to the team). There is no reason to think that Thielen can't go over 1,000 yards receiving this season, yet he's being drafted among backup wide receivers right now - he has a lot of value at his current ADP.
Jason Wood: In an offseason when Alshon Jeffery, Terrelle Pryor and Kendell Wright settled for one-year deals, Adam Thielen signed a new 4-year, $19mm contract with $11mm guaranteed with the Vikings. The 26-year old local boy (Mankato State) emerged as Sam Bradford’s best receiver last season; he caught 69 receptions for 967 yards and five touchdowns. Unless Laquon Treadwell reverses a disastrous rookie start, Thielen is locked in as the WR1a (to Stefon Diggs’ WR1) on a team that set an NFL record for completion percentage last season.
Players Receiving 1 Vote
Doug Baldwin, Seattle
Stephen Holloway: Baldwin was an undrafted free agent in 2011 and signed with the Seahawks following the NFL Lockout that year. Ever since Golden Tate left Seattle in free agency after the 2013 season, Baldwin has been the most targeted Seahawk player. He is a very efficient receiver averaging a 68% catch percentage for his career and 73% for the past three seasons. He has also increased his number of targets, receptions, and receiving yardage in each of the past four seasons and has ranked among the top ten wide receivers in both ppr and non-ppr scoring for the past two seasons. He will be a value selection again in 2017 for the third consecutive season.
Kelvin Benjamin, Carolina
Andy Hicks: This is a big season for Kelvin Benjamin. Now into his 4th season, he has already missed one with a knee injury in 2015 and was below his rookie season form last year. He started the season with 13 receptions for 199 yards and 3 touchdowns in his first 2 games, but struggled from there with 8 games of 3 catches or less. With a full off season and other receiving options joining the Panthers, Benjamin has to put up this year. He is literally a boom or bust player in all formats and therefore should be value. Watch to see if he is working hard during the lead up to training camp and if he is motivated, grab him and enjoy the ride.
Kenny Britt, Cleveland
Jeff Pasquino: Not many players leave a marginal team for a worse one in free agency, but that is pretty much what Kenny Britt pulled off this offseason. After his best season in his NFL career last year with the Rams, Britt inked a four-year, $32M deal with Cleveland to be their top veteran receiver for 2017 on offense. Britt managed to rack up over 1,000 yards with Los Angeles (Rams) last season, leading the team in receptions, yardage and touchdown catches by a wide margin. Now he joins a Browns offense looking to right their ship yet again, and only Corey Coleman appears to be in place to challenge Britt as the top target for this coming season. Britt offers fantasy owners a stable production base as a top starting receiver for a team likely to be trailing and throwing a ton this year.
John Brown, Arizona
Daniel Simpkins: Brown had a very disappointing year in 2016 due to what was thought to be a flare up of his sickle cell trait, but what actually turned out to be a spinal cyst that was pressing down on a nerve. Once the surgery was done, his symptoms resolved. He appears to be completely healthy heading into 2017. Health, not talent, has been the enduring issue with Brown. With Larry Fitzgerald heading into the sunset, if he can stay healthy, Brown could get closer to his 2015 output-- over 1,000 yards and seven touchdowns. At his current ADP, it’s worth taking him just to find out.
Martavis Bryant, Pittsburgh
Phil Alexander: The term "league winner" has become somewhat of a misnomer in fantasy football, but that's exactly what Bryant is for as long as you can draft him as a WR3. Bryant has either caught a touchdown or gone over 100 receiving yards in 15-out-of-24 career games (playoffs included). When he last took the field in 2015, he finished as the cumulative WR13 from Weeks 6-17 (his only games played due to suspension). Bryant has clearly demonstrated splash play ability that can single-handedly win you any given week, and he's been a favorite target of Ben Roethlisberger's when the Steelers get inside the 10-yard-line. No player carries greater suspension risk than Bryant, but his roles as big play threat and touchdown maker in one of the league's better offenses make him a top candidate to outperform his current ADP.
Corey Coleman, Cleveland
Andy Hicks: When drafting receivers in the middle to late rounds, they have to have upside and Corey Coleman has that in multiple ways. With a hamstring injury in OTA’s, his stock could slip even further making his ultimate draft position extremely tempting. Coleman was drafted in the first round of the 2016 draft by the Browns and had a nice, if injury interrupted season to begin his career. The departure of Terrelle Pryor immediately opens up a ton of targets and while free agent acquisition Kenny Britt will get his share, he is not the future number 1 in this offense. Coleman was drafted to be that and more. If we look at his form before he was injured in his rookie season he had 173 yards and 2 touchdowns in 2 games. There won’t be many receivers who have his upside at Colemans current ADP and you should snap him up at a WR4 price and get a starting receiver.
Michael Crabtree, Oakland
Jeff Haseley: Amari Cooper gets the majority of the praise between him and Michael Crabtree because he's the younger, more athletic, higher pedigree player of the two. However, it's Crabtree who had more targets, receptions and receiving touchdowns than Cooper in 2016 - and he's going a full round or later in drafts. We saw a similar path between Roddy White and Julio Jones, a path Jones eventually dominated. I hear the truthers calling for Cooper to have a breakout season and pull ahead of Crabtree - like Jones did with White, but until that day comes, Crabtree is the better value pick.
Quincy Enunwa, NY Jets
Phil Alexander: Brandon Marshall and Eric Decker are gone. Robby Anderson is a deep threat. And Enunwa's only other competition for targets comes from running backs and rookies. There's nothing standing between Enunwa and a 25% share of the Jets targets this season. Last year, 13 wide receivers accounted for at least a 25% team target market share. Only two of those players finished outside the top-20 fantasy wide receivers in PPR leagues -- Terrelle Pryor and DeAndre Hopkins, who finished 21st and 27th, respectively. Like Pryor and Hopkins last year, Enunwa will have to contend with awful quarterback play, but who cares? 120-130 target wide receivers aren't supposed to exist in Enunwa's current ADP range. He's no slouch either -- at 6'2'', 225 lbs., and with a 4.45 40-yard dash time, Enunwa possesses an ideal size/speed profile. He scored 12 touchdowns in his senior season at Nebraska, posted a solid 58-857-4 line (WR44) as a secondary piece in a terrible Jets offense last year, and he's still only 25 years old. Don't be surprised when Enunwa finishes the year as a low-end WR2 with a high weekly floor in PPR leagues.
Tyreek Hill, Kansas City
Mark Wimer: Hill's ADP has been rising with the shocking news of Jeremy Maclin's release by the Chiefs, but I still think there is value to be had from this explosive player even given his rising stock. I am one of the most enthusiastic Footballguys when it comes to Hill's 2017 prospects (I had him ranked as a fantasy WR #2 even before Maclin was cut), and I think he has a legitimate shot to challenge for a top-12 finish when the dust settles on the 2017 season. There is upside to be had by picking Hill, who doesn't have a gimpy foot like Sammy Watkins (a player ahead of Hill on the ADP list) does, for example. There is Hill, Travis Kelce and a bunch of question marks behind these two among Alex Smith's receiving corps. Smith will lean on the true stars of the team.
Marvin Jones Jr, Detroit
Matt Waldman: After dominating early, Jones got nicked up and bracketed for the remainder of the year. He toughed it out, but his production nosedived. Some think Jones isn’t as good as his clippings, but learning a new offense is often a two-year process. An experienced player and good route runner like Jones will learn the routes and master most of the pre-snap adjustments during his first training camp, but developing a rapport with his quarterback to produce against bracket coverage is next-level play that often comes with multiple years in a system with the same quarterback. Jones’ first 3-4 games of 2016 were a better indication of his skill than the final 12-13.
Golden Tate, Detroit
Mark Wimer: Tate finished the 2016 season in synch with Matthew Stafford after a slow start out of the gates - even given the slow start, he wound up with 91/1,077/4 receiving on 135 targets last year. Tate has never caught less than 90 balls in his three years playing for the Lions, making him a very sure bet from a PPR perspective. I think he is a value at his current ADP - there is considerable upside for him from this modest draft position.
Demaryius Thomas, Denver
Ari Ingel: Coming off of his third straight 1,000-yard season, Thomas welcomes back OC Mike McCoy and his deployment of the screen pass, a play Thomas uses to dominate opposing defenses and put up major fantasy points. Last season's down year was due to a lingering hip issue and essentially first-year quarterback play. The quarterback play should be somewhat improved, so we have to hope the hip is better too. He is a solid floor play in all formats, catching more than 90 passes and going over 1,000 yards the past five seasons, especially when going off the board in the 3rd round.
Mike Wallace, Baltimore
Chad Parsons: Baltimore's offense lost Steve Smith from last year. Breshad Perriman is getting plenty of buzz as a breakout candidate, but Wallace is the savvy veteran of the receiver group. Wallace had his best stat line in half-a-decade in 2016 as a fringe fantasy WR2. Wallace is a near-lock for 100 or more targets and still has the speed for a few long touchdowns on a pass-friendly offense.