How will the Washington wide receivers shake out? - Footballguys

The Footballguys staff offers thoughts on the Washington wide receiver situation

This group isn't as wide open as some of the other teams, but there is still some unknown in Washington. Who is the top option for Alex Smith? Paul Richardson Jr? Josh Doctson? Jamison Crowder? Is there any reason to expect noteworthy production from the likes of Trey Quinn, Brian Quick, Simmie Cobbs, or Maurice Harris?

Devin Knotts: This is going to be controversial as I know our staff is quite split on this, but my guy is Paul Richardson Jr. Josh Doctson is entering his third season and just has not done enough for me to buy into the hype. He was an incredible talent coming out of college but was likely overdrafted as the NFL was still recovering from the incredible 2014 NFL Draft which might be the best wide receiving draft of all time. Doctson would have been at least a second-round pick in the 2014 draft, so do not get hung up on that Doctson was a first-round pick while Richardson was a second-round selection.

I expect Paul Richardson Jr to play a role similar to Tyreek Hill played in Kansas City with Smith. While Richardson isn't quite as fast as Hill, he is a legitimate deep threat that will be relied upon to stretch the defense which is something that the Redskins did not have last season.

Simmie Cobbs was one of the few surprises that didn't get drafted and is someone who is potentially worth a deep dynasty stash but isn't really going to make much of an impact this season. This is a player who had a monster game against Denzel Ward last season as he had 11 receptions for 149 yards and a touchdown but faded at the end of the season.

Jason Wood: As much as I love a good argument, I'm with Devin. I've been targeting Paul Richardson Jr in best ball drafts aggressively, and cannot imagine him not being Washington's best receiver this year, if healthy. Josh Doctson doesn't have it. We would have seen it by now. And Jamison Crowder has value but isn't a game breaker. At best, Richardson provides the dynamic outside deep threat that opens up the middle for a healthy Jordan Reed and Crowder. This is not to say Richardson will be a fantasy star, but he should be the most productive member of the receiving corps.

Phil Alexander: Maybe the better comp for Richardson in Washington is DeSean Jackson, given his probable role in Jay Gruden's offense?

Richardson was brought in to stretch the field. Twenty-five percent of his targets came on throws that traveled 15 or more yards downfield last season, which was good for a top-20 ranking among wide receivers (minimum 50 total targets). For context, in Jackson's two healthy seasons playing for Gruden, he saw 26 percent and 35 percent of his total targets on deep passes, respectively.

Jackson's cumulative fantasy finishes in those seasons -- WR17 in 2014 (56-1,169-6) and WR30 in 2016 (56-1,005-4) seem like a reasonable range of outcomes for Richardson, provided he stays healthy.

The rest of the wide receiver production in Washington hinges on Jordan Reed's health. In 2016, Reed only played eight games, which enabled 1,000-yard seasons from both Jackson and Pierre Garcon, as well as a 99-67-847-7 receiving line from Jamison Crowder, and 62 targets for Chris Thompson.

If Reed were to miss significant time again (certainly within the realm of possibility), there is room for all three starting receivers -- Richardson, Crowder, and Josh Doctson -- to exceed ADP-based expectations. Doctson is especially interesting as a post-hype sleeper.

A mediocre season-long stat line masks the fact Doctson didn’t become an every-week starter until Week 7. From that point forward, he finished inside the top-40 wide receivers despite being deployed almost exclusively on deep routes or in the red zone. Doctson led Washington in both red zone targets and targets from inside the opponent's 10-yard line last season, which speaks to his touchdown potential.

This year, it appears Doctson's route tree will be expanded and he should catch the ball with better efficiency on his deep routes by virtue of a now-healthy Washington offensive line giving Alex Smith enough time to throw accurately downfield. It wouldn't be surprising to see Doctson put it all together in year three and finish in the fantasy WR2 range.

Daniel Simpkins: Like Phil, I am also looking to Josh Doctson to do more this season. Talent has never been the question with this guy. Injuries in his first two years and the miserable state of the team last year have held him back, but he looks primed for a big breakout. People forget he was taken in the first round of the 2016 draft. That combined with the departures Terrelle Pryor and Ryan Grant mean he’s due for a bigger workload.

Chad Parsons: While I have high interest in the uncertain depth chart in Miami, my interest is lower for Washington's receiving rotation. Alex Smith will be solid under center, however, the most established option (Jamison Crowder) is my least favorite talent of the depth chart. Josh Doctson has the pedigree but has struggled to round out his game as more than a contested catch and deep ball maven to-date. Paul Richardson Jr's addition could be in a poor man's DeSean Jackson-type role more than enough targets to push for WR2 fantasy status. I am more interested in Jordan Reed (if healthy) and Vernon Davis (if Reed is out) for fantasy profit than the wide receivers in Washington.

Andy Hicks: After a miserable rookie season, Josh Doctson was on the field for every game last year and either will have learned a lot and take that leap or he is going to be disappointing. The value at wide receiver in fantasy drafts comes from players making a massive leap and almost always is from younger receivers where it finally clicks for them. Doctson is a late pick in most drafts and his highest upside is probably as a WR2. He will be a starting receiver for an offense that will throw the ball. His skill set should mesh with Alex Smith and his upside is worth that investment.

Jamison Crowder has been consistent and reliable in his three-year career and that should continue into year four. For fantasy purposes, his ADP is about right with his ultimate production touchdown dependent.

Where this receiving group gets interesting is the introduction of Paul Richardson Jr from Seattle. After three years of virtually nothing, Richardson finally showed us what he can do by just finishing as a WR3 in fantasy rankings last year. Given the history of Seattle receivers, that is an accomplishment. To help the cause of Richardson, we saw that once Jermaine Kearse left he did more with the Jets than anything he ever did with the Seahawks. His undersized frame is a cause for concern and ultimately there may not be enough ball to produce a WR2, but one of Richardson and Doctson should outproduce their draft slot.

Matt Waldman: I agree with Phil that the DeSean Jackson comp is best for Richardson in Rome and style of play. He is also the most adept at earning separation in the vertical game that the conservative Smith will target.

Remember, Smith may have improved his deep game but the rise coincides with an offense that gave Smith targets with a high degree of spatial separation relative to his peers last year. Jay Gruden’d offense isn’t built to yield that result.

Richardson, Crowder, and whichever tight end is on the field the most due health will be the way this rotation’s production shakes out. I like Doctson, but I am concerned he will get shut out too often.

Richardson and Crowder offer more in the screen game, the timing game, and in Richardson’s case, the vertical game. With the nature of the short game Washington has used and Smith not a big fade route guy, look for more rub routes and play-action quick-hitters to Richardson and Crowder. And if Smith suddenly buys some big boy pants for fade routes, Richardson is arguably better than Doctson here, too (although not a popular take).