Heading into the 2017 season, the top fantasy option at receiver on almost everyone’s board is Antonio Brown. After Brown, everyone has Odell Beckham, Julio Jones, Mike Evans, and A.J. Green to round out the top five at receiver. The order of these players depends on the analyst. You can see my pre-training camp rankings here. These are slightly out of date, but I am hoping to post updated rankings sometime soon.
This past week, the receiver class was fairly lively for the preseason. First, Quincy Enunwa was placed on season-ending injured reserve (IR). After playing a very solid 2016 season, Enunwa was in line to be the number-one receiver for the Jets. Enunwa’s injury pushes Robby Anderson up the depth chart and into the number-one role.
This past Friday, the Bills made two moves involving receivers. The first sent their former 2014 first round pick to the Rams. The second brought Jordan Matthews to Buffalo from Philadelphia. Reports indicate that Matthews will take over for Sammy Watkins as the number one receiver. The Bills also made a splash in free agency earlier in the week when they signed Anquan Boldin.
A lot of fantasy leagues start three receivers each week, which is the most of any position. Therefore, you obviously want to draft quite a few receivers. For this reason, I personally draft more receivers than any other position for my team each year. Receivers also tend to miss one or two games each year due to injury, so I like having guys that I can sub in if I need them.
I personally feel as though you do not need to focus heavily on receivers early in drafts this season. I think the receiver class is deep enough that there is a lot of value to be drafted later on in drafts. However, if high-end receivers slide to you early, you should absolutely pull the trigger on those guys and not let them fall any farther.
I’m going to get into some of the guys that I like or dislike based off of their current average draft positions (ADP). Before I do so, I will run through some terms that I will use when describing players.
Boom – A player who will exceed expectations according to their current ADP. Not to be confused with a breakout. Boom players have produced in the past but are most likely being undervalued.
Bust – A player who will fail to live up to expectations according to ADP.
Breakout – A player who will have a career year this season and exceed expectations. This player has possibly not lived up to expectations so far in their career, and is most likely still early on in their career.
Lets dive into a few players and their outlooks for this season.
Dez Bryant (Bust) – I had Bryant tabbed as a bust even before Ezekiel Elliott’s announced suspension. Since the six-game suspension was announced, I have not changed my opinion on Bryant at all. In seven NFL seasons, Bryant has only played in 16 games three times. He did play in 15 games in one other season. Bryant’s health has always been a concern and I see no reason why this season will be any different.
With Elliott’s suspension, I think it hurts Bryant even more. Without Elliott in the backfield for the first six weeks of the season, defenses are going to take that extra defender out of the box and focus their efforts on the pass. I think they might even double Bryant a lot of times, which would make things even more difficult for him. Having Elliott in the backfield helps the passing attack. Removing him from the offense will reduce the productivity of the running game as well as the passing game. I think Dez will be impacted the most by this. That is if he is even on the field.
Davante Adams (Bust) – Most people may completely disagree with me on this one. How could I possibly say that a receiver who has Aaron Rodgers as his quarterback a bust? Last season, Adams caught 12 touchdown passes which is an unbelievable number. I see no way for him to keep up that pace. It’s just that simple for me. I think Adams can have a solid and productive fantasy season. I am not using a fourth or fifth round pick on Adams, which is where he is currently being drafted. I will let someone else take the chance on Adams. I would much rather have him reproduce his 2016 season on someone else’s roster than bust as a fourth-round pick on my roster.
Stefon Diggs (Breakout) – Diggs had a very good 2016 season, and is poised to breakout in his third year. With a full year of work with Sam Bradford, and another year of experience under his belt, Diggs could be a league winner for a lot of fantasy players. In 2016, Diggs ended with 84 receptions, 903 yards, and 3 touchdowns, in only 13 games. Had he played 16 games he would have had 95+ receptions, 1000+ yards and at least one more touchdown. As long as Diggs stays healthy, I look for him to have a great season with the Vikings. Adding Dalvin Cook to the backfield should help the passing game a little too. Diggs is currently being drafted between the eighth and eleventh rounds depending on the site you use. Either way I think he outproduces his draft position by a wide margin.
Tyrell Williams (Boom) – After last season’s breakout season, I look for Williams to continue building on his success. After Keenan Allen tore his ACL in week one, Williams ended last season with 69 receptions, 1,059 yards, and seven touchdowns. Yet he is still being completely disrespected in drafts so far this season. Williams is currently being drafted in the eleventh round of drafts. Heading into the season, he is the clear-cut number-two receiver on a high-powered offense with a very low chance of getting demoted. On top of that, Allen, the team’s number-one receiver, has been very prone to injury in his young career.
If Allen were to go down again this season, Williams would immediately slide into the number-one role and become a top 15-20 fantasy option at the position once again. If Allen were to stay healthy for a full season, I still look for Williams to have at least 60 receptions, 900 yards, and five touchdowns which should make him a steal for where he is currently being drafted.
For those worried about rookie Mike Williams, don’t be. The guy is already hurt and still hasn’t practiced. The Chargers are expecting to have him back around October but it will take him some time to get up to speed. I don’t think Williams will impact Williams’ production at all this season.
Image Credit: Bleacher Report