WR Rankings Report

published 07/29/19 11:11:43 PM EDT
by Tom Brolley

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We did it again! Our draft rankings were once again the most accurate in the industry last season. We now have two first-place titles (2015 and 2018), a runner-up finish (2016), and an 18th-place finish (2017) over the last four years. It’s no surprise then that we’re at the top of the heap when it comes to draft rankings over the last four years. Make sure to check out our full rankings here. In this article, I’ll highlight a few players that we’re higher on and lower on compared to their current average draft position (ADP).

NOTE:* PPR ADP courtesy of *Fantasy Football Calculator.

Players we’re higher on compared to ADP

D.J. Moore (TFFA WR 19, ADP WR25) — Panthers OC Norv Turner brought Moore along slowly during his rookie season before finally unleashing him for the final 10 games. He finished as a top-24 WR in that stretch and the best could be yet to come for the 22-year-old receiver. The Panthers let Devin Funchess (Bills) walk in free agency and Greg Olsen has played just half of his games the last two seasons and he’s struggled to produce when he’s even been healthy. The Panthers used a first-round pick on Moore last year and they have every incentive to give him a starring role in this offense behind Christian McCaffrey. I compared Moore’s physical, game-breaking ability to Stefon Diggs during last year’s pre-draft process, and he actually led all WRs in yards after the catch (7.9) as a rookie. Moore is being drafted like a high-end WR3 but a low-end WR1 finish is within his range of outcomes.

Allen Robinson (TFFA WR24, ADP WR 31) — A-Rob underwhelmed in his first season in the Windy City but the slow start to his Bears’ career makes complete sense in hindsight. Robinson missed nearly the entire 2017 season with a torn ACL, and he worked his way back into form last season while operating in a completely new offense and with a new quarterback. Unsurprisingly, A-Rob started to peak at the end of last season once he got more familiar with Mitchell Trubisky and once he got further away from his devastating knee injury. He posted 10/143/1 receiving against the Eagles in their Wild Card loss, and he averaged 5.8 catches and 80.6 yards per game in his last five contests - playoff game included. A-Rob already posted a WR1 season at just 22 years old back in 2015 with the Jaguars, and he’s in a much better position to make a run at a top-12 finish in his second season with the Bears at 26 years old.

Curtis Samuel (TFFA WR36, ADP WR46) — We’re clearly high on these young Panthers WRs making the leap this season and it’s largely because we saw the start of their breakouts at the end of last season. Samuel played 20+ snaps just once through the first 11 weeks of 2018 before averaging 59.0 snaps per game in the final six games. With that bump in playing time, which mostly came without Cam Newton, he posted 22/315/2 receiving on 7.0 targets per game and 4/41 rushing. Samuel has plenty of pedigree as the Panthers drafted Samuel #40 overall back in 2017 at just 20 years old. It appears the franchise is finally ready to make him a full-time player after they let Devin Funchess walk in free agency (Bills). Samuel has serious upside as a WR3 option, but he’s being drafted like a flex player at best.

DeSean Jackson (TFFA WR42, ADP WR50) — D-Jax will turn 33 in December this season, but he’s still one of the league’s elite vertical threats. In fact, he’s averaged 17.5+ YPR in four of his last five seasons after doing it just twice in his first six seasons. The Eagles have severely missed a vertical element in recent seasons and D-Jax will bring it in spades this season. Jackson and QB Carson Wentz reportedly worked out together quite a bit this spring and they clicked in off-season practices. The Eagles also gave him a three-year, $27 million deal with $15 million guaranteed so they clearly view him as a critical piece of their offense. D-Jax could be the key to unlocking an Eagles’ offense that’s been on the cusp of elite status and his first 1000-yard season since his final season with the Redskins in 2016 could be in reach.

Michael Gallup (TFFA WR48, ADP WR64) — Gallup has been one of my most drafted players so far this year because his ADP is shockingly low compared to where I have projected. It’s been so easy to draft him that I’ve wondered if there is something I’m missing when it comes to his 2019 forecast. The Cowboys drafted him #81 overall in 2018 and he started to flash some big-time potential from Week 13 on last season, including his 6/119 receiving performance against the Rams in the Divisional Round. He’s the clear #2 WR in this offense now that Cole Beasley left in free agency (Bills) with the Cowboys replacing him with Randall Cobb, who hasn’t been good since 2015. Gallup caught just 48.5% of his passes last season but he averaged a healthy 15.4 YPR and 13.9 yards on his average depth of target. His overall numbers also would’ve been way better if Dak Prescott hadn’t overthrown him on a couple of long TD passes in the final month of last season. Then again, if the duo had connected on those passes Gallup would easily be going in the top 50 at the position, so let’s take advantage of his ridiculous ADP.

Kenny Stills (TFFA WR52, ADP WR62) — I’m not excited to draft Stills but there’s no denying he’s a good value at his current price. He’s scored 21 TDs over the last three seasons and he’s averaging 16.0 YPR during his six-year career. Perhaps what is most intriguing about Stills is his potential to man the slot quite a bit with one of the most generous QBs for slot WRs in Ryan Fitzpatrick. According to PFF’s Scott Barrett, Fitz has targeted slot WRs a league-high 26.4% of the time over the last decade. Stills’ main competition for slot snaps will be Albert Wilson, who could be slow out of the gate after off-season hip surgery. Stills is too inconsistent to ever get too excited about, but he has a much better chance for some ceiling performances early if Fitzpatrick is named the starter to begin the season.

Players we’re lower on compared to ADP

Adam Thielen (TFFA WR15, ADP WR11) — Thielen’s 2018 campaign got off to a historic start as the WR1 by running off eight straight games with 100+ receiving yards. He cooled off considerably from Week 9 on. He topped 100+ yards just once the rest of the way, which coincided with some nagging back and calf issues. Thielen averaged 11.9 targets per game in the first half of the season compared to just 6.8 in the second half. The Vikings did get a healthy Dalvin Cook back for the stretch run, and HC Mike Zimmer wants to stay committed to the run this season after they canned pass-happy OC John DeFilippo. Thielen will also still have to contend with Stefon Diggs for targets — Thielen finished sixth (155) and Diggs finished seventh (148) in WR targets last year. An improved O-line for Kirk Cousins could filter some targets from Thielen in the slot to Diggs on the outside to potentially flip their finishes in targets. Thielen is being drafted at the end of the second round or the start of the third round, which is a bit inflated.

Kenny Golladay (TFFA WR22, ADP19) — Golladay started his sophomore season as Detroit’s #3 WR but by the time the season ended he was Matthew Stafford’s only viable target. Golladay posted 71 targets (10.1 per game) and 37 catches (5.3 per game) in his final seven games with Golden Tate traded to Philly and Marvin Jones missing the end of the year with a knee injury. Golladay should remain the top target heading into 2019, but Jones is being totally disregarded as a viable #2 WR in Detroit in fantasy circles. The Lions also signed slot WR Danny Amendola and TE Jesse James and they used a top-10 pick on TE T.J. Hockenson. Golladay will have a lot more competition for targets this season compared to the end of 2018. The Lions have also been transitioning to a more run-heavy approach since last season, which they capped off by bringing in Darrell Bevell to be the offensive coordinator and by signing power runner C.J. Anderson. I understand being aggressive with Golladay because he’s an ascending player at 25 years old. He also has the size (6’4", 218 pounds) and athletic profile of a dominant #1 outside WR, but you’re paying a pretty steep price for a player who could struggle to keep up his usage from the end of last season.

Calvin Ridley (TFFA WR26, ADP WR20) — Ridley obviously has a ton of potential as the #26 overall pick in 2018, but his productive rookie campaign had a smoke-and-mirrors feel to it. He combined for 15/239/4 receiving in two games against the Saints while managing just 49/582/6 in his other 14 games. Ridley also had incredible luck in the touchdown department, scoring on an unsustainable 9.2% of his targets last year. He did average a solid 1.77 yards per route run (per PFF) but he’ll still have to deal with Mohamed Sanu keeping him off the field in 2-WR sets because of his superior run blocking. Ridley never saw more than 75% of the snaps in a game last season and he averaged 61% for the year. It’s tough to justify using a top-50 pick on a WR that can’t even play on two-thirds of his team’s offensive snaps. I won’t be spending a premium pick on Ridley this year unless I get definitive proof that Ridley has jumped ahead of Sanu in their 2-WR sets.

Jarvis Landry (TFFA WR33, ADP WR24) — I can’t be the only one that remembers how frustrating Landry’s usage was at the end of last season once Freddie Kitchens and Baker Mayfield started spreading the ball around. Landry went from averaging 6.1/64.2/.2 receiving on a whopping 11.2 targets per game in his first eight games to just 4.0/56.0/.3 receiving on only 6.9 targets in his final eight games. And as Landry’s production went down in the second of the year the better the Browns’ offense looked. Landry will now have to fend with his former LSU teammate Odell Beckham for targets, who has averaged 10.5 targets per game in his five-year career with the Giants. Landry should still be a safe floor option most weeks but I’m looking for more weekly upside potential when I’m using a pick on a WR in the first five rounds.

Geronimo Allison (TFFA WR47, ADP WR37) — Second-year WR Marquez Valdes-Scantling appears to have the early leg up on Allison for the #2 WR role, and the Packers are a little more invested in MVS going forward with Allison under contract for just this season. Valdes-Scantling actually out-paced the likes of Jordy Nelson, Davante Adams, and Randall Cobb during their rookie seasons with Aaron Rodgers, and those WRs obviously went on to break out shortly after their debut campaigns. Valdes-Scantling is looking to become the next young Packers WR to break out early in his career with Rodgers at the helm. Allison has been a productive receiver when he’s been given a chance in Green Bay, but this is more of a bet on the more talented MVS. I certainly wouldn’t avoid Allison especially since it looks like he could hold down the slot role with Rodgers, but I lean toward MVS in a straight-up situation between the two.

D.K. Metcalf (TFFA WR58, ADP WR47) — I was prepared for Metcalf to be overdrafted as soon the photos of him shirtless went viral this winter. With that said, he actually ended up in one of the best situations possible for him to succeed as a rookie. Metcalf is strictly a straight-line player heading into 2019 but he’ll be paired with one of the best deep-ball throwers in the league in Russell Wilson in an offense that loves to take shot plays downfield. I wouldn’t be shocked if Metcalf blows up in a handful of games, but he’s not going to be a consistent source for production until he eliminates his drops and develops into a more complete route runner.

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Tom Brolley
Tom Brolley

@TomBrolley

Tom Brolley is the better half of The Fantasy Free Agents Podcast with his partner Joe Dolan. Brolley owned a 53.8% winning percentage picking every game against the spread for his old site over the last two seasons.