Welcome to the second installment of a twelve piece breakdown in which I’ll be covering the top 24 quarterbacks and tight ends, along with the top 48 running backs and wide receivers from the 2017 season.
I’ll be displaying their ADP going into the 2017 season compared to their final ranking. Additionally, I’ll look at what we saw from the players and what we can hope for moving forward. I’ll be breaking each position into 12 player segments. I started with the TE2 of 2017. Now working our way from the back to the front, we will be recapping the WR4s (37-48).
Wide Receivers 37-48 [Final rankings according to Fantasydb.com (PPR)]
Amari Cooper – Oakland Raiders
2017 Position Finish – 37 (-28)
2017 Position ADP (ESPN) – 9
2017 Recap – Amari Cooper was heading into 2017 as a WR1 lock. He was entering his third year, important to note due to the high expectations all receivers have entering that third season. On top of the third year hype, Cooper had excelled in his first two season in the league.
Dreadfully, the 2017 did not go according to plan, as Cooper had a skid from games 2-6 where he averaged 2.6 receptions per game and 16.8 yards per game, without any touchdowns. A hole he couldn’t dig himself out of.
2018 Outlook – As one of the biggest fallers of the fantasy season, Cooper will not be a first round pick again. However, with John Gruden, a quarterback genius, coming to town, I expect a major bounce back year from the talented Alabama alum. Especially because everyone wants to get paid and Cooper, barring any extension, will be playing in a contract year.
Paul Richardson – Seattle Seahawks
2017 Position Finish – 38
2017 Position ADP (ESPN) – n/a
2017 Recap – Paul Richardson exceeded a lot of expectations in 2017. Reports surfaced early that Richardson had beaten out Tyler Lockett and Jermaine Kearse for the WR2 spot in Seattle. Around that time, he started to beep on a few radars, but not enough of them to be drafted outside of very deep/dynasty leagues. But, as Richardson entered his contract season he was sure he’d be great. Finishing as a solid WR4 with over 700 yards, six touchdowns and a 55% catch rate, Richardson made the most of his situation.
2018 Outlook – The deep threat is entering the market as a very sought after receiver. Much like when Golden Tate left Seattle to a big contract in Detroit, I am thinking the same thing will happen to Richardson. Wherever he goes he has a chance for a deep touchdown every game. But with Tyreke Hill and Richardson on each side of Mahomes, maybe Kansas City would be a great fit.
Mike Wallace – Baltimore Ravens
2017 Position Finish – 39 (-1)
2017 Position ADP (ESPN) – 38
2017 Recap – If you drafted Mike Wallace as a WR4, then you were spot on. As was everyone in the country pretty much. It’s sort of a nice feeling when America correctly guesses the outcome for a player. Since this league is impossible to predict. Like Richardson, Wallace was also entering a contract year. Also, Wallace had only finished a WR4 or worse once in his career. So I did have him on a higher bump than everyone. Yet, Joe Flacco still can’t throw the ball and Wallace suffered from it. He had average stats. Enough to keep him in some possible bye week conversations. He had limited upside and proved it catching 52 of his 92 targets for 748 yards and four touchdowns.
2018 Outlook – Since Wallace is entering the market, and I fully expect the Ravens to let him go, I am not liking Wallace for 2018. His decline is inevitable and it started last season. Now going to another team his stats will fall to under 500 receiving yards and 2 touchdowns. He had a great career and may make a difference as a veteran on like a young team, like the Chiefs (all receivers could find a nice home in Kansas City with Mahomes throwing the ball).
Sammy Watkins – Los Angeles Rams
2017 Position Finish – 40 (-12)
2017 Position ADP (ESPN) – 28
2017 Recap – Sammy Watkins is the second of the three big fallers in this group, and the one that I had said from day one on Twitter — last May — would be the biggest disappointment of the season. Especially when on the Bills. Once the surprising move, made in the middle of the preseason, revealed Watkins was on his way to Los Angeles, I started to think maybe he’d be a little better. I had him ranked 38th on my list, and still didn’t think he’d finish there. He finished right around there and had a few quality games. Unfortunately, he went against some of the best corners every week, and is not the type of receiver you want as a number one pass-catcher.
2018 Outlook – Also set to hit the open market, Watkins might be going back to Los Angeles. If this is the case, we’ve seen he can make some big plays, but the Goff-Kupp connection is no joke and Woods is shining as the WR1. Watkins pulls coverage away helping the other two receivers, but none of this makes me think Watkins can be any more than a WR4 in LA.
Marqise Lee – Jacksonville Jaguars
2017 Position Finish – 41 (+23)
2017 Position ADP (ESPN) – 64
2017 Recap – The biggest riser of this group, Marqise Lee showed great potential in his previous three seasons. A star-studded receiving corp of Allen Robinson, Allen Hurns and Lee left it nearly impossible for Lee to be a viable fantasy option. Then a scary injury occurred to Allen Robinson, leaving Hurns and Lee as the main weapons. Still, being the main weapons to Blake Bortles left a lot of questions. Lee finished with 702 yards and three touchdowns, but with six games of over 60 yards and seven games of five catches or more, Lee found himself a solid WR2 for the middle part of the season. However, injuries limited Lee to just 13 games
2018 Outlook – Yet another fantasy WR4 set to possibly change teams, Lee has what it takes to be a WR1. I had him pegged as one of my favorite waiver wire selections from 2017. He may not have been great, but he gave you a confidence boost that most waiver wire receivers don’t. Now escaping the crutches of Blake Bortles, if Lee gets an opportunity at the Jets or the Colts, he could be drafted as a WR2/3.
Sterling Shepard – New York Giants
2017 Position Finish – 42 (+17)
2017 Position ADP (ESPN) – 59
2017 Recap – Finishing 17 spots ahead of your ADP is a success in my books. Heading into the season Sterling Shepard was going to be a after-thought with Odell Beckham Jr. and Brandond Marshall. With injuries to both of them, Shepard stepped right up. Before injuries also stung Shepard, he had a 70% catch rating — which is ridiculous if you are not aware. He only played in 11 games and still managed 731 yards. Due to some bad quarterback play, the touchdown options weren’t available and fantasy owners noticed. Two touchdowns in 2017 will need to be the last time Shepard goes under five touchdowns in his career.
2018 Outlook – It’s hard to guess if Pat Shurmur and the Giants will bring back Eli. It’s also hard to guess if Shepard will be targeted heavily with OBJ and Marshall coming back, along with the emergence of Evan Engram. I do believe in the bottom of my heart that Shepard is the franchise receiver in New York, not OBJ. Because of my gut, I’m loving Shepard early this year.
Tyrell Williams – Los Angeles Chargers
2017 Position Finish – 43 (+1)
2017 Position ADP (ESPN) – 44
2017 Recap – Almost spot on prediction from the country, Tyrell Williams moved up one spot from his ADP to his position finish from 44 to 43. Williams digressed from his 1,000 yard season in 2016. Mostly for the fact that Keenan Allen defied all the odds and played in every game this season for the first time since high school. This pushed Williams’ targets, receptions, yards, and touchdowns back to WR4 status. One thing that didn’t regress — in fact, improved greatly — was his catch percentage. Williams set a career high with 62.3%. When that number grows, the confidence in a quarterback grows as well.
2018 Outlook – I like Williams again this season as a WR4/5. Probably an ADP of 50 will be perfect for him. Mike Williams should be healthy and ready to take on a more impactful role. Williams is a restricted free agent this season and I don’t see the Chargers letting go of their deep threat. If he does go elsewhere, he may have a better chance to get to 100 targets again.
Jordy Nelson – Green Bay Packers
2017 Position Finish – 44 (-40)
2017 Position ADP (ESPN) – 4
2017 Recap – 88 targets and 53 receptions is absurd to think about when talking Jordy Nelson and playing 15 games. Nelson hasn’t posted numbers that low when playing in at least 13 games since 2010. Nelson was 2016’s red zone leader.
In 2017 Nelson had six touchdowns in his first four games played. He was on pace for 22.5 touchdowns.
Then the hit heard around the Midwest happened and Nelson’s season fell off a cliff. Nelson finished the season with six touchdowns after snagging six in the first five weeks.
2018 Outlook – With father time lurking around every corner, Nelson may have a very small window to produce WR1 stats. Due to his stats when Rodgers was on the field, along with entering a contract year, Nelson won’t be over thought when it comes to drafting your 2018 team. You will have to reach in the first or second round to get him, and I’d have no problem going back to that well in 2018.
Danny Amendola – New England Patriots
2017 Position Finish – 45 (+12)
2017 Position ADP (ESPN) – 57
2017 Recap – Catching 70.9% of the passes thrown his way, Danny Amendola made the most of a few injuries and a few new players. At one point, the Patriots were without Chris Hogan and Rex Burkhead. Brandin Cooks and Mike Gillislee were still trying to learn the offense and Tom Brady had only Rob Gronkowski, James White and Amendola as comfortable faces. Amendola finished with 61 receptions, but only two touchdowns and one 100-yard game. He could be a playoff hero and Super Bowl hero, but as we all know that doesn’t amount to anything for the upcoming season in New England.
2018 Outlook – Amendola hit his ceiling this year in my opinion. I don’t see a duplicate season in the future. Amendola will be lucky to finish as a WR4 again, and realistically will be a WR6/7 at the end of next season. If he even plays next season, that is. He’s set to become a free agent and another ring may make the veteran receiver about life after football.
DeSean Jackson – Tampa Bay Buccaneers
2017 Position Finish – 46 (-11)
2017 Position ADP (ESPN) – 35
2017 Recap – The entire Tampa Bay football team was a hot mess from the moment the Hard Knocks crew first turned on their cameras. They portrayed the team as a fun-loving, happy, and tough team. So much so, the show even brought veteran safety T.J. Ward over after being cut by the Broncos. What they didn’t highlight was that Jameis Winston didn’t throw a touchdown in preseason, and it snowballed into the regular season. Winston wasn’t on his game and lost his dignity when he “ate a W” in a warm up game. Winston having a down year spread to the receivers like a virus and capped Jackson at 50 receptions, 663 yards and 3 touchdowns.
2018 Outlook – Jackson had some big hype with Mike Evans taking double coverage, another 1,000 yard season the year before in his back pocket, and a young, gunslinger quarterback. It didn’t work the first go-around. However, I think 2018 will be a bounce-back year to what we expected from him last year. A low WR3 is about his ceiling, with possible WR2 status if Evans gets hurt. Don’t be afraid to go back to the well for Jackson, but don’t push it. He is still getting older, and is supposed to be the speedster.
Kelvin Benjamin – Carolina Panthers
2017 Position Finish – 47 (-22)
2017 Position ADP (ESPN) – 25
2017 Recap – Kelvin Benjamin was traded after eight games this season to the Buffalo Bills. The NFL isn’t like other sports where you can be traded and immediately make a huge impact. Especially at a position that needs years of practice with a single quarterback. Benjamin saw the unfortunate side of that, and couldn’t gain any momentum while in Buffalo. He was out-shined by Devin Funchess while in Carolina and finished with less than 700 receiving yards.
2018 Outlook – Benjamin’s receiving yards have regressed every year. His rookie season lead us all to believe he’d be a monster. Benjamin coming into camp looking like a teddy bear turned all those previous thoughts to good jokes around the water cooler. He will not be a successful fantasy player next year, despite having a probable ADP of 35-40. That’s too high for him and we should be looking back to the Zay Jones train.
Keelan Cole – Jacksonville Jaguars
2017 Position Finish – 48
2017 Position ADP (ESPN) – n/a
2017 Recap – Keelan Cole didn’t catch more than three passes in a game until week 14. Cole caught only three touchdowns and had three games of 99 yards or more. Yet, Cole finished averaging 17.81 yards per reception and helped many fantasy teams get into the championship with his 186 yard game, followed by 108 yard game.
2018 Outlook – It is possible the Jaguars lose both Allen Robinson and Marqise Lee this off-season. That would leave the receiving duties to Hurns, Cole and Dede Westbrook; still a very talented receiving core. Bortles had a nagging hand injury since the end of 2016. With that being repaired, we may see the Bortles we saw in his first season. The volume of throws may not be there, but he was more accurate before and had regressed immensely since, possibly due to the hand injury. I like Cole a lot going into next year and will be targeting him late in drafts.