Doubling Back On Wide Receivers
Every season the dynasty community becomes enamored with the incoming rookie class, only to get impatient and dump a portion them for a fraction of what they had invested in that player. Certain positions take more time to develop at the NFL level than others do and it's not a big secret that wide receivers traditionally take 2-3 years to fully mature as a pro. So why is it, that we know it takes time for receivers to complete the maturation process, but we often give up on a player in the first year? The perfect example of this would be Davante Adams, who was an easy choice in the first round of rookie drafts in 2014, only to be given up on by many owners before he became Aaron Rodgers favorite target. Now Adams is regarded as a top ten dynasty wide receiver, even considered top five by many in the industry. I looked back over the past three years of ADP data searching for young talented wide receivers who have seen their dynasty stock plummet since being drafted. Weather it be due to injury, performance issues, or coaching staffs that don't necessarily trust rookie wide outs. These players were labeled as "The Next Big Thing" as recently as last season. Only to be dropped or traded for a fraction of the initial investment cost. I selected several receivers from each draft class between 2015-2017 who could potentially be worth acquiring especially at their current price tag. These were all top twenty players in rookie drafts in their respective draft classes who now can be acquired for a fraction of that price, hopefully prior to a breakout season.
The 2015 rookie class was a difficult one to assess due to the incredible success early on from the 2014 drafted receivers. It's like we all forgot about how long most WR's take to develop and then became impatient with the following draft classes.
Amari Cooper (-29.9% ADP Drop) - Cooper was the consensus pick for top rookie receiver in the spring and summer of 2015, even seeing his dynasty startup ADP spike to an impressive 17.3, it currently sits as 24.7. Cooper has done nothing but succeed at the NFL level since being drafted, with 2,899 receiving yards on 202 receptions in his first three seasons in the league. Last season was a disappointment for Cooper as he only managed 48 receptions for 680 yards, but scored a career high seven touchdowns. There is WAY too much negative chatter surrounding such a dynamic young player, especially when it comes to his contested catch rate. So take this opportunity and acquire Cooper who's tied to a solid young quarterback for the foreseeable future, for a fraction of what he should cost.
Kevin White (-86.1% ADP Drop) - Many forget that White was drafted seventh overall by the Bears, and that he was selected to be the number one receiver in Chicago when the time came to move on from Alshon Jeffery. Unfortunately injuries and assholes on twitter have derailed his dynasty value thus far. In his first two years in the league he has only managed 21 receptions for 193 yards, due to leg injuries in both his first two seasons. White who was a dynamic college prospect out of West Virginia, didn't just become untalented because he suffered back to back season ending injuries. He has an incredible size, speed combination running a 4.35, 40 at 6'3" 216 pounds with excellent hands and impeccable route running skills.
DeVante Parker (-50.3% ADP Drop) - Parker was my WR2 from this draft class, as he has all the skills and physical attributes of a prototypical top receiver. Since being drafted Parker's work ethic has been called into question as well as his maturity, never has anyone doubted his natural talent however. He also possesses a great size speed combo as he ran a 4.45, 40 at 6'3" 219 pounds, with the ability to play physical, and is exceptional at high pointing the ball during contested situations. Parker has put up quality numbers in each season despite battling injuries, as he has amassed 1,908 receiving yards on 139 receptions over his first three seasons. Normally those would be considered excellent statistics but as the 15th overall pick he is expected to do more.
Breshad Perriman (-78.7% ADP Drop) - Much like Kevin White, Perriman's career has been derailed by injuries up to this point, only catching 43 passes for 576 yards in his first three years in the league. He is immensely talented and possesses a WR1 skillset, Perriman ran an impressive 4.24, 40 yard dash at 6'2" 212 pounds. Perriman is an incredible athlete with the ability to play physical, he was selected 26th overall and has been somewhat of a disappointment thus far due to injuries. The talent, athletic ability and skill set is still there, all he needs to do is stay healthy and play a full season for the Ravens.
Nelson Agholor (-53.6% ADP Drop) - Agholor was kicking around on waiver wires up until last season because in his first two seasons he only caught 59 balls for 648 yards and 3 touchdowns. Last season alone he put up an impressive 62 receptions for 768 yards and 8 touchdowns with Carson Wentz at the helm for the majority of the season. After the Eagles traded Jordan Matthews, Agholor seen his role and confidence increase significantly as he became the starting slot receiver. He is a very talented receiver capable of handling a full time role and has excelled with the added responsibility, I'm just hoping the window of opportunity to acquire him for pennies on the dollar hasn't already closed due to his breakout 2017 season.
In 2016 there appeared to be a weaker rookie receiver group than in the previous couple of seasons, but there were still some incredibly talented receivers selected from this group. Dynasty owners were regularly taking Laquan Treadwell over Ezekiel Elliot in rookie drafts that spring and summer as Treadwell was deemed by the scouting community as "NFL Ready".
Laquan Treadwell (-87.4% ADP Drop) - Treadwell was considered by many in the industry as the unquestioned 1:01 in rookie drafts despite Zeke landing in a considerably better situation. In his rookie season Treadwell was only targeted three times as he finished the season with a beyond disappointing 1 reception for a whopping 15 yards. Most expected a significant year two statistical increase but it never came, as he only caught 20 passes for 200 yards in 2017. As the 23rd overall pick those are certainly disappointing numbers, but it's more on the coaching staff than on Treadwell in my opinion as he just wasn't being scripted into the weekly game plan nearly as often as he should have been.
Corey Coleman (-77.9% ADP Drop) - As is the case with many players on this list Coleman spent a considerable amount of time on injured reserve in his first two seasons. After being drafted by the Browns 15th overall he started off his rookie campaign with two solid performances totaling 173 yards and 2 touchdowns on 13 targets in the first two weeks of the season. Unfortunately he suffered a broken hand and missed the next six weeks, by the time he returned the Browns were a complete dumpster fire as usual. In 2017 he missed eight weeks and the team was once again a complete disaster. He is an extremely talented slot receiver with blazing speed and the ability to take the top off defenses, he should be an excellent compliment to Josh Gordon with Tyrod Taylor and Baker Mayfield under center.
Josh Doctson (-59.8% ADP Drop) - Doctson was my personal favorite wide receiver from this draft class, he has all of the tools to succeed at the next level. As he possesses an incredible size, speed combination, he's a big physical receiver with impeccable route running skills, and soft hands. Doctson suffered an achilles injury in training camp as a rookie which essentially ended his season as he only managed 2 receptions for 66 yards on 6 targets. Making 2017 his rookie season for all intents and purposes, which he amassed 35 receptions for 502 yards adding 6 TD's. I expect a significant stat increase this season, yes even with Alex Smith, he is Washington's number one receiver with his only competition for targets coming from a couple of smaller wide outs in Jamison Crowder and Paul Richardson as well as the backfield.
Tyler Boyd (-62.7% ADP Drop) - Boyd was a consensus second round rookie selection in rookie drafts and was often considered a worthy consolation prize if you had missed out on any of the top receivers in the first round. He appeared to have a role ready for him as the Bengals announced he was going to be the starting slot receiver. Boyd was impressive in his rookie season as he accumulated 661 total yards on 54 receptions, last season however was disappointing as he missed six games due to injury. Let's not forget the Bengals drafted him 55th overall, and a breakout may still be on the way for Tyler Boyd.
Leonte Carroo (-61.3% ADP Drop) - Carroo being drafted 86th overall just two years ago, is still somewhat of a head scratcher, as the Dolphins wide receiver position was respectably deep, compared to other positions. He possesses desired NFL size, with decent speed and great hands, his route running is solid and he is capable of playing very physical as he proved at Rutgers. He has only managed to haul in 10 receptions for a meager 98 yards over his first two NFL seasons. But with Jarvis Landry leaving town, and the ever present injury concerns to DeVante Parker and Danny Amendola look for Carroo to see an increased role in Miami this season.
Malcolm Mitchell (-41.4% ADP Drop) - Mitchell put up an impressive rookie campaign with 32 receptions for 401 yards and 4 TD's on 48 targets, despite suffering a serious injury (dislocated elbow) in week six causing him to miss several games. He capped off his rookie campaign with six catches for 70 yards in Super Bowl LI, en route to a 34-28 overtime win against Atlanta. He missed the entire 2017 season due to a knee injury, the Patriots likely wouldn't mind having Mitchell back on the field as a full participant real soon considering Julian Edelman is facing a four-game suspension, and losing Danny Amendola during free agency before trading Brandin Cooks to the Rams.
The 2017 receiver class had a typically low success rate for rookie wide outs with the top three in rookie receptions being two runningbacks and a tightend in Kamara, McCaffery, and Engram leading the way. That being said there were some incredibly talented receivers drafted last year who showed positive progression and play making skills at the NFL level.
Corey Davis (-29.2% ADP Drop) - Many will look at Davis's statistical line from his rookie season and call it disappointing, with 375 receiving yards on 34 receptions, due to the draft capital invested in him (5th Overall). Keep in mind he missed nearly missed half of the season due to injury, but looked impressive when he was on the field. He possesses WR1 traits, as well as having the size and speed to excel in the NFL, not too mention he is tied to an incredibly talented quarterback for the next few seasons.
Mike Williams (-32.3% ADP Drop) - The seventh overall pick from last years draft had a disappointing injury plagued rookie season, appearing in only six games and totaling 95 yards on 11 receptions. Once again the former Clemson star didn't just stop being good at football, but here we are with a potential stud receiver already seeing his value dip due to injuries alone. The Chargers have a quality offense with some versatile weapons in place, I personally believe that when fully healthy Williams will be an excellent addition to this team moving forward. Providing a devastating one-two punch with Keenan Allen similar to what Julio Jones and Roddy White were able to do in Atlanta.
John Ross (-46.4% ADP Drop) - Due to injuries and an incompetent coaching staff, the 9th overall pick essentially never seen the field in his rookie season. He had zero receptions on only two targets and managed to fumble on his lone rushing attempt, while battling injuries and bone headed coaches. Ross was over drafted due to his 4.22, 40 time there is no question about that, but how a team drafts a player in the top ten to glue him to the bench and publicly dump on him is just the Bengals in a nut shell. He is a talented young deep threat with the ability to play the slot as well as on the outside.
Zay Jones (-38.5% ADP Drop) - Jones had a quality rookie season, hauling in 27 passes for 316 yards and 2 touchdowns on a dumpster fire offense in Buffalo. He has seen his ADP drop steadily since being drafted and his recent off field events certainly won't help his cause. Lets not forget that Jones is the all-time FBS receptions leader, who comes from a football family, he can win all day when it comes to finishing catches at the high point. Extremely driven to succeed, Jones possesses high football character and a desire to push himself forward.
Curtis Samuel (-47.2% ADP Drop) - Quite possibly the most perplexing draft pick in the entire 2017 draft was the Carolina Panthers drafting Curtis Samuel right after selecting Christian McCaffery in the previous round. Samuel and CMC have very similar skill sets with many redundancies in their playing style. That being said Samuel is an incredibly versatile player who can play inside or on the outside as a receiver, or line up in the backfield and be used that way. Many who were high on Samuel were soured by his landing spot, but that doesn't change the fact he is a talented young receiver on quality offensive team.
Carlos Henderson (-37.1 ADP Drop) - I was really looking forward to seeing Henderson at the pro level unfortunately that has yet to happen due to a season ending injury prior to week one. He is extremely physical and runs like a runningback with the ball in his hands. He has prototypical slot receiver size with the physical traits to win on contested balls, Henderson excels on catch-and-go throws and nine routes. He reminds me a lot of Steve Smith when it comes to competitiveness, toughness, and strength, he can only go up from here as he is essentially free right now.
It's completely naive to think all of these receivers are going to have an incredible breakout season in the immediate future, but there is no doubt in my mind that several of the aforementioned wide outs will be reliable starters for your dynasty team in the next year or two. Some of these players that I touched on are essentially free so why not role the dice on a recent first or second round draft pick when they can be acquired so cheaply. NFL scouting departments and the entire draft community weren't dead wrong on all of these talented receivers, and the high end skill they possess simply didn't just disappear. Most of these players have seen a decline in value due to the fact they suffered an unfortunate injury or two, something completely out of their control. Others were the victims of an old school coaching mentality that rookies have to earn their reps on the practice field, even if they are more dynamic than the veteran in front of them on the depth chart.