Hello everyone, and welcome to another post in our draft strategy series where today, we’ll take a look at the wide receiver position for 2017, and how to best attack it in drafts. Again, like the post I wrote about quarterbacks and running backs, this will be more of an open discussion about the position and less about the three players I like, the three I don’t, etc. So let’s get started now about how I think the WR position will be attacked in drafts, and how it should be attacked in drafts.
Tiers for Fears
First off, “Everybody Wants to Rule the World” is a fantastic song. That isn’t an original hot take, but I’m going to pretend like it is. Anyways, back to football.
Let’s talk about some wide receiver tiers. I think it’s always important to make personal tiers for draft day at each position, just so you can get an idea of when the time comes to hold off on a position to attack a separate one. Think of it this way, if you are debating between a 2nd back or a 2nd receiver, maybe take a look to see how many names you are comfortable with before moving down another tier of players. So here are my top three tiers of wide receivers:
These players aren’t ranked in order, but they are ranked by group. In my first tier, we have the elite WR1’s that you’re likely spending a first round pick on, although I do have to mention that you could get Nelson in the second if you have a 9th or 10th pick in a 10-team league. The next tier are players who are still WR1’s, but I would classify as lower-end WR1’s, simply because you’re likely to get these players after your initial first round pick. And finally, the third tier are perfect WR2’s. I actually really like the group of wideouts at the third tier, because they present upside to finish in the Top-10 and in the 2nd and 1st tier, yet don’t carry too much risk.
So let’s talk about ADP and strategy of these players. In a PPR league, you probably want as many of these guys as you can get. Sure, there’s nothing wrong with names like Golden Tate, Larry Fitzgerald and Martavis Bryant, who are all being drafted after the third tier of names here, but these are the best of the best. In the first round, you’re likely taking either Bell, Johnson, Elliott, McCoy, Freeman or possibly Melvin Gordon at running back, or you’re taking one of these receivers. In fact, unlike last year, more running backs are going off the board than receivers. Which for some reason, leads me to believe that it could be the smart move to invest in more receivers this year than in year’s past, especially if you play in either a 10-team league, or in a PPR league. I’ve spoken about this before, but let’s revisit it again before we talk more about ADP.
There are currently 16 teams in the NFL that either have a full-blown RBBC or a foggy mess in their backfield that will be sorted out either by the end of camp, or in the first few weeks of the regular season. With so many backfields up for grabs, it doesn’t make sense to invest early in backs in drafts. We already know that this position is more prone to injuries than any other, and if some position battles won’t be fully settled until the first few weeks of the season, where top value can open up, why load up on risky running backs when you can get dependable receivers? I think it’s even more important to embrace this strategy on draft day if you play in a 10-team or a 0.5/ full PPR, or even a 3-WR league.
Personally, we get to a range of running backs in the 3rd and 4th rounds of drafts that make me sick to my stomach if they were my RB2. Other people may not think this way, but when we start talking about names like Carlos Hyde, Marshawn Lynch, Spencer Ware, Dalvin Cook or Mark Ingram, I would much rather take players like Sammy Watkins, Terrelle Pryor, Drew Brees or Travis Kelce. In fact, when we get past those group of backs, and start talking about names like LeGarrette Blount, Ameer Abdullah, Bilal Powell, Frank Gore, Paul Perkins and Danny Woodhead, I start to get giddy about their upside. So honestly, I see myself emphasizing wideouts early, and maybe even often, if I can’t get a top pick at QB or TE. And what wideouts are my favorite? Let’s take a look at some players.
- Sammy Watkins (ADP: 34th, 15th WR): Has the potential to finish inside the Top-10 based on the fact that aside from Shady McCoy and now Anquan Boldin, there’s no one else in Buffalo. Unless you’re a Charles Clay truther. And as the 15th receiver off the board, I’ll take that kind of upside.
- Terrelle Pryor (ADP: 36th, 17th WR): The Washington offense may have the best passing attack out of any NFL offense in 2017 just because it’s a crap-show in the backfield, and Kirk Cousins is once again, trying to prove himself. Pryor and Cousins seem to be building quite the connection in training camp, and with a whole bunch of targets up for grabs with the departure of DeSean Jackson and Pierre Garcon, Pryor has some legit upside in 2017.
- Martavis Bryant (ADP: 59th, 24th WR): Steps into the true WR2 role for what could be the best offense in the NFL in 2017, and comes at a 5th-round price. I’ll take that.
- Jamison Crowder (ADP: 83th, 33rd WR): Like Pryor, is in an offense where a whole bunch of targets are up for grabs, and aside from Jordan Reed, Crowder actually has a definitive relationship with Cousins.
- Willie Snead (ADP: 84th, 34th WR): See MB’s excerpt below
- Cameron Meredith (ADP: 96th, 38th WR): Cheap price tag for a 3-year wideout (the year that we see many wideouts taking the next step), and if Glennon/Trubisky is decent, who else is there in Chicago? And don’t you dare say Kevin White.
- Pierre Garcon (ADP: 94th, 37th WR): Cheap price tag, and if Hoyer is decent, who else is there in San Francisco? And don’t you dare say Marquise Goodwin.
Here are some players who I’m not so confident on heading into 2017:
- Brandin Cooks (ADP: 27th, 11th WR): There are just way too many mouths to feed in New England compared to where he was in New Orleans. Not saying he’s going to be bad, but I don’t want to spend such an early pick on him.
- Allen Robinson (ADP: 39th, 18th WR): The 2017 Jaguars are going to be a team marked by strength on defense and in the running game, masking the inefficiencies of Blake Bortles. And that means I will be no where near Allen Robinson or Allen Hurns.
And that’s about it for players who I’m not confident. I may not love every single player, but I would definitely settle for them if they were my 4th or 5th wideout.
Now I know what you’re thinking: “Zach, we sort not really value your opinion, but we would like to hear other arguments”. Well I’m already a head of you, so here are some of your favorite Razzball writers on some wideouts that have caught their eye.
Mike Maher: One guy I am liking as a mid-round gamble this year is DeVante Parker. This is a make-or-break year for him, and I think he really benefits from the change at quarterback to Jay Cutler. His ADP is around 115 now, which is putting him in the 9th or 10th round in 12-team leagues. I have him in my Top 100 and I think he can be a steal as a WR3 or 4 with some big time upside in 2017.
Stan Son: A guys I’m liking this year is Stefon Diggs. The Vikings revamped their offensive line over the offseason with the acquisitions of Reid and Remmers in Free Agency and Eflein in the draft. He has a relatively easy strength of schedule heading into 2017 and at full health, which should give us an chance to see how he’s truly an amazing route runner. Dalvin Cook is going to help diggs and the entire offense. Not only is he a good runner, but a very good receiver. That threat will open up seams for Diggs to operate. He’s going as the 28th WR according to FantasyPros and 68th overall player.
Matt Bowe: Willie Snead has the highest upside of any of the wide receivers being drafted outside the Top 20. When I talked to Matt Harmon on the podcast a couple weeks back he was adamant to point out how good of a route runner he his. As the 3rd and 4th option in Drew Brees’ offense, he put up numbers that were usable in a lot of weeks and now with the depature of Brandin Cooks, Snead is the surefire number 2 option in New Orleans. If health isn’t an issue, he seems like a guarantee for 1,000 yards and more than 5 touchdowns when it’s all said and done. My deep sleeper is Kenny Golladay of the Detroit Lions. So far in camp he’s built up a red zone reputation, and also has had Chad Ochocinco gushing on Twitter. Everyone around the organization thinks he’s the real deal I do too with his catch radius and willingness to win against DB’s. I’m calling it now, he’s the NFL offensive rookie of the year.
Tehol Beddict: With Martavis Bryant being fully reinstate this week, the Elder Gods have proven to be a powerful force in this world yet again. I slaughtered 16 goats and a bull moose in order for this miracle to occur. I can’t stay long, for I have tang to slay but let’s just break this down real quick like for that ass: In 14 games played, only 8 of them being starts, the gazelle-like Bryant has gifted us with 14 scores of 17.3 yards per catch. Most of the people who read Razzball are intelligent so I’ll let you do the math there. I wouldn’t worry about Eli Rogers or JuJu taking too many opportunities away from him as they are shorter to intermediate route guys as “Stone-Hands Sammie” Coates will be the one who suffers here. Bryant is no longer smoking the sweet greenery, instead focusing his energy on positive things like helping the black youths of South Central L.A., and clubbing with Tehol Beddict. I thank you for your time. Take heed.
Alright guys, thanks for keeping me company as we unpack another position. Stay tuned in the next couple of days for analysis on the AFC West, South, and more strategy articles to get you more and more comfortable for your drafts. Once again, if you have any questions or comments, please don’t hesitate to leave one below.
You Can Follow Zach on Twitter @razzball_zach.