Hey guys, welcome to July! Can you smell it? We’re only a couple of weeks away from Training Camp, one of the best times of the year!
Today we finish up the final post of my mini-series, where I took a look at the QB and HB busts from last year, learned from our mistakes, and predicted whether or not they would bounce-back this year.
Well now we come to the conclusion of the series, so let’s take a look at 4 different Wide Receiver busts from last year, figure out what went wrong, and see if we want to take any of them this fall.
Let’s get to it!
Mike Evans (2017 ADP: 1.08; #18 WR)
I’ve talked a lot about Mike Evans this year on both previous posts of mine, and on the Podcast, but Mike Evans might be one of the most confusing wide receivers in all of fantasy in 2018. Is he still a WR1? Should he be drafted in the first round? Is he even the best wideout in Tampa? What’s going to happen during the first 3 games without Jameis?
First off, let’s just talk about his 2017 season. Last year, Evans was a pretty big disappointment. While he wasn’t the worst receiver in the league, he didn’t come close to paying off his 8th overall price tag. He did have his fourth-straight thousand-yard season, but only scored 5 times. He did still dominate the overall target share in Tampa (and will continue to do unless there is a serious drop-off in production), but it was lower than in years past, thanks to the additions of DeSean Jackson, Chris Godwin and O.J. Howard into the offense. While he still managed to finish as a Top-12 receiver in 7 weeks of the season last year, his best wasn’t good enough, especailly inside of the 10-yard line, where he only snagged one TD out of 9 total targets.
Heading into 2018, I don’t see his target share rising. Especially with the growing consensus of many Bucs reporters, and the fantasy community about the heightened production out of the running game with rookie Ronald Jones; Howard, Godwin and Jackson aren’t going anywhere anytime soon. A couple of days/weeks ago, Evans’ ADP was hovering in the middle of the second round, and I believed that that was too rich for me. However, I think I have changed my mind about him because with the suspension of Jameis Winston for the first three games of the season, Evans’ stock has plummeted a bit, as current ADP numbers suggest that he’s going about 6-7 picks later, in the early stages of the 3rd round, which means that unless you went RB-RB to kick off the draft, he could possibly be your 2nd WR, behind another wide receiver, and your choice of D.J.-Lev Bell-Zeke-Gurley. I think that that makes a big difference, and I don’t mind taking Evans now. This is a prime buy-low opportunity after the massive hype of this offense last year, and Evans as a WR2 makes perfect sense to me.
Jordy Nelson (2017 ADP: 2.01; #45 WR)
In a lot of leagues last season, Jordy Nelson was drafted in the Top 10 of all receivers. To say that he failed to meet expectations would be an understatement, as Nelson finished as the 45th wideout in standard leagues. Obviously, this had to do with Aaron Rodgers missing a majority of last season thanks to a costly broken collarbone, but he failed to do what Davante Adams did, which was to find any success with Brett Hundley under center.
In the final nine games of the regular season last year, Nelson’s role in the offense shrinked by the day, and he became very TD-dependent, as scoring 6 times during the last stretch of the season helped him get inside of the Top 50 in fantasy ranks. Although he had averaged more than 15 yards per reception from 2011-14, and 13 yards per reception in 2016, he only managed to get a measley 9.1 yards per reception last year.
A few months ago, the Packers cut Nelson, but then was immediately signed by Oakland a few weeks later. While there are a lot of question marks under the first year of Jon Gruden for this offense, Nelson should still be a factor in this offense thanks to the departure of Michael Crabtree, and lackluster play from the rest of the receiving corps (although the Raiders did sign Martavis Bryant, but I don’t think he’ll have a huge role in this offense). Amari Cooper will still lead this group, and while I do hope for the Raiders’ sake that Jordy Nelson works out, I don’t think he’ll have much fantasy relevance this year. He’s entering his 11th season at the age of 33 years old, and while he isn’t totally run-down, it’s going to take a lot of redzone and slot production for him to even sniff being a WR3 on most teams. And I would prefer to look elsewhere for a receiver that isn’t TD-dependent like he was last season.
Dez Bryant (2017 ADP: 2.07; #22 WR)
Another receiver that was hyped up all offseason but failed to meet expectations, Dez Bryant did not have a very good 2017 season. Although he did play a full 16 games, which was a nice surprise, he was very inefficient for several weeks. In 16 games, he caught 69 passes (nice) for 838 yards and 6 TD’s. Through the first 7 weeks, he did quite well, finishing as a top-24 receiver in 4 weeks, including 2 weeks as a top-12 wideout. However, he only finished as a top-12 receiver twice all season, which was not ideal for someone that was being drafted in the middle 2nd round. For the rest of the season, he was very inconsistent, finishing outside of the top 50 in 5 games down the stretch.
The Cowboys as a whole struggled throughout the season, thanks to poor play on defense, poor play from Dak Prescott, and Ezekiel Elliott being suspended for a majority of the season. However, if you even look at the previous couple of seasons, Dez played way better under Tony Romo than he has done under Prescott. However, his time in Dallas came to an end over the off-season as they ended up cutting him thanks to declining play and a massive contract.
Simply put, Bryant isn’t getting any younger, and the fact that he hasn’t found a new home in the NFL just yet is saying a lot. At this point, if he finds a team, it’ll likely happen during Training Camp or during the preseason, likely due to WR injuries. It’ll all depend on where he’s playing (and I’ll be sure to write up a breaking news piece when it he does land somewhere), and if he can thrive in the redzone for a WR-needy team, he’ll be a little fantasy relevant, but if you’re drafting tomorrow, I’d look for other, safer, options.
As for the Cowboys, the clear #1 receiver in this offense is probably still Ezekiel Elliott (although we do need to take a longer look at Tavon Austin), but aside from him, Allen Hurns should be the next receiver we’re targeting. However, this is quite possibly the worst receiving corps in the league, and unless you’re comfortable taking Hurns, or rookie Michael Gallup as lottery picks late in the draft, I would just avoid this offense entirely except for Elliott.
Amari Cooper (2017 ADP: 2.09; #37 WR)
Cooper’s play in the NFL has slowly improved through the first two seasons, although it came crashing down last year. Thanks in part to his play in 2015 and 2016, Cooper saw a late second-round price tag in most leagues, although some saw him being selected in the top 10 of all wide receivers. However, just like the rest of the Raiders offense, he did not live up to expectations, as he caught 48 balls for 680 yards and 7 scores, with a not-so-good 50% catch rate, and a final rate of 11.3 fantasy points per game (finishing outside of the top-48 in 6 weeks last season). In fact, his 44-fantasy point game in Week 7 against the Chiefs on TNF accounted for 28% of his entire fantasy production last season. SHEESH!
Even though he struggled greatly last season, he did show some flashes of upside last season, so here’s hoping the coaching change of Jon Gruden brings out the best in the young player. Especially with Crabtree gone out of this offense, Cooper should have no worries with the target workload this season, and I do think his 96 targets from last year should go up. In fact, Gruden said that Cooper would be the focal point of the offense, so here’s hoping that the coach-speak will translate onto the field.
MB loves to say “#PplForget”, which they do, and people forget that Amari Cooper just turned 25. He’s still very young, and if Gruden could get this offense going with Cooper and Carr, this year might be the year for Cooper. His current ADP is in the 4th round, so as your 2nd receiver, you could do worse, but if you waited a few picks, you could get Stefon Diggs, JuJu, Alshon, Allen Robinson (bingo), Demaryius, or Fitzgerald, who I think I’d rather take over Cooper, but it is up to you. Here’s hoping for the best.
Thank you guys so much for reading, and I’ll see you in the next podcast or article! As always, don’t hesitate to leave a comment or question below about these 4 names, or any other topic!
You Can Follow Zach on Twitter @razzball_zach