Posted June 24, 2017
Last week on “3 Guys that will Shine and 3 Guys that will Grind”, I explained why there were some running backs in the middle rounds that had a chance to finish as RB1’s and RB2’s. There were also some guys I listed that could be stalwarts in your lineup that could be found in the later rounds. Both are equally important and by utilizing both components can turn you into a great fantasy owner. This week, we are going to focus on wide receivers.
The first three guys listed are going in the 6th and the 8th rounds. These guys have a legitimate chance to finish as a top 24 receiver, given their situations and talent. These are the guys that will “shine.” The next three guys are found in the 9th, 11th, and 12th round respectively. These guys should give you enough weeks to be quality starters and at worst, become valuable trade bait. These are the guys that will “grind.”
Before beginning, I would like to shout out a podcast that has teamed up with one of the best in the business in giving wide receiver data. The Fantasy Footballers have teamed up with Matt Harmon and have put out the Ultimate Draft Kit, which gives the fantasy football community valuable information when it comes to the draft. In it, Harmon’s Reception Perception is some of the most intriguing and deep research about wide receiver play. In this article, I will talk a bit about these wide receivers and how they fare with Harmon’s Reception Perception.
Golden Tate, Detroit Lions (ADP- 6.07 Standard, 5.04 PPR)
Many were fans last year of Golden Tate, the dynamic slot receiver in Detroit. He was hyped up as the primary beneficiary from the departure of Calvin Johnson, which made his ADP skyrocket into the 4th round. But for the first five weeks of the season, it was Marvin Jones who appeared to emerge as the man to own in the Motor City. With 27 catches, 519 yards, and three touchdowns, it appeared Jones was the better draft pick and a sure-fire WR1. But Golden Tate began to surface as the true #1 threat for the final 11 games of the season.
|Golden Tate Vs. Marvin Jones over the last 11 games|
|104 Targets||62 Targets|
|74 Receptions||28 Receptions|
|943 Yards||411 Yards|
|4 Touchdowns||1 Touchdown|
It isn’t an argument to say that Tate was more efficient and more productive over the last eleven games. The team also played better when Golden Tate was targeted, as they compiled 7 of their 9 wins in those games. And these numbers can only get better, as Tate is moving to his natural position with Anquan Boldin’s absence.
In Matt Harmon’s research, the four routes that Tate excelled at were the flat, the slant, the screen, and the dig. All of these routes are crucial for a slot receiver. It makes sense that he would struggle on the outside breaking routes due to Tate being 5’10. With the move back to the slot, Tate should see his targets increase. It isn’t out of the question for Tate to get 6 touchdowns for the upcoming year. Pair that with 130+ targets and 90+ receptions and you have an extreme value in the middle rounds. Take Tate as your WR3 and expect a WR2 finish.
Willie Snead, New Orleans Saints (ADP- 7.05 Standard, 8.08 PPR)
673 is a pretty good number, right? It’s a good number if you are a pass catcher in New Orleans. Drew Brees threw the ball 673 times last year, a career high. 117 targets are gone with Brandin Cooks in New England. These will be divided amongst the pass catchers there, but the man to own in the Big Easy, outside of Michael Thomas, is Willie Snead. He now emerges as the second best option for the Hall of Fame quarterback. Already receiving 100+ targets in the past two years, I fully expect him to get over the century mark again in 2017. He is also a bright spot in Harmon’s data as well.
Snead was the only wide receiver to post an above average score on EVERY route he ran, which is pretty ridiculous. Even the top receivers struggle at some route, but not Snead. He is excellent against zone coverage (87.2% success rate) and man coverage (72.8% success rate). While this efficiency could level off with more usage, Snead should see his numbers exceed. He should still man the slot in three-wide sets but should see the field in two-wide sets as well. There will be a point where Snead isn’t a value anymore, so take him now to maximize his worth. He’s a WR2 with upside in a top 10 offense.
DeVante Parker, Miami Dolphins (ADP-8.07 Standard, 8.03 PPR)
All aboard the hype train! We’ve been waiting on the breakout for DeVante Parker since he came into the league, but it’s possible that this is the year. He’s been the story of the offseason in Miami, as he’s reportedly improved his work ethic and has been labeled “a beast” by his head coach.
— Connor Rogers (@ConnorJRogers) June 7, 2017
It’s definitely warranted. He’s a third-year wide receiver, which is usually the year when the breakout begins. Having Adam Gase call the plays is another good sign for Parker, as he’s turned Demaryius Thomas and Emmanuel Sanders into productive wide receivers. Although it’s all hype, we’ve seen steady flashes where he looks like the dominant wide receiver. At 6’3, he is miles ahead of the other Dolphins receivers in stature. This is noted in his Reception Perception data.
These results can be misleading, as DeVante Parker has been injured often, but these aren’t as flattering as you would like them to be. Despite this, he’s been healthy up to this point in the offseason and should see an improvement in next year’s Reception Perception. He’s a physical specimen that plays the ball well in the air. His ceiling is A.J. Green, as they are quite similar when it comes to metrics. Having a presence like him on the outside is big for Miami. While I won’t go to certain lengths with the DeVante Parker breakout, I’m predicting him to perform above his draft price and be a low-end WR2 with high upside.
Pierre Garcon, San Francisco 49ers (ADP- 8.11 Standard, 8.05 PPR)
Yes, a man from the lowly 49ers makes the list of guys that can round out your starting lineup. But it isn’t absurd at all. Pierre Garcon signed with the San Francisco 49ers for 5 years and $47.5 million dollars. Play this game at home. Who else does San Francisco have to throw to? Torrey Smith left town, and I don’t believe Jerry Rice is walking through that door. Garcon is the alpha in San Fran. He also benefits from having Kyle Shanahan come in from Atlanta (I heard they did well last season). Either way, it is likely that they are going to force feed Garcon targets. He has had over 100 targets six of the last seven seasons and should easily do that again.
I would be wary, however. Six times this season, he has to face Richard Sherman, Patrick Peterson, and Trumaine Johnson. He also faces Jalen Ramsey and Janoris Jenkins on top of that, so it isn’t the easiest road for Garcon. But the promise of 100 targets on a team that will have a positive game script for him isn’t something to look over. Matt Harmon’s Reception Perception details Garcon’s rise to relevance is noted here.
Garcon graded very well. His success rate against man is 74%, well above the NFL average, and was above average against zone and press as well (79.6% and 70.7% respectively). While he isn’t the freak athlete that some receivers in the NFL are, Garcon gets it done with great route running, great hands, and being a savvy veteran. Don’t worry about the quarterback play as well. Brian Hoyer has shown he can produce for fantasy over the last two years. There is a decent chance Garcon could be taken much later than the 8th in your leagues, as he plays for such a bad team. Use this to your advantage and stash him. He could be in line for 110 targets, over a thousand yards, and between 4-6 touchdowns.
Tyrell Williams, Los Angeles Chargers (ADP-12.09 Standard, 12.04 PPR)
I wrote an article earlier talking about Kareem Hunt and why he might not be in line for the massive workload that many fantasy analysts are projecting because Spencer Ware is still good. This parallel can be applied here too. Mike Williams was taken with the 7th overall pick by the Los Angeles Chargers and the move was beloved by fantasy owners. At a first glance, it was a good situation. The wide receivers in previous years were unreliable for Philip Rivers, but he made it work anyway. Now he gets a big body receiver to throw it to! Except he already has a good one.
Tyrell Williams caught 69 passes for over a thousand yards and 7 touchdowns for the Chargers last season. He was a WR1 in three weeks and a WR2 in four other weeks. He isn’t a volume receiver and mans the outside receiver position opposite Keenan Allen, so Allen coming back isn’t a huge problem. He is 6’4 and runs a 4.48 40 yard dash. He was a WR2 by the time the season finished and is only getting better.
And he’s going two rounds BEHIND Mike Williams???
Stop the madness. Mike Williams has missed OTA’s with a mild disc herniation and has a chance to miss training camp as well. Going through OTA’s and training camp is vital to a rookie’s development, so missing these will surely stunt his growth. In a dynasty startup it makes sense to draft Mike, but in a redraft, Tyrell easily has the better chance to produce in 2017.
If you want the Mike Williams breakout to happen, don’t get your hopes up; Tyrell Williams is a good receiver. He had a 73.7% success rate vs. man and an 86.7% success rate vs. zone, all above average scores amongst the 50 ranked wide receivers. The only route he didn’t excel on was the curl route, which was only a few percentage points from being in the above average score. Williams played well last year and should be drafted towards the middle rounds, not in the 12th. While I don’t expect his value to stay here, he should still be a value.
Adam Thielen, Minnesota Vikings (ADP- 11.11 Standard, 11.03 PPR)
Adam Thielen was an important piece to the Minnesota Vikings offense last season, catching 69 passes for 967 yards and five touchdowns. Even though the Vikings aren’t known for their prolific passing attack, Thielen provided Sam Bradford with a solid security blanket. While he won’t have outstanding numbers due to the limited upside of the offense and his role as the #2 receiver to Stefon Diggs, he should provide PPR players with a solid base each game. He had over four catches a game last year nine times and over 50 yards another nine times. While he averaged only 36 yards for the first four games, he ended the year strong, averaging 86 yards and scored three times over the last six games. I believe this is important to discovering a viable fantasy option for the foreseeable future; late production can dictate whether a player has a successful year the following season. In a hyper-efficient offense, Thielen can be a sneaky PPR selection.
Harmon notes from his Reception Perception research that Thielen’s success rate vs. coverage was very similar to that of Alshon Jeffrey from the year before. He doesn’t have the ball skills that Jeffrey possesses (Thielen had a 66.7% contested success rate and Jeffrey had an 81.8% contested success rate), but Thielen can provide that role in the Vikings offense.
Adam Thielen should push Kyle Rudolph and Stefon Diggs for targets, so to see him get 100+ targets next year won’t be a surprise. He had two explosive games where he scored three of his five touchdowns, so he is capable of the big game. He is a good blend of boom receiver and consistent PPR force but has limited upside week-to-week given the offense. The 11th round is a great place to get a guy like Thielen, who can be a spot start against the poor secondaries in the NFC North. He has WR2 upside but will finish as a top 30 wide receiver.
Once again, I could not have done this article without the help from Matt Harmon and his Reception Perception data found in the Fantasy Footballers’ Ultimate Draft Kit. His extensive research on wide receivers is paramount to the fantasy community. To find more profiles and advanced statistics, purchase the Ultimate Draft Kit at http://bit.ly/2lWGggY and help out those guys over there!
All ADP’s updated as of June 20th, 2017 from Fantasy Football Calculator.
Fantasy Football Calculator
Fantasy Footballers Ultimate Draft Kit
Reception Perception via Matt Harmon
Tweet from Connor Rogers