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6 Contract Year Wide Receivers (Fantasy Football)

by Eric Moody | @EricNMoody | Featured Writer
Jul 26, 2016

Will DeSean Jackson be more "boom" or more "bust" during his contract season?

Will DeSean Jackson be more “boom” or more “bust” during his contract season?

Eric Moody breaks down the fantasy value of six different wide receivers who are entering a contract year in 2016.

Imagine you are a professional football player? 70,000 pairs of eyes are fixed on you while millions around the world watch you on television.

You are a top performer but have dealt with adversity like many other players. You are entering a contract year and your livelihood is on the line. Pressure raises self-awareness and anxiety about your performance. Will you execute your assignments efficiently or will you crumble under the pressure? This is the epitome of an NFL player entering a contract year season. Money talks in the NFL just like in other lines of business. The purpose of this series is to highlight notable running backs, wide receivers, quarterbacks, and tight ends who are looking to get paid in 2016. My goal is to highlight players who have the potential to finish within the top five of their position or outperform their draft position that I am aggressively targeting. The first part of this series will focus on wide receivers.

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Allen Robinson
Robinson finished the 2015 season as the sixth best fantasy wide receiver in PPR formats. He tied Doug Baldwin and Brandon Marshall for the most touchdowns (14) last season. Robinson will be looking to maintain the momentum created in 2015 to land a career-defining payday from the Jaguars.

His touchdown total will likely regress in 2016, but Robinson is a solid WR1 for fantasy owners. He is currently the WR8 according to FantasyPros consensus ADP (average draft position) rankings.

Red Zone Targets Inside the 20 Inside the 10 Inside the 5
2015 21 14 7
2014 5 0 0

Alshon Jeffery
Jeffery has had at least 50 yards receiving in 18 of his last 25 games. He has also scored 14 touchdowns over that same time frame. ESPN Chicago’s Jeff Dickerson questions whether the Bears view Jeffery as “a true No. 1 receiver.” His body of work of the last three seasons suggest otherwise. It appears the Bears front office have concerns over Jeffery’s injury history. He has the motivation to continue to not only stay on the field but to continue to produce at a high level.

The presence of Kevin White will allow some of the defensive attention to be taken away from Jeffery. This makes him a perfect contract year candidate to target in 2016 as a WR1. He is currently the WR9 according to FantasyPros consensus ADP (average draft position) rankings.

Red Zone Targets Inside the 20 Inside the 10 Inside the 5
2015 16 3 2
2014 22 16 5
2013 19 11 3

RV Career Graph ARob Jeffery

Michael Floyd
Larry Fitzgerald is entering his age-33 season and the last two years of his contract (2017-2018) are voidable. The perception is that Floyd seems to be next man up as the Cardinals’ future No. 1 wide receiver. The Cardinals’ offensive scheme is aggressive and designed to attack defenses vertically. Floyd had one of the highest yards per reception (16.3) of wide receivers that played 650 or more snaps. He was a difference maker during the fantasy playoffs (Weeks 14 to 16) and had 25 targets, 11 receptions, 290 yards and scored one touchdown. Can Floyd finally deliver on the hype entering his fifth NFL season in order to negotiate a massive payday? If he plays 16 games there is a good chance Floyd can finish as a top five fantasy wide receiver. He is currently the WR26 according to FantasyPros consensus ADP rankings.

Red Zone Targets Inside the 20 Inside the 10 Inside the 5
2015 10 4 2
2014 7 0 0
2013 12 4 1

DeSean Jackson
Jackson has developed a reputation of being a boom or bust wide receiver in fantasy circles. You love his production when he goes boom, but you shed tears when he goes bust. Jackson dealt with a shoulder injury all of last season and only played 364 snaps. The final year of his contract is an auto-void year. It is possible that Jackson could be on another team in the near future. He is entering his age 30 season and if stays healthy could land his final sizable contract. Most fantasy tend to allow what players produced statistically last year influence their decision. Use this recency bias to your advantage in 2016. Jackson had 95 targets, 56 receptions, 1,169 receiving yards and scored six touchdowns in 2014 (finished as a top 25 wide receiver in PPR formats) with the Redskins. He is a value pick and currently the WR34 according to FantasyPros consensus ADP rankings. Jackson is best leveraged as a WR2 or WR3 who has the weekly upside to finish as a WR1.

Red Zone Targets Inside the 20 Inside the 10 Inside the 5
2015 4 1 0
2014 10 1 0
2013 10 1 0

RV Career Graph Floyd DJax

Vincent Jackson
Jackson missed six games in 2015 due to a sprained MCL and is entering his age 33 season. He has only scored five touchdowns over his last 28 games. The biggest takeaway I have about Mike Evans 2015 season is that he struggled mightily without the Buccaneers offense having a consistent No. 2 wide receiver. Buccaneers head coach Dirk Koetter plans to use Jackson out of the slot more in 2016 similar to the transition Fitzgerald went through with the Cardinals. There is a good chance that Jackson can receive 100 targets if he can stay healthy all season. He is currently the WR51 according to FantasyPros consensus ADP rankings. Jackson is more suited as a WR3 for your fantasy football team. The Buccaneers plan on throwing the football more this season and will have to in order to stay competitive. The team plays in the NFC South where they will face the Saints, Falcons and Panthers twice a year.

Red Zone Targets Inside the 20 Inside the 10 Inside the 5
2015 13 7 2
2014 14 7 3
2013 18 7 4

Markus Wheaton
Can Wheaton capitalize on the suspension of Martavis Bryant in 2016? I think he can due to the defensive attention that Antonio Brown warrants. The Steelers have 178 targets up for grabs this season and Wheaton is in line for a high percentage of those. After disappointing the Steelers and fantasy owners last season, Wheaton is financially motivated to showcase his talents this season. He was the same page with Ben Roethlisberger during the final six games of last season to the tune of 47 targets, 28 receptions, 476 receiving yards and four touchdowns. Wheaton is currently the WR42 according to FantasyPros consensus ADP rankings.

Red Zone Targets Inside the 20 Inside the 10 Inside the 5
2015 15 4 0
2014 7 2 0
2013 2 1 0

RV Career Graph Jackson Wheaton

Conclusion
If you are a believer in targeting wide receivers entering a contract year this article provided context on the ones I anticipate finishing within the top five or outperform their draft position. Here are my personal 2016 projections for the wide receivers mentioned above.

Name Team Targets Rec Yards TDs
Allen Robinson Jaguars 139 84 1,279 10
Alshon Jeffery Bears 126 81 1,192 8
Michael Floyd Cardinals 97 67 1,018 9
DeSean Jackson Redskins 92 56 1,004 6
Vincent Jackson Buccaneers 89 62 971 5
Markus Wheaton Steelers 73 59 776 5

What is your perspective on the wide receivers I mentioned? Do you feel differently? Let us connect via Twitter to have a discussion. I encourage you to follow me at @EricNMoody.

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