Fantasy Football Do Not Draft List: Wide Receivers
To be a great player in fantasy football, you’re going to need to learn a few things. One being your fandom, put it aside. Just because I’m from Chicago and a Bears fan doesn’t mean that I can’t own any Packers players. In fact, I want a lot more of them than I do Bears players. Second, put your hatred for a player aside. Just because he’s hurt you in the past doesn’t mean he will in the future. We’re not talking about ex-girlfriends or ex-boyfriends here. So many people hang on to stuff like this and it’ll negatively affect your chances of winning that coveted fantasy football trophy.
You also need to know that just because you don’t love a player, it doesn’t mean you can’t draft him. There’ve been times where I’ve had someone say, “Uh, Mike, you said that you didn’t like that player on a podcast, so why did you just draft him?” This is when you know that you’ve become a good fantasy football player. Why? Because you’ve become smart enough to know that every player has value, regardless of whether or not you like him.
Earlier this week, we posted the Do Not Draft list for quarterbacks and running backs, so we’re moving on to wide receivers today. This is essentially my fantasy football “black list” of players at the position. Again, does it mean that you absolutely do not draft them? No, but it means that you shouldn’t even consider them at their current price.
Dez Bryant (DAL) Current Positional ADP: 9
It seems like every player atop these lists turns out to be controversial. First it was Cam Newton, then Demarco Murray, and now Dez Bryant. If you have these three on your team, does it mean you won’t succeed? No, but if you’re drafting them where they’re currently being drafted, you won’t. Bryant is one of my favorite receivers in the NFL and I’m one of those who believe he’s back to being the same old Dez, but there’s a problem… The NFL season is short enough as is, creating too small of sample sizes, but if there’s one thing we know, it’s that Bryant doesn’t see 10 targets a game like other top-tier wide receivers. In fact, Bryant’s 7.38 targets per game ranked 28th in 2016. So when you see that he’ll be facing top-tier cornerbacks in 10 of his 16 games, we have a problem. He’ll be able to overcome a tough matchup at times, but he’s creeping up to the point that you’re getting no discount. Read more on Bryant’s player profile right here.
DeAndre Hopkins (HOU) Current Positional ADP: 12
It’s odd to see two receivers being drafted in the top-12 to be on my black list, and while I understand why Bryant’s situation is being overlooked, I don’t understand Hopkins’ draft slot at all. Over the last five years there have been 60 wide receivers who saw at least 140 targets in a season. Just four of them finished outside the top 30 wide receivers. Three of them were age-29 or older and the other one was Hopkins, who saw 151 targets in 2016 and finished as the No. 36 wide receiver. His quarterback play may not have been good in 2016, but it also may not be much better in 2017. Tom Savage has yet to throw a touchdown pass on 92 pass attempts and rookies simply don’t produce top-12 wide receivers. I’ll be explaining Hopkins’ situation further in-depth in his upcoming player profile.
Alshon Jeffery (PHI) Current Positional ADP: 13
Just a few weeks ago, Jeffery was being drafted in between the WR18-WR20 range. While I wasn’t going to be drafting him, it was a fair range, as there are plenty of question marks surrounding the players in that area. Now up to WR13, he should be completely off your radar. While playing alongside Brandon Marshall, Jeffery caught a touchdown once every 17 targets. Without Marshall, he’s caught one every 26 targets, which would have ranked 95th of 154 receivers in 2016. The Eagles wide receivers caught just seven touchdowns all last year in Doug Pederson’s offense and saw just a 48 percent target share, both league lows. The fact that he’s being drafted in front of guys like Doug Baldwin, Demaryius Thomas, and Sammy Watkins is questionable, at best. And don’t mention Watkins’ injury problems if you’re trying to defend Jeffery who’s missed nine games over the last two seasons. Read more on Jeffery in his player profile, right here.
Julian Edelman (NE) Current Positional ADP: 22
Once the Patriots traded for Brandin Cooks, the alarms should’ve been going off for Edelman supporters. I immediately lowered him in my rankings, expecting the Patriots to slowly phase the 31-year-old out of the offense. When they extended him, I was forced to re-visit projections, and while he moved up, his ADP makes zero sense. Here are his finishes in standard leagues (where the ADP is taken from) over the last four years (latest to oldest): WR22, WR37, WR27, WR18. Keep in mind that Rob Gronkowski missed 19 games in that span. So let’s get this straight: Edelman’s best finish was WR18 four years ago, the Patriots traded for Cooks, are getting back a healthy Rob Gronkowski, signed Mike Gillislee and Rex Burkhead, traded for Dwayne Allen, and extended James White, but Edelman is going to live up to the same production he had in 2016?
Kelvin Benjamin (CAR) Current Positional ADP: 29
When I get into a conversation with someone who’s a Benjamin supporter, they’ll usually point to the fact that he finished as a top 20 wide receiver in both the seasons he’s played. Frank Gore finished as a top 12 running back in each of the last two seasons, does that mean he should be drafted in that range? He was actually on my “Do Not Draft” list for running backs, because the yearly finish doesn’t signify what actually happened throughout the course of the season. With Benjamin, his season was awful beyond Week 2. Seriously, he was the No. 1 receiver in all of fantasy football over the first two weeks totaling 37.9 points (19.0 per game), but was the No. 50 receiver on a per game basis from Week 3-17. Not only did he appear to gain weight this offseason (something the Panthers said concerned them), but the Panthers drafted Christian McCaffrey and Curtis Samuel, two guys that are better than him as a receiver. He’s got size to use in the red-zone and will likely wind up somewhere around the 7-9 range, but the average of 131.5 targets he’s seen over his first two seasons isn’t going to happen. Stefon Diggs, Pierre Garcon, and Willie Snead are all players I’d take over Benjamin and they’re being drafted at least one round after him.