Stock Up/Down: Wide Receivers on New Teams (Fantasy Football)
The wide receiver position wraps up the series of offseason movers whose stock I’ll be analyzing. You can check out the tight ends and running backs and their respective links. There was a lot of movement at wide receiver, and I won’t be analyzing all of the fantasy relevant wide outs who changed teams this offseason. There are a half-dozen receivers below, though. One receiver who might feel like a notable absence is DeSean Jackson, however, I felt the home-run threats value was largely unchanged as a result of switching teams.
Before diving into the meat and potatoes of the article, I’ll preface by reminding readers that faller isn’t synonymous with undraftable or bad. Now, let’s move on to the analysis.
Pierre Garcon (SF): From Redskins to 49ers
Garcon downgrades at quarterback playing with Brian Hoyer instead of Kirk Cousins this season, but, otherwise, the move should prove beneficial for his fantasy value. In Washington, he was one of many mouths that needed feeding. Jordan Reed was the top target on a per-game target basis, but the aforementioned D-Jax, Jamison Crowder, and others commanded plenty of attention, too. Garcon led Washington in targets (114), receptions (79), and receiving yards (1,041) despite having to share looks with others, but he’s poised to see more targets as the clear-cut top option in San Francisco’s passing attack.
Garcon is coming off an impressive season from an efficiency and advanced metrics standpoint, too. According to Football Outsiders (FO), he ranked 10th in DYAR (263) and 15th in DVOA (16.3%) among 93 qualified receivers. I also wouldn’t be overly concerned about Garcon playing with Hoyer. The well-traveled veteran has demonstrated a willingness to huck it to his receivers, and with Hoyer playing in 11 games (nine starts) with the Texans in 2015, DeAndre Hopkins ranked third in targets (192), per ESPN. Add in that the 49ers remain a below average team that will likely be playing from behind plenty this year, and Garcon is in store for tons of action. Garcon’s ADP is WR34 and his ECR is WR35, but I’d definitely pick him inside the top 30 receivers being selected and view him as a high-end third wide out with No. 2wideoutt potential.
Terrelle Pryor (WAS): From Browns to Redskins
Five different quarterbacks threw passes for the Browns last year. Sure, part of that can be attributed to injuries, but ineffectiveness of the quarterbacks in Cleveland also played a role. Still, Pryor broke out catching 77 passes on 140 targets for 1,007 yards and four touchdowns. The converted quarterback showed off big play potential leading the club in 20-plus yard receptions with 11, and his size (6-foot-4 and 228 pounds, per ESPN) makes him an attractive red-zone target. He’ll go from playing with a revolving door at quarterback to catching passes from Cousins which is a massive upgrade. “You like that” ranked third in passing yards (4,917) and yards per attempt (8.11 YDS/A), 13th in touchdown passes (25), and seventh in Passer Rating (97.2). The Redskins ranked seventh in pass attempts (607) in 2016 while the Browns ranked tied for 18th (567). Pryor is generating buzz and checks in as WR17 in ADP and WR18 in ECR. I think that’s a fair ranking with a bit of wiggle room to outperform it.
Kenny Britt (CLE): From Rams to Browns
After trashing Cleveland’s 2016 quarterback situation, it might seem odd to see Britt listed as a riser joining the Browns. The 2009 NFL Draft’s 30th pick is escaping what was actually a worse quarterback situation with the Rams in 2016. The Rams ranked 30th in completion percentage (58.2%), 31st in passing yards (2,951), and dead last in touchdown passes (14). Case Keenum was the most productive quarterback on their roster (yikes), and No. 1 pick Jared Goff looked completely overmatched. As bad as the quarterbacks were for the Rams, they couldn’t prevent Britt from topping 1,000 yards receiving (1,002, to be exact) for the first time in his career. Britt caught 68 of 111 targets and found paydirt five times. Looking under the hood, he was solid ranking 28th in DYAR (167) and 25th in DVOA (6.5%), per FO. Cody Kessler showed some promise in his rookie season, and, remarkably, even if he fails to show any growth in year two, he’d represent arguably the best signal caller Britt’s caught passes from in his NFL career. The 28-year-old receiver has an ADP of WR51 but a more palatable ECR of WR45. Having said that, I think his ECR is low, too, and would feel good about picking Britt as a low-end third receiver or high-end fourth receiver.
Ted Ginn (NO): From Panthers to Saints
Unlike fellow home-run threat D-Jax, Ginn’s situation has greatly improved moving on from the Panthers and joining the Saints. New Orleans has one of the highest-scoring offenses in the NFL and throws the ball a ton. Last year, they ranked second in points (469) and pass attempts (674). Conversely, the Panthers ranked 15th in points (369) and tied for 20th in pass attempts (563). Last year was the third year in a row the Saints ranked second in pass attempts, and with future Hall of Famer Drew Brees still under center for New Orleans and the defense likely remaining dreadful, New Orleans should once again be one of the most pass-happy offenses in the NFL. The volume increase to the passing game as a whole alone increases the likelihood of Ginn showing off his big-play ability. I’d feel much more comfortable drafting and using Ginn in a best-ball format, but he carries an ADP and ECR outside the top 50 receivers with an ADP of WR56 and ECR of WR54. He’s a fine selection at either cost.
Alshon Jeffery (PHI): From Bears to Eagles
I struggled with deciding whether or not to include Jeffery in this piece at all, but ultimately I decided he sees a slight value decrease with the Eagles. Before the Carson Wentz backers give me an earful, I do think he’s better than any of the quarterbacks Jeffery caught passes from last year. That said, Wentz spread the wealth in his rookie season with six players reaching or exceeding the 60 targets threshold and Jordan Matthews leading the way with 117. Jeffery is an upgrade from any of the pass catchers on last year’s Eagles squad, but Matthews and the team’s second-most targeted player, tight end Zach Ertz (106 targets), remain in the mix. Philadelphia also added field-stretcher Torrey Smith to their receiving corps as well as bell-cow runner LeGarrette Blount to help create more balance.
For full disclosure, Jeffery had monster seasons with the Bears in 2013 and 2014 playing with Brandon Marshall, Martellus Bennett, and Matt Forte. However, comparing Jeffery’s stock from last year when tight end Zach Miller represented the biggest threat to his target output to this year, his stock has fallen. Also, while it’s unrelated to changing teams, it’s worth noting, as Mitchell Renz of Gridiron Experts pointed out in a recent Featured Pros piece, Jeffery would face a 10-game suspension if he fails another drug test after being suspended for four games last year for a failed drug test that resulted from using a performance-enhancing substance. He’s not someone I’d say you need to avoid at any cost, but I wouldn’t draft him as a high-end number-two/fringe number-one receiver as his ADP (WR13) and ECR (WR15) would require.
Brandin Cooks (NE): From Saints to Patriots
I’ll start by saying I don’t hate Cooks’ ECR of WR17, but his ADP of WR11 is too rich for my blood. New England’s offense is a well-oiled machine with Tom Brady running it, and Cooks will undoubtedly have some monster games. However, there are a few things working against him in New England he didn’t have to deal with in New Orleans. For starters, Rob Gronkowski and Julian Edelman are going to command their share of targets, and that’s saying nothing of others such as James White, Dion Lewis, Chris Hogan, Malcolm Mitchell, and Dwayne Allen. Cooks is more of a luxury item — albeit a hell of a luxury item — than a necessity. New England ranked third in points (441) last year with Brady suspended for four games and without Cooks, just to hammer home the point they don’t need Cooks in order to score points in bunches. He’ll also be playing opposite the stingiest defense in terms of points allowed per game (15.6) in 2016 after teaming with a defense that yielded the second-most points per game (28.4). Simply put, the Patriots won’t need to keep their foot on the accelerator like the Saints do. I suspect Cooks’ lines week to week will be highly volatile as one of a few supremely talented pass catchers who’s supported by some rock solid complementary pieces, and I’m not willing to embrace that volatility as my No. 1 receiver. If he slips closer to his ECR of WR17, I’d be much more willing to draft him as a middle to low-end No. 2 receiver thanks to the monster week-to-week upside he possesses. In best-ball formats, WR11 is easier to swallow and completely defensible.