The Garbage Time Kings of 2018 (Fantasy Football)
I’m excited to be back with FantasyPros for another season of tier visualizations and draft articles. Teams are solidifying rosters, and we’re able to get better insight into player projections and anticipated usage as we move into the summer. I decided to kick things off this draft season by isolating high-floor, high-volume WRs on bad teams to find some value.
What I’m looking for is the intersection of high projected volume, and low projected team win totals. In fantasy, we shouldn’t care about team results. Inevitably, people are inclined to look for players on winning teams and in “positive” situations.
We can take advantage of this by monitoring average draft position and pricing of players in perceived poor situations. Below you can see a visualization of the top 40 WRs based on projected reception totals charted against their team’s win total. Let’s take a closer look at the four receivers in the highlighted area to determine if they are potential draft targets based on current ADP.
Click on the image to enlarge.
A.J. Green (WR – CIN): ADP WR8
Green finished as WR 10 in 2017 with 75 receptions, 1,078 yards, and eight touchdowns in what was considered by many to be a down season. He had a career low in receiving yards per game at 67.4 yards and was unable to exploit teams downfield due to a weak offensive line that caused the entire offense to sputter at times. In the offseason, the Bengals traded for Cordy Glenn and drafted Billy Price to shore up the weak unit.
The WR group behind Green continues to be poor with some combination of Brandon LaFell and Tyler Boyd the most likely complimentary receivers. When valuing Green, it comes down to deciding if he’s in the tier Doug Baldwin, Mike Evans, and Davante Adams are in, or if he’s truly elite and can be grouped with Michael Thomas and Keenan Allen.
For me, it’s the latter, and I’ll be targeting him if he slips into that lower tier. Green had a stretch from 2012 to 2015 where we expected 1,300 yards and 10 touchdowns. That upside exists again this year and I only consider three receivers to be a notch above him (Antonio Brown, Julio Jones, and DeAndre Hopkins).
Larry Fitzgerald (WR – ARI): ADP WR17
Larry Fitzgerald has three consecutive seasons of at least 100 receptions, 1,000 yards, and six touchdowns. He finished as WR9 in 2017. He’s currently the 17th wide receiver off the board. I’m tempted to stop here, but let’s look into it a little deeper.
Behind Fitzgerald, you’ve got Brice Butler (the new Michael Floyd), Chad Williams, and Christian Kirk. All three have talent and opportunity but let’s not kid ourselves, the new QBs in town will be leaning heavily on Fitzgerald as long as he stays healthy and he’s shown no signs of becoming injury-prone late in his career.
Fitzgerald needs 92 receptions to pass Tony Gonzalez as the second all-time in receptions, and the Cardinals are going to get him there. Draft for the floor and get the upside along with it if he falls into the late fourth round. Allen Robinson, Brandin Cooks, and Josh Gordon are all being drafted in this range and carry significantly more risk with similar upside.
Jarvis Landry (WR – CLE): ADP WR23
Jarvis Landry has 400 receptions in his first four years in the league including an incredible 112 receptions in 2017 from the combination of Jay Cutler and Matt Moore. I’ll insert a disclaimer into this recommendation — I’m an LSU alumnus and may be biased towards Landry. With that being said, I was all over Landry last year when DeVante Parker was getting all the preseason hype from the fantasy expert community.
It’s the same story again this year with Josh Gordon’s return and all the associated hype that is coming with him. The bottom line is that Landry has some of the savviest route running and stickiest hands in the league. Cutler fell in love with him on shorter routes, and Tyrod Taylor (likely starter, we’ll see) will do the same.
Additionally, the Dolphins created a blueprint for using Landry’s unique skill set in goalline passing situations. Landry in the fifth round as your WR3 is an absolute steal.
Golden Tate (WR – DET): ADP WR24
The last player I’ll be recommending at the appropriate ADP is Golden Tate. A very similar skill set to Landry but a much different situation. Coming off back to back 90 reception and 1,000-yard seasons, Tate will be playing primarily in the slot as Marvin Jones stretches the field and Kenny Golladay continues to grow into a role similar to Jones.
The Lions almost exclusively operate out of three wide receiver sets and Tate averages 1.14 yards of separation more from the slot than when he’s lined up outside. Stafford should throw the ball 575-600 times this year, and I’m projecting Tate to see up to 140 targets. With Tate on a contract year, don’t hesitate to draft him in the fifth round as your WR3, much like Landry.
It’s good to be back to the grind of sifting through offseason news and projections. I hope you’ll follow me on Twitter (@DavidMcDou) for the weekly tier visualizations and the series of articles leading up to prime draft season. To conclude this article, I’ll be targeting Larry Fitzgerald, Jarvis Landry, and Golden Tate aggressively if they fall just below ADP (especially in PPR formats). A.J. Green will be a tough player to nab in drafts as you’ll likely need a first-round pick to acquire him, but the floor is high if he slips to the late first or early second round and wouldn’t hesitate to take him there.