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WR3s With WR1 Potential (2019 Fantasy Football)

Jun 27, 2019

Every year there are players that make the largely unexpected jump up the depth chart and fantasy rankings to help owners win championships. Whether through injury or ineffectiveness ahead of them, players will return immense value based on average draft position. We know this will be the case. The trick is identifying the players that will make the jump, and also the players that will underperform. Today, we’re examining players with the potential of making the jump, starting with wide receiver.

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Which player outside the top 30 WRs has the best chance to finish as a WR1 for the season?

Dante Pettis (SF): ADP WR34
The San Francisco offense is one of the most underhyped offenses in the NFL a season after they were one of the most overhyped offenses in the NFL. In the 2018 offseason, San Francisco was a darkhorse playoff prediction for many people with QB Jimmy Garoppolo coming off a 2017 season where he won their last five games. The season crashed and burned before it began with RB Jerick McKinnon tearing his ACL before Week 1, and the devastation was completed in Week 3 with Garoppolo tearing his ACL. They limped to a 4-12 record without either of those guys on offense and they are back to the drawing board in 2019. All reports are that Garappolo will be ready for training camp. If he is behind center for 16 games this year, this offense could have the look it had the final five games of the 2017 season, not the look it had most of the 2018 season. That brings us to Pettis, who has been turning heads in the offseason. He showed up at OTAs and demonstrated that he had improved both physically and as a route runner this offseason. Pettis was the 44th pick in the 2018 NFL Draft but was never able to live up to his potential with a bad quarterback situation and injuries that limited him during the regular season. If Pettis holds onto the starting job as their top wide receiver and if Garappolo can have the breakout season the 49ers thought he would when they gave him a monster contract last offseason, the sky is the limit for Pettis in 2019. As a featured receiver in a Kyle Shanahan offense, he is a player that is currently outside the top-30 that could emerge as a fantasy WR1. He is a bargain at his current ADP of 35 with tremendous upside for the 2019 season.
– Derek Lofland (@DerekLofland)

Pettis is going to be the WR1 in a pass-happy San Francisco attack that has added weapons in Tevin Coleman and through the draft in Deebo Samuel. Add a healthy Jimmy Garoppolo to the mix and Kyle Shanahan’s offense is poised to explode this season. Early minicamp reports are raving over the development of Pettis, and he carries a second-round draft pedigree showing how high the 49ers are on his talent.
– Justin Mackey

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@dmainy8 didn't start for the 49ers right away, which was somewhat puzzling, but when Pettis got onto the field, he flashed a bit. It was Week 10 when Pettis turned into a full-time player, and from then until Week 16, he was the No. 20 wide receiver in fantasy, with Nick Mullens as his quarterback. The 49ers did add Deebo Samuel in the draft, but as we saw with Pettis, there's no guarantee he'll be a starter right away. Even if so, Jimmy Garoppolo returning to the lineup should only help his consistency in fantasy lineups (per @miketaglierenfl) . . #fantasyfootball#ECR#niners#49ers#sanfrancisco#fantasy#fantasyfootballdraft#ninerempire#ninergang#ninernation#ninerfaithful#fantasyfootballadvice#football#footballislife#NFL#nflmemes#nflfootball#nflnews#49ersfaithful#49erfaithful

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Geronimo Allison (GB): ADP WR46
Packers wide receiver Geronimo Allison is potentially heading into 2019 as the team’s WR2 and should see plenty of work out of the slot. Coming into the league as an undrafted free agent, Allison showed some real potential and was on his way to a breakout season last year before hurting his groin in Week 5 and going on IR. In just four games before the injury, Allison had already accumulated 20 catches, 303 yards, and two touchdowns. If you were to average those numbers out over an entire season, he would’ve finished with 80 catches, 969 yards, and eight touchdowns. Those numbers would’ve been good enough to finish as the 15th highest scoring receiver on the season. Heading into 2019, Allison has become the No. 1 option out of the slot and that is a position that has done historically well during Aaron Rodgers‘ career (Greg Jennings, Randall Cobb). With defenses being forced to pay extra attention to Davante Adams on the outside, Allison should see plenty of one-on-one matchups he can exploit over the middle. One of the most important things for any wide receiver in the Packers’ offense is gaining the trust of Aaron Rodgers. For Allison, that has not been an issue. After his hot start last season, Rodgers had this to say about his young wide receiver, “I’ve always had a lot of confidence in him (Allison), he knows the offense really well, and that’s the starting point of any type of trust, is the mental part.” Having a future Hall of Fame quarterback say this about you means a lot. With him lining up in the slot, expect Rodgers to look to him early and often as a reliable target over the middle. Even with Davante Adams on the roster, Allison has a real shot at finishing as a top-10 wide receiver. It wouldn’t be the first time Rodgers supported two top-10 fantasy wide receivers. In 2016 and 2014 the Packers featured two top-10 wide receivers and it wouldn’t surprise me if they did it again. Allison is playing in a brand new juiced up offense and is catching passes from one of the best to ever do it. If he plays 16 games the sky is the limit.
– Eli Berkovits (@PTTF_Eli)

Christian Kirk (ARI): ADP WR35
I really can’t get enough of Christian Kirk this year. I love his talent profile. I love what I saw him do as a rookie in a worst-case scenario offensive environment. The signs are all there. Kliff Kingsbury is installing an air raid offense with a significant quarterback upgrade from Josh Rosen to Kyler Murray. If Kingsbury has his way, the Cardinals will lead the league in plays run. More plays = more pass attempts = more targets for Kirk. With Larry Fitzgerald winding down and the next two wide receivers both rookies, the stage is set for Kirk to be Murray’s primary option in the passing game. The Cardinals plan to score a lot of points and their lack of a defense will force them into shootouts. Kirk probably has more of a WR2 ceiling, but I wouldn’t be shocked if he finished inside the top 12.
– Jason Katz (@jasonkatz13)

Larry Fitzgerald (ARI): ADP WR41
Fitzgerald’s career was rejuvenated after the Cardinals hired Bruce Arians in 2013, as he ripped off 100-plus catches in three of five seasons playing in Arians’ pass-friendly offense. Fitzgerald reinvented himself as an elite slot receiver with Arians, and he should pick up right where he left off with Kliff Kingsbury coming to town. Now, before you start, we’re all aware that Larry Legend will be turning 36 years old just days before Week 1 kicks off. Age aside, Fitzgerald has without a doubt earned a spot on the NFL Mount Rushmore of receivers, currently sitting third on the all-time receptions list, just 23 grabs away from taking over sole possession of second place. Fitzgerald has missed a grand total of six games in his 15-year career and only two games over the past 11 seasons, so it’s not warranted to be concerned over injuries. While it’s rare that a 36-year-old receiver can be relied upon for fantasy purposes, it’s been done before by fellow Hall of Famers. Jerry Rice recorded 82 grabs, 1,157 yards, and nine touchdowns back in 1998. Tim Brown hauled in 81 catches and 930 yards for his age-36 season and Cris Carter managed 73 receptions and 871 yards in 2001 while 36. And yes, Fitzgerald is in the same conversation as Jerry. Considering the circumstances in Arizona this year, I have a difficult time believing that a rookie quarterback and rookie head coach will be asking their fellow rookies (Andy Isabella, Hakeem Butler, KeeSean Johnson) and/or second-year receiver (Christian Kirk) to be the focal point of their passing attack over Larry Legend. Let’s not forget, Fitzgerald still hauled in 69 grabs playing in arguably the worst offense in the NFL last season with an ill-equipped rookie quarterback. When you factor in Arizona’s leaky faucet of a defense will be without Patrick Peterson for the first six games, the Cardinals will be forced to play catch-up throughout the entire season. Kyler Murray and Kingsbury will have no choice but to dial-up their best receiver as much as possible. Don’t be shocked when Fitzgerald accumulates his fourth 100-plus catch season out of the past five years after all is said and done. With a price tag of WR41, Larry Legend has all the makings of league-winning value this season.
– Rob Searles (@robbob17)

James Washington (PIT): ADP WR42
The Steelers have had two productive WRs for the last 15 years. Hines Ward/Plaxico Burress, Ward/Santonio Holmes, Ward/Mike Wallace, Wallace/Emmanuel Sanders, Sanders/Antonio Brown, Brown/JuJu Smith-Schuster. With Brown and Jesse James gone, the Steelers have more vacated targets than any other team in the NFL. The chance for a large target market share is very favorable for Washington, especially with JuJu garnering most of the toughest CB assignments. Look for Washington to outproduce his WR43 mark in 2019. That’s what newly-promoted Steelers WRs do when the coaching staff loves them. The new chapter is upon us with JuJu and James Washington. At WR43, Washington could end up being a major steal as the new WR2 in Pittsburgh.
– Josh Dalley (@JoshDalley72)

N’Keal Harry (NE): ADP WR37
Harry is the player I have ranked the highest that is outside the top 30 in current ADP. Harry is in prime blow-up position from a fantasy football perspective. Not only does he join a team that is perfectly suited for his skill set, but there are 165 vacated targets and 1,812 available air yards from 2018. Harry could very well claim all of them. While some of those targets will undoubtedly go to other positions, the Patriots will likely feed Harry at least 22-25 percent of the targets. Arguably the most talented receiver in the 2019 NFL Draft class in an offense masterminded by Bill Belichick and Tom Brady? Sign me up. Harry has as good a chance as any player not currently a WR1 based on ADP to finish as a WR1. His upside is just that high in an offense that craves players with his skill set.
– Raju Byfield (@FantasyContext)

Will Fuller (HOU): ADP WR33
Since 2013, 14 receivers have had an ADP outside the top 30 and finished the season inside the top 12. In fact, the last time at least two receivers didn’t make that jump in a season was 2012. Interestingly, only one first or second-year player has accomplished this feat since 2014 and that was Michael Thomas as a rookie in 2016. There are cases to be made for quite a few receivers outside the top 30, but one who stands out to me is Will Fuller. In the 11 games he has played with Deshaun Watson, Fuller has caught 45 passes to go along with 782 yards and 11 scores — that projects to a 16-game pace of 66/1138/16. Injuries are obviously a huge concern with Fuller, though a WR33 price tag mitigates that risk quite a bit. Given the connection he and Watson have, it’s hard to imagine the Texans not utilizing Fuller if he’s on the field. Dante Pettis and James Washington are great picks here as well.
– Elisha Twerski (@ElishaTwerski)

Corey Davis (TEN): ADP WR32
I am still a big fan of Davis’ potential and feel he could be one of those guys that just took a little bit longer to develop. When you’re QB’s throwing arm is not functioning properly, pretty much any wide receiver’s numbers would suffer, and last year was a pivotal one for Mariota and Davis to develop chemistry on the field. It’s definitely time for both of them to prove their draft status, but if they can stay healthy behind an improved offensive line Davis’ talent should finally shine through as a potential number one wide receiver. The fact that defenses will probably have to respect the running game more this season should also help open up some deep shots for Davis, and if Mariota can’t stay healthy the Titans have improved their backup QB situation.
– Sheldon Curtis (@sheldon_curtis)

Donte Moncrief (PIT): ADP WR61
I have no idea how Donte Moncrief isn’t getting more hype this offseason. He’s going at just WR61 right now, even though the Steelers produced two WR1s last season, Antonio Brown (WR5) and JuJu Smith-Schuster (WR8). Although Moncrief lacks their elite talent, the Steelers have routinely inflated the fantasy value of their wide receivers. You may remember Markus Wheaton, Martavis Bryant, Sammie Coates, and Eli Rogers for their brief fantasy relevance while playing in Pittsburgh, but you probably don’t remember them for much else. Next season, the departures of Brown and Justin Hunter will open up 181 targets in the Steelers’ pass-happy offense, and Moncrief, sophomore James Washington and third-round pick Diontae Johnson are all expected to compete for these looks. The word from local beat reporters is that Moncrief has the edge right now, but this isn’t even a case of three players competing for one fantasy-viable spot. Just two-thirds of those 181 opportunities would give Moncrief 120, around the amount that T.Y. Hilton, Brandin Cooks, and Kenny Golladay had last year. And Washington earned 38 targets last season, so even if Roethlisberger upped the sophomore’s share to 100, there would still be 120 targets to go between Moncrief and Johnson. There’s more going for Moncrief than volume, as he is the only wide receiver behind Smith-Schuster that has already proven himself in the NFL. In 2015, he turned 105 targets into a 64-733-6 stat line, good enough for WR36. Unfortunately, injuries and poor quarterback play have limited his career since then. It’s no sure thing that he beats out Washington, but if you’re looking to play the Pittsburgh WR2 lottery, keep in mind that Moncrief’s overall ADP of 180 is much cheaper than Washington’s ADP of 108.
– Isaiah Sirois (@is_sirois)

Marvin Jones (DET): ADP WR40
Many people are overlooking just how good this guy has been, and it’s hard to understand why. I guess it’s because he only played nine games last season, but he was well on pace to match his previous averages prior to getting injured. We’re talking about a guy who averaged 949 receiving yards and six TDs over his previous three seasons, and he did most of that damage against the top corner on the opposing team. He won’t have that issue this year with Kenny Golladay emerging as the top receiver, and it wouldn’t be surprising to see Jones match those season averages from years prior, if not surpass them. If you’re in a PPR league, I also think Golden Tate is a huge value as the 39th receiver off the board. Tate has joined the dump-off king known as Eli Manning and that could guarantee him 80 catches in this short-yardage offense.
– Joel Bartilotta (@Bartilottajoel)

D.K. Metcalf (SEA): ADP WR44
Doug Baldwin averaged nearly 115 targets the three seasons prior to 2018, where he missed three games before ultimately calling it a career. With Baldwin now out of the picture in Seattle, Russell Wilson‘s top two targets now come in the form of Tyler Lockett and D.K. Metcalf. Seattle drafted the 6-3, 223-pound Metcalf in hopes of bringing another dimension to their offense, and with little competition to compete with targets outside of Lockett, Metcalf has the chance to really shine in his rookie year. We all know the cannon Russell Wilson possesses and the abilities Metcalf has of separating himself from essentially any DB lined up across from him. Mike Tagliere pointed out that Lockett played nearly 60% of his snaps in the slot last year, and these numbers are likely to rise in 2019. Should this hold true, Metcalf has the opportunity to work isolated on the outside where he thrives the most. I’m not expecting Metcalf to take over the league as the next Randy Moss, yet the physical traits possessed by Metcalf combined with the targets available and Wilson’s ability as a passer have me very confident that Metcalf could find himself as a WR1 by the end of 2019.
– Donnie Druin (@DonnieDruin)

Devin Funchess (IND): ADP WR54
Trying to pick a wide receiver outside of the top 30 who offers a legit WR1 ceiling is like trying to watch the Toy Story movies without crying-it’s impossible. But if one must entertain the possibility, it’s important to look beyond just volume. What kind of offense is the player in? What do they like to run in the red zone? How often will they be in the red zone? Considering all of those factors, I’m going with Devin Funchess (WR53). The Colts ranked fifth in points per game, seventh in yards per game and sixth in pass attempts last season. Under a healthy Andrew Luck, you can pencil them in for similarly elite offensive production even if those passing numbers recede a bit. Funchess isn’t a No. 1 WR in the NFL, but at 6-foot-4 and 240 pounds, he can be a dependable big man in the red zone, where the Colts ranked sixth in pass percentage last season. He offers double-digit touchdown upside in the Alshon Jeffery role of an elite offense and could thrive opposite T.Y. Hilton.
– Brandon Katz (@great_katzby)

Sterling Shepard (NYG): ADP WR36
One of the biggest moves in recent NFL history, the New York Giants trade of Odell Beckham Jr. has understandably sent shockwaves throughout the entire league. A reliable  No. 2 option behind Beckham in New York over the past few years, Sterling Shepard is now primed for the biggest season of his career — even though his 36th ranking among wide receivers currently places him outside of WR1 territory. After an injury-plagued sophomore campaign that saw him suit up in just 11 games, Shepard took a big step forward in 2018. He tallied 66 catches for 872 yards and four touchdowns and was on the receiving end of 107 targets — good for 31st in the league. Those were strong numbers overall — 29th overall in half-PPR formats — but beyond the surface, there seems to be even more reason for optimism. Many have speculated that the absence of Beckham will hurt Shepard, the logic being that defenses will be able to key in on the latter, but the statistics throughout their careers do not back that up. In 11 games without Beckham in the lineup, Shepard has — extrapolated to a full 16-game season — posted 75 catches for 1,033 yards and three touchdowns on 131 targets. Beyond his production without Beckham in the lineup, Shepard has also been the beneficiary of a solid load of red zone work. His 5’10, 200-pound frame doesn’t make him the prototypical red zone receiver by any means, but Eli Manning looked for Shepard in the red zone at a rate that ranks among the top of the league. Shepard, according to PlayerProfiler.com, had 19 red zone targets last season — ranking ninth among wideouts and directly ahead of standout receivers Stefon DiggsT.Y. Hilton, Julio Jones, and Mike Evans. With Beckham ranking just ahead of him with 20 red zone targets, it’s fair to imagine that Shepard will be the beneficiary of some of those getting spread out through the rest of the lineup. A reliable threat both on the outside and in the slot, Shepard unquestionably has the potential to outplay his draft position.
– Brian Rzeppa (@brianrzeppa)

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