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WRs Who Will Finish Above & Below Their ECR (2019 Fantasy Football)

by Sam Schlesinger | @avishai41 | Featured Writer
Aug 23, 2019

It’s being said that Curtis Samuel is the “MVP of Panthers training camp” and that he’s been “practically impossible to cover.”

The FantasyPros expert consensus rankings (ECR) is one of the greatest tools available for fantasy research during the offseason. It’s a compilation of over 100 different rankings by experts across the entire fantasy football industry, and it gives you a great basis to see how players are being valued.

It’s also worthwhile to understand how far away you are from the consensus on any given player. If you value a player a lot higher than the consensus does, you know that you may be able to wait on him in your draft and don’t need to feel an urgency to draft him just because you’re very high on him. Conversely, if you value a player a lot lower than the consensus, you can pretty much wipe him from your draft strategy because he’ll be gone before you’d feel comfortable taking him.

In this article I’m going to analyze wide receivers who I believe will finish the season higher than their consensus ranking, as well as wide receivers I think will fall short of their consensus ranking in half PPR scoring leagues.

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Brandin Cooks (LAR) – ECR: WR15
Brandin Cooks has played on three teams in the past three years, but no matter what city he called home or who he had throwing him the ball, he made his fantasy owners happy. He had at least 1,082 yards and five touchdowns in each of those three seasons, and his worst finish in half PPR scoring was the WR13 last year. Why are we predicting him to have his worst fantasy season since he was a rookie? There are certainly a lot of weapons in Los Angeles if Cooper Kupp and Robert Woods are both healthy, but a Sean McVay offense can feed all the mouths it needs to. Since he’s been the coach, the Rams have been first (2017) and second (2018) in offensive points scored and 10th (2017) and second (2018) in offensive yards gained. Despite having the Todd Gurley express running the engine last year, Jared Goff was still 10th in the league in pass attempts and may need to throw even more this year if they’re going to rely on Gurley less. There’s no reason to expect a production decrease from Cooks.

Curtis Samuel (CAR) – ECR: WR37
If Cam Newton’s shoulder is fully healed, the Panthers may have an unstoppable offense. DJ Moore is getting all of the attention as a breakout star because he was a first-round pick in 2018, but Curtis Samuel was an early second-round pick in 2017 and he’s being carelessly slept on. It’s possible that Moore and Samuel become one of the better wide receiver tandems in the league this year, but the discrepancy in their ECR rankings is too much. It’s being said that Samuel is the “MVP of Panthers training camp” and that he’s been “practically impossible to cover.” He’s getting non-stop hype out of Charlotte. In his final season at Ohio State in 2016, Samuel was a swiss army knife. He ran the ball 97 times for 771 yards and seven touchdowns and caught 74 passes for 866 yards and eight touchdowns. He’s as versatile as they come, and despite the presence of Christian McCaffrey and DJ Moore, he’s going to make noise this year. I think it’s most likely that Samuel and Moore will both finish closer to WR30 than their projected WR37 and WR24.

Larry Fitzgerald (ARI) – ECR: WR41
Over the last four years, when Larry Fitzgerald has been 32 years of age or older, he has not finished outside the top 30 fantasy wide receivers. In 2018, the Cardinals had the worst offense in the league. They ranked dead last in offensive points and dead last in offensive yards, and yet Fitzgerald managed to finish as the WR28. Are we honestly expecting him to finish 13 spots worse than that with Kyler Murray and Kliff Kingsbury? Kingsbury wants to run 90 plays per game, and while that number might be a dream, the air raid offense is going to bring at least enough excitement to move the Cardinals out of the bottom of the barrel offensively. Fitzgerald is still the best receiver on the team, and there are about to be significantly more targets to go around. 


Tyreek Hill (KC) – ECR: WR7
Tyreek Hill may very well finish as the WR7 overall, but I need to put him here to emphasize his lack of consistency. A player’s end of the season numbers generally doesn’t paint the entire picture. The opportunity that Hill gets is of a “boom or bust” nature. In 2018, Hill had seven games with four or fewer receptions. You better hope that one of those is in the end zone because that’s almost half a season’s worth of games where he has minimal opportunity to make something happen. He also only had one game with double-digit receptions. In contrast, Keenan Allen, who ranks two spots behind Hill in the ECR, only had three games where he failed to register at least five catches. He didn’t break 30 fantasy points in any game like Hill did (twice), but I prefer the week-to-week consistency of a guy like Allen or Mike Evans who are both currently ranked behind Hill.

Adam Thielen (MIN) – ECR: WR12
Adam Thielen was two different people last season: first-half Thielen and second-half Thielen. First-half Thielen had 74 receptions, 925 yards, and six touchdowns in eight games and was the WR1 overall at that point. Second-half Thielen had 39 receptions for 448 yards and three touchdowns in eight games. If we’re talking about first half Thielen, then yes, he deserves WR1 consideration and I’d have no problem taking him early in the second round, but second-half Thielen is a fringe WR2 at best. In the second half of the season, Stefon Diggs had more targets, more receptions, and more touchdowns than Thielen, and he seemed to be on the same page with Kirk Cousins more than Thielen was. I believe Thielen can be a solid WR2 in 2019, but the possibility of second-half Thielen showing up is keeping him out of the top 12.

Kenny Golladay (DET) – ECR: WR19
At the end of last season when Golden Tate was in Philly and Marvin Jones was out with injury, Kenny Golladay had a chance to show us that he was the man, but it was uninspiring. In the six games where he was basically the only wide receiver on the field, he scored just one touchdown and had only two games with 100+ yards. It could be that defenses were able to take him away as he was Stafford’s only option and that with Jones back on the other side he’ll play better, but I don’t believe he’s quite a mid-level WR2 yet. Stafford’s passing attempts have come down every single year since leading the league in 2012, and last year his 555 passes were the fewest he’s ever thrown in a fully healthy season. The addition of Kerryon Johnson and a more complete running game have taken the pressure off of Stafford and continue to minimize Golladay’s upside. 

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Sam Schlesinger is a featured writer at FantasyPros. For more from Sam, check out his archive and follow him @avishai41.

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