10 Wide Receivers to Avoid Based on Current Rankings (2020 Fantasy Football)
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We’ve examined running backs, quarterbacks, and tight ends our writers are avoiding at their current cost. This week, we’ve asked our writers for wide receivers that they are most likely to pass on based on our fantasy football expert consensus rankings. Here’s what they had to say.
Q: Which wide receivers are you least likely to draft at their current ranking?
Amari Cooper (DAL): WR9
There is a lot to like about the Dallas offense in 2020, but Amari Cooper is a better receiver in real life than he is in fantasy football. It seems absolutely possible that we saw him right at his ceiling last year. Dallas moved the ball unbelievably efficiently but weren’t winning enough games enough to abandon the pass and lean on Ezekiel Elliott. The Cowboys project to win more games this year, and they drafted wide receiver CeeDee Lamb in the first round. I worry Cooper won’t see the volume to put up the numbers he did last year. Even then, he only recorded 15 PPR points per game. Taking him as the WR9 seems optimistic, at best.
– Ethan Summers (@AllSummersLong_)
If it seems like I am picking on Amari Cooper, it is probably because I am. I cannot reiterate enough how overvalued Cooper is in this Dallas offense. To be perfectly clear: The raw skills are there. Talent-wise, Cooper is as good as anyone. But the Houdini act he pulled last year down the stretch doesn’t inspire confidence, especially with the Cowboys drafting CeeDee Lamb and Michael Gallup starting to emerge. Can we safely project Cooper for 130 targets? That seems ambitious even in a loaded Dallas offense. What’s more, Cooper has never topped 83 catches or 1,200 yards in any season. To return WR9 value, he would have to blow past those numbers. I don’t see it happening. Stay away and draft D.J. Moore a round later.
– Jason Kamlowsky (@JasonKamlowsky)
Mike Williams (LAC): WR39
I agree with many of the other names on this list, but if you want the wide receiver with the biggest delta between my ranking and both expert consensus ranking and consensus ADP, it’s Mike Williams. Williams is my 52nd-ranked wide receiver in 1/2 PPR (40th in ECR, 41st in ADP), and I will likely have him on none of my teams. Williams is extremely talented, but he had the highest average depth of target (17.3) and yards per reception (20.4) of any wide receiver and highest yards per reception (20.4). And he still finished as just the 39th-ranked receiver in 1/2 PPR leagues. Now, the Chargers have replaced Philip Rivers with Tyrod Taylor, who won’t push the ball down the field nearly as much, and they’ll likely rely on their defense and play conservatively. It’s hard to see much upside in Williams from a fantasy perspective, so there is little reason to draft him as a high-end WR4.
– Dan Harris (@danharris80)
Cooper Kupp (LAR): WR17
Don’t get me wrong. I like Kupp (WR17) a lot, but his arrow is trending in the wrong direction while Robert Woods is trending up. As the Rams seem poised to implement more 12-personnel in 2020, those splits favored Woods significantly in 2019. However, more important in my mind is that the Rams added a wide receiver in Van Jefferson with decent draft capital. They also retained Josh Reynolds, who has produced whenever called upon, and seem likely to expand Tyler Higbee’s role in the passing game after his brief but impressive 2019 breakout. Gerald Everett remains on the roster as well, and he is far more likely to spend time running routes than blocking. In Kupp’s last five games of 2019, he saw six, four, six, four, and 10 targets with just one WR1 finish (Week 17) and one WR2 finish in weekly scoring. Relative to that stretch of games, the situation looks worse with the addition of Jefferson and Higbee’s likely increased role. Kupp should still be a strong asset, but WR17 is a high price to pay for a wideout with usage questions looming. A.J. Brown and Calvin Ridley are just behind Kupp in the consensus rankings, and it’s not even debatable to me that both should be ahead of Kupp. Even Woods, with less uncertainty, at WR19 is more appealing to me than Kupp.
– Mark Leipold (@LeipoldNFL)
Odell Beckham Jr. (CLE): WR10
It may be true that this will be Beckham Jr.’s bounce-back season. Honestly, any kind of production would be better than last year, when he finished as the WR25 (PPR) despite playing 16 games. It was the worst season of his career aside from 2017, when he only played four games due to injury. He saw his fewest receptions at 75, fewest yards at 1,035, and only four touchdowns on 133 targets. I should note that he scored three touchdowns in the four games he played in 2017. Last season was supposed to be “the year” for the Browns offensively with coaching changes, new players, and a year-older Baker Mayfield. However, according to Beckham Jr., a core injury kept him from playing at his best. While I think he will have a better year in 2020 if he stays healthy, his draft price is too expensive to take the plunge. He is projected to finish as the WR10 in standard scoring, but this may be a little too generous for the former elite WR. Mayfield has yet to warrant the draft cost in Cleveland. Even if he steps up and delivers in his third year, there are too many hungry mouths to feed on the offense. Beckham should see a majority of those targets, but I would rather avoid the headache with Jarvis Landry, Nick Chubb, Kareem Hunt, and newly acquired Austin Hooper fighting for red-zone looks. Beckham is going toward the end of the third round in PPR drafts. I would rather take Adam Thielen or Calvin Ridley as my WR2 with WR1 potential or press my luck with Le’Veon Bell or David Johnson.
– Lauren Carpenter (stepmomlauren)
Adam Thielen (MIN): WR12
It’s downright comical that Adam Thielen is still garnering WR1 consideration at his current WR12 price tag. Thielen limped and hobbled his way through the 2019 season, missing six games due to an ongoing hamstring issue. While it’s fair to attribute a lackluster 2019 to his injury woes, it still needs to be mentioned just how bad he was in Kevin Stefanski’s first season running Gary Kubiak’s offense. Thielen compiled a laughable 30 receptions, 418 yards, and six touchdowns on a mere 48 targets over 10 games. Yikes. With the figurehead offensive coordinator of yesteryear taking over Freddie Kitchens’ mess in Cleveland, the Vikings’ offense is entirely Kubiak’s show to run in 2020. Now look, I get it. The fantasy industry wants you to believe, for whatever reason, that Stefon Diggs’ grandiose departure from Minnesota is somehow a positive for Thielen’s 2020 outlook. I beg to differ. Entering his age-30 season, Thielen now faces — for the first time in his career — the weekly gauntlet of being the unquestioned marked man on the opposing defensive coordinator’s scouting report. He will find himself going up against coverages that he simply never had to face while having the luxury of sharing the field with Diggs. Mix that with head coach Mike Zimmer’s obvious (and justified) marching orders to keep the ball out of Kirk Cousins’ hands, and the volume just simply won’t be there for Thielen to provide a quality return on his lofty investment. I don’t know about you, but I sure as heck don’t expect the Vikings to suddenly flip the script on their ground-and-pound philosophy. Last year, they had the third-fewest pass attempts in all of football. Let the annual cash contributors to your fantasy leagues ruin their wide receiver room by selecting Thielen. Come September, it won’t take you long to have the last laugh if you simply wait a few spots in your draft(s) and get a true cheap WR1 in Robert Woods, currently selected as the WR19.
– Rob Searles (@RobBob17)
Chris Godwin (TB): WR6
Jameis Winston wasn’t an above-average quarterback last year, but he was a gold mine for fantasy purposes. In addition to being a QB1 himself, Winston’s aggressive downfield passing helped turn Mike Evans and Chris Godwin into elite fantasy WR1s. The combination of attempting reckless deep passes and throwing so many pick-sixes that constantly put Tampa Bay in comeback mode surely helped. The Bucs threw the ball 630 times in 2019, which is unlikely to repeat itself. We might not know what to make of Tom Brady’s skill set these days, but we do know that he is going to be more cautious than Winston. It’s fair to expect the Bucs to slow things down, not turn the ball over, and rely a little more on an up-and-coming defense that was underrated last season. This will make it hard for Godwin to command 121 targets for a second straight year. He’s not a bad draft pick. It’s just that he should be ranked in a tier of receivers that typically last into the third round. Instead, he’s the WR6 in our ECR, drafted on average at the beginning of Round 2.
– Brendan Tuma (@toomuchtuma)
DeVante Parker (MIA): WR21
As I wrote in the 10 early overvalued players article, DeVante Parker is the WR I’m least likely to draft at his current rank. He is 21st on the latest ECR after finally breaking out in 2019, hauling in 72 catches for 1,202 yards and nine touchdowns across 16 games. I am not buying Parker at that price, as there are way too many question marks with the 27-year-old. Parker did most of his damage once Preston Williams was ruled out for the season. In eight games with Williams, Parker pulled down 28 catches for 400 yards with four touchdowns on 52 targets. Without Williams, Parker grabbed 44 receptions for 802 yards and five touchdowns on 76 targets. While he built a rapport with veteran quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick in the second half of 2019, the Dolphins are expected to eventually start rookie Tua Tagovailoa in 2020. Fitzpatrick played well late last season, but even if he does start in 2020, how many times have we seen the veteran come back down to earth after brief hot stretches? Fitzpatrick would have to not only win the starting job over Tagovailoa, but he would also need to stay productive in order for Parker to build on his breakout campaign. With the expected QB change and Williams’ return from injury, it’s going to be tough for Parker to finish as a borderline top-20 wideout in 2020. I would rather select D.K. Metcalf, Keenan Allen, Terry McLaurin, T.Y. Hilton, or D.J. Chark, who are all ranked below him in the latest consensus rankings.
– Brad Camara (@beerad30)
Keenan Allen (LAC): WR23
Allen has been nothing but a great fantasy player for the last three years. From 2017 to 2019, he averaged 101 receptions for 1,263 yards and six touchdowns per season. He has not missed a game since tearing his ACL in Week 1 of the 2016 NFL season. The problem is the quarterback position. Philip Rivers is one of the most prolific passers in NFL history. Since Allen entered the league in 2013, Rivers has averaged 4,482 yards and 29.7 touchdown passes per season. Rivers has finished in the top 10 of pass attempts four times in that time span. That is not going to be the offense the Chargers run this year with Tyrod Taylor and Justin Herbert under center. Now Allen is going to play with a journeyman quarterback whose career-high in passing yards was 3,035 back in 2015, and a rookie quarterback that has never taken a snap under center. I could see Allen regressing to 80 receptions for 1,000 yards and five touchdowns as the Chargers try to develop a new quarterback in 2020. That would make him more of a WR3 than a WR2, so I just cannot justify taking him as the 46th overall pick when Tyler Lockett, D.K. Metcalf, A.J. Green, and Deebo Samuel are still on the board. All of them play with a more promising quarterback or have a better offensive scheme. Allen won’t be a terrible player this year, but he is being valued at his ceiling, which means there is not much bargain potential and nothing but the risk that a bad quarterback situation makes him unplayable some weeks. Keep in mind that Allen had six games last year with 61 yards or fewer receiving and no touchdowns, and that was playing with Rivers. There is a potential for a lot of games this year where he fails to crack double-digit fantasy totals for the week, which is not intriguing for a top-50 fantasy selection.
– Derek Lofland (@DerekLofland)
Stefon Diggs (MIN): WR27
As a fellow Maryland Terrapin, I have become a big fan of Stefon Diggs. He is incredible, but unfortunately for fantasy managers, his landing spot in Buffalo is less than ideal. His new quarterback, Josh Allen, only attempted 461 passes in 2019 compared to 109 rushing attempts. Buffalo drafted RB Zack Moss to fill the void left by Frank Gore. Because of their stout defense, the Bills have become a run-first offense, as evidenced by their 465 carries last season. They ran the ball more than they threw it in a league where we’re seeing the trend go in the opposite direction. They’re winning games by playing smash-mouth football. Now add Diggs to the mix. John Brown and Cole Beasley have already built a nice rapport with Allen, combining for 219 targets last season. Even with Adam Thielen missing six games last season, Diggs only finished as the WR24 in PPR. Like in Minnesota, he joins a run-first offense with two already established WRs that he will compete with for targets. For those reasons, I’ll pass on Diggs as the ECR’s WR27 and instead go with guys who have more upside and less competition for targets, such as Terry McLaurin, D.J. Chark, and Deebo Samuel.
– Adam Koffler (@AdamKoffler)
JuJu Smith-Schuster (PIT): WR13
JuJu Smith-Schuster, the WR13 according to the ECR, finished as the WR65 in PPR leagues last year. Much of the fault for his lackluster season is owed to the poor quarterback play the Steelers endured after Ben Roethlisberger’s season-ending injury in Week 2. Questions arise, however, when sophomore wide receiver Diontae Johnson is 42nd in the ECR despite outproducing Smith-Schuster in 2019 while working with the same quarterback group. Although he missed four games due to injury, even Smith-Schuster’s per-game pace would have placed him behind Johnson in total fantasy production. His underlying numbers are also unflattering when compared to that of his teammate. Johnson’s true catch rate was 16th in the NFL, and yet JuJu ranked 41st by the same metric. Even more concerning is the fact that Johnson managed to best Smith-Schuster’s production despite experiencing a lower target quality and a lower catchable target rate. Smith-Schuster has proven plenty capable of being a WR1, having finished as the WR8 overall in 2018. The Steelers’ team dynamic, however, appears to have significantly shifted since that time. Having finished first and sixth in passing attempts the two seasons prior, the Steelers were 26th in 2019. Expect an increase in attempts with Roethlisberger’s return, but this team is aware that its strength resides on the defensive side. A return to the high-flying ways of before seems unlikely. The unknown ability of Roethlisberger to bounce back from a major injury at 38 adds another layer of risk to Smith-Schuster’s 2020 outlook. Newcomer Eric Ebron is doubtful to command a large target share, but he will limit his new teammate’s touchdown. When accounting for the risk involved and examining the receivers ranked behind Smith-Schuster, it becomes clear that fantasy GMs should invest their early-round resources elsewhere. D.J. Moore, Amari Cooper, Robert Woods, and Calvin Ridley all possess as much upside as Smith-Schuster and are less likely to burn their selectors.
– Mark McWhirter (@mmcw19)