Welcome to Day 3 of my annual With Leather Fantasy Football Draft Guide (For People Who Don’t Want To Look Like Complete Idiots In Their First Drafts And/Or Want To Take Advantage Of The Homers And Marks In Their Leagues By Making Smart Picks), and today’s topic is the third easiest position to draft – behind running backs and quarterbacks – the wide receiver.
Drafting this position depends first and foremost on what type of league you’re in, as a PPR can sometimes make certain receivers more valuable than others, while standard scoring still mandates that the RB is your most important position, followed by QB and WR. And really, it should be that way no matter what, because even if your league features PPR scoring, you should simply look to receiving backs as a priority and then WRs.
But as a reminder, I am not an expert. I’m just a dude who loves playing fantasy football and trying to defeat and demoralize my closest friends. So if receivers are making you lose sleep, then maybe this will help. At the very least, I hope you think I’m wrong and tell me so.
The Only Things Certain In Life Are Death, Taxes And…
If you’re going to blow your first round pick on a WR, I hope it’s Johnson. I also hope it’s a late first round pick, because while I respect the man’s ability to rack up yards and touchdowns, I also like having a top 5 RB. If you take Johnson before 5, you’re either in a PPR league, a Lions fan and/or just plain ballsy.
The Likely Sure Things
I’m not sure how I feel about lumping B-Marsh in this category after his recent surgery, but as long as Jay Cutler knows how to throw a ball, he’s going to force it to Marshall, who is going to make a lot of catches and score a considerable amount of TDs. As for Bryant and Green, they should both be in line for elite status this year, so long as they stay healthy and out of trouble. Looking at you, Dezzy.
You Can’t Go Wrong With These Guys
One think I’ve noticed while rolling my eyes at “expert fantasy analysis” on the big boy sites is that Andre Johnson’s stock has dropped significantly. Meanwhile, he’s coming off a healthy and excellent season and he’s very excited about the other receiver the Texans have added. I’ll still take him as my No. 1 receiver all day. (And yes, you can remind me I said this when he’s injured and misses half the season.)
I am kind of weary about Demryius Thomas with all of those receivers in Denver, but he should be the guy that scores the most with his ridiculous speed. Julio Jones will continue to get better than Roddy White, who will still put up solid points, and unless Josh Freeman sucks, Vincent Jackson might be in for a huge year. At least that’s what my fatty fat fat gut tells me.
(Side note: If you ever meet Vincent Jackson, don’t thank him for helping you win a fantasy league. Normally, I’d advise against telling any athlete that, but when you’ve had a few drinks and are having fun with friends at a charity event, and you actually meet an athlete face-to-face, you lose your composure a bit. At least I did. But I wasn’t a doofus fan, drooling all over myself, like, “DURRRRR I LIKE FOOTBALL!” I just said, “Hey, thanks for a great season. It helped me win my league.” And V-Jax was a dick to me for it. Lesson learned.)
The asterisks in this category go to Victor Cruz and Larry Fitzgerald, but for different reasons. With Cruz, I don’t typically like receivers that just had a huge payday. Also, he’s still dealing with little injuries and Hakeem Nicks will be playing for his own new deal with another team, while Reuben Randle is worked into the Giants offense to eventually replace Nicks. I just don’t like this formula.
Fitzy, on the other hand, I’ve given an asterisk because I think we might see him return to elite this season. As I wrote on Monday, Carson Palmer has been a quietly solid fantasy QB for the last two seasons, and I think these two might have fun together this year, especially with Michael Floyd and Andre Roberts around to spread the defense.
The Miles Austin “Hey, Do It Again” Honoree
I really respect what Cobb did last season, and I always like seeing an exciting new receiver emerge, because it happens almost every season. But people are taking Cobb over that entire last group and it boggles my mind, because he’s just not proven. If he’s the last of my options before I get to this next group, then yeah, I’ll take him. But until then, I want him to prove that he’s the next Victor Cruz and not the next 2002 David Boston.
The You Don’t Want These Guys As Your No. 1 All-Stars
I’d take any of these guys on my fantasy team. Any of them. But as my No. 1 option? Hahahaha, nope. Now, if I have a swing pick and my strategy is RB/RB and then WR/WR, I’d probably be happy to take any of these two guys together, but I’d still prefer to have Dez Bryant and Marques Colston as opposed to Danny Amendola and Marques Colston.
A thought about Amendola: The guy is good, sure, and I like almost any receiver in Tom Brady’s offense, but aren’t people ranking him just a wee tad too high? That’s obviously why I have him as a No. 2, but some people are going No. 1 with him and I’m like, “Your funeral, pal.”
Also, also: I feel bad about having Torrey Smith here and I’d love to see him make the jump to elite, because he’s just so talented. But the guy can barely crack 50 receptions and 850 yards. When does he make the leap? Is he a third year guy like some of the best WRs we’ve seen? I only wish I had an expert to tell me.
The New(er) Blood Guys That Would Make A Wonderful No. 2
I don’t feel comfortable having Golden Tate here, but someone has to step up in that offense, so it might as well be the really talented young receiver that was drafted in the second round of the 2010 draft to step up in that offense. I’m also not sure what to think about Shorts, because before he blew up last season it was, “Who the hell is Cecil Shorts?” But I really, really like saying his name, so I hope he proves me right.
TY Hilton is my favorite young receiver in the NFL and I think he’s going to have a very special career. I was livid when the Dolphins didn’t draft him, but he’s probably way better off with the Colts. I haven’t seen him climbing too high just yet, so he’s still a nice middle round value pick.
As for Antonio Brown, I’ll get to him in a little bit.
The Guys That Always Seem To Be Nothing More Than A No. 3
If you’re staring at these names on your draft board, then you’ve reached the point where you’re just filling in the scraps on your bench. But if not, and you actually need one of these guys as a No. 2 or flex, yikes. I like that James Jones has an opportunity to play a bigger role while Jordy Nelson recovers from knee surgery and Greg Jennings ran his own mouth out of town. I don’t like that Brian Hartline was paid and now thinks he’s a bigshot. I’ve always liked Lance Moore, but in that Saints offense he seems to just be a role player.
As for the others… pick your poison.
The Up-And-Comers That ‘Experts’ Are In Love With
Instead of that last group of guys, you can always try your hands with these young bucks. Michael Floyd seems to be the guy that everyone is high on because he aced the Larry Fitzgerald camp tests or whatever, and people seem to love DeAndre Hopkins because he’s younger and faster than Andre Johnson and might thrive in that worrisome Texans offense.
Cordarrelle could be fantastic for the Vikings, so he’s worth a late round look, but when I think of young Patriots receivers, I can only think of Chad Jackson. That may be unfair to Kenbrell Thompkins, but it is what it be.
Some Value Guys For The Late To Very Late Rounds
Okay, back to Antonio Brown. I like him. He’s very talented and seems like he can be a very productive NFL receiver for many years. But I think Emmanuel Sanders is going to be the more valuable receiver in Pittsburgh. Either way, I don’t think these guys will be throwing up No. 1 or 2 WR numbers, but the difference between Brown and Sanders is a few extra rounds.
I also really like how Darrius Heyward-Bey is quietly building a relationship with Andrew Luck, as he’d be a nice pickup to stuff away on the bench. Of course the nicest pickup would be Blackmon, who will miss the first few games with a suspension, but he should come back pissed off and cockier than ever.
And if Jay Cutler doesn’t make good use of Alshon Jeffrey’s talent this season, I’m going to cry, because that’s just a waste.
That last one is pretty tough, because if he comes back from surgery on time and 100% healthy, he could resume being a great No. 1 or 2 option. But would you rather draft him in the 3rd, 4th or 5th rounds or would you take one of the previously mentioned No. 2 WRs and/or a solid No. 2 RB. Again, I’m a conservative mind when it comes to RBs, and I like to take chances on WRs, but I’ll take the upside over the injured.
Tomorrow: The very easy task of picking tight ends, kickers and defenses. So easy, in fact, that most of it will be GIFs of attractive women dancing.