Fantasy Football Wide Receivers: Kill, Marry, Chill

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Drew Rice

And we’re back! With training camps underway and fantasy-draft season picking up, we’re here as your trusted advisors with another round of “Kill, Marry, Chill.” For the next few weeks, we’ll be going through each position and telling you who to kill (avoid drafting), marry (target as quality options), and chill (keep on your radar as a sleeper). So, don’t get into your draft just yet, because we know what you need to do to take home that championship. Or, at the very least, avoid that last-place punishment.

These ADPs and QB rankings come courtesy of ESPN and were last updated on August 25. I’ll also be looking at these rankings from the standpoint of a 10-team league because an 8-team league is weak and one with 12+ teams is for people who do in-depth research on the Packers’ fifth-string wide receiver.

We’ve already covered the quarterbacks and running backs, so now we’re onto wide receivers. It’s a deep position group, and there are always gems to find in the late rounds and on the waiver wire, but if you have title aspirations, you need to make every pick count. Here are a few names you need to know about.

Kill

Courtland Sutton (ADP: 44.3, WR 15)

I’m a Courtland Sutton fan, but this Broncos offense looks a lot different than the one he thrived in last year, and he’s no longer the unquestioned alpha in the passing game. According to NFL Next Gen Stats, Sutton led the NFL in percent share of team’s air yards, soaking up 42.93% of the intended air yards Denver’s quarterbacks threw last season. It’s easy to see why Sutton was able to surpass even Michael Thomas in that category—rookie tight end Noah Fant was Denver’s second-leading receiver, and Sutton had almost twice as many targets as him.

Well, General Manager John Elway noticed that he had done a shit job building his wideout group, and he went and selected wide receivers Jerry Jeudy and KJ Hamler in the first two rounds of the draft. He also signed running back Melvin Gordon during the offseason, who will be another commodity in the passing game. Throw in a potential breakout season for Fant, and suddenly, Sutton’s going to have to jockey for passes this season.

Look at Courtland protecting that ball from his teammates. He knows they’re coming for his targets. (AP Photo/Bill Kostroun)

He’s also now playing a full season with Drew Lock as his quarterback, which might not be good news for Sutton’s fantasy prospects. Over the final five weeks of the season, when Lock started for the Broncos, Sutton was WR 28 in standard and WR 26 in PPR.

This isn’t to say Sutton’s incapable of another 1000-yard season, but I don’t see him exceeding last year’s numbers, which got him WR 17 in standard and WR 19 in PPR. Someone in your draft is going to fall in love with him and take him within the first five rounds. Don’t be that guy.

Honorable Mention – Stefon Diggs (ADP 70.2, WR 26)

Diggs isn’t particularly high on ESPN’s ADP rankings, partly because it’s measuring for PPR, but I’m not even buying him in WR3 territory.

He was WR 18 in standard and WR 24 in PPR last year. Not a bad finish, but the situation in Buffalo isn’t nearly as good for his fantasy outlook as it was in Minnesota last year. For all the talk about Diggs being the Bills’ number-one receiver, he was for the Vikings last season, too. Now, he has to share targets with John Brown and Cole Beasley. Diggs will obviously cut into their share of the offense, but he won’t completely deny two other quality options from getting targets.

And despite his bitching about not getting enough looks, Diggs set a career-high in receiving yards last season while working as a vertical threat in Minnesota. It’s too soon to tell whether he’ll continue to do most of his work downfield or if he’ll go back into more of a possession-based role like the one he played in 2018. If he does spend most of his time taking the top off the defense though, he can get all the targets he wants, it won’t mean shit with Josh Allen throwing the ball. According to PFF, the third-year quarterback was the second-worst deep-ball passer in 2019, posting an unfathomably bad 24.1% completion percentage on throws 20+ yards downfield.

The Bills also drafted Zack Moss to join Devin Singletary in what should be a strong backfield. With the defense still an elite unit, this will be a run-heavy team once again. I’m not sure Diggs cracks 1000 yards this season, while there probably won’t be many opportunities for scores either. That’s gonna be a “no” for me at this ADP.

Honorable Mention 2 – Antonio Brown (ADP 169.0, WR 67)

Bonus kill. Brown’s going ahead of guys who are actually on rosters, like Beasley and Mohamed Sanu. I’m sure he’ll be rostered at some point after he finishes serving his eight-game suspension, but there’s still plenty more time between now and then for Brown to fuck up.

Marry

Cooper Kupp (ADP: 48.9, WR 19)

Does he look like the cashier at a vape shop? Yes. Is he a very good wide receiver in the NFL? Also yes. (giphy.com)

I couldn’t believe this draft spot when I saw it. Kupp is going at the end of round five in drafts?!? Did everyone forget that he was WR 4 in both formats last season? Do people not know that Brandin Cooks is now out of the picture? Did I dream that the Rams cut Todd Gurley and now their running backs have 36 career targets combined? Is it just an urban legend that Kupp is tied for the 7th-most receiving touchdowns over the past two seasons despite missing eight games during that timeframe? Am I really the crazy one for thinking he’ll have a better season than Calvin Ridley??

That’s it. That’s all I have to say about this one. It’s just such a no-brainer. Apparently, Kupp is going to be available by round four of your draft. If you let him slip past then, you’re a lost cause and I hope you lose your league.

Honorable Mention – Terry McLaurin (ADP: 67.0, WR 24)

A football team is going to throw the ball a few hundred times a season, and those passes have to go to someone, so that person might as well be the only good player you got. After having a bad core of skill-position talent last season, the Washington No-names responded by compiling an even worse group for this season. McLaurin is truly the only halfway decent pass-catcher, and he’s more than just decent after racking up 919 yards and 7 touchdowns in his rookie season.

Naturally, he’ll draw a lot of attention from opposing defenses and consistently have to play under tight coverage, but that won’t be anything new for him. According to NFL Next Gen Stats, McLaurin had an average of just 2.1 yards of separation between him and the nearest defender at the time of a catch or incompletion, which was the fourth-smallest cushion among all qualifying receivers in 2019. Not too bad for a guy who was brand new to the pro game.

This draft spot is about right for him. I’m not sure he’ll get the chance to really go off given he’ll be facing constant double teams and one of Dwayne Haskins or Alex Smith will be throwing him the ball, but F1 McLaurin has already proved that he can be a solid WR3 in less-than-ideal conditions. He’s a very safe option in the 7th round, which isn’t something you can say too often for guys going outside of the top 50.

Chill

Brandin Cooks (ADP: 103.1, WR 37)

Cooks was one of Houston’s many offseason acquisitions, coming over from the Los Angeles Rams after Bill O’Brien traded away DeAndre Hopkins for peanuts. No one’s expecting Cooks to fully replace Hopkins’s production, but he can come pretty close.

Cooks thrived in 2017 and 2018 as one of three stud receivers with the Rams, but now, he’s the number-one pass-catcher for the Texans. And with the reigning AFC South champs due to fall back to earth this season, Deshaun Watson will have to throw the ball. A lot. Cooks will surely see the bulk of those passes.

This draft position reflects his hugely disappointing 2019 season, as the former Oregon State star set career lows in receptions and touchdowns while missing two games with concussions and looking like a shell of himself in several others. That season looks more like an exception than the norm though. He didn’t miss any games in the four preceding years, and during that span, he was one most productive and underrated wide receivers in the league.

Cooks suffered three known concussions in 2019, which is why you’re getting bargain value here, but he recently stated that he has “zero” concerns about his concussion history. Hey, who am I to play armchair neurologist? If the man says he’s good to go, scoop him up in round 10. There’s WR1 upside here and little risk when you’re taking him as a WR4.

Honorable Mention – Breshad Perriman (ADP: 156.6, WR 57)

A deep sleeper here. Perriman was a first-rounder back in 2015 thanks to his Randy Moss size and speed, but it turns out he didn’t have Moss’s durability or penchant for catching footballs. Well, after bouncing around the league for a little while as a mediocre vertical threat, Perriman finally put his physical gifts to use and went off in the last five weeks of the season with the Buccaneers, snagging 25 catches for 506 yards and five touchdowns over that span. The Jets signed him to a one-year deal back in March, and he figures to occupy one of Gang Green’s starting receiver spots this season.

If this catch doesn’t convince you to take Breshad Perriman, I don’t know what will. (streamable.com)

Despite all the Jameis Winston memes, the guy can actually throw a pretty decent deep ball—certainly better than Sam Darnold can. While the Jets’ signal-caller wasn’t particularly great on downfield passes last season, deep-ball specialist Robby Anderson, who signed with Carolina this offseason, still had 52 yards per game and five touchdowns in the 13 contests Darnold suited up for in 2019. Anderson was WR 38 in standard and 40 in PPR last year. While Perriman has a very limited track record of success in professional football, the talent is there, and the opportunities to replicate Anderson’s production should come with it.

Realistically, Perriman is probably a touchdown-dependent WR4/5, but that’s still decent value in round 16, and I definitely won’t be surprised if he’s able to ball out a few weeks and work his way into WR3 territory.

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