NFL Fantasy Football: Looking at how WRs taken in Top-5 have fared

06/06/2018
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The 2018 NFL season is approaching and that means that thousands of fans, both casual and hardcore, will be preparing for their Fantasy Football drafts. Whether an experienced veteran or a newbie, rookies are often viewed as players with high ceilings and can find themselves selected higher than their ADP would suggest.

Since 2008 there have been five wide receivers selected within the top five picks of the NFL draft. Of those five receivers, just three remain with the team that originally drafted them. One is entering his fifth professional season while playing for his third team and one has faded into the abyss. In this article, I’ll touch on all five aforementioned players. Discussing what to expect from their 2018 production and what we’ve seen from them in their NFL careers.

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Justin Blackmon

Drafted No. 5 overall in 2012 by the Jacksonville Jaguars, Blackmon burst out on the scene with 132 targets during his rookie campaign. Finishing with 800+ yards and five touchdown receptions. Unfortunately, his career spiraled downwards. After appearing in 14 games while making four starts, racking up 415 receiving yards and one touchdown during his sophomore season before vanishing from the football world.

He was arrested for DUI in 2015 and cleared in 2017, but the former Oklahoma State star hasn’t been able to regain the trust of teams, staying out of the news and should most definitely stay off of your fantasy football team.

Sammy Watkins

Drafted No. 4 overall in 2014 by the Buffalo Bills, Sammy Watkins has had an interesting start to his young career. He was traded to the Los Angeles Rams during preseason last year and was shipped to Kansas City during the offseason. Watkins will now be the seasoned vet among the Chiefs’ talented group of skill position players that includes Tyreek Hill and Kareem Hunt and a young budding star quarterback in Patrick Mahomes.

Watkins failed to impress in 2017, averaging just 2.7 receptions-per-game, finishing the year with just 593 receiving yards. Robert Woods, who was Watkins’ teammate in Buffalo, and rookie Cooper Kupp were both more productive than Watkins last season.

Now for the first time in his NFL career, Watkins will not be viewed as a No. 1 receiver. Previously, defensive coordinators typically had their top cornerback trail the former Clemson star but in Kansas City, Hill is a nightmare to defend which should open things up for Watkins.

The fantasy value will depend heavily on how Mahomes adapts to the NFL in a full 16 game season under center. Luckily for Mahomes, Watkins and the rest of the Kansas City offense, Andy Reid, is still head coach and is sure to have experimental plays up his sleeve to keep everyone on their toes. I like Watkins this year more than I ever have. Mostly because there’s so many targets in Kansas City that Watkins could actually fly under the radar and be a phenomenal sleeper.

Corey Davis

Corey Davis loaded up the stat sheet through his collegiate career, setting the record for receiving yards which led to him being taken No. 5 overall in the 2017 NFL draft.

Entering his second season, there are already reports of the second-year receiver impressing during the Tennesee Titans’ OTAs. He missed five weeks last year with an injury and when he returned to action, Davis wasn’t as explosive as he was during his college days. However, in Week 15, Davis showed a glimpse of what he was capable of, breaking out with a 91-yard game before hauling in two touchdown receptions in the Titans’ playoff loss to the New England Patriots.

Expectations are high for Davis and with Marcus Mariota tossing him the ball, we’re expecting big things from Tennessee’s offense. Davis may not crack the 1,000 yard mark but picking up 600-700 receiving yards with 6-8 touchdowns isn’t out of the question, making him an intriguing option for your fantasy football team.

Amari Cooper

Amari Cooper has been a star from the moment he was selected No. 4 overall in 2015 by the Oakland Raiders. He’s recorded consecutive 1,000-plus yard seasons with 11 scores in his first two years. Last year he took a step back due to drops, finishing the season with career lows in each receiving category.

Now, Jon Gruden is in at head coach and he has a history of getting the most out of his top wide receivers. Gruden has already came out and said he expects Cooper to be a focal point of the offense. With a rising star in Derek Carr, and his big arm. Cooper should be in for a big season. Possibly a top 10 year in PPR and standard Fantasy Football leagues.

A.J. Green

Drafted fifth overall by the Cincinnati Bengals in 2011, Green prepares to start his eighth season as the top receiver in Cincinnati. Green has eclipsed 1,000 yards in every season but 2016. When he was limited to 10 games, but still finished with 964 yards. In 2017, Green returned to 1,000 yards catching 75 of his 143 targets. That totals a catch percentage of only 52.4%, a career low. However, his 1885 target distance, or total target depth which tracks the total yards per target, was fifth best in the NFL. Coupled with his 2.5 yards per pass route, which finished eleventh in the NFL, Green is still a top receiver in the NFL. Green is dropping to the second round in many of the early drafts, as running backs start to overload the first round again. If you can get Green in the second round, it’s an absolute no-brainer. Green is as sure as it gets, to end the season with 1,000+ yards and 6+ touchdowns. Green should not be overlooked due to the team he plays on. With a lot less media attention then Julio, Odell and Brown, Green seems to be overshadowed every year. Draft Green if given the chance and you’ll be very grateful.

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