The receiver market is flooded with talent, seemingly a little more than usual entering 2018. There are receivers filling the back end all the way to the undrafted list. Players like Kenny Golladay, Geronimo Allison, Michael Gallup, Rishard Matthews, and many more have potential to be mid-to-low end WR2s in any format league. This article isn’t about the deep sleepers of the year, though; that’s another story for another day.
This article is going to highlight three receivers who are being drafted as WR2s, but who have the potential to become household names. These players are on just on the verge of becoming more than just friends with the average NFL fan. Stuck in the friend zone currently, these players are growing in their own way and have the ability to break through the threshold.
Before we dive into the three best receivers available after the first slew of them go, let’s recap just a little.
Last season, Larry Fitzgerald and Keenan Allen, for their own respective reasons, weren’t among the top tier of receivers drafted. Due to some injuries of opposing players, as well as injuries to their own teammates, these players broke out and finished as top-five receivers. Both were limited to six touchdowns, but their 100+ receptions made them stand out, particularly in PPR leagues. The yards followed, and they were fantasy studs.
In 2016, Mike Evans, Jordy Nelson, and T.Y. Hilton were all shafted out of top-12 WR spots in the preseason. However, again due to injuries to some of the top drafted players, these players rose through the ranks to help fantasy owners become champions. It goes on and on every year. Every year there is a dark horse receiver who shoots through the ranks to become one of the top producing pass-catchers in the NFL, defying all projections.
In the case of the following three receivers, one has been on the top before, and the other two have been steadily earning the respect of their peers and fans. So, without further ado, let’s dive into the receivers you’ll hang your hat on in 2018.
Josh Gordon – Cleveland Browns
Flash Gordon is back, and he’s freaking ripped. If you haven’t seen the pictures floating around of him taking a casual jog between yard lines looking like Terry Crews, then you might want to google it. I’m not basing this prediction on his physique alone; he’s looking primed for another 1,600-yard season. His stats when he played last year speak for themselves. In his first two seasons, Gordon totaled over 2,530 yards and 14 touchdowns. One could argue that those stats are from the 2012 and 2013 seasons, so the question becomes how’d he look in an NFL offense four seasons removed? Then our dreams came true and Gordon was back in the league. He averaged 18.6 yards/reception, which was just .3 yards/reception away from tying his career high of 18.9, a mark he reached when he totaled 1,646 yards and nine touchdowns. Regardless of whether it’s Taylor or Mayfield, with Landry on the opposite side and a slew of talented young receivers behind Gordon, the defense won’t be able to put two men on him. Don’t be afraid of the Browns of old, because Cleveland may be over in basketball terms, but Believeland is in full swing when talking football.
Marvin Jones – Detroit Lions
This is the same Marvin Jones who viciously made Xavier Rhodes look like Deion Sanders with the Ravens on national television, while we choked on our spoonfuls of turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, corn, and cranberries. That’s when most people noticed what Bengals and Lions fans have been seeing for years. Jones was a maniac on Thanksgiving and all season. Unlike in 2016, when Jones blew up in his first few games as a Lion but fell off a cliff after an injury bit him, Jones took hold of 2017 and never let go. He forced his way onto every team trying to make a playoff run, mostly due to his top-12 ranking in air yards. For anyone who might not know what air yards are, they’re the amount of yards that the ball travels on all intended targets. An impressive 1,624 air yards ranked Jones just above teammate Golden Tate, (then) New England’s Brandin Cooks, and Seattle’s Doug Baldwin. Jones finished 10th in the league in total % share of team’s air yards with 34.05%. Jones also finished 6th in the NFL with 15.3 air yards per target. Why am I focused so heavily on the air yards when it comes to Marvin Jones? He has the league’s best deep ball passer on his team. So when you have an exceptionally-talented deep ball receiver, plus the league’s most talented deep-ball passer, the solution is very simple. Draft Marvin Jones.
Chris Hogan – New England Patriots
It’s finally time for Hogan to be a fantasy WR1. He is going to step into the first four games of the season as the Patriots’ WR1. With Edelman suspended for four games and Cooks shipped to Los Angeles, it’s time for Hogan to step up. Unfortunately, his first three games he’ll most likely be guarded by Jonathan Joseph, A.J. Bouye, and Darius Slay. Not the easiest stretch, but I’m not worried. Although a slow start for Hogan may be coming, once Edelman comes back, and if Gronkowski is healthy, Hogan will find himself one of Brady’s favorite receivers. This, as we all know, is a great spot to be in for fantasy purposes. If Hogan gets on a 5-7 week stretch with 4 receptions, 100 yards and a touchdown per week, he’ll be battling top receivers for king of the hill. Equally important, Edelman will have been sitting out for 20 straight regular season games when he returns, which could leave a longer delay before his return to dominance, giving Hogan extra chances to continue to improve. I think Hogan is about to be an under the radar top-5 receiver, and he will earn the respect of all his viewers.
Ultimately, there will be 2-3 players who step up and become top 5 receivers from the WR2-WR3 groups. It could be Marvin Jones, Josh Gordon, Chris Hogan, Amari Cooper, Golden Tate, Allen Robinson, Demaryius Thomas, and the list goes on. If you don’t like my answers, then let me hear your rumble, and if you enjoy them, then let me hear why you agree. This article is to make you think and get the early fantasy talks roaring. Only 90 days until the start of the new season.