By Chet Gresham - @ChetGresham
As I prepare for my own drafts, I'm looking at what players I've ranked higher than their Average Draft Position to see if I still like them at that spot and to see who I'm liking more than the public at large. Below is a portion of that list, highlighting the wide receivers I'll most likely own just based on the law of averages and personal preference.
Keenan Allen (WR7), Chargers
Allen finished last season as WR3 in fantasy, and this year, I expect even more targets and an uptick in touchdowns. Last season, he ranked first in red-zone targets for all wide receivers with 24 total and ended up with just four touchdowns from them. He likely won't see a big dip in those targets this season, as Hunter Henry would have been the Chargers' best red-zone target but is already done for the season with an injury. Allen has plenty of upside this season, but the reason you take him in fantasy is due to his consistent high-volume usage.
T.Y. Hilton (WR13), Colts
Hilton's ADP is down due to a poor 2017 and Andrew Luck's injury status. His WR5 finish in 2016 wasn't a fluke by any stretch of the imagination, and Luck has started throwing and reports no pain in his surgically repaired shoulder. With no receivers poised to take any targets away from Hilton this season, I'm willing to pay up for his fantasy numbers as if Luck is the starter all season.
Demaryius Thomas (WR23), Broncos
Thomas had his worst year as a starter last season, but nagging injuries and awful quarterback play were big reasons for that. And even with his poor numbers, he still finished as the fantasy WR23, which is where he is being drafted this season. I expect the addition of Case Keenum helps Thomas get back to his average numbers and puts him back into being a top-20 wide receiver, at the very least.
Michael Crabtree (WR27), Ravens
Crabtree is exceptionally consistent and now will be his team's no-doubt No. 1 receiver after being picked up by the Ravens. Joe Flacco isn't outstanding, but he has his moments, and he will enjoy Crabtree's ability, especially compared to some of the receivers the Ravens have thrown out there at times.
Chris Hogan (WR34), Patriots
Hogan will replace Brandin Cooks and should get a boost in work to start the season while Julian Edelman serves his suspension. That early target influx could help him secure more targets for the rest of the season, but at worst, it's giving him a bump for a few games. He's proven himself with the Patriots in his two seasons there, recording 72 receptions on 117 targets for 1,119 yards and nine touchdowns, which doesn't take into account playoffs. Throw those numbers in there, and he has 98 receptions on 156 targets for 1,603 yards and 13 touchdowns, including an excellent 16.4 yards per reception. You give this man 100 targets from Tom Brady, and he's putting up great fantasy numbers.
Sammy Watkins (WR30), Chiefs
Watkins is always a controversial pick due to his inconsistency due to injuries, but Kansas City felt pretty good about his health since it made him the fourth-highest paid receiver in the league - Sorry, A.J. Green and Julio Jones. That, of course, doesn't push Watkins into fantasy greatness, but we have seen him play at an elite level and now he's on an offense that caters to his big-play ability. I expect this team will need to score big each week to win games due to its lackluster defense, and Watkins will be a big part of that.
Jamison Crowder (WR41), Redskins
Crowder didn't quite live up to expectations last season, but neither did Washington as a whole. Injuries and an offense stuck in the mud at times held him back, but this should be a new team in D.C. this season with a strong rookie running back and a signal-caller who ranks fourth in quarterback rating over the last five seasons when targeting his slot receivers.
Randall Cobb (WR40), Packers
When Aaron Rodgers is throwing the ball, there will be fantasy points, and if you know who he's going to throw the ball to, you get to pick that player and steal their fantasy points for your own fake team! This year, Cobb is the guy not getting enough love in Green Bay's receiving corps.
Marquise Goodwin (WR35), 49ers
Goodwin proved his worth last season, especially once Jimmy Garoppolo took over. Goodwin will have more competition for targets this season, but his big-play ability and a better all-around offense should make his targets much more productive, and until Pierre Garcon shows he is fully back, I'm going to keep calling Goodwin the best receiver on the team.
Kenny Stills (WR53), Dolphins
Despite some lackluster quarterbacking last season, Stills was still able to put up 58 receptions for 847 yards and six touchdowns, while Jarvis Landry saw 55 more targets and totaled just 140 more yards. Now that Landry is gone, Stills is at the top of the wide receiver chart in Miami, yet being drafted as the 53rd fantasy wide receiver. Yes, there will be competition for targets, but DeVante Parker has yet to prove he deserves the bulk of the targets. Danny Amendola and Albert Wilson will compete, but they will likely compete between themselves for slot snaps while Stills remains the No. 1.
Robby Anderson (WR42), Jets
Anderson still may be served a suspension, but if he does, I don't expect more than one or two games. I also expect Josh McCown to start the season at quarterback, which is good news for Anderson, as he and McCown had a great connection last season. The Jets will get Quincy Enunwa back, but they don't have anyone who you can ink in ahead of Anderson as the No. 1 target.
Kelvin Benjamin (WR44), Bills
Benjamin is Buffalo's No. 1 receiver, and even though that isn't the gold standard for receiving corps, he should lead the team in targets. That in itself should make him startable in fantasy, but I also see this team trailing a bunch and Josh Allen gunslinging it all over the place, more often than not toward his biggest receiver, Benjamin.
Tyler Lockett (WR64), Seahawks
Last season, Paul Richardson put up decent numbers despite trailing Doug Baldwin and Jimmy Graham in targets. This year, Lockett should get those targets with Richardson and Graham both gone. Add in one of the league's best quarterbacks, and Lockett has a ton of upside if he can stay healthy.
Rishard Matthews (WR55), Titans
Matthews is a reliable receiver by anybody's standards, but injuries and Marcus Mariota's troubles last season limited his fantasy numbers. This season, I expect a much better offense in Tennessee under offensive coordinator Matt LeFleur, and even if Corey Davis ends up cutting into Matthews' work, Matthews should be much more efficient on a better offense.
Josh Doctson (WR58), Redskins
Doctson is hard to recommend based on his numbers last season, but there's no doubt that Jay Gruden and company are going to continue to give him chances to be their No. 1 receiver. On opportunity alone, his ADP should provide you with value.
Tyrell Williams (WR75), Chargers
Williams is a screaming value at this point in the offseason. Hunter Henry is done for the season, Travis Benjamin doesn't have as much ability, and Mike Williams has yet to prove he can stay healthy and contribute. Keenan Allen is, of course, the primary target in this offense, but Tyrell Williams is set up to be an active target both in intermediate and deep-range routes.
Allen Hurns (WR46), Cowboys
Hurns is Dallas' No. 1 receiver, and I doubt that will change through training camp. Dak Prescott regressed last season, but Ezekiel Elliott should keep this offense from falling apart and help Prescott, much like he did in 2016. Hurns isn't a true No. 1 receiver, but he has shown upside and with more targets, I expect him to surprise.
Marqise Lee (WR50), Jaguars
The Jaguars have too many receivers, but Lee is still the most trusted of the group and should remain at the top of the target list. As you can tell, I like No. 1 receivers who can be had later in drafts.
Kenny Golladay (WR57), Lions
Golladay flashed last season, but was slowed down by injuries and wasn't entirely ahead of T.J. Jones on the depth chart as a rookie. This season, Golladay will again be behind Golden Tate and Marvin Jones, but in front of T.J, Jones, while Eric Ebron has moved on to Indianapolis. If Marvin Jones or Golden Tate miss any time, Golladay will blow up, but as it is I still see a strong overall season coming although with some inconsistencies as the third target.
Mike Wallace (WR91), Eagles
Wallace showed he can be a reliable receiver in a bad passing offense in Baltimore and now heads to Philadelphia to join a great passing attack. He won't be the No. 1 target anymore, but he will see better targets with more chances for scoring. The Eagles also aren't shy about spreading the ball around, so Wallace will get his chances this season and has shown a consistency that should help him do well when given the opportunity.
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