ADP Warning Signs – High-Risk Wide Receivers

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By Steve Rebeiro (@steverebeiro)

Everybody loves a good fantasy hype train, especially when players join new teams and enter new situations. But the guys riding high on hype often see themselves overdrafted and end up busting at their ADPs. A new paint of coat doesn’t always make the room look better.

All three of these potential bust receivers are entering entirely new situations than they were in last year. One of them experienced the best season of his career, one of them suffered through the worst, and one of them didn’t even touch the field. Their new situations, while some are more promising than others, come with a lot of risk, especially where these guys are being drafted.

Let me be clear: these guys are all worth drafting if they fall in the later rounds of your draft. There’s clear upside to all of them, but the risks and uncertainty may make them too risky for their current ADP.

High-Risk Wide Receivers for 2017

Terrelle Pryor, Washington Redskins – Pryor broke out as a legitimate receiving option in his first true season as a wide receiver. He joins a Washington offense that put two receivers over 1,000 yards last season, and neither of them are on the team anymore. Most importantly, nobody can make a case that he’s the best quarterback on his team anymore, as he teams up with Pro Bowler Kirk Cousins. The upside is massive for Pryor, but I think fantasy owners should temper expectations a bit for him.

Kirk Cousins threw for 4,917 yards last season. I would be shocked if he approached 5,000 yards again this season, but for arguments sake lets assume he does. The two leading receivers from last season are gone, but the two touchdown leaders are back in Jordan Reed and Jameson Crowder. Crowder impressed out of the slot last season and should see an increased role, and a healthy Jordan Reed is likely to be the focal point of the passing game. Reed is the favorite to lead the team in touchdowns, and Crowder may find himself over 1,000 yards for the first time in his career if his role increases.

Even with increased outputs for Reed and Crowder, Pierre Garcon and DeSean Jackson still put up 2,056 yards and seven touchdowns on 214 targets last year. While Pryor is likely to see more than half of these numbers, I wouldn’t count out Josh Doctson just yet. The second year player will likely start alongside Pryor should he be healthy. The Redskins took Doctson in the first round last season with the intention of giving him the ball. He will cut into Pryor’s targets if he’s on the field.

The point here is that Washington has a ton of mouths to feed. Pryor will see plenty of targets, but maybe not the mammoths share some expect at his current ADP as the 14th receiver off the board. We haven’t even gotten into Pryor’s inconsistency on the field. He had under 50 yards in over half of his games last season, including three games under 20 yards, and didn’t have the touchdowns to make up for it. It is wishful thinking to expect Pryor to see a substantial increase in fantasy production from last season. And his numbers last year do not justify his current ADP.

Martavis Bryant, Pittsburgh Steelers – Bryant has been impressive this early in his career, scoring 14 touchdowns in 21 total games. He plays alongside two of the best offensive players in the league and with one of the best quarterbacks of his generation. What’s not to love?

Well, maybe the fact that Bryant hasn’t played in a year and the fact that the Steelers failed to produce another fantasy relevant receiver in his absence. No Pittsburgh receiver scored more than three touchdowns last season besides Antonio Brown. Eli Rogers, the Steelers runner-up in targets, receptions, yards, and touchdowns among Pittsburgh receivers last season, has emerged in the slot this preseason and should be a factor in the offense once again. Brown and Le’Veon Bell combined for 248 targets last season, and it’s unlikely that the Steelers are going to decrease the usage of their two unstoppable workhorses.

All these factors just make it hard for me to believe that Bryant will be able to put up solid WR3 numbers consistently this season. Brown and Bell cast big shadows, and I just can’t imagine the rest of the targets in the Pittsburgh passing game go almost exclusively to a guy that didn’t play last season. Plus, he doesn’t seem to have the full support of his quarterback, which may make a difference on the field. The ball won’t find Bryant enough this season to justify his current ADP as the 25th receiver off the board.

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Brandon Marshall, New York Giants – The Giants haven’t consistently produced two receivers who lead the group in targets by a wide margin since 2010. Victor Cruz and Hakeem Nicks were a fearsome two-headed receiving attack early in the decade. Reuben Randle slid into the two spot as Nicks suffered injuries, and Odell Beckham Jr burst onto the scene when Victor Cruz suffered injuries. Odell Beckham is clearly going to lead the team in targets. Who’s the favorite to be the number two receiver next to him?

You could argue that it will be Brandon Marshall, the 33 year old veteran coming off his worst season since his rookie year. Or you could argue that it will be Sterling Shepard, the 24 year old second year player coming off a rookie year where he was the second option in the Giants passing game and had a better season than Marshall did. Shepard is on the rise in his career and has proven chemistry with quarterback Eli Manning, while Marshall is declining veteran who’s been banged up this preseason, is still learning a new offense, and hasn’t played a full game with his new quarterback yet.

I would be shocked if Shepard saw less than 100 targets this year after seeing 105 as a rookie. After Beckham and Marshall, the third receiving option in last years offense was Victor Cruz, who recorded 72 targets, 39 receptions, 586 yards and a touchdown. Marshall will likely improve on Cruz’s numbers, but the last time the Giants produced three quality fantasy receivers was 2009, and they didn’t have a receiver who demands the ball as much as Beckham does.

Marshall is currently the 30th receiver off the board, just behind Stefon Diggs and Emmanuel Sanders and just before Jamison Crowder and Willie Snead. All four of those guys are almost guaranteed to see more volume than Brandon Marshall and aren’t coming off career worst years. I’d stay far away from Marshall at his current ADP.

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