Wide receiver is the deepest position in fantasy football and the least predictable. Quarterbacks have so many options, you never know where it will end up. Here, I’ll take a look at which receivers had a better or worse 2017 than projected, and how they will fare in 2018.
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Larry Fitzgerald (ARI)
I feel like we do this every year. Fitzgerald is getting old, the quarterback play isn’t what it used to be, and he’s near the end. Yet, year after year. he proves us wrong. In 2016, he was being drafted as WR28 and in 2017 he was being drafted as WR22. Both of those years he finished in the top 16 among wide receivers. Entering year 15, I do not see this trend continuing, especially if Sam Bradford is under center. Nothing against Bradford (or maybe a little against Bradford) but for Fitzgerald to continue to succeed at such an old age he’s going to need better QB play. With the departure of John Brown and Jaron Brown, the Cardinals talent at wide receiver has really diminished and Fitzgerald will almost certainly see No. 1 corner coverage game-in and game-out. I believe this is going to be Fitzgerald’s last year, as the Cardinals roster is one of the league’s worst and they will need to look at going into full rebuild mode.
Keenan Allen (LAC)
Everyone knows he’s talented, but the questions surrounding Allen heading into the 2017 season were all about whether he could stay healthy. Over the previous two seasons, Allen played just 9 of 32 games due to injury. But, he shut those narratives down by playing a full 16 game season and posting a 102/1,393/6 line. It’s impossible to predict injuries in the NFL, but I wouldn’t necessarily say Allen is an injury-prone player — maybe just a little unlucky. Outside of his lacerated kidney in 2015 he hasn’t been hurt all that much in his career. Who lacerates a kidney in football, anyway? When on the field, he has produced and seems to be locked in as Rivers’s top target. I am willing to take the risk this year and draft Allen somewhat high, especially in PPR leagues.
Amari Cooper (OAK)
After being drafted 4th overall in 2015, Amari Cooper had two productive seasons to start his career. However, year three came around and he did not look like the same player. If you read my piece on QB’s a few weeks ago, you’ll see how I believe Derek Carr and Jon Gruden are going to get this team going in the right direction after a discouraging 2017 season. It starts with the Carr/Gruden relationship, which I believe will help out the entire offense and in my eyes, Cooper is a big part of it. I love the addition of Jordy Nelson and the departure of Michael Crabtree. I think it will help Cooper develop and become a better player in the long run. Just like with Keenan Allen, we know he is talented, but there are questions. Right now in mock drafts, he is going around pick 40 alongside Alshon Jeffery and Josh Gordon. Cooper is a steal at that price and could pay off in a big way in 2018.
Dez Bryant (DAL)
Bryant is not the same player he used to be. Entering his ninth season in the league, Bryant has openly said he is not willing to take a pay cut to stay with the Cowboys. This means he could be finding himself a new home here very shortly. Either way, Bryant is on the back end of his career and sliding quickly. If he does stay in Dallas, expect something similar to last season. The Cowboys have virtually no receiving threats outside of Jason Witten and Bryant, who are both past their prime. I hope we don’t see Bryant’s career fall off like Brandon Marshall’s did, but unfortunately that’s the way it’s looking right now. I’m only taking Bryant later in drafts if the value appears to be too good to pass up.