What would a fantasy football season be without a little drama from the wide receiver position? In today's NFL, there are at least three headaches we can count on annually: one being the decline of bell cow backs; second begin the growing trend of two tight end sets; and third is receivers throwing a fit when things don't go their way.
That's not the case with all the names on this list, but we do have some talented pass-catchers with concerning injuries. In the case of most of the receivers below, their odds of delivering the value we've come to expect will likely be dependent on their ability to get back on the field and start conditioning for the season.
The first tier of wide receivers (The Great Pretenders) below are those I feel up to this point are overvalued or could bust based on where they are going. In the second tier of receivers (Fringe Prospects) are those options I feel aren’t quite a full-on bust or overvalued, but they could be soon.
Please Note: ADP numbers below are from Fantasy Football Calculator.
The Great Pretenders
Kenny Britt (31st, 8.09)
Britt is falling fast because of his continued knee problems and off-the-field issues, but I wonder if fantasy owners will be a little too hard on him down the road, because of recent news. The talented No.1 receiver has become a polarizing name in fantasy football, especially after his breakout start from last season.
He could go the way of Dwayne Bowe, as some owners will hold his issues against him for the rest of his career, but I’m still willing to believe he can make a impact this year.
That won’t happen early on, and we do need to look at others like Nate Washington and Kendall Wright, possibly ahead of Britt, on draft day. His fall on draft boards and ADP trends will be something to watch this summer, but if he falls into the late rounds of your draft, he might be worth a stash, even if he can’t get on the field until late August.
At this point, Britt’s ADP of 8.09 is too high for my blood, and I wouldn’t suggest you consider him until the end of your draft at this point.
Hakeem Nicks (12th, 4.06)
Love Nicks as a player and was open about viewing him as a top five dynasty receiver last summer. Problem is, while Nicks has all the tools to be an elite fantasy option, he can’t stay healthy. I also don’t like the overall talent in the passing game, as some will chalk up the loss of Mario Manningham as a reason for hope. I fear Rueben Randle more as an option to steal targets.
Manningham is a chump and I don’t care if he made a great play in he Super Bowl. For the most part he’s undisciplined and it clearly drove Eli Manning nuts.
Randle is a good route-runner and has already flashed in camp. Nicks, on the other hand, will be lucky to get back on the practice field by the middle of August and perhaps not until September.
He is a candidate for re-injury, and I’m avoiding him unless I can snag him as a WR3 this summer. As a fourth-round pick, we should expect this trend to fall as he continues to miss camp, so that is a good thing.
Santonio Holmes (37th, 10.07)
Perhaps it is sloppy analysis to just say no, but that’s what I’m doing.
Justin Blackmon (42nd, 11.07)
Immaturity issues have been a problem for Blackmon already in his NFL career, and we should view Laurent Robinson as the option to target out of Jacksonville. It’s going to be a growing up process for the top ten selection, and you shouldn’t have him on your roster unless he’s a taxi squad hold in a dynasty league.
Mike Wallace (11th, 4.05)
Not liking Wallace’s holdout with the Steelers. As any Steelers fan will point out, you don’t want to mess with this organization when it comes to contracts and off-the-field problems. The latter hasn’t really been an issue with Wallace, but he is looking for a huge pay day and it’s not going to happen.
Furthermore, with a new offensive coordinator in town, Wallace is losing valuable time in camp. Then again, maybe that won’t be a big deal for Wallace as his game is mostly to run nine routes down the field.
Look to Antonio Brown as a solid WR2 and a great WR3 addition this summer and Emmanuel Sanders is starting to hold bench value the deeper this holdout goes.
Vincent Jackson (24th, 6.08)
I don’t have a problem with Jackson’s vertical speed or the ability of Josh Freeman to find him, occasionally. My issue with Jackson is that if he had trouble providing consistent production in San Diego, how will it get better in Tampa Bay?
We shouldn’t like his odds to deliver as a respectable WR3 at this, point and if the Buccaneers continue as one of the worst defensive teams in the league, look to Mike Williams as the top option for garbage-time production.
Jackson is a deep threat, that’s about it. Williams is the one you want for short and intermediate routes, and he should benefit from defenses focusing on Jackson on the other side.
Dwayne Bowe (22nd, 6.08)
Two years ago, Bowe had one of the better seven-game runs I've seen in the past 20 years from the receiver position. While Bowe and Matt Cassel have established sound chemistry, I'm concerned about Bowe missing too much time because of a contract dispute.
Especially when you factor in second-year receiver Jonathan Baldwin is receiving quality reps with the first team and has impressed the coaching staff.
Like Alex Smith in San Francisco, Cassel can help this team win games, but he needs a dominant rushing attack to keep him consistent.
Two years ago, the Chiefs were a weak team in terms of receiving talent around Bowe, but now they have options like Steve Breaston, Baldwin and a few other young receivers who could contribute right away.
Not to mention tight end Tony Moeaki is back from his knee injury, and the Chiefs picked up Kevin Boss as another receiving weapon.
Point is, this isn't the same situation we saw in 2010, and I believe it would be immature to believe Bowe will have the type of numbers he produced before in this situation. That's before we get into likely conditioning and possible attitude problems during the season because of his contract.