Notable Wide Receivers on the move- Torrey Smith, Denarius Moore, Jeremy Maclin, Michael Crabtree, Stevie Johnson, Cecil Shorts, Andre Johnson, Percy Harvin, Dwayne Bowe.
Big, athletic wide-receivers with speed, strength and great hands seem to be every coach not named Belichick’s dream. They are a huge priority for fantasy owners as well. With a vast majority of leagues moving to the higher-scoring PPR format, and the league in general becoming a “passing league”, there has never been a higher value on elite wideouts. With that said, this position in the Free-Agent market is surprisingly deep, but not very top-heavy. Your winner in the “early” category is Jeremy Maclin.
Maclin is an underrated receiver that put up numbers good enough for 9th overall. His production will likely decline transitioning from Chip Kelly’s fast paced, innovative, fun offense to a franchise that threw as many touchdowns to wide receivers as I did last season. Incase you were wondering, that would be zero. It is still unfathomable to me that that statistic took place in 2015, and just as unfathomable that it isn’t a bigger story. However, there is room for a guy like Maclin to make plays in a West Coast, dink-and-dunk offense orchestrated by Andy Reid, who refuses to run the rock regardless of the studs he has had in the backfield throughout his career. He was brought in to be the number one receiver since perennial under-achiever (and permanent member of my FFB doghouse) Dwayne Bowe departed for Cleveland. I don’t believe that he will end up in the top 10 again, but he does represent a clear upgrade in talent. Also he now plays on a team that attempts plenty of passes, and doesn’t have many other options at this point, so I don’t think the decline will be too drastic.
Andre Johnson has gone his entire career putting up numbers in absolutely abysmal situations. The only times he ever had a quarterback, or a number two receiver, were at his multiple pro bowl appearances. He has posted over 13,500 career yards, and 64 touchdowns, and one first-round TKO of Cortland Finnegan. It’s hard to believe that a guy could play so hard, and for so long for a team that was flat-out inept at getting him the help he needed. He was rewarded this offseason by joining forces with the best young quarterback in the game. One may even say he got Luck-y (get it? Because of Andrew Luck?)
While the quarterback situation is now great, obviously the fact that he will no longer be a true #1 receiver hurts his fantasy value. Fortunately for fantasy owners, that fact leads a future potential hall of famer, and definite hall of very good-er to be available in the mid rounds. The Colts are going spread the (Andrew) Luck around, but Johnson will still get his touches. Of the four sites I checked, he was ranked anywhere from the 20-31st overall receiver. However, it’s a difficult task to project Johnson’s stats since he will finally not always be the main priority for a defense. T.Y. Hilton is ready to be a superstar, and Andre Johnson may be ready to accept a reduced role. Even if he does, take him if you get the chance. Competitors like Johnson don’t come around every day, and even if he has a reduced role, that doesn’t make him any less of a threat in any given game. No one has really seen what he could do to a #2 corner, and a reduced role doesn’t make him any less polished, smart, or reliable. I look for him to be a big time playmaker at the goal-line, even if he has lost a step. Ten or more touchdowns for Andre Johnson this season. Book it. Not bad for what will be a 34 year-old WR2.
Remember that perennial FFB doghouse member I just mentioned earlier in this very blog? Yea, that’s my pick for a late-round wide receiver this year. Remember that sentence that I couldn’t believe I wrote earlier about Alex Smith throwing as many touchdowns to wide-receivers as I did last year? That’s my reasoning. There is just no possible way Dwayne Bowe does not have a better season than last year. Moving from the WR-touchdown-less Kansas City team to the Quarterback-less and Josh Gordon-less Browns may not seem like an upgrade, but it is. Although Bowe never did cross the goal-line last year, he was still otherwise productive. He caught 60 balls for 754 yards. Not exactly world-beater numbers, but he is a smart veteran who no longer has a Jamaal Charles to contend with in the red-zone. Being that he is now clearly in the twilight of his career, he will not be as highly drafted as he has been in the past. In my mind, any time you can get a clear #1 receiver, with a Pro Bowl pedigree and a new start, you take that chance.
**Disclaimer- If there is anything to NOT take my advice on, its Dwayne Bowe relevance. I just cant escape the man, no matter how many times he burns me. If he made Jamarcus Russell look good enough to go #1 overall, then he’s good enough for my fantasy teams!**