6 Wide Receivers to Target in 2017
Keep in mind that a projection represents what I consider a median expectation, and does not take into consideration how someone may rank a player when factoring in other variables such as upside and injury risk.
Here are the wide receivers that I like more than the current consensus.
Curtis Samuel, CAR
ADP – 71, FP RANK – 30, DELTA – 41
Samuel was a prospect I loved, who compares well to players such as Percy Harvin and Randall Cobb.
Samuel is a better athlete than Cobb but not as explosive as Harvin at the college level. He is 20 pounds heavier than Tavon Austin, so I’m not sure he fits as a legitimate comp. Samuel is a rare kind of player, but that player has been successful in a small sample.
Kelvin Benjamin and Greg Olsen are the most likely target leaders for the Panthers this season, but Samuel should be able to carve out a sizable role behind them. Devin Funchess has done nothing in two seasons, and Cam Newton hasn’t had a dependable slot option since Jericho Cotchery. Samuel should also be able to take some of the deep targets left behind after Ted Ginn went to New Orleans.
Right now, I have Samuel projected for 95 targets and 34 rush attempts. The only other WRs to break 85 targets and 30 rush attempts were Austin in 2015 and Harvin in 2011. Both finished as top-30 WRs.
Jeremy Maclin, BAL
ADP – 48, FP RANK – 18, DELTA – 30
After the Ravens signed Maclin, it was reported that he was expected to play slot receiver, a role that was previously occupied by Steve Smith. In his three years with Baltimore, Smith averaged 8.4 targets per game, good for a 134-target pace over a full season. It was also 21.7 percent of available targets over that time frame.
Baltimore has thrown the most passes in the NFL in each of the past two seasons, eclipsing 670 attempts both years. With over 330 targets departed from 2016, it is easy to see how Maclin could acquire a sizable role this year, even with Mike Wallace still in town. In fact, the pairhase been similarly productive throughout their careers.
After Wallace finished as a top-24 WR in 2016 on just 117 targets, Maclin finishing inside the top 20 on around 20 targets more seems very reasonable.
Pierre Garcon, WAS
ADP – 36, FP RANK – 8, DELTA – 28
I’ve already described Garcon as a league winner for 2017, and most of my rationale can be found in that article. What I’ll add is the production that he had from 2012 to 2013 when he and head coach Kyle Shanahan last worked together.
For 26 games, Garcon paced for aseasonal average of 152 targets, and averaged 15.8 PPR points. That would have made him the WR9 last season.
Kenny Britt, CLE
ADP – 53, FP RANK – 29, DELTA – 24
When I wrote about the Browns signing Britt back in March, I mentioned that he was a tremendous value going as the WR50. Well, it would appear that he is a slightly bigger value now, going three spots later at WR53. It’s a total misvaluation by the public, as Britt should easily capture the 111 targets he had in Los Angeles when he finished as the WR26. He is also almost assuredly going to see better QB play.
Despite this motley crew of QBs, Britt consistently turned air yards into receiving yards during his Rams tenure.
Fantasy gamers simply do not realize how good Britt is. Player Profiler has a statistic called “target premium” which gauges a player’s fantasy points per target against the rest of the receivers in the offense. Britt ranked second in the entire NFL last year, while Terrelle Pryor, the player he is replacing in Cleveland, finished 40th. If anything, my current projection is too low on Britt.
Mike Wallace, BAL
ADP – 44, FP RANK – 20, DELTA – 24
In addition to popping in Josh Hermsmeyer’s air yards model, Wallace was one of the staff’s biggest values prior to the Maclin signing, and that has not changed. Our current projections now have him as the WR26, just three spots lower than before. It is easy to see why Wallace has found so much favor. Here are his PPR finishes for his career.
As Jacob Rickrode has pointed out, the same WRs tend to finish inside the top 24 every year. Having done that in five of the last seven seasons, he seems primed to do it yet again in 2017. I’ll take the over on the 117 targets Wallace had last season with all of the aforementioned targets available. As a result, I am a little bit higher than the staff. Either way, Wallace makes for a tremendous value.
Marvin Jones, DET
ADP – 52, FP RANK – 32, DELTA – 20
Despite finishing 25 spots lower in 2016, Jones had the same WOPR as Golden Tate.
Jones looked well on his way to a dominant season in the first half of the year before falling apart in the second.
So what changed? Simply put, Jones stopped catching the football.
His aDOT actually rose from 12.2 in the first half of the season to 16.0 in the second, but Matthew Stafford was unable to connect with him with any kind of consistency. If the pair can hook up more often in 2017 — or the team simply uses him like it did in the first half of 2016 — Jones is going to perform well above his current cost.