With free agency still a couple weeks away let’s take a look
each skill position and highlight some of the biggest names available.
I’ll match each player with a team that I think would be a
best-case scenario for his fantasy value in 2018. I’ve already
discussed the tight ends here.
Up next are the wide receivers.
The Dolphins have slapped the franchise
tag on Jarvis Landry but a trade could still be in the works.
I’m including Landry as a bonus even though he’s got the franchise
tag, because he’s still heading out of Miami, likely via trade
– one that could happen before or during the NFL draft. Landry
is less of an injury risk than most of the unrestricted free agents,
and he’s a capable receiver who’s posted monster numbers during
his time in Miami. We’ve seen the Browns announce their interest
and project as a prime candidate for a trade, as they’ll need
a similar target to buttress the younger receivers already in
house. This is a huge need – a veteran presence for their 2018
starting QB, whomever that may be (Baker
Allen?), but I’m leaning toward a different team in that division.
Best Fit: Ravens
Draft trades mean that about half of the teams in the league could
be trading partners, and I like the Ravens as a “best fit”
given Ozzie Newsome’s legendary draft day prep/trade-seeking
philosophy and desire to give Joe Flacco a middle-of-the-field
target. Landry’s strengths pair well with Flacco, who can
thrive throwing the game-breaking deep ball as long as he builds
a steady base of completions to a reliable receiver. And Landry
is less of an injury risk than most of the unrestricted free agents.
Other possibilities: Browns, Cowboys, Raiders, Bears
Robinson had a Grade 3 ACL tear last season, had surgery relatively
early (September 2017), and is rumored to be able to pass a physical
and play right out of training camp in 2018. He’s got elite potential.
At 6-3, 220, Robinson can be a physical receiver with enormous
upside (2015: 80-1,400-14), especially given the improvements
that the Jags have made. The 49ers and Cowboys both need a former
Pro-Bowler like him to bolster their struggling receiving corps,
but I have a hard time seeing Robinson slipping out of the Jaguars
Best Fit: Jaguars
This is the first guy I thought of as a risk coming off his injury,
and while Robinson would see a ton of interest from the teams
listed above and below, the word is that the Jaguars will likely
franchise Robinson and get another year out of him during their
first offseason as a legitimate contender. Still, it’s a
major knee injury, and both parties would be doing themselves
a favor if he ends up back in Jacksonville. Plenty of teams could
use a guy with his ability, so there could be some kind of splash
made where he heads out of town via trade – but the best
fit is in his current wardrobe.
Other possibilities: Cowboys, Panthers, 49ers, Redskins
The enigmatic Watkins has shown flashes of elite playmaking skills
but hasn’t quite put it all together for more than a couple
games here and there. As much as the franchise tag talk makes
sense considering what the Rams gave up acquiring Watkins from
the Bills, the 49ers are the best fit for him, and the Rams don’t
really need him all that much. Once considered better than both
Odell Beckham Jr. and Mike Evans (the Bills traded up and took
him 4th overall in 2014), Watkins could flourish with any skilled
young QB (he did great with Goff) but might clash with a veteran
signal caller who knows exactly what he wants.
Best Fit: 49ers
Who comes to mind when I think of skilled, accurate young QB on
a team that desperately needs productive wideouts? Why, it’s
Jimmy Garoppolo – who could really post big numbers throwing
him and Marquise Goodwin the pigskin. Watkins doesn’t need
a lot of room to make the catch, and if he stays healthy he could
post career-high totals in 2018 –whether it’s with
Jared Goff, Garoppolo or another maturing, talented QB.
Other possibilities: Titans, Rams, Redskins, Browns
At just 6-0, 190 pounds, Lee fills a versatile but limited role
between the 20s; he doesn’t have the necessary size to contribute
regularly in the red zone. The Jaguars have a glut of young, talented
receivers they’re developing, and Lee’s history of
soft-tissue injuries (his hamstring, specifically makes him expendable.
Still – he’s made Bortles look good at times, and
is coming off a productive season where he caught 56-702-3 (on
96 targets) in 13 games.
Best Fit: Bears/Ravens
If the Ravens end up with Landry via trade, they won’t likely
nab Lee, but he’ll be on their radar. The Bears do have
some decisions to make on potential free agents Dontrelle Inman
and Kendall Wright, but they may target Lee because he’s
1) cheap, and 2) exactly the type of sure-handed receiver they
Other possibilities: Cardinals, Cowboys, Titans, Panthers
Word is, Richardson is looking for a deal in the range of $7 million
annually this offseason, and that seems like a lot of money for
a guy who’s a relative unknown as an NFL commodity and has
some injury baggage. He’s in a strange place already, where
Russell Wilson is such a monumental majority of the total offense.
He’s improving as a route runner but hasn’t shown
much consistency in terms of playing time and production despite
career-high numbers in 2017 (44-703-6). Richardson is speedy,
slick and capable of taking the ball through the defense on a
well-timed throw, but he still drops the ball a lot and is a serious
risk/reward signing if he doesn’t stay in Seattle.
Best Fit: Cowboys
2017 was a breakout year, and Richardson can make some decent
scratch by leaving Seattle. He’ll likely find his best fit
on a team where he’ll be targeted more and given more of
an honest workload for assessing his skillset. Before Richardson
went 45th overall in the second round of the 2014 NFL Draft, there
were rumors that the Cowboys were interested – but a trade
with the Redskins to move up from 47 to 34th overall (where they
snagged DeMarcus Lawrence) negated any possibility of him heading
to Dallas. Now, they might have the money, need and opportunity
to take their shot and upgrade one of their WR spots.
Other possibilities: Browns, Redskins, Cards, Eagles
Pryor started off as a QB for the Raiders (bad decision) but found
his niche in Cleveland (weird even typing that) as a WR after
signing with the Browns in 2015. It was a rough transition during
his first season, but in 2016 he settled in and hauled in 77-1007-4,
commanding a decent amount of interest in a saturated market but
failing to land a multi-year deal. The Redskins signed him, and
he hoped to show the league enough to reward him with a legacy
contract – but he busted, never fitting into the Redskins
scheme. Regardless of his struggles, he’s in a good spot
heading into 2018, and somebody like Jerry Jones might be willing
to throw him money.
Best Fit: Browns
Yeah. I think the Cowboys will take a gamble and sign Richardson,
so Pryor’s best fit is back with the only team that saw him flourish.
They really took advantage of his 4.38 speed in 2016, when he
had 11 plays of 20+ yards and four plays over 40 yards. With Josh
Gordon under team control, a three-headed attack of Gordon/Pryor/Coleman
could wreak all kinds of havoc (good and bad!) with a top draft
pick QB and make for some wild offensive games. The paper of record
in the North Coast is the Plain Dealer, and beat
writer Mary Kay Cabot said the team wants him – and that she
thinks he’d want to come back.
Other possibilities: Cowboys, Bears, Titans, Eagles