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Joseph Hutchins | Archive | Email |
Staff Writer

Top 10 Dropouts - Wide Receivers
Which RBs will fall from the fantasy top ten in 2017?

With drafting season upon us, it’s time, in true cynical Shot Caller fashion, to start throwing out caution flags. Repeatable stellar performance seems to elude even the best and the brightest the league has to offer and this year, if history holds, will be no exception to that role. It will. It always does. Put another way, the guys everyone’s talking about this August will be the same guys we’ll be talking about next August in this column as we autopsy what went wrong. Let’s just save a step and future grief by talking about them now, shall we?

Note: All rankings are based on FFToday’s default standard scoring.

  Top 10 Wide Receivers - 2015
Rank Player
1 Antonio Brown
2 Julio Jones
3 Brandon Marshall
4 Allen Robinson
5 Odell Beckham Jr.
6 DeAndre Hopkins
7 Doug Baldwin
8 A.J. Green
9 Larry Fitzgerald
10 Calvin Johnson
  Top 10 Wide Receivers - 2016
Rank Player
1 Jordy Nelson
2 Mike Evans
3 Antonio Brown
4 Odell Beckham Jr.
5 T.Y. Hilton
6 Julio Jones
7 Davante Adams
8 Brandin Cooks
9 Michael Thomas
10 Doug Baldwin

Who Missed the Cut in 2016 (6/10): Brandon Marshall, Allen Robinson, DeAndre Hopkins, A.J. Green, Larry Fitzgerald, Calvin Johnson

I challenged you last year in this space to come up with seven obvious relegation candidates amongst the stellar cast of 2015 Top 10 receivers. Iím guessing that wasnít very easy (even with the freebie, sudden NFL retiree Calvin Johnson), but here we sit a year later and, sure enough, 6 of those 10 studs ended up tumbling down the rankings. The task looks no less daunting this summer (Antonio! Odell! Julio!), but Iíd wager a fairly sizable sum that no fewer than 5 and probably closer to 6 or 7 of last yearís Top 10 wideouts will end up on the outside looking in by the time we chat again in August 2018.

Injuries are usually a consistent underlying factor for dropouts, but this group stayed relatively healthy, with the exception of A.J. Green. What ďhurtĒ them, so to speak, more than anything, was downright agonizing quarterback play. Brandon Marshall played catch with Fitzmagic most of the year, who had precious little of that to offer, and then the very un-magical Bryce Petty. DeAndre Hopkins, meanwhile, got stuck with Brock Osweiler as his Texansí battery mate, a terribly unfortunate, not to mention expensive, free agent addition. (In fact, if anyone pulled off a magic trick this past year, it was the Houston brass, who somehow wiggled out of Osweilerís albatross-like contract.) Allen Robinson spent all year misconnecting with, and probably privately fuming about, Blake Bortles, the guy who canít seem to shoot straight in Jacksonville. Finally, Larry Fitzgerald seemed to cede leading man status in Arizona to David Johnson at the exact same time his quarterback was suffering a moderate decline of his own.

Thereís no sure thing in this league, but even less so at the receiver position, where the calculus involves more than just health and talent.

Most Likely Candidates to Fall from the Top 10 This Year:


T.Y. Hilton is coming off his best season as a pro but has never scored more than 7 TDs in a season.

T.Y. Hilton, IND: Iím more willing to bet against Andrew Luck than most, having followed his career since way back when he was a canít miss prospect down on the The Farm. Thereís no charitable way to say this, so Iíll just be blunt: I think heís overrated. His eye-popping physical gifts (great arm, great size, great legs), donít always translate into eye-popping results on the field and certainly not enough Ws. I think back to a game I watched him play in person way back in 2010 against my Ducks. It was, like many in the Chip Kelly era, a huge game and the Cardinal literally blitzed the boys in whatever color they were wearing that day right out of the gate, holding a 21-3 lead almost before weíd settled into our seats. Three quarters, two Luck interceptions, and zero second half Stanford points later, Oregon emerged victorious.

OK, so thatís a tiny sample size of his career, but it left an impression. The stage didnít get much bigger in Luckís college career than against Chipperís troops and he rarely rose to the occasion. Not that day and not the other times he faced them either. Why, itís fair to ask? More importantly, what does that have to do with T.Y. Hilton?

Iím not being very coherent here, I realize (maybe itís the altitude), but I guess Iím not convinced an overrated Luck recovering from injury is going to be able to fashion T.Y. into a Top 10 target two years in a row. Iím additionally skeptical because Donte Moncrief is now healthy and will almost certainly steal plenty of Luckís looks away from the speed demon, Hilton. He may not drop that far, but Iím bearish on the Coltsí WR1 heading into 2017. You should be too.

Davante Adams, GB: Iím going against my Packer-loving loving instincts here, for sure, but I think there are legitimate reasons to be wary of a regression after Adamsí breakout 2016 season.

Like the previously discussed LeGarrette Blount, an inordinate percentage of Adamsí fantasy production was attributable to six-pointers (12 of them, to be exact), a statistic that, year over year, is quite variable. Actually, make that extremely variable when Aaron Rodgers is the one dishing out red-zone looks. The best at the position (Rodgers, Brady, Brees, etc.) are almost what you could call ďtarget-agnostic,Ē meaning theyíll throw it to whomever they feel gives them the best chance of scoring on any given play. Talent, experience, past resultsÖnone of these things matter to the great ones. All that matters are getting open and hauling in the pigskin.

That last part had proven difficult for Adams prior to last season and most QBs, especially the future HOFíer types, have elephantine memories when it comes to dodgy hands. Will the Fresno State product continue to be trusted if he reverts to 2015 form and starts routinely ham-handing A-Rodge lasers again? The only receiver No.12 always seems to trust is Jordy Nelson, the No.1 overall wide receiver in 2016, but Nelson has earned that trust by reliably delivering results for many seasons. Adams hasnít done that yet.

One other reason to be concerned about Adams is that the Packers wonít be as anemic on the ground this year and, accordingly, wonít be as explosive via the airwaves. Ted Thompson grabbed three running backs in Aprilís draft and only needs one to pan out (psstÖJamaal Williams) for the Pack to have a more robust and reliable rushing attack. I think that happens, the offense is a lot more balanced, and Davanteís overall production ticks downward.

Brandin Cooks, NE: Iím sitting in the terminal at Austin-Bergstrom International Airport as I polish off this first column of the season and the only thing standing between me and a pre-draft weekend brewski at Earl Campbellís Sports Bar is a quick bit about Mr. Cooks. Canít think of too many better ways to inspire a strong finish, can you? Iím thirsty so letís do it.

Long-time readers know Iíve been bullish on Cooks since he entered the league in 2014, mostly because I spent many Saturdays watching him devastate Pac-12 defenses just down the Willamette Valley a stretch. If only the Saints had been as into him as I was, huh? Itís hard to tell what spoiled a potentially beautiful friendship in the Big Easy, but something sure did. Maybe he never got over that inexplicable zero-target outing in the Week 11 pantsing of the Rams? Maybe the Saintsí shot callers figured a too-short QB and a too-short WR would never orchestrate enough beautiful music in a city famous for it? Or maybe the addition of Michael Thomas simply made the former Beaver expendable? It could have been a straight-up ďbidnissĒ decision, in other words.

It doesnít really matter because Cooks has moved on to Foxboro, where Patriots fans have to be giddy at the thought of him joining an already explosive offense. Therein lies the rub, however: New England didnít necessarily need Cooks. They just wanted him and had the wherewithal to make it so. The rich often get richer in this league and nobodyís richer/savvier with talent than Bob Kraftís franchise. I love what Cooks can do in this offense and could eat my words, butÖI just donít see him earning enough opportunities with so many other options available to stay a Top 10 performer in 2017.

Next: Quarterbacks

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