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Joseph Hutchins | Archive | Email |
Staff Writer

The Shot Caller's Report - Wide Receivers
Your Guide To Fantasy Lineups: Week 1
QBs | RBs | WRs

Bye Weeks: Tampa Bay, Miami

Martavis Bryant

One of the true difference makers faces the Browns who gave up the 9th most FPts to WRs in 2016.

Grab a Helmet

Rishard Matthews v. OAK: Tennessee’s offense has come a long way in a short period of time, jumping from 30th overall in 2015 to 11th overall last season. Steady improvement from its franchise QB and the addition of DeMarco Murray have been largely credited for this resurgence, but don’t discount Matthews’ contributions. He developed great chemistry with the young Mariota and rode a strong second half to a surprising 148.5-point season, good for No.11 at the position. Who’d have thought Rishard Matthews, a Dolphins castoff, would almost crack the Top 10 WR ranks playing for an offense that couldn’t get out of its own way the year prior? Tennessee has added even more firepower at the WR position, but prized rook Corey Davis has barely practiced this summer and, consequently, has missed out on valuable bonding time with Marcus. I’d feel much more comfortable rolling with Matthews in Week 1.

Martavis Bryant @ CLE: It’s last chance summer dance time for the Steelers’ uber-talented Bryant, who’s one more screw-up away from permanent NFL banishment. He reportedly spent the extended time off squaring his life away and now, with the league’s full blessing, will return to game action for the first time since January 2016. What can we expect? It’s hard to tell, which seems to be reflected in his ADP (4.08). If he’s truly reformed and can play a full 16-game slate, that number seems laughably high. He’s already proven to be one of the most dangerous receivers in the league. It he reverts to his self-destructive ways, however, or can’t stay healthy after the long layoff, it seems disastrously low. I’m hoping for the former since I own him in two of my three leagues, but there’s no decision to make while he’s eligible and 100% fit: He starts.

Pierre Garcon v. CAR: Say what you will about Brian Hoyer (and I’m sure Houston fans already have), but he’s a considerable upgrade over what the 49ers were trotting out at the quarterback position last season. That horrific 2015 playoff performance with the Texans notwithstanding, the career journeyman has been a pretty serviceable option at the position when healthy, especially early last year when he strung together four straight 300-yard performances for Chicago. It’s that “when healthy” qualifier that has him playing in San Francisco this season, where he’ll be paired up with precisely ONE reliable target, Mr. Garcon. That cuts both ways, of course (lots of attention from Hoyer and plenty from the opposition), but I suspect the Niners will be uncompetitive most weeks and that should work in Garcon’s favor. He’s an early favorite for my all-garbage time team this season and that starts Sunday afternoon against Carolina.

Grab Some Wood

Kevin White v. ATL: There isn’t much game evidence to go on yet (White hasn’t played enough of them), but the whispers are getting louder that he may already be a bust two+ years into his professional career. He looked really pedestrian this preseason for a Bears team short of playmakers on the perimeter. Make that desperately short now that Cameron Meredith has succumbed to a season-scrubbing injury, making White the de facto WR1 heading into Week 1, ready or not. My guess is he’s not at all ready for this type of responsibility, though he’ll get every opportunity (and plenty of targets) to justify it. Of course, that also means he’ll be drawing his opponents’ best cover corner week in and week out, starting with Pro Bowler Desmond Trufant Sunday. White has the talent to make a liar out of me, but make him prove worthwhile before starting him.

Allen Robinson @ HOU: Some are suggesting Robinson is due for bounce-back numbers in 2017, reasoning his true value lies somewhere between a stratospheric 2015 and a disappointing 2016. “Some” does not include yours truly. Jacksonville’s WR1 is very talented but still reliant on one of the least reliable/accurate QBs in the business, Blake Bortles, who somehow lost his job and then earned it back during a cringe-worthy preseason slate. Making matters worse, the Jags appear to be drastically changing philosophies under new GM Tom Coughlin and coach Doug Marrone, emphasizing ball control and stout defense. That’s another way of saying they’re not letting Bortles throw them out of games this year. There’s always an adjustment period with radical schematic changes, but this one could be brief. The Jacksonville defense is young/hungry and Leonard Fournette looks like the plow horse capable of easing the team’s dependence on Bortles’ unpredictable wing.

T.Y. Hilton @ LAR: Hilton led the entire league in receiving yardage last season, a fact that somehow eluded me until I started doing research for this article. If he’d scored a few more times or maybe even played one more game with Andrew Luck, he may have challenged for top fantasy honors at the position. I say that because, unfortunately, the one time he was paired up with Luck’s backup, Scott Tolzien (Week 12 against Pittsburgh), he commanded only five targets, a season low. That’s a really small sample size, for sure, but it would make me really nervous heading into the opener. Tolzien gets the nod again in Los Angeles against the Rams and that could spell trouble for his talented targets, namely the home run-hitting Hilton. Sit T.Y. down if you’ve got a capable replacement and hope Mr. Luck is back in action sooner rather than later.
Good luck, folks!

Quarterbacks | Running Backs | Wide Receivers