The loss of Jackson and Garcon gives Jamison
Crowder a realistic chance to crack the 1000-yd mark.
There were a whopping 23 members of the 1,000-yard receiving
club last season. From the 1,448 yards of yardage leader T.Y.
Hilton to No. 23 Kenny
Britt’s 1,002 yards (LA Rams). That was tied with 2013 for
the most members of this once exclusive club in the past decade.
During the 1980s, only 14.3 pass-catchers averaged 1,000 yards
in a season (I did not include the shortened 1982 or 1987 seasons).
In the 1990’s that number increased to 17 players per season.
Over the past 10 seasons, however, with the proliferation of the
passing game and rules changes to help the offense, there has
been an average of 20.2 players to reach this “milestone.”
That should make finding a 1,000-yard receiver or two for your
fantasy team easy, right?
Only 12 of 22 receivers from 2015, repeated in 2016. That’s just
54.5%. Want to make sure your choices on draft day are the right
ones, then you need to know how receivers produce big yards.
It’s not a guarantee, however. You need to play with at least
a “proficient” quarterback. Otherwise you could end up missing
your goal, as DeAndre
Hopkins and Kelvin
Benjamin did last season (No, Cam
Newton’ passing production wasn’t even mediocre last season
due to hidden injuries – 21st in passing yards and 20th in passing
TDs). You could also be “1,000-yard worthy” based on your talent,
but miss the mark by being injured. Dez
Bryant and Alshon
Jeffery come to mind.
You can also reach the mark by being a skillful, though not elite,
receiver, and be in the right spot at the right time.
Your team’s No. 1 receiver goes down due to injury (Keenan
Allen) and you step in to fill his shoes (Tyrell
Williams). Or, your team’s expected top receiver fails to
produce (Marvin Jones) and you step up to fill his shoes (Golden
So talent isn’t the only requirement. You need good health, a
good quarterback and opportunity. As a fantasy owner we need to
find these circumstances. Avoid the bad ones and find the good
ones (OK, injuries are going to be difficult to predict).
Below I have listed four receivers, who cracked the 1,000-yard
mark in 2016, but won’t reproduce those results in 2017. They
aren’t necessarily players to avoid, just don’t take them too
early based on last year’s statistics.
I’ll also show you four receivers who will step up in 2017.
Wallace, Baltimore – Wallace still has the speed
to take a ball 90-yards to the house, he just doesn’t do it often
enough. He barely made it into the club last season (1,017 yards)
and that was while competing for targets with aged Steve Smith,
Breshad Perriman, Kamar Aiken and Dennis Pitta. The team lost
Smith to retirement, but has added Jeremy Maclin (now healthy)
and one of the best, if not the best pass-catching running back
in the league - Danny Woodhead.
Williams, Los Angeles Chargers – This one is easy,
as the only reason Williams saw so many Philip Rivers passes was
the absence of Allen. Williams won’t see anywhere near the 119
targets from a season ago with the return of Allen and the natural
progression of talented tight end Hunter Henry. Also, a healthy
Melvin Gordon could see 75 targets.
Garcon, San Francisco – Garcon has gone from the
rain forest to a desert. Where Kirk Cousins threw the ball 606
times (114 to Garcon), the 49ers passed the ball just 491 times
in 2016. His new quarterback options are; Brian Hoyer, Matt Barkley,
C.J. Beathard or Nick Mullens. The current starter, Hoyer, has
never passed for more than 3,334 yards or 19 touchdowns in a season.
Britt, Los Angeles Rams – You would think that as
a free agent, Britt would have gone to a place with improved quarterback
play after spending last season catching inaccurate passes from
Jared Goff. Apparently that wasn’t on his bucket list. The Browns’
passing offense (3,264 yards, 15 TDs) was just marginally better
than the Rams (2,951 yards, 14 TDs) in 2016. Meanwhile, Cleveland
QBs were sacked a league-worst 66 times (Rams ranked second-worst
with 49). In 2017 he’ll be catching passes from the trio of second-year
quarterback Cody Kessler, rookie DeShone Kizer or Brock Osweiler,
who turned Hopkins into a fantasy disaster. Britt will be the
second-most talented receiver in Browns camp, behind 2016 first-round
draft choice Corey Coleman (No. 15 overall).
Crowder, Washington – Crowder is a budding star.
With Garcon in San Francisco and DeSean Jackson in Tampa Bay,
the crowded Redskins wide receiver corps has thinned out considerably.
Crowder should lead both Terrelle Pryor and Jordan Reed in targets
and receptions and could catch 100 balls. He faded in the final
four games of 2016, so he needs to be stronger and ready to carry
this kind of load.
Snead, New Orleans – Michael Thomas is the team’s
No. 1 receiver, but Snead is ready to step up as a strong No.
2 now that the Saints traded Brandin Cooks’ 78 catches, 1,173
yards and eight scores to New England. Drew Brees is still an
elite quarterback who can distribute to both Thomas, Snead and
Coby Fleener and have all of them prosper.
Robinson, Jacksonville – OK, this is sort of cheating
because he posted 1,400 yards in 2015, but fell victim to the
complete failure of the Jaguars’ passing game in 2016. I don’t
believe Blake Bortles can possibly be as bad as he was last season.
The addition of rookie running back Leonard Fournette should allow
Bortles to be more efficient on fewer attempts and Robinson should
benefit from the result. Robinson is in the final year of his
rookie deal and wants a big deal which means producing big numbers.
Money is always a great incentive.
Marshall, New York Giants – Like Robinson, Marshall
posted monster numbers in 2015 (109-1,502-14) then fell victim
to sub-par quarterback play. Actually, sub-par is way too generous.
The Jets combination of Ryan Fitzpatrick, Bryce Petty and Geno
Smith threw for just 3,645 yards and 16 touchdowns. He’ll catch
balls from Eli Manning this season, who threw for 4,027 yards
and 26 touchdowns last season. Sure, Marshall will be the No.
2 guy, but Manning averaged 4,291 and 30 TDs the past three seasons
without a great second option to Beckham. He has one now. The
Giants don’t throw much to their running backs and Evan Engram/Will
Tye don’t figure to steal many targets from their top three receivers.
Steve Schwarz served as the fantasy sports editor of The Sports Network and is the 2014 FSWA Football Writer of the Year.