Who do you trust? In the third and final piece of the series,
we analyze the wide receiver position. Trust is an important word
in the English language Ö and life. I trust that mom will
always have my best interest at heart. I trust that every time
President Donald Trump uses his twitter account I will be entertained.
However, trusting wideouts is different from quarterbacks and
A quarterback controls his own fate. He takes the snap and all
he has to do is perform Ö for the most part. It assumes
that all teams have professional receivers who can catch a well-thrown
pass. A running back has control over his performance. Sure, there
may not be big holes, but good runners find a way. A receiver
is different. He can run a great pattern, but if the QB isnít
looking his way it wonít matter. Or if the defense is doubling
or triple covering him it also wonít matter. And even if
heís open and even if the quarterback sees him, the passer
must be competent enough to get him a catchable ball (Think Tony
Romoís replacements in 2015. More about that later).
I trust Antonio Brown (FFToday Preseason Rank No. 1) will continue
to post astounding numbers. How could I not believe in a wide
receiver when heís averaged 116 receptions, 1,569 yards
and 10 touchdowns for the last five seasons? Heís hugely
talented, has a talented quarterback who will throw him the 50-50
ball and a running game that prevents defenses from focusing all
their attention his way.
Concerns for Fitz (age, fragile QB) are
real but three-straight 100-catch seasons are hard to ignore.
Green (FFToday Rank No. 8) Ė I trust heíll be no worse
than last season when Green posted 1,078 yards and eight touchdown
with mediocre quarterback play, a mediocre receiver opposite of
him and his talented tight end playing just four games due to
injury. Last yearís numbers should be his floor and if he gets
some help, any help, he could be much better.
Baldwin, Seattle (Rank No. 11) - I believe in Baldwin.
He and Russell Wilson have ďitĒ and I trust them. In addition,
with Jimmy Graham and Paul Richardson gone, there will be additional
red zone opportunities for Baldwin, who managed just 12 last season,
while still scoring eight times.
Fitzgerald (Rank No. 12) Ė As with A.J. Green, Fitzgeraldís
2017 statistics (109-1156-6) could represent his floor in 2018.
Why? Because Sam Bradford likes to throw the short pass, thatís
how he posts such a high completion mark (71.6% in 2016 with Minnesota).
And when the inevitable injury forces the Cardinals to start Josh
Rosen, what better friend could a rookie QB have than the sure-handed
OK, now letís look at eight other receivers for whom you
may have questions. I certainly do.
Hopkins, Houston (Rank No. 2) - I trust Hopkins
completely, but only if Deshaun Watson is healthy. Why donít I
trust Hopkins without Watson? Did you look at the Texansí QB depth
chart recently? Let me help you since Iíve done the research.
Brandon Weeden, Joe Webb and Stephen Morris! Thatís not even up
to last yearís Tom Savage and T.J. Yates level. The team signed
Weeden in March as Watsonís backup and he hasnít thrown a pass
since 2015. He was last on the Titans roster and they chose Blaine
Gabbert over Weeden! Remember when he replaced Romo is Dallas?
The other two are training camp arms.
Allen, San Diego (Rank No. 7) Ė I love Allen, but I
donít trust him. Heís injury-prone. Heís never started 16 games
in a season. He was a volume receiver last season, setting career
highs in targets, receptions, and yards, but caught just 64.2%
of his attempts. Will he get the same number of looks this season?
Probably. But Mike Williams, their 2017 first-round pick did little
last season due to injury and should see a lot more than the 23
targets he saw in 2017. They also have capable receivers in Tyrell
Williams and speedster Travis Benjamin. The loss of TE Hunter
Henry to injury and Antonio Gates to retirement should help, but
Iím still concerned.
Hill, Kansas City (Rank No. 9) - Despite last
yearís success, I donít trust Hill. Itís hard to trust a ďhome
run hitterĒ like Hill who doesnít get red zone touchdowns. In
fact, last season he ranked seventh on the Chiefs in red zone
targets with just five. He did score eight times (once as a punt
returner) and all of them were from at least 30 yards out and
averaged 58 yards. Thatís hard to duplicate. And he wonít be catching
passes from veteran Alex Smith, it will be Pat Mahomes with one
Evans, Tampa Bay (Rank No. 10) Ė Was 2017 an
aberration? I think so. On the other hand, his targets were down
21%. His catch percentage dropped from 56.1% to 52.2%. Evansí
touchdown history has always been undependable. He has two seasons
of 12 TD passes and two poor seasons (3 and 5). With DeSean Jackson,
Adam Humphries, an improving Chris Godwin and a tight end who
can catch (O.J. Howard), there is a chance that Evans will never
see 140+ targets again.
Cooper, Oakland (Rank No. 13) Ė His fall from
star to subpar was meteoric. If you take out his one great game
(11-210-2 against KC in Week 7), Cooper managed just 37 catches
for 470 yards and five touchdowns in 13 games. Thatís not elite.
Thatís not good. Thatís not even mediocre. I canít trust that
he and Derek Carr will find ďitĒ again.
Hilton (Rank No. 15) Ė Ha-ha! Hilton is the
very definition of boom or bust. Four games averaging 151 yards
and 13 games averaging 28 yards. Nothing trustworthy about those
numbers. Call me after we see Andrew Luck throw the ball with
authority. And if that doesnít happen in preseason you should
Robinson (Rank No. 16) Ė Robinson will never
repeat his 2015 season (80-1400-14). Erase that from your mind.
If healthy (he missed almost all of 2017 with an ACL tear), he
could produce close to 1,000 yards as the Bearsí No.1 wideout
option. But I have many questions about QB Mitch Trubisky, so
I canít simply trust Robinson.
Thomas, Denver (Rank No. 17) Ė I trust Thomas
will improve on last season’s totals (83-949-5), but I don’t
trust Case Keenum, so I don’t believe Thomas will ever reproduce
his 2012-2015 production level (averaged 100-1446-10). The Broncos
drafted two wide receivers last April (Courtland Sutton and DaeSean
Hamilton), so perhaps they don’t trust Thomas and/or Emmanuel
Steve Schwarz served as the fantasy sports editor of The Sports Network and is the 2014 FSWA Football Writer of the Year.