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We use Slack to communicate internally, and now we're going to use it to communicate with you guys. Every Wednesday, we're going to have our trio of Fantasy football experts — Dave Richard and Heath Cummings — discuss (and maybe debate) their rankings. We're talking about wide receivers this week.
dave.richard: Welcome to the chat about the most troublesome position in Fantasy Football in 2018!
chris.towers: It's an interesting time for wide receivers. A few years back, "zero-RB" was the hot trend, as wide receivers were dominating the Fantasy landscape. That peaked in 2015, when two of the five all-time yardage seasons happened, and we've been seeing a swing back toward running backs ever since.
heath.cummings: We're bringing it back, though ... or at least some of us.
heath.cummings: ADP is.
dave.richard: I'm afraid ADP could look silly come January.
chris.towers: So, I'll start with a big picture question for the two of you: With nine running backs going in the top-12 of ADP right now, has the pendulum swung too far? Are wide receivers actually Draft Day values, on the whole?
dave.richard: Not in non-PPR, kinda sorta in PPR. The reason why I'm bearish on receivers improving is because of the league-wide move to the spread formation. They're using more receivers. They're using running backs as receivers. Tight ends are getting more opportunities. Only 14 receivers had over 120 targets last season!
heath.cummings: To which I would answer: Get you some of those 120-target receivers! Julio Jones, Michael Thomas and Adam Thielen will all score at a higher rate in 2018, which will help rectify that.last year that made WR look even worse than it was.
dave.richard: I would LOVE to get some of those 120-target receivers but they're going at the same time as the 250-carry, 50-catch running backs. And running backs tend to outproduce receivers (about 3.0 FPTS/game more in 2017). It's a tough spot to be in. Scoring system matters.
chris.towers: Do we see any reason to think a return to the high-volume target days of yore is coming? How much of last year's particularly rotten crop of WR can be explained by the guys throwing them the ball? Aaron Rodgers, Andrew Luck, Deshaun Watson, Jameis Winston were all hurt ... Marcus Mariota and Derek Carr took a step back ... Heck, even the Dolphins will be happy to see Ryan Tannehill after the Jay Cutler experiment failed so spectacularly. Could better days be ahead?
dave.richard: This is the hope — that Rodgers, Luck, Watson, etc. (but not really Tannehill, c'mon Chris) improve the volume and efficiency of their teams' passing games.
heath.cummings: Yep. I don't know that it gets all the way back, but I'd expect those quarterbacks help quite a bit, especially with efficiency.
dave.richard: At the same time, we know the Colts will use running backs and tight ends in their offense, I think Houston WANTS to incorporate those positions. Green Bay added Jimmy Graham and have refreshed Ty Montgomery's role. It's not exactly a guarantee that they'll improve passing.
chris.towers: Makes sense. It all makes sense. Grab those stud running backs early! And then I actually get into draft rooms, where I take RB early and try to make up ground at WR and ... I hate it. You can find a 250-carry running back in Rounds 3-4, but with teams spreading the ball around more in the passing game, who are the Round 4-5 wide receivers who could join the 120-target group?
dave.richard: Larry Fitzgerald, Jarvis Landry, Brandin Cooks and Crabtree are the ones to hone in on in Rounds 4-5. There are some later on (Robby Anderson, Kelvin Benjamin, Kenny Stills) who could join them. If this list of receivers makes you want to puke in a bucket, then you should probably take two receivers with your first three picks.
heath.cummings: Also, maybe Nelson Agholor. I'm getting more worried about Alshon Jeffery.
dave.richard: I love Agholor.
heath.cummings: Anderson was a good pull Dave. I'm not sure anyone on the Rams gets there
dave.richard: I want to put this here: Brandin Cooks is not Sammy Watkins. He's not the same kind of receiver and his situation isn't the same as Watkins. I think he can hit 120 targets and his track record with about that many targets speaks for itself — which isn't to say he'll be awesome, just that he'll be sporadically productive.
heath.cummings: He's not. But Sammy got 70 (!) targets last year. Cooper Kupp led the team with 94. That's a big leap to 120. If Cooks gets 120, then either Gurley isn't the No. 1 pick, or Kupp is overdrafted, or Robert Woods is irrelevant. Probably two of those.
chris.towers:. I think the Fantasy community has gone a bit too far in trying to shoe-horn Cooks into the Watkins role from 2017, despite their different skills and different circumstances — Sammy wasn't even on the Rams' roster at this point last year.
heath.cummings: I'm giving Cooks 50% more targets than Sammy. That's 106.
chris.towers: You both have Cooks in the low-end WR2 range in your rankings. How low do you have to go in your rankings before you get to that tier of WR you wouldn't even consider sitting against a tough matchup?
dave.richard: Not that low. Maybe the fourth tier.
chris.towers: Dave, for you,
dave.richard: Yeah, pretty much
heath.cummings: In a league with two receivers and a flex? It probably goes past Cooks for me.
dave.richard: One strategy I like is taking my last starting WR slot and quasi-streaming it. I'll pick two-to-four receivers and use one for that spot each week based on matchups. Gives me more chances at sleeper receivers on Draft Day.
chris.towers: Which wide receiver has fallen most in your rankings since the start of training camp? Anyone you've been scared off of?
heath.cummings: Rishard Matthews for sure. Corey Davis is getting positive training camp reports and Matthews can't get on the field.
dave.richard: Doug Baldwin (a little) and Alshon Jeffery because of his injuries; Josh Gordon because of his uncertain future; DeVante Parker because I think he's just never gonna be a No. 1 guy; Devin Funchess because we shouldn't overrate receivers based on one season; Dez Bryant because he's unsigned.
chris.towers: Who is moving up? Corey Davis and Mike Williams have garnered rave reviews, so I assume they'll be on that list.
heath.cummings: For sure. I've also moved Agholor, Anderson and Stills up. Though I'm still too low on Anderson if he doesn't get a suspension.
chris.towers: (Anderson was, amazingly, a top-15 WR last season.)
dave.richard: A LOT of mover-uppers ... TY Hilton (Hi Andrew Luck); Emmanuel Sanders (he's healthy & QB situation has improved); Corey Davis (UPSIDE!); Nelson Agholor (top WR in Philly?); Marquise Goodwin (top WR in San Fran?); Mike Williams (top WR in L.A.?!?); Anthony Miller (top WR in Chicago?!?).
chris.towers: That last one might be a bit less exciting...
dave.richard: Oh, I'm not so sure about that.
heath.cummings: Yes, definitely Marquise. And Jarvis Landry with all the turmoil in Cleveland. His targets may not dip all that much from the Miami days after all.
Okay, one last question: You've got one pick left. You have no needs. You've built the perfect roster — you've drafted like me, in other words. You're going to take a late-round wide receiver. Who is it?
Let's say, ADP past 150. Give me a deep sleeper.
dave.richard: I live for this question.
chris.towers: (Give me five, if you're struggling to narrow it down)
dave.richard: Anthony Miller won't be past 150 for long. Two receivers I am keeping a close eye on this preseason are Geronimo Allison in Green Bay and James Washington in Pittsburgh. I think Allison has a better chance to make a Fantasy impact, but both are exciting.
chris.towers: (Or three. Three works.)
heath.cummings: I'll take Tyler Lockett or John Brown. Lockett has a great quarterback and not much competition for targets behind Doug Baldwin. If Baldwin's injury is worse that we're hearing he could be the team's No. 1. And I just can't quit Smoke. Camp reports have been excellent and he's the best deep ball receiver in Baltimore. Could he be what Torrey Smith used to be?
Ok ... add Courtland Sutton. If he wasn't in a place with two good receivers he might be my No. 1 rookie right now.
chris.towers: And that'll do it. Thanks, fellas. We're done with our position previews this week, but we'll still be previewing everything you need to know for the Fantasy season right up until kickoff.
So what sleepers should you snatch in your Fantasy Football draft? And which wide receivers do you need to jump all over? Visit SportsLine now to get Fantasy Football cheat sheets from the model that called Alvin Kamara's huge breakout last season and find out.