Preseason - Free Agent Wide Receivers - 2014 Outlook
 
 
 
 
Football > Preseason > Preseason - Free Agent Wide Receivers - 2014 Outlook

Preseason - Free Agent Wide Receivers - 2014 Outlook

Toolbox looks at the new situations for Wide Receivers and their Fantasy Impact

During the offseason, it is important to follow the ebb and flow of player movement. Each transaction reveals a team's priorities or their confidence in one player over another. Some moves are motivated by finances(of course), but our job is to intelligently speculate on how certain situations will shake out. At the wide receiver position, situations can be especially volatile. Intangible benefits like QB-WR chemistry can immeasurably affect both players' production.

In this piece, we'll focus on the movement of receivers. You'll notice I'm referencing FFWC Draft, which are recent Fantasy Football World Championship Drafts.

INDIANAPOLIS COLTS

Projected WR depth chart
WR1 T.Y. Hilton / WR2 Reggie Wayne / WR3 Hakeem Nicks / WR4 Da'Rick Rogers / WR5 LaVon Brazill

Just a few years ago, Nicks was the hottest new commodity in the Giants' arsenal and helped push the Giants' offense into the postseason and an eventual Super Bowl victory. As always, things change quickly in the NFL and he desperately needs a fresh start. Nicks couldn't even manage to score a touchdown last season and is unlikely to surpass an aging Wayne or streaky Hilton on the depth chart. If anything, Nicks is impeding the progress of a few young receivers who are tucked away on the Colts' sidelines.

Both Rogers and even Brazill had some light potential in keeper in dynasty leagues; however, the signing of Nicks kicks them to the curb unless an injury or Wayne retirement is impending. Nicks' inability to stay healthy provides little solace to fantasy owners. Over his five seasons, he has missed 10 games and spent countless others listed questionable on injury reports. With Hilton and Wayne firmly ahead of him, the return of TE Dwayne Allen into the starting lineup and a possible young WR like Rogers biting at his heels, Nicks isn't likely to perform as anything more than your average bench player.

FFWC Draft
T. Hilton: 04.06 (WR19)
R. Wayne: 06.05 (WR34)
H. Nicks: 08.07 (WR46)
D. Rogers: 11.09 (WR54)

NEW YORK JETS

Projected WR depth chart
WR1 Eric Decker / WR2 Jeremy Kerley / WR3 Stephen Hill / WR4 Clyde Gates / WR5 David Nelson

Leaving the Broncos' tremendous offense will negatively affect Decker's fantasy value. He was one of just six receivers last season to have equal to or more than 80 receptions, 1,200 receiving yards and 11 TDs. In contrast (even if you double Kerley's '13 stats), he still doesn't hold a candle to Decker's production. The drop from Peyton Manning down to Geno Smith is massive...just incomprehensible.

Stephen Hill's stagnant development has put Kerley in an awful position over the last two seasons. The Jets have brought in cheap backups, but none of them were able to contribute more than a handful of receptions per game. Santonio Holmes played just 15 games for the Jets in his last two seasons and had worn out his welcome with his second franchise. Even with the addition of Decker, don't be surprised if the Jets opt to draft a receiver early. Everyone behind Kerley on the depth chart is supremely replaceable unless Hill makes a huge developmental jump this offseason.

FFWC Draft
E. Decker: 05.05 (WR27)
J. Kerley: 18.05 (WR75)
S. Hill: 27.05 (WR99)
C. Gates: Undrafted

DETROIT LIONS

Projected WR depth chart
WR1 Calvin Johnson / WR2 Golden Tate / WR3 Kris Durham / WR4 Ryan Broyles / WR5 Corey Fuller

The recent departure of Nate Burleson really opens up a lot of possibilities for these young, unproven receivers. For an offense which relied so heavily on a wide-open passing attack, the receiver position has been top-heavy for far too long. Tate adds a touch of balance opposite Megatron since the former Notre Dame star catches everything in sight. Now entering his fifth season, Tate has slowly improved in each of his seasons with the Seahawks. His fantasy potential should be considered on an uptick given his presumably expanded role in a much more pass-centric offense.

After about a decade of brilliant dominance, there isn't much more to say about Johnson. He was dethroned as fantasy's No. 1 WR last year, yet that shouldn't deter you from making him one of the first receivers taken in your draft.

What dynasty owners will want to know is which players will solidify roles as Detroit's No. 3 and 4 WRs. Durham has the early edge in the slot; however, Broyles hasn't been healthy long enough to establish himself. Also in the mix are Fuller, Jeremy Ross and former Cowboys/Bucs pass-catcher Kevin Ogletree. Durham has some limited value in deeper formats, but this offense is just too inconsistent for him to earn any starts. The Lions may just use another mid to late round selection on a WR to come in and compete for one of these WR4 or WR5 spots, especially if they don't like how Broyles is healing and progressing after two torn ACLs and a torn Achilles over the last three years.

FFWC Draft
C. Johnson: 01.05 (WR1)
G. Tate: 09.06 (RB50)
K. Durham: Undrafted

BALTIMORE RAVENS

Projected WR depth chart
WR1 Torrey Smith / WR2 Steve Smith / WR3 Marlon Brown / WR4 Jacoby Jones / WR5 Deonte Thompson

Despite seeing 139 targets, T. Smith only caught 65 balls last year. For those of you without a calculator, that means he converted just under 47-percent of those passes directed at him. For a run-first team that wants to move the chains and control the clock, this level of inconsistency was a rhythm killer. Baltimore ranked 28th by averaging a three-and-out on 27-percent of their drives.

The S. Smith addition does little to satiate our fantasy needs. The elder Smith was already on the decline when Cam Newton arrived to the Panthers. A brief bounce-back put him back in our good graces; however, an awful 2013 season almost disqualifies him from our consideration. Now he goes to another run-oriented team, loses his No. 1 WR status and will likely have to compete with TE Dennis Pitta to earn the second-most targets on the squad. S. Smith is probably going to find himself on the waiver wire after a week or two if drafted.

Brown certainly deserves to overtake the wildly-overrated Jones, so no surprises there. Brown provides a big target and can work the short to intermediate pass game. He makes for an ideal complement to T. Smith and Jones' vertical abilities. The problem with Brown is his hands. He's just not consistent enough to score points in bunches. The Ravens might shock some outside observers and use a first round pick on a WR. Their offense has a long way to go and needs a jumpstart.

FFWC Draft
T. Smith: 05.08 (WR29)
S. Smith 12.05 (WR56)
M. Brown 23.02 (WR84)
Ja. Jones: 30.02 (WR111)

OAKLAND RAIDERS

Projected WR depth chart
WR1 James Jones / WR2 Rod Streater / WR3 Denarius Moore / WR4 Andre Holmes / WR5 Juron Criner

Finally out on his own, Jones escaped the long shadow of the receivers which had been ahead of him in Green Bay over the last seven years. Guys like Donald Driver, Jordy Nelson and Greg Jennings all outplayed him and outclassed him. Why then in an offense not nearly half as good as the Packers should we expect Jones to produce like anything more than a flex?

The former Cheesehead has never had a 1,000-yard season or caught more than 64 receptions in a year. Truth be told, the faster and more athletically dynamic duo of Streater and Moore could easily outshine Jones in this offense if durability wasn't such a prevalent issue. Behind these three receivers, Criner and Holmes are the obvious WR4 and WR5. Criner couldn't stay healthy though and Holmes made the most of his limited opportunities.

Jones won't go as low in your draft as he did in the FFWC Draft. At best, he can be a flex play assuming QB Matt Schaub isn't a total disaster. There's always a chance Oakland opts to draft a rookie QB early in the first and that really would change everything, possibly not in a very good way.

FFWC Draft
J. Jones: 15.02 (WR65)
R. Streater 17.08 (WR73)
D. Moore: 18.10 (WR76)
A. Holmes: 25.11 (WR93)
J. Criner: Undrafted

WASHINGTON REDSKINS

Projected WR depth chart
WR1 Pierre Garcon / WR2 DeSean Jackson / WR3 Andre Roberts / WR4 Aldrick Robinson / WR5 Leonard Hankerson

For more information about this situation, please check out this other article here at FFToolbox!

FFWC Draft
P. Garcon: 03.03 (WR12)
D. Jackson 03.12 (WR15)
A. Roberts: 15.01 (WR64)
S. Moss: 30.12 (WR119)
A. Robinson: Undrafted

Read our breakdown about recently signed Running Backs.