This is the third part of a 4-part series on buy-low candidates in the 2017 offseason. We discussed Buy-low RBs last week. When determining the best buy-low candidates, I look for players whose value is currently less than what I expect it to be next year. I also look for players whose current value is less than the production I think they will have in 2017 and possibly beyond. Buy-low candidates can be inexpensive as long as you get more production out of them, or value from them, than the cost to acquire said player. Here are five wide receivers that are buy-low candidates right now.
Allen Hurns, Jacksonville
Allen Hurns was bad last year, really bad. After ending the 2015 season as WR20 in PPR leagues, Hurns was rewarded by the Jacksonville Jaguars with a 4-year, $40 million-dollar deal. He was the beneficiary of being an UDFA who was allowed to negotiate an extension after 2-years instead of having to wait for 3-years. Hurns looked like the perfect #2 WR to pair with Allen Robinson and the Jags young QB Blake Bortles. Then 2016 happened. Hurns ended the season as WR78 with just over 100 fantasy points. Injuries played a large role in that, as he missed the final 5-games of the season and ended his 2016 campaign with just 35 catches for 477 yards and a mere 3-TDs.
Many factors contributed to Hurns’ poor season including the 5-missed games, the firing of both his offensive coordinator (OC) and head coach and the inconsistent play of Blake Bortles. After a promising 2015 season for Hurns, the emergence of Marqise Lee also threatens Hurns’ fantasy potential going forward. This is exactly why he is my #1 buy-low WR candidate this offseason. He’s proven that he can put up numbers as his 64 catches for 1030 yards and 10 TDs in 2015 prove that. His value is at the lowest it might ever be and taking a chance on him won’t cost very much at all. Although I’m not a Blake Bortles fan, he did finish the year as QB8 in 4-point TD leagues on pure volume alone. Bortles had the third most attempts in 2016 and I see that trend continuing in 2017 with the lackluster running duo of Chris Ivory and T.J Yeldon. Buy, buy, buy before he has another good season and his value goes up.
Cameron Meredith, Chicago
I’m a Cameron Meredith fan and I can’t help myself. How can you not love the guy who finished the 2016 season with 66 catches for 888 yards and 4 TDs in 14 games while playing with 3-quarterbacks, none of which are any good. The best part: This is only his 4th year playing wide receiver at any level of competitive football. Cameron spent his first 2-years at Illinois State as a backup QB before transitioning to wide receiver for the 2013 and 2014 seasons. That transition was smooth as he led the team in receptions both years before turning pro. Without an invite to the NFL combine, Meredith was forced to showcase his skills at his Pro day. He did just that earning several offers after the NFL draft.
Fast forward to the 2016 season, Meredith gets his first start with the Chicago Bears in week-3. After his first 2-games with only 6-catches, Meredith broke out for 20 catches, 243 yards and a TD over the next 2-weeks. It’s not just the stats that are impressive, it’s the way he can dominate at times for being so new to the position. Meredith is a 6’3” 207 pound WR who has been clocked as low as a 4.39 forty time. I expect Meredith to take the next step in 2017, having another year of playing WR in his repertoire. Kevin White hasn’t been able to stay on the field long enough to impress me and Alshon Jeffery appears to be on his way out of Chicago. That doesn’t mean I see Meredith as a true #1 WR but I do see him establishing himself as Bears WR who will continue to see more targets the more he produces. Go out and buy Meredith. He just might be the most targeted WR on the Bears next year and can be had for a second-round pick to those that don’t see his potential.
Dorial Green-Beckham, Philadelphia
On skills and talent alone, Dorial Green-Beckham (DGB) should be on everyone’s sell-high list these days. Unfortunately for him, he’s never been able to show off his skills because of his inability to either stay out of trouble or stay on a team for an extended period of time. DGB was a phenom in high school, a 2-time All-American and the USA Today player of the year. He was one of the most highly sought-after recruits of 2012 with offers from all major colleges. He chose Missouri over other big-time schools along with other SEC schools. He was a 5-star stud athlete who was about to become the big man on campus at Missouri. Then the troubles began, starting with a drug possession arrest as a freshman at Missouri. DGB was later dismissed from Missouri after his sophomore season and then transferred to Oklahoma because they take anyone regardless of criminal activity. In 2015 he declared for the NFL draft after spending 2-years at Oklahoma and never playing a single down for the Sooners.
All the talent couldn’t be denied. He was drafted in the second round of the NFL draft by the Tennessee Titans, although he hadn’t caught a ball in a game in almost 3-years. Rumors swirled that Tennessee wasn’t happy with his work ethic and production on the field after the 2015 season which is the reason Tennessee traded him to Philadelphia before the 2016 season. While probably in the minority on DGB, I feel that now is the time to buy him at his lowest value. His numbers last year don’t look good at all taken out of context, but those should improve. He spent less than one month with the Eagles before week-1 of the 2016 season. He had a rookie QB that was adjusting to the change in pace from North Dakota State University to the NFL. He had a new offensive staff and head coach who had very little time to find his strengths and weaknesses before week-1 of the season. Yes, these are all excuses and they might come back to bite me, but I think this is the year he breaks out. I’ve been buying up shares all offseason, mostly late round picks, in the hopes that it pays off. The bigger question is, when he does break out this year how early do I sell his shares before he messes up again?
Josh Doctson, Washington
This buy-low candidate is solely based on two things: injuries in 2016 and rumors that he might not love the game of football enough. Doctson was drafted by the Washington Redskins at pick 22 in the first-round of the 2016 NFL draft. Injuries hampered his first training camp and he failed to catch a single ball in preseason. The lingering Achilles tendon injury shut down his season after week-2 of the regular season, ending his rookie campaign with 2-catches for 66 yards. Then, former Redskins Tight End and current Radio Show Host Chris Cooley made comments about Doctson’s lack of love for football. Then rumors swirled around the fantasy football community.
Doctson heads into Year-2 having learned very little on the field about what it takes to be an NFL wide receiver. He also had very little practice time with his teammates, having spent most of the season on the sidelines or on IR. In most my leagues, Doctson owners are holding steady not wanting to sell him only to see him breakout in 2017. I’m on the opposite end of the spectrum, trying to buy-low before that breakout happens. Kirk Cousins should return in 2017, either on the franchise tag or through working out a long-term deal. I believe both Pierre Garcon and DeSean Jackson will be off the roster when free agency starts next month. That opens the door for Doctson to show off his skills and have an opportunity at being the #1 WR in Washington next year. At 6’2” and adding some more muscle and size this offseason, I see a huge year coming for Doctson if he can put the Achilles injury behind him. If offered Doctson for a second-round pick, especially mid-to-late, I’m jumping all over it.
Laquon Treadwell, Minnesota
It’s no surprise that I’m a die hard Vikings fan, but still an unbiased one (or at least I try to be). Laquon Treadwell’s rookie season was a disaster. From the beginning of training camp, Treadwell struggled to stay on the field for an extended period of time, which slowed his progression. He was oft-injured all camp and spent a good portion watching practices. This translated to the regular season where he was ruled out for another 5- of the 16-games in the season. On top of that, he was a healthy scratch for 2-more games, something that speaks volumes to where his abilities as an NFL WR are. A quote I received from a former Viking’s beat writer was that Treadwell is “entitled, immature and aloof off the field and unimpressive on the field.” Put all these together and it sounds like a disaster for a rookie drafted in the first round by a team who desperately needs WR play.
I haven’t given up on Treadwell but I have tempered my expectations. Treadwell was being drafted at 2nd or 3rd overall in most rookie drafts last year, making him the first rookie WR off the board in most cases. After having the interim label removed last month, Vikings OC Pat Shurmur, came out this week to say that Treadwell will be a big portion of this offense moving forward. Laquon is exceptionally young, won’t be 22 years old until June, so time is on his side – and hopefully maturity comes with age. Additionally, Sam Bradford will be back for Year-2 with the Vikings and this will be his first offseason with the team. I think this benefits Treadwell and should allow the QB and WR to finally build rapport that should carry into the season. I’ve seen Treadwell traded for a second-round draft pick in two of my leagues and regret not jumping on that. I won’t miss out on that opportunity if it presents itself in other leagues.
As always, thanks for reading. Feel free to follow me and ask questions on Twitter @DFF_MattK. Also, look for the final part of the 4-part series coming soon: Buy Low Tight Ends. Thanks.