The first time I went to Las Vegas I was just a corn-fed Midwestern head-strong greenhorn. I had to urinate so bad when I got off the plane. To my amazement, as I entered the bathroom there was digital slot machine right above the urinal. This blew me away, and I thought to myself, “This jet lag is no joke.” I was so enthralled and humored and didn’t know if I was imagining this.
Most people know I love the squirrels in my yard and as I was “zoning” out with my wife the other day watching these three squirrels, I noticed that the smaller one was running circles around the other two bigger squirrels. Then it hit me… This is the year of the Slot receiver!
The emergence of the slot wideout in the NFL has been steadily climbing for years. This year may be the best we have seen in a long time as a whole. So, when I think of dirty, dirty Slots, Las Vegas & um, squirrels? Then there is only one man that comes to mind, DFF’s own… John “Johnny Vegas” Di Bari.
…..Some say he was born in a pool of glowing blue goo at Area 51. Some say he was formed in a dirty water dog cart’s hot receptacle in the streets of Chicago? Well, wherever he spewed from I knew he is the guy for this job. Sit back and crack open a frosty adult beverage, pull up your screen of choice and take a trip to the upcoming 2017 fantasy season. Welcome to the year of the Slot Wide Receiver. As Mr. John Di Bari and I each choose thre Slot WRs and tell you why you need them on your squads.
J.T. – Jordan Matthews Philadelphia Eagles
“J-Matt” as a lot of us call him, will be over his knee injury and ready by July training camp. This 24-year-old kid battled injuries last year and still toughed it out and did not miss many games. He now has a solid possession WR on the team with Alshon Jeffrey and the speedy field stretcher on the other side of him by the name of Torrey Smith. The middle should be open for QB Carson Wentz to exploit by hitting his buddy, who he went to bat for when the Eagles were thinking of trading Mr. Matthews.
One reason he was on the trade block was likely because he had the worst production of his career in 2016. This so happened to coincide with the lowest slot rate of his entire career, ( 36.9% he lined up as the slot in 3-4 WR sets). If he stays healthy, I expect Mr. Matthews to have his best fantasy year and maybe the year we have been waiting for as owners of him. I watched him years ago and was blown away by his play at Vanderbilt, and I think his prime is coming.
80-90 catches, 1100 yards, 7-10 TDs
J.D.B. – Jarvis Landry – Miami Dolphins
Few players in fantasy are as polarizing as Miami’s 3rd-year slot man, Jarvis Landry. Although I am a fan of Landry and his production up to this point in his career, I’m also a realist and can see that his production has been entirely volume dependent. DFF’s very own Addison Hayes perfectly broke down why we should expect to see some regression from Landry in 2017 in a thread of tweets here. In short, once the Dolphins began to lean on Jay Ajayi more, they needed Landry less. And once Ajayi took over the starring role of the offense, Landry was only WR27 in PPR formats from that point forward.
Expect Ajayi to get a ton of carries this year, look for DeVante Parker to step up and for Julius Thomas to get some of the shorter pass attempts that had been reserved for Landry in the past. At his current price, I think he’s untouchable as you’d be paying close to ceiling prices for him, but others like myself are lower on him than most and if people are selling him for a reasonable, non-inflated, price he can return fair value in PPR leagues.
85 catches, 850 yards, 4 TDs
J.T. – Cooper Kupp (R) – L.A. Rams
Kupp performed well out of the slot at Rams offseason practices. Per ESPN’s Alden Gonzalez:
“Kupp worked on the inside while Tavon Austin (wrist) spent this spring recovering from surgery. Although Austin often occupies a slot role himself, Kupp apparently emerged as a ‘go-to’ target from there. Drafted in the third round this year, Kupp was wildly productive at Eastern Washington, posting 428 catches, 6,464 yards and 73 touchdowns in 52 career games”
Given Kupp’s 4.62-second 40-yard dash time, he probably lacks the explosiveness to play on the outside, but that’s hardly a problem for Tavon Austin. As a result, the veteran could be used more as a perimeter deep threat, leaving Kupp to clean up receptions underneath.
45-50 catches, 400-450 yards, 3 TDs
J.D.B. – Jamison Crowder – Washington Redskins
I’m a huge Crowder supporter, but I feel like the hype train is starting to get out of control. Don’t get me wrong, I love him, but how much growth can we expect from him in year 3? Even a 20% increase from his 2016 numbers (67/847) put him in the 80/1016 range, which, coincidentally is right about where I expect him to be at season’s end.
His role with the Redskins is rumored to be expanding, and he’ll be playing on the outside a lot more this year than in his first two seasons and is expected to be on the field during most of the Redskins 2 wide receiver sets. With the Redskins losing both DeSean Jackson and Pierre Garcon, there is room for Crowder to take a big step up if he gets the targets and I think he will.
80 catches, 1100 yards, 9 TDs
J.T. – Willie Snead – New Orleans Saints
When Drew Brees needed to keep warm on those 99% humidity days in south Louisiana, he dialed up his security blanket, Mr. Willie Snead. His 56 receptions were 7th in the league to go along with 707 yards from the slot, which came in 4th in the NFL. There is no reason this coming year that he can’t outdo his combined touchdown totals of 3 in 2015 and 4 in 2016. With the departure of Brandin Cooks going to the great white north in New England, the sky’s the limit in what could be Mr. Snead’s best season yet in 2017.
85 catches, 1000 yards, 7-8 TDs
J.D.B. – Cole Beasley –Dallas Cowboys
Beasley had a career year last year catching 75 balls for 833 yards, both of which led the Cowboys receiving corps. He developed a solid rapport with rookie QB Dak Prescott and was relied upon heavily as the season went on. According to Pro Football Focus, Beasley was the most reliable slot receiver and had the NFL’s highest passer rating when targeted in 2016.
— Marcus Mosher (@Marcus_Mosher) June 12, 2017
Thus far this offseason, he’s been sidelined with hamstring tendonitis, and the Cowboys drafted a Beasley clone in UNC’s Ryan Switzer, so he might slowly be fading out of the minds of fantasy owners, but his contract runs through 2018 and Switzer will be brought on slowly as his eventual replacement. Beasley is expected to be healthy as the season rolls around and expect Prescott to lean on him again in 2017 as Switzer learns behind him.
65 catches, 760 yards, 9 TDs
Thank you for reading and supporting the DFF Army. If you would like more Dynasty Football info, hit up John Di Bari or myself on Twitter.
John – @dibari22
Good Luck in your Dynasty Leagues this year and remember to always refer to http://dynastyfootballfactory.com/ for winning Fantasy Football Information!