In part one, I looked at the backfield battles to keep an eye on this summer. In part two I’ll take a look and ask questions about specific receiving groups. I decided to take a look at teams that don’t appear to have a clear-cut top dog at receiver. Just like with the backfields, I don’t feel comfortable making any predictions yet as to how these groups will pan out. Rather, I pose questions and describe the conditions that should be monitored by fantasy owners over the summer of OTAs, training camps, and pre-season games. Without any further ado, here are the receiving corps to keep an eye on.
Baltimore Ravens – Who will be the top receiver for the revamped Ravens receiving corps? Baltimore completely turned over their receivers, parting ways with Mike Wallace and Jeremy Maclin, who combined for a whopping 164 targets in 2017. In their place, the Ravens brought in Michael Crabtree, Willie Snead, and John Brown. They also have former first-round pick Breshad Perriman, who is still looking to make an impact in the NFL. It would appear that they have plenty of talent, whether or not Joe Flacco (or Lamar Jackson) can form a connection with any of the new wideouts remains to be seen.
Cleveland Browns – Will Jarvis Landry and Josh Gordon be able to coexist? Gordon looked like his old self in the final five games with the Browns last season. Cleveland also went out and traded for Jarvis Landry, who led the league with 112 catches in 2017. Further cementing his stay Landry signed a five year, 75 million dollar contract with the Browns. Corey Coleman, who played the role of number one receiver when healthy, also returns. Cleveland’s receiver corps rounds out with Ricardo Louis, Rashard Higgins, former Packer Jeff Janis, fourth-round pick Antonio Callaway, and sixth-round pick Damion Ratley.
Jacksonville Jaguars – Which Jaguar will rise to the top of a talented receiving group? Jacksonville parted ways with Allen Robinson and Allen Hurns in the offseason but is still loaded with talented receiving options. There will only be so many targets to go around, however, especially since the Jags plan to be a run-heavy offense behind Leonard Fournette. Marqise Lee led the team in targets and receptions in 2017, while Keelan Cole edged him out as the leader in yardage.
Dede Westbrook missed the first nine games of his 2017 rookie season but showed promise in the final seven games of the season, averaging over seven targets per game and still finishing fourth on the team with 27 catches for 339 yards. The Jags also signed former Colt Donte Moncrief to a handsome 9.6 million dollar contract in the offseason and drafted LSU prospect D.J. Chark in the second round.
Dallas Cowboys– How do the Cowboys receivers fill the void left by Dez Bryant? Though his numbers weren’t earth-shattering, Dez’s 69 catches for 838 yards and six touchdowns were easily the best receiving numbers on the Cowboys. Now that he’s been shown the door and Jason Witten has taken his talents to the television booth, the Cowboys and Dak Prescott are in desperate need of pass catchers. Next in the pecking order from 2017, Terrance Williams had a brush in with the law that could cost him a few games.
Dallas did bring in free agent Allen Hurns and draft Colorado State product Michael Gallup in the third round of the draft, either of whom could end up as the new number one wideout for Dak and the Cowboys. They also have slot receivers Cole Beasley and recently added Tavon Austin, though they’ve stated Austin will be used more out of the backfield and may not be listed as a wide receiver by the time the season starts.
Chicago Bears – Will Chicago’s new offensive weapons pan out under Matt Nagy? The Bears leading receivers in 2017 were Kendall Wright, Josh Bellamy, and Dontrelle Inman. Let that sink in for a second. Wright and Inman are gone, while Bellamy will likely be buried behind the new editions. Chicago made a big splash in free agency by signing former pro bowler Allen Robinson. They also signed speedster Taylor Gabriel from Atlanta and drafted Anthony Miller out of Memphis in the second round of the draft. Draft bust Kevin White remains on the roster and will look to finally make an impact in 2018.
Carolina Panthers – Will D.J. Moore step right into the number one receiver role? Headed into 2017 Kelvin Benjamin was slotted as Carolina’s top receiver, but he was traded halfway through the season, allowing Devin Funchess to break out with a career-best season. The Panthers picked D.J. Moore in the first round, and many are expecting the first receiver off the board to make an instant impact. Carolina also has plenty of deep speed threats in second-year receiver Curtis Samuel and free agent additions Torrey Smith and Jarius Wright, who will all be battling for Cam Newton’s attention.
Find me on Twitter @aalarson to let me know how you think these position battles play out for fantasy football.
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