As we continue through this series, the next stop along the line is the wide receiver position. According to an article from NFL.com’s Michael Fabiano, only 18 wide receivers reached 200 PPR points last season. Also, mentioned in the same piece, there were only 13 total wide receivers who reached the 1,000-yard mark.
The wide receiver position is a volatile one in fantasy football. Much of the time there is a desire to chase big points based off of a given perception of a player, only to have that player turn around and fail to provide that value. The big four, Antonio Brown, DeAndre Hopkins, Odell Beckham Jr., and Julio Jones give fantasy gamers the safest floors season to season. Even these players sometimes perform poorly.
This series, however, is not to examine the likes of those just mentioned. It is preferable to explore those players who will take the leap this season, becoming fantasy “risers.”
Robby Anderson, New York Jets
The return of Quincy Enunwa will be a massive boon to the Jets this upcoming season. His return should not scare you off of Anderson though. Now that he is likely to avoid a suspension, it is wheels up for Robby Anderson in 2018.
From 2016 to 2017, Anderson saw a nice bump in production. Last season, he saw a team-high 114 targets, converting those to 63 receptions for 941 yards and seven touchdowns. To put in perspective how high Anderson’s value was last season, he finished as the WR18 in PPR formats, with 200 fantasy points. It should also be known that his finish was higher than both Stefon Diggs and Alshon Jeffery.
In the 2017 season, Anderson exceeded his weekly projections nine times, including three times by double-digits. His highest production came in weeks 8-13. During that span, Anderson scored in double-digits each week, averaging 15.96 points per game.
As far as strength of schedule, Anderson has the 24th easiest for wide receivers in 2018. Anderson’s first three games of the season pit him against the 3rd easiest opponents for wide receivers. The fantasy playoffs are also favorable for Anderson as he is slated to face the 11th easiest schedule for receivers. He is projected on the season for 60 receptions, for 824 yards, and 5 touchdowns.
If Anderson can come close to his season from a year ago, there is no reason why he can’t exceed that value. Anderson has a 9th-round ADP, which is excellent value. Despite the return of Enunwa, it would not be a surprise, primarily based on the rapport between Anderson and Josh McCown, to see him flourish once again. The 1,000-yard plateau is reachable for Robby Anderson in 2018.
Marqise Lee, Jacksonville Jaguars
Despite the additions of Donte Moncrief and rookie D.J. Chark, as well as the emergence of Keelan Cole, the Jaguars pass-catching situation seems volatile. Knowing this, it will give fifth-year wide receiver, and foreseeable number one option Marqise Lee the opportunity to produce.
In 2017, Lee saw a dip in his production. The year before, Lee saw 105 targets, turning that into 63 receptions for 851 yards and three touchdowns. Last season, Lee saw a slight decrease in targets, 96, however, posted a lower yard total of just 702 yards and three touchdowns, despite starting 14 games.
Lee finished 2017 as the WR40, with 147.9 fantasy points, averaging a respectable 11.4 points per game in PPR scoring. Currently, Lee’s ECR is higher than his ADP, meaning that Lee is still an excellent value for fantasy gamers.
Another beneficial aspect which should inevitably help Lee’s game is the Jaguars decision to let the former number one receiver Allen Robinson walk in free agency, as well as invest $34 million into Lee on a new deal. Because the situation in Jacksonville is up in the air with who will step into that top role, Lee has a good shot with improved play from Blake Bortles to once again see 100 targets.
The other receivers in Jacksonville do not pose a significant threat to Lee, as well. Donte Moncrief, despite starting eight games last season, saw just 47 targets, posting a porous 26 receptions. Keelan Cole, as a rookie last season, saw 83 targets, turning in an impressive rookie campaign of 42 receptions for 748 yards and three touchdowns. Cole is Lee’s primary competition for targets until Moncrief can prove otherwise. D.J. Chark is a rookie, and more than likely will not see anything higher than a WR4 finish.
According to PlayerProfiler, Lee saw a 23.6% target share, good for sixteenth overall. This should increase, as long as Bortles can improve on last year. Lee also finished in the top 20 in Contested Catch Rate, according to PlayerProfiler. Lee has the makeup and the pure athleticism to dominate in the NFL. With who can step into the number one role seemingly up in the air, Lee can take the opportunity to make it completely his own.
Tyrell Williams, Los Angeles Chargers
After a breakout season in 2016 where Williams posted 1,059 yards, he fell back down to earth last season. Keenan Allen’s return puts a dent in Williams’ value. Nevertheless, Williams can still prove to be a valuable asset this season in fantasy football.
Last season, Williams saw 69 targets and posted 43 receptions for 728 yards and four touchdowns. A definite decrease in production. Williams finished as the WR45, with 137.8 PPR points, averaging 8.6 points per game. However, that should increase once again in 2018.
The loss of tight end Hunter Henry is a big one for the Chargers. Last season, Henry saw 62 targets. Those targets are up for grabs with him sidelined the entire 2018 season with a torn ACL. Mike Williams, the first-round rookie last season out of Clemson, barely registered a blip on the radar, posting 23 targets with 11 catches for 95 yards in 10 games, including one start.
The only other trustworthy option at this moment for Phillip Rivers outside of Allen is Tyrell Williams. Many are high on Mike Williams, which is fine. However, Williams’ below-average athleticism including his near non-existent agility and catch radius, according to PlayerProfiler, will make it difficult for him to be trusted.
Williams excelled in some additional categories as well including fantasy points per target (12th), Target Separation (9th), and Yards Per Target (4th).
Tyrell Williams has the 29th easiest schedule for wide receivers. Knowing this does not make him a favorable option for many. However, his 14th-round half-point PPR ADP is tough to pass up. Due to the situation facing the Chargers in the passing game, Williams is considered a riser, albeit a non-conventional selection.