As Jacob Rickrode (@ClutchFantasy) has shown, year after year the same wide receivers finish in the top 24 in PPR scoring. Largely, they do at least. I promise to stop stealing Jacob’s hard work shortly. But he’s also shown that on average there are 3 receivers that fall out of the top 24 every season. In 2015, that number spiked to 7.
With that in mind, fatalist that I am, I decided to determine who exactly from last seasons top 24 scorers will not repeat the feat in 2017. One item of note. Because this is based on total scoring and not based on per game scoring, A.J. Green finished outside of the top 24 last season.
Because I am very creative, I came up with some amazing designations for last years top 24 and if they’ll finish in the top 24 this season. (Please don’t try this at home I am a professional)
- Locks to Repeat
- Likely Safe
- The Patriot Way
- Last in
- Outside of the top 24
As a refresher, below are the top 24 scorers from 2016.
|Player||Overall 2016 PPR Scoring Finish|
|Odell Beckham Jr.||4|
Today, I get down to the business of sharing who is in and who is out of the Top 24 2017 WR Overall scorers. We begin with my “Locks to Repeat” and “Likely Safe” wide receivers. Because I know percentages sometimes make people feel better, I’ll add those to this exercise. “Locks to Repeat” obviously means I think there is a 100% chance the player will be a top 24 WR this season. “Likely Safe” equals 80-85% certainty.
Locks To Repeat in 2017:
I doubt anyone would be shocked or vehemently disagree with the nine receivers I’ve listed above as being locks to return to the top 24 in 2017. These receivers are the cream of the crop in fantasy football. If they fall out of the 24, it’s due to injury or an act of God. (Please note in fantasy football your receiver being tied to Brock Osweiler will henceforth be known as an act of God.)
Antonio Brown may be the greatest wide receiver of this generation. He’s most certainly one of the greatest fantasy wide receivers of all time. Jordy Nelson has been a top 15 wide receiver 3 out the last 4 seasons. Mike Evans and Odell Beckham Jr. have finished in the top 24 each of their three professional seasons. You have to go back to 2012 (WR31) to find the last time TY Hilton wasn’t at least a WR2 in fantasy. As long as Andrew Luck doesn’t miss the first 6 weeks of the 2017 season pencil Hilton in for another top 24 season.
If Julio Jones is healthy and plays in all 16 games, he’s a threat to be the leading scorer at wide receiver. Doug Baldwin is coming off back to back WR1 seasons. Maybe this is the year that Tyler Lockett takes over the lead WR role on the Seahawks? Or maybe Paul Richardson? I forget.
All Amari Cooper has done in his first two seasons is finish as the WR21 and WR16. I know, I know, “Cooper doesn’t score in the red-zone.” I. Could. Not. Care. Less. If and when Cooper sees positive regression in the touchdown department he’ll vault into top 3 WR territory. Michael Thomas finished as the WR7 in 2016. The Saints then traded away Brandin Cooks for a bag of used peanuts and added…yeah, that’s right they added no one. Unless you expect Travin Dural to challenge Thomas for the alpha role on the Saints. Brandon Coleman could break out too, I guess. In theory, anything is possible.
Larry Fitzergald is old and has faded at the end of the season two years.
Let’s assume that in 2017 Fitzgerald scores at a pace that more resembles his 2nd half pace of the 2015 and 2016 seasons than the 1st half of those seasons. That still would have been good enough for WR18 in 2016 and WR20 in 2015. I would be willing to bet hard U.S. currency that 221 points will be good enough to finish within the top 24 in 2017.
Though he’s faded the last couple of seasons, there’s still not much of a threat for targets in Arizona to Fitzgerald. Michael Floyd is in Minnesota. J.J. Nelson and Jaron Brown are both one trick ponies. Chad Williams is a sleeper du jour, but I’d be beyond shocked if he ate into the target share in any significant manner. John Brown seems to have found a fix to his health issues (or not), but Fitzgerald was a WR1 in 2015 when John Brown’s had his best statistical season (WR25). Fitzgerald has at least one more top 24 scoring season in him before he rides off into retirement.
If you disagree that Pierre Garcon is going finish in the top 24, then you haven’t been paying attention. Take a couple of minutes and read this while the rest of us wait. “Kyle Shanahan and Pierre Garcon Ride Again”. Pretty convincing, no? For those of you who didn’t read it for whatever reason. The cliff notes version of the article boils down to this. Kyle Shanahan feeds his WR1s, Garcon is the WR1 in San Francisco. None of the receivers on that roster hold a candle to Garcon.
Michael Crabtree has been the model of consistency during his time with the Raiders. Crabtree has seen over 140 targets, nabbed at least 85 receptions, been top 18 in target share and scored at least 8 touchdowns in both 2015 and 2016. The Raiders added no receivers of consequence in the off-season, so I’d expect at least one more year of Amari Cooper and Crabtree putting up top 24 WR numbers together.
Demaryius Thomas is a player that I initially placed into this “Likely Safe” set of players. Then I moved him into the “Last Out” group of players. In 2016, Thomas had the least amount of receptions, yards, and touchdowns since his 2011 season. There are some reasons for hope though. Thomas’s hip bothered him all last season and is apparently feeling much better now. Mike McCoy has returned to Denver as the offensive coordinator. The return of McCoy should increase the amount of screen passes that Thomas sees. More screen passes should allow Thomas to increase his yards after receptions back into top 10 territory after falling to 25th last season. Considering that Thomas has previously survived one act of God and it’s only reasonable to expect some positive regression from the Denver QB play in 2017, I will give him the benefit of the doubt.
Emmanuel Sanders is another player I thought I would target to fall out the top 24 scorers. The thing is, I can’t see where his game has regressed. His 2015 and 2016 seasons were strikingly similar. Snap share, targets, target share and receptions all stayed relatively static. Air yard and receiving yards fell a tad, but nothing to be too concerned about. Trevor Siemian is not very good at football related things, specifically the quarterbacking thing. But he wasn’t last season either, and Sanders still finished as the WR20.
Paxton Lynch might snatch the starting QB gig from Siemian in 2017, and what we know of Lynch isn’t encouraging. Sanders finished as a top24 WR with Brock Osweiler as his starting QB, so he’ll be able to survive more poor QB play to land in the top 24 for the fourth straight season. The additions of Jake Butt and Carlos Henderson could portend reason for concern in 2018 and beyond, but that’s another story for another time.
I wanted to announce that Jarvis Landry was going to fall out of the top 24. Unfortunately, the facts don’t support that assertion. Even assuming Jay Ajayi is as good as he played last season (he’s not) and is an RB1 in 2017 (he won’t be), Landry is still going to produce.
In weeks 2-5 last season, Ajayi was stuck in a running back by committee situation. Don’t forget the Dolphins thought so little of Ajayi’s abilities (he couldn’t beat out a soon to be retired Arian Foster for the starting role) and his attitude that he was left home for the first game of the season. Starting in Week 6, Ajayi took the starting role and went off three times for over 200 yards. This off-season there’s been talk of expanding Ajayi’s role in the passing game in 2017. Even if Ajayi increases his receiving game usage, it’d be near impossible for him to significantly exceed his 2016 Week 6 through the end of season pace of 368 total touches.
Lastly, I know you can never predict injury. But based on the medical professionals I’ve spoken to about Ajayi’s knee they’ve assured me it will burst into flames at any moment. These are doctors speaking, not me. Sure, I met them on the subway. And they were drunk, and very likely weren’t doctors. But still.
Nothing like thinking you are finished with an article only to have injuries strike and ruin that thought. Ryan Tannehill went down today(8/3/17) with a nasty looking knee injury. There are no concrete reports as to the extent of the damage as yet. But the injury was a non-contact injury, which typically does not bode well. With that in mind, I’ve Jarvis Landry’s splits when Matt Moore has started. Seven games over three seasons does not give you a lot of data to parse. The numbers are the numbers, they indicate Landry can remain a top 24 Wide Reciever.
The touchdowns will regress, there’s no way Landry scores 11 touchdowns in 2017, although he probably is due some positive regression in that area. But he’s also due positive regression for receptions with Moore under center. It might be wise for the Dolphins to use Landry a bit more in the running game as well. After 18 carries in 2015 Landry only saw 5 in 2016. I stand firm in my belief that Landry will safely land within the top 24 next season based on volume.
The immortal Jay Cutler signed with the Dolphins and now becomes the new starter. Sorry, Matt Moore. It is completely in the realm of possibilities that Cutler blows out a hamstring his first practice and Moore still ends up the starter, but I suppose it’s not likely. Cutler does like to throw the deep ball more than Tannehill. Cutler finished 11th overall in 2015(his last full season) compared to Tannehill’s 28th place finish in the same category in 2016. Landry is not a deep threat, so that they may mean additional receptions for Parker and Stills. Cutler also makes horrible decisions, so I can easily envision Culter being responsible for 20-30 turnovers in 2017. This should result in additional targets for Landry while the Dolphins are in catch up mode. Again, I’ll stick with Landry as a top 24 receiver in 2017.
Thank you for reading. If you agree or disagree with any of my thoughts, please reach out and let me know. Don’t forget to check back tomorrow. I’ll be discussing the receivers that I have designated “The Patriot Way” and “Last In.” Also please give me a follow @DFF_Shane.