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Draft Primer: Ranking the Wide Receiver Destinations

The NFL Draft is right around the corner and speculation about possible landing spots for receivers is at its typical fever pitch. While many reports are simply smokescreens put out by teams, there are also a few facts out there as well. What we know for sure is that nothing can be believed at the moment.  Simply put, it’s impossible to know where these players are going to go until the draft occurs in April, regardless of what you read.

All the rumors and guesswork aren’t going to stop us from doing some speculating of our own, though. In this installment, we’ll take a look at each team and the dynasty fantasy viability of a receiver going there. It’s obviously a big challenge because receivers take some time to develop and that quarterbacks and coordinators seemingly change on a daily basis.

Before we start taking a look at these spots, there are few things to consider.

First, the current quarterbacks of each team were taken into consideration. It’s awfully tough for a receiver to produce to their potential without a good quarterback – just ask Larry Fitzgerald. He’s a WR1 in every league, but he’d likely make a run at Calvin Johnson to be THE WR1 if he played with a more consistent signal caller. While they were certainly taken into account, just don’t expect the teams to be ranked strictly in order of the quality of their quarterbacks. If their quarterback is bad now, chances are they’re going to be replaced by the time some of these rookies are ready to produce anyway.

Second, both immediate and future production was considered. While some teams offer a quick opportunity to play, some of those aren’t exactly known for historically great fantasy production. Many others may not offer immediate playing time, but offer a great long term outlook. It’s a tough balance for receivers, especially because many take so long to produce.

Finally, the wide receiver depth charts of all these teams were factored in. While some highly ranked teams already have some good receivers in place, they may be aging quickly. Remember, we’re considering the best landing spots for a combination of both immediate and future production here. Teams who have a possible slot for a WR1 on the depth chart were given a clear advantage.

With that in mind, let’s take a look at all 32 teams and see where they rank as far as landing spots for wide receivers. Each of the teams is put into a tier based on good (four stars) to terrible (one star).

FOUR STARS

St. Louis Rams

While Sam Bradford hasn’t exactly been Peyton Manning, let’s give him the benefit of the doubt. Their offensive line needs improving and they’ll address that here in the next couple of seasons. What they don’t have is a legitimate WR1. After losing Brandon Lloyd to free agency, their depth chart consists of Steve Smith, Danario Alexander, Danny Amendola (if he’s retained), Brandon Gibson, Austin Pettis and Greg Salas – that’s not exactly a corps that scares too many other teams. They still don’t know exactly what they may have in Pettis and Salas, but neither of them seem to be anything close to a WR1.

A rookie receiver would have the opportunity to climb the depth chart very quickly in St. Louis and possibly become the number one target for the offense. There are just very few spots that could offer the type of short term and long term opportunity for a talented receiver than the Rams could.

Simply put, it’s very hard to find a team more in desperate need of a receiver.

Miami Dolphins

Look, we found a team in more desperate need of a receiver than the Rams!

All kidding aside, this depth chart is arguably a bigger mess than that of St. Louis and currently features a laundry list of household names like Brian Hartline, Davone Bess, Clyde Gates, Marlon Moore and Roberto Wallace.

With Brandon Marshall jettisoned to Chicago, the Dolphins really need a playmaker on the outside. Bess is a solid possession guy, but he’s not an elite player in reality or fantasy. If Miami somehow goes for quarterback Ryan Tannehill in round one, whoever they take at receiver in round two or three would be a player who would merit a lot of interest in dynasty leagues.

Baltimore Ravens

The Ravens already have the blossoming Torrey Smith, but Anquan Boldin seems to be fading pretty quickly. The Ravens are typically a “defense first” and run-based team, but much of that is overblown because they simply haven’t had the personnel to do much of anything different.

There’s a lot of talk the Ravens could be interested in someone like Michael Floyd (likely gone), Stephen Hill or Kendall Wright at the end of round one. A good receiver landing on a high quality team with a shallow depth chart would be a very good thing in the eyes of dynasty league owners.

Houston Texans

Andre Johnson is starting to age and has some durability issues. Matt Schaub is entrenched likely for the long term (though he still needs to be re-signed). They have the best offensive line in football, a running game that keeps defenses honest and they have a need opposite Johnson.

You do the math.

Carolina Panthers

Much like Johnson in Houston, Steve Smith is getting up there in age and the Panthers need an eventual replacement. They still have hope for Brandon LaFell and David Gettis, but neither have shown enough to make us believe they can really be the long term replacement for Smith. While these assessments aren’t all about finding a future WR1 on a team, having an eventual spot opening up isn’t a bad thing.

I didn’t even mention Cam Newton, who seems to be the second coming of Superman.

THREE STARS

Cleveland Browns

The Browns arguably have as great a need at receiver as Miami or St. Louis, but the combination of an unclear quarterback situation and a little more talent on the roster knocks them down a peg in my book.

Greg Little is still a developing player and should be much better next season. As for Colt McCoy, he certainly seems like a lame duck at the moment. The Browns could go for the aforementioned Tannehill in the draft, but it’s more likely they go for Trent Richardson or Justin Blackmon.

A receiver in Cleveland would likely get a quick chance to play, but this hasn’t exactly been a hot bed of wide receiver excellence. In fact, it’s been downright desolate since that fluky season from Braylon Edwards.

Still, anyone drafted here gets a legitimate early chance.

Jacksonville Jaguars

The Jaguars invested some money in Laurent Robinson, thus filling a need at the position through free agency. However, they still need an infusion of talent.

It’s amazing how some teams just struggle to produce quality talent at receiver. Ever since Jimmy Smith retired in 2005, the Jaguars have churned through names like Keenan McCardell, Reggie Williams, Matt Jones, Ernest Wilford, Mike Thomas, Mike Sims-Walker, Jerry Porter (the people’s champion), Jason Hill, Torry Holt and Jarett Dillard among others, just trying to find another consistent receiving option.

They’ve failed every time.

While the quarterbacks haven’t helped much, this has been the place where receivers go to die in terms of fantasy relevance. They have to hope Blaine Gabbert develops into something a lot better than we saw last year, but still, you just can’t list the Jags as a four star location with their history of failure with wideouts. After all, this is the franchise who once drafted R. Jay Soward in the first round.

Denver Broncos

The depth chart is obviously stacked with the likes of Demaryius Thomas and Eric Decker, but neither of those players have been durable enough to just pencil in for sixteen games.

Besides, if Peyton Manning can make the recently released Blair White relevant, he could surely eventually do something postive for a talented rookie.

Indianapolis Colts

The Colts need talent everywhere, receiver included. Reggie Wayne is aging and Andrew Luck will soon be looking for a bona fide number one target. Donnie Avery has a chance to re-emerge, but that’s a shot in the dark. The only reason this isn’t a four star location in my mind is because they seem many, many years away from competing and are going to go through some serious growing pains.

New York Jets

Santonio Holmes looks to be in tow for at least one more year, though his relationship with Mark Sanchez and others in the locker room isn’t exactly blossoming. The Jets brought in Chaz Schilens to compete for the number two job, but chances are he’ll have seriously hurt his foot by the time you finish reading this article.

A receiver in New York could emerge rather quickly and actually eventually replace Holmes. Unfortunately, catching passes from Tim Tebow in practice doesn’t exactly speed up your development.

Cincinnati Bengals

There’s little doubt that AJ Green is going to be a fantasy stud. However, the Bengals are still in the market for a solid complement for him. Going to Cincinnati wouldn’t be a bad thing – they have a growing offense and a real need for talent at wideout. This is a nice sleeper location in my book.

Atlanta Falcons

Ditto the AJ Green stud talk, but insert Julio Jones here. Unlike the Bengals, the Falcons have two great recievers already with Roddy White on the squad. However, White is starting to age and any receiver growing up with Julio Jones on one side and Matt Ryan calling the plays is destined for some decent fantasy production.

Seriously, list the depth chart after Jones, White and Harry Douglas. If you instantly said Kerry MeierDrew Davis and Kevin Cone, contact us to be a writer at DLF because you, my friend, are a dynasty encyclopedia!

Buffalo Bills

Stevie Johnson has been re-signed and seems to be entrenched as their top target for the foreseeable future. What they don’t have is a sure secondary option. Donald Jones? David Nelson? Marcus Easley? Naaman Roosevelt?Ruvell Martin? Derek Hagan? David Clowney? It seems to me like there’s an opportunity for a youngster to do some damage in Buffalo.

Seattle Seahawks

They have some hope for Golden Tate, but last year’s prized free agent, Sidney Rice, is a serious question mark after a lost season. Throw in the regression of Mike Williams and this team has a very fluid situation at receiver. There’s some talent here, but Matt Flynn is going to miss the group he had in Green Bay practices, that’s for sure.

San Diego Chargers

It’s easy to look at the depth chart that includes Robert Meachem, Malcom Floyd, Eddie Royal and Vincent Brown and say “one star.”  However, close your eyes and try to look ahead two years. Of those four players, has any one of them shown enough consistency for you to say they’ll definitely be there two seasons from now?

I don’t think so, either.

Minnesota Vikings

Quick, name four other receivers on the Vikings roster other than Percy Harvin. If you had any combination of Michael Jenkins, Devin Aromashodu, Emmanuel Arceneaux, Stephen Burton, Bryan Walters, Kris Adams, and Kerry Taylor, you’ve won the DLF Home Game!

Fair warning, though.  That home game consists of you attempting to acquire business licenses, form LLC’s, pay taxes and bills, write and schedule relevant content, create a Web site, negotiate image contracts, stop constant spamming and create a forum that’s not full of arrogant and egotistical morons.

Yeah, the real version wasn’t easy, either!

New Orleans Saints

The Saints are on the cusp of a two star location based on their recent re-signing of Marques Colston. The rest of the depth chart consists of players like Lance Moore, Devery Henderson, Adrian Arrington and Joe Morgan.

While they have lots of options (I didn’t even mention Darren Sproles or Jimmy Graham), you get the feeling that someone is going to emerge as the future replacement for Colston here in the next year or two and that gives me great pause. Is that player currently on the roster? I just can’t help but keep asking myself that question.

San Francisco 49ers

The depth chart in San Francisco suddenly seems pretty full with Michael Crabtree, Mario Manningham and Randy Moss all vying for playing time.

Don’t go too crazy, though.

In just a few short months, it’s very possible that Crabtree will be underperforming, Manningham will be dropping passes and Moss will be angering restaurant buffet owners. This could be more viable in the short and long term than it may seem.

TWO STARS

Kansas City Chiefs

Dwayne Bowe is a solid and vastly underrated player in both reality and fantasy. The problem with Kansas City revolves around the quarterback position, though. If Matt Cassel falls flat again, this is going to be a long and tough rebuilding process. Throw in the possible development of Jonathan Baldwin and this may not be as attractive as you may think.

Tennessee Titans

Kenny Britt should be back, but do you really trust him to stay healthy and out of trouble? Damian Williams showed some promise and Nate Washington was great, though. With Jared Cook emerging at tight end, it’s suddenly hard to see a new receiver making much noise in Tennessee.

We haven’t said that in a while.

Detroit Lions

Defenses tend to put about ten guys on Calvin Johnson at this point and still can’t stop him. However, Titus Young seems to finally be the guy who could be the Robin to Batman in Detroit. A receiver here could step up and play relatively quickly and Matt Stafford looks to be a stud, but it’s tough to put three stars on a location where it looks like a rookie receiver could move into the team’s WR3 at best.

On a related note, what would stop Calvin Johnson, other than an injury?  Defensive backs are probably to the point where they’d pay some money to find out where he’s ticklish.  Seriously, it’s that big of a mismatch at the moment.

Arizona Cardinals

Will someone PLEASE help Larry Fitzgerald? At least the Cardinals have a significant number of players who have shown some promise. You have to figure that Andre Roberts or Early Doucet has to emerge this season into a viable second option on the outside, right?  Right!?!

New York Giants

The Giants passing game has been good enough at times to make three different receivers relevant when you consider what Mario Manningham, Hakeem Nicks and Victor Cruz were able to produce.

Problem is, there are just too many mouths to feed when you factor in Ramses Barden and Jerrel Jernigan, even with the loss of Manningham. Any receiver drafted by the Giants would have a very long climb up the depth chart.

Green Bay Packers

Donald Driver will likely be back for one more season and he’s really the least of the problems a new receiver would face. It’s tough to put Green Bay at the bottom of the list because of how great Aaron Rodgers is, but competing with Greg Jennings, Randall Cobb, Jordy NelsonJames Jones AND Driver just doesn’t seem like a recipe for success for a youngster.

If you want to find a team that’s stacked at receiver, look no further North than Wisconsin.

Oakland Raiders

The Raiders have seemingly gone with quantity over quality at the position lately. Still, with Jacoby Ford, Denarius Moore, Louis Murphy and Darrius Heyward-Bey all very young themselves, the opportunities in Oakland would be few and far between.

New England Patriots

The Patriots could really be on the cusp of a three star location with Wes Welker and Brandon Lloyd not exactly being Spring chickens. However, this offense spreads the ball around a ton and the duet of Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez aren’t going to give up many targets any time soon.

Besides, the Pats haven’t really been known for developing young receivers – they’re more apt to add veterans to continuously fill those depth chart spots above a rookie or young players anyway.

Washington Redskins

The Redskins were more aggressive than any other team in free agency when it comes to the wide receiver position as they added not only Pierre Garcon, but Josh Morgan as well.

While it’s easy to just throw them to the “one star” level, you have to consider that nobody on their roster has really proven much of anything (outside of Santana Moss, if he’s even retained). A new receiver could compete with the likes of Leonard Hankerson for playing time sooner, rather than later.

The tough thing here is that Garcon and Morgan are going to have a very long leash to fail after the Redskins arguably overpaid for both of them.

By the way, I mentioned “death” as one thing I’d add to my list of ten things I like more than Mike Shanahan and his running back carousel in the running back destinations article. I thought of another thing that belongs on that list – it’s self-amputation of any limb.  Honestly, spin the “Wheel of Limb” and I’d consider taking it over the existence of that dynasty league madness over the years.

Legal note: The “Wheel of Limb” does NOT come with the DLF Home game.

Pittsburgh Steelers

It’s hard to see the Steelers being able to keep Mike Wallace, Antonio Brown AND Emmanuel Sanders all long-term, but it’s going to be tough for any new player to work their way into targets any time soon. Simply put, this is one of the worst landing spots to expect short term production.

Regardless, the long-term outlook in Pittsburgh could be quite good. If and when the Steelers lose one of those players (and it could be next year), they have enough firepower to sustain fantasy value for multiple players at the position.

ONE STAR

Philadelphia Eagles

They’re pretty set with Jeremy Maclin and DeSean Jackson for quite a while now. Jason Avant and Riley Cooper have been serviceable as well.

While they could use a nice red zone target, it’s tough to draft a rookie receiver in fantasy and say, “Yes, I have a possible future red zone target!”

Dallas Cowboys

They’re still looking for a replacement for Laurent Robinson, but penciling in a player for the type of production Robinson had last year would be a mistake. Kevin Ogletree will likely get the first shot, but regardless, any new player would be the fourth option at best behind Miles Austin, Dez Bryant and Jason Witten.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

The Bucs had a clear need at receiver going into the offseason, but addressed that quickly by adding Vincent Jackson. Any newly drafted receiver would have to compete for snaps with Jackson, Mike Williams, Arrelious Benn, Dezmon Briscoe and Preston Parker. With a youthful bunch ahead of any rookie, it’s hard to see how they would find the field any time soon.

Chicago Bears

The Bears have historically not been able to sustain fantasy viability for one receiver and now we’d be asking them to eventually do that for two now that Brandon Marshall in town? Sure, Marshall could accidentally slip on a McDonald’s bag while holding some type of sharp instrument that eventually ends up in someone’s leg, but you can’t just count on that.

In Chicago’s team’s history that spans back to 1920, they’ve had a total of eleven 1,000 yard seasons from receivers.

ELEVEN!

To put that into perspective, the Colts have had seventeen…since 1999.

Do you really want someone like Michael Floyd to go there now?

We’ll focus on the quarterbacks next with just a few weeks to go before the draft!

Ken Kelly
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RP
10 years ago

Best part of this article is the part about the Mcdonalds paper bag. Too many people wont know what youre referencing and it sums up the guy that was stolen for 2ea 3rd rounders.

Love him on the field and would probably avoid him at all costs in real life. Just seen the Devils Double last night – guessing their personalities aint too far off!

BZC
10 years ago

I don’t understand why you rank Chicago dead last on your list. If you recognize how quickly offensive coordinators can change, we already know that Cutler can produce two top twenty-five receivers in the past. Is there anyone else in Chicago who is going to be a serious impediment to a talented receiver for the number two position? Earl Bennett, Johnny Knox?

DLF_KenK
Reply to  BZC
10 years ago

First of all, they’re not dead last. I just bunched them in tiers and put them as a one star spot. Bennett and Knox may not be serious threats to a new person, but historically, Chicago has not been a hotbed for WR production.

Last year, their leading receiver had 727 yards and Forte led the team with 52 catches in a pass first offense (though Cutler did miss time).

I just think the conditions they play in, the history against them and Marshall being now targeted an insane number of times works against someone new.

The Bears were one of the toughest ones to find a spot. You could make a case for them being higher, I’m just not too excited about it.

invisibulman
10 years ago

I do not know what to make of Chicago. Before the BMarsh signing they were my #1 destination for a WR. Now, I don’t know where to put them. Cutler is the best QB they have had since Sammy Baugh… though that doesn’t say much. He has to throw to someone. Doesn’t he? ????

Draho
10 years ago

Should there be any hesitation about taking the WR drafted by the Rams (presumably Blackmon) due to Jeff Fisher? I’m not sure if its supported by anything, but I stereotype Fisher as a ground and pound guy which would not allow a WR (or Bradford for that matter) to put up great fantasy numbers.

I may be way off, but anyone have any thoughts?

ManuManu
10 years ago

I would gladly take any WR the Colts take in the second round. With Luck as a future stud, I’ll reap the benefits of a WR2 with WR1 upside with all the garbage points they put up over the next several years because the rest of the team is so bad.

Luke
10 years ago

Is this list about the same for TEs as well, or would there be major rearrangement?

sixshooter
10 years ago

Agree with most all of the comments especially when it comes to the Bears! As a Broncos fan, I am still missing Jay Cutler and Brandon Marshall and yes…..the McD’s comment was awesome!!! But seriously, Cutler was having a decent year last year with the Bears prior to getting injured and even when Marshall was putting up 100+ catches with Cutler in Denver, guys like Eddie Royal were getting 90+ catches. Granted this was in a Mike Shanahan offense that was not only pass happy but also went through 8 starting RB’s due to injuries. Either way, Knox may not even play this year and Hester seems to always get a lil hype before the season and then fails to live up to it so I believe that there is a potential for great things to happen if the Bears were able to land a decent receiver to line up opposite of Marshall.

At the same time I also believe a rookie receiver in Denver will likely not get as much playing time immediately as one would think since they are talking about running 2 TE sets with possibly splitting one of them out since they have a few pass catching TE’s now with the additions of Tamme and Dreesen as well as former hoops player Julius Thomas coming off his rookie year which he missed most of due to injury.

Still a good article which does give an idea of which teams will benefit a rookie receiver the most!

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