One of the most common comments/compliments commented commonly to me is our reader’s love of the player comments in our rankings. I appreciate people taking notice because I think they are very often more helpful than the ranking itself. They do have a rather pesky length limitation, though. It was with that in mind that Mr. Dan Sainio and I set out to craft expanded comments for the top-10 quarterbacks and tight ends and top-20 running backs and wide receivers from our February startup ADP.
We each pitched in about 100 words per player to give you two different viewpoints. No notes were compared, so while some comments may be similar, there are plenty of differences as well. This series will be stretched out over six parts, with each pushing into the 2,000 word territory. While longer than most articles released here, we think the short, consumable, blurbish nature of the format will make it pretty easy to digest while still being very informational.
WR1 – Odell Beckham Jr (ADP 1)
Jeff: It is pretty hard to dispute OBJ’s status as the WR1. The easiest thing to quote is his impressive career average of 21.2 PPG. What impresses me more is his consistency. In 43 career games, the 24 year old has failed to score double digit fantasy points only seven times. With a high floor and a crazy high ceiling (over one-third of his games see him top 25 points), OBJ enjoys a near-unanimous consensus as dynasty’s overall number one player.
Dan: I’m going to go ahead and say having OBJ at number one overall isn’t even an argument. His first three seasons have been nothing short of incredible. He can line-up and win from any spot on the field and catch anything thrown his way. What’s the downside you ask? Well…Eli Manning, kicking nets, and shirtless yacht trips. But, he has survived Eli being bad for three seasons, so I don’t think that is anything to worry about. He isn’t going to pull the gaudy target numbers, but he doesn’t need them. OBJ is set to be a force for a long time.
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WR2 – Mike Evans (ADP 2)
Jeff: Please note how I said near-unanimous just above. There are always dissenters, and in this case, I am one of them. To be clear, there is no bad choice between OBJ, Evans, and the next guy we are going to discuss, so save your angry comments. But in the world of hair splitting, I’m taking the guy with the young, potentially elite quarterback. It also bears mentioning Evans outscored Beckham, who he is eight months younger than, by .3 PPG last year.
Dan: This is a little high for me, but there is no ignoring what Evans has done thus far, and he happens to only be 23 years-old. As the focal point of his offense, and with massive size and explosiveness, Evans seems to be unstoppable. Questionable quarterback play has possibly held him back some, as he only catches around 50% of his targets, but with the amount of targets he’s seeing, it really shouldn’t matter much. Evans will be a top-five receiver until his body breaks down.
WR3 – Antonio Brown (ADP 4)
Jeff: As good as every other player in the top-three is, Brown is the best NFL and fantasy receiver in the league. With one game missed, which was due to the Steelers resting their studs, in four years to go with four straight seasons of 19.3 or more PPG, Brown is the alpha dog. The only player to come close is Julio Jones, but he has missed 13 games over that same four year stretch and has lingering foot issues that could haunt him later in his career. Simply put, Brown is in a class of one, with only his age (he will be 29 in July) keeping him out of the top-two.
Dan: Over the last four seasons, Brown has averaged 120 catches for 1580 yards and 11 TDs on 174 targets. I repeat, he AVERAGED those numbers. That’s truly absurd. While he likely peaked in 2014/2015, the elite target share is still there and the ability hasn’t fallen off. However, his yards after the catch has declined each year from 5.5 in 2013 to 3.7 in 2016. Does that mean he’s declining? No, it most likely means the way he’s being used has changed. But it’s still something to keep an eye on as he gets closer and closer to the age of 30. Brown’s real downside is how bad Ben Roethlisberger has been on the road as of late. It might be wise to lighten your expectations for road games.
WR4 – Amari Cooper (ADP 6)
Jeff: Cooper as the WR4 is the first pick I strongly disagree with. Yes, he is my WR5, so the difference is minimal, but there is a pretty hard tier break after my fourth receiver, Julio Jones. This isn’t to say I don’t understand why Cooper is here. With an upcoming June birthday making him 23, Cooper is insanely young for a third year player. He has also been quite productive on the whole, with many flashes of his potential brilliance. What we haven’t seen is the youngster put a full 16 games together. In the last month of the season for the past two years, his per game averages are only three receptions, 40 yards, .38 TDs, and 9.2 fantasy points. Even if you cherry pick, you can’t find such a disappointing sample from anybody else in the top-five.
Dan: This is likely the first surprise for most, as you’d probably expect to see Julio Jones here, but it might not be too farfetched. At just 22-years-old, Cooper has established a very nice floor while acting as the WR2 in Oakland as we all wait for Michael Crabtree to stop ruining our fun. With Crabtree in town, Amari’s ceiling is capped as the two are likely to have an equal target share as they have for the last two years. It also doesn’t help that the Raiders refuse to use Cooper in the red zone, but this is dynasty, so we are in it for long value. The true breakout is coming soon, I promise.
WR5 – Julio Jones (ADP 7)
Jeff: Jones has been a rock of production his entire career, never posting less than 15.5 PPG for a season. If he is on the field, Julio is almost always good for double digit PPR production, and when things are rolling, his ceiling is probably higher than any other receiver in the league. To that point, Jones has nine 30+ point showings in the last three years. The aforementioned injury concerns are real, but if you are in it to win it now, they, and his age, make him the cheapest path to truly elite production among the top-five.
Dan: Julio is my personal WR2, but after OBJ there isn’t a very big value difference between WR2 and WR5, so I can understand this landing spot. Jones has been incredibly productive during his six year career, even though his TD production is somewhat troubling. In his five mostly healthy seasons, Jones has only hit the 10 TD mark once. It feels like he should accidentally be able to score more than that, but maybe it will forever be the thing that hinders his value. Also, his targets were at the lowest number they’ve been since 2012 (not including his injured 2013). Julio remains an elite asset, but don’t be surprised if we continue to see his targets capped in an effort to keep him healthy.
WR6 – DeAndre Hopkins (ADP Tied-9)
Jeff: Hopkins is an interesting case. Let’s say he put up similar numbers in 2016 to what he did the year before. Would he be much higher than this? I guess what I am saying is if you are valuing him this highly, you are doing it on the faith he is the 20 PPG guy we saw in 2015 and not the sub-15 PPG player he was in 2014 and 2016. I am on board with him being an elite producer, but there is some obvious risk we don’t see with the players above him.
Dan: A favorite of mine, Hopkins looks for a bounce back season in 2017 as he has rid himself of the quarterback who shall remain nameless. After a breakout season in 2015 where he saw over 190 targets and racked up 1500 yds and 11 TDs, Hopkins was one of the biggest disappointments in 2016. With a nice supporting cast, and hopefully a QB that can actually be considered a QB, Hopkins remains an elite dynasty asset while he plays his fifth season at the age of 25. The buying window is closing fast, so go get yourself a share before it’s too late.
WR7 – Allen Robinson (ADP Tied-9)
Jeff: Take everything I said about Hopkins and apply it to Robinson. I know that is the easy way out, but there is so much truth to the statement, including their ADP being tied down to the hundredths place at 9.83. The biggest difference between the two is we know who ARob’s quarterback is. Whether that is a good or bad thing is up for debate, but at least it is a known. As with Hopkins, I am buying a bounce back season from Robinson. These guys are too good and showed too much to be what they were last year.
Dan: Robinson shares the same ADP with Hopkins, which seems just a touch higher than I’d like to have him. After his huge garbage time all-star season in 2015, Robinson was a disappointment in 2016. Similar to Hopkins, a lot of the blame for a down season can be put on the shoulders of his QB. ARob saw the exact same amount of targets (151 per) over the last two years, but his stat lines couldn’t be any more different. 80/1400/14 in 2015 followed by 73/883/6 in 2016. Blake Bortles isn’t a starting level QB in the NFL, so Robinson may suffer for one more season before the Jaguars go back to the well.
WR8 – AJ Green (ADP 11)
Jeff: Think of AJ Green the fantasy player as a younger, nearly as productive, less risky, uber consistent Julio Jones. That he is cheaper in terms of ADP and real world trade value makes him one of the best value propositions at the position. This is so true, that I as I write this very paragraph, I am rethinking my personal ranking of the Bengals’ standout, who is my current WR8. What is the argument for putting him being Hopkins and Robinson? Their upside is very similar, but Green’s floor is seemingly much higher. There is an age discrepancy, but I’m not sure if that is enough to keep things as they are. I’ll sleep on this one.
Dan: AJG was my prediction to be 2016’s WR1. He was well on his way until injury struck in week 11, which shut Green down for the remainder of the season. In his nine games played in 2016, Green saw 100 targets and turned them into 66 catches for 964 yards and four TDs. For the non-mathletes out there, that paces at 117/1714/7 over 16 games. That would have equated to approximately 330 PPR points and the overall WR1 designation in total points, as well as points per game. Green remains a high end asset (and elite actual WR), so look for a productive few years assuming he can stay healthy.
WR9 – TY Hilton (ADP 12)
Jeff: About this time last year it became very popular to declare Donte Moncrief as the best receiver in Indianapolis. A quick look back at historical ADP using our new handy dandy ADP comparison tool shows their value was identical as recently as August. Basically, they spent all summer within spitting distance of each other, which was, and still is, absurd. With three seasons of at least 82 receptions, four of at least 1000 yards, and two topping 250 points and 17 PPG, Hilton has established himself as AJ Green’s Mini Me.
Dan: At WR9, and an overall ADP of 12, it seems as though Hilton’s value has finally caught up with him. With a solid floor of around 70 catches and 1100 yards, Hilton has thrived in an Andrew Luck driven offense in Indianapolis. While his TD production is likely to remain limited, as Indy likes to use its big RZ targets, Hilton should remain a top WR option as he is locked into an offense that loves to throw the pigskin. That being said, this is probably Hilton’s dynasty ceiling so it may be a wise time to sell.
WR10 – Sammy Watkins (ADP 13)
Jeff: Watkins has the talent to be about, oh, ten spots higher on this list. The problem is he has never been able to display it for more than a short stretch. Now entering his fourth season, the Clemson product has missed 12 games over the past two seasons and played another dozen at well less than 100%. Despite all of that, we got over 18 PPG and some spectacular moments from Watkins in 2015, so we know what he can do. The question is if he will ever do it? With an ADP this high, there isn’t much room for error.
Dan: Watkins is someone that the dynasty community seems entirely split on. Some are still holding out hope, and others have completely moved off as he has struggled to stay healthy in what is a fairly abysmal situation. The positives for Watkins are his age (will be 24 in June), coaching changes made in Buffalo, and the re-signing of Tyrod Taylor. While on the field, Watkins has been pretty productive even though he has been somewhat of an afterthought on the Rex Ryan led Bills. Things are pointing up for Watkins future, but he needs to stay on the field. If that happens, Watkins could easily find his way into the top-five dynasty WRs.
Jeff can be found on Twitter at @FFJeffM
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