When it comes to the “off-season,” in my opinion there are three critical zones of dynasty value influence: free agency, the draft, and training camp. With the former grinding to a halt, and there being months before the 2017 NFL Draft, it seemed as good a time as any to update my positional rankings. However, instead of simply moving players around and modernizing my comments, I decided to focus in on those who experienced a significant shift in my subjective valuation – the “movers and shakers,” if you will.
I’ll provide expanded thoughts on these players particularly, at all four positions. Included below is a listing of the players, along with my rankings of them both before and after my update. As a reminder, our rankings go 50 deep at both quarterback and tight end, and 100 strong at running back and wide receiver.
One final note: I tend to skew towards the conservative end of valuation. I value productivity over youth, and am often loathe to bump up unproven players to the ranks of the dynasty elite when they’ve yet to show anything at the NFL level. Depending on the specific player, this has worked both to my advantage and to my detriment in the past. Regardless, for those who think similarly, or those who adopt a diametrically opposed process, I hope this will serve as some food for thought.
I already evaluated the quarterbacks and running backs, so let’s continue today with the wide receivers!
Alshon Jeffery, PHI
WR13 to WR10
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It’s not a monumental leap by any stretch, but up in this portion of the rankings things get tight. So in that case it’s worth noting that Jeffery gets a bit of a bump here. Truth be told, I love that he chose his fate with a one-year deal on an ascending offense. He’s betting on himself, and on the likelihood that he replicates his former glory. As long as he can stay healthy, which apart from 2015 he’s had no issue doing, I’m looking forward to a WR1 year, and a recoup of dynasty value.
Willie Snead, NO
WR34 to WR23
The thing about Snead is he’s incredibly good at football. Everyone has been loving up on Brandin Cooks, but meanwhile, on a per-game basis, Snead is only about five yards behind him. Over the past two years, he’s actually accumulated more first downs than Cooks on approximately 40 fewer targets. The guy can play, and now he’s the second target on one of the most prolific offenses in the league. Perpetually underrated, likely due to his former undrafted status, Snead is a strong buy.
Cameron Meredith, CHI
WR41 to WR31
Meredith is the WR1 on the Bears, and there’s a chance Mike Glennon is better than any QB who threw him the ball last year. He’s big, fast, and led the team in most meaningful receiving statistics last season. Like Snead above, I think he’ll suffer from the former UDFA stigma, but his game looms large. He’s my most-owned player across all my leagues, and I won’t be surprised if and when he outperforms this ranking.
Kenny Britt, CLE
WR43 to WR32
His breakout was far from traditional, and it’s entirely possible Britt will languish on a subpar offense yet again. But the fact is he got paid, and there’s a target vacuum in Cleveland. Terrelle Pryor proved last year that even a plethora of bad targets can lead to fantasy viability, and I firmly believe Britt is more talented. Sometimes in fantasy, you stick to your gut and you’re correct – as such I won’t blame you if you don’t want to go down this rabbit hole again. But the mark of a good owner is understanding when circumstances change, and in my estimation it’s time we gave Britt the kudos he deserves.
Terrelle Pryor, WAS
WR46 to WR36
I didn’t buy much into Pryor’s breakout last year, largely due to his inefficiency (not all his fault) and his sneaky “advanced age.” But for now he remains a physical freak, and he just moved to a much better offense. This estimate might even still be conservative, but I simply have a gut feeling that many owners were far too reactionary about his 2016 season.
Pierre Garcon, SF
WR57 to WR37
Just look at how Garcon concluded the 2016 season. At least four receptions in each of the last nine games, with more than 59 yards in all but one of them. That’s what we call a bankable baseline. Now perhaps the targets won’t be of the same quality in San Fran, but he’s reuniting with the man (Kyle Shanahan) who made him a PPR WR1, and he should be a usage hog. Once again, I won’t be shocked if my projection is too conservative.
Adam Thielen, MIN
WR55 to WR45
Thielen got paid, and that means something. We’re still waiting on the Laquon Treadwell breakout, and perhaps it will come, but for now Thielen is the man of the hour in the Vikings off-season. He’ll be fighting Stefon Diggs and Kyle Rudolph for targets, but he’s still viewed as an end-of-bench stash with the ability to out-perform that status.
Kenny Stills, MIA
WR58 to WR49
Much like Thielen above, Stills got paid. And while I wish he would’ve found a landing spot that could guarantee him more targets, it’s noteworthy that the Dolphins wanted to keep him around despite their supposed riches at the position. Jarvis Landry is still the big man on campus, but there’s more of a vacuum behind him than many are willing to see. Stills could improve upon his 2016 campaign.
Quincy Enunwa, NYJ
WR73 to WR58
Brandon Marshall is out. Enunwa might be in. Yes, Eric Decker looms large as the presumptive WR1 should he return healthy, but as of now Enunwa is second in line for targets. He had his ups and downs in 2016, but a larger target share should aid with that. He’s a solid buy.
Kamar Aiken, IND
WR86 to WR63
It wasn’t that long ago that Aiken was a legit fantasy asset. I’m not entirely sure why he fell out of favor in Baltimore, but I love the landing spot in Indy. It’s my belief that he’s closer to Donte Moncrief than he is to Phillip Dorsett. At worst, he could be a fantasy spot starter.
Torrey Smith, PHI
WR80 to WR68
It’s a good landing spot for the Eagles in an NFL sense. It’s also a good landing spot for Smith in terms of offensive competence, but I don’t think it will do much for his fantasy value. I’d add him as a late-round flier in best ball leagues.
Robert Woods, LAR
WR91 to WR73
Out of the shadows in Buffalo, and into the garbage that is the Rams offense. We saw significantly better players like Allen Robinson and DeAndre Hopkins fail to produce despite volume, which is why I’m skeptical of the possibility of Woods rising to fantasy stardom. Woods was probably a decent signing after losing Britt, and he’s seen a bump accordingly, but I’m not ready to anoint him as a major fantasy factor.
Julian Edelman, NE
WR23 to WR27
Similar to Jeffery above, it’s not a huge shift in value, but it’s notable when we’re talking about top-25 guys. I wouldn’t be surprised in the slightest if and when Edelman leads the Pats in targets in 2017. However, it’s impossible to ignore that there are now more mouths to feed, and he should see a slight decrease in value.
Sterling Shepard, NYG
WR23 to WR30
And here we have the great dynasty debate. Shepard had a fine rookie season and appeared to be on an upward trajectory. Then Marshall was signed, clearly detracting from his immediate fantasy viability. So do we stand pat with our rankings and pretend the boogeyman will stay in the closet, or do we adjust based on short term value? I choose the latter. If Shepard doesn’t have the same year as he would’ve due to Marshall’s arrival, his value will be impacted, plain and simple. I’ve corrected accordingly.
DeVante Parker, MIA
WR24 to WR35
Parker was on a nice year-three breakout trajectory, and targets were seemingly going to open up. Unfortunately, the re-signing of Stills throws a wrench into those plans, and now it’s fair to wonder if Parker is even the second option on his own team. I own Parker in a few locations, and it’s not as if I’m hating on the guy – I’m just being pragmatic. He hasn’t yet lived up to his draft status, and it’s possible the Dolphins believe he won’t.
Randall Cobb, GB
WR35 to WR46
Nothing really changed in Green Bay apart from the Martellus Bennett signing. I just realized I was way too high on Cobb. It’s not 2014 anymore, and I just don’t get the appeal. You don’t win fantasy matchups with nostalgia points.
Malcolm Mitchell, NE
WR51 to WR61
See Shepard above. There’s only one football in New England.
Michael Floyd, FA
WR66 to WR85
He was inactivated for the Super Bowl and the Pats made no effort to re-sign him. There was a time where I thought he was the best receiver on the Arizona roster. I was wrong.
WR68 to WR86 and WR72 to WR87
At best, either one is the fifth option in Philly. Both might not even make the team. Player like this are why I’m a dynasty conservative.
Find me on Twitter @EDH_27
You can find his (typically strong and hopefully reasonable) opinions on Twitter at@EDH_27.