We are now 3 weeks into the preseason and starting to see, for better or worse, who is going to do what. There have been some injuries, some breakouts, even flops. Wide Receivers are a fickle lot because one, how many of them are in play and two, they are dependent on other variables such as a decent quarterback and scheme knowledge. Week three in the preseason is typically what is considered a dress rehearsal of what is to come. On that note, here are some observations who to draft and maybe some clarifications on Ghosts of Article’s past. You can call these sleepers, predictions or even merely
- I was wrong about Josh Gordon. He looked incredible in Friday night’s game against the Bucs. Indeed he is a deep threat and probably will be a feast-or-famine player, the way he looked on the field makes me glad most of my drafts are over already and I was able to grab him in the 9th or 10th round. No is still entirely sure about Cleveland’s offense with guys like Gordon and RGIII both looking for a Come To Jesus season. Gordon is definitely worth the wait if you can build around him for the three weeks he’s gone.
- Tyler Lockett is better than you think. He’s crafty, quick and has good vision. He also plays in an offense where he arguably has 2015’s best in Russell Wilson. What makes Lockett interesting is how much success the Seahawks have rolling Wilson out or scrambling. With the “breakout” season by Doug Baldwin last year, expect defenses to start paying more attention to him. Lockett doesn’t have Jermaine Kearse’s hands, but he is greased lightning in space. He jumps even higher in the rankings if your league has return yardage.
- Remember Wes Welker? Remember Wes Welker in 2007-2011? Yeah, so do we. Enter Chris Hogan. Friday night, Hogan showed just how good the Patriots’ offense is and how smart Bill Belichick is. His last two years in Buffalo have been moderate, totaling 876 yards and 6 touchdowns. Then the Pats swooped Hogan up, making him their number three wide receiver and putting him in that slot/split role that Welker thrived on. We saw it on Friday with Hogan catching six of six targets and scoring a touchdown. As much as the Patriot’s throw, this is a no brainer as Hogan is going undrafted in many leagues.
- Travis Benjamin is a perfect fit in San Diego. Benjamin had a great first four games last year as the home run threat for Cleveland. And it worked. The problem was that the quarterback situation in Cleveland was dismal. Benjamin cooled off after the hot start to become reliable at best in an otherwise unreliable system. Hence the change in scenery. Now he is the number two wide receiver in San Diego and the obvious deep threat. Keenan Allen will have his share of targets, but he is also on my Bust List. Not to say Allen is a bad receiver, just that he’s overrated which opens the door for Benjamin.
2016 is a year when some of the younger guys will become breakouts and the baton will be passed. Guys like Antonio Brown, Julio Jones and even Brandon Marshall are still just about sure things. But Odell Beckham, Jr. and DeAndre Hopkins were the the first class of young, breakout stars. T.Y. Hilton could be in that small, select group with ODB and Hopkins but he’s just shy of being that elite status. Investing in the young talent and taking a flyer on a few rookies and second year guys is not a bad idea. You never know when productivity will suddenly drop off for the perennial stars. In one draft, I took Marshall, A.J. Green, Hilton, Lockett, Gordon and Kevin White (To be fair, Brandon Marshall was a keeper). I took the two sure bets with Marshall and Green, a stab at Hilton who has his demons physically but still produces at a high level and the other three based on essentially no fantasy ceiling.
Obviously, draft a well-balanced team. But as you fill starting spots, drafting top potential is critical in your success. If Lockett becomes a dynamo this year and Gordon and White flop, I’m not too worried because I didn’t go too high on them, compromising my team. If they end up going in the 5th or 6th rounds, that’s great for you because it leaves other more stable talent on the board. Either way, you’re a leg up. This is a very interesting year and should show us the future of wide receivers.
The best and most frank advice I can give you is to stick to your guns in the first five rounds. After that, feel free to let all hell break loose.