Chris Wesseling

Draft Analysis

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Down with ADP: WRs & TEs

Tuesday, August 30, 2011


With training camps wrapping up and three exhibition games in the books, depth charts are solidifying and clear drafts trends are starting to emerge. Using Fantasy Football Calculator's Average Draft Position tool, I've focused in on players to target and others to avoid in this year's drafts. Below is a breakdown of the wide receivers and tight ends. I deconstructed the quarterbacks and running backs last week.

Editor's Note: Get Rotoworld's updated rankings, projections, and fantasy analysis in the 2011 Fantasy Football Draft Guide.

Wide Receivers

First-Second Round ADP

Andre Johnson, 1.07
Calvin Johnson, 1.11
Roddy White, 1.12
Larry Fitzgerald, 2.03
Vincent Jackson, 2.06
Hakeem Nicks, 2.07
Greg Jennings, 2.09

Andre Johnson has led the NFL in receiving yards per game in three of four years with Matt Schaub as his quarterback. He's a beast. That much is indisputable. This year's problem with Johnson as a mid-first round pick is that the situations of Calvin Johnson and Larry Fitzgerald have improved to the point that Andre is no longer a great value at his ADP. Rotoworld has the three studs in a virtual three-way tie at the end of the first round.

On my own list, I have Fitz as the No. 1 receiver. Pro Football Focus' "normalization" scores from 2010 show Fitzgerald's stat line at 110/1,460/14 with a league-average QB and schedule instead of the unholy law firm of Anderson, Hall & Skelton. It's also worth pointing out that Fitz couldn't take advantage of his 7/105.5/1 average without Anquan Boldin in the lineup (from 2005-2009) for the same reason. He's going to be a target hog this season with Andre Roberts and Early Doucet on the opposite. Last but certainly not least, Fitzgerald has double-digit touchdowns in four of the past six seasons -- that's four more than Andre Johnson.

White is severely overvalued as a first-round pick. His 115 receptions from 2010 are a whopping 27 more than his previous career-high. The Falcons added a superstar-level talent in Julio Jones while a revitalized Harry Douglas has emerged as a weapon out of the slot. More of a volume receiver than the elite three above, White has 20 more targets than any other NFL wideout over the past two years. While his effectiveness will increase, those targets will decrease substantially this season. White isn't a top-five receiver in my rankings.

Megatron and V-Jax are in for monster seasons this year. It's rare that Gregg Rosenthal, Evan Silva, and I are all on board the same player for a true breakout, but the three of us agree Jackson will be a top-five receiver in a contract year. … Nicks is borderline top-five as long as he can stay healthy.

Greg Jennings is being drafted as if nothing has changed in Green Bay since the end of the season. It has. Jermichael Finley and Donald Driver are healthy. Jennings' magical mid-season run came with Finley out of the lineup and Driver rendered useless by a quad injury. Packers coaches game-planned to get the ball in Jennings' hands after a slow start, but there's no escaping the fact that his production spike coincided with Finley's season-ending injury. In the five early-season games with Finley, Jennings averaged 2.8 receptions and 36.6 yards. The rest of the way without Finley, Jennings averaged 5.5 receptions and 92.3 yards.

Third-Fourth Round ADP

DeSean Jackson, 3.01
Mike Wallace, 3.01
Miles Austin, 3.05
Reggie Wayne, 3.07
Dwayne Bowe, 3.11
Dez Bryant, 4.02
Mike Williams (TB), 4.03
Brandon Marshall, 4.05
Wes Welker, 4.06
Santonio Holmes, 4.12

Wallace led the NFL in receiving yards the second-half of the season while emerging as more than just a deep threat once Ben Roethlisberger returned from an early-season suspension. Rotoworld has Wallace ranked as a top-six receiver. … Austin averaged 6.6 catches and 97.2 yards with Tony Romo under center the first five games of last season. After Romo's shoulder injury, those numbers plummeted to just 3.2 catches for 50.4 yards. He's a logical bounce-back candidate. … Teammate Bryant is the best candidate for a true breakout of any player in football. His ceiling is more than a dozen touchdowns. In my eyes he's a top-10 receiver. … I don't trust the young Bucs offense against a considerably tougher schedule this season. I'd let someone else try to duplicate Williams' double-digit scores from last season.

Stifled by high-end cornerbacks late last season, Wayne has unquestionably reached his decline phase. His career-high 111 receptions were the result of injuries to Dallas Clark and Austin Collie combined with abnormally high pass attempts from Peyton Manning. Wayne may be a relatively safe pick, but his numbers are going to take a major hit this year. … Bowe has legitimately emerged as a top talent, but his 2010 numbers were bolstered by the easiest pass defense schedule in the league. He also has more competition for targets this season with Steve Breaston in town. … Welker owners can't bank on 100+ catches in the Patriots' new spread-the-wealth offense. The Pats tight ends are too dangerous to ignore.

Fifth-Sixth Round ADP

Chad Ochocinco, 5.01
Brandon Lloyd, 5.01
Marques Colston, 5.04
Steve Johnson, 5.07
Anquan Boldin, 5.07
Mario Manningham, 5.11
Percy Harvin, 5.12
Jeremy Maclin, 6.04
Kenny Britt, 6.09
Julio Jones, 6.11
Austin Collie, 6.11

With a slow transition to New England's offense, Ochocinco has "sucked" thus far in the preseason. We don't expect that to be the case all season, but he's hands-off early in the fifth-round regardless. Tom Brady simply has too weapons, and Ochocinco isn't the threat that Aaron Hernandez is. … As I mentioned a couple of weeks ago, Lloyd Lloyd arrived at a career year in 2010 through the confluence of outstanding play-design and play-calling from Josh McDaniels. It's easy to forget the Broncos were the best play pass offense in the NFL for a long stretch of last season. That won't be the case under conservative-minded coach John Fox. Lloyd has plenty of talent, but he won't come close to last year's numbers. … Johnson will have to prove he can beat double teams this year in an offense that threatens to be done in by the worst O-Line in the NFL. … Boldin has new life with Lee Evans stretching defenses. … Colston has several red flags: A fifth knee injury (second microfracture), the emergence of Jimmy Graham and Lance Moore, and a more run-heavy offense.

Manningham has averaged 5.3 receptions, 84.8 yards, and nearly a touchdown per week in nine games missed by Hakeem Nicks and/or Steve Smith the past two years. Over a full 16-game schedule, those numbers project to 85 receptions, 1,356 yards, and 12.5 TDs. That's not how it works in real life, of course, but you get the point. Manningham is still a player to target in the fifth round. … As Evan Silva pointed out last week, Harvin is a threat for 85-90 catches as Donovan McNabb's go-to receiver. He absolutely has Pro Bowl talent. … Britt has been a top-15 receiver from the very start of our projections in May. Now that he's avoided a suspension and practicing fully (hamstring), he's once again a steal in the sixth round.

Three weeks ago, I noted that Julio Jones may be the most explosive size/speed package after the catch in the NFL. That sentiment still stands. The Rookie of the Year favorite is a bigger version of Hakeem Nicks or Miles Austin -- calling to mind T.O.'s RAC ability. Rotoworld has never been crazy about rookie receivers, but Jones has the talent and the offense to merit WR3 status with WR2 upside. … Collie and Maclin are the quintessential boom-or-bust picks. Do you feel lucky, punk?

Seventh-Ninth Round ADP

Plaxico Burress, 7.02
Sidney Rice, 7.09
Malcom Floyd, 7.12
Santana Moss, 8.01
Pierre Garcon, 8.02
Mike Sims-Walker, 8.03
Steve Smith (CAR), 8.10
A.J. Green, 8.10
Mike Thomas, 9.01
Hines Ward, 9.04
Michael Crabtree, 9.08
Johnny Knox, 9.11
Danny Amendola, 9.12

Plax is an intriguing player, sure. But don't draft him as a WR3 expecting 2007 numbers. Not only is he not the same player four years later, he's also more of an injury risk facing a long history of disappointing production for 34-year-old receivers. … Rice is a Seahawk. That's more than enough to keep him off my roster. … Floyd is being drafted as if V-Jax is still in a contract squabble. That's obviously not the case. He's a WR4 at best this year. … The Redskins' aerial attack will run into plenty of issues this season, but Moss is still a nice target in the early eighth round. … Garcon exploded at the end of last season when Collie and Clark were sidelined. Don't expect a repeat.

Sims-Walker is a perennial fantasy tease. I'd still target him as the receiver most likely to go "boom" in St. Louis, but he may also be the one most likely to go "bust." … Former teammate Thomas is still a bargain in PPR leagues, but his upside is limited by a looming mid-season QB change. … Ward is no more than a WR4 with Emmanuel Sanders and Antonio Brown emerging. … Knox will get his job back from Roy Williams. There's upside here. … Amendola will catch plenty of passes -- and do nothing with them after the catch. … Crabtree is a roster millstone early in the season. Let someone else carry that dead weight.

Steve Smith calls to mind Fitzgerald's 2010 season. For the second time in four years, the Panthers had to drag an out-of-work QB off his couch at mid-season because the situation under center was so dire. It's no coincidence that Smith went through stretches where he was utterly useless to fantasy leaguers for the second time in four years. Smith has proven that he will produce WR1 numbers with any QB who isn't historically awful. Weinke, Testaverde, St. Pierre, Clausen, and the last gasps of Delhomme were among the worst QBs ever to start in the NFL. Is Cam Newton that bad? Possibly. But it's worth a late eighth-round pick to find out.

Tenth-Thirteenth Round ADP

Braylon Edwards, 10.02
Jacoby Ford, 10.02
Lance Moore, 10.03
Lee Evans, 10.04
Roy Williams, 10.07
Jordy Nelson, 10.10
Donald Driver, 11.02
Nate Burleson, 11.07
Steve Smith (PHI), 11.07
Robert Meachem, 12.01
Greg Little, 12.03
Deion Branch, 12.07
Steve Breason, 12.10
Antonio Brown, 12.11
Emmanuel Sanders, 12.12
Mike Williams (SEA), 12.12
Bernard Berrian, 13.07
James Jones, 13.08
Dexter McCluster, 13.08
Davone Bess, 13.09

The 49ers threaten to be one of the most sunk offenses in the league. … Ford has breakout potential, but may be best left for those in return-yardage leagues. … A perfect fit in Baltimore's offense, Evans is well worth the 10th-round price tag. … Little's early-season value is on the decline following the return of Mohamed Massaquoi. … Don't touch Roy Williams. Seriously. Just don't do it. … Nelson is the Green Bay receiver to own behind Greg Jennings. … Steve Smith (PHI) won't play early in the season. With Maclin back, I'm having a devil of a time trying to figure out where his targets will come from once he does return to the lineup. … Big Mike Williams is a Seahawk; ergo, he will not be on my roster. … Berrian is a washed up deep threat. … Now a RB, McCluster touches the ball less than five times per game. … Bess is strictly PPR material, though a much better receiver than Danny Amendola.

Lance Moore is one of our favorite wide receiver bargains this year. As Silva pointed out, Moore played nearly 85 percent of the first-team snaps in the first two preseason games compared to 51 percent in 2010. His production has always sky-rocketed with Reggie Bush out of the lineup. Considering Colston's injury history, Meachem also has breakout appeal. Of the two, we prefer the more reliable Moore.

Antonio Brown vs. Emmanuel Sanders? Brown was training camp MVP even before his impressive preseason performances. With a knack for making the big play, Brown has taken full advantage of Sanders' absence. Unfortunately, Sanders returned to practice Tuesday. The bet here is that Brown will be more productive as the No. 3 receiver in September only to be overtaken by Sanders in mid-October. Draft accordingly.


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Chris Wesseling is a senior football editor and Dynasty league analyst for Rotoworld.com. The 2011 NFL season marks his fifth year with Rotoworld and his third year contributing to NBCSports.com. He can be found on Twitter @ChrisWesseling.
Email :Chris Wesseling



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