Big name free agent wide receivers usually aren’t worth the money.
Production often drops while the price tag rises. As NFL teams struggle to project how a receiver will fit in their system (Chad Ochocinco, anyone?), fantasy values sink.
That hasn’t stopped receivers from grabbing the headlines in the first 24 hours of free agency. Seemingly mediocre starters from Josh Morgan to Robert Meachem have contracts while scrubs like Peyton Manning and Mario Williams work on their deals.
Let’s see what wideouts benefitted the most and what players did the most damage.
Robert Meachem, Chargers WR
Meachem just landed in vertical receiver heaven.
There aren’t many situations better than New Orleans for a wide receiver, but Meachem found one. He’s going from one terrific deep thrower (Drew Brees) to an even better one in San Diego (Philip Rivers.)
I’m still not sold on Meachem as a difference-making receiver, but this is undoubtedly a better fantasy situation for him. He’ll be the primary deep threat and stay on the field every down for a team that loves to go deep.
There are far fewer weapons in San Diego than New Orleans. Antonio Gates is slowing down and Malcom Floyd can’t stay healthy. Meachem’s targets and production should go up.
Silva is convinced that Meachem’s skill set was underutilized in New Orleans and that he’s ready to explode. My instincts say that Brees and Sean Payton maximize production pretty well and Meachem is missing something if they couldn’t use him more.
Still, this is an unreal scheme fit and opportunity for Meachem. I can imagine Meachem getting too much fantasy hype and getting drafted in the top 15-20 receivers, which would be too high for me.
Meachem’s production will climb, but I see him more as a late WR2 or early WR3 with risk than a guy you’d trust to start every week.
Reggie Wayne, Colts WR
I expect Wayne to continue his decline in 2012. But he’s listed as “rising” here because his best chance to slow down that decline is with the Colts. Changing teams at this stage of his career might have turned him into the Jaguars edition of Torry Holt.
Josh Morgan, Redskins WR
He was a role player in San Francisco and he’ll be a role player in Washington. The ceiling is a little higher in D.C. but not by enough to make him anything more than a late-round option.
Randy Moss, 49ers WR
He wasn’t worth anything in fantasy leagues last week, but he’s unlikely to be worth anything in 2012. Alex Smith and the 49ers offense are a bad fit for Moss. I’m not convinced he’ll even make the team.
Brandon Marshall, Bears WR
It sounds great on paper. One of those fantasy football-type things fans say like “Marshall should reunite with Cutler!” actually happened. In no small part because Cutler wanted it to happen.
Everyone is going to expect Marshall to suddenly improve because his best days were with Cutler. But this isn’t Mike Shanahan’s offense, even if Cutler imported his old quarterbacks coach. The Bears are going to run plenty and Marshall will still struggle with the same drops, mental mistakes, and red zone disappointment that he’s struggled with for years.
Yes, he’ll get lots of targets. He got a lot of targets in Miami too. Ultimately his value should remain consistent even if expectations from Fantasy Nation have been raised.
Vincent Jackson, Bucs WR
Is Josh Freeman the rising young star from 2010 or is the guy that looked totally lost reading coverage in 2011?
That answer will help determine Jackson’s value in Tampa over the next few years. Greg Schiano is a coach that figures to play things close to the vest, so the system is going to be a downgrade for Jackson. The quarterback is a downgrade.
There won’t be great competition for targets in Tampa, but Mike Williams and Kellen Winslow could steal red zone looks.
The Bucs will want to feed Jackson the ball to justify his massive contract. He’s not going to fall off the fantasy map, but he’s not a great bet to remain a top-ten caliber receiver.
Pierre Garcon, Redskins WR
I’m not buying it. Garcon is undisciplined in his routes and drops way too many passes. He will be playing with a rookie quarterback in 2012, albeit a very talented rookie receiver in Robert Griffin III. The Redskins paid him way too much money for a secondary talent. Garcon is likely to disappoint them and fantasy owners.
Santana Moss and Jabar Gaffney, Redskins WRs: I don’t know where these two will play next year. It’s unlikely to be with the Redskins. No matter where it is, they are unlikely to repeat their 2011 numbers.