Mike Clay

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No. 3 Wide Receiver Rankings

Tuesday, April 08, 2014

17. Denarius Moore – Raiders

The Raiders wide receiver depth chart is a bit messy, with Rod Streater, Denarius Moore, Andre Holmes, Juron Criner, and newly-signed James Jones competing for a pair of starting jobs. Moore currently projects as third in line, behind Jones and Streater. This doesn’t bode well for his playing time, as Oakland trailed only San Francisco in ‘11’ personnel usage last season.

18. Ace Sanders – Jaguars

Justin Blackmon’s indefinite suspension clouds Jacksonville’s wide receiver situation a bit, but Sanders is likely to end up as the club’s No. 3 or 4 wideout for a majority of the team’s games this season. Per PFF, the Jaguars were in the upper third of the league in ‘11’ usage during OC Jedd Fisch’s first season calling plays. Sanders is a dynamic playmaker and will have plays drawn up for him, but his ceiling is limited until the team improves at quarterback. Still, he’s not the worst late-round flier.

19. Quinton Patton – 49ers

The 49ers had three-plus wide receivers on the field only 26 percent of the time last season, which was by far the lowest mark in the league. Reports out of San Francisco suggest the 49ers will utilize more ‘11’ personnel in 2014, but with their run-heavy philosophy unlikely to change, the fantasy ceiling for its No. 3 wideout is low. Patton is no more than a handcuff to Michael Crabtree and Anquan Boldin in deep leagues.

20. Keshawn Martin – Texans

With Gary Kubiak at the controls the past eight years, Houston was near the league basement in usage of three-wide sets. Usage of the ‘11’ figures to rise with Bill O’Brien now calling the shots. This bodes well for slot man Martin, who is the favorite to work inside Andre Johnson and sophomore breakout candidate DeAndre Hopkins.

21. Mohamed Sanu – Bengals

Under OC Jay Gruden, the 2013 Bengals had three receivers on the field only 44 percent of the time, which was the league’s fifth-lowest mark, according to PFF. This, of course, was a product of the team making heavy use of its Jermaine Gresham-Tyler Eifert tight end duo. Going forward, new play-caller Hue Jackson is expected to lean heavier on the run, which means ‘11’ personnel usage is unlikely to rise. Sanu’s snaps will drop in 2014.

22. Jerome Simpson – Vikings

New OC Norv Turner uses so little ‘11’ personnel that the offense he ran in 2013 (Cleveland) was only league average in the category despite operating the league’s pass-heaviest offense. Minnesota currently has a void at the No. 2 tight end spot, but it’s fair to expect them to address it in May’s draft. Stuck behind Greg Jennings and emerging Cordarrelle Patterson, Simpson’s playing time is surely going to take a hit in the new Vikings’ offense.

23. Brandon Gibson – Dolphins

A torn patellar tendon ended Gibson’s 2013 campaign after only seven games. He’ll enter 2014 in a competition with Rishard Matthews for the team’s primary slot gig inside of Mike Wallace and Brian Hartline. Miami had its third wide receiver on the field a ton last season, but that was partially a product of a pass-heavy approach. With new OC Bill Lazor now calling the plays, it’s fair to expect more ‘12’ and fewer pass attempts.

24. Joe Morgan – Saints

With Lance Moore off to Pittsburgh, Morgan is penciled in ahead of Nick Toon as New Orleans’ No. 3 wide receiver. The good news is that Morgan is working in one of the league’s top-scoring offenses. The bad news is that Sean Payton rarely uses his wide receiver depth. Per PFF, New Orleans had three-plus wideouts on the field 45 percent of the time last season, which was third-lowest in the league. Morgan will settle in as a situational deep threat.

25. A.J. Jenkins – Chiefs

Despite holding the lead on more than half of their offensive snaps, the 2013 Chiefs called plenty of passes and, in turn, were in the middle of the pack in their usage of three-wide sets. This should hardly be a surprise with Andy Reid calling the shots. Jenkins – a 2012 first-round pick – is currently in position to play quite a bit on passing downs in an offense that averaged four touchdowns per game from Week 12 on last season.

26. Cole Beasley – Cowboys

According to PFF, only the Eagles used ‘11’ personnel more often than the pass-happy Cowboys last season. New OC Scott Linehan has a history of using plenty of two-tight end sets, however, which is a philosophy we can expect to see in place in Dallas with 2013 second-round pick Gavin Escobar emerging behind Jason Witten. The team will continue to throw the ball a ton, however, which gives slot man Beasley some appeal in deep PPR leagues.

27. David Nelson – Jets

New York’s acquisition of Eric Decker pushes Nelson into a competition with Stephen Hill and Jacoby Ford for the team’s No. 3 gig. Nelson played a ton of snaps in the second half last season, but was working as a starter. The Jets were below average in usage of ‘11’ personnel and plan to run the ball more often in 2014. Nelson is a pedestrian talent in a poor scoring offense and no longer in position to see regular snaps.

28. Ted Ginn – Cardinals

Following a decent season as Carolina’s No. 3 receiver, Ginn heads to Arizona where he’ll replace Andre Roberts behind Larry Fitzgerald and Michael Floyd. Like Carolina, however, Arizona doesn’t use their third wideout very often. That doesn’t figure to change in 2014, especially with John Carlson now on board.

29. Jacoby Jones – Ravens

Baltimore’s addition of Steve Smith bumps Jones into a competition with sophomore Marlon Brown for the team’s No. 3 gig. Regardless, both Jones and Brown will struggle to find snaps with aforementioned Kubiak now running the offense. Kubiak likes to run the ball and nearly always has a fullback or second tight end on the field. This means more Owen Daniels and less Jones. Avoid Jones on draft day.

30. Kris Durham – Lions

It’s been a rough offseason for Durham. First of all, Golden Tate was signed to take his gig as Detroit’s No. 2 wide receiver. Second, Joe Lombardi was hired as offensive coordinator and will install an offense that uses ‘11’ personnel significantly less than Detroit did this past season. Consider that the Lions had three-plus wide receivers on the field on two thirds of their 2013 snaps. Lombardi is utilizing the Saints’ philosophy, which, per PFF, went three-wide only 41 percent of the time last year. The likes of fullback Jed Collins, tight end Joe Fauria, and a currently unknown rookie wide receiver will push already-underwhelming Durham well off the fantasy radar in 2014.

31. Chris Owusu – Buccaneers

The Buccaneers traded Mike Williams to Buffalo, which leaves Owusu to compete with Louis Murphy and at least one early-round rookie for snaps opposite Vincent Jackson. The Bucs are going to look to run the ball and seem to be building their roster around ‘12’ personnel. Owusu has little fantasy upside.

32. Marvin McNutt – Panthers

Carolina lost their top four wide receivers to free agency and replaced them with underwhelming journeymen Jerricho Cotchery and Tiquan Underwood. The duo will compete with McNutt, Kealoha Pilares, Tavarres King, and multiple rookies for prominent offensive roles. Regardless, no one mentioned here figures to have fantasy appeal come August. That’s especially the case when you consider how little the Panthers have a third wide receiver on the field.

Mike Clay is a football writer for Rotoworld.com and the Founder/Managing Editor of Pro Football Focus Fantasy. He can be found on Twitter @MikeClayNFL.
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