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Fantasy Impact: Veteran WR’s Make Room for the 2017 NFL Rookie Class

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The ripple effect the NFL Draft has on veteran players is essential in calculating fantasy value. This year wasn’t just a ripple but a full-on cannonball. For the first time since 2005, there were three wide receivers taken in the first 10 picks of the NFL Draft. With high draft picks comes high expectations for these players and many times they walk into training camp and take away a spot from a veteran player. Hopefully, the wide receivers taken this year will fare better than the first round wide receivers from 2016. The four first round wide receivers combined to score 148 fantasy points in their rookie seasons.

  • Will Fuller (HOU) 81
  • Corey Coleman (CLE) 60
  • Josh Doctson (WAS) 6
  • Laquon Treadwell (MIN) 1

That is really ugly, and the fantasy impact was minimal.  Will this year be different? We also shouldn’t overlook players drafted outside the first round either. But that’s going to be another article (hint hint).

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This Article is also a Podcast Episode

Check out an extended version of this article as Mitchell Renz and Mike Renz debate all the players in this article and more. We’re on iTunes too! Subscribe and if you like what you hear, leave us a review!

Keenan Allen / Tyrell Williams

Los Angeles Chargers

Since there are two names here I wanted to start with the fantasy situation for the Chargers.  The question that’s been running through my mind is who will see a bigger impact with the Chargers drafting Mike Williams in round one. First I compared their measurables.

  • Keenan Allen: Height 6’2″ / Weight 211 Pounds
  • Tyrell Williams: Height 6’4″ / Weight 205 Pounds
  • Mike Williams: Height 6’4″ / Weight 225 Pounds

Once I realized they are comparable in size, it was time to watch the film.  What I came to find was Allen thrived more in the middle of the field with shorter passes while Tyrell Williams was more of a field stretcher. A crazy little stat nugget, did you know before Keenan Allen was injured in 2015 he was on pace for 134 catches, 1,450 yards, and eight touchdowns? That’s pretty insane.

Allen has struggled to stay healthy which is a reason why the Chargers went out and got Mike Williams but if Allen and Tyrell are both on the field, Mike Williams will impact Tyrell’s game more than Allen’s.

Rishard Matthews

Tennessee Titans

Matthews had a surprise season for the Titans racking up 945 yards and nine touchdowns in 2016. Even though he had a career year, the Titans went and drafted Corey Davis at five overall in the 2017 NFL Draft. So what can we expect from Matthews in 2017?

For starters, Matthews in his first four seasons had a combined eight touchdowns.  Last season he averaged a touchdown on every seven catches, in his first four seasons he averaged a touchdown every 13 catches. The Titans last season ranked 28th in pass attempts. So what do all these short sentences that don’t flow together mean?

Matthews was due for major regression before the Titans drafted Corey Davis.  Now with Davis as the new number one receiver, Matthews is outside my top 36 wide receivers entering the 2017 season.

A.J. Green

Cininatti Bengals

A big winner from the NFL draft is Bengals star receiver A.J. Green.  Now many people may disagree with me since the Bengals went out and drafted John Ross ninth overall in the 2017 NFL Draft.  Personally, I think the addition of Ross and Joe Mixon helps Green.  No longer will teams be able to bracket cover Green due to the threat of the fastest man ever at the NFL combine, John Ross. Also, now that the Bengals have a threat out of the backfield, this will take the extra attention of Green.

Green will be my fourth-ranked wide receiver this season because he has been an absolute stud since entering the league.  In fact, last season was his first season where he didn’t have 1,000 yards in his six-year career.  He had 964 receiving yards in 10 games before suffering an injury.  That’s an average of 96 yards a game which was the third highest in the NFL last season.

Even though Green has missed nine games the last two seasons when he does play all 16 games he averages 94 catches for 1,358 yards and 11 touchdowns. I will take my chances with that kind of upside.

DeAndre Hopkins

Houston Texans

The Texans didn’t draft a wide receiver in the first round but they did select a quarterback, that quarterback is Deshaun Watson. He hasn’t been handed the keys to the starting role but it will only be a matter of time until he wins the job in camp.  Watson is a born leader and a winner, but will he be able to boost Hopkins enough to be fantasy relevant again?

Hopkins last season suffered from horrible quarterback play. The Texans were one of three teams to have more interceptions (16) than passing touchdowns (15) last season. The Texans entire offense suffered not just Hopkins, in fact, the Texans only scored 25 touchdowns last year which is the fewest amount for a team to make the playoffs in NFL history.

So now that Hopkins has a new quarterback he should be fantasy relevant right? Well, keep reading. The magic number for how fast a quarterback can throw a football is 55 mph. Watson was clocked throwing only 49 mph at the NFL combine.  There are only two current starting quarterbacks in the NFL who threw under 55 mph, they are Tyrod Taylor (50) and Dak Prescott (54).

Just like those two quarterbacks, Watson can also use his legs to make plays which makes me a little optimistic.  That being said just because Hopkins has a new quarterback that doesn’t mean he is a top 10 wide receiver again.

If you crave more wide receiver impacts from the 2017 NFL draft then listen to The Empire Fantasy Podcast.

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About the author

Mitchell Renz

Mitchell is a proud Centenary University graduate where he played baseball, worked for the New York Jets and in his free time majored in Sports Management. After college he moved to Germany for a year where he learned that football is actually played with your feet and beer is cheaper than water. While over there he worked for the Cologne Cardinals, a professional baseball team and Koelnmesse, one of the world’s largest exhibition sites. Currently, Mitchell works for The Parkview Sports Group, consulting sport facilities and managing a global YouTube star, Domingo Ayala. He is the defending champ in his family’s fantasy football league where he has been a member for the past ten years and is the Commissioner in league with his college friends. The only thing he enjoys more than a good glass of whiskey or a cold beer is withstanding fantasy football victories and the bragging rights that come with it. Mitchell may come from Danville, a small town in central Pennsylvania but his dreams of being in the Fantasy Football Hall of Fame are huge.

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