2018 Fantasy Football Draft Prep: Despite discount, Alshon Jeffery, Julian Edelman still busts
Heath Cummings looks at three receivers you may be dropping before they help your Fantasy team.
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When it comes to "busts" in Fantasy, it's all relative to ADP. You're looking for players picked early in the draft who may still be contributors but won't justify where they're being drafted.
With the three receivers below I'm not even sure I can be that generous.
Whether it's because of suspension, injury risk, target problems or a combination of all three, I'm avoiding these receivers even if they fall well below their current ADP. Don't let them derail your path to a championship.
I was worried about Alshon Jeffery before training camp even began. Now that he's missed nearly two weeks of camp, I'm terrified. As you can see from the numbers above, Jeffery's 2017 was saved by his touchdown rate. By now, I've talked enough about the for Carson Wentz that you should be able to recite it. Well, those touchdowns have to come off of someone's totals, and it will probably be the guy who score once every nine times he touched the ball.
Jeffery was the only receiver in the NFL last year with more than 100 targets and a catch rate below 50 percent. In the same offense Zach Ertz caught 67 percent; Fellow wideout Nelson Agholor caught 65 percent. Even Torrey Smith had a better catch rate than Jeffery. It's fine if you want to excuse that because of the shoulder injury, but that's the same shoulder keeping him out of training camp.
Jeffery's receptions and yards don't cut it as a starting receiver in either format without the extreme touchdown rate. We have no reason to believe he'll repeat that rate. That, coupled with his current status on the PUP list lands him squarely on my "Do-Not-Draft" list. Especially at his current ADP as the No. 24 wide receiver off the board. I'd rather have Agholor in PPR.
I don't like Julian Edelman's ADP in either format, but let's just stick with non-PPR, because we should all be able to agree on this. We're talking about a 32-year-old receiver who missed all of 2017 and says he still isn't in football shape. That's okay, because he gets an extra month to get in shape due to a four-game suspension to start the season. His Week 5 return will come on Thursday Night Football. Are you really going to feel comfortable starting Edelman on a short week playing his first football game in more than 18 months?
Let's say hypothetically Edelman does return to full strength and doesn't miss a game due to injury for just the second time since 2013. That means he's giving you seven or eight weeks (depending on whether you start him on the short week) of production in your league's regular season. Three of the last four years Edelman has played, he's averaged between 8.03 and 8.85 Fantasy points per game in non-PPR. That's the definition of low-end No. 2 production.
Again, these are the expectations if we assume he's as good at 32 coming off an injury as he was from 27-30. If we assume he doesn't suffer yet another injury and miss more time. There are at least a dozen receivers who will be starting Week 1 and have a similar chance to give you top-25 production at receiver. Their injury risk isn't as high, and many of them have actual breakout potential.
I don't think you should pay this price for Edelman in PPR, but you certainly shouldn't in non-PPR.
It's not that Devin Funchess is a bad receiver. He's just a tight end trying to play receiver. And he's certainly not a complete receiver. But D.J. Moore may be. I expect Moore will overtake Funchess at some point this season as Cam Newton's favorite receiver to target and I wouldn't be surprised if it happens before Week 1. Even if it doesn't, Funchess won't be the No. 1 pass catcher in this offense.
Christian McCaffrey and Funchess both accounted for about 23 percent of the team's targets in 2017. A lot of that was because of the time Greg Olsen missed. The thing is, the Panthers certainly aren't talking like they want to lessen McCaffrey's workload. Quite the opposite in fact. So if McCaffrey takes 23 percent of the targets and Olsen comes back to claim his 120 targets, you're looking at almost half of the team's targets going to two players not named Devin Funchess. That's discouraging for a team that threw the ball less than 500 times in 2017. Add in the emergence of Moore, and it's really difficult to find enough work to justify Funchess as a top-36 receiver ... especially in PPR.
Looking for evidence of what this might look like? In the final three weeks of last year (with Olsen and McCaffrey both on the field) Funchess saw a total of 14 targets. He caught six of them for 78 yards.
So what sleepers should you snatch in your Fantasy Football draft? And which wide receivers do you need to jump all over? Visit SportsLine now to get Fantasy Football cheat sheets from the model that called Alvin Kamara's huge breakout last season and find out.
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