2018 Fantasy Football Draft Prep: No. 3 receivers with starter potential
Jamey Eisenberg looks at 20 receivers listed at No. 3 on their team's respective depth chart that have the chance to be starting Fantasy options this year.
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Part of my answer included the following: "I like this question a lot because one of these receivers could easily be a breakout candidate in 2018. And there are likely several No. 3 receivers on other teams we can dissect as well. It's a story worth writing this summer."
So here we are.
In 2017, some No. 3 receivers who were Fantasy viable included JuJu Smith-Schuster (Pittsburgh), Cooper Kupp (Rams), Nelson Agholor (Philadelphia), Chris Hogan (New England), Kenny Stills (Miami) and Keelan Cole (Jacksonville), among others. Some of these receivers performed well because of injury or an increased opportunity throughout the season. Others were just better than the guys ahead of them on the depth chart at the start of the year.
The same thing will likely happen to a handful of No. 3 receivers again this season. And we're here to help you find those guys.
With that in mind, here are the 20 best receivers listed No. 3 on the depth chart for their respective team. There is a good chance several of these receivers will be Fantasy starters at some point during the 2018 campaign.
You can make the case that Kupp is the Rams' No. 1 receiver based on his stats from last year. Despite Robert Woods and Sammy Watkins on the roster, Kupp led the team in targets and receiving yards, was second in receptions and tied for third in receiving touchdowns. Despite that, Kupp will be considered the team's No. 3 receiver in 2018 with the addition of Brandin Cooks, along with Woods. Still, Kupp could easily emerge as a starting Fantasy option this season, and he's worth drafting as early as Round 6 in all leagues.
Williams will be the second-best receiver for the Chargers this season, but he's expected to open the year behind Keenan Allen and Tyrell Williams on the depth chart. Mike Williams was the No. 7 overall pick in last year's NFL Draft, but a back injury ruined his rookie season. He's healthy now, and with Hunter Henry (ACL) out, you should see the Chargers use more three-receiver sets. Williams is a steal at his Average Draft Position (No. 134 overall), and I would draft him as early as Round 8.
Barring an injury, Golladay will be stuck behind Marvin Jones and Golden Tate, which hurts his ceiling. But with Eric Ebron gone and no tight end of significance brought in as a replacement, the Lions should lean on Golladay more in his sophomore campaign. Ebron was third on the team in targets (86), receptions (53), yards (574) and touchdowns (four), and hopefully most of that production will go to Golladay. He's an excellent value pick at No. 113 overall based on his ADP.
Ridley should be the second-best Fantasy receiver on the Falcons behind Julio Jones, but give Mohamed Sanu credit for being a reliable target for Matt Ryan. Still, Ridley was selected in the first round of the NFL Draft to be a significant contributor, even as a rookie. He might not be the best Fantasy rookie receiver coming into the year -- I like DJ Moore, Anthony Miller and Michael Gallup better -- but Ridley should be drafted with a late-round pick in all leagues.
Allison has a big opportunity in front of him this season as the No. 3 receiver for the Packers behind Davante Adams and Randall Cobb, and he could deliver in his third year in the NFL. Having a healthy Aaron Rodgers back will help Allison, but hopefully he doesn't fall far behind Adams, Cobb and tight end Jimmy Graham in terms of targets. But given his ADP at No. 161 overall, getting someone catching passes from Rodgers at that point in the draft is all reward and little risk.
There are already reports that Godwin will be a starter ahead of DeSean Jackson this season, but for now he's third behind Jackson and Mike Evans. And even though Tampa Bay has a crowded receiving corps, especially when you factor in tight ends Cameron Brate and O.J. Howard, Godwin still has the chance to make plenty of plays this year. In 2017, he had four games with at least six targets, and he averaged 9.5 Fantasy points in those outings in a non-PPR league. He's an excellent late-round pick in all leagues.
Meredith was great in 2016 with the Bears before suffering a torn ACL in training camp last year. He signed with the Saints in the offseason, and he should be a big factor in the passing game behind Michael Thomas and Ted Ginn. The good news is he's 100 percent with his knee, and Drew Brees typically can support three receivers being Fantasy viable. From 2014-16, the Saints had three receivers in all three seasons gain at least 825 yards. Thomas, Ginn and Meredith should all reach that level of production.
Amendola will be the primary slot receiver for the Dolphins, and that's a prominent role to have given Jarvis Landry's production over the past four seasons. Now that Landry's in Cleveland, Miami has to replace his stats from 2017, which were 160 targets for 112 catches, 987 yards and nine touchdowns. Kenny Stills and DeVante Parker will help fill that void, along with No. 4 receiver Albert Wilson and tight end Mike Gesicki. But if Amendola can stay healthy, he should be a candidate for 80-plus catches, making him a worthy late-round pick in PPR.
Richardson had a good year for Seattle in 2017, and he should be in line for a prominent role this year in Washington. You can make the case he's the No. 2 receiver for the Redskins behind Jamison Crowder, but we're going to put him behind Josh Doctson as well for this exercise. With the Seahawks last year, Richardson had seven games with at least seven targets. In those games, he averaged 9.0 Fantasy points in non-PPR leagues, and hopefully he'll get at least seven targets a week from Alex Smith. He's worth a look with a late-round pick in all formats.
If Wallace is healthy -- he's dealing with an injury leading up to Philadelphia's first preseason game -- he could be in store for a bigger role than you think. While he's behind Alshon Jeffery and Agholor on the depth chart, Jeffery is currently on the PUP list with a shoulder injury. Should Jeffery miss any time in the regular season, Wallace will be in a prominent role for the Eagles. He's also an upgrade on last year's No. 3 receiver, Torrey Smith, so Wallace is worth a late-round flier in deeper leagues even if Jeffery is healthy.
Rogers appears set to open the season as the No. 3 receiver behind T.Y. Hilton and Ryan Grant, but I expect Rogers to be the second-best wideout for the Colts in 2018. He's entering his third-year in the NFL, and hopefully he can stay healthy after battling a hamstring problem in 2017. The biggest thing is having a healthy Andrew Luck (shoulder), and Rogers has plenty of upside with a late-round pick in all leagues.
Sutton is drawing rave reviews in training camp, and he might be able to carve out a role for himself in seasonal leagues behind Demaryius Thomas and Emmanuel Sanders. We'll see if this passing attack can support three Fantasy receivers, but Sutton could end up as a red-zone weapon for new quarterback Case Keenum. In dynasty leagues, Sutton could be a star as early as 2019, but for this season, he's just a late-round pick in all re-draft formats.
Taylor is expected to be the No. 3 receiver for the Titans behind Corey Davis and Rishard Matthews, but Matthews is on the PUP list with an undisclosed injury. If Matthews misses any time during the regular season, Taylor would get a big boost in Fantasy production. And keep in mind that Davis had a hard time staying healthy as a rookie. If everyone is healthy, Taylor will likely be the slot receiver for the Titans, but he still has value in deeper leagues with a late-round pick.
Marshall still has to prove he can be the third receiver for the Seahawks, and he is battling Jaron Brown and Amara Darboh for that role behind Doug Baldwin and Tyler Lockett. Baldwin (knee) being out should help Marshall, and if he is No. 3 on the depth chart, he could help Seattle replace the 20 touchdowns departed Jimmy Graham, Richardson and Luke Willson scored last season. Keep an eye on Marshall's role, and if he is the third receiver as expected, he's worth a late-round flier.
I'm fascinated by the Jaguars receiving corps because the top four guys can all be somewhat interchangeable on the depth chart. Westbrook, Marqise Lee, Keelan Cole and Donte Moncrief will all share targets, but I view Westbrook as the No. 3 option behind Lee and Cole. Westbrook had some positive moments once he got on the field in Week 11 last season, including three games with at least seven Fantasy points in a non-PPR league over his final five outings. He should outperfom his draft stock, which is a late-round pick in all leagues.
Bryant gets a fresh start with the Raiders, and hopefully he can see enough targets as the third receiver behind Amari Cooper and Jordy Nelson to be a viable Fantasy option. New Raiders coach Jon Gruden and quarterback Derek Carr should take plenty of shots down the field for Bryant, who will likely be a boom or bust Fantasy option, just like his days with the Steelers. He's only worth a late-round flier in most leagues, but if Cooper or more likely Nelson struggles, Bryant could see a bump in playing time
Taylor will compete with rookie Dante Pettis to be the No. 3 receiver for the 49ers behind Marquise Goodwin and Pierre Garcon, and Taylor played well with Jimmy Garoppolo last season. In five games together, Taylor had two games with at least seven Fantasy points in a non-PPR league. He will likely be more valuable in PPR leagues since he should see plenty of time in the slot, but first he must prove that he's better than Pettis in training camp.
Coutee is dealing with a hamstring injury, but before getting hurt, he was competing with Braxton Miller for the No. 3 job behind DeAndre Hopkins and Will Fuller. Once Coutee is healthy, he should take over that role, and he's worth a late-round flier in deep leagues. And keep in mind that Fuller has had a hard time staying healthy with eight missed games over the past two seasons. If Fuller gets hurt again in 2018, Coutee could be a popular waiver-wire addition.
In 2016, during Dak Prescott's rookie season, Beasley had a breakout campaign with 75 catches for 833 yards and five touchdowns on 98 targets. He could have a repeat performance this year with the changes in Dallas' receiving corps now that Dez Bryant and Jason Witten are gone. Beasley is likely the only reliable option among the new faces of Allen Hurns, Michael Gallup and Tavon Austin, along with Terrance Williams. Don't rule out Beasley with a late-round pick in all PPR leagues.
There are other receivers you can put in this spot if you want -- James Washington (Pittsburgh), Taylor Gabriel (Chicago), Eric Decker (New England) or Willie Snead (Baltimore) -- but I went with Pryor because he could be a big contributor for the Jets this season if he's healthy. While Robby Anderson and Quincy Enunwa will be ahead of Pryor on the depth chart, Pryor could have the chance to make plenty of plays if he can regain his 2016 form when he had 77 catches for 1,007 yards and four touchdowns on 139 targets. He's worth a late-round flier if his foot/ankle problems are OK.
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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