As I stated in my “Must Draft Wide Receiver” article, there are about 30 WRs who project to have 1,000 yard seasons. With that many quality options at the position, the most logical strategy to me is to simply avoid the several WRs in that group that are “riskier” picks.
For example, Dez Bryant (ADP 11) and Jordy Nelson (ADP 17) are two guys I’m avoiding early. Their upside is huge, but they both carry a significant injury risk. I feel much more comfortable with WRs like Allen Robinson (ADP 15), A.J. Green (ADP 12), and even Brandon Marshall (ADP 18).
The ceiling on Robinson and Green is just as high as Bryant’s and Nelson’s, and they are not nearly as prone to injury. Marshall’s ceiling isn’t quite as high at age 32, but until he stops producing 100 catch, 1,400 yard, double digit TD seasons, he’s going to remain one of my top go to draft picks.
Aside from injury, the other biggest risk factor when it comes to WRs is Quarterback play. I think Mike Evans (ADP 24) is a little risky based on the play of QB Jameis Winston. I’m not sold on Winston as a dependable QB entering his second season after a decent rookie year. I also expect the Bucs to be a very run heavy offense.
By far the riskiest WRs based on their QBs though, are Broncos WRs Demaryius Thomas and Emmanuel Sanders. Sanders’ ADP is free falling all the way down to 65 (No. 28 WR). At that price, his risk is minimal. Thomas, however, is still being drafted in the late second/early third rounds. This makes Thomas my wide receiver that you do not want to draft.
Do Not Draft This Wide Receiver
Demaryius Thomas, Denver Broncos (ADP 31)
Thomas is a beast of a receiver. He’s the best WR after the catch in the league. He was a consensus first round pick last year, after putting up huge numbers with Peyton Manning as his QB for three seasons.
On the surface, Thomas’ stat line from last year didn’t look too bad. 105 catches, 1304 yards, 6 TDs. But that was a huge step down from the 1,500 yards and 12 TDs he averaged the three previous seasons. He also saw his career Yards Per Catch fall from over 15 YPC to 12.4 YPC last season.
This drop off was obviously due to poor QB play, with an injured Manning and first time starter Brock Osweiler. This was also why we saw a drop in TDs. Thomas saw an enormous amount of targets with 177 and there’s no way Thomas will see that many targets again this season.
If the QB situation was less than ideal last season, it’s much worse this year. Mark Sanchez or Travis Siemian are going to start for the defending Super Bowl champs? Seriously? The Broncos front office really dropped the ball on this one. I believe this decision pretty much kills any chance at a Super Bowl repeat for Denver.
It will also kill the production of the Broncos great receiving duo. The Broncos are obviously going to have to shift to a more conservative, run oriented offense. This may bode well for RBs C.J. Anderson and Devontae Booker. The Broncos also have a new left tackle in Russell Okung. Okung is a solid run blocker, but his terrible pass protection got Russell Wilson killed last year in Seattle.
The last issue I want to touch on is the improved defenses Thomas will have to face in the division this year. While San Diego has an awful run defense, their secondary is actually pretty good, anchored by emerging young corner Justin Verrett.
Remember new left tackle Russell Okung? He gets to try to block Justin Houston and Tamba Hali of the Chiefs, and Khalil Mack and Bruce Irvin of the Raiders. The Raiders and Chiefs also have good young No. 1 CBs in D.J. Hayden and Marcus Peters. Peters made the Pro bowl last season as a rookie, not something you see very often from a rookie CB.
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