Before we get into who was a NFL Draft WR Winner and who was a NFL Draft WR Loser, let me say this: a draft is like a fine wine—to really evaluate it, you need to let it “breathe”. You need to let those “high upside guys” either flame out or develop, as well as let those with “off field” issues try to overcome them. Or allow those with poor measurements but strong “intangibles” time—let’s see how it translates when they jump a talent level. The real fun is looking back not forward.
Of course that doesn’t stop us here at SCFE from picking at the drafts to find “winners” and “losers.” And our compulsion however is your gain, as we not only look at winners and losers, but we are doing it by fantasy position.
Please note however, just because we say someone is a “loser” it does not mean they are crappy players or they won’t have any fantasy production. It just means that the moves made in the draft pushed their needle in the opposite direction of what might have helped them.
Conversely, those that were “winners” are not necessarily fantasy studs either. It just means that from a fantasy perspective, they seemed to benefit in some manner.
Our first example helps illustrate the point. Let’s take a look:
Winners & Losers: Wide Receiver
Devin Funchess, Carolina Panthers
Yes, the Panthers had more pressing needs at other positions and the return of Kelvin Benjamin should immediately bolster Carolina’s receiving corps. But with the WR2 position still wide open, Funchess could have easily found himself having to fend off a rookie for not only that slot, but possibly the WR3 role as well should Ted Ginn be expected to be the No. 2 again.
Funchess now has another year to improve on his lowly 31 receptions and 473 receiving yards last year. Funchess is not the only veteran who benefited from his team not taking a wide receiver…
Golden Tate/Marvin Jones, Detroit Lions
No Calvin Johnson? No problem. Not sure I agree with that, but apparently the Lions do as they felt no need to grab a WR this draft, despite having ten picks to do so.
Even if the Detroit passing game regresses this year without Megatron, expect both receivers to see an uptick in targets this year, which is always a good thing for a receiver, making them a clear draft WR winner.
Sterling Shepherd, New York Giants
On the reverse end of the spectrum to the potentially declining aerial attack in Detroit is the Giants passing game, which potentially should be much stronger this year. The drafting of Sterling Shepherd is the perfect complement to Odell Beckham.
Odell certainly approved…
We stole one !!! @sterl_shep3
— Odell Beckham Jr (@OBJ_3) April 30, 2016
Shepherd is a great slot receiver who is not afraid to go over the middle, as he had just eight drops to go with his 253 catches. And playing with Beckham should give Shepherd plenty of opportunities as well. A second “Eli” was drafted in the first round, but it is the far more well-known Eli that should be extremely happy and will make his receivers as happy as well.
Malcolm Mitchell, New England Patriots
Mitchell was a Freshman All-SEC pick who had 85 catches for over 1200 yards and eight scores in 2011/12, but tore his ACL in 2013. His toughness and ability to make contested catches will give Tom Brady a weapon like he has never had before. Mitchell is a great sleeper and don’t be surprised if he help keeps New England competitive. Speaking of sleepers….
Justin Hardy, Atlanta Falcons
Yes, I’m “going deep” with this pick and this is not the first time I’ve shown this kid some love, but the WR2 in Atlanta was a revolving door last year and the only person Hardy needs to beat out this year is Mohammed Sanu, who has yet to have 60 catches or even 800 yards in a single season.
Okay, Hardy also has not done either but he is only in his second year and many thought Atlanta might spend a Day 2 pick on a receiver to fix their WR woes. They did not.
Michael Thomas, New Orleans Saints
Is three NFC South teams too much? Well, given that Thomas was one of the 120 (give or take) Ohio State players drafted during the three days, lets ignore over-representation.
What can’t be ignored however is that catching passing from Drew Brees could not be much more ideal for an incoming rookie. Don’t be surprised to see the 6’3 sure-handed Michael Thomas rack up tons of YAC (yards after the catch) this upcoming season.
Josh Gordon, Cleveland Browns
How many receivers would you draft if you didn’t think Josh Gordon was returning? Two? Three? Well, the Cleveland Browns drafted FIVE wide receivers.
Those of you holding onto Gordon in your dynasty leagues and hoping to be competitive (which as this point should be nearly all of you) might want to see if you can trade him now…for anything.
The Cleveland passing game could be intriguing with RGIII and more people hoping to catch the ball than your local flag football league. Unfortunately, don’t count on Josh Gordon being a part of it.
Brandon Marshall and Eric Decker, New York Jets
Let’s start with the Jets steal of Charone Peake in the 7th round, who fell due to two knee injuries in college limiting his production. Presuming Peake stays healthy, his combination of size (6’2 and 209 pounds with 34 inch arm length) and speed (a sub 4.37 40-yard-dash) makes him a good bet to not only make the roster but take looks away from Decker and Marshall.
Of course all throws will be coming from proven QB….Geno Smith? It was one thing to try and make a statement to Ryan Fitzpatrick by grabbing a QB. But Christian Hackenberg is not the answer, at least in the short term. I wouldn’t be surprised to see Hackenberg as a viable QB in 2018 or even 2017, but not now. The Jets rewarded two players who surpassed expectations last year by not rewarding them at all.
Pharoh Cooper, Los Angeles Rams
I watched the draft on Saturday with a buddy of mine and his son, “Sam”. Sam was a big Pharoh Cooper supporter and was hoping our hometown team would take him.
Unfortunately, they did not, and for Cooper unfortunately, neither did all the other teams where he might flourish. Instead, he went to the WR wasteland that is the Rams. Chris Givens, Tavon Austin, and Brian Quick are just a few victims that come to mind of those highly vaunted receivers that go to die under Jeff Fisher.
“Sam” was not the only Cooper fan, but also amongst NFL personnel acumen people thanks to his play making ability and competitive nature. Unfortunately I expect this man from a Marines family to be left behind under Jeff Fisher, and that belief was not lessened by the selection of two other TEs by the Rams or the selection of WR Mike Thomas in the seventh round either.
Andre Roberts and Pierre Garcon, Washington Redskins
Garcon might catch on with another team, or even if he stays in Washington this year, don’t expect to see him in Burgundy and Gold come 2017. Cutting Roberts and his $4M salary probably make more immediate sense, but also bet on Garcon playing out the final year of his contract in Washington this year.
The acquisition of Josh Doctson pretty much guarantees it. I expect Doctson to have an immediate impact this year for the Redskins. He was the Combine’s top performer in four different events, but don’t for a minute think his success was limited to that as he was the Biletnikoff winner and rightfully so with 1337 yards and 14 touchdowns, leaving TCU as the school’s touchdown reception leader despite starting his career at a different school.
Of course don’t get carried away thinking you’re going to see Randy Moss rookie year like numbers. But I’d bet the farm on Doctson making people forget about Roberts and Garcon pretty quickly.
- Week 16 Stock Report: My Stock - December 23, 2018
- Week 15 Stock Report: Playoff Buys For Weeks 15 and 16 - December 15, 2018
- Week 14 Rookie Report: Who Is THIS Guy? - December 9, 2018