Last but not least for my way-too-early positional rankings series – wide receivers! The butter to your quarterback bread and the life-blood of the PPR format. If I learned anything by going through these projections, it is that the wide receiver position is incredibly deep and is filled to the brim with talent. Check out some of my favorite highlights of my wide receiver rankings for 2019 and tell me yours over on Twitter @FFBallBlast!
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The Godwin Hype Train
I have a confession to make. I have finally purchased my ticket for the Chris Godwin hype train. In fact, I’ve rented out an entire trolly car. I’m in love, I’m in love, and I don’t care who knows it.
I’ve been so busy warning others not to fall for the third-year breakout narrative, that I missed the big picture. I’ve seen the light, and shockingly, Chris Godwin landed as my WR13 in this season’s half-PPR wide receiver rankings.
Chris Godwin has many things working for him that point to a 2019 fantasy football breakout. First, we have to point to performance in his rookie campaign. He was above the NFL average success rate on literally every route type other than post while also ranking #14 among other wide receivers in contested catch rate. Gives us a lot to work with, right?
Next, I’ll point out the vast opportunity in Tampa Bay. Bruce Arians came out of retirement to become the head coach of the Bucs early this year, and what we should expect is a heavy pass attack to provide Godwin every chance he can get to prove his relevance. In Arian’s final two seasons with the Cardinals, their offenses ranked 3rd and 5th in the league, respectively, when it comes to passing attempts.
In a pass-heavy offense with 229 recently vacated targets, some of those should find a home with Chris Godwin. He’s got every chance to hit on that third-year breakout.
My Top Wide Receiver Value
Tyler Boyd is coming into the 2019 NFL season fresh off his own third-year breakout campaign. He got it done despite injuries to A.J. Green and commanding more coverage. He did it with Jeff Driskel throwing him the ball. A moment of silence, if you will, for the Tyler Boyd breakout.
All of this, and Tyler Boyd is still the WR27 off the board in half PPR formats.
|with A.J. Green
|without AJ Green
Was the 2019 breakout real? I think so, and we should have seen the sleeper potential coming. Each consecutive season, Tyler Boyd has seen a progression in catch percentage and saw a career-high in targets in 2018. He ranked #11 in receiving grade per Pro Football Focus amongst those with at the position with at least 50 targets.
The best part? He was productive with AND without AJ Green on the field. He wasn’t just successful because he had AJ Green to deter coverage, and he didn’t simply see more targets with Green out. Tyler Boyd was just productive.
The Wide Receiver Breakout
Let’s talk about Robert Foster. Or, as I like to call him, WR17 weeks 12 through 17 in the 2018 NFL season. Foster came out of…. Literally nowhere. He was an undrafted free agent out of Alabama and signed by the Buffalo Bills in 2018. After a quiet and uneventful first half of the season, he came back from the Bills’ bye with a BOOM – suddenly on pace for 1,100 yards and 7 touchdowns.
Despite playing with a below average QB when it comes to the passing game, Foster posted outstanding metrics in the second half of the season. Per Pro Football Focus, Foster was the 15th most highly graded receiver in that time frame and ranked #4 in passer rating when targeted (127.2). Not bad, especially when your quarterback has an overall passer rating of 67.9, right?
He ranked second amongst wide receivers in yards per reception during that time and fourth in yards per route run. Translation? When he was on the field, he was extremely productive, and Buffalo responded accordingly. After Buffalo’s bye week in 2018, Robert Foster’s average snap% increased from 19.4% to 80%.
After the free agent signings of Cole Beasley and John Brown, Foster’s stock seemed to fall a bit within the fantasy football community. But… why? A voluptuous wide receiver corps is just the ticket to alleviate pressure on a young wide receiver adjusting to NFL cornerback play. Foster is currently going mid-to-late 14th round in redraft mocks with easy top-24 wide receiver upside. I’m in.
DK Metcalf & The Case for Most Productive Rookie Wide Reciever
I can already feel the pushback for this one. Although DK Metcalf posted some of the worst change of direction metrics imaginable, I still think the opportunity is there for him to shine.
After much hype that Metcalf could go in the first 10 picks of the 2019 NFL Draft, he somehow dropped into the second round to be taken by the Seattle Seahawks. If you’re a believer that a system can make or break a player, you’ve got to be hyped for the landing spot. There is hardly an NFL team right now that is a better fit for DK Metcalf, and the reason for this is two-fold.
First, we cannot overlook Russell Wilson’s efficiency while passing downfield. On deep targets in 2018, Russell Wilson had the second highest passer rating at 128.1. Of course, he had capable pass catchers to get him there, but Metcalf might be the next one to do it. There will always be a place in the NFL for a speedy wide receiver who can out-run DBs on a go-route, and Metcalf should fit right in.
Next up is the opportunity. Seattle nearly topped the league when it comes to vacated targets, notably losing Doug Baldwin and Mike Davis as primary sources. Despite that, the Seahawks didn’t make any big moves in free agency that indicate that Metcalf might not see the field. If Tyler Lockett assumes some of those snaps vacated by Doug Baldwin in the slot, that leaves room for DK to work the outside as the fast, strong, big-bodied receiver that he is.
Finally, it’s impossible to talk about Seattle without acknowledging the proficient run game. My prediction is that by season’s end, Seattle will have two top 24 running backs for fantasy football, and I feel pretty good about it. The benefit of a strong run game is simple – it leaves room to open up the pass attack and gives wide receivers time to create separation while defenses decipher the game plan. Get DK Metcalf open with Russell Wilson throwing him the ball, and I think we have a rookie with the best opportunity for relevance in 2019.
2019 Half-PPR Wide Receiver Rankings
ADP – Average Draft Position
What other surprises did you find in Kate’s tight end rankings? Give her a follow and let her know on Twitter @FFBallBlast, and be sure to check out BallBlast: A Fantasy Footabll Podcast wherever you listen.
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