When I first started playing fantasy football back in 1997, I remember having a hard time trusting wide receivers. At least with the running backs, you knew they would get the ball. For receivers, you had to pray that the quarterback picked your guy to throw to. Why am I telling you this? Well, it’s because you came here to read about the wide receivers I don’t like this year at their current value.
Like any position, there are many factors that go into ranking players. Volume is always a common theme. Consistency plays a huge role in the wide receiver position. That’s what gave me fear over 20 years ago. There is something unique about the guys I am fading this year. They are not all the same. For one reason or another, I think the community has these guys a tad too high for my liking.
It pains me to have Julio Jones in this article. Up until last year, I had him ranked top 5 or 6 at the position. His ADP has taken a hit from the glory days. He sits at WR16 currently. There is a lot to consider this year for Julio. He is 32 years old. He couldn’t stay healthy in 2020. Sometimes age and injuries go hand in hand. My analysis isn’t based on that so I won’t even consider that here.
What I do want to mention though is Julio’s new home. He is the new wide receiver for the Tennessee Titans. Tennessee is not Atlanta. Julio will have to compete with AJ Brown for targets. Last year, he had to do the same with Calvin Ridley. The difference here is there won’t be 38 passing attempts per game. The Titans will only average around 29 attempts per game. Say goodbye to the years with 170 targets. The ceiling for a full season will be around 120. That’s enough to do some damage but Julio has never been a touchdown guy. He averages 5 a year over the past 4 seasons.
Brown broke the 1000 yard mark in his first 2 seasons. He has yet to reach 1100 though. That changes this year as he is entering his 3rd season. Julio is on the opposite side of his career. There isn’t room for Brown to break 1100 yards and for Julio to get the same. That is why I expect Julio to finish the year as a lower-end WR2.
A rookie who scored 11 total touchdowns and is being drafted as WR26 is still not a good value? Yeah, you are reading this right. I’m not far off though. I think he is a solid flex for sure and will put up WR2 numbers at times. The Steelers as a whole is what has me a little lower on Claypool. They somehow kept JuJu for another year. Big Ben loves JuJu. The team also drafted Najee Harris with their first pick in the 2021 NFL Draft.
A legitimate running back has been missing since Lev Bell left Steel City. Roethlisberger is another year older. I see the Steelers utilizing Harris a lot and keeping the pass attempts down. Even with the extra game, I have them with 50 fewer attempts compared to 2020. Take that and mix it with the lowest target share out of him, JuJu, and Johnson, there’s an opportunity concern. Claypool had a 16% target share in 2020. That number goes up to meet JuJu but with the fewer attempts by Roethlisberger, it limits his upside.
Everyone has been talking about Jeudy in Denver with a poor catch rate but Claypool wasn’t great either. He only caught 56% of his targets. He is the big play guy so this would make sense. His average depth of target is over 13 yards so even if he catches a few balls a game, he can quickly pile on the yards. It’s his sophomore year and of course, he could break out, but that is likely for 2022 in my eyes.
Tyler Lockett has finished higher in his previous season for 5 consecutive seasons in PPR formats. He’s currently WR16 going off the board. He has finished better than that over the past 2 seasons. It could be a 3rd straight year but he won’t be on my team for me to find out. If you were to google the term boom or bust, it would take you to Lockett’s Wikipedia page or something. If you take Lockett as your 2nd or even possibly 1st receiver, you are in for a headache.
Lockett finished as WR8 in 2020. He had a career-high 100 catches, 1000 yards, and tied his career-high with 10 touchdowns. He had 3 games in which he scored 2 or 3 times. So 8 touchdowns out of the 10 came in 3 games. He played in 13 other games and scored twice. A high-end WR2 needs to score double-digit touchdowns or rack up a lot of yards. Lockett will not put up tons of yards compared to other receivers. His touchdowns are inconsistent and you can’t count on that total happening again.
Not to beat a dead horse but Lockett put up a line of 24-300-6 in 2 games. That’s impressive, I don’t care who you are. Removing that line from his season puts him at WR38 on a point-per-game basis (12.5). It’s not fair to say he won’t have big games since he does a couple of times every year. If you have him on your redraft roster, bust out the magic 8 ball and hope you have him starting for you the weeks he goes off. More times than not, you’ll have him in your lineup and he will put up a dud.
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