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The Sophomore WR
The Sophomore (WR edition)
Year 2 is a critical time for many players in the NFL, and this is particularly true in fantasy football. Rookies who enjoyed a studly first years, will prove whether they can take the next step to be among the next top 15 elites. Conversely, should they fail their sophomore season, owners may believe that the rookie season was a fluke, and quickly become disillusioned. Sophomore year is also important for players who missed their entire first year due to injury or did not get much opportunity to prove themselves. This article is dedicated to review the rookie year and will give owners a feel of what may be expected in year 2.
The first installment will focus on Wide Receivers, as this position is the most coveted one across dynasty leagues. Logically, I will first look at players who played more than 7 games in 2015, and then at the end, look at rookies who miss much of the season.
Amari Cooper – If you drafted Amari Cooper, you have every reason to be extremely happy. He came at a 1.01/1.02 price tag in majority of leagues. In hindsight, that was probably the cheapest you’ll ever get to pay for Cooper. He showed extremely well in all facets in his game, and then some. AC didn’t look like a rookie in his first year, and even Darrelle Revis (he’s still good, just not shutdown) had trouble with this polished young man. Cooper finished the season with 1,070 receiving yards and 6 receiving TD.
Sophomore Expectations: His continued ascension along with Derek Carr makes Cooper a near stud that as owners you must try to get your hands on before he fully establishes the near untouchable status. I don’t foresee many reason why he would decline in year 2 (doesn’t mean it can’t happen) due to fall off in talent.
Tyler Lockett – Aside from Stefon Diggs, Lockett is probably the best value rookie in the 2015 dynasty rookie draft. He contributed mostly in special team TDs, but that doesn’t diminish what he achieved as an offensive weapon. Finishing the season with 664 yards on 51 receptions, Lockett also gave Russel Wilson another dangerous open space weapon to pair with Doug Baldwin. His limitations are in his one-on-one combat with a DB. He relies a lot on speed to separate, but also possess an otherworldly ability to track over shoulder passes. Yet, when it comes to cornerbacks who stay close to Lockett, he often gets bullied too close to the sidelines, and would be eliminated as a viable target when he is unable to beat his man.
Sophomore Expectations: Still, there is a lot to love from Tyler Lockett. If Seattle does hand the reigns over to Russell Wilson, Lockett should be no worse than a mid-end WR2 with plenty of upside. With that said, the downside is something that you should always keep in mind.
Stefon Diggs – Speaking of Stefon Diggs, prior to the Hall of Fame game nobody was giving this WR much mind. Diggs’ college reputation was someone who flashed as a freshman, but was quiet for the rest of this CFB career. For the most part, if your rookie draft was shortly after the NFL draft, Diggs went outside the top 24 picks in most leagues. I myself was still gun-shy despite his explosive and consistent performance in the pre-season. When the games did start to count, Diggs reminded us why preseason games sometimes do matter. While he didn’t exactly established himself as Teddy Bridgewater’s primary target, he quickly made people forget about Mike Wallace or Cordarelle Patterson. His first game was in week 4, and he gave 3 more excellent games before slowly dropping off in production. Diggs is not yet a WR1, and I don’t think he’ll ever be the WR1 in fantasy. On film, Diggs excel in creating separation and is almost unstoppable when he’s in the open field. There is a lot to be excited about this player.
Sophomore Expectations: Going forward, I expect Diggs to be a mid-high WR2. He is not a complete WR just yet, and has his limitations that will keep him from an elite tier. Is there a chance he can become elite? I say yes. But do not pay that price for him. I am okay if you want to give up a top 10 pick + something.
Dorial Green-Beckham – Aka DGB, was one of the most talked about WR in the 2015 off-season. He came into the league in light of the negative events surrounding players such as Adrian Peterson, Martavis Bryant, LeVeon Bell, Greg Hardy, and Josh Gordon. Many has actually drew direct comparison, in regards to character issues, between him and Gordon; citing that DGB can be an extremely talented stud. While his final stat looked pedestrian in 2015 (32-549-4), he succeeded in the only thing that I needed him to; not getting in legal trouble. He still has to get through the off-season, and around the time right before Training Camp is when I get nervous. But I am still pretty much a believer that he can reach the top 5 among WRs within his career. In the games he was allowed to contribute in more than 50% of the snaps, he actually did well. You can still see that he was still relying on athleticism and common sense to beat out defenders. It shouldn’t be surprising that his success rate is lower than the average WR. But there is also a small step in refining his craft.
Sophomore Expectations: If this is DGB at his very worst in the NFL, and he’s already beating the professional DBs, I am excited for his prospects. My second biggest worry is the coaching. I disliked the Mularkey hire a lot. While my bias is that this coaching staff is temporary, and therefore detrimental to DGB’s development, I am hoping that this player can rise despite the setbacks.
Nelson Agholor – May have been one of the big misses by me. He looked so good in the pre-season, and connecting with Sam Bradford at times. But when the games counted, he struggled to get on the field, despite having no real competition ahead of him for the spot opposite JMatt. Agholor is looking like another long line of talent from Southern Cal that fizzles when it comes to the NFL. There were not many notable games that I can recall in his 2015 season, and now there is a change in coaching.
Sophomore Expectations: Exceeding his rookie season is a laughably easy task for Nelson Agholor. All he needs to do is catch more than 23 receptions and put up 300 yards. There are a lot more questions about the team. At the time of this writing, his price is still high relative to the risk. Without a clear sense of who the next QB is and how Pederson plans to scheme for this team, it comes down to a wait and see situation.
Jamison Crowder – A popular sleeper of mine, because I do watch a lot of ACC games. I thought he played a solid rookie year overall, but when looking at his final numbers, I am more than shocked that he had more receptions than Lockett or Diggs (53 rec; second most among rookie WR) and put up the 4th most receiving yards by a rookie WR in 2015 (604 yd). Still, nobody gave him any respect.
Sophomore Expectations: It’s a full year of Kirk Cousins under center, and it could be a positive or negative based on your own projections. The Redskins are more than likely cutting either Pierre Garcon or Djax or both. I think Crowder has earned the chance to carve a starting role in 2016. While I don’t think he has the talent to be a WR1, he does have the opportunity along with his WR2 upside.
Devin Funchess – Funchess was a late riser in the regular season. He was basically invisible for majority of the 2015 year, until after the Panther’s bye week. While by no means did he shock the world with his stats (31/473/5), he was definitely a weapon for Cam. He made several downfield plays, which is somewhat surprising given his supposed speed. He used his body size well against defenders. I was hoping he would’ve been used more, especially in the red zone, but that never came to fruition. Several owners will be excited about Funchess after watching him contribute somewhat in the Superbowl. One of his catches in that game spurred a twitter person to suggest that his dynasty stock rose. It will certainly be worth monitoring what the Panthers have planned for Cotchery and Philly Brown. The return of Kelvin Benjamin will have some impact on Funchess’ playing time, but at the end of the day, I believe that Carolina has visions of Funchess opposite KB in base 2-WR sets.
Sophomore expectations: From my perspective, drawn from TL and talking with league mates, Devin Funchess is not expensive. Even the supporters put a glass ceiling on what Devin can achieve in year 2, and rightfully so. At the current market price, I would try to acquire him as I like him more than 80% of the 2016 rookie WRs. Funchess will continue to carve out a sizeable role in year 2. Perhaps even moonlighting as the TE2, if Greg Olsen ever gets hurt or the team moves on from Ed Dickson. At it’s peak, I think Devin Funchess and DGB share similar traits and can be used in the same manner.
The rest of the receivers did not contribute much in year one, due to injury or could not carve a significant role in the offense, or were generally blocked by more trustable veterans. The manner in which they appear are prioritized by who I think will have a good sophomore year.
- Chris Conley
- Phillip Dorsett
- Nelson Agholor
- Breshad Perriman
- Rashad Greene
- Ty Montgomery
- DeAndre Smelter
- Justin Hardy
- Jaelen Strong
- Sammie Coates
Next are a list of deep sleepers that has less than 5% chance of being a weekly contributor
@talontalent also offered some of his thoughts regarding the Sophomore WRs
1) Jaelen Strong: Suddenly Jaelen Strong is obsolete in Houston with the drafting of Will Fuller and Braxton Miller but lets take a quick step back.
Fuller is very fast but has shown to have very inconsistent hands.
Miller is a great athlete but has one year playing the WR position.
Strong’s draft drop last year stemmed from an unceratin foot injury but in his limited opportunities he showed some of the playmaking ability that allowed him to be a 1000+ yard receiver his sophomore and junior years. Now is probably the time to buy low as Strong should continue to grow into a great WR2 candidate.
2) DeVante Parker: I admit I was not sold on Parker last year. He had a phenomenal skill set but was a lazy blocker and coaches hate that. Still it was his skill set that everybody saw in the last 6 games, topping 60 yards all but once and scoring 3 TD’s. Landry is the steady and dependable receiver in Miami but Parker has the ability to win you games. His price is a little high to trade for but if you have him, hold him unless a blockbuster falls in your lap.
1) Amari Cooper: Cooper is going to be a great WR. he is one of the better route runners already in the NFL and though he appeared to have drop issues last year (20% of catchable balls) we’ve seen how dependable he can be. That being said his price tag is quite high right now. The latest ADP (according todynastyleaguefootball.com) has him going number 6 overall. Before Todd Gurley, Rob Gronkowski, Dez Bryant, and Le’Veon Bell to name a few. Now your take may be “yeah, that make sense.” but it is putting a lot of stock into a guy who had a good rookie season but not something ground breaking. I seen a trade today. Cooper/Doctson for KB/Cooks/and a 2017 1st.With Cooper going for prices like that, I’d probably be at least shopping him to see what kind of value i could get back.
2) Kevin White: Another guy I liked a lot and think can be a really good NFL WR yet I see him going for multiple 1st’s or equivalent value and he hasn’t even played a snap. he also plays on a team with a stud WR but a suspect QB. He’s essentially a 24 year old rookie so shopping him might be the prudent choice.
Coming to you soon as part of our annual draft guide release, I will be providing a sophomore WR matrix to make tracking easier for you. The Matrix will provide you with a cheat sheet of what you need to look out for in your favorite sophomore WR for 2016