“Sauer Notes” Wide Receiver Rankings for 2015: 60-79 (Part 3 of 6)
As the past two articles have involved players that were mainly an injury away from prominent playing time, this week we will be focusing on some pass-catchers who already are vying for significant playing time. When one is skimming through names at this point in the draft, we should be speculating on the potential upside these players hold. You most likely will not find a player that will consistently churn out points on a week-to-week basis. Furthermore, look for players that can be a bye-week fill-in, or somebody who can hold the boat afloat when injuries occur. Some of the players may fluctuate before the beginning of the season due to position battles panning out, and those battles are definitely something to be cognizant of. Being aware of these battles will be advantageous giving your squad some hidden value that your opponents are unaware of.
60. Michael Crabtree, Oakland Raiders- Cooper is locked and loaded as the No. 1 wideout and a candidate for heavy volume right out of the gate. After that, it’ll be Crabtree fighting off the likes of Rod Streater, Andre Holmes, and Brice Butler for scraps. Given what we’ve seen from Crabtree since his 2013 Achilles’ tear, there’s little reason for optimism. We need to see more from Derek Carr, and the Raiders’ offense as a whole for there to be enough viable production to support multiple receivers in Oakland. Nevertheless, being penciled in as any teams second WR will garner enough snaps to at the least give potential for production. Foreshadowing for the 2015 season, you could say Crabtree made a parallel move to Oakland in terms of offensive situation, leaving behind the seemingly dismal San Fran offense.
61. Rueben Randle, New York Giants- Likely to become third fiddle to the likes of Beckham Jr. and the retured Victor Cruz, he had career highs in receptions (71) and yards (938)in 2014, yet only finished with a measly three touchdowns. He is heading into a contract year at the young age of 24, and by all accounts, Randle has taken a big step forward after getting benched on two separate occasions last year. Eli Manning has already predicted a breakout year for Randle. Playing in a fast offense, Randle will be a WR3/4 to own as a big-bodied target on the outside and a preferred option in the red zone.
62. Marvin Jones, Cincinnati Bengals- Considering Marvin Jones had 10 receiving touchdowns in 2013, there is no question he will give the Bengals an offensive boost in 2015. Getting Jones back on the field will increase the passing production by giving Andy Dalton more targets to work with, and will draw some of the focus away from Pro Bowl receiver A.J. Green. One also must be cognizant about the return of Tyler Eifert, who the Bengals’ are very high on and expect to see solid production from coming back from elbow injury. Look for Marvin Jones to be a good WR3 in 2015 and to continue his good trend from his 2013 campaign.
63. Stedman Bailey, St. Louis Rams- The St. Louis WR core is a mess of mediocrity. Aside from Brian Quick, who is coming off a shoulder injury that sidelined him for most of the 2014 season, there is a vast wasteland filled with washed up carriers attached to an inoperative hype-train. This train involves the likes of Kenny Britt and Tavon Austin. For years Britt has been talked about someday playing to his talent level. Austin, who is still early in his career, was initially destined to take the league by storm. Bailey will look to take the slot role in the slow paced offense. If the Rams can have a QB consistently stay on the field and develop some chemistry with these WR, one or two of them may be roster worthy. Foles has shown his ability to make more than one WR relevant, but that may have been more of a function of the system. The Rams’ will look to pound rookie Todd Gurley and sophomore Tre Mason into the ground. Look elsewhere to find somewhat stable roles in a passing attack, simply an upside pick here.
64. Cecil Shorts, Houston Texans- The Texans expect Cecil Shorts to play both inside and outside. Shorts will compete with third-round rookie Jaelen Strong for outside reps in two-wide sets. His role as the slot man in three-wide formations should be intact. Still, it’s hard to be excited about Shorts given how many targets DeAndre Hopkins is going to hog, and how much the Texans want to run Arian Foster. Not that one QB is a massive upgrade over another, but the battle between Hoyer and Mallett is one to watch as well. There is speculation that Hoyer will be under center come the start of the season. Mallett may pose as a better asset to the Texans’ WR corps, as he has a much better arm than Hoyer.
65. Cole Beasley, Dallas Cowboys- Although he came into the 2014 season as a slot receiver, Beasley appeared more on the outside for the Cowboys, and was a highly effective player. Beasley struggled with fumbles early in the season and only had 16 receptions and no touchdowns coming into Week 12, but turned it on at the end of the season. In the last six games of the season, Beasley had 21 receptions and four touchdowns, adding seven receptions for 101 yards in two playoff games. Beasley, only 25, can provide a good third wide receiver option for the Cowboys, paired with Terrance Williams and Dez Bryant. If he shows consistency early on during the season, he may find himself hovering at WR3/4 value, instead of more of a bye week fill-in. He may be best suited for daily usage as a target for salary relief, allowing you to roster studs elsewhere.
66. Dorial Green-Beckham, Tennessee Titans- The Titans took a big gamble in Round 2 and selected former Missouri receiver Dorial Green-Beckham with the 40th pick in the draft. Emphasis on the word “big,” Green-Beckham is 6-foot-5 and 237 pounds, instantly creating a Kelvin Benjamin-like mismatch for Mariota and the Titans. He’s not as physical as someone his size should be. He has the height of those big mismatch receivers, just not the bulk quite yet. He’s also raw as far as route running and overall technique of the game. It will be interesting to see where DGB fits into the equation the Titans’ have in mind. They have brought in veterans Hakeem Nicks and Nate Washington to go alongside Kendall Wright and Justin Hunter. Rookie QBs tend to latch on to one primary target, and without one of these players being a definitive No. 1 guy, DGB can present a ton of upside if he becomes that guy. Do not expect Benjamin or Evans type numbers
67. Donte Moncrief, Indianapolis Colts- Donte Moncrief should not be a forgotten man in Indy, even though they drafted Phillip Dorsett and brought in hall of fame caliber receiver Andre Johnson. Moncrief had 32 receptions for 444 yards in 2014, but didn’t play much until the Colts were forced to play him. His first break out game happened Week 8 in Pittsburgh, where he had seven grabs, for 113 yards, and a touchdown. “Moncrief has big play ability and we saw him do that,” Chuck Pagano said back at the League Meetings in March. “He’s going to have more opportunities going forward.” He also went on to say,“He’s got such a high ceiling and room for improvement. The sky’s the limit for him.” With all that said, he’s still only battling for the third spot on the depth chart, so keep expectations at a minimum.
68. Devin Funchess, Carolina Panthers- “We never got to see the full Devin Funchess at Michigan because I did play one season at wide receiver, and I was battling through an injury,” Funchess said. “I think up here in the NFL I can make some damage.” At 6-foot-4, 232 pounds, Funchess certainly has the size to be an NFL difference maker, but has questionable speed. He ran 4.70 at the Combine before improving at his Pro Day. As a Wolverine, Funchess didn’t always fight for the ball in the air, and disappointed after the catch. He’ll be a wild card opposite second-year pro Kelvin Benjamin. The Panthers did a good job surrounding Cam with big-bodied WR to mask some inconsistencies in accuracy. Funchess is one injury away from being the focal point in the passing game.
69. Marqise Lee, Jacksonville Jaguars- The Florida Times Union projects Marqise Lee as the Jags’ No. 3 wideout entering camp, behind Allen Robinson and Allen Hurns. Lee’s rookie year started with a nagging hamstring issue and ended with some disappointing on-field performances. Then he missed most of the offseason program due to a knee issue. Lee will have ground to make up if he’s going to beat out Hurns for the right to line up opposite rising stud Allen Robinson in two-wide sets. We want more upside in our late-round fliers.
70. Kenny Britt, St. Louis Rams- Kenny Britt caught just 10 passes on balls thrown 20 yards or deeper last season. That was out of 25 attempts. A success rate that low suggests Britt’s numbers have been more affected by poor quarterback play than his own inconsistency. Nick Foles provides stability at a position that has been a revolving door for the Rams in recent years. Britt is far from a fantasy stud, but he should improve on the paltry numbers he posted last season 48/748/3. Just like the reasons listed above with Bailey, it is unclear who the Rams’ will turn to outside of Brian Quick in the passing game, and they are expected to run the ball in to the ground this year.
71. Jaelen Strong, Houston Texans- Strong was sidelined for the majority of the Texans rookie camp as well as minicamp due to a hamstring injury he suffered. As a result, he drew some negative attention from coach Bill O’Brien on his conditioning. It is a good sign that he took it upon himself to improve his conditioning by dropping 20 pounds from the 231 he entered camp weighing, although the vast majority of Texans reporters expect Strong’s impact in the 2015 season to be very minimal. With the quarterback dilemma still unfolding in Houston and the addition of Cecil Shorts, there may not be much production swinging Strong’s way in his first season.
72. Josh Huff, Philadelphia Eagles- Huff only caught eight passes for 98 yards in his rookie season. Head coach Chip Kelly seems to be in his corner, but he’ll face competition for targets from offseason acquisition Miles Austin and veteran Riley Cooper, while TE Zach Ertz and fellow WRs Jordan Matthews and Nelson Agholor are already ahead of him on the depth chart. If one of the latter two WR were to go down with an injury, Huff can carve himself a role in this offense. Cooper is better known for his blocking at this stage in his career, and Miles Austin can not seem to stay healthy for a full season of football.
74. Phillip Dorsett, Indianapolis Colts- Some teams, like the Eagles, limit what’s on the plate for their rookies by asking them to master just one position. The Colts are asking Dorsett for more. “We wouldn’t be moving him around if he wasn’t able to handle that. His aptitude has impressed me,” GM Ryan Grigson said. Dorsett is battling Donte Moncrief to be the No. 3 wideout and also projects as the top backup to T.Y. Hilton. Dorsett is definitely somebody you should be targeting in your dynasty formats, as he will be playing with the best young QB in the game for the early part of his career. If Hilton, or Johnson were to go down with injury he would be a great pickup in the league’s best passing attack.
75. Hakeem Nicks, Tennessee Titans- Hakeem Nicks believes he can still be one of the best receivers in the NFL. “I feel like where I am at in my career — I just turned 27 — I feel like I still have a lot in my tank,” Nicks said. “I wanted to go somewhere and prove I can still be a No. 1 receiver and be the guy I was in the past, statistically and being a guy that likes to make plays and be on the field consistently.” He was legitimately great in 2010-11, but lower-body injuries have robbed him of his explosion. Tennessee, with a rookie quarterback and crowded receiver corps, is an unlikely place to get his career back on track. Rookie QB tend to latch on to one WR their first year, and without a standout No. 1 WR on the roster, it remains to be seen who becomes this player for Mariota.
76. Justin Hunter, Tennessee Titans- Hunter was a popular breakout pick in Fantasy Football last season. However, instead of breaking out, Hunter posted a very disappointing line of 28/498/3. Hunter injured himself in Week 12 to cap off an extremely underwhelming year. This offseason the Titans invested a 2nd round pick in the talented Dorial Green-Beckham which sounded the alarms for any Justin Hunter hope. With the news of an assault and a guaranteed league punishment, any remaining excitement surrounding Hunter can all but be extinguished. It would be wise to avoid Hunter in all redraft formats, and only hang onto him in the deepest of dynasty leagues.
77. Mohammed Sanu, Cincinnati Bengals- Mohamed Sanu led the NFL in dropped passes during the 2014 season. He dropped 14 despite ranking 45th among wide receivers in targets. Not only does Sanu have shaky hands, he is incapable of separating from man coverage. The Bengals will welcome back Marvin Jones as their No. 2 wideout, as well as Tyler Eifert returning to a prominent role in the offense. This WR core has had its fair share of injuries, and if this trend continues in the 2015 season, Sanu may find some production down the line.
78. Greg Jennings, Miami Dolphins- Joining a rebuilt WR group adds a dimension that has been lacking since Brandon Marshall was traded. However, the Dolphins’ drafted Devante Parker, which severely damages the value of Greg Jennings who will likely succumb to Parker during the season. Jennings started out as a possible bargain as he would have seen significant snaps in a pass-heavy offense. He will likely only have low WR4/5 value in a spread-the-wealth system led by Jarvis Landry.
79. Marlon Brown, Baltimore Ravens- Brown’s talent has rarely been questioned, but the former top prospect’s career was largely derailed due to injuries. While he is competing for a starting spot, the Ravens took WR Breshad Perriman in the first round of the 2015 NFL Draft, indicating that any time Brown sees as a starter is likely to be short-lived. He could be worth monitoring depending on Perriman’s progress, but isn’t likely worth a draft pick at this point.
Stay tuned for next week’s article that will discuss players that will be integral parts to championships being won this year.
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