Throughout the week, the Yahoo! fantasy team will review each of the four major positions, with an eye toward 2014 drafts. Taking a Q&A approach, we're looking at trends, sleepers, rookies, free agents, potential busts and breakouts, priming the pump for plenty of offseason debate. Today we analyze wide receivers, a position full of unforeseen plot twists and surprises.
Josh Gordon and Alshon Jeffery strung together a series of legendary performances down the homestretch. Over/Under overall pick number in 12-team PPR drafts next year 23.5.
Brandon – UNDER. Sure, there's a lack of a track record for both of these guys. But that only matters if there's the smell of fluke in the air, and I don't see that at all. Physically, these guys are standouts (size, speed, strength, etc). And they both hail from pass-happy offenses (in fact, Cleveland threw more than any other team). Absolutely I'd be looking to take either of these guys in the first two rounds.
Brad – UNDER. Gordon outpaced Megatron by 1.3 fantasy points per game with a cavalcade of blah at QB. He deserves strong consideration as a top-10 overall pick. As for Al-TRON, he was third only behind Gordon and Calvin in per game average from Week 5 on. In Marc Trestman's pass-happy system, the sky's the limit.
Andy – Have I ever mentioned that I think PPR is a silly format? I have, right? Why on Earth would anyone want a catch for no-gain to be equal in fantasy value to a 10-yard run? That's just idiocy. Anyway, I'll say OVER. These two are beastly — Jeffery as much as Gordon, in my opinion — but you still have to figure the first round will be dominated by RBs, in any format.
Scott – OVER. Huge seasons for both, but they've only done it once. Jeffery might be the second-best or third-best weapon on his own offense, while Gordon has to deal with a putrid quarterback situation and the looming threat of a suspension if he steps out of line. They're both terrific players, but remember it's a game of value - you're trying to leverage a marketplace. There's no way I'd take Gordon over A.J. Green, say. Be careful with recency bias, amigos.
Dalton – OVER. Gordon will be a top-15 pick (if not higher), but I can't see Jeffery also going in the early/mid second round, and I say this extremely bullish on both. I bet running backs (to go along with a few QBs and Jimmy Graham) dominate draft boards early on.
No different than other positions, there were a high-number of epic fails at wide receiver. Hakeem Nicks, Marques Colston, Roddy White, Dwayne Bowe, Danny Amendola and Reggie Wayne are some of the bigger bombs. From that group, who are you staying FAR away from in 2014 drafts?
Brandon – NICKS. Other than Roddy White, I doubt any of these guys will find their way on to my teams next year. But that's especially the case for Nicks, who has now gone 16 straight games without a TD. He's a shadow of his '10 self.
Brad – WAYNE. No question, he's compiled a Hall of Fame deserving career. But he'll turn 36 midway through next year, is coming off major reconstructive knee surgery and hasn't scored more than six TDs in a season since 2009.
Andy – NICKS, I suppose, because he bombed in a terrible way, in a contract year, and the talent level really seemed to slip. Of course when he has a new home in 2014 (Carolina?), I reserve the right to talk myself into him again.
Scott – You can win a lot of bar bets on the age of NICKS - he turns 26 in January, but runs like Fred G. Sanford. I'm out.
Dalton – I won't exactly be targeting Nicks, Colston or Bowe, but I'll say WAYNE. He'll be 36 years old and coming off a torn ACL. Even during his last big year in 2012, he still somehow scored just five touchdowns on a whopping 195 targets. I can't see taking Wayne anywhere close to inside the top-30 fantasy wideouts in 2014.
Several standout names could wear different colors next season. Among this year's group of UFAs, who is under your microscope?
Brandon – JEREMY MACLIN. He's only 25 years old and he has plenty of time to recover from his ACL injury. He'll likely be best served for fantasy purposes by staying in Philly and working with Nick Foles. But if he finds a new destination with a competent QB, he'll be back in WR2 territory.
Brad – DANARIO ALEXANDER. He has a storied history of knee problems and is coming off an ACL injury, but he's flashed considerable upside in his brief career. Recall his 10.8 per game average two years ago ranked top-15 at his position. If he re-signs with San Diego or joins a high-flying passing attack elsewhere, Alexander could be sneaky productive.
Andy – Among players who I think might actually change teams, I'm probably most interested to see where ANDRE ROBERTS lands. This has of course been a mostly quiet year for Roberts, but he's a tireless worker with enough skill.
Scott – I don't know why ERIC DECKER would want to leave Denver, but the Broncos might hit the curse of success - you can't keep every star after a glorious season. I'd love to see Decker in New England or New Orleans, two cities where a tall, athletic target is desperately needed
Dalton – ERIC DECKER. Of course he's mostly become fantasy relevant thanks to Peyton Manning throwing to him, so this is basically a question of whether or not he'll re-sign in Denver. The difference would be at least 20 spots in the WR rankings, and that's on the conservative side.
Given the incredible success of Keenan Allen, what WR from this year's NFL draft class are you giddy about?
Brandon – SAMMY WATKINS. His speed jumps off the screen, and he's got size and power to go with it. He's got that Cordarrelle Patterson-like potential to make something big happen anywhere and anyway he touches the ball.
Brad – MIKE EVANS, and it's not remotely close. My slightly taller, more athletic distant cousin is a towering, imposing target who bailed out Johnny Manziel often at A&M. His superb blend of size, hands, adjustment skills and ladder-climbing ability is first-round worthy. He won't leave a trail of fire in the 40-yard dash at the Combine, but, in the right offense, he's destined to make an instant impact.
Scott – Every MARQISE LEE game is must-see TV for me. I just hope his body doesn't betray him.
Dalton – MARQISE LEE. He's missed a couple of games and didn't solidify himself as an obvious top-five pick like many expected, but Lane Kiffin (and random injuries) deserves some blame and the talent remains. Lee is going to be a steal for any NFL team if he lasts past round one, which looks like a possibility right now.
List your top 14 wide receivers for '14.
Brandon – 1) Calvin Johnson, 2) Josh Gordon, 3) A.J. Green, 4) Dez Bryant, 5) Julio Jones, 6) Demaryius Thomas, 7) Alshon Jeffery, 8) Brandon Marshall, 9) Antonio Brown, 10) Pierre Garcon, 11) Larry Fitzgerald, 12) Keenan Allen, 13) Jordy Nelson, 14) DeSean Jackson
Brad – 1) Josh Gordon, 2) Megatron, 3) Dez Bryant, 4) A.J. Green, 5) Alshon Jeffery, 6) Demaryius Thomas, 7) Brandon Marshall, 8) Julio Jones, 9) Antonio Brown, 10) Jordy Nelson, 11) D-Jax, 12) Keenan Allen, 13) Pierre Garcon, 14) Larry Fitzgerald
Andy – 1) 'Tron, 2) Dez, 3) Green, 4) Marshall, 5) Demaryius, 6) Julio, 7) Gordon, 8) Alshon, 9) Antonio, 10) Fitz, 11) Jordy, 12) D-Jax, 13) Cruz, 14) Keenan. But Decker and Welker and V-Jax and Garcon are all this close. And if Blackmon is back ... well, we've got plenty of time to sort out the draft board.
Scott – 1) Calvin Johnson, 2) A.J. Green, 3) Dez Bryant, 4) Demaryius Thomas, 5) Julio Jones, 6) Josh Gordon, 7) Brandon Marshall, 8) Jordy Nelson, 9) Antonio Brown, 10) Alshon Jeffery, 11) Eric Decker, 12) Vincent Jackson, 13) Pierre Garcon, 14) Keenan Allen
Dalton – 1) Calvin Johnson 2) Josh Gordon 3) Dez Bryant 4) A.J. Green 5) Demaryius Thomas 6) Julio Jones 7) Alshon Jeffery 8) Brandon Marshall 9) Antonio Brown 10) Jordy Nelson 11) DeSean Jackson 12) Michael Crabtree 13) Pierre Garcon 14) Eric Decker. But I also contemplated Keenan Allen, Wes Welker, Andre Johnson, Vincent Jackson and Randall Cobb (among others). This is a loaded position.