This week, fantasy MDs Liz Loza and Brad Evans examine two receivers looking to improve on their 2015 stats. One had a season cut short due to injury, and the other struggled with focus down the stretch. Evans believes Keenan Allen is prime for a bounce back. Loza is confident in Demaryius Thomas’ ability to stay relevant without Peyton Manning. Peruse their perspectives, and add your own thoughts in the comments section below.
Evans is keen on Keenan: The Bolt is quite possibly the most underappreciated wide receiver in fantasy drafts, a dynamic No. 1 who will pack considerable electricity whether in standard or, especially, PPR.
Last year, Allen was on pace for a major bounce back effort. A trimmed frame and improved conditioning helped him regain explosiveness and evasiveness lost from his rookie season. Before a lacerated kidney prematurely ended his 2015 campaign, he was a targets behemoth. Over eight games, he grabbed 67 of 86 intended passes for 725 yards and four touchdowns. Extrapolate that line over 16 games and he would’ve finished with 134 receptions, 1,449 yards and eight touchdowns, a sick level of production. Yes, his 8.0 aDOT and 8.4 yards per target left much to be desired, but beating defenses deep isn’t Allen’s game. He’s a short-field weapon, who, similar to Miami’s Jarvis Landry, bullies DBs on quick slants, hooks and sideline outs, a true possession receiver. Volume is the name of his game.
Chargers OC Ken Whisenhunt told NFL.com in mid-May, Allen will again be a “focal point” in the offense. With Stevie Johnson, an aging Antonio Gates and deep-threat Travis Benjamin his only competition for looks, he will surely be the apple of Philip Rivers’ eye, routinely totaling obscene targets totals.. Toss in San Diego’s exploitable defense, supposed offensive line improvements and questionable ground game, and it’s safe to assume the 24-year-old is on the precipice of a career year. Roughly 125-135 catches for 1,400-1,500 yards and 8-12 TDs are in his near future. His current 24.4 ADP is highway robbery.
Look, I’m not denouncing Demaryius Thomas as a player. His talents and track record speak highly of his potential. However, the offensive environment in Denver isn’t exactly favorable. Mark Sanchez is a mediocre at-best passer butt fumbler who was brought in to manage a conservative Gary Kubiak offense. And rookie Paxton Lynch, despite his long-term potential, is a largely inaccurate intermediate passer. DT is sure to see plenty of action on screens and shallow crosses, but it’s unlikely he’ll duplicate what he accomplished last year. He’s more of a high-end WR2 than WR1. You’re overpaying at his average Round 3 price (29.1 ADP) in 12-team leagues.
Stay classy, gamer.
Allen is the proper pick.
Loza thinks Thomas is tops: Consistency and experience. These are the characteristics that make Thomas a top-fifteen prospect heading into 2016. Posting over 1,300 receiving yards for the past four seasons in a row, the Broncos’ WR1 has been a fantasy stud since 2012. Of course, the arm of a not-yet-over-the-hill Peyton Manning helped buoy the receiver’s numbers, but in 2015 (when that arm was decidedly over the hill) Thomas still put up a 105-1,304-6 stat line, finishing just outside of WR1 territory as the thirteenth overall fantasy player at the position.
While Thomas’ TDs regressed and he struggled with drops, his targets were still bountiful, as he was the fourth most looked-to WR in the league last year. That’s crazy good volume, especially given the team’s trials under center and the transition to Gary Kubiak’s pulled-back approach.
Speaking of which, last year Kubiak called the thirteenth most passing plays in the league. And that’s despite Denver’s impregnable defense keeping every game close. Assuming that the offense is going to change dramatically this fall is ill informed. The team has already transitioned, and Thomas, while not without some trials, continued to produce.
It seems, though, that fans of the virtual game are intent on recalling the vet’s troubles, allowing him to fall to the third round of drafts. Currently the fourteenth receiver off the board, all that is being expected of Thomas is WR2 production, which is a little less than he delivered a season ago. Approaching his seventh season in the league and on his fifth quarterback, the 6-foot-3 and 229 pound specimen has been here before. He’s the offense’s most talented and steadfast weapon.
As for Allen, he’s got upside for days. Averaging nearly eleven targets a game before his third pro outing ended in Week 8, the Bolt was electric to the start the season. If he can pick up where he left off in 2016 then he should deliver on his late-second round/early-third round price tag. But that’s a big if. After all, this will be the third year in a row that fantasy owners have been chasing his breakout rookie campaign. Thomas, on the other hand, is cheaper and has proven to be more durable. Starting sixty-four regular season games the 28-year-old has earned the trust of fantasy managers.
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