Wide Receiver Shuffle Up: Is OBJ worth a full ticket?

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We’re into August and we’re stepping into the teeth of fantasy football draft season. It’s time to get to some ranks and some prices, and we’ll continue here with wide receivers.

Assume a half-point PPR scoring format. Perhaps it’s not the industry standard yet, but I think we’re going there.

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Please don’t get hung up on the exact prices, anyway. What matters most here is how the players relate to one another, where the talent clusters and where the talent drops off. Players at the same price are considered even.

The Premier Class

$45 DeAndre Hopkins

$43 Davante Adams

$41 Julio Jones

$41 JuJu Smith-Schuster

$40 Michael Thomas

$39 Tyreek Hill

$37 Mike Evans

You don’t need much to talk yourself into these guys, but I’ll give a quick hit anyway . . . Hopkins is tied to a star quarterback and can win on his own; even when he’s not open, he’s open. He’s also been remarkably durable . . . Adams gets occasional shade for reasons I can’t quite fathom. His touchdown counts are bankable, showcasing his ability to win in tight, contested areas . . . The Falcons have never really unlocked Jones in the red area, but he’s a high-volume guarantee, and he’ll enjoy 13 dome games this year . . . Smith-Schuster is clearly an athlete who wants to maximize his ability, and I don’t imagine he’ll have any problems stepping into the No. 1 role in Pittsburgh, even with the extra attention that brings . . . Now that Hill has dodged the suspension, he’s a legitimate early second-round pick and worth some deliberation at the end of the first . . . The only thing I don’t like about Evans is that picking him might lock me out of Godwin later. But this is a team with sketchy running backs, an aggressive quarterback, and an offensive designer most of us love. Yes, please. Tampa’s spotty defense might also be a boost; there’s carnival potential here.

Elite upside, but with fleas

$35 Odell Beckham Jr.

$32 T.Y. Hilton

$31 Amari Cooper

$30 Antonio Brown

$28 Keenan Allen

$26 Stefon Diggs

$26 Adam Thielen

Is Odell Beckham a draft fade in 2019? (Nick Cammett/Diamond Images via Getty Images)
Is Odell Beckham a draft fade in 2019? (Nick Cammett/Diamond Images via Getty Images)

Beckham heads to a new team and although Baker Mayfield is leaps and bounds better than Eli Manning, Mayfield also looks like a distributor quarterback, not someone who is likely to force the ball to a specific guy. It’s not that I’m aggressively panning OBJ, I just find most rooms prioritize him a moment before I’m ready to . . . Hilton would be about three bucks higher if we knew Andrew Luck was okay. Of course, this is the Colts, they’re not telling us anything . . . Brown is a circus I don’t want to spend a black-chip on. And the drop from Ben Roethlisberger to Derek Carr is significant. Come October, Brown might wish he were still on the Steelers . . . The Vikings want to play 1977 football, winning with running and defense and hiding the quarterback a little bit. The regime that peppered Diggs and Thielen with targets is long gone.

Which Rams wideout did you want?

$24 Robert Woods

$22 Brandin Cooks

$22 Chris Godwin

$21 Kenny Golladay

$21 Allen Robinson

$21 Tyler Lockett

$19 Julian Edelman

$18 Cooper Kupp

$18 D.J. Moore

$17 Tyler Boyd

$17 Calvin Ridley

Woods gets the nod over Cooks and Kupp for two reasons: He’s more consistent week-to-week than Cooks, and obviously, he doesn’t have the injury concerns that Kupp does. Everything in the route tree is Woods-friendly . . . Calling Godwin a breakout player feels cheap since he took a notable step forward last year. But the Bucs clearly have a boatload of extra targets to work with, and the running game looks god-awful. Blindly listening to coach-speak can get you in trouble, but when Bruce Arians raves over Godwin, I believe it.

Keep in mind what you’re betting on with Edelman — someone who has played two full seasons out of 10 years, and someone who isn’t a major touchdown source. In the 67 games since becoming a regular, Edelman has a modest 26 end-zone visits, a high of seven. Yes, he’s an NFL god in the playoffs. But Edelman is just another good player in the regular season. And he’s already dinged up anyway, with that busted thumb.

Fantasy Football Draft Kit
Fantasy Football Draft Kit

Robinson was the WR4 in his 2015 breakout year — despite the Blake Bortles experience — and he’s now two years removed from the 2017 ACL blowout. Robinson was starting to show his old form over the final eight games of 2018 (including the playoff loss), racking up 40 catches for 612 yards and three scores. He was also Chicago’s best player in the January loss to Philadelphia (10-143-1). You’d like more spikes, but those counting stats will do just fine.

A plausible upside, a looming downside

$16 Alshon Jeffery

$15 Mike Williams

$15 Christian Kirk

$14 Robby Anderson

$13 A.J. Green

$13 Jarvis Landry

$12 Will Fuller

I recognize there’s a wide range of outcomes for the Arizona passing game, but I’m nonetheless bullish on Kirk, who wasn’t sunk as a rookie despite a horrendous supporting cast. Yes, the Cardinals drafted wideouts, but I’m not going to proactively draft any first-year receivers anyway, the step forward is almost always a kill shot (2014 the obvious anomaly) . . . Anderson will probably get more route-tree variation this year, and Sam Darnold has breakout season written all over him . . . I was fading Green and targeting Boyd even before Green got hurt, and I’m shocked the ADPs haven’t radically shifted; the Cincinnati receivers are being drafted at around the same cost this month. Injury optimism is not your friend.

Get Lucky

$11 Corey Davis

$11 Curtis Samuel

$11 Marvin Jones

$10 Sammy Watkins

$9 Larry Fitzgerald

$9 Dede Westbrook

$8 Sterling Shepard

$8 *Josh Gordon

$7 Dante Pettis

$7 Geronimo Allison

$6 Courtland Sutton

$6 Marquez Valdes-Scantling

$6 Anthony Miller

$5 Keke Coutee

$5 Donte Moncrief

Westbrook has a chance to be the big fish in a very small Jacksonville pond. Nick Foles is an upgrade, but no miracle worker . . . If Miller’s ankle is no big deal, I might bump him a few bucks. His rookie year was sneakily useful, despite a handful of physical issues . . . Davis was a major disappointment as a rookie and a minor one last year. Is Marcus Mariota good? Is Ryan Tannehill the better quarterback here? Can I stop asking rhetorical questions? . . . The only case against D.J. Moore earlier is the appealing price we can get Samuel at. I’d like to have both of them in my portfolio . . . For the con case on Pettis, let’s call in Davis Mattek, who hits all the key points:

Everyone else

$4 DeSean Jackson

$4 Devin Funchess

$4 Emmanuel Sanders

$4 John Brown

$4 Golden Tate

$3 Michael Gallup

$3 Jamison Crowder

$3 Kenny Stills

$3 Tyrell Williams

$3 DaeSean Hamilton

$2 D.K. Metcalf

$2 James Washington

$2 Mohamed Sanu

$2 Zay Jones

$2 Trey Quinn

$2 David Moore

$2 Adam Humphries

$2 Albert Wilson

$1 Devante Parker

$1 Tre'Quan Smith

$1 N'Keal Harry

$1 Marquise Goodwin

$1 Deebo Samuel

$1 Marquise Brown

$1 Parris Campbell

$1 Quincy Enunwa

$1 Andy Isabella

$1 Taylor Gabriel

$1 Cole Beasley

$1 Rashard Higgins

$1 Mecole Hardman

$1 Josh Reynolds

$0 Randall Cobb

$0 Nelson Agholor

$0 Ted Ginn

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