Every year, it happens.
Some poor, unsuspecting wide receiver gets vaporized by a new, shiny rookie receiver.
And for us, as dynasty owners, we are left sitting there with an asset whose value has been torpedoed.
So before we take off, let’s pour one out for John Ross and Auden Tate who never saw Tee Higgins coming. Let’s say a word of remembrance for Dede Westbrook who was riding the bench even before he tore his ACL, because Laviska Shenault stole his lunch money. And let’s send some positive energy (or whatever you’re into) towards Michael Gallup. Maybe Amari Cooper will leave town? Maybe Gallup himself will be sent off to a new destination. But whatever happens, CeeDee Lamb isn’t going to be contained.
With this cruel dynasty reality in mind however, we need to be aware of some situations that could drastically change next year. We know that the incoming class is loaded with talent, and we don’t want to be surprised when Ja’Marr Chase comes in and obliterates a wide receiver core. The trick is figuring out which teams might be more likely to land a top-tier receiver, and which will likely stand put. For this investigation, we will ignore teams who took a wide receiver on Day 1 or 2 this year, in anticipation that Denzel Mims, Jalen Reagor, Michael Pittman, and either Bryan Edwards or Henry Ruggs III show their front office’s enough this year to put off heavy investment in the position for another year or so.
Current draft picks: 7, 17, 38, 50, 81, 114, 145, 192
With Preston Williams going down with injury, fantasy gamers are racing to their waiver wire to pick up (checks notes) Kirk Merritt.
Okay, so Merritt is a fantastic athlete. However, beyond DeVante Parker, this receiver corps is a mess. For goodness’ sake, former Navy quarterback Malcolm Perry logged a 30.2-percent Snap Share in Week 9.
The Dolphins traded Isaiah Ford to the Patriots, leaving Jakeem Grant as the current “WR2”. Sure, maybe Mike Gesicki gets going, but needless to say, this is a talent-deprived group. Poor Tua. We shouldn’t be surprised at all when the Dolphins use one of their four Top-50 picks on a wide receiver (thanks, Bill O’Brien).
But let’s get back to Parker for a minute:
Parker was a revelation last year, finally breaking out in his 129th season in the league (hopefully my editor will check my math on that one). All jokes aside, he was great, reeling in 72 catches (No. 20) for 1202 yards (No. 4) and finding the end zone nine times (No. 3). His efficiency numbers were impressive too as he posted 9.4 Yards Per Target (No. 18) and had a Contested Catch Rate of 51.4-percent (No. 8) and Dominator Rating of 35.1-percent (No. 7).
Editor’s note: Math checks.
The problem is he’s now 27.8 years-old and quite frankly, hasn’t been amazing this year.
He’s outside the top-20 in receptions, yards, and touchdowns. He’s still a Contested Catch monster (91.7-percent, No.1) but alarmingly has dropped-off in almost all efficiency metrics seen in his 23.0- percent Dominator Rating (No. 42). A huge red flag is his Deep Targets which have fallen from 28 (No. 5) to 4 (No. 72). Parker has been banged up, but it’s nothing compared to what will happen to his value when the Dolphins add someone like [Ja’Marr] Chase.
New York Giants
Current draft picks: 4, 35, 68, 99, 163, 181, and 196
The Giants actually have a decent crew catching the ball.
I mean, Golden Tate is a roster-clogger, but between Darius Slayton, Sterling Shepard and the oft-injured Evan Engram (61.3-percent Injury Probability, No. 5), the Giants have some interesting options for Daniel Jones.
Now Danny Dimes is, well, he’s something. As a Duke Alum, I cannot slander the man. It’s him, Jamison Crowder, and a whole lot of nothing. However, for as inaccurate as he is with his True Completion Percentage of 70.5 (No. 25), and as dangerous as he is with the football with his 14 Interceptable Passes (No. 8), he does throw it a bunch (307 attempts, No. 6). Additionally, he has been solid throwing the deep ball with his 47.4-percent Deep Ball Completion Percentage (No. 9).
What makes the Giants interesting as a potential landing-spot is their lack of a true “alpha” wideout. Slayton has demonstrated an impressive Boom/Bust profile. When he and Jones are on the same page, they can light it up. He has a beastly 39.9-percent Air Yards Share (No. 4), and with Shepard missing four games this season, Slayton has piled up a Dominator Rating of 31.7-percent (No. 9). And yet, he hasn’t been overly-efficient with an 84.6-percent True Catch Rate (No. 65), a -9.3 Production Premium (No. 64), and only 1.69 Fantasy Points Per Target (No. 71). He seems best suited for the field stretcher role.
Shepard looks the part of a solid possession receiver. While he has never quite lived up to his 32.1 Breakout Rating on The Breakout Finder, Shepard is reliable at catching the ball when he’s healthy. This year, in his five games played, he has sported an impressive 17.1-percent Hog Rate (No. 9) and a True Catch Rate of 100.0-percent (No. 1).
Unfortunately, he seems to be more of a safe option for Jones than a big play threat. He is not getting downfield much as evidenced by his Average Target Distance of 7.2 (No. 97), and like Slayton, he has a pedestrian -8.9 Production Premium (No. 63). Also like Slayton, Shepard seems to be a nice complementary piece but not a true alpha, leaving the Giants as an interesting opening for someone like, say, Jaylen Waddle to enter.
New Orleans Saints
Current draft picks: 31, 63, 127, 191, and 223
Easy there, Michael Thomas owners. Let’s all relax.
As long as Thomas is in New Orleans, he’s the guy. This year has been dreadful with the injuries and fighting teammates in practice. Hopefully he smashes in Week 10. Regardless, Thomas doesn’t seem to be the happiest of campers right now, and if things turn incredibly sour, he could absolutely find his way out of “The Big Easy”.
And yet, even if he does stay, New Orleans is an interesting spot for a rookie receiver to arrive. As Thomas gets older (he’s 27.7), the Saints may be looking for youth to ease into the “alpha role”, similar to how Jordy Nelson passed the mantle to Davante Adams in Green Bay.
Now, “dynasty owner me” is standing up and shouting, “What about Tre’Quan Smith?!?” After all, my name is etched in gold on the Tre’quan Truther Train.
Well, quite honestly, I just don’t know.
I so badly want Smith to be a thing. And yet, with the ample opportunities that he’s been afforded thanks to the Michael Thomas Lost Season, it’s been mostly a bust.
Smith is somehow the not-so-proud owner of a diminishing Target Share as it slid down to 65.3-percent in Week 9. While he has a few nice metrics on which to hang his hat, like a +23.7 Dominator Rating (No. 10) and a 132.6 QB Rating When Targeted (No. 4), the overall picture is bleak, especially with Thomas back.
Smith has been operated as a poor man’s Sterling Shepard, essentially, with his 2 Deep Targets (No. 99), his 9.3 Average Target Distance (No. 73) and his 11.7 Yards Per Reception (No. 71). It’s not great when undrafted rookie Marquez Callaway is outplaying him. I’m not unloading Smith, because I’ll forever hold out hope, but I’ll also be unsurprised when someone like Rondale Moore comes to town and immediately becomes a starter.