2017 Initial Rankings: A Closer Look at Pierre Garcon, Mike Wallace, John Brown and Kenny Britt
Our 2017 projections are up, so it’s a good time to discuss a few players that jump out at each position. On Monday I covered quarterbacks, and on Tuesday it was running backs, and Wednesday it was tight ends, so today I’ll look at the wide receiver position.
Here are a few wideouts who are jumping off the page as excellent values in early drafts:
Pierre Garcon, 49ers (7th round of 12-team drafts)
Garcon turns 31 in August, but is coming off a season where he caught 79 passes for 1,041 yards and three touchdowns. As the 41st receiver off the board in early MFL10 (PPR) drafts, he was the #22 WR in PPR formats last year, and #31 the year before. In fact, he has turned in six top-40 seasons in the last eight years.
In San Francisco, he’ll be reunited with his former offensive coordinator, Kyle Shanahan. In Shanahan’s last year in Washington (2013), Garcon caught 113 passes for 1346 yards and five scores. Garcon was the #11 PPR receiver that year. He’s four years older now, but should still see heavy volume playing for his old coach -- especially given the lack of competition for targets.
Regular readers take note: Garcon’s situation reminds me a lot of 2015 Larry Fitzgerald. Fitz started off as the 40th receiver off the board in early drafts, but by August he was going 30th. I had him ranked #20, and he finished the year as the #7 WR in PPR formats. I currently have Garcon as my #22 WR in PPR formats.
John Brown, Cardinals (9th round)
Heading into last season, Brown was one of the best up-and-coming receivers in the league. He was 25 years old and coming off of a 65-1003-7 sophomore year. Last year, he struggled with his sickle cell trait and discovered that he had a cyst in his back. The cyst has been removed and he is reportedly feeling like his old self again.
Carson Palmer has taken notice: "He doesn't look like he looked last year. He just has a different energy about him. He's heavier. He's stronger. He looks more explosive than he did last year, I think, with all the health issues he had last year.”
Michael Floyd is out of the way, so outside of Fitzgerald, Brown’s main competition for targets is J.J. Nelson and Jaron Brown. If John Brown is fully healthy again, he’s going to be a great value in the middle rounds. He’s currently going in the 9th round after having an ADP in the 5th round at this time last year.
Mike Wallace, Ravens (10th round)
The 2015-16 Ravens attempted the fourth-most passes in back-to-back seasons in the history of the league. They lost 214 targets due to retirement and free agency and didn’t draft or sign a single receiver of note (other than Danny Woodhead), so clearly they’re counting on the guys already on the roster to pick up the slack.
With the only exception being his outlier 2015 season in Minnesota, Wallace has turned in six top-25 seasons (PPR) in the last seven years. His days of finishing in the top 10 (2010 & 2011) are probably over, but aside from his stint with the Vikings, Wallace has been nothing if not consistent since leaving Pittsburgh. He’s the best bet to lead the Ravens in targets in 2017.
As for Breshad Perriman, his time is now. He turned in a full season in 2016 and caught 33 passes for 499 yards and three touchdowns on 66 targets. I certainly prefer Wallace in my rankings, but there’s a case to be made that Perriman will make the bigger leap, since he hasn't established himself yet. He’s also going in the 10th round.
Kenny Britt, Browns (10th/11th round)
Note: Chris Raybon went into great detail about Britt’s value after signing with the Browns, so be sure to check it out.
In 2016, Britt finished as the #26 WR in PPR formats while suffering through some of the worst quarterback play in recent memory. The Browns quickly signed him to replace Terrelle Pryor, giving Britt the third-most guaranteed money in the 2017 free agent class of receivers (after Pierre Garcon and DeSean Jackson).
I normally shy away from free agent receivers unless they’re seeing a QB upgrade or a promotion in overall role. Oddly enough, playing with Cody Kessler in Cleveland, Britt may see both. Kessler (7.1 YPA, 65.6% Cmp%) outplayed Jared Goff in 2016 and Britt (111 targets) was signed in large part to replace Pryor, who saw 140 targets last year.
A target from Kessler was worth about 1.55 fantasy points (PPR) from a receiving perspective. Compare that to Goff’s efficiency (1.22/target) and Britt could absorb a drop in targets and still finish as a high-end WR3 in PPR leagues.
As the 56th receiver off the board, Britt represents a great value in early drafts.