You often hear the phrase, “wide receivers are a dime a dozen” around the fantasy football watercooler. What it really means is that, once you get beyond the WR1-calibre pass-catchers, consistency is hard to find. (Positive consistency, anyway; Davante Adams had no problem sucking every week.) Often you see your WR2 put up 20-plus point one week, only to follow it with a stat line that looks eerily similar to your seven-year-old’s in his last mitey-mite game.
Instead of advising you to study your matchups a little harder, which far too often leads to starting the wrong guy, I’d like to provide you with some general guidance on receivers who have switched teams. There are a couple of players in this list who could turn into your very own Ted Ginn, while others who will only leave you disgruntled and hairless.
For the third entry in my Old Faces, New Places series, I breakdown how the top pass-catchers with new area codes will fare in their new homes. (In case you missed it, I got the quarterbacks and running backs out of the way last week.)
1. Marvin Jones, Bengals to Lions
The Detroit Lions have tried to say that signing Jones to a five-year, $40 million deal wasn’t a panic move. That’s like an obese man at McDonald’s saying that his weight issues are hereditary. Calvin Johnson was retiring, and the Lions needed to fill the shoes of one of the greatest wide receivers to ever play the game.
Remember when the Lions slotted Greg Hill (who?) in for Barry Sanders? Jones-for-Johnson has the same feel.
That said, the former Bengal has the speed to be a deep threat, and the quickness to get open underneath. Plus, he won’t be competing with A.J. Green and Tyler Eifert for targets; he’ll be competing with Golden Tate. He should at least have his best fantasy season yet. Does that make you feel better, Detroit?
Pros – Jones and Tate should see the majority of the targets in this offense. Also, as an erstwhile Bengal, Jones is used to heartbreak, so the “losing culture” in Motown shouldn’t bother him.
Cons – Is Matthew Stafford an elite quarterback, or did Calvin Johnson constantly bail him out?
Projected Stat Line – 85 receptions, 950 receiving yards, seven touchdowns.
2. Mohamed Sanu, Bengals to Falcons
I’m sorry, you paid how much for a wideout whose best season consisted of 790 receiving yards?! Wait, he followed that up in 2015 with just 394 receiving yards? I’m not sure if singing Sanu to a five-year, $32.5 million deal was Atlanta’s indirect way of saying “no” to Roddy White, or if they actually value Sanu that much. I suppose when your running back is your second-leading receiver, you either have Marshall Faulk or a serious problem on the outside.
Sanu should easily slot in opposite of Julio Jones, and should benefit from all eyes being on Jones. Those “shoulds” are not certainties, though; we are talking about Mohamed Sanu here.
Pros – The former Bengal goes from being the fourth or fifth option to the probable number two. I can’t see him getting fewer than the 50 targets he saw last season.
Cons – Matt Ryan, the Falcons’ quarterback, has seen his critics multiply with his play over the past couple of seasons. This may not be the high-octane offense it used to be.
Projected Stat Line – 60 receptions, 850 receiving yards, four touchdowns.
3. Travis Benjamin, Browns to Chargers
In 2015, the San Diego Chargers’ offensive line was an absolute joke. (Injuries played their part, but they weren’t the whole story.) The fact that Philip Rivers is still able to walk is nothing short of incredible. It was obvious what the Chargers needed to target in free agency and the draft.
Huh? They spent all their money on a wide receiver in free agency? Oh alright, then they must have taken a lineman with the third-overall pick in the draft, right?
No again, you say? Hrm.
I guess there’s a reason that Chargers’ general manager Tom Telesco is where he is, and I am sitting in front of this computer with nothing better to do than critique his every move. But yo, Alex Spanos, give me a ring when your team enters an even deeper circle of hell.
I can understand that there was some concern at the wide receiver position; Danny Woodhead not only led the team in yards last year, but also receptions. However, when your line is that bad, you’re forced into throwing the check-downs. If the offensive line does not improve, Benjamin won’t see many targets. He is a glorified deep threat who will probably not play out the full-length of his contract in San Diego.
Pros – Rivers is far superior to anyone Cleveland has had throwing the ball since Bernie Kosar in 1993.
Cons – If the line can’t hold up, Danny Woodhead may catch another 80 balls in 2016.
Projected Stat Line – 60 receptions, 750 receiving yards, five touchdowns.
4. Mike Wallace, Vikings to Ravens
Mike Wallace has proven exactly what he is during his seven years in the league: a speedy receiver who will not go over the middle. However, Baltimore may be a nice fit for him. Joe Flacco has a big arm, and loves to put it to use. Just look at what he did with the Wallace-esque Torrey Smith in 2013.
Wallace went through his worst season as a pro in Minnesota last year. He only had 39 receptions on 72 targets. Those are the same numbers from his rookie season in Pittsburgh, but he was putting his catches to better use back then, averaging over seven yards more per reception in 2009.
Should he be able to hold off second-year receiver Breshad Perriman, who missed all of last season with an injury, then Wallace could creep back into the WR3 discussion.
Pros – Wallace is more talented than Torrey Smith, and the latter worked out well in Baltimore.
Cons – Apparently Steve Smith Sr. is like a fine wine: he just gets better with age.
Projected Stat Line – 65 receptions, 950 receiving yards, eight touchdowns.
5. Chris Hogan, Bills to Patriots / Nate Washington, Texans to Patriots
I’m going to keep this very short: neither of these two players would be of any fantasy value on any other team. That means they’ll be stars in New England, right? Patriots head coach Bill Belichick has a knack for turning another man’s trash into his treasure. It’s just another way the best coach in the NFL torments the rest of the league.
Take whichever one you prefer and make him your last pick in the draft (if you’re in a deep league), or just keep your eye on them in the waiver wire. Realistically, one should provide you with some value a couple weeks of the year.
Pros – Dion Lewis, LeGarrette Blount, Corey Dillon, Julian Edelman, shall I go on?
Cons – If Edelman, Danny Amendola, and Rob Gronkowski can stay healthy, there won’t be many balls to go around.
Projected Stat Line – 50 receptions, 600 receiving yards, four touchdowns (for whichever one factors into the offense more).
6. Roddy White, Falcons to … ?
Please, Roddy, just retire! You are no longer the receiver you were circa 2007-2012, and, quite frankly, we can’t take hearing about your knee getting drained again.
When the Atlanta Falcons replaced White with Mohamed Sanu, he should’ve submitted the papers right then and there.
Pros – It’s been a lot of fun.
Cons – White has yet to announce his retirement.
Projected Stat Line – three games played, two knees drained, and one player who should’ve retired.