Early Round Red Alert: Overvalued Wide Receivers

Photo courtesy of endzonescore.com

By Harold Studer
Follow me on Twitter @hstuder36

Once again with camps starting and the preseason only a few weeks away, there is a need to examine a few players whose current early round ADP could leave their prospective owners feeling the remorse of buying into the hype. The hype surrounding these particular players focuses more on the fantasy aspect of the game, rather than being based in realistic expectation, and it is important to bring the outlook on these players back to Earth from the astronomical levels they are currently at.

Allen Robinson – Early Second Round ADP

Last season the Jaguars passing attack flew onto the fantasy football scene from virtually nowhere. The beneficiary of this sudden emergence were the WR combo of Hurns and Robinson. Robinson surprised everyone with his amazing production, securing the most receiving TDs (14) and 1400 yards on only 80 receptions. This year, if given more opportunities, Allen Robinson could be at an elite level. The problem with Robinson taking that next step to elite level production is that the Jaguars have made all the right offseason moves to prevent that from happening.

During the off season the Jaguars added RB Chris Ivory, CB Prince Amukamara and DE Malik Jackson. They then drafted two highly touted defensive pieces in CB Jalen Ramsey and LB Myles Jack, focusing on greatly improving their defense. With last year’s early round draft pick Fowler returning, the defense could take the league by storm, similar to the way the offense did last season. This won’t limit the explosiveness of the Jaguar’s high flying offense, but it should change the game flow by eliminating the amount of time the offense spends playing from behind or finds itself in garbage time. The idea is that given that assumption, the offense will be more balanced and the passing attack, including Robinson, will have less opportunities.

Another factor that leads me to expect a small regression from Robinson, besides the stronger defense is the array of offense weapons. Julius Thomas should return to form after adjusting to the new offense last year and recovering from injury. Chris Ivory is coming in, strengthening the run game and adding a between the tackles pounder, who should also improve the Jaguars efficiency within the red zone. Outside, Hurns is also a threat in the passing game and should command a significant number of targets. There are a lot of mouths to feed in the offense and the numbers could shake out in ways that don’t allow Robinson to repeat last season.

DeAndre Hopkins – Late First/ Early Second Round ADP

Nuk Hopkins’ production last season was undoubtedly due to the fact he was one of the only offensive weapons Houston had. The Texans spent the off season adding weapons like Lamar Miller to the backfield and Brock Osweiler to run the offense from under center. They also expect to field one of the more dominant defenses in the league.

Same argument that applied to Allen Robinson and the Jaguars improved defense applies here. If the Houston defense can control games, the need for a pass happy aerial attack and crazy fantasy numbers from Hopkins won’t happen every game. The proof of this can be seen in the latter half of last season, when Hopkins’ fantasy production slowed down, and the Texans defense became more dominant. Changing the game flow and limiting garbage time, will negatively impact the fantasy output of a player who relies on receptions and opportunity.

You can almost say that the Jaguars and Texans are slowly morphing into the same team but building from different sides of the ball. Houston spent their offseason adding pieces on offense instead of defense. Houston brought in a new starting Osweiler and Miller, and also drafted two WRs, Will Fuller and Braxton Miller, in the draft. Considering the effectiveness and efficiency of the Texans offense under Bill O’Brien, bringing in all these pieces and trying to integrate them could be an issue. I think this will cause some initial growing pains while bringing all the pieces of this offense together, especially early in the season. With a lack luster start, a struggling offense, and a better than average defense, I expect the production from Hopkins to be down from last year and not worth his current draft value.

Alshon Jeffery – Late Second Round ADP

Alshon can be a serious weapon in Chicago. There is a chance he is the only weapon in Chicago, and I will be completely wrong about Alshon, but I tend to be wary of him due to the tire fire that Chicago tends to be on offense in general. Let’s examine this pick a little closer. Late second round ADP means if you’re looking at Alshon here, you either took a top WR to start the first and are trying to stack WRs, or you might have grabbed a top tier RB and are looking for your number one guy at WR. I’m not sure that I’m comfortable drafting Alshon at this point for either of those two situations, primarily because of the questions that come with his offense.

The off season has been riddled with questions about whether Alshon would get his contract worked out, which didn’t happen so he will be playing under the franchise tag. This typically leads to two different assumptions, one being that Chicago doesn’t value Alshon as a number one WR. This may have been evident last year when the Bears spent a first round pick last season on WR Kevin White. White, and how he will impact the Bear’s receiving offense this year, also creates several questions and expectations for this upcoming season. Without having seen any time on a NFL field, the outcome of possibilities for half of the receiving corps in Chicago could fall anywhere on the spectrum and adversely effect Alshon. When examining the Bears receiving possibilities it is also important to consider the absence of Martellus Bennett and Matt Forte from the offense. How will this entire offense look? Who knows, but to top it all off, it’ll be run with the king of mediocrity at QB, Jay Cutler.

With more questions than answers in Chicago, I would feel more comfortable with some of the other WR choices that are also available around this spot of fantasy drafts. Players like Keenan Allen, Mike Evans, and Amari Cooper are all available around the same ADP and I argue they all provide fantasy owners with more peace of mind and upside than Alshon Jeffery late in the second round.