Who’s the WR1? : Parsing out the go-to receiver in some of the more convoluted receiving corps, NFC Edition
Last week I pondered over some of the more difficult WR situations in the AFC in regards to their no.1 WRs. This week I continue mulling over the NFC teams with similar quagmires…
Washington Redskins: Some would say the conversation about a no.1 WR in Washington ended when Terrelle Pryor stepped off the plane, but can we really assume that right off the bat? After all, Josh Doctson was a first round pick last year and a lot of people’s top rookie receiver in many a draft – dynasty and otherwise. Unfortunately for him and anyone relying on him for production, his campaign was derailed by a nagging achilles injury that kept him off the field for almost the entire season. Now a full-go, Doctson has impressed thus far in the preseason, and barring a setback, he is primed to realize his potential. And then there’s Jamison Crowder, who actually led the Redskins WRs in TDs last year with 7. After the departure of Pierre Garcon, he’s the lone starting veteran WR of the offense, and he’s got a nice rapport with Kurt Cousins. After considering the options, I have to circle back around to Pryor. His former QB pedigree makes him a rarity amongst receivers as he already thinks like the guy throwing him the ball – Cousins has already attested to the uniqueness of the situation. And though Crowder led the team in TDs last season, the ‘Skins dropped to 30th in red-zone efficiency over that time, indicating that they need help in that department, and Pryor is the perfect candidate for a pronounced role near the end-zone. So while Doctson should surprise and Crowder should maintain, Pryor has the highest ceiling of the lot and a rock solid floor.
Chicago Bears: It pains me to say that the best athlete in the Bears WR corps is the unsafest bet of the lot, but it’s true. Kevin White may never be the player we saw prior to his arrival to the NFL due to repeated injuries to his left leg. I’d be remised to say he’s the no.1 in Chicago, knowing that he’s hardly a lock to start the season healthy. Next to him is Cameron Meredith, a 2nd year player who is dealing with his own injury to his thumb – hand injuries can be notoriously difficult to combat as a WR, just ask Michael Floyd. The two new additions to the Bears are Kendall Wright and Markus Wheaton, who are almost identical in player profile in my opinion. They’re both smaller slot guys with great hands but little use in the red-zone. All indications are the Meredith will be ready for the season, even if he has surgery, and though his outlook is in question somewhat, I can’t deny the glimpses of beastliness he displayed throughout the 2016 season as the de facto no.1 in Chicago. I’ll leave him there.
Detroit Lions: So the pervading thought concerning Marvin Jones was that he was a no.1 receiver who just hadn’t been given the opportunity to flourish in Cincinnati. After an underwhelming season as a Lion, we can now safely say that situation was not the problem. Jones isn’t a no.1 wideout, at least not for any considerable length of time. And what about Golden Tate? Well, there were only 13 WRs with more yards than him last year(1,077), so that’s a step in the right direction. He only had 4 TDs on the season though, which puts him down at no.37. On his own team that left him tied for 2nd with Marvin Jones behind Theo Riddick who had 6. The darkhorse for the top spot in Detroit is rookie Kenny Golladay, who was drafted in the
4th 3rd round to the befuddlement of most onlookers. Golladay has metrics that resemble former Lions receiver Calvin Johnson, but he seems like a project player who needs a couple years to get on track. Maybe the Lions are onto something though, as Golladay has been a standout at OTAs, getting open with consistency and not letting balls hit the ground. While this makes fantasy trashman like me champ at the bit, I’ve seen too many promising rookies flounder when it comes to showtime to say that he’s the most likely option for success on this team. Jim Bob Cooter’s small ball offense caters to Tate, and if he can be more productive in the end-zone, Tate is the closest thing the Lions have to a consistent no.1 WR.
Minnesota Vikings: It’s very tempting for me to place the newly contracted Adam Thielen as the “guy” in Minnesota after his breakout season in which he racked up 967 yards and 5 TDs, but Stefon Diggs is still top of the pecking order in Minnesota if he can stay healthy. He missed 3 more games than Thielen and had only 64 fewer yards on the year. Both players are going to be great values in fantasy this year though, as a revamped running game should give them more room to run.
Los Angeles Rams: I’m not sure the Rams have a true no.1 on their roster, but Robert Woods starts out the season as the favorite. He’s an underwhelming choice, but it’s been shown that Tavon Austin can’t carry the load as the go-to for the Rams. Rookies Cooper Kupp and Josh Reynolds are both right in the mix – Cooper has lit up rookie minicamp, and Reynolds is arguably the team’s best red-zone target. Woods can do a little bit of what they both do though, and he has the experience to back it up at the next level. Even if Woods isn’t the guy in the end, the Rams are going to give him every opportunity to be him.