A Tale of Two Cities – the AFC WRs: Same Player, New Destination. Who stands to improve?
There were plenty of off season moves this year, but not all of them put players in better situations. Here, I take a look at the either improved or still stagnant chances of veteran wide receivers in their new homes.
Martavis Bryant, Pittsburgh -> Oakland: Bryant wore out his welcome in Pittsburgh awhile ago it seems, but he wasn’t really expendable until Juju Smith-Schuster came along. Bryant has never played a full 16 games in a season, largely due to suspensions, and there’s no guarantee he’s going to be the better man in Oakland. There’s also no guarantee that he gets things going with Amari Cooper and Jordy Nelson around. Still, Nelson is old and may have lost a step, and Cooper may not be the dominant player we all hoped he was not matter how hard the Raiders try to pull that out of him. Bryant has an outside shot to elevate his production in Oakland, if for nothing else than the mere fact that he’ll be starting the season with no suspensions, or at least it looks like that will be the case.
Donte Moncrief, Colts -> Jaguars: Seeing as he’s the only prospective Jacksonville receiver standing over 6 foot, Moncrief should improve on his most recent endeavors with the Colts. His ability to make useful of himself in the red zone is his greatest asset on the field, and that aspect was underutilized without Andrew Luck under center. Blake Bortles is no Andrew Luck either, but he should be able to matriculate the ball down the field with some consistency. Moncrief won’t have a ton of yardage, but he will score, and that makes him useful outside of PPR leagues.
Sammy Watkins, Rams -> Chiefs: Watkins seems to have landed in a perfect spot as the starter opposite Tyreek Hill with a young, strong armed QB in Patrick Mahomes. But Watkins is used to being the best player on his team, and with Hill, Travis Kelce and Kareem Hunt all vying for targets, he’s in stellar company. He’s not a lock to get what should be his every week, and that tempers my expectations. I can’t help but be optimistic though, as Watkins is one of the best players we’ve scouted and Mahomes has one of the biggest arms we’ve seen.
Michael Crabtree, John Brown, Willie Snead -> Oakland, Arizona, New Orleans -> Baltimore: The Ravens have been busy this off-season, choosing to get their WR talent in free agency over the draft. It’s a shrewd move, as the devil you know is always better than the one you don’t. In Crabtree, Brown and Snead, they’re getting guys who have all flourished at one time or another in the league. Crabtree is at the top of the totem pole, coming from an Oakland team where he was the de facto no.1 receiver over Amari Cooper. Flacco is reportedly enamored with Crabtree, so we can respect him to be heavily targeted. The Ravens are usually at the top of the list for pass attempts, so this bodes well for his fantasy prospects. John Brown‘s success is tied to his health as usual, so we’ll have to take a wait and see approach with him. He could be a deadly deep threat, and we’ve seen a 1,000 yard season out of him, so it doesn’t hurt to take a very late draft pick on him. Willie Snead is the biggest question mark here. He amassed less than 100 yards on the season in his last year in New Orleans, despite being active for 11 games, after two back to back seasons racking up almost 1,000 yards, so I’m not positive it was location that is his problem. In any case, he should see starter’s minutes out of the slot for Baltimore, who loves to get the ball to the tight end or whoever is over the middle. They’ll have a rookie getting much of the action at tight end, so it makes sense that they’ll get Snead involved often.
Albert Wilson, Kansas City -> Miami: Wilson is looking to go from zero to hero in a move that takes him from the obscurity of being a second receiver in an Alex Smith offense to a possible replacement for Jarvis Landry in Miami. I expect Wilson to see the biggest bump in fantasy production, compared to what we’ve seen from him in the past, of all the players on this list. He could see upwards of 80 receptions this year, making him a crazy value in PPR formats. Don’t sleep on him.