Playing the Slots: Outlooks for Slot Receivers in 2018 – NFC East
Slot receivers often go overlooked until it’s too late in the season to really utilize their potential. In this NFC North installment, I take a look at the prospects of the starting middle men for your fantasy consideration…
Anthony Miller, Bears: There are few 2018 rookies we are more excited about than Miller, who put up scintillating numbers over his last two seasons at Memphis (95+ catches, 1,430+ yards and14+ TDs). One of the most productive players out of the slot in college, Miller has the pop and power to make big gains in small spaces. With Allen Robinson and an otherwise unimpressive Taylor Gabriel as his main competition for targets, at least at the receiver position – Tarik Cohen is going to get major action, Miller could reasonably end up being the second option in the passing game behind Robinson. The biggest threat to a strong season from Miller is his young quarterback, Mitch Trubisky. The second year signal-caller is a big question mark in my eyes, but apparently the coaching staff is taking the training wheels off this season, so he just might rise above the level of glorified game manager. If he succeeds, Miller could put up ROY worthy numbers.
Golden Tate, Lions: Not much needs to be argued for Tate’s case, as he’s one of the premier slot receivers in the NFL. He’s put up 1,000+ yard seasons in three of the last four years, and he doesn’t show signs of slowing down, even as he approaches age 30. What may motivate him even more is an extended contract, which is possibly in the works. I kind of hope they keep the carrot dangling for awhile, so that he keeps up his momentum, but even if they don’t, he’s a lock to provide value in fantasy. He’s shown himself to be extremely durable, playing 95 straight games, and he’s a PPR monster, putting up 90+ receptions in every season he’s played with the Lions.
Randall Cobb, Packers: Cobb has been deceptively just decent during his time in the NFL. I was a little surprised to realize that he’s only had one 1,000 yard season in his seven year career with Aaron Rodgers in Green Bay. Yes, he came really close one other time, but with the way he’s been respected and regarded in fantasy, you would think he was a perennial stud. His last two seasons have been particularly bland with just over 600 yards and 4 TDs in each. What makes Cobb intriguing this season is that Rodgers favorite, Jordy Nelson, is no longer a Packer so Cobb could regain some of that All-Pro form we’ve seen glimpses of in the past. Davante Adams is the top dog now, but I don’t expect Geronimo Allison to out-target Cobb, though I do like him as a receiver. If Cobb can stay healthy, he was seen in a walking-boot last month, he should have a bounce-back season, perhaps the best of his career.
Kendall Wright, Vikings: Wright doesn’t seem like he should be a special receiver in the NFL, with his barrel-like chest and laid-back demeanor, but he somehow manages to find a way to start wherever he lands and occasionally have a good fantasy day. He ended up being Chicago’s best receiver last year (614 yards, 1 TD), though he didn’t have much in the way of competition. He’s now in Minnesota, on what may be the Super Bowl favorite to many, and he’s in line to start in the slot yet again. He’ll have the best QB he’s had to work with, in Kirk Cousins, since he’s been in the NFL, but he’ll be at best the third option behind Stefon Diggs and Adam Thielen – Kyle Rudolph and Dalvin Cook will get plenty of targets too. His place in the pecking order makes Wright less than exciting from a fantasy standpoint, but he could turn out to be low-key respectable in PPR formats. A 60+ catch season is not out of reach.