Fantasy Football Notebook
Mike Evans, TB
Evans has become the ultimate model of consistency starting his career with eight consecutive seasons of 1,000+ receiving yards. His 27 Touchdown receptions over the last two years, only rank behind Davante Adams (29). With Wide Receiver Antonio Brown and Tight End Rob Gronkowski retired, along with Wide Receiver Chris Godwin out to start the season (ACL), Evans will be the favorite and preferred target for Quarterback Tom Brady.
Allan Lazard, GB
Former Green Bay Wide Receiver Davante Adams (Las Vegas Raiders) had 581 receptions, 7,192 yards and 69 Touchdowns over the last 6 years, which roughly accounted for 35% of Quarterback Aaron Rodgers production. With Adams gone, the 6' 5'', 227-pound, fifth year player from Iowa State is one of Fantasy Football Breakout Player of the Year candidates.
Courtland Sutton, DEN
The fifth-year player got off to a strong start back in 2018, tallying 704 receiving yards and 4 Touchdowns as a Rookie. In 2019, his 72 catches for 1,112 receiving yards and 6 TD receptions, put his name on the map and on Fantasy owners' radar. Sutton was one of my Breakout Player of the Year candidates coming into the 2020 season. But the hype was short lived, as he tore his ACL in Training Camp and missed the entire 2020 season. Last year, he didn't have much of an impact on the Fantasy landscape but with a new Quarterback in Russell Wilson, along with his knee and confidence completely healed. Sutton could be a major player this season.
Drake London, ATL
With Wide Receiver Calvin Ridley out for the season (Suspended), the Falcons are desperate for playmakers in the passing game and London is ready to answer the call. At 6' 4'' and 209 pounds, London has the size and skill set to make an immediate impact as one of Atlanta's top pass catching options.
Amon-Ra St. Brown, DET
90 catches for 912 yards and 5 TD receptions. Those are the numbers that the former USC Trojan stacked last year as a Rookie, cementing his spot as the teams top pass catcher coming into this season. 90 receptions might be difficult to duplicate again this season but there is more than enough room for him to improve on his receiving yards and Touchdown totals.
Tee Higgins, CIN
As he enters his third season, Higgins is on the verge of becoming a must have for Fantasy owners. At 6' 4'' and 216 pounds, he's able to outrun slower defenders and outjump or outmuscle smaller defenders. He's averaged 70 catches for 1,000 yards and 6 TDs through his first two seasons and is in the perfect offense to build on those numbers.
Gabriel Davis, BUF
In his first two years, Davis has 70 catches for 1,148 yards. Those numbers aren't fantasy relevant but his 13 TD receptions in that short span are, especially when you consider the fact that Buffalo used him as a complimentary piece in their offense. But after his record breaking and historic 8 catch, 201 receiving yard, 4 TD performance in last year's AFC Divisional Round. Everyone took notice, including Quarterback Josh Allen, who will be looking for Davis early and often.
Hunter Renfrow, LVR
By the time last season ended Renfrow had established himself a trustworthy Weekly starter in Fantasy owners lineups. His 103 receptions on 128 targets are beyond impressive and his 9 TD receptions led all Las Vegas receivers. But with the arrival of All Pro Wide Receiver Davante Adams (123 receptions in 2021) and the return of Tight End Darren Waller (missed 5 games in 2021 but had 90 receptions in 2019 and 107 receptions in 2020), it's very hard to gauge what to expect from one of last year's Breakout performers.
Jaylen Waddle, MIA
104 catches and 1,015 receiving yards by a Rookie Wide Receiver is impressive no matter how you slice the pie. But with the arrival of Wide Receiver Tyreek Hill (Kansas City) and Cedrick Wilson Jr. (Dallas), along with the presence of Tight End Mike Gesecki, it's hard to imagine Waddle replicating those numbers again this season. So, when should fantasy owners Draft him and what are realistic expectations?
Allen Robinson, LAR
When you look at the situation in Los Angeles, Robinson is set up for success! He's in a great offense, with a great Quarterback and for the first time in his career, he won't be the team's top receiving option, which should allow the physical and athletic 6' 3'' Receiver an opportunity to make some major noise. With inconsistent Quarterback play, Robinson had 98 and 102 receptions back in 2019 and 2020 before throwing in the towel halfway through last season in Chicago.
Mike Williams, LAC
Veteran Wide Out Keenan Allen is viewed as the safer pick, considering his consistency over the last 5 years in which he's averaged more than 100 catches and 1,000 receiving yards. But Williams has a solid track of his own. In 2018 he led the team with 10 TD receptions. In 2019, he only needed 49 catches to surpass 1,000 receiving yards. And last season, he put it all together for a career best 76 catches for 1,146 yards and 9 TDs. After signing a new contract this Offseason, Williams' place in the Chargers offense and Fantasy world are solidified.
Michael Thomas, NO
Nobody knows what to expect from the former All Pro Receiver (2019). The hot start to his career can only be compared to the All Time greats when you consider his production. As a Rookie he compiled 92 catches for 1,137 yards and 9 TD receptions and improved his numbers each season after, including an NFL Record 149 receptions back in 2019. But an injury in 2020 caused him to miss the final 10 games of the season and all of last year. With a new Quarterback and new Offensive Coordinator, is it possible for Thomas to regain his status as an elite Fantasy performer?
Amari Cooper, CLE
The 8th year veteran is one of the more intriguing prospects in this year's Fantasy Football Draft. For his career, he's averaged 73 catches for 1,011 yards and 6 TDs. On the surface those numbers look pretty good but when you squeeze them down and look at his production averages game by game, there is cause for concern because he only averages 4.5 receptions on 63 yards per game and only reaches the end zone in 6 out of 16 games. The Browns offense is in desperate need of some playmakers on the outside, so Cooper definitely has an opportunity, but can he take advantage of it.
D.J. Moore, CAR
His reception and yardage numbers can't be disputed. He's averaged 82 catches for 1,150 receiving yards over the last 3 seasons and considering where you can land him in Drafts, he's usually an excellent bargain. My biggest issue and concern are his inability to get in the end zone. He's only averaging 4 Touchdown receptions per year in that same span. If he's able to double his Touchdown production and to stay on par with his current reception and yardage averages, he could be one of the best value picks in this year's Draft.
Dionte Johnson, PIT
Johnson is definitely trending in the right direction as he's increased his numbers since joining the League in 2019 in which he had 59 receptions for 680 yards and 5 TDs. The following year he had 88 receptions for 923 yards and 7 TDs and last season he impressed Fantasy owners by grabbing 107 passes for 1,161 yards and 8 TDs. With a new Quarterback and more weapons on offense, can Johnson continue to improve his numbers or is he set up to be a BOOM or bust candidate?
A.J. Brown, PHI
As an individual player, A.J. Brown is one of the best Wide Receivers in the NFL. His combination of size, strength, speed and physicality make him extremely difficult to defend in man coverage. I do like the prospects for him this year in Philly but there are more questions than answers at this point, which has me less confident than other Fantasy Analysts who have him inside of their Top 10. Brown currently ranks at #29 on my Preseason Fantasy Wide Receiver Board.
Michael Pittman Jr., IND
I'm really high on Pittman Jr. and love the fit for the Colts offense. But when it comes to evaluating players for Fantasy Drafts, it's important to crunch numbers because the overall numbers can be a bit deceiving. Last year Pittman ranked 17th amongst all Fantasy Wide Receivers with 88 catches for 1,082 yards and 6 TDs. On average those same numbers break down to 5 catches per game for 63 yards, but 6 Touchdowns is simply not enough. He certainly has upside if he can increase his Touchdown total but he's a player owners want to land in the right spot during the Draft.
Rashod Bateman, BAL
With veteran Marquise Brown now in Arizona, Bateman has become Baltimore's top receiver heading into the season, which sets him up for immediate success. Aside from All Pro Tight End Mark Andrews, Baltimore doesn't have any established Wide Receivers on the team, so expect Bateman, along with newcomer Demarcus Robinson to garner a lot of targets this season.
Christian Kirk, JAC
Kirk is another interesting prospect in this year's Fantasy Draft. He spent his first four seasons in Arizona, earning career highs in receptions (77) and receiving yards (982) last season. He was never a true WR1 in Arizona, so what are realistic expectations and how high of a ceiling does Kirk have, now that he's in Jacksonville with a second year Quarterback learning his way.
Terry McLaurin, WC
McLaurin is another one of those Wide Receivers to where it feels like his Fantasy value would be much more if he had a good Quarterback to get him the ball. Don't get me wrong, he's done some great things for fantasy owners with back-to-back 1,000+ yard receiving seasons. (919 in 2019 as a Rookie) But by and large his play has been streaky and that could be a direct result of inconsistent Quarterback play, which has also led to only 9 Touchdowns in the last two seasons. McLaurin will have another new Quarterback throwing him passes this season and I'm not sure if that's a good or bad thing.
Darnell Mooney, CHI
Mooney was a fifth-round pick in the 2020 Draft, so I think it's fair to say that he's exceeded expectations so far. After a strong Rookie season with 61 catches and 4 TDs, he stepped his game up last year to the tune of 81 receptions and notched his first 1,000+ yard receiving season. He's definitely trending in the right direction but needs to score more Touchdowns and I wonder if his small 5' 11'', 175-pound frame can sustain and be productive Weekly as the Bears primary pass catcher.
DeAndre Hopkins, ARI
Anyone who is familiar with NFL or Fantasy Football knows that Hopkins is a rare talent who always produces. In his prime, he was consistently mentioned with Antonio Brown, Julio Jones and Michael Thomas as the top pass catchers in the game. This season marks the start of his 10th season, a season in which he'll miss the first 6 games due to a failed performance enhancement drug test. When he returns, he'll have fresh legs and be motivated to help Arizona get through the most important part of their season.
Michael Gallup, DAL
It's unclear if Gallup will be ready for Week 1 but he's making great progress and expected to be back in the Cowboys lineup within the first month of action. With Wide Receivers Amari Cooper (Cleveland) and Cedrick Wilson Jr. (Miami) gone, Dallas will need Gallup to step up in a major way and round back into his 2019 form when he grabbed 66 passes for 1,107 yards and 6 TDs.
Chris Godwin, TB
When fully healthy, Godwin is one of the top Fantasy Football Wide Receiver prospects. But staying on the field has been somewhat of an issue, as he's missed 9 games over the last 3 years. Nonetheless, numbers don't lie and in that same three year stretch he's had 86 receptions for 1,333 yards in 2019, 65 catches for 840 yards in 2020 and 98 catches for 1,103 yards last season. He's also scored 21 Touchdowns. He is still working his way back from an ACL injury that he suffered late last season but will be back on the field sooner than later.
Adam Theilen, MIN
The 32 year old veteran peaked back in 2017 and 2018 when he caught 91 passes for 1,276 yards and a career high 113 passes for 1,373 yards and 9 Touchdowns. In 2019, injuries got the best of him as he only played in 10 games. And the last two seasons, he's taken a backseat to Wide Out Justin Jefferson, who's the more dynamic playmaker but it hasn't stopped Theilen from getting in the end zone, as he's scored 24 Touchdowns despite missing 5 games.
Brandon Aiyuk, SF
With the 49ers offense revolving around a big time running game and Wide Receiver Deebo Samuel along with Tight End George Kittle earning first dibs on targets in the passing game, how does Aiyuk fit in? His numbers have been well received in his first two years, as he's averaging right around 60 catches for 800 yards and 5 TDs making him a respectable flex play and Wide Receiver option in deeper League formats. Is there room for improvement or has he reached his ceiling of potential?
Tyler Lockett, SEA
Lockett has been consistent over the last four years, giving Fantasy owners something to trust and depend on. Dating back to 2018, he hasn't had less than 965 receiving yards or 8 Touchdowns in a season. With a backup Quarterback in Geno Smith now running the show, can Lockett remain a trustworthy weekly starter or will he be reduced to a DFS and match up based play?