For the 2017 Fantasy Football season, I have 12 wide receivers on my watch list right now.
For this watch list, I focused on receivers who are young and have room to increase their receiving totals in 2017.
That doesn’t mean I’m recommending these receivers. It also doesn’t mean I would draft them in my season long leagues.
For some of the receivers, I would only draft them in a MFL10 format.
And because it’s so early, there’s a lot that could happen between now and August. But for right now, these are the wide receivers on my radar entering the 2017 Fantasy Football season.
Let’s get started…
12. Adam Humphries, Tampa Bay BuccaneersEmbed from Getty Images
With the loss of Vincent Jackson, there was room for other players on Tampa Bay to be more Fantasy relevant. One of those players was tight end Cameron Brate, who posted a 57-660-8 stat line in 2016.
The other player who finished with better stats in 2016 than in 2015 was wide receiver Adam Humphries.
Humphries recorded four or more catches in six out of 15 games this season. One of his best Fantasy performances of the year was in Week 3, where he caught nine passes for 100 yards.
He also caught 10 passes for 97 yards in Week 17.
Although he’s 5-foot-11, Humphries finished third in red-zone targets for Tampa Bay.
Even if Jackson is back in 2017, I’m keeping an eye on Humpries for my 2017 MFL10 drafts.
11. Jamison Crowder, Washington RedskinsEmbed from Getty Images
Jamison Crowder had a solid 2016 Fantasy Football season, posting a 67-847-7 stat line.He was the 31st-highest scoring receiver in PPR leagues.
What I like about Crowder is he has room to improve those stats. But first, what I’m watching for is how involved he will be for the 2017 Fantasy Football season.
That’s because DeSean Jackson and Pierre Garcon are free agents. Also, the health of Jordan Reed will tie in to the success of other pass catchers on the team.
For example, when Reed was out of the lineup in Weeks 6-7, Crowder had two strong Fantasy performances.
Next season, Crowder could be propelled into a WR1 role.
10. Terrelle Pryor, Cleveland BrownsEmbed from Getty Images
Even though Terrelle Pryor wants to stay in Cleveland, he’s still going to be worth a mid-round pick in 2017 Fantasy Football drafts.
With a carousel of quarterbacks, he finished as a top-20 receiver in 2016 Fantasy Football leagues, posting a 77-1,007-4 stat line.
For 2017, I would like to see Cleveland find more ways to get Pryor involved in the rushing attack.
In 2013 with the Oakland Raiders, he recorded 576 rushing yards and two rushing touchdowns.
9. Sterling Shepard, New York GiantsEmbed from Getty Images
The 23-year old rookie finished as a top-40 wide receiver in PPR leagues for 2016.
On his 14 red-zone targets, he hauled in six for a touchdown.
One reason to watch Shepard in 2017 is if anything happens to Odell Beckham. Shepard is the second-best receiver on the Giants right now, and he would have plenty of room to increase his 65 reception and 683 receiving yards from 2016 if something happened to OBJ.
Outside of Week 5 and Week 12, Sterling caught at least three passes in every game.
I’m interested to see where he will be drafted in 2017. Right now, I could see him going between Rounds 6-8.
8. Corey Coleman, Cleveland BrownsEmbed from Getty Images
Corey Coleman was a first-round pick in the 2016 NFL Draft who ran a 4.37 40-yard dash at his Pro Day. He was also was a top performer at the 2016 NFL Combine in the bench press, vertical jump, and broad jump.
But he didn’t get to show off his skill set this season.
Part of that was due to Coleman breaking his hand and only appearing in 10 games. The other reason was Cleveland didn’t have a quarterback who could utilize Coleman effectively.
However, his 33-413-3 stat line wasn’t a bad rookie campaign considering all the issues.
He averaged 41.3 receiving yards per game, so he could have theoretically finished the 2016 season with 660 receiving yards if he played in a 16-game season.
That would have been similar to Shepard’s receiving yard totals.
And although Coleman is listed as 5-foot-11, it doesn’t look like that will hurt his red-zone production.
Andrew Hawkins (5-foot-7) finished with the second-most targets in the red zone (12) for Cleveland, and running back Duke Johnson (5-foot-9) finished with the the third most (8).
7. Malcolm Mitchell, New England PatriotsEmbed from Getty Images
Aaron Dobson and Kenbrell Thompson never emerged as new weapons for Tom Brady. But Malcolm Mitchell seems to be a young player who could work out for New England.
In his 2015 college season with Georgia, Mitchell posted a 58-865-5 stat line. Those numbers weren’t elite, which is why he was a fourth-round draft pick.
But in his draft profile, the 23-year old receiver was praised for his route running and toughness.
The Patriots can work with that.
He only caught 32 passes this season, but he had three very strong Fantasy performances from Weeks 11-14.
|Week||Receptions||Receiving Yards||TDs||Fantasy Points|
Julian Edelman will still be the receiver to own from the Patriots heading into the 2017 Fantasy Football season. But I’ll still be targeting Mitchell, especially in MFL10 leagues.
6. Adam Thielen, Minnesota VikingsEmbed from Getty Images
At first glance, Thielen’s stats look impressive.
With 967 receiving yards and five touchdown receptions, the 26-year old receiver finished in the top 30 for Fantasy points in PPR leagues.
But let’s take a closer look at those stats…
|Week||Receptions||Receiving Yards||TDs||Fantasy Points|
When I judge a player entering a new season, I always ask myself how likely it is that they can replicate or improve their stats from the previous season.
What’ I’d worry about if I drafted Thielen is 44% of his receiving yard totals were accumulated in just three games. Also, 40% of his touchdown totals were accumulated in just one game.
It’s still important to note his big-play ability.
But I would be cautious if a lot of hype starts to surround Thielen entering the 2017 Fantasy Football season.
5. Cameron Meredith, Chicago BearsEmbed from Getty Images
Cameron Meredith was able to haul in 66 receptions for 888 yards in the 2016 NFL season. He also caught four touchdown passes, and he tied Alshon Jeffery with the most red-zone targets for the Bears.
Take a moment to consider he did that with Matt Barkely, Brian Hoyer, and Jay Cutler at quarterback.
Quarterback play and the return of Kevin White could limit Meredith’s Fantasy appeal in 2017, which makes him a great buy-low candidate.
4. Tajae Sharpe, Tennessee TitansEmbed from Getty Images
Tajae Sharpe had a few relevant Fantasy performances in 2016, but Rishard Matthews ended up being the receiver to own from the Titans.
So why is Sharpe worth watching in 2017 Fantasy Football leagues?
One of the reasons is the development of quarterback Marcus Mariota. The former first-round pick in 2015 NFL Draft went from 19 touchdown passes in 2015 to 26 in 2016. And if Mariota can increase that total in 2017 Fantasy Football leagues, that means Sharpe has the opportunity to increase his touchdown totals.
He was targeted in the red zone six times in 2016, but he was unable to haul any of those targets in for a touchdown.
So if he receives more targets and turns those targets into touchdowns, he has the opportunity to be more Fantasy relevant.
Also, the roster isn’t very deep right now at the receiver position. If anything happened to Matthews, Sharpe could see a larger role.
I wouldn’t want to rely on him as a WR2, WR3, or a flex option. But he still has upside.
3. Tyreek Hill, Kansas City ChiefsEmbed from Getty Images
Tyreek Hill‘s production appears to be what a lot of people expected from Cordarrelle Patterson.
Not only did Hill post a 61-593-6 stat line as a receiver, but he also recorded 267 rushing yards and three rushing touchdowns.
But he wasn’t done there…
Hill had a total of three touchdowns from punt returns and kickoff returns.
It’s hard to trust him in season long leagues because of Alex Smith. The game manager has not thrown more than 20 touchdowns in a season since 2013.
However, he’s going to be one of my top targets in 2017 MFL10s because of his 12 total touchdowns in 2016.
2. Davante Adams, Green Bay PackersEmbed from Getty Images
I was one of the Fantasy players burned by drafting Davante Adams in 2015, so he wasn’t really on my radar for the 2016 season.
However, Adams was targeted 25 times in the red zone this season, and he turned nine of those targets into touchdowns. He finished with a total of 12 touchdown catches and 997 receiving yards.
Adams is still a work in progress, as he’s ranked in the top 25 for dropped passes in 2015 and 2016.
But this season helped validate the hype surrounding him since 2014.
In terms of value right now, I would rather draft Adams over Jordy Nelson. For 2017 drafts, Nelson will either be a first-round pick or a second-round pick. His 2016 Fantasy production validates that price.
But in comparison, I could potentially draft Adams in Round 4 or Round 5. He had similar touchdown production (12) to Nelson’s (14), and he was only 260 receiving yards behind Nelson.
Also, keep in mind that Nelson will be a 32-year old receiver by the start of the 2017 Fantasy Football season.
Now, it’s safe to wonder if we will get the Adams from 2015 or the Adams from 2016 next season.
I think that will keep his price tag down, which is why he’s on my radar right now.
1. Tyrell Williams, San Diego ChargersEmbed from Getty Images
What will Tyrell Williams‘ role be when Keenan Allen returns? Will Williams finish with the third-most targets in the red zone if Hunter Henry‘s role expands?
There’s a lot of questions regarding how effective Williams will be in 2017 Fantasy Football leagues.
I’m also interested to see what the game plan will be with Melvin Gordon effectively running the ball and Philip River‘s production declining in several categories this past season.
It’s true that Rivers threw the most touchdown (33) of his career. But his completion percentage (60.4%) was his lowest 2007 (60.2%), and he threw the most interceptions (21) of his career.
Because he’s only played in nine games in the past two seasons, I can see Allen being drafted in Round 3 or Round 4. That could push Williams’ ADP to Rounds 5-7.
So what do you do here? Do you roll the dice on Allen and hope you just drafted a top-10 receiver in Rounds 3-4? Or do you it play it safer and draft Williams as your WR3 or flex option?
This isn’t any easy question to answer now, and it’s still going to be difficult to answer leading up to draft day.
Right now, I would say it’s less likely Williams is able to increase his 2016 stat line of 69-1,059-7 than he is to increase it.