Sophomore Slump: Wide Receivers
After an exciting 2014 fantasy season with rookie WRs making big play after big play, all has been quiet on the front of the sophomore WR class. The play of Odell Beckham and Mike Evans led many to fantasy titles in 2014 but drafting those WRs this year has been a letdown. From the injured Sammy Watkins to the underwhelming Jordan Matthews, the sophomore slump is in full effect. Let’s take a look at each player and if they will bounce back and perform close to expectations (and potentially be a buy low candidate,) or if they were a mirage to begin with.
Sammy Watkins, Buffalo Bills
Watkins is an exciting talent and showed flashes of pure dominance last season, but after not having a catch in Week 1 and getting injured in Week 3, Watkins hasn’t seen the field again. Two things are derailing Watkins: The Bills offense and his injuries. The Bills offense with Tyrod Taylor has been exciting at times, but it is still a run based offense that spreads the ball around in the passing game. Watkins will have his big games (like an 18 point PPR performance in Week 2,) but his targets will be inconsistent. On top of that, Watkins calf injury has sidelined him for a few weeks now and likely will be nagging him when he comes back. That type of slow down will hurt his production and it is doubtful he shows that elite form this season.
Mike Evans, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
After being held out of Week 1 due to injury, Evans has had a slow start. He didn’t catch a pass in Week 2 then came back with a 7 catch 101 yard performance in Week 3. After being a deep TD threat last season, Evans has been held without a touchdown this season so far. As he builds a rapport with rookie QB Jameis Winston, Evans physical talents should win out and we will see big games from him midseason. He is a solid buy low candidate.
Odell Beckham, New York Giants
Beckham was a first round fantasy pick this season, and for good reason. After losing part of last season to injury, he put up record breaking numbers that would have shattered receiving records had he played all season. Beckham is having a solid year so far, just not the dominance many expect from him. He has had at least 5 catches in 5 straight games and a touchdown in two of those games. Though he has only had over 100 yards receiving once so far, more of those games will come. Beckham may not win fantasy championships singlehandedly like last year, but he will be a key productive piece again.
Brandin Cooks, New Orleans Saints
After being on IR for most of last season, expectations were high for Cooks as the New Orleans Saints lost key offensive pieces like Kenny Stills and Jimmy Graham, Cooks was drafted high on potential. Cooks has already been dealing with an ankle injury and playing through it has not helped his fantasy numbers with no touchdowns or 100 yard receiving performances yet. Cooks should still get plenty of targets and may increase his reception volume, but don’t expect much going forward in standard leagues.
Kelvin Benjamin, Carolina Panthers
Kelvin Benjamin’s devastating ACL tear put him on IR for the season and ended a promising sophomore season. Hopefully he can bounce back in year 3 as the Panthers #1 WR.
Marqise Lee, Jacksonville Jaguars
Marqise Lee has been dealing with a hamstring injury for weeks and has fallen behind Allen Robinson and Allen Hurns at this point. The highly drafted WR isn’t on the fantasy radar and may not even be on the NFL radar if his injuries and ineffectiveness keep up.
Jordan Matthews, Philadelphia Eagles
Matthews hasn’t lit the world on fire (as the Eagles offense has had their struggles,) but he hasn’t been bad. The major issue for Matthews is that his targets and catches have decreased every game so far. With all of that being said, he does have at least 8 targets each game and if the Eagles offense gets it together, Matthews should gain the benefits. He is a fine buy low candidate who should get more touchdowns and yards.
Paul Richardson, Seattle Seahawks
Paul Richardson’s brutal knee injury last season has kept him out of commission.
Davante Adams, Green Bay Packers
Jordy Nelson’s injury seemed to open a door for a huge year for Davante Adams. Unfortunately, he has disappointed between an injured ankle and James Jones taking targets away. Don’t expect a bounce back for Adams though he may have the occasional big game.
Cody Latimer, Denver Broncos
Latimer is buried on the Broncos depth chart and is not relevant.
Allen Robinson, Jacksonville Jaguars
Robinson is the epitome of hot and cold. Robinson’s 6 receptions for 155 yards and 2 touchdowns in Week 2 were dominant, but his 1 reception for 27 yards in Week 1 was disappointing. Robinson will go how Blake Bortles goes ultimately and still has plenty of upside if you can predict his big games.
Jarvis Landry, Miami Dolphins
Landry has been a better NFL player than fantasy player. He has 8 receptions in 3 of the 4 games so far but does not have a touchdown yet. He is a fine flex or WR3, but Landry’s upside may be stunted unless the Dolphins offense explodes after firing Joe Philbin.
Donte Moncrief, Indianapolis Colts
Despite the Colts drafting Phillip Dorsett, Donte Moncrief has carved a fine role for himself in 3 WR sets and even playing in some 2 WR sets for the Colts. He had a touchdown in each of the first 3 games and put up some solid yardage performances. This week against the Texans though, Moncrief had a measly 1 catch for 3 yards. He is a player to keep putting out there, especially when Andrew Luck returns.
John Brown, Arizona Cardinals
John Brown had a lot of hype coming into the season and he has had some okay games, but nothing extraordinary. As Larry Fitzgerald’s revitilization continues, Brown’s value is dwarfed. Sell him if you still can and maybe target a buy low candidate.
Martavis Bryant, Pittsburgh Steelers
Bryant is coming back from suspensions but showed some chemistry with Michael Vick in the preseason. Bryant should follow up his incredible rookie season with some good performances, but expect some duds mixed in there.
Allen Hurns, Jacksonville Jaguars
The undrafted sophomore has been one of the more productive sophomores this season. Taking the Jaguars #2 WR spot, catching a touchdown in each of the last two games including an 11 catch 116 yard performance against the Colts. Hurns is a must play going forward with the pure volume of his targets.
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