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Sophomore WR price check (Buy or sell)

Whether a rookie has a historical rookie year (AJ Brown) or completely underwhelmed (N’Keal Harry) the second season is typically as unpredictable as the first:

Can the good players overcome NFL coordinators adjusting to neutralize them? 

Why did a player underwhelm and does their situation improve going into 2020? 

With the 2019 rookie class (the majority) being nothing short of incredible, it’s very interesting to see whether their redraft ADP’s are accounting for long term success as opposed to being focused strictly on 2020’s production. 

AJ Brown : ADP: WR15

Pre-draft people forgot about AJB because of D.K Metcalf stealing the offseason hype with his combine performance. Tennessee was a less than ideal landing spot but AJB quickly became a superstar when Ryan Tannehill became his QB. His incredible efficiency (20.2 YPR & 12.5 YPT) will surely go down, the real question is how much his volume goes up. In 12 games with Tannehill as his QB (playoffs included) AJB only averaged 5.91 targets per game. That would have ranked 56th in the NFL in 2019, yikes. AJB will need around a 25% target share of the Titans low volume passing offense in order to perform at his ADP of a High WR2

AJB’s 2020 outlook is difficult, he has the makings of a true WR1, but I’m not sure if it will happen this year. The ceiling for him is a top 10 finish and the floor is likely outside of the top 25. 

Verdict: Buy cautiously as a WR2. Brown is a boom/bust WR2 that has the talent to be a WR1. The targets probably won’t be much more than 120 so we are relying more on talent and efficiency than situation. Its a tough bet to make but I’ll take it if the price tag is a mid-to-low WR2 (WR18-22 range)

Terry Mclaurin: ADP WR29 

The former Ohio State Buckeye came out of nowhere and went for 5-125-1 in his first ever NFL game. Mclaurin followed that up with 9 more games above 50 yards despite being on one of the worst offenses in the NFL. Going into year 2, Mclaurin is a big beneficiary of the coaching change to new OC Scott Turner. Scott, son of Norv Turner, is notorious for getting his playmakers out in space. Mclaurin easily slots into the DJ Moore role of Turner's offense. That role was on pace for 152 targets through 16 games last season, and given Mclaurin’s big play ability, the upside is incredible. 

While I'm not projecting Mclaurin to see true WR1 volume like Moore did, I do believe he will see around 130+ targets in 2020. The increase in volume should give Mclaurin a HUGE boost in fantasy production where he’ll finish anywhere from a low WR2 to a low WR1. 

Verdict: Buy higher than his mid WR3 price tag. 

Talent and opportunity is all you can ask for in fantasy football and Mclaurin has an abundance of both going into 2020. I might be higher than the consensus but I believe Mclaurin is a special player and will likely be drafted in the top 3 rounds in 2021 redrafts. 

Deebo Samuel: ADP WR27

While Deebo is one of my favorite players in this draft class, he did suffer a Jones fracture that gives him a hard-pressed recovery time to make it back for the beginning of the season. A fractured foot is something that doesn’t go away, significantly hinders training, and could easily be reaggravated if not healed properly. 

Verdict: Despite his talent, don’t buy into a player that has a bad foot injury going into your drafts. Allow someone to pay his draft price and then if you like to gamble, trade for him when he is returning from injury or if he underwhelms upon return. 

Verdict: Sell Deebo on draft day, unless he slides multiple rounds!

D.K Metcalf: ADP: WR23

Upside. Upside. Upside. D.K is a one of the most physically gifted receivers in the NFL and he proved to be much more NFL ready than initially projected. Metcalf easily has the potential to be the best WR that superstar QB Russell Wilson has played with, and it could happen in year 2. The Seahawks pride themselves on being run heavy, but their defense might force them into negative game scripts, which means more targets for D.K 

At 6’4 230 with blazing 4.3 speed and a go-up-and-get-it mentality, DK is already one of the most deadly deep threats in the league. The WR1 upside with DK relies on his ability to develop further as a route runner and short/intermediate possession receiver. IF (it’s a big if) D.K is able to do these things, and the seahawks pass the ball more? D.K could be Josh Gordon 2.0 in this offense

Verdict: Buy as WR23. In terms of fantasy is a discounted AJ Brown, but with a way better QB. The upside with D.K in 2020 is essentially a must-have. At his floor he’ll finish inside the top 30 because Russel Wilson is too good to let a receiver of Metcalf’s talent to go unused. Metcalf is another great boom/bust WR2 in 2020! 

Hollywood Brown: ADP WR33

Mr. Brown had a lot of things not going his way in 2019: was coming off of foot surgery, WR for one of the most dominant rush attacks of all time, blowing teams out often (less pass attempts). Fast forward to 2020 where Hollywood is showing all signs of being a breakout WR in 2020. Hollywood is 100% healthy and is now weighing 180 pounds compared to the 165 he was at in 2020. The Ravens should pass the ball more in 2020 and Hollywood should see the biggest boost in targets. 

Hollywood won’t see great volume but is set up for great efficiency given the attention Lamar requires from defenses and Hollywood’s speed to expose single man coverage. He has week winning upside every week as he is one of few receivers that can score 20 fantasy points on 3 catches (it’s possible). 

Verdict: Buy as a low end WR3/FLEX. Hollywood is exactly who I would want in my flex spot this year as he has upside to completely swing my week any week. He will be inconsistent but is likely to finish inside the top 25 with the magnitude of his boom weeks. 

Mecole Hardman: ADP WR47

Hollywood Brown is a solid play for someone who likes to gamble because you know he will be involved on a week-to-week basis, and has week-winning upside every week. Mecole Hardman is the type of play for degenerate gamblers who want to feel the euphoria of being right about that one thing no one even considered. 

With that being said, consider me a degenerate gambler. Hardman has blazing 4.33 speed and averaged a whopping 20.7 yards per catch and 13.1 yards per target, as a ROOKIE. His ADP is low because his role in this offense is questionable, but if Hardman can be a full-time player he could finish inside the top 20. 

Verdict: Buy as a bench piece. Hardman has an incredibly wide range of outcomes. If there is one thing I do know, speed and Pat Mahomes tend to do pretty good. Hardman is on his way to being one of the best big play guys in the NFL and Mahomes accurate cannon arm is a big reason why. The floor is droppable and the upside is league-winning, as the WR47, draft Mecole and don’t look back. 

Diontae Johnson: ADP WR45

“Big Play Tae” was highly productive as a rookie despite being in one of the worst situations possible. He routinely gets open and makes throws easy for his quarterbacks. Going into 2020 Diontae will benefit from playing in a better offense led by Big Ben. His rookie season flew under the radar because the Steelers offense was painful to watch, but if you did watch Diontae play, you see the star potential he possesses. 

His ADP in redraft hasn’t caught up to the hype he’s received in dynasty and that makes him fantasy gold in 2020. Diontae is a realistic candidate to go over 100+ targets and 1000 yards in 2020. If Big Ben returns to his gunslinging ways and the Steelers throw 600+ times, Diontae has top 15 potential, if not, he can still finish top 25. 

Verdict: Buy as much as possible. Diontae is being drafted below his floor as his situation is so favorable it’s hard to see him finishing outside of the top 45 unless he is benched. 

Darius Slayton: ADP WR38

This is interesting. The former 5th round pick was relatively productive in his rookie year, but didn’t do much while the receiving corps was healthy. Slayton was also more bust than boom as he only had 4 games where he went over 50 yards receiving. The big games came against Vernon Hargreaves, Xavier Rhodes, Arthur Malet, Ronald Darby and Prince Amukamara, not the best grouping of corners as far as 2019 showed. 

Slayton was borderline unplayable when two of Shepard, Engram or Tate suited up and the expectation is that all three of them + Barkley will be healthy for 2020. While I do believe in Slayton’s differentiated skillset from the other pass catchers in New York, I don’t believe he is as good as Shepard, Tate, Engram and Barkley when all are healthy. 

Verdict: Sell despite the low flex price. Slayton has good speed and contested catch ability but he isn’t as complete of a receiver as any of the other guys in his receiver corps. The ceiling is a top 30 receiver, and the floor is droppable. Relying on other players to get injured is not a good strategy and that's essentially what you are banking on in taking Slayton this season. 

N’keal Harry: WR61

The 2nd receiver off the board in the 2019 NFL draft has already been labeled a “bust” by many. He played in 8 games (incl. playoffs) and honestly looked completely out-of-sync and lost within the complex Tom Brady led offense. There were flashes of a great back shoulder fade, contested catch receiver with great RAC ability but the stats tell you he sucked in year 1 and that can’t be argued

Enter Cam Newton. Cam has been known to be an aggressive “tight window passer” and while that isn’t great for teams that want to mitigate risk, it’s the best case scenario for N’keal Harry. N’keal isn’t going to be “wide open” often, but he’s a player who makes “tight windows catches” and can then create once he has the ball in his hands. If Cam had Kelvin Benjamin and Devin Funchess each go for over 800 yards and 8TD’s as his big bodied receiver, we can reasonably project N’keal Harry to hover around that range 

Verdict: Buy. N’keal’s upside at his current draft position is unmatched. He could become a top 30 receiver if EVERYTHING goes his way. Harry does have a wide range of outcomes but it is hard to see him finishing outside of the top 50, which is 11 spots ahead of where he is being drafted. Yes, he was bad year 1 but his top-end talent now being put in a situation that fits his skillset better, get N’keal Harry on the end of your bench and watch him ball out. 

Hunter Renfrow: ADP WR63

The New Danny Amendola? Renfrow falls under the radar because he looks like a mediocre IT guy as opposed to an up-and-coming slot receiver. Don’t get it twisted though, Renfrow is a baller. He struggled for his first 5 games but averaged 5 catches for 70 yards over his last 70 games of the season. 

Renfrow isn’t a sexy pick, or a league-winner but you could do worse with the 63rd receiver off the board. More often than not he will put up flex numbers and he won’t lose you your week. 

Verdict: Buy if you want this year's Cole Beasley. Sell if you want high flex/WR2 upside. 

Parris Campbell: ADP WR74

Would you believe it if I told you Parris Campbell outproduced Terry Mclaurin at OSU? Campbell was drafted higher and still possesses incredible athletic ability. His rookie year was riddled with injury but his upside remains the same: A dominant speedster out of the slot.

Campbell isn’t a perfect player, he needs to improve and fine-tune many things before living up to his second round draft capital, however, he can be productive sooner rather than later if he plays out of the slot. Frank Reich has come out and said that he likes the idea of using Campbell in the slot and has “high-hopes” for Campbell in year 2. If Campbell gets the slot role in a Phillip Rivers led offense, he could be 2020’s DJ Chark.

Verdict: Buy. Campbell is going virtually undrafted after disappointing rookie year. If he can shake the injury bug and secure the slot role alongside Phillip Rivers, Campbell is a virtual lock to crush his low ADP. 

Quick Hits: 

Preston Williams : Buy 

Miles Boykin: Buy

JJ Arcega Whiteside: Sell

Jalen Hurd: Buy

Andy Isabella: Buy

There aren’t many sells on this last and that has alot to do with how prolific the 2019 WR class really was. The guys on this list that you really want at their ADP’s are Mclaurin, Metcalf and Diontae Johnson. They have the perfect blend of rookie production, talent, and opportunity going into 2020.

Follow me on instagram @firsttakefantasy

and on twitter @FTfantasyFB

Co-Host of the "FT Fantasy Football Podcast"



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