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Fantasy Football: 2018 Wide Receiver Rankings

Monday, May 21st, 2018

NEPD Staff Contributor: Jeff Fidler

I looked at Running Backs a few weeks ago and will now take an early look at WR’s & TE’s. Neither class set the draft on fire but there’s a bunch of WR’s that could be impact players this year and going forward. And a select few tight ends who could make an impact this year and in the future as well. That said there are few really good rookie’s ended up in ideal situations, with young QB’s they can grow with. Most of the players on the list are versatile guys that can win in a variety of ways and should be on the field a ton.

1)Calvin Ridley – There are plenty of reasons not to have Ridley in this spot & things will most likely change. Wow what a ringing endorsement? In all seriousness though I try not to ignore the obvious & over think things (which I fail hard at) but Ridley is such a great fit in Atlanta. Yes, there are plenty of weapons in the dirty, dirty. Yes, Matt Ryan has trouble connecting with J.J. in red zone. Yes, their offense was peaks & valleys last year. Yes, I will offer you out if you think it sounds like Laurel. Still, the fact remains Ridley is a dynamic weapon that will start right away in the slot. He has + route running that should pay immediate dividends in that position, with J.J. taking coverage away from him. He really refined there. Whether its his footwork, taking a DB’s leverage away by stemming his routes inside/outside, subtle body fakes. He is advanced coming out and will only get better with more proper coaching. Ridley is a gamer with very good play speed and ability to get in/out of his breaks quickly. He can do work in all 3 areas but I really think he’ll feast underneath while J.J. & Sanu stretch the defense. Think curls/comebacks, slants & hitches. Ridley should help in the red zone too. Ridley’s run blocking is lacking & he isn’t the strongest player but he’s pro ready in so many areas. Not the youngest player but you draft rookies for the 1st 4-5 years 90% of the time. Ridley is ready to roll right now.

 

 

2)Michael Gallup – I loved watching Gallup play the position in college. He is a physical, do it all WR who can work all three levels with success. Gallup has the wiggle & shake to make the 1st guy miss & turn a screen into a big gain,  like a RB w/ the ball in his hands. He has the toughness & hands to work crossers over the middle & catch through contact while taking a hit. And at times Gallup also tracked the deep ball like a center fielder. He can get off press & is very good at using his body in route to make adjustments and separate. I saw Gallup use subtle elbow and forearm shivers. And even slight hip checks to separate when up close with a DB. He just gets it done. Gallup was a terrible blocker in college so that must improve but besides that, there aren’t many flaws besides not having ideal size. And despite not having “great” size Gallup was a great 50/50 ball guy in college this past year, making plays much bigger than size would indicate. His all around game is a great fit for Dak. As far as I’m concerned the WR1 is up in the air in Dallas & very well could be taken by Gallup.

 

3)Anthony Miller – Speaking of physical WR’s, let me introduce to Anthony Miller. If you aren’t familiar, get familiar. The Memphis product is a Jim-Dandy of a receiver and should be a favorite target for Trubisky. He’s a cross between Jarvis Landry & Manny Sanders. Miller has the toughness, grit & fight of Landry. And also has Manny’s patience at the line, ability to adjust on certain routes, seemingly making them his own & ability to work inside/outside.  For Miller everything starts with his fantastic footwork. It really is neat. From the stutter step variations, foot fires, to jab steps & his switching up the speed. Miller has + footwork that allows him to win at the line. He’s undersized but tough as hell and absolutely will catch through contact and take a big hit laying out for a ball. He has very good, natural hands. His play is so much bigger than most guys taller and heavier than him. Miller should kill it in the slot but he’s a versatile receiver. His footwork, toughness and route running ability allow him to work outside. That and Miller also gets on top of his man quickly and isn’t shy about his hands as weapons or a distraction. Add in his agility, knack for making people miss and Miller could be a steal for owners and irl. Like the Cowboys, the Bears don’t exactly have an established, productive group but they do have a nice young QB to build around who doesn’t have a favorite weapon yet.

Beautiful timing play. Basically 3 steps, stutter (check out the hands flashing) & fade/back shoulder concept

Peep the footwork, lulling the defender to sleep. So crisp & square with a hard fake. My goodness

 

 

4) Dante Pettis – Dante Pettis is another clever receiver to watch and learn from. Another guy that can win all over the field. On the line, off the L.O.S. Slot, out wide. Pettis is a nuanced, crafty receiver that almost turns into a shape shifter on the field when it comes to throwing defenders head, shoulder & hip fakes. Pettis is also a natural hands catcher that is always looking to snatch the ball out of the air, away from his body. He takes long powerful strides that allow him to vertical quick, very difficult to handle because of how slippery he is. It’s easy to say “jam him” but if you miss or he fights through and you don’t have help or toast with jelly all over you. Like I said earlier Pettis can win almost anywhere and shows + body control while working the sidelines or going up for a ball. He has the ability to make you miss, sink his hips and explode for 6 from almost anywhere. He has 24 TD’s the past 2 years. Pettis isn’t as bad as Gallup when it comes to blocking but he needs some work there. An NFL training program wouldn’t hurt either. That said, he and Jimmy should be bestie’s by years end. Their game and personalities should mesh very well. Both are very easy going, nice, smart guys off the field with a killer instinct on it.

 

Jimmy & Pettis are going to kill the slant/flat concept variations in Shanahan’s offense. Add in Slat/Flat – Vo (vertical) option with Richie James and Taylor and you have a very scary offense.

 

5) Christian Kirk – If Kirk’s head is on straight, (arrested in Feb for Disorderly Conduct but if read between the lines, there’s more there) he’s a dynamic player. Kirk is a smooth moving, thickly built athlete that is a cross between Golden Tate and Stefon Diggs. Kirk is one of those players that moves a lot faster live than on TV. Again he’s a glider that is hard to contain in close quarters. Very slippery in the flat and on screens to give you yac. Good lateral ability to dodge and cut by defenders. Very good hands. Also by now you’ve noticed a trend with most of these receivers and Kirk, like others can win in different areas. His best matchups are probably in the slot but he can go out wide and do work too. Kirk really does a very good understanding of route concepts but is also a threat on returns. Kirk not only has the respect of his teammates and coaches but also from some other giants in the industry like Nick Saban. Who called him the most explosive player in the SEC. The depth chart is wide open for Kirk to take advantage of and like Pettis, has a young QB to grow with.

 

6)D.J. Moore – Now I absolutely Moore, he was WR2 for me this year but I’m not in love with the fit just yet. Moore could easily be in the top 3 on this list in another few months. Right now it’s more of a wait and see situation. It is May? Moore isn’t just a Slot Wr but he should do a lot of damage there. Problem is unless Carolina is running Caff between the tackles a lot more, which is very possible considering Caff’s recent pic’s looked yoked up. Targets don’t look plentiful at first, even if Caff carried the rock more.

There looks to be somewhat of a log jam at the position (Caff and Samuel) until things get clearer this summer. Let’s not forget about Olsen and Funchess either. From a dynasty standpoint I understand an early pick. I understand there will be injuries, the playbook is thick & you can move all these guys around. That said Moore is a fantastic receiver. Moore and Miller are very similar except D.J. is only 21. And going forward, after this year, he should be the alpha dog on offense. He looks like a man killer in the slot. I wouldn’t want to cover him 1 on 1 on critical downs. He has great footwork, excellent hands & is a very tough all around player. Again like Miller he’ll throw his man out the club when blocking. I’ve seen him take a few players out-of-bounds last year. He’s 6′ but will go up and get a 50/50 ball as well. Moore brings a complete game to the NFL and is pro ready. Another thing that can’t be ignored is Moore did it with a “merry-go-round” of QB’s that will never be throwing passes in the NFL. Just get him the ball and he’ll do work.

 

7)James Washington – Washington is a great fit in Pittsburgh. If very Big Ben is nice enough to grace us with his presence for a few more years, he and Washington could become a sweet connection. Washington has been a great deep threat at Oklahoma and there’s no reason he can’t continue that success with Roethlisberger in the steel city. There are times Washington is an ideal deep threat, from his release to the catch point and all the good stuff in between. Washington has some under rated footwork and is a powerful runner. At times he’ll shoot out of his stance like a sprinter and gobble up grass like Pac-Man. Washington has some experience and success with press but corners are very aware of what happens if they miss or he fights through their jam. It’s a wrap for 6. Washington not only has good speed but he can weave and move while maintaining that speed to adjust for the ball or separate from his man. He’s not just a deep threat but Washington can certainly parlay that part of his game into the NFL.

Here he is against Chidobe Awuzie & Colorado

 

8)Courtland Sutton – Sutton has prototype height, weight and game speed. At 6’4/220 Sutton has the footwork and physicality to win at the line. The speed and size to win at the catch point on a deep ball. And in that big body, he has some wiggle to make a defender miss to gain some yac. I’ll post some highlights below to highlight that Sutton can make an impact all over the field. Not often you see someone with that size take a bubble screen for a big gain or make shake defenders off with jukes but Sutton can. It also refreshing to see someone this size use it and not run from his strengths. Sutton has no problem lowering his shoulder into a DB’s chest to make sure he has the 1st down. And will go up to snag a fly ball knowing he’ll get hit and maybe his lower half taken out from underneath him. He was very productive in college amassing over 140 rec’s, 2,200 yards and 22 TD’s the past two years and also is a very good blocker at times. Touches might be hard to come by at first because of the bodies in front of him. He could be a very nice dynasty pick-up for after this year though. I doubt Thomas and Sanders are in Denver much longer after this year. Courtland Sutton and Carlos Henderson (remember the name WR 2017 class) could be the new duo there going forward.

 

9)Equanimeous St. Brown – When you have the 2nd best QB in football throwing the ball to you it tends to make things a lot easier. EQ Rodgers will be able to use St. Brown on some of his most successful routes. Crossers, drags that target underneath and over the middle. St. Brown has a great feel when in man on these routes. At 6’5 he also has the footwork to get off the line, ability sink his hips and coming out fast so DB’s have to respect that. This leads to countless opportunities on comebacks, curls and double moves after seeing those. All that is key but you still want your big receivers to use that size and he does. EQ has a huge catch radius and can box out defenders for possession balls. He really is something in the open field, especially with those long legs. EQ and Rodgers could be fun to watch for years to come.

 

 

10)Antonio Callaway – Antonio Callaway has the traits and tools to be the best receiver in this class. Let’s just get that out of the way now. At times Callaway looks like a cross between Odell Beckham and Reggie Wayne. Callaway can run routes at full speed and get in/out of his without losing any mph. That last part is huge for WR’s at the next level. If you can separate at the line, in route and actually catch the ball, you could have a long career in the league. He has + vision and moves through traffic like a running back. Callaway has the ability to work all over the field and make a play from anywhere. Route running is his specialty though. From simple slants to curls. To the way he stems his deep work. Callaway really puts a stamp on his r/r with precise, sharp movements. Almost robotic and fluid at the same time. Now I started by saying this player has what it takes to be the best in his class. I said that because Antonio has found himself around some creeps too often to be as clear as possible. There’s certain people you just can’t associate with at a certain point, especially not in public and Callaway hasn’t learned that lesson yet. He also failed a drug test for pot recently from the combine. Now that in and of itself, I really don’t care about. Honestly pot is the least of this world’s problem. It’s also extremely hypocritical for a league held together by narcotics to suspend players over weed but that’s another topic. Everyone isn’t the same and context is needed. That failed drug test, on top of everything else is a huge red flag. If Callaway can stay on the right track he could make that Cleveland offense something special. That team isn’t far away from the playoffs imho.

Dynasty Rankings

  1. D.J. Moore
  2. Calvin Ridley
  3. Michael Gallup
  4. Anthony Miller
  5. Christian Kirk
  6. Dante Pettis
  7. Courtland Sutton
  8. James Washington
  9. Antonio Callaway
  10. Equanimeous St. Brown

Sleepers

1)D.J. Chark – 6’3/200, Legit 4.3 speed and easily could have been on here, anywhere from 5-10. Chark is a fantastic deep threat that should help Bortles thrive off play action.

2)Key’vantanie (Keke) Coutee – Waterbug type receiver. Great quicks, speed and good hands.

3)Daesean Hamilton – Good size, just gets open. Might be the best route runner in the draft.

4)Jordan Laasley – Troubled WR in college, suspended multiple times, attitude isn’t the best tbh. He’s quick, accelerates rapidly. Has some shake and enough speed to break it open for 6.

5)Richie James – Undersized at 5’9 but tough as nails and will do it all for his team. He’s an electric receiver that should be a favorite for 49er fans. I loved watching James in college, one of my favorites over the past few years.

6)Auden Tate – Speaking of guys I love, I still can’t believe how far Tate fell. He doesn’t have great speed but he’s fast enough for his size (6’5/225) Tate has great body control in jump ball situations. Strong, natural hands that secure the ball away from his body and a huge wingspan.

 

 

Tight Ends

1) Dallas Goedert – Versatile, big bodied tight end you can line up inline at Y or flex him out in the slot or out wide. Doesn’t go down easy. Should be a nightmare down the seem. Knows how to use his size to shield defenders in the middle and is a red zone monster.

2)Hayden Hurst – The Ravens spent a 1st round pick on a 25 year old tight end (will be 25 Aug 24) so expect they use him heavy. Hurst is a fine prospect, I kid about his age. He’s a bull with the ball in his hands and brings that aggression when he blocks too. The Ravens just invested early picks in two tight ends. Lamar Jackson is the QB of the future there and is very good at iso routes so Hurst or Andrews (#4) could be security blankets for the dynamic quarterback.

 

3)Mike Gesicki – Gesicki is a Jimmy Graham clone that looks exactly like a basketball player playing football. Tall, long strider who can sky to get jump balls with his 40′ inch vertical. Gesicki is also a deep threat and has legit 4,54 speed at 250lbs.

 

4)Mark Andrews – Andrews is a smooth moving, nuanced route runner that offers some yac as well. Not a blocker but a matchup problem for box defenders.

 

 

Again things will change and clear up as camp rolls around. We’ll have some inevitable injuries and cuts to shape the picture as well. I’ll have Quarterbacks later in the week. Please share and comment, thank you.


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