With the 2017 NFL Draft completed, we’re taking an early look at the notable wide receiver selections and how they will affect the 2017 fantasy football season. Which rookies seem primed to make an instant impact on the fantasy world, and which ones look like they may not be very relevant in your 2017 season? Let’s take a look at Mike Williams, Corey Davis, John Ross, and a few of the other receivers who were drafted early in the draft.
Corey Davis (Titans)
Davis steps into a great situation with a team looking for talent at the wide receiver position. By volume, journeyman Rishard Matthews just had the best year of his career as Marcus Mariota attempted to find somebody to throw the ball. Davis should be able to step right in and become the team’s focal point in the passing game, sharing scores with tight end Delanie Walker. With DeMarco Murray and Derrick Henry, the Titans remain a team built to run, which will prevent Davis from compiling absurd numbers, but he should be the top receiver for his team.
Mike Williams (Chargers)
The Chargers have a good, established quarterback with Philip Rivers. This works in Williams’ favor, as does the fact that the Chargers top receivers were Tyrell Williams and Dontrelle Inman. What works against him is that they have an up and coming tight end in Hunter Henry and a great receiver (when healthy) in Keenan Allen who will both take away volume. If Allen is injured yet again, Williams projects to some big volume and should be a fantasy starter. Even if Allen is healthy, Williams should have a solid season in what could be a surprisingly impressive passing offense.
John Ross (Bengals)
Much could happen between the draft and the start of the NFL season, but as of today, Ross stands to be no better than the team’s fifth option for receptions, behind A.J. Green, Tyler Eifert, Brandon LaFell, and Tyler Boyd. As the third or fourth receiving option on a team who likes to run as much as the Bengals do, Ross’ statistical production, and fantasy impact, look to be severely limited. Assuming he remains healthy enough to play all 16 games, most of them will likely be unproductive, with a couple big games sprinkled in, aided by long touchdown receptions. There will likely be receivers drafted after him in the NFL Draft who will have better stats this year, and Ross is pretty much undraftable in all fantasy formats.
JuJu Smith-Schuster (Steelers)
The Steelers’ offense runs through Le’Veon Bell and Antonio Brown. Reinstated Martavis Bryant should be the second option in Pittsburgh, putting Smith-Schuster is a competition with Eli Rogers, Sammie Coats and Darrius Heyward-Bey for touches. With his upside as the third option in the Steelers’ potent passing game, he is borderline draftable unless Bryant receives another suspension.
Zay Jones (Bills)
The Bills traded up for Jones, so they obviously like him and want to use him in 2017. The Bills also declined to pick up Sammy Watkins’ fifth year option, meaning Jones could be the focal point of the Bills lackluster passing game in future years, which gives him good dynasty draft value. In redraft leagues, Jones is the second receiving option in Buffalo, which would be more tempting if quarterback Tyrod Taylor’s inability to top 3,000 passing yards or 20 touchdowns. Even still, he provides good upside when one considers Watkins’ injury history. Jones is draftable as a mid-late pick in your fantasy draft.
Curtis Samuel (Panthers)
Selecting Samuel, a running back/wide receiver immediately after drafting running back Christian McCaffrey was a bit of a head-scratcher. That’s especially true as McCaffrey was one of the top receiving running backs in the draft, and the Panthers have a trio of towering receiving options in Greg Olsen, Kelvin Benjamin and Devin Funchess. He may see work in a slot role, but with the Panthers as a run-first team who already has plenty of receiving options ahead of him, his fantasy value is practically nil. He is a third running back or third receiver for the Panthers as it stands, which isn’t exciting for fantasy point production.
Cooper Kupp (Rams)
For anyone who remembers the Rams’ “greatest show on turf” with Torry Holt and Isaac Bruce, it’s hard to imagine how horrible the Rams’ receiving corps has been during the past eight year. With Tavon Austin and Robert Woods currently listed as the team’s top receivers, Kupp should have every opportunity to wrestle a starting role in the Rams’ inept passing game. At this point, none of the Rams’ receivers are very good fantasy options, but if you are in a large enough league, he could be a later pick with possible upside as a decent backup for your team.