Fantasy Football: Three Wide Receivers You Can Trust in 2017
Trust: a firm belief in the reliability, truth, ability, or strength of someone or something. Which word or words jump out to you as you read that definition? For me, I want a wide receiver that is reliable and consistent, shows high upside ability in their skills, and most importantly, someone that I believe in. These are the qualities I look for in players that I consider trustworthy. The wide receivers that I have chosen to feature in this article have been consistent producers. Quarterbacks show a lot of faith in these players. These are three wide receivers that you can certainly trust in the 2017 season.
Find out where Andy, Mike, and Jason have these wide receivers ranked for 2017.
Larry Fitzgerald – Cardinals
He is one of the oldest wide receivers in the game heading into 2017. He will be 34 this season which would typically raise some concerns for any wide receiver that age. Larry Fitzgerald is not just any wide receiver. At the age of 33 last season, Fitzgerald led the league with 107 receptions. The 107 receptions were actually 2 fewer receptions than he had in 2015. He finished the 2016 season ahead of Antonio Brown (106) and Odell Beckham Jr. (101), two wide receivers who most consider to be the best in the game.
Since his rookie season in 2004, Fitzgerald has averaged around 150 targets per year. He has seven seasons with 90 or more receptions, eight seasons with over 1,000 receiving yards, and eight seasons with 8 or more touchdowns. The man just produces.
Carson Palmer is healthy this year and will be looking to connect often with his number one target in what could be the last season for both Palmer and Fitzgerald. Don’t expect Fitzgerald to fall off. He will leave the NFL at the top of his game and if it happens to be 2017 then you will want your shares of this fantasy productive veteran while you still can. You can get amazing value on this foundational player in the late 5th or early 6th round. Larry Fitzgerald is currently the 30th wide receiver taken off the board in most drafts.
Demaryius Thomas – Broncos
Since becoming a full-time starter in 2012, Demaryius Thomas has not missed a game. I am guilty of writing an article last season “Think Twice Before Drafting Demaryius Thomas or Emmanuel Sanders”. In a way, I was right because Demaryius Thomas went on to have his worst season as a full-time starter. Thomas had almost 400 receiving yards fewer and half the amount of touchdowns of his average production in the previous four seasons. Regardless, Thomas’ “worst season” as a full-time starter was still good enough for WR16 in PPR and WR19 in standard leagues. He still produced over 1,000 receiving yards as he has done every season since 2012. His decline in production was significant to his typical numbers yet, he still finished the season as a high-end to mid range WR2. Let that sink in for a minute. So, although I may have been right about his regression in production given the quarterback situation in Denver, he was still a relevant fantasy producer.
Looking ahead to 2017, there is absolutely no reason you shouldn’t trust Demaryius Thomas. If his numbers from last season are his floor, which all signs would say it is, then his draft value as the 14th wide receiver off the board are not only fair but he could be a slightly undervalued as he has been a WR1 in his previous 4 seasons (2012-2015). To elaborate a little more, Thomas finished 2012 as WR6 overall, 2013 as THE WR1, 2014 as WR2 overall, and 2015 as WR10 overall. This season is primed to be a bounce-back season for Demaryius Thomas and for him, a bounce-back year would place him firmly as a WR1.
DeAndre Hopkins – Texans
If you are looking for a younger wide receiver you can trust, DeAndre Hopkins is your best choice. He has a lot of years left to produce top 15 wide receiver numbers as he is just 25 years old. DeAndre Hopkins is “my guy” for the 2017 season. I wrote a “Path to WR1 Fantasy Season” article about him and his consistency and stats impressed me. Hopkins defines reliability as he has never missed a game since entering the league in 2013. Over his first 4 seasons, Hopkins has averaged 140 targets, 1,122 receiving yards, and 5.75 touchdowns.
Last year, DeAndre Hopkins had his worst season since his 2013 rookie year. He converted 78 receptions from 151 targets for 954 receiving yards and four touchdowns. It was hardly a terrible year but not a true reflection of his typical production. I featured DeAndre Hopkins in another article this preseason (These 2016 Duds Will Be Fantasy Football Studs in 2017) and mentioned how producing more than four touchdowns is very difficult when Brock Osweiler only threw a total of 15 on the season. Although Hopkins’ ADP places him as a low-end WR1 to high-end WR2, in most drafts I see, he is going later than he deserves. Many people talk about Sammy Watkins having top five potential; however, Hopkins has already shown that he can be a top five WR and more importantly since are talking about wide receivers we can trust, he has no injury history.
DeAndre Hopkins had a career year in 2015. His numbers were freakish (192 targets, 111 receptions, 1,521 receiving yards, and 11 touchdowns). Yes, this could have easily been an outlier type season; however, it does prove that Hopkins is capable of such a ceiling. His true potential is somewhere in between 2015 and 2016. That would put him on pace for 172 targets, 95 receptions, 1, 238 receiving yards, and eight touchdowns. Given the fact that Will Fuller is out for the foreseeable future, I trust that Hopkins can and will produce solid numbers. Draft Hopkins if you get the chance, he won’t let you down.