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In Good Company: When History Meets Hype-Wide Receivers

By Jared Clifton

We’re back in the history books, as we take our top wide receivers for this season and find out who before them had seasons that’d make us take a second glance. What one-hit wonder mirrored Kenny G? Which future Hall of Fame candidate had a season third year darling DJ Moore will strive towards? Read on to find out and be sure to take a look at the QB and RB editions already on the site.

Wide Receivers 12-7

WR12: Amari Cooper (2019 Rank #10)

Player Profiler Comparison: Greg Jennings

2020 Consensus Projections:

In what is bound to be a crowded receiving corp, Cooper remains the WR1…for now.  His disappearing act in the second half of the season doesn’t appear to concern projectionists, as he is slated for a near repeat of his past two seasons.

He is good for a handful of huge games per year, as evidenced by 39.6, 31.7, 49.7, and 36.3 point efforts over the past three seasons, but inconsistency keeps him from being mentioned among the elite pass catchers. If healthy, having Gallup opposite him and CeeDee Lamb in the slot, may keep him from having as many of the 1.3 and 2.9 point bombs.

He’s a frustrating guy to have as your WR1, but with this offense, he may just be worth the price of admission. His HMH was very similar, albeit less originally hyped.  He played for fantastic offenses and could pour on the points, but too often left us scratching his head on what the hell happened to him, even in plus matchups.

History Meets Hype Comparison: Marques Colston (2009–finished as WR16)

As the 252nd overall pick in the 2006 draft, Colston wasn’t supposed to be the premiere receiver in a corp that boasted Saint legend Joe Horn and 2nd and 3rd rounders in Devery Henderson and James Jones, but he outclassed all pass catchers in the Crescent City starting year one.  

Colston was integral to the Saints first Super Bowl victory and like the aforementioned Cooper, did it with some huge games, including 8 for 166 against the formidable Giants in Week 6. When they needed a big play in 2009, Colston was the 6-5” target Drew Brees turned to.

2009 was smack dab in the middle of his great 8 year run as a fringe WR1, that has him as the current Saints leader in career receptions, receiving yards and receiving touchdowns. While Michael Thomas should eventually eclipse all of those records, it goes to show how special a player Colston was in 2009 and his entire Saints career.

WR11: DJ Moore (2019 Rank #16)

Player Profiler Comparison: Pierre Garcon

2020 Consensus Projections:

It’s unfair.  Unfair that Moore’s second year in Carolina, he had to deal with the likes of Kyle Allen and Will Grier. Also unfair that he was as amazingly good with that sub-par QB play.  Now in year three, he gets an upgrade in Teddy Bridgewater and what looks to be another year as a top 12 option at a crowded position. 

Before an early week 16 injury knocked him out, he was on pace to be the WR6 for the season. Moore was extremely consistent, with only two below average games and his projections bear more of the same.  There is a new target in town, with Robby Anderson coming over from the Jets, but that should free Moore up to have a leap like Chris Godwin did in 2019.

He’s overlooked in this talented position group, but he is on the shortlist for guys that have the potential to unseat Michael Thomas as the number one WR overall.  His HMH comp is another star that was often overlooked, even on his own team.

History Meets Hype Comparison: Anquan Boldin (2006–finished as WR15)

In the limelight of what perennial superstar and good guy, Larry Fitzgerald, has meant to the Arizona Cardinals, Anquan Boldin was actually the WR that was more of a record breaker.  He held the record for fastest to record 500 career receptions, before Julio Jones tied him a few years back.

While he never quite exceeded his amazing rookie campaign, he was a steady and sometimes spectacular fantasy contributor. In all 14 of his professional seasons, he eclipsed 10 ppg, with two over 20.  

The bulk of his 2006 season was marked by poor QB play from Matt Leinart and a few games from an injured Kurt Warner. That likely contributed to one of his lesser TD totals and that could continue to be a problem for his younger contemporary in Carolina.

WR10: Juju Smith-Schuster (2019 Rank #65)

Player Profiler Comparison: Deandre Hopkins

2020 Consensus Projections:

With one QB named Duck and another that forgot to, it was a tough year for any part of the Steeler offense.  Let’s not let that aberration of a season skew the view of what Juju is though.  He’s a superstar.  

The projected numbers don’t necessarily point to that conclusion and it will be his first year with Big Ben as the number one option. He is expected to move back to his former slot role nearly full time, with Diontae Johnson and either Chase Claypool or James Washington on the outsides.  That should bode well for significant targets and as the lead receiver, hopefully translate into more TD’s.

His HMH comp also dipped in his third season due to poor QB play and came on with his best season of his career the following year.  Here’s hoping we see that dynamic upswing in year four for Juju, in this still potent offense.

History Meets Hype Comparison: Dwayne Bowe (2011–finished as WR14)

Apart from every league having a team called Over the Dwayne Bowe, there was a lot to like about Bowe’s tenure in Kansas City.  Coming off his best season in 2010, there was a lot of hype for Bowe to join the elite receivers in the league. 

He had a nice year in 2011, but the drop from 15 TD’s to 5 TD’s took him from WR4 overall to WR14 with nearly identical numbers year on year. Bowe did have to weather another poor year of QB play, with the likes of Kyle Orton, past peak Matt Cassell and Tyler Palko.

He remained fairly QB proof, compared to the dip in 2009, but it goes to show that regardless of talent, a guy can go from future superstar to former superstar in the blink of an eye.  That will be something to keep an eye on post-Big Ben, but for this year, I’m betting on Juju as a current superstar.

WR9: Mike Evans (2019 Rank #15)

Player Profiler Comparison: Vincent Jackson

2020 Consensus Projections:

It was a maddening 2019 season for investors in Mike Evans, but he remains one of the best receivers in the game.  Just be prepared for either a significant boom or a week losing bust to occur.  That could change with Brady in the mix, so he’s still a guy that I’m good with as my WR1 if the draft falls that way.

His projected numbers do show the expected change from an all-or-nothing pass attack under Jameis Winston, to a more efficient balanced approach with the superior Tom Brady.  The emergence of Chris Godwin and addition of Brady favorite Rob Gronkowski, may cap his role as the alpha WR and red zone TD go to.

There certainly could be games where he single-handedly wins you games, as shown by games of 45, 42.8 and 35 last year, but it could also be a year where we see more consistency at the expense of the large boom games.  That would put him in the territory of his HMH comp, which has been a very good territory to live in for the past seven seasons.

History Meets Hype Comparison: Keenan Allen (2013–finished as WR19)

In terms of underrated wide receivers, Keenan Allen has to be the mayor of that township.  Barring a season and a half run where injuries kept him limited, he has finished as the WR19, WR37(14 games), WR3, WR12 and WR6. That’s a pretty impressive run for a WR that rarely is mentioned among the WR1’s.

2013 was the beginning of that run, as he burst onto the scene with over 1000 yards in his first season and 8 TD’s, as Philip Rivers go-to target. He averaged nearly 7 targets a game and although there were definitely some games where that didn’t translate to fantasy greatness, the overarching story of the season was the set up to what he has become the past five or so years.

He had four games with ten or more catches and was bankable in the playoff stretch run and playoffs.  It wasn’t his most consistent year, but he was that WR that led a lot of people to the promised land and finished second in NFL Rookie of the Year voting to Eddie Lacy.

WR8: Allen Robinson (2019 Rank #8)

Player Profiler Comparison: Dez Bryant

2020 Consensus Projections:

Two seasons and 1062.4 miles away from his devastating ACL injury, Robinson rejoined the ranks of the top tier of WR’s in 2019. Finishing with a career high 98 catches on a career high 158 targets, not even dismal QB play could curb his output.

Another year of QB flux has ARob’s projected numbers a bit downgraded, but still firmly in the mix for WR1 this season. It remains to be seen if Mitch Trubisky gets another chance or if the slight upgrade of Nick Foles will get his shot to target the former Nittany Lion. Either way, Robinson has shown an ability in his career to remain QB proof.

In an offense that may struggle to score points, he should be a constant source of high floor volume, with enough big play potential to catapult himself and your team into the top tier of WR’s.

History Meets Hype Comparison: Michael Crabtree (2015–finished as WR16)

As a Texas Longhorns fan, Michael Crabtree is no friend of mine, after his soul crushing last second touchdown knocked my Horns out of the BCS title game in 2008. As a fan of the game of football, he was so much fun to watch.

While his career was a bit underwhelming, based on the expectations as a 10th overall pick, his game translates extremely well to the star receivers of today. As evidenced by the plethora of today’s receivers that are compared to him on Player Profiler, his athletic play and ability to come down with the contested catch in traffic, were amount to his game.

His 2015 season showcased that ability and like Robinson, his floor was fantastic, as he only went below 10 ppg four times in that campaign. He contributed greatly to Derek Carr’s finest season to date and served as a mentor of sorts for first year wideout Amari Cooper. That could definitely serve as a precursor for Robinson’s role with Anthony Miller going forward.

WR7: Kenny Golladay (2019 Rank #9)

Player Profiler Comparison: Alshon Jeffery

2020 Consensus Projections:

Many expected the injury of Matt Stafford midway through 2019, to be the death knell for Kenny Golladay’s game.  It wasn’t the same rate of production, but he was still extremely good with 6 double digit efforts in 8 games, with 4 of his 11 TD’s with Jeff Driskel and David Blough.

With a presumably healthy Stafford, his big play ability will be on full display and allow for that next level jump that he was headed towards through week 9. He’s shown that his overall catches aren’t likely to be near league leading, but his ability to catch the long ball against anyone will have him continue to be a TD monster.

At 26, the 6’4” star is right in his prime and we should expect to see a long stretch of WR1 relevance.  That sets him far apart from his one-hit wonder HMH comp, but for one season, the relevance was there.

History Meets Hype Comparison:Kevin Curtis (2007–finished as WR15)

I would venture a guess that several people need to fire up the Google machine to find one Mr. Kevin Curtis. The former Utah State star had several non-descript seasons in St. Louis behind legendary receivers Torry Holt and Isaac Bruce, before getting his chance to star in Philadelphia. 

His first half effort against Buffalo of 9 catches for 205 yards and three touchdowns showed his ability to be the big play option the Eagles so badly needed, since the unceremonious departure of Terrell Owens a few years prior. He even became the first NFL player to record back to back fumble recoveries for touchdowns.

He was out of the league less than three years later, after injuries zapped his ability to stay on the field.  But, for one awesome season, he showed that he belonged in the conversation for big time receivers.  We hope that Golladays’ run is a magnitude of time greater, as big play guys make the NFL world go round. 

Jared Clifton – Dynasty/Editor
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