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In Good Company: When History Meets Hype-Wide Receivers (Cont.)

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 6-1

WR6: Chris Godwin (2019 Rank #2)

Player Profiler Comparison: Pierre Garcon

2020 Consensus Projections:

Nearly everyone was in on the third year breakout for Godwin and buddy did they get it right. Even in an offense that struggled with massive turnover issues, he easily outpaced the WR3 by over a point and half per game.  He missed two contests or he would have been over 300 fantasy points; a feat that only Thomas accomplished in 2019.

Now he has a new QB in town and although the offense will not be nearly as pass heavy, the quality of the targets could be much better. That’s a promising view for a receiver that already had proven that he is among the safest bets in the game.  He only scored less than ten points in two of his fourteen games and scored in bunches.

If his ability to pile up touchdowns increases with a similar target volume, he will continue to be dynamic and possibly separate himself as the guy in Tampa Bay. His game matches up well with the types of receivers Brady has long targeted and his propensity for the big play matches quite well to his HMH comp.

History Meets Hype Comparison: Laveranues Coles (2003–finished as WR12)

Coming off his starring turn in his sophomore season for the Jets, Coles signed with the Washington Football Team and kept his momentum going in his home. The undersized receiver was QB proof, as his signal-callers were the unimpressive Patrick Ramsey and Tim Hasselback.  

With an insane 37% of the teams’ receiving yards on 29% of the teams catches, he was the offense on a team that struggled through mediocre running back seasons from Rock Cartwright, Trung Candidate and Ladell Betts. Where he, and the entire offense, struggled, was finding the end zone.

Although the projectionists have Godwin with just ok TD numbers, that is one category that could really put some space between the 2.1 point fantasy difference between these two seasons.  Coles continued to put up middling TD numbers for the remainder of his career, so it’ll be fun to watch Godwin blow those numbers out of the water and let us see what Coles on a reliable offense may have looked like.

WR5: DeAndre Hopkins (2019 Rank #5)

Player Profiler Comparison: Michael Crabtree

2020 Consensus Projections:

It’s rare to see such a talent change scenery prior to hitting free agency, but in all Bill O’Brien’s General Managerial brilliance, he made that happen for Hopkins this offseason. Hopkins now moves from a comfortable, but vanilla offense, to a more high energy and possibly erratic one.

Projections have Hopkins doing Hopkins things, but this is an offense that has more emphasis on spreading the ball around and it is no guarantee that he is quite the alpha that he was in a largely weaponless Houston offense. That said, there may not be a better pure wide receiver in the league, then Deandre.

His size and speed are an instant matchup and there should be no doubt that Kliff Kinsbury will take full advantage of that and that Kyler Murray will appreciate the ability to throw the jump ball to a near lock to come down with it. While not quite the specimen that his HMH compo was, there is a level of dominance that they both enjoy/enjoyed. 

History Meets Hype Comparison: Calvin Johnson (2015–finished as WR12)

While we may have been enjoying the twilight of Megatron’s career this season, I have no doubt that if his body had held up, he would still be patrolling the sidelines like an eagle waiting to grab the ball out of the air.  Just one of a handful of superstars that left on a high note (unfortunately Lions fans have had two legends do so), he was a man amongst boys for what ended up being a relatively brief reign.

His 2015 season was to be his final go, but it certainly left us wanting more. He only had two games with less than 10 fantasy points and although it was a disappointing season for the Lions team, Johnson enjoyed his sixth straight 1000 yard season and his sixth and final Pro Bowl invitation.

In what was to be his final game, he finished with a flurry, with 10 catches for 137 yards and a TD.  There wasn’t a ball he could come down with and it would have been a lot of fun to watch him chase down some of the better records in the NFL.  We may get to see that, but out of the desert of Arizona instead of the bitter cold of Detroit. 

WR4: Tyreek Hill (2019 Rank #32)

Player Profiler Comparison: Steve Smith

2020 Consensus Projections:

Hill remains a risky top tier talent, but when that talent hits, it hits in bunches.  There may be no lower floor WR1 or possible WR2, but he is a week winner.  He has the luxury of playing with the best QB in football, in one of the best offenses in the NFL.  That alone makes the risk factor more palatable.

If he can stay on the field (for a multitude of reasons), he is as dynamic a weapon that exists in the game today.  There are very few CB’s that can contain him and if he gets behind them, forget about it. With five games with a 40+ yard play, he leads the field in big play ability.

More of that can be expected this season, as the Chiefs try to defend their title.  Its largely the same cast of characters and a potential upgrade at running back, should further keep the defenses honest and leave Hill plenty of space to do his damage. Much like his HMH contemporary, big plays make for big fun.

History Meets Hype Comparison: Donald Driver (2004–finished as WR10)

It’s been a few years now, but Donald Driver was once the big play machine of the 2000’s, as he had multiple 50, 60, 70 and 80 yard plays from 2000-2010. Before he was the winner of Dancing with the Stars, he was doing his best footwork all over opposing defensive backs.

His 2004 season was one of his finest in a very impressive 14 year career, as he eclipsed 1200 yards and tied his career high with 9 TD’s. Also paired with a legendary QB, in Brett Favre, Driver was actually the secondary option in that passing attack, with Javon Walker stealing the show as the WR3 for the season.

Even with big names such as Sterling Sharpe and Don Hutson and Jordy Nelson, having played the WR position for the storied Packers, Driver still holds the current record for both career receptions and yards in the uniform. He was a force in 2004 and throughout his career and Hill has that same opportunity, so long as he remains healthy and keeps his act together.

WR3: Julio Jones (2019 Rank #3)

Player Profiler Comparison: Demaryius Thomas

2020 Consensus Projections:

3. 4. 7. 6. 2. 6.  Those are Julio Jones’ finishes over the past six seasons.  As a matter of fact, Jones has never finished a season not as a WR1 playing a full season.  That’s an amazing feat that few skill skill players can boast.

He feels underrated every year.  There is always some other WR that gets the praise and adulation, while Julio quietly goes as a seeming consolation prize in late firsts and early seconds. His below average TD totals are likely to blame, as he’s only had one season in the double digits.

If that part of his game were to change this season, although projections show a total in his typical range, then he would be as dominant a fantasy player as there is.  His HMH comp and former teammate had a similar block.  Fantastic receiving numbers with a less than typical TD totals for a star.  But he was just that, a star that gracefully handed the reins over to the next star WR in Atlanta.

History Meets Hype Comparison: Roddy White (2011–finished as WR5)

Seems only fair to run the same exercise for Roddy, that we did for Julio.  Here are his finishes for his best six season run. 16, 4, 9, 1, 5, 9.  Those are spectacular fantasy finishes in an era that produced many fantasy greats.

Roddy White was the definitive alpha WR for Atlanta and a suitable complement once Julio took that moniker from him in 2013. In 2011, Roddy was still the man on top and completed his second season with 100 or more catches and nearly 1300 yards.  He was a stellar option as your WR1.

He was also one of the first big names that truly embraced fantasy football, along with Maurice Jones-Drew, and is still involved in some capacity to this day. While he may not have the same name recognition as the equally dominant Julio Jones, he was and still remains a pioneer in the game we all love from both his on-field presence and behind the mic.

WR2: Davante Adams (2019 Rank #22)

Player Profiler Comparison: 

2020 Consensus Projections:

It’s a fun stat that I’ve seen a lot this offseason, but Davante Adams only has one season over 1000 yards receiving.  It doesn’t feel likely or even correct, but alas it’s true.  He does have two seasons at 997 yards, including last season’s injury shortened effort, but for a pass catcher of his talent, it’s stark.

He was on pace to match his incredible 2018 season and the experts seem to think that he’ll be back to his top tier tricks. This is a different offense from 2018, but Adams remains the sole pass catcher with relevance in Green Bay and is likely in for Thomas like targets.

With the emergence of Aaron Jones, Rodgers and co. don’t need to open up at the same clip through the air, but Adams is a lock for high usage and heavy touchdown opportunities. While he doesn’t have the same receiving partner as his HMH comp did in Peerless Price, 2020 looks promising for the healthy alpha WR.

History Meets Hype Comparison: Eric Moulds (2002–finished a WR5)

Eric Moulds was relevant for fantasy purposes for multiple seasons, but his seventh year was a worthy gem in a quietly productive career. As Drew Bledsoe’s favorite target, he eclipsed 100 receptions for the first time in Bills history and ten touchdowns.

The former Mississippi State product made his first of three Pro-Bowls and was also named to the second team All-Pro AFC squad. His big frame and impressive wingspan turned any ball thrown his way into advantage Moulds. Sounds a lot like a certain WR in the NFC North.

In an era where the running game was still a dominant mode of offense, as evidenced by his teammate Travis Henry rushing for nearly 1500 yards, Eric Moulds was one the receivers that…and I’m so sorry for this…broke the mold.

WR1: Michael Thomas (2019 Rank #1)

Player Profiler Comparison: Michael Crabtree

2020 Consensus Projections:

Dominance.  Pure dominance. When you’re a skill player and never score under 16 points on the season, what else can you call it?  Unfair, maybe? He had more receptions than all but 5 wide receivers had targets.  He’s just a monster.

2020 should be no different, even as he is projected for nearly 25 fewer receptions.  There’s a logical case to be made for him to be a top 5 pick this season and that is relatively rare for a WR, in such a RB poor league. 

At just 27, he scarily is entering his prime years and although Brees’ time is almost up, he has shown to be QB proof and the Saints offense runs through Thomas early and often.  He’s the clear WR1 for the foreseeable future and just like his HMH comp, he will get so many targets that it’s nearly impossible to see where his decline would come.

History Meets Hype Comparison: Wes Welker (2011–finished as WR2)

I actually had the honor of playing against Wes Welker for three years in high school and as my dad still loves to tell me, I almost tackled him a bunch of times.  Welker was one of the early innovators of the slot surge that is so relevant today and was quietly dominant among the backdrop of flashier receivers, such as Calvin Johnson, Brandon Marshall and Andre Johnson.

Like Thomas, his targets were otherworldly and in 2011, he put together his finest season with over 1500 yard receiving on 122 catches, including a 99 yard TD reception. The former Texas Tech Red Raider, became just the 4th receiver with four 100 catch seasons that year.  He was in pretty good company with Jerry Rice and Marvin Harriosn being the other two.

He was at his Wes Welkerist in week three against the Bills, as he went for 217 yards and two touchdowns on 16 catches.  In a word, he was dominant.

Jared Clifton – Dynasty/Editor
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