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Wide Receiver Risers and Fallers for Fantasy Football - FFPC Best Ball ADP Analysis

Michael Thomas New Orleans Saints

It isn't close to the traditional draft season for fantasy football redraft leagues but best-ball drafts have been going on for months. High-stakes players who are looking to get an edge on the competition know how to extract the proper value for picks based on ever-shifting draft positions. If you play on a competitive platform such as FFPC and want a chance to win a $200K prize, you look to gain every advantage you can.

Rookie ADPs are elevated as post-draft hype and mini-camp reports serve to make us all overly excited about the potential of the youngest players in the league. Injuries, free agency, and rumors all play a part in causing players' draft stock to rise and fall. Remember that a player whose ADP is rising isn't necessarily a good target for best-ball leagues as their potential return on investment starts to fall accordingly. This is especially the case in huge tournaments like the FFPC Best Ball Tournament.

To assist with this process, I will identify some of the top wide receiver risers and fallers in average draft position since the NFL Draft wrapped up. When you're done, check out the breakdown of top RB risers and fallers too.

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Wide Receiver ADP Risers for Best Ball

David Bell, Cleveland Browns

81.8 pick ADP increase since May 2

I'm trying to stay away from rookies in this analysis because it stands to reason that they'd nearly all be risers following the NFL Draft. Bell's astounding ascension must be mentioned, however. His ADP has climbed 91 points since the day he was selected and almost 82 since the draft wrapped up.

Bell doesn't come into the league with high draft capital, having been selected toward the end of the third round with the 99th overall pick. He might have been drafted higher if not for an extremely disappointing combine where he ran a 4.65 40 and lagged behind the rest of the rookie class in agility drills. He also goes to a team that was 28th in pass attempts per game last season.

This all seems paradoxical in comparison to his meteoric rise in draft position unless you take one important factor into account: quarterback. The Browns now have Deshaun Watson signed to a massive contract and he will upgrade the entire passing game. With Jarvis Landry officially gone (see below), Bell has a chance to immediately step into a starting role and potentially command the No. 2 wideout job behind Amari Cooper.

Even better, Bell could be playing quite a bit in the slot since no other receiver on the roster is a natural fit there. Coach Kevin Stefanski hinted at the possibility during rookie mini-camp. "I think he has versatility outside and inside," Stefanski said. Donovan Peoples-Jones is a better fit on the outside as is Anthony Schwartz. That's basically it as far as competition for targets in Cleveland.

The biggest risk here is that Watson gets suspended multiple games and leads Cleveland to lean on the run for the first few weeks of the season as they have been. I'd exercise caution here, as Bell is a rookie and would likely take a few weeks to get acclimated to the pros anyway. Add in another few weeks to develop chemistry with his QB and the possibility that Cleveland doesn't change their offensive gameplan as much as we expect and this could turn out to be a full-fledged bust pick.

One can't help but wonder if drafters are envisioning this year's version of Amon-Ra St. Brown, who barely makes any noise for the first half of the season and then turns into a target hog down the stretch. It could be an Amari Cooper injury away from happening... but I wouldn't count on it.

Jarvis Landry, New Orleans Saints

64.4 pick ADP increase since May 2

It's easy to see how Landry signing with the Saints to return home where he was born and played his college ball (LSU) has impacted the other receivers in New Orleans.

Olave has dropped 11 spots since draft weekend and we'll examine MT in more detail later on. For now, we know Landry going to a new team is a positive and he's clearly thrilled about it, but is it the best situation for his fantasy potential?

The Saints are betting on Jameis Winston to recover fully from his ACL injury and lead this offense. There are sure to be differing opinions about which former #1 pick is the better pro quarterback between Jameis Winston and Baker Mayfield but in pure fantasy terms, I'll put Winston as the clear winner as far as helping out receivers.

Landry had commanded at least 100 targets in all seven of his NFL seasons until 2021 and he only fell short because he missed five games. He posted career lows with 4.3 receptions and 47.4 yards per game and will turn 30 during the season, so it's understandable that best-ball drafters are down on him. We need to keep in mind he played injured throughout the entire season and was never 100% when trying to catch passes from Baker Mayfield and Case Keenum.

The fact that Landry is still being drafted later than rookies like Jameson Williams and Christian Watson isn't surprising but it is illogical. His ADP has risen significantly but he should rightfully be taken higher than 150.

Van Jefferson, Los Angeles Rams

35.4 pick ADP increase since May 2

This one is interesting since the Super Bowl champs have had a lot of moving parts at receiver despite not selecting one in the draft. Not that the Rams build through the draft anyway...

Odell Beckham Jr. hasn't officially re-upped with the Rams although signs point to him doing just that. Beckham's status shouldn't matter though, as he's likely to miss most of the season rehabbing from an ACL tear. The impetus for Jefferson's rise must be the fact Robert Woods was traded to Tennessee, even though that took place well before the NFL Draft and Allen Robinson had already been signed.

Jefferson will essentially play the same role as last year as the WR3 in Sean McVay's offense. That does have value but there isn't any foreseeable bump coming. Cooper Kupp led the league with 191 targets and that won't change. A-Rob will inherit the targets of Woods/OBJ. Jefferson is left with the rest, which is to say adequate enough to have relevance but there isn't a path to a high win rate here. Jefferson's 8.8% win rate for FFPC last year was barely above the 8.3% mean rate.

He's still going outside the top-200 overall picks, so it's not as if Jefferson is anything more than a late-round flier. It's curious that he is on the rise but it likely doesn't mean anything.


Wide Receiver ADP Fallers for Best Ball

Michael Thomas, New Orleans Saints

24.3 ADP pick decrease since May 2

Thomas' ADP is down to 79.5 and that still seems too high. You could argue that his upside is that of the overall WR1 since he's done it before but I wouldn't. That was three years ago when he was catching passes from a Hall of Fame quarterback in Drew Brees. Although Jameis Winston can support high-end wide receivers, this offensive scheme might not.

The Saints finished 30th in pass attempts and dead last in passing yards last season. Sure, Winston missed half the season but when he did play, he averaged 23 passes and 167 yards per game. An increase is likely but not the type of leap that could make someone like Thomas a top-12 receiver, especially with increased competition in Olave and Landry.

Then there's the question of whether he'll even be ready to play.

No matter how many Instagram posts he makes or wind sprints he does in the offseason, it will take a lot more than that to convince me he's worth drafting.

Laviska Shenault Jr., Jacksonville Jaguars

34.3 ADP decrease since May 2

Things have to be better in Jacksonville this year. No argument there but will Shenault personally benefit from a more effective Jags offense now that there are more mouths to feed? In 2021, Shenault finished second on the team with 63 catches for 619 yards behind Marvin Jones but didn't score a single touchdown. Now, he'll have to contend with the free-agent splurge in Christian Kirk, Zay Jones, and Evan Engram. Not to mention pass-catching RB Travis Etienne will be on the field.

The main issue isn't that the talent level is so massively improved that Shenault can't shine, it's a matter of how Shenault will be used. Kirk is sure to see the bulk of snaps at the slot position which pushes Shenault back outside where he isn't as effective. His YAC ability is his strength but it's doubtful he will get enough volume to put it to use. Shenault averaged a below-average 34.3 air yards per game last season. Without a high target share or air yard share, the upside simply isn't there for best-ball. It seems FFPC drafters have figured this out already.

Will Fuller, Free Agent

36 pick ADP decrease since May 2

No need to break this one down. Fuller is still without an NFL team in early June and may not have a job by the time the season rolls around. As if his injury history weren't enough, Fuller did himself no favors by basically sitting out last season in Miami because of "personal issues" and of course, injuries.

Any team that has a hole at receiver or a fan base that wants one signed has been linked to Fuller this offseason, including the Packers, Bears, Titans, and Browns. Yet, nobody has seen fit to indulge his agent in serious talks and all of those teams either invested in a rookie receiver, signed a free agent, or both.

The falling ADP makes him more interesting in the sense that even a handful of games should bring a +EV based on how low he's going - currently WR75 (245 overall). There's a negligible risk here but I'll be damned if I can't get myself to pull the trigger when his name pops up toward the end of my FFPC drafts.

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