The RotoBaller team has already gone in-depth on some of the bigger signings at the wide receiver position so far this offseason, including Alshon Jeffery and Brandon Marshall. In this article, I will shine a light on the lesser-hyped signings and how they impact the fantasy landscape in 2017.
Although they may not have the name recognition of some other players, these receivers could make an impact on fantasy teams in the coming season.
The free agent picture in the NFL is changing every day, so always stay tuned to RotoBaller for the latest news.
Wide Receivers Changing Teams for 2017
Kenny Britt, Cleveland Browns
Kenny Britt had a career resurgence in 2016 with one of the quietest WR20 PPR seasons on one of the worst offenses in the NFL. Britt eclipsed the 1,000 yard receiving mark for the first time in his eight-year career, and his five receiving touchdowns were the most since he reached the end zone nine times in his second NFL season. Britt goes from one anemic offense in Los Angeles to possibly another one with the Cleveland Browns, who finished 31st in the NFL at 16.5 points per game. However, Britt does bring a veteran presence to a young offense that could be explosive if young talents like Corey Coleman and Duke Johnson develop alongside any incoming 2017 rookies.
Britt had a 33.95% share of the Rams receiving offense in 2016. While I don’t expect him to repeat that number in Cleveland, it does show that he is able to perform even in less than optimal circumstances. If the Browns bring in a rookie quarterback, I would expect him to rely heavily on Britt, especially on third downs and in the red zone. Once again, the Browns are expected to be one of the worst teams in the NFL, which should result in the team throwing early and often, creating more targets for Britt and other Browns weapons. Britt is currently going WR51 in MFL10s, 31 spots lower than his 2016 finish and I believe he is in a better situation now, this makes him a solid value in early drafts.
Torrey Smith, Philadelphia Eagles
Unlike Kenny Britt, Torrey Smith had the worst season of his career in 2016. Smith had career lows in all major categories and overall, his two seasons in San Francisco fell way short of expectations. When Smith hit the free agent market, many speculated if Smith would return to where he had so much success to start his career in Baltimore. That speculation ended up being just that and Smith instead signed a three-year, $15 million contract with the Philadelphia Eagles. This would have seemed like a solid landing spot at the time of the signing, because Smith would fill the role of the deep threat in a young offense that is devoid of weapons outside of Jordan Matthews and Zach Ertz. The wet blanket on this signing came later that day as the Eagles signed Alshon Jeffery to be their #1 wide receiver.
While Smith will still serve the role as the deep threat in the offense, this moves him from third on the team in targets (behind Jordan Matthews and Zach Ertz) to fourth on the team in targets. The odds of Carson Wentz supporting four viable fantasy assets are slim without a huge improvement on his rookie season. Smith is going off the board at WR80 in current MFL10s, and while it is tough for someone to be considered overvalued at such a cheap price, I think that you are relying on injuries to Eagles weapons higher on the depth chart for him to have any fantasy relevance in 2017.
Robert Woods, Los Angeles Rams
Robert Woods entered the NFL as a very solid wide receiver prospect whose college career included 111 catches for 1,292 receiving yards and 15 touchdowns. Woods’ college resume got him selected at 41 overall in the 2013 NFL draft. Fast forward four seasons and Woods showed flashes in Buffalo, but was never really able to have consistency as a fantasy weapon. Woods was one of the players I was looking forward to moving to a better offense in free agency, but sadly that won’t be the case as he moves to an offense that ranked 32nd in points per game in 2016. It’s not all bad news as he could take over that market share that Britt had in 2015 and there is the possibility that Jared Goff isn’t a complete bust, and Woods ends up being a #1 wide receiver in a young and developing offense.
Many are similarly disappointed with Woods' landing spot as he is being drafted at WR79, however, that is very cheap for what looks like the player slated to get the most targets in an offense. Additionally, I think that Woods is a nice end-of-bench target in dynasty leagues. His five-year $39 million contract shows that the Rams have faith in him long term and have plans to use him extensively. Even if the offense is similarly disappointing in 2017, it’d be hard to imagine the Rams not looking elsewhere at quarterback in 2018 if the early career struggles for Goff continue.
With Alshon Jeffery leaving town, the Bears knew they’d have to add to the wide receiver position in the offseason and they did that by signing these two wide receivers. While neither of these players are highly regarded in NFL or fantasy circles, most would say that Wright is the better talent between the two. However, their contracts don’t tell the same story. Wheaton landed a two-year, $11 million contract (Y2 team option), while Wright got only a one-year, $4 million contract. This suggests that the Bears will likely give Wheaton the first shot at targets between the two, but both players will likely start the offseason behind Cameron Meredith and Kevin White on the depth chart. Being the third and fourth options on a Mike Glennon-led offense doesn’t exactly scream must-have fantasy asset, but one of these two players will likely serve some fantasy value in deeper fantasy leagues. Despite the contract differences, I am betting on Kendall Wright’s talent winning out and he will end up being a value at his extremely low price of WR86. Wheaton is currently going undrafted in MFL10s, but that could change if offseason buzz has him getting legitimate targets in the Bears offense.