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The Fire Sale: WR Studs, Sleepers and Busts

I continue my Studs/Sleepers/Busts series with wide receivers. It’s already been a tough preseason for receivers with Kelvin Benjamin and Jordy Nelson going down for the season.

Hey, look at the bright side. At least we get to talk about Philly Brown and Jeff Janis now. See, there’s always a silver lining.

In case you missed it, I already went over quarterbacks and running backs.

Here’s a brief clarification of each section in case you don’t know what a stud is:

Studs – Some of my top picks at each position. I won’t include the most obvious players like Aaron Rodgers and Adrian Peterson. Talking about them is a waste of time. My studs will usually be a tier or two below those elite players unless there’s someone I really want to discuss.

Sleepers – If you follow The Fire Sale over the years you know I have strict rules on what players qualify as “sleepers.” Travis Kelce isn’t a sleeper. He’s a stud. Kelce is being drafted in Round 5 and coming off a year where he caught 67 passes for 862 yards and 5 touchdowns. Jordan Matthews isn’t a sleeper. He’s a stud. If someone wants to give those guys out as sleepers, they’re a year too late.

Busts – Busts are players I think will disappoint or won’t live up to their draft position. Remember though, bust doesn’t mean I think the player is bad. Sometimes it may but it usually means I think the player won’t live up to where he’s being drafted.

Now, as promised, my announcement about giving away a prize to a Twitter follower. As you may or may not know, I’ve been writing about fantasy football since 1998. I came up with an idea to write a column that was originally called “Meathead’s Weekly Fire Sale.” I thought it would last a month. It probably should have.

Thanks to a few devoted followers and one misguided soul named John Georgopoulos in those early days, not only is The Fire Sale going on 18 years, but I’ve been able to take advantage of other opportunities as well. I would tell you all about John but for some reason he has his own Wikipedia page. I’m hurt that I wasn’t mentioned anywhere considering he’s been riding my coat tails for years.

Today there are many more options for people to follow than back when John and I were kicking butt at Gridiron Grumblings. I often joke it would be easier for me to tell you who doesn’t write about fantasy football.

I can’t say for certain how much longer I’ll be writing The Fire Sale. It hasn’t made me rich but it’s been around for a long time and people seem to enjoy it. That means something.

I really do appreciate those of you who read this column and follow me on Twitter. I’m a big believer in loyalty, so I want to reward one loyal follower this season.

I’m giving $200 to my most engaged Twitter follower. I use a web site that ranks my most engaged followers based on retweets, mentions and replies. I’ve been monitoring its accuracy compared to who I think my most engaged followers are over the last two months and it’s been dead on.

You have from the time this article is published until the final regular season game ends in Week 17 to engage with me on Twitter. I’ll announce the winner the day after the regular season ends.

I thought $200 was a nice amount because it’s not enough for people who don’t really like me to care all season long. They’ll get tired of me after a while and go back to re-tweeting and asking Matthew Berry questions. I’m an acquired taste.

Let’s be honest, we get something when you re-tweet our articles and information. I thought this would be a nice way to reward one person’s loyalty. And if I win the $2 million at DraftKings in Week 1, we’ll make it the top 10. Deal?

I’ll also throw in a free Fantasy Sharks VIP Membership for next season. You know why? Because this site has amazing writers like Georgopoulos and others. I don’t want to name anyone else for fear of leaving someone off the list but I re-tweet all of their articles on my Twitter feed.

So that’s it. There’s a free $200 and a Fantasy Sharks 2016 VIP Membership out there. Good luck and thanks again for all the support.

You can follow me on Twitter @ThePigskinGuy. I reply to all inquiries and answer all questions about your fantasy team. I only have one rule: When asking me a roster question I need to know your team first. I can’t give you proper trade or start/sit advice without knowing your roster.

You can ask me a fantasy question any time but I want to let everyone know that on Sundays during the season I’ll be available starting at 10:00 am ET to answer questions. Feel free to ask me lineup or DFS questions. I’m doing work for DraftKings this season as well.

Now on with The Fire Sale

Wide Receiver Studs

Jordan Matthews, Philadelphia – Matthews is going to abuse defensive backs all year long. It’s going to start with the Falcons in Week 1 and end with the Giants in Week 17. Yes, I care about Week 17 now. Thank you DraftKings.

Matthews played second fiddle to Jeremy Maclin as a rookie and still racked up 67 catches for 872 yards and eight touchdowns. That’s a rookie year as a No. 2 receiver playing with a second-string quarterback for half the season. Not too shabby.

When I watch Matthews I see a receiver that has it all. He’s a big guy who runs great routes and really knows how to use his body. That’s an underrated trait for a receiver.

Ask the Seattle Seahawks. Bad call or not, they lost a Super Bowl because a tomato can receiver can’t play the position. Matthews uses his body and rips that ball away from Malcolm Butler like he’s stealing candy from a baby.

The other thing I like is I talked to someone in the NFL who said Matthews has one of those work ethics where he tries to be the best every single day. You hear that stuff all the time but if you’ve ever been around teams you know it’s not true of everyone.

From what I’ve heard, Matthews works both physically and mentally to be the best receiver in the NFL. That type of thing is the difference between being really good and being elite. I view Matthews as an elite receiver right now.

I have no doubts about Matthews this year. He’s even quarterback-proof should Sam Bradford get injured because Mark Sanchez loves throwing to him. I have Matthews ranked as my No. 8 receiver. If he’s outside of your top 10, may the Man above have mercy on your soul.

Jarvis Landry, Miami – Landry is one of the players I’ve been high on since I began writing my 2015 fantasy articles.

In today’s NFL, a receiver like Landry is gold. I hear all the criticisms of him, but he’ll eat up defenses across the middle all day long. Here’s what I wrote about Landry earlier this summer:

Landry finished his rookie year with 84 receptions, 758 yards and five touchdowns. Miami did trade for WR Kenny Stills, signed TE Jordan Cameron and drafted WR DeVante Parker, so Ryan Tannehill now has more weapons at his disposal. Landry is still a flat-out stud. That hasn’t changed.

One thing that hurts fantasy owners is when they get scared off a stud because of other players around him. Landry is going to catch a ton of balls, regardless of who else is on the field. He’s a great route-runner and Tannehill now has a comfort level throwing to Landry on underneath routes.

People can run all the numbers they want and look into analytics but there’s a reason why certain receivers who play with Tom Brady and Peyton Manning catch a ton of passes. It’s because those quarterbacks trust particular receivers to always be in the right spot and are constantly looking their way. It’s that simple. There’s no magic formula to uncover. It’s basic football.

Landry will be that kind of dependable receiver for Tannehill. You’ll hear a lot of talk about Landry’s numbers going down this year because of the other weapons Miami brought in. You’ll hear all the hype surrounding Parker in training camp driving up his ADP.

Don’t buy it. Landry will catch 90 balls for fun and improve his numbers across the board in 2015. He’s highway robbery in the fifth round.

Parker has obviously been hurt but Landry’s ADP has held pretty steady, moving up to mid-Round 4. That’s still a steal. I won’t be surprised if Landry catches 100 balls this year. He’s that good.

Golden Tate, Detroit – When Tate was in college I thought he was one of the best open field runners I’ve seen. Of course, I promoted the heck out Tate coming out of Notre Dame and every year he was with the Seahawks but he never quite took over there. Then Tate came to Detroit and it was like Notre Dame 2.0.

Tate is coming off a year where he caught 99 balls for 1,331 yards and four touchdowns. Sure, the touchdowns are low but Tate only has 19 scores in 74 career games. He’s good but he’s not Megatron.

Tate is going right with Landry in that middle-to-late fourth round area. If you end up with Tate there as your WR2, that’s one heck of a draft pick.

Certain players perform well in certain systems. I expect another big year from Tate in the Lions’ offense.

Davante Adams, Green Bay – Stud. Don’t overthink it. Let someone else try to be the genius and draft Janis. You draft the stud.

WR_Davante_Adams_GBP_1
The Packers’ Davante Adams has stardom within his reach.

About Thomas Casale

Thomas began playing fantasy football back when owners had to mail in their starting lineups and work out trades over the phone. He started writing The Fire Sale in 1998. Since then his articles have appeared on numerous web sites sites including Fantasy Sharks, USA Today and SI.com.