In recent week’s we have seen three WRs who were being drafting in all fantasy leagues are now likely to miss the entire season. Kelvin Benjamin and Jordy Nelson have both torn their ACL and are out for the season. The 7th overall pick in the NFL draft Kevin White could also miss the entire season after yesterday undergoing surgery to address a stress fracture in his shin. Optimists hope White can return to the field in week 8, but even if he were available in limited capacity, the Bears may end up deciding to shut him down for the season. Because of the speculation, I am going to assume he misses the year along with Nelson and Benjamin and discuss the fantasy impact felt from these three losses.
HUGE Winner – The clear cut winner fantasy-wise is Davante Adams. He moves up from my WR52 to WR24. A Huge boost in value. He was already getting great reviews from camp, but now he has the potential to be the #2 target for the league’s best QB for an entire season. Even an untalented guy would crack the top 30 WRs as Rodgers #2. In 2012 James Jones was 2nd on the team in targets finished WR16, and I think Adams is a better player than James Jones ever was.
Small Winner – Devin Funchess hopes to take a good chunk of the 140 targets left behind by Benjamin. I think he may well get a good chunk, but he will have to improve on his historically mediocre endzone numbers. For a player of his size, never scoring more than 6 TDs in a college season is a little concerning. He will get his opportunity to prove he can use his size and wingspan, but until he does I can’t give him a huge boost on my rankings. I believe he is still a value where he is being drafted in the 10th round, and that while his floor isn’t an all season starter, his ceiling is around WR20.
Small Winner – The last two seasons, Eddie Royal has been deceptively valuable, catching 15 touchdowns (compared to 10 total in his first 5 years in the league). He has still yet to eclipse his career best fantasy season from his rookie year. His quarterback that season? Jay Cutler. In 2008 Royal caught 91 passes for 980 yards and 5 TDs. That season just so happens to be the last (and only) time Cutler ever threw for over 4,000 yards in season (700 yards greater than his 2nd highest total, which he posted last year). I think it’s safe to say at this point in his career, Jay Cutler is not, and never will be, a great quarterback. With Trestman gone and Gase coming in, I can see a scenario where Royal (who is familiar with Gase’s offense) can finish in the WR20-25 range. This would mean him getting a chunk of Forte’s targets from last year on short passes, taking a fair share of the red zone targets left by Marshall, and Kevin White never coming back, oh and Cutler being a good QB. I agree some of these things can happen, but I don’t have much hope for all of them coming true, and so I think the WR3/4 range that Royal is currently being drafted at is about right. His value right now lies in the uncertainty of Kevin White’s return. If I was a gambling man (and I am), I would be on White missing the whole season, and so Royal does have some value at his current ADP if that is true.
The counter to this is, if somehow White does return, let’s look at Royal’s schedule to start the season:
The first half of the season doesn’t look promising and those are the games that we at least know White is guaranteed to miss. The Fantasy playoff schedule looks nice with juicy match-ups against Washington and Tampa Bay, but when we take Royal as a WR3 we expect him to start for us. My advice would be to sell high early in the season, especially if there is news White could return this year. If White is confirmed out the whole year, Royal looks like he could be a productive plug and play bench guy, especially in the fantasy playoffs, but I’m not reaching too far ahead of his 9th round ADP.