There was one rookie receiver selected in the first round of NFL Draft on Thursday night that made sense, and two others that were questionable. Very questionable.
Corey Davis to the Titans at No. 5 overall was a great pick. He can play right away in a receiving corps that has Rishard Matthews and several question marks, and Davis enhances the Fantasy value for Marcus Mariota, who is worth drafting as a low-end No. 1 quarterback. Davis should be the No. 1 rookie receiver this year — in Fantasy and reality.
But the Chargers made a strange selection with Mike Williams at No. 7 overall, and the Bengals also had a surprise pick with John Ross at No. 9. That helps Philip Rivers and Andy Dalton, respectively, but we don’t expect Williams and Ross to make a big impact this year.
Davis, however, should be considered a No. 3 Fantasy receiver in seasonal leagues, and he’s worth drafting with a mid-round pick. He’s a slam dunk first-round pick in rookie-only drafts.
In his final season at Western Michigan last year, Davis had 97 catches for 1,500 yards and 19 touchdowns. He had three-consecutive seasons of at least 78 catches, 1,400 yards and 12 touchdowns, and he might be the Titans best receiver this year.
Matthews played well in that role last year with 65 catches for 945 yards and nine touchdowns on 108 targets, and he was the No. 12 Fantasy receiver in standard leagues. But he’s better off as a No. 2 option in this offense, and his Fantasy value is lower with Davis on the roster. Matthews is now just a No. 3 Fantasy receiver worth drafting with a mid-round pick.
As for Mariota, he benefits greatly with this move, and he’s worth drafting with a mid- to late-round pick in all leagues. It’s nice to see Mariota get more help and continue to develop this season.
Rivers also gets better with the addition of Williams, and the Chargers receiving corps is now exceptional. Keenan Allen is expected to return for the start of the season from last year’s torn ACL, Tyrell Williams had a big year in 2016 and the tight ends are great with Hunter Henry and Antonio Gates.
Rivers was already a low-end No. 1 Fantasy quarterback worth drafting with a late-round pick, and the addition of Mike Williams now solidifies that. He’s one of the best quarterbacks to wait for on Draft Day given his upside.
So where does Mike Williams fit in? He could be insurance for Allen this year if he suffers a setback with his knee, or maybe new coach Anthony Lynn isn’t sold on Tyrell Williams as a starter.
Either way, if everyone is healthy, this is a crowded receiving corps with a lot of mouths to feed, and that hurts Mike Williams as a rookie even though he had 98 catches for 1,361 yards and 11 touchdowns last year at Clemson. He’s only worth a late-round flier in seasonal leagues, but he remains a first-round pick in rookie-only formats.
Allen now goes from a No. 2 Fantasy receiver to a borderline starter, and he should be drafted in Round 6 in standard leagues and Round 5 in PPR. And Tyrell Williams drops to a low-end No. 3 Fantasy receiver at best with a mid- to late-round pick.
As you can tell, I’m not happy with Mike Williams going to Los Angeles. He would have been better with another team, and the Chargers would have been better trying to fix their defense.
The Bengals are in the same situation as the Chargers, and going with defense would have made more sense instead of drafting Ross, who had 81 catches for 1,150 yards and 17 touchdowns last year at Washington. Yes, he brings speed to the offense, but the Bengals didn’t have a glaring need at receiver with A.J. Green, Tyler Boyd and Brandon LaFell, as well as tight end Tyler Eifert.
There will be some big plays for Ross this year, but he’s not going to be a reliable Fantasy option in seasonal leagues, so you should only target him with a late-round pick. He’s still a potential first-round pick in rookie-only drafts, but we’ll see how the rest of the rookies stack up.
Dalton’s Fantasy value improves with the addition of Ross, but Dalton is just a high-end No. 2 Fantasy quarterback. He’s a great streaming option during the year.
Green remains a high-end No. 1 Fantasy receiver, but Boyd and LaFell aren’t worth drafting in most formats with the addition of Ross. Boyd was the one we were hoping to see improve in his sophomore campaign, but that will be hard now with Ross on the roster.