by Eric Stashin (aka The Rotoprofessor)
When you are selecting a player with your first few picks it’s alright to take a little bit of a risk, as long as it’s within reason. If you completely whiff you are putting yourself in a hole that you may not be able to overcome. Which wide receivers carry too much risk to warrant their current ADP? Let’s take a look:
T.Y. Hilton – Indianapolis Colts
Average ADP – 33.8 (WR13)
Hilton is coming off a disastrous 2017, turning 107 targets into 57 receptions, 966 yards and 4 TD. It’s his second relatively poor year in the past three, both coinciding with time missed from Andrew Luck:
- 2015 – 69 receptions, 1,124 yards and 5 TD
- 2016 – 91 receptions, 1,448 yards and 6 TD
- 2017 – 57 receptions, 966 yards and 4 TD
While it appears that Luck will be back for the season, does anyone believe that he’s going to be the same player he once was? If Hilton needs a healthy Luck to be productive, making that bet seems like a bad one.
A boom or bust receiver, taking him as a borderline WR1 (and using a third round pick) is far too big of a gamble.
JuJu Smith-Schuster – Pittsburgh Steelers
Average ADP – 44.0 (WR19)
It was a big rookie season for the second round pick, who had 58 receptions for 917 yards and 7 TD in just 14 games. With Martavis Bryant jettisoned in the offseason it appears that Smith-Schuster is locked in as the team’s starter across from Antonio Brown. Of course how many more opportunities can we really expect for what will be the team’s third option (behind Brown and Le’Veon Bell)? Just look at the targets awarded to the third option in recent years:
- 2014 – Heath Miller – 88
- 2015 – Martavis Bryant – 92 (Bell only had 26 in 6 games)
- 2016 – Eli Rogers – 66
- 2017 – Martavis Bryant – 84
It’s easy to say that Bryant’s departure will lead to more opportunities, but Smith-Schuster already had 80 so expecting an increase of more than 10-15 targets would be misguided. Remember the team spent a second round pick on James Washington to help fill the gap and also have Justin Hunter and Darius Heyward-Bey.
Smith-Schuster’s value is going to be tied to his ability to find the end zone, and spending a fourth round pick to bank on that is a mistake.
Amari Cooper – Oakland Raiders
Average ADP – 37.8 (WR15)
This feels like a selection based on the hype, as opposed to the production. Could Cooper live up to a borderline third round selection? Absolutely, but what in his numbers indicate that it’s a given? Just look at his first three years:
- 2015 – 72 receptions for 1,070 yards and 6 TD
- 2016 – 83 receptions for 1,153 yards and 5 TD
- 2017 – 48 receptions for 680 yards and 7 TD
He only played in 14 games last season, though that’s not enough to justify the poor production. How about the departure of Michael Crabtree? He was replaced by Jordy Nelson and Martavis Bryant, so you can argue that there will be more competition for targets and not less.
There’s potential, and if his draft day cost falls he’ll be worth it. At this price, though, there’s too much risk and not enough upside.
Sources – ESPN, NFL.com