by Eric Stashin (aka The Rotoprofessor)
It wasn’t a surprise that the Denver Broncos decided to deal Demaryius Thomas at the deadline, nor was it a surprise that the Houston Texans were in the market for a wide receiver following the injury to Will Fuller. The question now facing fantasy owners is the impact the move has on the outlook not just for Thomas, but Keke Coutee and Courtland Sutton as well. Let’s take a look:
Thomas gets an upgrade in quarterback, going from Case Keenum to Deshaun Watson, though you have to wonder how much of an impact that will have. Thomas has watched his production consistently decline in recent years, as his yards/reception continue to drop:
- 2013 – 15.5
- 2014 – 14.6
- 2015 – 12.4
- 2016 – 12.0
- 2017 – 11.4
- 2018 – 11.2
He should provide a solid, chain moving target but how much production will that really lead to? He belongs on the WR3 spectrum, but until we get a better idea of his usage moving forward he’s going to remain a questionable option
Outlook – Potential WR3 moving forward
When Will Fuller went down to injury the assumption was that Coutee was going to get an opportunity to fill the void. Obviously he needs to get healthy and the addition of Thomas throws a monkey wrench into those plans… Or does the latter have a huge impact?
Remember, before Will Fuller was hurt Coutee had been the better performer when both were on the field from September 30 – October 14:
- Coutee – 20 receptions (27 targets), 193 yards, 1 TD
- Fuller – 8 receptions (11 targets), 97 yards, 1 TD
It’s possible Coutee starts to be utilized in a more “big play” role, something that was actually expected from him when he was drafted. As NFL.com described him:
Lanky speed merchant with an ability to take the top off of a defense as well as handle the nickel and dime action underneath. Coutee’s lack of route experience and play strength could lead to a bumpy initial season, but his ability to separate both vertically and out of his breaks should make him a coveted slot target capable of adding chunk plays to an offense or return game in need of some juice.
Keep that in mind, though with Fuller showing what’s possible in that role Coutee needs to remain on radars. For now he’s a WR3, but the potential is there to develop into a WR2.
Outlook – Remains potential WR3/FLEX, with WR2 upside
Sutton is obviously going to step into the void left behind from Thomas’ departure. Thus far Sutton has been used primarily in a big play role, averaging 19.1 yards/reception. There are now 56 targets up for grabs, and while they all won’t be siphoned in Sutton’s direction (Devontae Booker, Phillip Lindsay and Jeff Heurman should also see a bump in opportunities) it’s fair to expect that he will see a similar workload (about 7 targets per game).
Selected 40th overall, at the time of being selected it appeared Sutton was destined to eventually take the Thomas role. As NFL.com described him:
Sutton is a possession receiver who has the size and toughness to handle a heavier target load if necessary, but he will need to improve as a route runner because his play speed and separation is nothing special. Sutton’s ability to win in contested catch situations could get him early playing time as a second or third receiver, but he may not have the explosiveness to ever become a top-flight WR1.
With Emmanuel Sanders lining up across from him, look for Sutton to emerge as a viable WR3 immediately.
Outlook – Viable WR3 immediately
Sources – ESPN, NFL.com
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