Fantasy Football

2016 NFL Draft Recap: Wide Receivers-Tight Ends

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2016 NFL Draft Recap

2016 NFL Draft Recap

Credit: Rockin Rita

With the proliferation of the passing game in today’s NFL, wide receivers and tight ends are becoming more and more important in the NFL and fantasy football. Receivers of all sizes and speeds can carve out a meaningful role in this new era of aerial attacks. Wide receivers are the new bell cows.2016 NFL Draft Recap

Players like Antonio Brown and Julio Jones are consistently being thrown to 10+ times per game. Gone are the days of mauling tight ends who stay in-line and block.

Most teams instead look for athletic vertical threats who can stretch defenses and create mismatches with linebackers who are too slow and safeties who are too small.

Other positions need more time than wide receivers…

As Richard Savill covered in his 2016 NFL Draft Recap: Quarterbacks column, it is more helpful to consider rookie quarterbacks through a dynasty lens rather than as redraft prospects. This is due to the propensity for rookie quarterbacks to struggle with NFL defenses and consistency in the first year. However, talented rookie wide receivers can have success as demonstrated by Odell Beckham Jr in 2014 and Amari Cooper in 2015. While this draft may lack these types of uber-talented studs, there is still a lot of depth at the position, with seven receivers taken in the first two rounds.

Meanwhile, tight ends face the same problems as quarterbacks. There is usually a steep learning curve for rookie tight ends because they must learn difficult route concepts on top of complex blocking schemes. This relegates even the most talented rookie tight ends (excluding our lord and saviour Gronk) to backup and complementary roles in their first year. However, there were a handful of talented prospects this year.

2016 NFL Draft Recap: Wide Receivers and Tight Ends

Corey Coleman, Cleveland Browns

Coleman was the first wide receiver off the board in this year’s draft. He has drawn Odell Beckham Jr. comparisons not only because of their similar stature and athleticism, but also his impressive playmaking ability. The 2015 Beliknikoff Winner (given annually to college football’s best wide receiver) is a threat to take it to the house every play with his 4.40 speed.

Walks in as essentially the top target

Coleman will walk into Browns’ training camp as their number one offensive weapon and new head coach Hue Jackson knows it. Whether it is Robert Griffin III or Cody Kessler who wins the starting position, Coleman will likely see the lion’s share of targets.

Will Fuller, Houston Texans

The Texans took Fuller at pick number 21 to start a run of three straight wide receivers taken in the first round. Fuller is a downfield burner, with legit 4.32 speed that shows on tape. That kind of speed kills, but Fuller is going to be more valuable to the Texans than to your fantasy team.

Hopkins in front and rushing game hinders value

He will have the occasional box score explosion when he scores a long touchdown, but will ultimately be too inconsistent to rely upon. Not only is his boom-or-bust type game extremely frustrating for weekly fantasy owners, he will clearly take a backseat to DeAndre Hopkins and a high volume rushing attack.

Josh Doctson, Washington

Doctson is a big time playmaker with a huge catch radius and at 6′ 2″, 202 pounds, Jay Gruden has compared him to A.J. Green, who he coached in Cincinnati. If Gruden envisions him as that type of a receiver, Doctson could make an impact early and could pay off for dynasty owners.

Too many targets in DC?

In the meantime, Doctson’s fantasy upside is limited by the number of mouths there are to feed in the Washington offense.

Doctson will be competing with proven vets in Desean Jackson, Pierre Garcon, Jamison Crowder, and Jordan Reed.

Laquon Treadwell, Minnesota Vikings

Treadwell is not the fastest prospect who has graced the NFL, but he has size, dominant ball skills, and is physical at the point of the catch. Anquan Boldin comparisons are apt and he should mesh well with Teddy Bridgewater. Bridgewater needs a possession type receiver who can win the 50/50 balls he tends to throw. He should step in immediately across from Stefon Diggs. Unfortunately, as long as Adrian Peterson is wearing a purple and gold 28 jersey, the Vikings will be a run first team and the consistent volume might not be there.

Sterling Shepard, New York Giants

The first receiver taken outside of the first round, Shepard is a sterling route runner who has drawn comparisons to Randall Cobb. Coincidentally (or not), new head coach Ben McAdoo was a former offensive assistant coach for the Green Bay Packers and the Giants run many of the same concepts. With Reuben Randle leaving and Victor Cruz’s status forever up in the air since his devastating knee injury, Shepard will have the opportunity to step right into a prominent role in a high powered offense.

Michael Thomas, New Orleans Saints

Thomas is not the most explosive athlete, but he has exceptional ball skills (only 5 drops in his last two years) and can get himself open with his technique. He falls into an ideal fantasy situation in New Orleans where Drew Brees will make sure his receivers have fantasy value. Willie Snead was impressive last year, but is not as talented as Thomas. Thomas should replace Colston in the Saints’ offense and have a sizeable role as a rookie.

Tyler Boyd, Cincinnati Bengals

Boyd is even less athletic than Thomas, but gets open consistently and has very consistent hands. Also like Thomas, Boyd is stepping into an offense that has plenty of targets to replace. The Bengals lost both their number two and three receivers to free agency and Boyd is already the early favorite to soak up those targets.

Tight Ends

Hunter Henry, San Diego Chargers

Henry, a second-round pick, is a sure-handed pass-catcher (no drops as a junior) with above average athleticism. He is a prototypical tight end who measures 6′ 5″, 250 pounds and was the 2015 Mackey Award winner (given to the nation’s best tight end). He follows in Ladarius Green’s footsteps as Antonio Gates’ heir apparent.

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Rivers welcomes this pick

While Philip Rivers has already come out and said he hopes Henry will be able to contribute immediately, history tells us this is unlikely. Not only do rookie tight ends face a longer transition period to the pro game, but Gates has proven he can continue to be a factor no matter how old or slow he is.

Austin Hooper, Atlanta Falcons

The Falcons haven’t addressed the tight end position since Tony Gonzalez retired in 2013. They finally do so by grabbing Hooper in the third round. Hooper should immediately be an upgrade on Jacob Tamme, who had a solid year in 2015. Hooper is an inch shorter than Henry and has worse hands, but is more athletic and a better blocker. The Falcons will hope that Hooper will be a big target in the middle of the field and the red zone to complement Julio Jones and Devonta Freeman.

About Kevin Huo

Kevin is a fantasy football writer for Fantasy Six Pack. He considers every angle - whether statistical or theoretical - when weighing his options and isn't afraid to be a contrarian. You can follow him on Twitter: @KevinH_F6P

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