Fall is nearly here and with it comes something to which many Americans look forward each year-- football! This season is sure to be an interesting one, particularly when one looks at the team's receivers.
Receivers in the NFL are often interchangeable in terms of their depth position. There are always younger, and fresher ball players coming to the league looking to make an impact. Last season brought a lot of talent to the league, as well as receivers who struggled to maintain their prime abilities in past seasons. This list is compiled of 16 players who are either primed for a good season, or could be headed towards a decline, maybe even the bench. This is not to say that every player who has an offseason in 2016 won't revamp their career, but it is not a given in today's league. Starting jobs are lost as easily as they are gained in a fast paced football league like the NFL.
This is NFL 2016: 8 Receivers On The Rise and 8 On The Decline. This should be interesting.
As always, feel free to leave comments voicing your opinions. We are always interested in getting your take on all things sports.
16 Rise: Mohamed Sanu
In the Falcons offense, Sanu could be a good option for Matt Ryan. Since Julio Jones will always be heavily covered by all teams, Sanu could be a good dump option, since he isn't really supposed to be a monster on the field. I liked how he played in a Bengals uniform to begin his career, and I think he is just beginning to be a threat in the NFL. He is no Julio Jones, nor is he a Roddy White doppelganger physically, but he is athletic and speedy. Sanu has a good opportunity to light it up in Atlanta as the #2 receiver, since there really isn't another option, save for Julio.
Devin Hester is now gone, which should open up even more opportunities for Sanu.
If I am Matt Ryan, I am doing my best to incorporate Sanu into this offense, and teach him the ins and outs of Falcon football. With Devonta Freeman at running back, Ryan at QB, Julio at WR1, and Sanu at WR2, this team could earn a playoff berth. Their defense is a little shaky, but that can be fixed. Without Sanu as an option, Julio will still score often, but the Falcons would be very limited. This Atlanta team could be alright this season, but we will see how it works out.
15 Decline: Golden Tate
I see why some people are a fan of this guy. Two years ago, he had a really good year. Last year, he still managed 90 receptions, but his yards-per-catch was down significantly. It wasn't really his fault necessarily, but with Calvin Johnson back, his game seemed to be different. He was either really heavily covered, or struggled with a different offensive approach centered around Johnson. This year, he will be the number one guy, but I still am not confident in his abilities just yet. His six touchdowns a year ago and 813 yards were not quite as good as his stats from two years ago. In 2014, he had 99 receptions, 1,331 yards and four touchdowns. Though he had two more touchdowns the last year, this is expected. Coming off a big year, the man is bound to get a lot of targets.
I don't see Matthew Stafford getting any better nor worse then he currently is. He has a big arm, but that is not his problem in the NFL. Stafford is inaccurate with his throws and often sacked due to the Lions sub par offensive line. Detroit has problems offensively, especially with Ameer Abdullah, who tends to fumble every time he graces the football.
14 Rise: Kamar Aiken
Aiken, not the number one receiver over in Baltimore, could learn a lot from the veteran Steve Smith this upcoming season. He did well the last two seasons for Baltimore, and totaled eight touchdowns on 99 receptions. Since Torrey Smith is no longer on the team and Steve Smith is aging, Aiken could get big playing time this season. As long as shaky Joe Flacco can hit Aiken in the open field, I like this team's chances of using him well. He isn't the fastest guy on the field, but he can get physical. Kamar is guaranteed to be in Baltimore for at least another year, but if he has a breakout year, they could give him a big contract. I don't expect an insane season where he dominates offensively, but I do see his stock value on the rise. Also, he was a good fantasy football option last season; he was on my team.
The Central Florida graduate went undrafted in 2011, but coaches will be cursing themselves by missing his raw talent. It did take a little bit for him to get going, but his career can only go up at this point from where be began in Chicago.
13 Decline: John Brown
Brown had a good year last season, which was also a product of Larry Fitzgerald dominating for the Cardinals. He had seven touchdowns, which obviously meant more targets for Larry, and less for other receivers. Brown didn't have a bad season, and that probably needs to be established. He had 65 receptions and 7 touchdowns. He is no stud, but he is a very useful player. I personally would pass on him this season for fantasy purposes. I think Arizona has a lot going for them, and I don't see him really in that picture. Michael Floyd is better than him, and Fitzgerald gets majority targets per usual. David Johnson is primed for a great year at running back as well.
The Cardinals have a lot going for them, and Brown could be a productive piece in this offense. My personal belief is that he won't have such a great year, as he reminds me of plenty of other receivers who were short and fast, and productive for two or three seasons. He's a speedy player, but a person who is good in the long-term is someone like Michael Floyd, who has more height and strength then Brown. We shall see for this guy.
12 Rise: Kelvin Benjamin
After missing the past season with a brutal injury, Benjamin will be back better than ever. He and Cam Newton connected nicely on the field back in 2014. Benjamin has a lot of raw skill that isn't an automatic for receivers nowadays. He has a high vertical jump, and is quick down the field. He was upset to have missed the entire season, especially when the team had a breakout season. He was even more upset when the Panthers lost the Super Bowl. Benjamin is ready to get back on the field and silence the haters.
The 6'5 Florida State prodigy is set up for a great year, as the Carolina team is stacked once again. Their defense, run by Luke Keuchly, should be very sharp. Their offense, led by none other than Cam Newton, should be able to get Kelvin right back into the offense, to show him what he has missed. He missed greatness in 2015, but he could be the missing piece in 2016 that brings Carolina the Super Bowl.
11 Decline: Emmanuel Sanders
I'm really not so sure about Sanders anymore. He was a stud two seasons ago with Peyton Manning, and electric in the Broncos offense. Without the legend, the Broncos will face obstacles. I'm confident in Demaryius Thomas at receiver because I think he is naturally going to be good anywhere he goes. Sanders, on the other hand, only got good in Denver, probably because the man throwing him the ball was a future Hall of Famer. Not to say that Big Ben isn't close to as good as Manning, but Sanders was also in a different offense in Pittsburgh.
Sanders (in my opinion) will have a slightly above average year with Denver, but not a spectacular showing like he formerly gave fans. I hate to say it but without Manning, his career could take a major change for the worst. It is important not to forget the raw skill he has, and the speed he possesses, but all of these physical descriptions were made public by a great quarterback, and a strong o-line. The Broncos continue to have a good offensive line, so hopefully they can get Sanders the ball conveniently, or in basic terms, give the quarterback time to feed him the pigskin.
10 Rise: Sammie Coates
With Big Ben in good condition, Sammy Coates will be a healthy option for the guy. Antonio Brown should tear it up this season, but he will be heavily covered. As Brown gets doubled or even triple teamed, Coates will emerge as a safe-haven number two receiver. I suggest grabbing him in fantasy this year in your late round draft because he has the potential to put up numbers. He's a fast and agile guy who can make good cuts. Coates will be in the spotlight this season and someone to be watched for sure. I already had a fantasy draft, and he is on my bench. The Auburn grad could be influential this season, since all eyes are on Antonio Brown, especially in the fantasy football world.
The Steelers have a solid O-line this year, so Big Ben should have heaps of time to dump the ball out just in case their plays don't structure correctly. With Le'Veon Bell missing some games, this team will be balanced regardless. DeAngelo Williams was good last season, and will provide stability to this roster when Bell is unavailable to go. Look for Coates in your fantasy football drafts.
9 Decline: Randall Cobb
Honestly, I'm not a big Randall Cobb believer. I understand his history in Green Bay. Cobb and Rodgers have connected countless times for scores, but these moments are not going to occur as frequently anymore. With Jordy Nelson nursed back to health, he will be central to the Packers passing attack. Cobb will get a solid amount of targets, but I feel like he hasn't been running as good as he once did. He had a down year last season compared to past years. With Davante Adams making strides in preseason, he reminds me so much of Cobb. The two are more similar then people would think.
The Packers are going to focus on Eddie Lacy a lot, as he has lost weight, which will benefit the team notably. Cobb will not have an awful year, but to me, his value peaked a couple years ago. He is still fast and agile while running routes, but I don't see him being a stud this season. Cobb's shoulder is also being nursed to health, which I'm sure will contribute to his game play.
8 Rise: Rishard Matthews
As the Titans are without a clear number one receiver, Matthews has an opportunity to make a big impact. He's a quick wide out who wasn't in much of a good position in Miami for the Dolphins. Now a top receiver on the depth chart, he will get a solid amount of looks from Mariota along with Delanie Walker. Walker is a veteran tight end who cannot fill the role of receiver in which he has been forced the past couple of years. With him aging, there is some new light on Matthews, who appears to be training well in preseason.
If Marcus Mariota can get this guy the ball, Matthews could emerge as a strong option. He is currently a very low fantasy pick this season, which only makes it better for his cause. Take a chance with your last or second to last pick on him because he has a hefty workload ahead of him this football season. The Titans offense is weak, so I don't see why he wouldn't be the number two option behind Delanie Walker. Rishard Matthews could be in for a good season, if he correctly learns the offense and coaching staff's goals.
7 Decline: DeVante Parker
Parker will be stepping into a bigger role than he had in the previous season. He has some health issues and appears to have some trouble staying healthy in preseason. While being hurt, he has missed meaningful practices, which are actually vital to him developing chemistry with Ryan Tannehill. I think Parker has the potential to be a good option for the Dolphins in two or three seasons, but for right now, I don't see him being a major threat in Miami. It would be different if he did something last year, but he was pretty much irrelevant in the Dolphins' offensive approach in 2015.
His stock is up in fantasy football, but I don't really buy into the hype. The Louisville graduate isn't ready for the kind of big adjustment in his role in my opinion. Some believe he can be as good as Amari Cooper, but for right now, I'll take Cooper any day. The guy is playing ahead of Kenny Stills this year, so Miami is hoping for him to mold into a good WR2. They are confident with Jarvis Landry, as they should be. Landry is fast, and has a lot of upside in his favor.
6 Rise: Amari Cooper
Cooper and Derek Carr have already proven a lot together. They have a chemistry that works, and obviously the two are very high caliber football players. Cooper has emerged as one of the league's best receivers within a short period of time. He is strong and mobile on the field. He runs routes accordingly, and has a solid wingspan. It should be no shocker to anyone that he is poised for a good season, especially when taking into account his stats from last season. Cooper is worth a high round pick in fantasy football, as the Raiders' offense gets increasingly more likable.
Once a boring and sluggish roster, the Raiders are emerging as a potential playoff team. With Michael Crabtree as a second receiver, the team did solid last season. The team also found a running back in Latavius Murray, who had a good year until injury in 2015. Cooper is someone who makes a difference on the field for his team. There were questions on his status coming into the NFL, all of which have been answered by his abilities. He may not be a top five receiver right now, but in two or three years, he may be that good. Look for this guy on top of the stats board on NFL.com; he will be there this season.
5 Decline: Sterling Shepard
Don't just jump on the Shepard train because he is a new and fresh receiver in the league. I think it may take some time for him to really develop. He will be operating behind Odell Beckham, which could mean plenty of targets. The 2nd round selection is a bit short. At 5'10", he will be outmatched plenty by defenders and bodied. Route running is not an issue for Sterling. He is noted to be speedy in the slot, and good in that spot offensively. There are questions regarding his strength and body endurance. He gets trapped easily from cornerbacks pressing against him defensively.
He is comparable to Tyler Lockett, probably because of his body type. I'm not sold on Shepard just yet, but I think he has some upside. I like short guys in the NFL, as they can move around nicely through the offense. I don't see Sterling ever being a star in the NFL. He's merely another rookie who may or may not remain as a role player on teams moving forward. Someone like him who truly developed would be DeSean Jackson. Jackson worked really hard in the pros, and it honestly paid off. He was obviously once a bigger star then he is now, but he has earned respect as a speedy wide out. Shepard can be like Jackson, but only if he works hard and develops the ability to do so.
4 Rise: Jordan Matthews
He had a rough year last year, but I think he has the opportunity to turn over a new leaf. With Carson Wentz in the city of brotherly love, Matthews could be a workhorse. The Eagles have had quarterback trouble, and if those problems are solved, Jordan could be in for a good season. He had another issue last season too, though. He had trouble retaining balls thrown to him, but he had an entire year to train. With a new offense, I like his chances of having a bounce-back year. I wouldn't take him so high this season in fantasy football, but don't feel nervous using a mid-round selection on the guy.
Don't forget the season he had two seasons ago, which was the reason he thrust into a leadership position in Philadelphia. Under new coaching, the Eagles should look to hit this guy on the run frequently. Sure, the Eagles won't automatically click with a new staff, but in time, they will adjust. With a solid but not great option at halfback, throwing the ball should be a major concern for this Eagles team. In the past, this city has relied, or at least expected to rely, on the running game (Westbrook, McCoy, Murray). Now the wide receivers will be the first option in this offense, and Matthews should be the number one guy.
3 Decline: Brandin Cooks
I loved Brandin Cooks his rookie season, and I still am a big fan. It is not him who will cause his down year, in my opinion, but his quarterback. Drew Brees isn't the same QB he once was, which everyone should know by now. He has aged substantially and throws interceptions much too often. Cooks had a little trouble getting open last year, and being the number one receiver wasn't so easy for him in his second year. With Colston out of the picture, Cooks is now in the spotlight. He is supposed to be the guy. I hate to say it, but I don't see him being the number one receiver on a team. To me, he is more of a number two guy who works in the slot.
The reason he was so successful in his rookie season was because he was overlooked. He may not be overlooked now, but if the Saints can bring in a veteran wide out for the one slot, things could open up for Cooks. He may get more space down the field for mid-range, or long passes. His fantasy draft stock continues to rise, but I do not buy into it because of his current situation. To me, Cooks is seriously better as a number two receiver, not number one.
2 Rise: Keenan Allen
Expect a major year out of this guy. Allen was tearing it up until he got injured last season. The guy is a stud. Back on track and healthier then ever, Keenan Allen looks to rebound from a rough finish last season. With a confident offense, and stealthy Philip Rivers under center, Keenan should be up for another successful year. If he can remain in good shape, I imagine he will connect for a lot of scores, as will Antonio Gates. The Chargers will rely heavily on his speed, and with a new Travis Benjamin in town, they have another option to look for in the passing game. Their run game is not spectacular. Melvin Gordon is not looking so hot in preseason, but the team likes him and will stick with his game.
Look for Keenan Allen in your fantasy football drafts, as I'm sure he is already a name you have been contemplating. He brings a lot to the table with his strength and ball-carrying abilities after the pass. With juice still left in the tank, Allen will be at the forefront of this average San Diego offensive attack. He recently got $200 million guaranteed with four years in his contract. He is 24 years old, with more to prove in this league.
1 Decline: Corey Coleman
Being the number one receiver in the NFL must be odd for Corey. He has proven nothing as of yet, and his status at one is questionable. Of course, Josh Gordon is suspended once again to start the season. Even with Gordon presumably returning later this season, Corey doesn't seem like an impact player to me. The Browns lack a solid quarterback, and I am not confident in Robert Griffin at all. The Browns have a boring team, and not much skill. I expect them to be one of the worst teams in the NFL this season. Josh McCown could be coming back to start for the Browns soon if RG3 can't return to his old self.
The Browns appear to be excited about Terrell Pryor at receiver, and frankly, I like him over Corey. Pryor appears to be killing it in preseason, and might be an awesome option downfield for them.
Corey is a little frail at just 185 pounds. Though he is 5'11", I feel like this is light. Coleman just doesn't seem like a miracle story for me in a Browns uniform.
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