Modern-day NFL receivers are a strange thing. On the one hand, receivers are more important they’ve ever been in the history of the NFL. Between new rules that make preventing big plays more difficult than ever, the rising quality of the average NFL quarterback, and the noticeable depletion of game-changing running backs, receivers have become a vital part of every NFL team. At the same time, it doesn’t always feel like the best team in the NFL is the team with the best receiver (or core of receivers). That’s because a truly great receiver can really open the game up for his team, but he has to turn in a truly historic performance to win the game solely through his contributions. This can make valuing a wide receiver kind of difficult.
Still, 1,000 yards remains the mark that separates the receivers filling space on a roster from those who are contributing on a meaningful level. It’s a mark of excellence that a receiver doesn’t typically achieve just because they had a few pretty good games. 1,000 yards requires consistency as well as memorable performances. When guessing which receivers will hit that mark in 2018, the usual suspects like Antonio Brown and Julio Jones are named first. However, the truth of the matter is that there are very few receivers in the league who are a guaranteed 1,000 yard player. At the same time, there are receivers who will undoubtedly shock most by reaching that milestone. All told, these are the 10 NFL WRs who Won’t Reach 1,000 Yards This Season (and 10 Who Surprisingly Will).
20 Won’t - Amari Cooper
Amari Cooper is the subject of a great deal of debate amongst fantasy football nuts. Is he the talented and athletic player we saw during Cooper’s first two seasons, or was his disappointing 2017 a sign of things to come? There are strong arguments to be made both ways, but we lean a bit towards the latter.
Cooper looked lost in 2017. With more teams realizing that they must shut him down, Cooper was unable to really break free all that often.
It’s possible that he will recover in 2018, but looking at the Raiders roster, it’s clear that he doesn’t need to be that weapon.
19 Will - Pierre Garcon
Pierre Garcon’s NFL career has been a story of ups and downs. After he failed to really break out as a member of the Colts, Garcon showed off his playmaking abilities in Washington where broke the 1,000 yard mark twice. Still, there is a feeling that Garcon’s best years may be on the horizon. To be honest, we’d be stunned if 2018 isn’t a 1000 yard year for Garcon. Not only will he have an entire offseason to learn the 49ers system, but count us among those who think that Jimmy Garoppolo is going to elevate the 49ers to great heights.
18 Won’t - T.Y. Hilton
Trying to figure out what to make of the Colts is really a matter of trying to figure out what to make of Andrew Luck. Whenever Luck has played a full NFL season, he has been one of the best quarterbacks in the NFL. To be honest, that’s underselling his abilities. The problem is that Luck is coming off of a serious injury and has exhibited signs of emotional distress related to his recovery. Assuming that Luck has a down year in 2018, it is T.Y. Hilton that will suffer the most because of it. We just don’t see him overcoming what we believe will be a series of obstacles.
17 Will - Sammy Watkins
The story of Sammy Watkins is one of frustration for fans of the teams he played for and his fantasy football owners. There are times when Watkins is one of the most exciting big-play receivers in the league. There are other times when he looks like he should maybe try playing baseball.
Watkins only has one 1,000 yard season to his name, but we think his second is around the corner.
We believe that Patrick Mahomes II is going to take the NFL by storm for at least one season and that he and Watkins are going to catch a lot of defenders off-guard.
16 Won’t - A.J. Green
A. J. Green is one of the most talented receivers in the NFL and has been since he entered the league in 2011. He’s the type of guy that just about any NFL team would love to have on their roster. Unfortunately for Green, he plays for the Bengals. The Bengals aren’t the worst team in the league by any means, but what they are is a team on the decline. That’s especially true of QB Andy Dalton who may be entering his last season in Cincinnati. Put it all together, and you’ve got quite a few signs that Green is on the verge of a down year.
15 Will - Allen Hurns
Here’s a controversial pick for you. Such as it is, the Dallas Cowboys have receivers like LeBron James had stars around him in Cleveland. With Jason Witten and Dez Bryant out of Dallas, many are predicting that the Cowboys are going to have an embarrassingly bad offensive unit in 2018. However, we think that too many are overlooking what Allen Hurns brings to the team.
Granted, he’s had some bad years in Jacksonville, but the Jaguars haven’t been known as an offensive powerhouse for quite some time.
With Elliott getting most of the attention and Prescott able to get him the ball, Hurns could be in for a career year.
14 Won’t - Keenan Allen
In 2013, Keenan Allen went off for 1,046 yards. In 2017, he posted a shocking 1,393 yards stat line. Between those two seasons, Allen did a whole lot of nothing. Injuries are partially to blame for his poor performance, but there are some who will tell you that Allen is just a feast or famine kind of guy. When you look at the state of the Chargers at the moment - and factor in the increased attention Allen will get - we lean more towards the famine side of things for 2018. Allen is talented, but we’re not convinced he’s consistent enough to post back-to-back 1,000 yard seasons.
13 Will - Josh Doctson
We’ll give you that it’s a tough sell to convince anyone that a guy who has posted less than 600 total receiving yards in two NFL seasons will be able to cross the 1,000 yard mark. However, Doctson isn’t the kind of guy that you want to overlook. We know from his college days that he has the ability to do more than snag a couple of passes and call it a day. We also know that Doctson has shown promise in the NFL. Give him another full season with Alex Smith at quarterback, and we think that Doctson could prove to be the Redskins’ guy.
12 Won’t - Demaryius Thomas
You’d be a fool to deny what Demaryius Thomas has accomplished throughout his NFL career. For the vast majority of his time in the league, he has been an explosive receiver whose ability to go deep or in the middle of a pack of defenders to get the ball reminds of Antonio Brown at his best.
The problem is that Peyton Manning is no longer the Broncos quarterback. In fact, the Broncos don’t really have an overwhelmingly clear QB 1 option.
In a league where QB play is everything, we think that the Broncos struggles at the position will catch up with them - and Thomas - in 2018.
11 Will - Corey Davis
Corey Davis’ debut season was one to forget. After being snagged by the Titans with the fifth overall pick in the 2017 NFL Draft, Davis made his NFL debut and did...err...not much. However, it’s not unheard of for great wide receivers to have a weak debut season. Even Calvin Johnson had a sub-par first year. What really matters about Davis at this point in his career is his raw talent. So far as that goes, he’s got every skill needed to be a threat in the NFL. So long as him and Marcus Mariota develop a rhythm, Davis will succeed in 2018.
10 Won’t - Jordy Nelson
Any fantasy owner will tell you how frustrating it can be to draft Jordy Nelson. There are times when Nelson has a season worthy of a god, and there are times when Nelson barely shows up.
While part of Nelson’s problems can be blamed on Aaron Rodgers’ desire to spread the ball around, Nelson himself has sometimes struggled to distinguish himself against particularly tough defenders.
While Rodgers’ talent has seen him through those moments, we don’t know what Nelson we’re going to see in Oakland. Our best guess is that Nelson will take some time to adjust to a new QB and a new system.
9 Will - Marqise Lee
To be honest, there are times when we’re unsure whether or not the Jaguars’ entire offense will put up 1,000 yards in a season. While some of their struggles can be attributed to the fact that the Jaguars defense is so good that they kind of put the rest of the team in the dark, the fact is that nobody is losing sleep over having to face the team’s offense.
Still, Marqise Lee is a highlight. Famous for his football knowledge and professional attitude, Lee is also a guy who has all of the talent needed to become the Jags’ greatest weapon.
8 Won’t - Julian Edelman
Julian Edelman is one of those guys whose career can’t be told entirely through stats. That’s not to say that his stats are awful - they certainly aren’t - but rather that Edelman isn’t really the kind of receiver who is going to just explode for hundreds and hundreds of yards every season. He’s a possession guy that occasionally passed the 1,000 yard mark. Don’t expect him to achieve that this season, though. Between his upcoming suspension and Brady’s love of not having a star receiver not named Gronk, it’s almost impossible to imagine Edelman having a near-career year in 2018.
7 Will - Kelvin Benjamin
We fully admit that Kelvin Benjamin is shaping up to be a bit of a one-year wonder. Benjamin’s debut 1,008 yard season has proven to be the best of his career thus far. You can blame some of that on injuries and personnel issues, but some of that blame has to be shifted to Benjamin at least somewhat.
Now that Benjamin is no longer with Cam Newton, there are many who think he will reveal himself to be a bust in Buffalo.
Yet, the truth is that neither Benjamin or the Bills are nearly as bad as you think they are. Benjamin could surprise some people.
6 Won’t - Stefon Diggs
Stefon Diggs is a receiver on the rise. He’s a clutch receiver who has the talent needed to be a consistent playmaker in the NFL. After his phenomenal 2017 playoff performance, more than a few have him down for a 1,000-yard season in 2018. However, we wouldn’t jump on that bandwagon quite so fast. Diggs is good, but he still has a few things to learn about making space for himself against defenders. While his performance could be helped by Kirk Cousins’ arrival, it could also take Cousins a season or so to really build a relationship with Diggs.
5 Will - Allen Robinson
Allen Robinson is the other Jags receiver from recent years that many believe has potential to be a true number one wideout.
Robinson’s flashes of brilliance only translated to one stellar season in Jacksonville, but some of his struggles can be attributed to a pretty bad offense.
Granted, Chicago’s current offense isn’t that much better than Jacksonville’s was back during Robinson’s days, but the key difference between the two is that Robinson is treating his time with Chicago as the chance to begin his career in earnest. He’s determined to be the great receiver that many people want to believe he is.
4 Won’t - Mike Evans
We know you think we’re crazy. Who in their right mind would bet against a man who has managed to go over 1,000 yards in every NFL season thus far? We can’t argue that Evans has proven to be that rare combination of “beast” and “consistent” that most NFL receivers strive for.
However, there are reasons to believe that Evan’s streak will end in 2018. First off, Jameis Winston is suspended for the first few games of the year. Even if he was around, we’re not convinced that the Bucs have truly solved some of the problems they have at QB.
3 Will - Robby Anderson
At this point, Robby Anderson’s career is going to go one of two ways. Either his attitude issues and legal problems are going to come to define him, and or he is going to fail on a personal level before he realizes his full on-the-field potential? We cynically want to say that it will be the latter, but reports indicate that Anderson’s personal life is on the rebound. Those same reports suggest that the Jets offense is on the verge of truly breaking out. Put it all together, and you’ve got all the signs you need to lead you towards a possible breakout season.
2 Won’t - Odell Beckham
Speaking of personal issues, let’s talk about Odell Beckham. Thus far, Beckham has managed to rack up three season in which he went over 1,300 yards. The only season he didn’t hit the 1,000 yard was largely due to an injury. With all that, how can you possibly bet against Beckham?
First off, Beckham’s personal problems are becoming a big issue. His boisterous personality may soon lead to a suspension or a toxic locker room. Even if they don’t, you still have the Eli Manning factor to consider. Eli - and the Giants’ offense - may very well be on a steep decline. We just don’t know if Beckham has another one in him this year.
1 Will - Jarvis Landry
One of the offseason moves that didn’t draw enough attention was the Browns’ acquisition of Jarvis Landry.
In Miami, Jarvis Landry proved to be a reliable receiver with explosive potential.
While you may be tempted to doubt whether he can repeat his performances in Cleveland, you also have to remember that the Browns just drafted Baker Mayfield.
While we know that you should always be a little wary of any QB who is shaping up to be the next big thing, the Browns really are poised to blow away some teams this year that won’t see them coming. Landry is going to play a big role in their resurgence.