In a league that has seen the team average in pass attempts per game increase from 30.2 in 1990, to 32.9 in 2000, to 33.7 in 2010, and most recently 35.7 in 2015, the importance of pass catchers league-wide has followed suit. One of the most invigorating aspects of constructing and maintaining an above average dynasty team is the offseason evaluation of your current roster and where to go next. Channeling your inner Nostradamus and predicting the decline of aging players or those that may see a regression in years to come becomes a science that can always be improved. Cultivating a balance of youth and experience can keep your dynasty squad winning for years to come. Picking through team depth charts, watching players develop and monitoring salary cap and free agency situations makes WR the most fluid and debatable in my opinion. There are plenty of ways to attack the receiver position. Here are some of my favorite WR trade targets to acquire in a dynasty perspective as we wait for the 2016 NFL Draft.
Kevin Steele’s Dynasty RB Trade Targets
Breshad Perriman, BAL – age (22) – 6’2″, 218 lbs.
Many fantasy owners took huge stock into the 2015 WR class after 2014’s hit the world by storm, producing 10 rookie wide receivers inside the top 50 at the position in fantasy points. 2015 saw just three (Cooper/Lockett/Diggs), but I’m sure we can all agree that it would have been more if some had more of an opportunity, or even played at all. The 26th pick in the draft, Perriman has become a slight afterthought due to missing his entire rookie season with a partially torn PCL. Was the hype train backed for good reason, or was his outlook simply a mirage created by the 2014 recency bias? Let’s take a look at the facts, and what Perriman owners could potentially see in the future.
As you can see, albeit with some absolutely great receivers, Marc Trestman offenses have produced 125+ target #1 AND #2 WRs half of the time. The #1 WR has reached 140+ targets six out of eight years under Trestman since 1998. In 2015 only 12 receivers reached the 140 target mark. Steve Smith is set to come back for one last run and Kamar Aiken will be a free agent in 2017. That sets the table for Perriman to take over a massive target share, even if Aiken receives a new contract. Perriman’s sub-4.3 speed complements Joe Flacco’s arm very well, and it wouldn’t be surprising to see him near the tops in the league in yards per reception (20.9 Y/R – 2014, 6th in FBS).
Yes, BP has yet to take a single NFL snap. Yes, he’s coming off a significant knee injury. Yes, he needs to avoid a carryover of his poor college drop rate. That’s not going to keep me from trying to get the UCF product on the cheap while the time is ripe.
Brandon Coleman, NO – age (23) – 6’6″, 220 lbs.
Heading into 2015 many fantasy owners looked at the Saints new passing attack and immediately took notice of 6’6″ Brandon Coleman. The Saints had just pulled the trigger on dumping Jimmy Graham’s contract to the Seahawks, leaving the remaining cast as either unproven or fossilized. Now that Marques Colton has moved on, the Saints receiving corps shine a much more youthful look.
After signing C.J. Spiller and re-upping Mark Ingram, the consensus was that the Saints would turn to the running game to alleviate some of the pressure on their sub-par defense. That proved to be the opposite, as the Saints stuck with what they’ve done for years, tying for the 2nd most pass attempts in the league (667). That style of offense bodes well for Coleman’s future outlook, even though he may enter 2016 3rd on the Saints depth chart. Oft-forgotten Browns castaway Willie Snead put up a solid year in his first full campaign, but it wouldn’t surprise me to see Coleman finally gain some significant traction going forward. With Benjamin Watson on his way out, it leaves Coleman and RFA TE Josh Hill as the only sizable options for Brees to lean on in the red zone.
As the #4 receiver Coleman still saw the field 37.1% of the time, while Colston registered almost 50% of the snaps. That number will certainly increase even if he can’t surpass Snead right away. Physically, Coleman already looks like Colston’s duplicate, but can he double down and put up similar production to that of what we became accustomed to seeing from Colston over the years? That remains to be seen. I’m more than willing to take a gamble on a guy like Coleman who possesses rare size, on a team that historically airs the ball out. Add that to Willie Snead’s unexpected 2015, and you have a guy that many are sleeping on.
*Update* The Saints brought in TE Coby Fleener on a five year deal for a considerably large sum of money. The future outlook for Coleman remains the same, as he’ll still work in on three WR sets, and have an opportunity to eat into Willie Snead’s snaps.
Tyler Lockett, SEA – age (23) – 5’10”, 182 lbs.
The 2015 WR class may not have fully lived up to expectations, but one in particular that turned in a solid rookie showing was Lockett. Many outsiders were under the notion that Lockett was primarily drafted to be utilized specifically for his punt and kick return capabilities. How does that make any sense? The Seahawks made a huge jump up from the late 3rd round (No. 95) to select Lockett with the 69th pick. There’s no chance in hell that a team would dish picks 95, 112, 167 and 181 to select a return specialist. The Seahawks obviously have bigger plans for him.
Right off the bat Lockett proved his worth on special teams, but the road to succeeding as a receiver in Seattle’s run-first offense proved to be steep initially. Lockett made huge strides in Seattle’s offense as his role became more clear, indicated below:
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Lockett put up WR22 numbers from week 10 and on while basically drawing a similar target share as Jermaine Kearse. The free agent wide receiver class is incredibly weak, and with many teams holding an ridiculous amount of cap space, it’s nearly a guarantee that Kearse will move on to another team. That leaves Doug Baldwin and Tyler Lockett as the primary receiving options in the passing game. The Seahawks also spent a 2nd round pick on Paul Richardson in the 2014 draft, but he has shown an inability to stay healthy. Jimmy Graham’s patellar tendon injury is still a question mark heading into 2016, as well as whether or not the Seahawks will actually cut him. GM John Schneider has noted that the Seahawks plan to keep Graham around despite his nine million dollar cap hit. None of that includes dead money, so it’s definitely a situation to monitor and try to project as we progress. I fully expect Lockett to sit around a 75% snap share and approach 100 targets in 2016. I suggest looking to acquire Lockett in dynasty leagues everywhere while some owners sleep on the fact that Seattle will continue opening up the playbook for Russell Wilson.
*Update* The market must have completely swept Kearse aside, as he signed a three year deal to remain with Seattle. This may slow the process for Lockett’s full breakout, but if anything it’s another selling point to his owner that his offensive involvement isn’t what it was prior to free agency.
Justin Hardy, ATL – age (24) – 5’10”, 192 lbs.
“Finally, about damn time!” were the words shouted from rooftops everywhere when the Falcons finally pulled the plug on Roddy White’s lingering and unpleasant ending in Atlanta. Now that White and Leonard Hankerson are out of the picture the Falcons are ridiculously thin at WR. It wouldn’t be surprising to see the team add a wide receiver via free agency or the draft, but for the time being, it appears that Justin Hardy is in a good spot to get a major share of Kyle Shanahan’s offense behind Julio Jones. Outside of Jones the Falcons have a miserable set of weapons for Matt Ryan. Jacob Tamme is an unimpressive veteran tight end, and veteran receivers Devin Hester and Eric Weems bring in the rear. Those names alone prove my point. Hardy wasn’t able to turn in much of a rookie campaign while only playing 29.6% of the snaps and missing five games due to injury. Although the Falcons offense will run adamantly through Julio and Devonta Freeman, I like Hardy as a player that could see a huge bump early in year two.
*Update* Mohamed Sanu reached an agreement with the Falcons on a 5-year contract worth $32.5 million. That’s a considerable chunk of change for a guy that’s been the #4 option in the passing game, but with an extremely weak WR free agent class, he was able to cash in. I would still look to acquire Hardy, but the cost to acquire him has absolutely decreased.
Sammie Coates, PIT – age (22) – 6’1″, 212 lbs.
When you look across the league, you see some teams that excel in drafting and developing talent at specific positions. Whether it’s the Seahawks and the secondary, or the Chiefs in the front seven, one team that specializes in producing offensive talent, is the Steelers. If you could mimic the hit rate of the Steelers in your dynasty rookie drafts, you’d be holding a royal flush. There’s a dud here or there, but since 2009 we’ve seen them harvest a ridiculously good crop. Those include, Mike Wallace, Emmanuel Sanders, Antonio Brown, Markus Wheaton, Martavis Bryant, and now hopefully, Sammie Coates.
At 22 years old, Coates is six feet under on the depth chart. Not an ideal outlook on immediate opportunity, but as we’ve seen in the past, it’s difficult to retain multiple players at just one position in the salary cap era. Mike Wallace has moved on, Sanders as well, and I would suspect, Wheaton in 2017. Athletically, Coates was a combine stud. A 4.43-40 yard dash, tops in the bench (23), 41″ vert, 10’11” broad, and a 4.06-20 yard shuttle. He definitely needs some work in developing into a real deal deep threat (4th in FBS in 2014 YPR @ 21.8), but I’m looking to acquire Coates as a guy sitting in a possible position to be a major factor a year or two down the road. Coates is a perfect stash candidate in dynasty leagues, knowing that purchasing him from an owner should require next to nothing.