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Fantasy Football Outlook – Year 2 Receivers/Tight Ends (2017)

Will Fuller
Fantasy Football Outlook – Year 2 Receivers/Tight Ends (2017)
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Year 2 FF Outlook – Wide Receivers/Tight Ends

Corey Coleman – Cleveland Browns

Outlook

Corey Coleman

What Happened – 33 Receptions 413 Yards 3 Touchdowns 41.3 Y/G

Coleman was the first receiver taken off the board in last year’s NFL Draft by the Browns who hadn’t drafted a receiver in the first round since the 2005 pick of Braylon Edwards. With the wide receiver position, a position of need for many years in Cleveland, Coleman was presumed to come in and be the undisputed #1 weapon. The Biletnikoff Award, which is presented to the best receiver, was awarded to Coleman during his last season at Baylor because he caught 20 touchdown passes. The quarterback situation in Cleveland was dreadful and Coleman ended up missing a six-game stretch with a broken hand from Weeks 3-8 after showing promise in his first 2 games catching 7 passes for 173 yards and 2 touchdowns. During his absence Terrelle Pryor became the team’s number 1 receiver as Coleman was unable to gain any traction within an offense that shuffled through 5 quarterbacks.

What Changed – The Browns did not retain their number 1 receiver Pryor as he signed with the Washington Redskins in free agency. Although they lost their big play weapon on the outside, the role Coleman should fill, the team added new weapons in Kenny Britt & David Njoku. The Browns also got better along the offensive line which should bode well for whichever quarterback starts for Hue Jackson’s offense. Even though the names are different, that last statement encompasses the issue that has been plaguing Cleveland for some time now, which QB will step up and be the guy? As mentioned above the Browns shuffled through Robert Griffin, Josh McCown, Cody Kessler, Kevin Hogan & Charlie Whitehurst last season, with Kessler and Hogan the only remaining quarterbacks from last year to go along with the notorious Brock Osweiler and new shiny rookie DeShone Kizer. With all that said it will still be up to Coleman to stay healthy and make plays on the field as his durability has been a question mark thus far in his young career.

What to Expect – I am a strong believer in the talent of Coleman as he was my WR1 in the 2016 NFL Draft. The location might be the worst situation for any young player due to Cleveland being the doormat franchise over the last couple decades firing and hiring new general managers and coaches every other season. However, this Browns team feels a little different as they have had some excellent draft classes over the last couple seasons and head coach Jackson being a respectable offensive mind. I expect them to be more run based because the offensive line has taken a huge step with the acquisition of JC Tretter and Kevin Zeitler to go along with the future hall of famer Joe Thomas and an impressive young player in Joel Bitonio. The key to a productive passing game starts up front. If the Browns can run the football it will set up Coleman vertically down field. While the quarterback continues to be in question, Coleman is still a strong hold in dynasty/keeper leagues and a player to target in the middle rounds of re-draft leagues who can provide WR3 to WR2 upside.

Will Fuller – Houston Texans

What Happened – 47 Receptions 635 Yards 2 Touchdowns 45.4 Y/G

The speedster from Notre Dame had mixed reviews entering the draft as some thought his collegiate drop rate would not make him a reliable receiver. Others believed he was a downfield weapon that should not be passed up in the draft. Earlier on in the season Fuller made his believers proud with incredible performances catching deep balls and being a true field stretcher; however, as the season went along his small hands and lack of concentration reared its ugly head with multiple touchdown drops. Brock Osweiler’s quarterback play was debilitating for all the weapons on the offense. Pro Bowl wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins had a forgettable season for his standards while Fuller did not get enough deep targets down the field to be a factor. Although Fuller had self-inflicted wounds throughout the season, it is safe to say the quarterback play was not conducive for the Texans’ receivers last season.

What Changed – Well, Osweiler in no longer in Houston after they paid him a whopping $18 million last season. He was traded to the Cleveland Browns with a 2nd and 6th round pick for a 4th round selection. You heard that right! They dumped him and had to throw in a high pick in order to get his salary off their books and move on from an abysmal situation. The Texans then traded up in the first round to pick number 12 from the above-mentioned Browns to select their new face of the franchise quarterback Deshaun Watson. The former Clemson quarterback played in back-to-back championship games against Alabama where he won last year’s game in epic fashion. He will be a welcomed sight to all Texans offensive players including Fuller. The receivers are status quo with Fuller holding down the Robin position to Hopkins’ Batman.

What to Expect – I don’t expect Fuller to come out like gang busters and dominate from start to finish because I expect some ups and downs due to a new rookie QB learning the playbook and Fuller’s boom or bust nature. Hopkins is still the man in Houston which should free up single coverage opportunities for Fuller to use his speed downfield and create big plays. If Fuller’s hands become more dependable he could be a highlight waiting to happen a la DeSean Jackson. Dynasty/Keeper owners should be ecstatic to have the young playmaker on their team as he will only grow in the offense with Watson and Hopkins. Re-draft leagues should keep an eye on Fuller in the middle rounds as he could win you any given week with explosions of 100+ yards and a couple TDs within a blink of the eye.

Josh Doctson – Washington Redskins

Outlook

Josh Doctson – Photo by Geoff Burke/USA TODAY Sports

What Happened – 2 Receptions 66 Yards 0 Touchdowns 33 Y/G

It’s a shame we only got to see the high-flying Doctson play two games with the Redskins last season due to a mysterious Achilles injury. Whenever there seemed to be some hope for Doctson to get healthy and salvage his 2016 season, more news/setbacks on each of his Achilles caused him to basically have a redshirt year playing 31 snaps all season. While Doctson was on the sidelines, the Redskins had an impressive passing offense ranking second in the league in yards as quarterback Kirk Cousins spread the ball around to Pierre Garcon, DeSean Jackson, Jamison Crowder and Jordan Reed.

What Changed – Let’s start with the health of Doctson. Reports surfaced in May that the sophomore receiver has looked quick and healthy this offseason. Even with head coach Jay Gruden corroborating this story, you still should be cautious moving forward as we’ve heard this story before. If Doctson is truly healthy and will be on the field this season his fantasy stock gets an added boost with the departure of the Redskins top 2 targeted receivers last season. A total of 214 targets left the Redskins this off-season with Garcon heading to San Francisco to play with his former offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan and Jackson leaving to team up with Mike Evans in Tampa Bay. The Redskins did add an outside playmaker in Terrelle Pryor who led the Browns in receiving last season with over 1,000 yards and retained slot dynamo Crowder and the gifted Reed but Doctson will compete to take over the starting Z receiver manned by Garcon last season. Are there enough balls to go around in the Redskins offense?

What to Expect – The highly productive receiver out of TCU is a red-zone monster due to his body control and ability to come down with the 50/50 ball. He is also an underrated route runner who can step in immediately to replace Garcon who led the Skins in targets last season with 114. This brings me back to the question at hand, are there enough balls to go around for Crowder, Reed, Pryor and Doctson? My answer is yes. The Redskins under Gruden throws the ball early and often compiling over 600 passing attempts last season and with the way this pass happy league is operating I expect that number to remain constant. Doctson still has work to do to accumulate one-sixth of those targets but I will bet on his skill-set to receive at least 100 targets this season if healthy. 100 targets within an offense stacked with weapons should be good enough for Doctson to push 70 receptions and over 1,000 yards receiving. Sign me up for a dynasty/keeper and re-draft pick as Doctson current draft value is lower than his opportunity and talent suggest.

Laquon Treadwell – Minnesota Vikings

Outlook

Laquon Treadwell – Photo by Robin Alamicon/Sportswire

What Happened – 1 Reception 15 Yards 0 Touchdowns 1.7 Y/G

Treadwell fits into the year 1 disappointing rookie receivers like the previous names mentioned. Unlike the others above it was no injury causing him to miss games or bad quarterback play that caused him to produce only 1 reception the whole year, it rests squarely on his shoulders as he was not able to grasp the playbook and beat out an ineffective Charles Johnson to get on to the field. After being drafted by the Vikings it was believed he was entering the most ideal situation out of all his first-round counterparts. He was a shoo-in to start opposite Stefon Diggs and be the big body receiver in the Vikings offense led by up and coming quarterback Teddy Bridgewater. Oh yea and the Vikings has the NFL leading rusher in Adrian Peterson to take the pressure off of the passing game. Things didn’t go according to plan when Bridgewater was lost for the season with a horrific knee injury heading into the final preseason practice; Peterson went down with his own knee injury early in the season and Treadwell couldn’t bust a grape under the tutelage of Norv Turner and Pat Shurmur. It later came out that Treadwell was dealing with multiple injuries in 2016 but all in all it was a poor showing.

What ChangedCordarrelle Patterson and Johnson aren’t on the roster anymore which bodes well for Treadwell taking over the number 3 receiver spot on the depth chart. After a dreadful rookie campaign, all of the talk and GIF’s on Treadwell has been positive this offseason. The physical talent is there but it is now time for the sophomore receiver to take a leap in the mental aspect of the game. With what assumes to be more playing time this season for Treadwell, the Vikings are still without Bridgewater and it will be another year for quarterback Sam Bradford under center. Bradford is not a quarterback that takes many chances down the field therefore Treadwell will need to be able to win with route running and precision to be a factor in the short to intermediate game. Starting receivers Stefon Diggs and Adam Thielen fits Bradford’s game and the sub-par offensive line much better as they win earlier in their routes.

What to Expect – Although I expect Treadwell to play more this season and get more opportunities than his 3 targets last season, I don’t see a breakout campaign on the horizon. There are a couple obstacles in his way he needs to hurdle before we see the Treadwell that dominated college ball at the University of Mississippi. First, he needs to gain the confidence of the coaching staff and show he can master the nuances and small details of the NFL game. Secondly, he needs to beat out number two receiver Thielen as the Vikings wants to run the football and play defense under head coach Mike Zimmer. There is still a great deal of time for Treadwell to continue shining in training camp and pre-season to claim a starting spot on the Vikings offense but for now he can be looked at as a WR5 in fantasy leagues. Treadwell won’t hit his pinnacle until Bridgewater comes back healthy so if you are in a dynasty/keeper league and want to take a stab at future success then you can target the sophomore receiver later in your drafts.

Sterling Shepard – New York Giants

Outlook

Sterling Shepard – Photo by Rich Graessle/Icon Sportswire

What Happened – 65 Receptions 683 Yards 8 Touchdowns 42.7 Y/G

The draft pick of Shepard in the second round of the 2016 NFL Draft looked to be a steal for the Giants as they got an explosive slot receiver that would make the passing offense even more dynamic. The fan base was excited to add Shepard in the mix with superstar receiver Odell Beckham and the return of fan favorite Victor Cruz from a major knee injury. The offensive results did not live up to expectations due to an offensive line that couldn’t get the ground game going, Cruz not being able to regain his pre-injury form and Beckham as the first, second and third option for Eli Manning. Shepard had a consistent rookie season but he lacked explosive plays averaging 10.5 yards per catch and a disappointing 6.5 yards per target. The west coast quick passing scheme led by head coach Ben McAdoo helped the offensive line pass protect but it didn’t allow Shepard to get going and create big plays within the offense.

What Changed – The Giants added more offensive playmaker with the signing of free agent Brandon Marshall and the first-round draft pick tight end by position wide receiver by trait Evan Engram. With the porous offensive line staying pretty much intact, the Giants will again rely on a quick passing rhythm offense but with more mouths to feed. The 105 targets Shepard received last year does not seem like it will go up this season as the highly decorated Marshall should be opposite Beckham in 2 wide receiver sets, a formation the Giants have talked about running more in 2017. On a positive note, Manning has more options in the passing game which can potentially space the field out for Shepard to do more damage after the catch. Shepard was an electrifying playmaker after the catch at the University of Oklahoma; therefore, it’s not a stretch for him to improve this part of his game drastically in 2017.

What to Expect – I like Shepard a lot more than his ADP suggest in fantasy leagues as he is being taken as a WR5/6 in re-draft leagues. I understand the concern folks might have on the playing time of Shepard with two big weapons in Marshall and Engram added to the team; however, the sophomore receiver has a full year under his belt in the system and will be relied upon as a safety net for Manning. The Giants ran a league best 92% rate of three-receiver sets in 2016 and even with the team working on more two-tight end sets, I believe Shepard who led all Giants’ receivers in snaps in 2016 (over Beckham) will see the field plenty to make an impact. I expect Shepard to catch around the same amount of receptions (65) but have more receiving yards as he will be more efficient after the catch with more weapons on the field. If you’re looking for a sleeper at the wide receiver position late in your draft then Shepard is your guy.

Michael Thomas – New Orleans Saints

Outlook

Michael Thomas

What Happened – 92 Receptions 1137 Yards 9 Touchdowns 75.8 Y/G

As soon as the Saints selected Ohio State wide receiver Thomas in the second round of the 2016 NFL Draft, the fantasy draft community all had their eyes on selecting him as he got the benefit of playing with Hall of Fame QB Drew Brees. Before we get into what happened with Thomas last season, let’s take a look at the impact Brees was going to have on Thomas’ fantasy production. Thomas was going to play with a quarterback that has averaged 4,964 yards over the last 8 seasons with 4 of those being 5,000 yard passing seasons (only 8 in NFL history including his 4) and his least amount of TD passes in that 8 year span being 32. Well after the 2016 season, Brees again threw for another 5,000 yards his 5th as he has more 5,000 seasons by himself than the rest of quarterbacks in NFL history combined. Yea Brees has been that great but Thomas showcased that he too has a bright future as he was a consistent threat for the Saints who led the team in targets, receptions, and receiving touchdowns. He got better as the season went along and put up big numbers in the Saints pass happy offense even without starting all 16 games as he was relegated to first man off the bench behind Brandin Cooks and Willie Snead to begin the season.

What Changed – You probably can’t imagine things getting better for Thomas after his terrific rookie season. Well, it did. He has moved from WR3 on the depth chart to now being the WR1 coming into the 2017 season. Cooks was traded to the New England Patriots for a first-round pick and Snead will still remain as the WR2 in the offense. Ted Ginn was added in the offseason as he gives the Saints a legitimate deep threat to replace Cooks which in turn can free up Thomas to absorb more targets. Cooks 117 targets within the offense should be dispersed evenly throughout the team due to Brees having a knack for finding the open guy on the field. The 121 targets Thomas received last season with Cooks on the field should increase by at least 20 targets making him a player to target early in your fantasy drafts. The Saints should flirt with 700 passing attempts once again this season, Brees finished second in the league with 673 attempts in 2016 and there is no reason to believe Sean Payton will not air it out as expected.

What to Expect – I expect big numbers from Thomas as there is no way he cannot produce on a Drew Brees led team as the number 1 receiver in the offense. Whether it is Re-Draft, dynasty or keeper leagues, Thomas is a name that should come off the board in the 2nd round at the latest and I would not be mad if you drafted him towards the end of the first round. The Saints found their new Marques Colston big bodied red zone target with more “juice” in the open field. Thomas has bulked up 10 pounds in the offseason and I am expecting him to produce similarly to Colston in his second season as a pro, 98 receptions 1202 yards 11 touchdowns. These numbers will cement him as WR1 on your roster and will be one of the safest plays each and every week. The Saints obviously felt comfortable trading away star receiver Cooks as they have the next big star in this league in Thomas.

Tyler Boyd – Cincinnati Bengals

Outlook

Tyler Boyd – Photo by Aaron Doster/USA TODAY Sports

What Happened – 54 Receptions 603 Yards 1 Touchdown 37.7 Y/G

Boyd was pegged as a sleeper late round candidate when he was drafted by the Bengals in the second round after the team loss Marvin Jones and Mohamed Sanu in free agency. With only Brandon LaFell ahead of him for the number 2 receiver spot behind A.J. Green, many expected Boyd to make an immediate impact as a rookie. The hype train was further intensified with the injury to Tyler Eifert as the rookie had a chance to carve out a slot role in the middle of a dynamic Bengals offense. Boyd started the season slowly because he was still trying to master the nuances of the NFL game but a big opportunity presented itself with the injuries to Green and Gio Bernard. Boyd got the chance to start late in the season but didn’t get a chance to take advantage of his target shares as he was limited to short receptions and failed to get in the end zone finishing with just 1 receiving TD all season. Boyd ended his rookie season with 2 or less catches in 7/16 games even with the injuries to the Bengals Top 3 weapons.

What Changed – Health! The Bengals should be close to full strength after having a devastating injury riddled campaign in 2016. The opportunities for Boyd might not be there again this season as Green, Eifert and Bernard should be on the field for the beginning part of the season. Not only are the Bengals getting healthy but they added one of the biggest playmakers in the entire draft, speedster receiver John Ross. The addition of Ross should push Boyd down the depth chart as he will now compete with LaFell, who outplayed him last season, for snaps. The Bengals, who have done a tremendous job of replenishing their roster, looks to have one of the worst offensive lines in recent history which suggest they might struggle offensively even with the talent surrounding QB Andy Dalton. It will be hard pressed for Boyd to retain his 81 targets from last season as the Bengals are loaded with playmakers.

What to Expect – I already stated that Boyd will not get the 81 targets he received last year as the Bengals will have other options within the offense. These options depress Boyd’s value making him a risky play for fantasy owners. On a bright side, the Bengals have injury risk players on their roster with Eifert and Bernard still recovering and Ross suffering a plethora of injuries in his collegiate career. If multiple players go down once again this will enhance Boyd’s chance to make an impact in 2017. He is a wait and see option whose ceiling can be a productive PPR slot receiver; however, his floor is extremely low as the fifth option on the Bengals offense.

Malcolm Mitchell – New England Patriots

Outlook

Malcolm Mitchell

What Happened – 32 Receptions 401 Yards 4 Touchdowns 28.6 Y/G

The former Georgia Bulldog finished his first season in Athens as a Freshman All-SEC player and produced 85 catches over 1200 yards and 8 touchdowns in his first 2 seasons on campus. A 2013 ACL injury hampered his draft prospects which ultimately led the Patriots to select Mitchell in the fourth round of the 2016 NFL Draft. The landing spot for Mitchell was ideal because he played with legendary QB Tom Brady who was able to take advantage of his route running abilities. Common for many previous rookies and first year receivers for the Patriots, it took Mitchell a while to get on the field, learn the playbook and the nuance it entails to play with Brady. Mitchell finally received an increase in snaps and production in Week 11 and became a reliable option for Brady on the outside for the rest of the season including a big Super Bowl performance which ultimately helped the team garner another title. Overall it was a successful first year for Mitchell who built a rapport with Brady and gave the Patriots a decent option outside of the numbers.

What Changed – The biggest change for the Patriots offense this offseason was acquiring the speedster from the Saints Brandin Cooks, who will directly affect the playing time for Mitchell. Both Chris Hogan and Mitchell provided adequate play in 2016 but the acquisition of Cooks gives the team a dynamic playmaker that can stretch the field and open up more passing lanes for Julian Edelman and Rob Gronkowski. There are many mouths to feed in New England and as of right now Mitchell looks to be the odd man out. Mitchell will need an injury to Hogan or Cooks to get substantial playing time to become a fantasy threat.

What to Expect – I cannot endorse Mitchell as a fantasy option in re-draft leagues due to the competition for snaps and targets in the stacked Patriots offense, but I can say keep an eye on him in dynasty leagues as the rapport with Brady is there. If everything remains status quo in New England and there are no substantial injuries throughout the season, I can foresee around 50 targets and another 30+ catches for Mitchell. The second-year pro was kept on the sidelines throughout spring practices due to his extensive injury history which is another deterrent for Mitchell’s short term and long term fantasy success.

Tyreek Hill – Kansas City Chiefs

Outlook

Tyreek Hill – Getty Images

What Happened – 61 Receptions 593 Yards 6 Touchdowns 37.1 Y/G

Off the field concerns after a disturbing domestic violence incident torpedoed Hill’s draft stock to the fifth round as the Chiefs selected the diminutive 5’9 185 pound former running back. Hill flashed game changing abilities out of the backfield at Oklahoma State before being kicked off the team and ended up doing the same at Division II West Alabama to end his collegiate career. He wasn’t on many folk’s radar as he was assumed to be just a special team player. That was the case until Week 8 against the Colts when he flashed his electrifying speed and ability to change the complexity of the Chiefs’ offense with a 5 reception 98 yard 1 touchdown performance. Once starting receiver Jeremy Maclin was hobbled with a groin injury leading up to Week 9, it was the break Hill needed to become fantasy relevant for the rest of the season. Whether it was through the air, the ground (24/267/3) or special teams (3 TDs) Hill became a must add because of his special ability to take it the distance on any given touch.

What Changed – Hill’s 2017 fantasy value procured an enormous change when the Chiefs surprised everyone by releasing their number 1 receiver Maclin. The hype around Hill was already on the rise after proving to be one of the most dangerous players in the league last season, but with the absence of Maclin the fantasy community excitement has skyrocketed through the roof. If you look at the snap rate for Hill last season he played 416 snaps for the Chiefs offense which averages to 26 snaps per game, without Maclin these number will surely double, at a minimum, with the ceiling of tripling since he is now the unquestioned number 1 receiver in Kansas City. Hill will now take over Maclin’s Z receiver position which will siphon targets as it is the focal point of Andy Reid’s passing offense. With TE Travis Kelce as his main competition for Alex Smith’s 500 targets or so, look for Hill to get over 20% of the team’s target share which will put him over 100 targets this season as a receiver.

What to Expect – I expect Hill to come in at a close second to Kelce for the targets within the Chiefs offense. Playing with Alex Smith who doesn’t take much shots down the field will hurt Hill’s value a bit but with only 2 main options in the passing attack and Hill’s propensity to rack up yardage after the catch with the best of them, I see a solid WR2 with the potential of putting up WR1 numbers. The removal from kickoff return duties is also a negative for Hill’s fantasy prospect but the increase of snaps alleviates any owner concerns. Draft this guy on your team because I have a feeling he will push you over the top a handful of weeks in this upcoming season. He will have monster games due to him being the ultimate human joystick in today’s NFL. Those of you with concerns about his boom or bust nature should feel a lot safer with the departure of Maclin and head coach Reid’s expertise and history of getting the ball in the hands of his most dynamic playmakers.

Hunter Henry – L.A Chargers

Outlook

Hunter Henry

What Happened – 36 Receptions 478 Yards 8 Touchdowns 31.9 Y/G

The first tight end off the 2016 NFL Draft board TD rate of 22% per catch will surely take a dip in 2017 but the transition as a young tight end to the NFL game was definitely a plus for Henry. He came in with a certain poise and dependability for Philip Rivers and led the team in TD catches over Chargers legend Antonio Gates. Even with Gates at the ripe age of 36 last season, the future Hall of Famer received more catches, yards and targets than Henry. The former Mackey award winner as the nation’s best tight end at the University of Arkansas still showcased some of the same skills for the Chargers with his ability to quickly process the offense, create mismatches against linebacker/safeties in the passing game with dependable hands and efficient run blocking at the point of attack.

What Changed – Old man Gates will still be patrolling the middle of the Chargers offense like he has done for the last 14 seasons, however now at 37 he should be relegated to playing a secondary role to the ascending Henry. To be honest, I thought Gates would have been replaced over the last couple of years but he keeps aging like fine wine. Even after one season Henry has gained the trust of Rivers more than former insurgent TE LaDarius Green thus the every-down tight end role looks to be heading the sophomore tight end’s way this season. The biggest change for Henry’s fantasy success however will not be Gates; it will be the return of target monster Keenan Allen from injury and the draft selection of high flying Mike Williams with the 7th overall pick in the draft. The Chargers will trot out many more mouths to feed within the offense as they have five capable receiving threats not including Gates to compete with Henry’s target shares. Add those two above mentioned additions in Allen and Williams to go along with last year’s target leader Tyrell Williams, 2016 off-season acquisition Travis Benjamin and the reliable Dontrelle Inman and you have a surplus of talent surrounding Rivers.

What to Expect – TE1 production is not hard to come by now a day in fantasy as the position has been top heavy over the last couple of years. 50 catches and 6 touchdowns will put you squarely in the conversation for TE1 and there is a good chance that Henry exceeds both numbers by getting more snaps and opportunities in the Chargers high powered offense. We all know that Rivers loves to target his tight end especially in the red-zone and touchdowns drive fantasy success. I would love to have Henry on my team in re-draft leagues as a TE1 and will be the ideal tight end to select in dynasty/keeper leagues as he should be a force for many years to come.

Austin Hooper – Atlanta Falcons

Outlook

Austin Hooper – Photo by Reinhold Matay/USA TODAY Sports

What Happened – 19 Receptions 271 Yards 3 Touchdowns 19.4 Y/G

The difficulty for rookie tight ends transitioning to the NFL can be defined squarely by this next stat: Hooper finished second in the league in rookie tight end receiving yards behind Hunter Henry with 271 yards. Hooper’s rookie production was inconsistent throughout the year as he didn’t get enough steady targets to put him on the fantasy map. At times, he showed big play ability when starting tight end Jacob Tamme went down with an injury but he also put up duds as the Falcons had too many weapons for him to be a factor. The bright spot for Hooper was him showing that he had the speed to stretch the field up the seams as well as playing well as a blocker.

What Changed – Although the Falcons still have many mouths to feed with star receiver Julio Jones, Mohamed Sanu, Taylor Gabriel and the two-headed backfield of Devonta Freeman and Tevin Coleman, Hooper comes into the 2017 season as the starter due to the parting of Jacob Tamme. Hooper will add another speed element to an already fast offensive team on the new Mercedes-Benz Stadium turf. The Falcons did lose a big piece of their offensive success with offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan taking over as head coach of the San Francisco 49ers. Shanahan’s scheme put all his players in excellent position to get open and do damage after the catch, it will now be up to new offensive coordinator Steve Sarkisian to do the same.

What to Expect – With Hooper’s new starting gig for the dynamic Falcons passing offense, his numbers should trend up in the 2017 season. The change to new OC Sarkisian remains a mystery for all offensive players including starting quarterback Matt Ryan but the talent is there for the offense to continue humming. It is obvious that the Falcons will regress offensively after leading the league in points with 540 but with last year’s MVP still under center for the Falcons, they should still score plenty of points to make Hooper a factor in 2017. TE1 numbers might be a stretch this season but I can see Hooper putting up solid TE2 numbers with a dynasty upside. Look for the second-year player to double his rookie season targets, receptions and touchdowns.

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