Who are the best dynasty values from the 2016 wide receiver class?

by Peter Lawrence ·

There used to be a time when fantasy owners understood that it took time for wide receivers to break out. Then, the 2014 WR draft class happened, and everyone demanded that their draft picks be immediate big-time producers with efficient advanced stats and metrics.

Eric Iannaccone took a look at the “Third-Year Wide Receiver Theory” over at Dynasty Football Factory in March of 2017. The Third-Year WR Theory basically points to a number of WRs nearly doubling their fantasy point totals from year two to year three. The key is aiming to find which player is going to hit. We need to find a good WR1 talent who is already receiving snaps and opportunity on a high volume offense, on a team with an ineffective run game.

We can already consider that Michael Thomas is a hit, Tyreek Hill has been a revelation after underperforming at West Alabama, and Robby Anderson came on this year for the New York Jets but is likely facing a suspension after being arrested this offseason. As the 2016 WR class prepares to enter year three, let’s take a look at some of the players in that draft class and try to find the next year three breakout player.

Corey Coleman, Cleveland Browns (1.15)

Corey Coleman came into the NFL with loads of hype. His Best Comparable Player coming into the league was Odell Beckham. A lot was expected of Coleman, but unfortunately, injuries have limited his time on the field. Somehow, Coleman fractured a bone in his hand in both 2016 and 2017, limiting him to a total of 13 games out of a possible 32. He has only produced one 100-yard game, and two of his five career TDs came in that contest. Tony Grossi at ESPN wrote that Coleman’s roster spot is suspect, and the team could look to move him this offseason. Seems foolish, considering the team has three more years of control at a low cost.


About a year ago, The Podfather talked about Coleman and called him a buy-low due to an injury-plagued 2017 in a bad offense.. Everything that was said then still holds true today. [Coachspeak warning!] Now that Todd Haley has signed on to be the offensive coordinator of the Browns, we can hope for more opportunities for Coleman. As the Steelers’ OC, Haley had Ben Roethlisberger throw 90 Deep Ball Attempts, good for No. 2 overall in the league. Rookie DeShone Kizer was only 13 attempts behind Roethlisberger, but only completed 32.5-percent of his attempts (No. 20 overall in the league). Another year of experience for Kizer — or another QB altogether — should boost the downfield completion percentage. With Coleman’s straight-line speed, a greater opportunity share and the possibility of improved QB efficiency, it’s wheels-up for Coleman in 2018.

Will Fuller, Houston Texans (1.21)

It helps that Will Fuller was catching passes from DeShaun Watson, who at the time of injury was posting a pristine 24.8 fantasy points per game in the seven games he started. Fuller is likely to see some regression in a season where he posted an astronomical +38.4 (No. 2) Production Premium among NFL wide receivers. Fuller turned his 50 targets into 28 receptions and 7 total touchdowns. Fuller isn’t likely to be catching a touchdown once every four receptions in 2018, but a full, healthy season with Watson should see Fuller firmly entrenched as a WR2.

Josh Doctson, Washington Redskins (1.22)

Injuries have significantly hampered Josh Doctson’s ability to produce. His rookie year saw him hampered by an Achilles injury, and during Week 2 in 2017, he suffered a hamstring strain. 2018 brings in Alex Smith as the QB for Washington. Traditionally, Smith has preferred to focus on one or two of his WRs. Look for Jamison Crowder to get peppered with targets underneath, but it may be time for Doctson to step up and become Washington true No. 1 receiving option.


No one doubts Doctson’s athleticism, evidenced by an exceptional Burst Score of 135.2 (97th-percentile) and 10.36 (96th-percentile) Catch Radius. His playmaking ability is intriguing. However, there is reason to worry about Doctson’s 1.10 (No. 94) Target Separation, which could throttle his target share, given new quarterback Alex Smith‘s well-deserved interception-phobic reputation.

Laquon Treadwell, Minnesota Vikings (1.23)

Many spent the 1.02 rookie pick on Laquon Treadwell as the first rookie WR selected in 2016. In 2017, Treadwell was only on field for half of the Vikings’ snaps, and at this point has fallen far behind Adam Thielen and Stefon Diggs. He is nothing more than a deep roster stash at this point.

Sterling Shepard, New York Giants (2.09)

Sterling Shepard is blocked from really elevating his status on the Giants in 2018 with Odell Beckham Jr. coming back from injury and the suddenly ascending Evan Engram getting plenty of targets. Shepard still holds value as a WR3/WR4 and for situational matchups.

Check out Sterling Shepard on the Updated PlayerProfiler Dynasty Rankings:

Tyler Boyd, Cincinnati Bengals (2.24)

Tyler Boyd was a big time contributor at Pittsburgh while in college, but has very limited athleticism and posted a sub-optimal 93.1 SPARQ-x (15th-percentile) in the 2016 combine. The positive news for Boyd is that the Bengals can move on from Brandon LaFell and his $4 million cap hit with no dead money this offseason. Boyd played 30.5-percent of his snaps out of the slot in 2017, and hopefully John Ross can stay healthy on the outside and be the Z receiver used to stretch the field for A.J. Green and Boyd underneath.

Tyler Boyd Advanced Stats & Metrics Profile

Boyd was also arrested this year after admitting that a vape pen and cartridges containing THC, found in his crashed vehicle, belonged to him. No punishment has been handed down from the league on this incident.

Malcolm Mitchell, New England (4.14)

Fantasy players got excited for Malcolm Mitchell during Super Bowl 51 when he started stringing together clutch catches as the Patriots mounted their legendary comeback. When Julian Edelman went down in the 2017 preseason, the buzz built to a roar. Then Mitchell landed on IR with a knee injury and missed the entire season. Mitchell has been dealing with injuries off and on since he was drafted. In 2016 he posted a solid +15.9 (No. 20) Production Premium and a +6.8-percent (No. 34) Target Premium. If he can stay on the field with Tom Brady, he can be a late round steal for fantasy owners.

Ricardo Louis (4.16) and Rashard Higgins (5.35)

With Josh Gordon and likely third-year breakout Corey Coleman garnering a majority of the attention at wide receiver and David Njoku coming on at TE, I don’t see enough targets available for a likely No. 5 option in Cleveland (don’t forget Duke Johnson out of the backfield). Louis is the better athlete and talent, but the Browns have already shown their hand in what role each player will have.


Utilizing the Player Profiler Depth Chart, we see that Higgins is currently the No. 3 WR in Cleveland. The Browns preferred Higgins in the slot role, as he had a 57.9-percent snap share out of the slot. If players can stay healthy, stash Higgins as a deep sleeper out of the slot. He does need to improve on his efficiency and with a strong 1.78 Target Separation (No. 24), he has the talent to make plays.

2018 Outlook

I’ll be targeting Corey Coleman, Will Fuller and Malcolm Mitchell in all my leagues in 2018. All three player’s values have been pushed down due to injuries and two are tethered to superstar QBs. Fuller posted a monstrous Production Premium and Mitchell posted great numbers as a rookie. Many short-sighted Coleman owners are awash in recency bias, with the mental picture of Coleman dropping the pass that clinched the Browns’ 0-16 season fresh in their minds. If they’re ready to move on from a guy whose best comparable player was Odell Beckham Jr. as a rookie prospect just two years ago, it might be a good time to propose a trade, as dynasty never sleeps.