Fantasy free agency | Wideouts gone wild

Some superstar faces in new places for the 2020 season

We’re living in the golden age of the wide receiver diva. Stefon Diggs forced a trade by deleting all Vikings content from his Instagram account, which is a move he clearly borrowed from the girl who ambiguously posted “Some people just never learn” on Facebook in the tenth grade. Odell Beckham Jr. is always one slight inconvenience away from throwing another tizzy. There has been so much offseason drama that we forgot to notice that Antonio Brown was recently charged with a felony and two misdemeanors for burglarizing a truck driver in January. With all that going on, projecting wide receivers with new homes in 2020 is a sweet escape.

DeAndre Hopkins

After Hopkins demanded a raise, Bill O’Brien sent him away to a nice family farm in Arizona. Now with the Cardinals, there is some uncertainty with drafting the fantasy superstar. Hopkins has passed the 1100-yard mark in five of his last six seasons with Houston. I have enough faith in his talent that I would still draft him as a top three wide receiver in the first round. Kyler Murray and the Cardinals offense will take another step up this season, and they have no weapon as elite as Hopkins. Christian Kirk and Larry Fitzgerald have to be looked at as mid-to-late round options now.

Brandin Cooks

To fill the void left by DeAndre Hopkins, Houston signed Brandin Cooks and Randall Cobb. Cooks was traded along with a fourth-round pick to the Texans from the Rams in exchange for a second-round pick. Cooks battled through concussions last season and finished as the 62nd wide receiver in fantasy points. Houston is hoping that he can return to what he was before injury. He eclipsed 1000 receiving yards in four straight seasons before last season. I don’t feel comfortable with Cooks as the number two receiver on my team. I’m predicting that he’ll be drafted in the sixth round, although it’s difficult to gauge his value.

Without Cooks, the Rams are left with Robert Woods and Cooper Kupp at receiver. They drastically shifted their offensive tendencies last season. Twin tight end sets became the new normal for Sean McVay in 2019, which peaks my interest in TE Tyler Higbee. Woods and Kupp are both quality WR2s next year. Kupp has touchdown upside, while Woods is the consistent possession receiver in the offense. I’ll be looking their way in the middle or back of the third round of fantasy drafts.

Stefon Diggs

While DeAndre Hopkins was sent to a nice family farm in Arizona, Diggs has been sent to the land of overthrown passes and a 58 percent completion percentage. 

Josh Allen has yet to prove himself as an accurate quarterback in the NFL with Buffalo. Even as Allen improves his passing, the fact remains that Buffalo wants to run. Rookie RB Devin Singletary had a promising rookie season, and Allen scored nine times on the ground himself last season. Buffalo is a downgrade for Diggs compared to Minnesota. I would place him firmly in the WR2 conversation. There are few wide receivers with as much upside as Stefon Diggs. If the planets align, he could be a top five wideout next season. After all, Lamar Jackson couldn’t throw the ball two years ago either.

The Vikings will miss Diggs on the opposite side of Adam Thielen, but I don’t think they’re trying to replace him. The Rams and Ravens both utilized the tight end position heavily last season. Minnesota has two great tight ends on their payroll: Irv Smith Jr. and Kyle Rudolph. It’s more likely that the Vikings involve them more rather than spending draft capital to acquire somebody like Odell Beckham Jr. Tajae Sharpe projects to be the guy that takes Diggs’ role, and he’s no more than a late round flyer.

Emmanuel Sanders

In a push for the Super Bowl, the Saints added Emmanuel Sanders to their receiving corps. Sanders has done nothing but improve every team he’s joined over the last five years. He added a new element to San Francisco’s air game when he was traded there midseason in 2019. Now he’s joining one of the most high-powered offenses in football. WR Michael Thomas is still going to be a beast and TE Jared Cook is still going to be serviceable. Sanders will be a weekly flex option, and I would consider him in the back of the seventh round. His upside comes from the potential of a Michael Thomas injury.

In the absence of Sanders, Deebo Samuel is being handed the keys in San Francisco. He has a lot of potential, but he’s still going to play second fiddle to TE George Kittle in the receiving game. Samuel will be drafted in the third or fourth round, which is too high for me to consider taking him. I would much rather have AJ Brown or Terry McLaurin, who are also in their sophomore seasons and have elite upside. Brown is limited by Tennessee’s reliance on the running game, and McLaurin is limited by Dwayne Haskins’ blatant incompetence. Regardless, the draft positions of Samuel, Brown and McLaurin will be in close proximity, and Samuel is my last choice.

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