After years of bloated value, 2018 may finally be the year the wide receiver position reverts back to its normal place in the fantasy football world.
Running backs are king. They always have been, and up until a few years ago, the general population believed that to be true. Now, it appears the fantasy football regulars are once again shifting their attention to consistent, do-it-all running backs, leaving fantasy football owners with an ability to garner some value with the wide receiver position in the 2018 draft.
Even though I'm more excited this year about wide receivers, there will inevitably be some disappointments. Here are three wide receivers that have a high potential for bust in 2018.
Adam Thielen, WR, Minnesota Vikings
The ultimate question you have to ask yourself when drafting a WR1 is if you can trust that player on a somewhat consistent basis. Thielen will be targeted as a WR1 in 2018. Can you trust him?
Early rankings on Sports Illustrated have him listed 27th overall in the 2018 fantasy football draft, putting him in the upper third round. His 2017 stats don't deny that kind of ranking, with 143 targets, good enough for nine per game. And it wasn't as if he had monster target games to artificially inflate that total.
He was at or near double-digits in several games. And he finished 11th among wide receivers in fantasy scoring, and even better in yards, with the fifth-most receiving yards in 2017.
That sounds like he's going to be a great receiver in 2018. Not so fast.
Thielen is an undrafted NFL player, who hadn't gone for more than 1,000 yards in a season in his previous three years. He hadn't even started more than 10 games in a season before this past season.
After breaking out in a big way for the first three-fourths of the season, he was quiet in the final weeks, including the two playoff games. Drafting Thielen that high means you're likely be giving him the keys to the WR1 on your team. Without any previous evidence of consistent play as a wide receiver, that is a major leap of faith for Thielen. Do you really trust Thielen to have a similar season, if not a better one next year? I'm not banking on that kind of production.
A.J. Green, WR, Cincinnati Bengals
Green is going to cost you a high draft pick. He may score in the top-12, which he did again in 2017, but is it really worth a high to mid-second round pick?
If it was up to ability, I wouldn't completely dismiss Green's value. The problem, though, is Green has Andy Dalton throwing him the ball. That can lead to some monster games, which has happened plenty of times in the past. However, that can lead to inconsistency, leading your high-targeted wide receiver with nothing to show for himself.
Last year was a perfect example of what can be so maddening with owning Green. There were some monster efforts, like his three-game stretch from weeks 3 to 5, where he went for a touchdown in each game and more than 100 yards in two of the three games. There's also the doldrums, like his final four games, where he went for 30 or fewer yards in two of the games, and no touchdowns.
When it comes to Julio Jones, Antonio Brown and even DeAndre Hopkins, Green has a difficult time holding up because of his complete lack of quarterback play. And while Green formerly could handle that situation like Hopkins currently does, he seemed to fade a little in 2017.
If you could get some better value, like a third-round grade with Green, he would exit the bust shelf. That won't happen, so I wouldn't grab him with my second pick.
Keenan Allen, WR, Los Angeles Chargers
I really liked my fantasy football drafts in 2017. But my favorite pick may have been Allen with the 46th selection in the 2017 draft.
I loved Allen's potential based on his ability to be a target hog in an offense that likes to the throw the football. I also liked that his value was based purely on his injury problems and on nothing else. Those are the players I enjoy targeting with value picks.
In 2018, I fear Allen will start to see his draft stock rise, which is a bit problematic. Allen was a target monster once again in 2017, and despite a slow start, it was inevitable for him to start putting up big-time stats.
Despite his prowess on the football field, there should be some concerns with Allen as a consistent starter based on his injury history. 2017 represented the only time in his career he's played all 16 games, with the two previous years seeing him on the field in only nine games. He's going to edge close to the second round in the 2018 draft, meaning you can't afford to lose him to injury. In the fourth round of the 2017 draft, I had already found three players that were going to be high-scoring players, so I could afford to take a risk. And make no mistake about it, Allen's injury history is a risk.
Is that a gamble you really want to take that high, especially at a position that should have some value in the later rounds? When on the field, Allen should be considered a WR1 favorite. However, the injury history is enough that has me backing off his draft stock in 2018.
Scott Levine is the Associate Editor for the Clinton Herald. During his free time, he blogs about fantasy sports and handicaps games. Check out more at Against The Chalk.
Scott Levine can be reached at email@example.com or on Twitter @ScottLevineCH