Published On: Sat, Aug 12th, 2017

Fantasy: Which WRs will exceed expectations in 2017?

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Get ready for your season with theScore’s 2017 Fantasy Football Draft Kit.

Being able to accurately identify which players will improve from year to year remains one of the most important skills in fantasy football.

We’ve recently looked at the quarterbacks and running backs who are being undervalued heading into the preseason. Now let’s turn our attention outside the hash marks to locate the receivers who will outperform their ADPs this year.

Who will exceed expectations?

Pierre Garcon

Players entering new situations can be an excellent source of fantasy value, especially when their new team lacks any other proven weapons at that position.

Garcon is coming off a solid 2016 campaign in which he caught 79 passes for 1,041 yards and three touchdowns, making him the WR23 in PPR and WR32 in standard formats. He reached those numbers while playing with DeSean Jackson, Jordan Reed, and Jamison Crowder.

Now Garcon joins a 49ers receiving corps featuring Marquise Goodwin, Jeremy Kerley, and Vance McDonald, which sets him up as the unrivaled top option in the passing game. Garcon saw 114 targets with Washington last season, a number that could rise to 140 or 150 in San Francisco.


New 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan has a pleasant history with Garcon. The pair previously worked together in 2013, when Shanahan was the offensive coordinator in Washington and Garcon led the league with 113 receptions on 181 targets, resulting in 1,346 yards and five touchdowns.

While the 49ers won’t be anywhere near as productive, they should find themselves trailing early and often, forcing Brian Hoyer to take to the air. Hoyer isn’t a name that instills confidence, but was able to pepper DeAndre Hopkins with passes during his time in Houston and showed well during his brief stint as starter in Chicago last season.

Garcon isn’t going to reproduce his 2013 numbers, but he’s being incredibly undervalued at his current ADP of WR37 in the eighth round. Expect him to finish as a high-end WR3, who could emerge as a WR2 for fantasy owners willing to commit to watching 49ers games this season.

DeVante Parker

Offseason hype doesn’t always pan out. However, when the drumbeat is extremely loud and never-ending, one has to take notice.

That’s been the case with Parker the last six months, as the Dolphins coaching staff and local beat writers have gone out of their way to praise the former first-round pick for finally having the light turned on in regard to conditioning and preparation. The “Awakening” for Christine Michael didn’t exactly turn out as hoped, but could this be the “Awakening” 2.0?

Parker’s talent has never been questioned. At 6-foot-3 and 212 pounds, Parker projects as a No. 1 receiver in the NFL and has flashed those talents almost every time he took the field over his first two seasons. But those opportunities were limited due his immature approach to the game. Now, the 24-year-old is hoping to bring it all together and overtake Jarvis Landry as the first read in Miami.


Last season, the Dolphins offense made a shift away from the short passing game that Landry thrived in, instead choosing to lean on the run and push the ball downfield when passing. That shouldn’t change now that Jay Cutler is the quarterback. Cutler has never been scared to throw it up and let his receivers make plays, something that benefits Parker over any other pass-catcher on the team.

Parker’s schedule was already on the easier side, and became even less challenging after the Bills traded away Ronald Darby. The Patriots are the only team in the AFC East with a secondary equipped to defend a big-bodied wideout like Parker.

Even with all these positives heading into the season, Parker is still not a lock to see the targets needed for a true breakout campaign, but with an eighth- or ninth-round price tag, you don’t need to invest much for a chance to own one of the league’s next stars at the position.

Kenny Britt

It’s understandable if you’re not in love with the idea of drafting a 28-year-old perennial underachiever coming off his first 1,000-yard season. But before you dismiss Britt completely, consider his situation.

Last season, Britt overcame one of the worst quarterback groups in the league to finish as a WR3 in fantasy. The player who appeared to be a knucklehead early in his career blossomed into a leader in the Rams locker room.

With the Browns, his quarterback play might not improve much, but the offense is on the rise with one of the league’s best lines. Britt will once again be asked to step up as a No. 1 receiver with a young group around him.


Britt should see a healthy target share with his new club. 2016 first-rounder Corey Coleman continues to struggle with injuries, which have led to doubts about whether he will reach his potential, and rookie tight end and physical freak David Njoku faces a steep learning curve before he’ll be a consistent contributor.

At quarterback, DeShone Kizer could help Britt’s cause and ignite the offense if he can earn the starting job. The rookie threw 45- and 52-yard bombs in his preseason debut, with one going for a touchdown and the other ending up at the 1-yard line.

With a strong chance of delivering WR3 value for the second straight season, Britt is an automatic selection at his ADP as the WR45 in the 11th round.

Deep Shots

Adam Thielen – For a player coming off a 69-catch, 967-yard, five-touchdown season, Thielen isn’t getting much respect from casual fantasy owners. That might be because people are underestimating the Vikings passing game, which improved dramatically after Pat Shurmur took over as offensive coordinator in November. Thielen will have to compete for targets with Stefon Diggs and Kyle Rudolph, but he might be the team’s best receiver.

Ted Ginn – The 32-year-old made his way to New Orleans as a free agent, specifically to play with Drew Brees. Smart move. With Brandin Cooks gone, Ginn will be called on to be the new deep threat and should excel in the high-powered Saints offense. While predicting his big weeks might be tricky, Ginn has an outside shot to be a WR3.

Devin Funchess – A strong offseason has helped the 23-year-old secure a full-time role in the Panthers’ receiving corps, playing across from Kelvin Benjamin. Funchess’ usage has been limited over his first two NFL seasons, but he still managed nine touchdowns in that time. There are few players available in the later rounds with as much upside as Funchess.

Who will exceed expectations?

(Photos Courtesy: Getty Images)



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