When you first gazed upon this article, you may have asked yourself, “What is wrong with drafting people at their ceilings if that is what we expect them to do?” And here is the answer: you are not taking into account the entire range of possibilities when drafting a player expecting everything to go perfectly right. Also, when there is barely a chance that a player exceeds his draft slot, you are getting next to no value.
It’s like taking Peyton Manning in the first round: you are only looking at the best possible scenario, not necessarily the most likely. That is a recipe for draft-day failure. Here are three wide receivers who I believe are being drafted at or even beyond their absolute ceilings:
Pierre Garcon at WR11
After leading the league in targets and receptions in 2013, fantasy owners are envisioning the target-hogging wideout from the Redskins. But there are a few reasons as to why this year will not be better than last.
2013 was Garcon’s target ceiling, leading the league with 182, yet only 5 touchdowns. Garcon is not exactly a touchdown scorer. Throw in the arrivals of DeSean Jackson and Andre Roberts and the return of Jordan Reed, and there is no way that Garcon approaches that many targets again.
Garcon’s offensive role may even be changing. Under Shanahan and Sons, the “X” receiver position was where the money was made. But with ex-Bengals OC Jay Gruden calling the shots, DeSean Jackson is playing the AJ Green-like “Z” position while Garcon is still stuck at the “X”– a position that hasn’t exactly seen a bunch of fantasy success judging by the Bengals’ number two receivers.
On average the past three seasons, WR11 has finished with 260.3 fantasy points. Keep in mind that Garcon actually finished as WR11 with 279.5 fantasy points in 2013- a season we’ve just established as nearly impossible to repeat. Make no mistake: you could argue that Garcon is being drafted before his ceiling would dictate.
Vincent Jackson at WR13
Jackson was arguably the lone bright spot on a dismal 2013 Buccaneers offense that saw Doug Martin go down after a brutal start to the season, not to mention having their lack of depth at wide receiver completely exposed. As a result, the Bucs had to force the ball in Vincent Jackson’s direction, resulting in a whopping 159 targets- a career high. He also finished with a career high in receptions, 2nd highest career total in yards, and 3rd in touchdowns.
Yet despite all of the force-feeding, Jackson was only able to muster a WR16 finish in 2013, and he’s being drafted as WR13? I’m confused. Not only is Doug Martin healthy along with a freshly drafted Charles Sims, the Bucs brought in Mike Evans and Austin Seferian-Jenkins to help take the offensive burden off Jackson. While his efficiency may rise, his volume is a lock to go down. If Jackson could only turn 159 targets into a WR16 finish, how in the world is he going to finish as WR13 if he hovers closer to 135?
One reason for encouragement? In 2012 and 2011, Jackson actually did finish as WR13 (although his 2011 stats would’ve netted him a WR18 finish in 2013). But he has proven that is his ceiling, and again: we want to draft players with a chance to exceed their draft position- not just have a chance of living up to it.
Over the past three seasons, WR13 has averaged 250.8 fantasy points per season. Jackson has reached that total exactly one time, when he scored 258.4 in 2012. I’m looking for someone with a higher ceiling, and so should you.
DeSean Jackson at WR22
There’s every reason to believe that like Garcon, 2013 will go down as the best year of DeSean Jackson’s career. Put simply, there was a perfect storm of phenomena that fell his way. I’ve talked about him being overrated beforehand.
On his way to shattering his career highs in yards and catches while matching his career high in receiving touchdowns, he happened to be getting schemed open as the featured receiver on an offensive juggernaut. With Jeremy Maclin having a torn ACL and Riley Cooper limited talent-wise, Chip Kelly had to force-feed Jackson. And it worked. It also did not hurt that 2013 was the first time since his rookie year that he played 16 games.
But he’s no longer the top receiving option on the team. In fact, he may not even be in the top two. Before 2013, Jackson had never caught more than 65 passes or 1,167 yards in a season. That seems like a more reasonable expectation, especially since his efficiency is about to dip even if he approaches his 2013 target total of 126.
Jackson is being drafted as WR22 at the beginning of the fifth round. Over the past three seasons, WR22 has averaged 201.3 fantasy points. Jackson’s career average? Under 190 fantasy points. Before 2013 he had surpassed that 201.3 threshold only once, and that was as the bona fide number one wideout/tight end on the roster. With no Chip Kelly and plenty of other options around him, Jackson is going to have a tough time living up to his ADP, let alone surpass it.