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Wide Receiver Position Battles with Fantasy Football Relevance

With a little under a week left until the NFL season begins, fantasy leagues all over the world are starting. If you didn’t have a draft yet, it’s likely that you are doing some last minute research. In this article, I will be highlighting a couple of receiver battles that you need to keep your eye on. 

Credit: Matt Kryger/IndyStar

Who will be the number 2 receiver for the Colts?

Phillip Rivers is now the new quarterback of the Indianapolis Colts. As of now, the offense consists of T.Y. Hilton, Jack Doyle, Trey Burton, Jonathan Taylor and Marlon Mack. With one of the best offensive lines in the league, the Colts’ offense looks primed to be a top tier offense in the NFL. The real question that arises with the Colts’ offense is who will start as their number two receiver?

 The Colts retain Zach Pascal, who was the top receiver for the team last season, with a statline of 41-607-5. The Colts also sport Michael Pittman and Parris Campbell. Pascal has an uphill battle to climb here as he is competing with two young receivers. 

Campbell is coming into his sophomore season, after his rookie year was a disappointment due to injuries. Even with the injury history, he is very athletic and may be used as a big-play option in the Colts’ offense. 

Michael Pittman is a second round draft pick out of USC. Pittman looks to be a high upside player as he has had a very good training camp. Colts’ owner Jim Irsay has even compared Pittman to Colts’ legend, Reggie Wayne. Pittman’s value as a receiver may come from his 6-3, 225lb frame. 

With Campbell and Pittman seeming to have more big-play abilities it is likely that Pascal’s opportunities will be limited. Phillip Rivers has not been known to take many deep shots and rather throw to big bodied wide receivers and tight ends. This plays will for Pittman as he should see short yardage receptions throughout the season. As the season progresses, it is likely that Rivers will favor Pittman more than Campbell and Pascal. Look for Pittman in later rounds in your draft as a potential second half of the season break out player. 

Credit: David Crane, Los Angeles Daily News/SCNG

Can Van Jefferson win the number 3 receiver position for the LA Rams?

Brandin Cooks is no longer a Ram. This creates many more opportunities for Cooper Kupp and Robert Woods. But the real question here, is who fills that number three role? Head Coach, Sean McVay is an offensive mastermind, who utilizes a number three receiver in many of his packages on offense. This brings into question, who will get the snaps at the position, veteren Josh Reynolds, or rookie Van Jefferson? 

Reynolds has made a career out of running as a backup receiver who can make plays when needed to. But he has not really blossomed into anything more. The Rams spent a second round pick in the 2020 NFL draft on Van Jefferson, who impressed many at Florida last season. Reynolds may have a tough time beating Jefferson out. The biggest part of Jefferson’s game is his route running ability. With McVay lining his receivers up all over the offense, it is likely that Jefferson will be put into more one-on-one situations, where he can show this talent. The Rams took Jefferson with their second round pick, meaning that they must have wanted him and have a plan to use him. 

Jefferson’s ability as a route runner, the Rams selecting him in the second round of the NFL draft and Reynolds inability to establish himself as a reliable receiver, show why Jefferson is a much better player to look at for your fantasy football team compared to Reynolds. 

Credit: Charles Wenzelberg/NY Post

Who is Daniel Jones’ number one option at receiver?

There are three viable receiving options for sophomore quarterback Daniel Jones. Evan Engram has developed into one of the best tight ends in the league, which begs the question, who is going to be his running mate at receiver. 

A once thought of “future star” receiver, Sterling Shepard led the Giants in receptions last season, despite only playing in ten games. Shepard’s value comes from his ability to garner targets. The downside is that he is injury prone, as evidenced by his two concussions in week one and week five last season. The talent is there, but is the risk worth the reward?

Golden Tate is the veteran of the group. He played a vital role in the Giants offense last season, in that he was able to make the most out of his opportunities when Saquon Barkley and Evan Engram went down with injuries. Along with the rest of the receiving options, its likely that Tate will get opportunities just because the Giants defense may be the worst in the NFL. With Barkley and Engram back healthy, it is also likely that Tate won’t produce like he did last season. The combination of age, lack of opportunities and being in a new offense, will likely move Tate down to the wide receiver three on the Giants depth chart. 

Darius Slayton is the most intriguing receiver out of the bunch. He stepped onto the scene big time last season, recording 740 yards and 8 touchdowns. Slayton is a hit or miss player, who can produce monster games, or lay a goose egg. Given his young age and his strong rookie season, it is likely that the Giants will try to keep Slayton in the mix and continue to develop him. On the flipside, there is a real chance that Slayton could end up as the fifth option on the Giants offense. Slayton’s value will come from his ability to step up if Shepard or Tate are injured again.

All together it is likely that these three receivers will finish with similar stat lines. Each receiver possesses his own set of skills that can help Daniel Jones continue to develop. Because of the talent Shepard will probably be starting as the number one receiver during the first week of the season. Shepard should be the first Giants receiver that you have your eye on. If you can get Shepard, you might want to try to get Slayton too, as injuries are once again a concern for Shepard. 

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