As Fantasy Football drafts near, many are looking for wide receivers to see an uptick in production in 2019. Since the NFL landscape has changed mightily since the end of 2018, especially at receiver, there are a few that will ascend the ranks at the position in terms of target share.
Here are five of those receivers.
5. Will Fuller – Houston Texans
This one is all about injuries. Every time Will Fuller hits the field, the speed merchant wows with his big plays and incredible touchdown rate (four in 32 catches in 2018). He’s also built up a rapport with quarterback Deshaun Watson. Per Pro Football Focus, the quarterback has a 138.2 passer rating when targeting Fuller.
DeAndre Hopkins will draw a lot of coverage his way, naturally. Fuller, in turn, will see one-on-one matchups, which, for quarterbacks, isn’t a good thing considering his speed and suddenly reliable receiving skills. If he can stay healthy, Fuller will have the big year most expect to have. The “if” is a keyword.
4. Mike Williams – Los Angeles Chargers
Mike Williams has arrived. After a quiet rookie year, the 2017 No. 7 overall pick enjoyed a solid sophomore campaign, tallying 43 receptions for 664 yards and 10 touchdowns on 66 targets. Now that Tyrell Williams is gone, he won’t have to compete for snaps on the outside.
Though Williams is Keenan Allen’s sidekick, one shouldn’t look negatively on that. The former Clemson Tiger quickly turned into one of Philip Rivers’ favorite red-zone threats in 2018. Therefore, he may be a touchdown monster in 2019.
If Allen’s training camp-ending injury is serious, Williams may ascend into the top receiver role. After all, that’s why the Chargers drafted him.
3. D.J. Moore – Carolina Panthers
The Panthers didn’t re-sign Devin Funchess for a reason. Part of that is because last year’s first-round pick D.J. Moore has shown more than enough signs that he’s ready to step in as the No. 1 option in Carolina.
Though Moore started slow, he caught on at a rapid pace as the season progressed in 2018. He finished the year with 82 targets for 55 receptions, 788 yards, and two touchdowns. Now that he’s the bonafide top option to Cam Newton in a favorable scheme to his skill set, he may blow up in 2019.
His teammate, Curtis Samuel, is another receiver up for consideration in an increased target year. After two development seasons, he’s shining in training camp as a pure receiver and is the No. 2.
2. Tyrell Williams – Oakland Raiders
Tyrell Williams isn’t the No. 1 receiver in Oakland that goes to Antonio Brown. But, he should see a massive target share, similar to JuJu Smith-Schuster in 2018. Like Smith-Schuster, Williams will be the benefactor of bracket coverage on Brown, meaning, a 6-foot-4 deep threat will be faced with one-on-one coverage far more often than not.
Williams hasn’t received over 100 targets since 2016, when Keenan Allen struggled with injuries and Mike Williams was not yet on-board. But, considering his teammate in Brown, that should spike back up and hover around the 100 target mark. It just helps that he’s an incredibly talented, big-bodied receiver with a 16.3 career average per reception.
1. Sterling Shepard – New York Giants
This is about as obvious as it gets for Fantasy Football players. With Odell Beckham Jr. gone, Sterling Shepard has risen from No. 2 wide receiver status in New York to primary option. That only gets accentuated considering Golden Tate’s four-game suspension and Corey Coleman’s season-ending ACL tear.
In 2018, Shepard received a healthy 107 targets. Though his target and reception rate didn’t rise without Beckham, he’s in a different situation now. Pat Shurmur’s west-coast offense will have Shepard as the top target, and their game plan will show that. Though the Giants will be run-heavy with Saquon Barkley, they will eventually have to pass the ball. That will be to Sterling more often than not.