Football Memo

Top 5 Biggest Busts at WR in 2014

Carolina Panthers v New Orleans Saints

Would you feel comfortable drafting Steve Smith? How about Wes Welker? We dive into that in this article.


1. Stevie Johnson (SF)
After getting traded to San Francisco in May, there are many questions surrounding him in his new digs. Mainly, how does he fit into their offense and how many targets will he actually get.? Johnson had a forgettable season in 2013, playing just 12 games and scoring just three TDs for the Buffalo Bills. Though he piled up three straight seasons of 1,000-plus receiving yards before that, he has not reached double-digit TDs since 2010. He will need to fight for targets from the likes of Michael Crabtree and Anquan Boldin – the clear cut No. 1 and No. 2 WRs for San Francisco – and also will be in an offense that heavily favors the run game (they were 22nd in the NFL with 214 passing yards per game in 2013). Not to mention he will be playing in a very defensive-oriented division with Seattle, Arizona, and underrated St. Louis on the schedule twice. There just will not be enough there to make Johnson any more than a low-end WR3 in 2014.

2. Steve Smith (BAL)
This may not be a news flash, but Steve Smith has not been great in a while. One would need to go back to the 2011 season to find that he posted a decent 1,394 receiving yards and seven TDs, but those numbers are barely high-end WR1 production. In 2013, Smith had zero games with over 100 yards receiving! The minor injuries also have begun to creep up on the now 35-year-old WR. Baltimore is an intriguing fit for Smith on a purely opportunity-based theory, but then you remember that they do not throw the ball enough and the great run game they once had has diminished in recent years, forcing teams to stack the box against them to make Joe Flacco beat them. Flacco has an above average arm, but struggles to throw it downfield on a consistent basis. Smith should be Baltimore’s No. 2 right away, but might have a hard time posting anything resembling WR1 – or even midrange WR2 – numbers in his first season there.

3. Golden Tate (DET)
Tate had a decent season in 2013, catching 64 passes with five TDs in Seattle. Now he comes to Detroit after being signed by them in the offseason. Tate will step in as the team’s No. 2 WR, opposite of Calvin Johnson. Historically, No. 2′s in Detroit have not fared well. One would think that while Megatron gets double – and sometimes even triple – teamed, that it would open the door for great stats for the rest of the offense. It has not panned out that way in the Matthew Stafford high-octane passing game. None of this is Tate’s fault and happened before he signed with them, but the Lions are gearing up to throw a lot less in 2014 with a stronger running attack and a good number of dump-offs to Reggie Bush and Joique Bell. Expect decent yardage numbers for Tate, but not a ton of scores in 2014.

4. Wes Welker (DEN)
It may seem crazy to not recommend a wide receiver in a Peyton Manning offense, but the fact is Wes Welker was almost out of football after multiple concussions in 2013. He’s small and the “over-the-middle” tendency definitely makes  him vulnerable to serious head shots. Not that he is a weakling or anything (he seems to bounce right back up more times than not), but it is starting to get worrisome that he will get seriously hurt. His stats, in the end, were fine last year as he posted 10 TDs and close to 800 receiving yards, but now that Denver signed Emmanuel Sanders and drafted Cody Latimer in the offseason, perhaps their confidence in Welker’s health is in question. Still, he’ll have Peyton throwing him the football, but just keep your expectations slightly lower than in previous years.

5. Larry Fitzgerald (ARI)
Fitz saw a huge comeback in 2013 with 10 TDs after only scoring four the previous year. He also had close to 1,000 receiving yards. Unfortunately, he was unable to come through in the fantasy playoffs and did not hit paydirt in the final three games. Now at 30, his age has started to creep up on him. Many are high on the Cardinals this season, with some even predicting they will go deep into the playoffs, but much of that is predicated on their stingy defense and emergence of RB Andre Ellington. The ever shaky Carson Palmer will still be at QB, and he’s a guy who could fall apart any game. Look for around 5-7 TDs and 800 receiving yards for the wideout in 2014.

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