Top Receivers Breaking the Mold for NFL Offenses
On this week’s post-Halloween episode Matt Harmon is joined by Alex Gelhar to discuss top wide receiver talent elevating NFL offenses. Per usual, I’m here to give you the cliff notes version of the episode, with a sprinkle of personal anecdotes. You can find this week’s episode of Reception Perception: The Show right here.
Matt and James are back behind their mics to break down what it all means from a fantasy perspective on this week’s episode of Reception Perception: The Show.
Starting off hot with the guy who spearheaded the episode this week, Eagles wideout AJ Brown who secured a hat trick in Week 8. Brown finished the game with 6 receptions for 156 yards and 3 touchdowns.
Matt was more impressed with how Brown scored those touchdowns than the sheer volume of them. All three of Brown’s touchdowns on Sunday came on go-routes, complemented by Jalen Hurts throwing some beautiful passes down the sideline. AJB had always excelled as a YAC monster in Tennessee, so it’s been nice to see him find success in other parts of his game.
When asked how he felt about the move for Brown in the off-season from the Titans to the Eagles, Alex said he was optimistic but had concerns regarding target share. Philadelphia was already home to second-year receiver DeVonta Smith and tight end Dallas Goedert, a player that the fantasy community has been predicting a breakout for the last few seasons.
The good thing about the Eagles’ offense for fantasy, as Matt points out, is how consolidated it is. The passing attack relies heavily on AJ Brown and DeVonta Smith. There is a smattering of Dallas Goedert while the run game runs through Miles Sanders and Jalen Hurts.
The Eagles making the trade for AJ Brown, bringing in a dog of a wide receiver for their young and unsure quarterback is the best thing they could have done for Hurts. This brings them to their next point:
Weapons For Your Quarterback
This segment could have been a PSA to teams that drafted a quarterback in the 2021 draft. Here’s looking at you Bears, Jets, Jaguars, 49ers, and Patriots. Get your young, inexperienced, hell maybe even bad, quarterbacks weapons.
The Eagles bringing in Brown is not the first time this has worked. It’s not even the only team it worked for this season. Queue the Miami Dolphins who brought in Tyreek Hill over the off-season. The wide receiver duo of Hill and Jaylen Waddle is one of the league’s best combinations and elevated Tua Tagovailoa’s play in 2022.
I mean, it was only seven months ago that there were rumors swirling that Tagovailoa wasn’t ‘The Guy’ in Miami but his stellar pass-catching corps has silenced almost all of that. Are two examples enough or should we drop one more? The Bills brought in Stefon Diggs and he immediately elevated Josh Allen’s quarterback play
We have seen this work. For the NFL general managers that read this and listen to The Show, if you’re not 100% in on your young quarterback go get him an elite pass-catching threat and then watch them both prosper.
Could you make the argument that the 49ers have already done their part to surround Trey Lance with elite offensive weapons? Matt thinks you can. San Francisco extended Deebo Samuel and more recently traded for Christian McCaffrey, both of whom should help Lance succeed next season when he’s back on the gridiron.
Now, the guys did record this pre-trade deadline chaos but the Jaguars went out and traded for Calvin Ridley – an indication that they’re trying to get some more weapons for Trevor Lawrence. The Bears traded for Chase Claypool – who is no Tyreek Hill or Stefon Diggs – but the hope is he will help elevate Justin Fields to that next level.
Top-5 NFL Receivers This Season
Trying to divvy up and rank elite talent, especially for guys that all do something at the most top-tier level is a fun albeit somewhat futile exercise. Matt said it best when he said “If you don’t feel like you’re leaving someone off your list, you’re not doing the exercise right.” Even as I sat and listened to Matt and Alex discuss their top-5 wide receivers this season I struggled to cement myself to any particular order.
But the Reception Perception boys are here to have fun, regardless of futility. Alex has got Tyreek Hill, Cooper Kupp, Stefon Diggs, AJ Brown, and Justin Jefferson in his top-5 for this season. He’s got Davante Adams, Ja’Marr Chase, and one more receiver just outside looking in.
Matt and James Koh talked last week about how unstoppable Tyreek Hill is right now. Listen to that here. There’s certainly an argument that he is the best wide receiver performing in the NFL this season. They mentioned last week and again this week – defenses have to change how they play you to account for Hill.
For Matt’s top-5 list his No. 1 spot comes down to Diggs vs. Hill. In the hour that they recorded this show, he landed on Diggs but his top-5 reads just like Alex’s. Diggs, Kupp, Hill, Brown, and then an argument between Davante Adams and Justin Jefferson. And that’s not even including Ja’Marr Chase who he thinks is an elite talent but unfortunately suffered an injury that is going to sideline him for several games this year.
No matter how you dice it though, both gentlemen have AJB in their top-5 of the season. See, I told you he was the catalyst for this week’s episode.
Back-from-the-Dead Wide Receivers
It’s a Halloween-esque theme to close the show with pass-catchers that are resurrecting either on our fantasy benches or on the waiver wire. Is their new-found success here to stay or was it a Halloween weekend fluke?
First out of the gate: Terry McLaurin. Matt believes that as long as Taylor Heinicke is the one slinging him the rock he should remain upright after a substandard start to the 2022 season. Washington is 2-0 since Heinicke took over and Matt believes that McLaurin (along with Panthers wideout DJ Moore) has graduated from “start/sit” questions to a plug-and-play you can have confidence in week in and week out.
Also, Matt makes an interesting comparison to Terry McLaurin that I quite like. Be sure to give it a listen so you don’t miss it.
Also crawling out of his casket this season (again, this is Halloween-themed, I’m not that morbid) is Parris Campbell. Campbell has been heavily involved in the Colts’ offense the last three weeks. In particular, in the last two weeks of Matt Ryan’s Indianapolis career Campbell saw 11 and 12 targets, respectively.
In Week 8 when Sam Ehlinger took over the reins, Campbell saw a significant drop in targets garnering only two targets against Washington. Alex is under the impression that this is one of those times where the player is good for real football but lacks any kind of fantasy football upside.
Next up is a player I already dropped FAAB on this week: Terrace Marshall Jr. Marshall was a twitter darling for a time in the 2021 off-season before we actually saw him play. In Week 8 versus the Falcons (in what was one of the most entertaining games of the season so far), Marshall had the best game of his young career catching 4-of-9 targets for 87 yards.
Alex wasn’t sure if he was ready to buy into an improved Marshall, but Matt did that thing where he kind of makes you believe. By the end of this five-minute conversation, Alex believed a little more and I was confident having spent my FAAB to acquire the Panthers’ wideout.
The player with the most staying power in 2022 according to Matt and Alex? Giants wideout Darius Slayton. Over the last two weeks, Slayton has hauled in 8 receptions on 12 targets for 100+ yards. HC Brian Daboll and company took a little longer than anticipated to get Slayton going in that offense. Especially considering the lack of pass catchers the Giants are currently sporting.
The last Back-from-the-Dead receiver the pair discussed on this episode was none other than Chase Claypool. If you’re happy about the trade from the Steelers to the Browns you can thank Alex for that because he spoke it into existence. “If he gets traded before the deadline I’d have more hope in Chase Claypool.
Matt has updated his 2022 Rest of Season Ranking Tiers post-trade deadline, be sure to check them out here.