Fantasy WR Busts 2017: Amari Cooper will leave owners disappointed

Forget Cooper’s end year total matching one of his jersey numbers, says Brad Evans. (AP)

The road to title town is full of potholes. How many wheel-displacing hazards one avoids ultimately determines success. Below we list candidates, drafted often inside the top-60 overall, who we believe drive off a cliff in 2017. To ensure full accountability, we also included our biggest hits/misses from 2016. Tuesday’s topic: WRs.

T.Y. Hilton, Ind (15.9 ADP, WR8)

There’s no denying Hilton’s reliability, he’s surpassed 1,000 yards for four straight seasons, and has managed 46 starts over the past three years. Heading into 2017, however, his draft stock has crept higher than an army of White Walkers scaling the Wall. This sort of thing happens on the heels of a career campaign in which a player reels in 91 balls. But it’s worth noting that Hilton’s target volume was inflated by Donte Moncrief’s seven-game absence. In fact, T.Y. averaged nearly two more catches per game when Moncrief was out than when both receivers were on the field. Jack Doyle and Erik Swoope should also negatively affect Hilton’s opportunities. Throw in Andrew Luck’s potential shoulder issue and the Colts’ No. 1 WR is woefully overpriced.  (Liz Loza)

Liz’s big bust WR hit in ’16: Donte Moncrief; Big whiff: Doug Baldwin

Terrelle Pryor, Was (41.7 ADP, WR21)

These days, if you want to draft Pryor, you need to be prepared to select him among the top-20 wide receivers. I’ve seen him repeatedly selected as a Round 4 fantasy asset, by owners who then celebrate as if a 1,200-yard, 10-TD season is already in the bank. We need to try to recognize a range of outcomes for Pryor. He’s stepping into an offense that already features a pair of trusted receivers in Jordan Reed and Jamison Crowder. It’s not at all clear that Pryor will immediately lead this team in targets. And even if he does, we need to remember that no Washington receiver saw more than 116 chances last year. Pryor is a huge talent, of course — to the point that I take no pleasure writing about him as a potential bust — but we’ve priced him at a level that demands high volume and substantial production.  (Andy Behrens)

Andy’s big bust WR hit in ’16: Jeremy Maclin; Big whiff: Michael Thomas

Julian Edelman, NE (55.6 ADP, WR29)

It’s tough to disparage a receiver who saw 159 targets last year while playing for New England, but Edelman turned all those looks into just three touchdowns. He also got a modest 1,106 yards thanks to an underwhelming 6.9 YPT that ranked No. 72 among wide receivers. In fact, his fantasy points per target (1.44) ranked No. 80 in the NFL. He did make this remarkable catch in the Super Bowl, but Edelman isn’t a threat deep or in the red zone, so his upside is limited (obviously he gets a boost in PPR formats). He’s only surpassed 1,000 receiving yards one other time before last season, and his career high in touchdowns is seven (he’s averaged 5.0 over the last four years). The Patriots added Brandin Cooks during the offseason, and it’s possible Rob Gronkowski stays healthy for 16 games, so Edelman’s target share should diminish in 2017 (he had the third most in the NFL last year). You won’t make a profit on Edelman based on where he’s going. (Dalton Del Don)

Dalton’s big bust WR hit in ’16: Kelvin Benjamin; Big whiff: Larry Fitzgerald

Amari Cooper, Oak (17.2 ADP, WR9)

Assumption is extremely powerful. Fantasy speculators in every time zone steadfastly believe Cooper will suddenly dominate red-zone targets and become the object of Derek Carr’s affection. You’re nuts to buy into it. Coop is good for 80 catches and 1,000-plus yards, but Michael Crabtree’s role inside the 20 combined with Marshawn Lynch’s presence arrow to another 4-6 TDs. Recall a season ago, Cooper enticed a mere 14.1 percent of Oakland’s red-zone targets share. Even when placed in the crosshairs near the goal-line he flopped, evidenced in his 38.5 catch percentage. Largely going inside the top-10 among WRs, he simply won’t return on investment. Essentially, he’s the Willie Snead of the West Coast, an overpriced asset who’s sure to underwhelm in touchdowns. Doug Baldwin and Brandin Cooks are two receivers, among many, I would circumvent Cooper to acquire. (Brad Evans)

Brad’s big bust WR hit in ’16: Allen Robinson; Big whiff: Doug Baldwin

Alshon Jeffery, Phi (37.6 ADP, WR19)

Jeffery’s endgame in Chicago wasn’t pretty. He made it through just 21 of 32 games, scored just six touchdowns and dealt with a gaggle of soft-tissue injuries. He struggled to gain any traction as a red-zone receiver. Blame the Bears quarterbacks all you want, but how do we know Carson Wentz is any better?

I don’t understand why Jeffery isn’t coming with a notable discount this year. You’re paying a third or fourth-round ticket everywhere I look, which is far too early for a player this variable. The downside is the last two years: inconsistent play and hampering injuries. What is the upside, exactly? Do you see king-maker potential with Wentz? Do you expect Jeffery’s red-zone efficiency to take off after two horrible seasons in that department?

The Philly media is spinning a happy Jeffery tune, which could be driving some of the ADP price. Come on, Yahooligans, you’re better than that. And don’t tell me about Jeffery being motivated by his one-year contract — he was in a contract year last year, too. Heck, the way the NFL is shaped, most players are just one bad season away from an unceremonious cut. Unless there’s a correction in the price, I won’t consider Jeffery all summer. (Scott Pianowski)

Scott’s big bust WR hit in ’16: John Brown; Big whiff: Jordy Nelson

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