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Five Wide Receivers Primed for More Touchdowns in 2015


Touchdowns can be a fickle thing. In 2010 Dwayne Bowe led all receivers with a whopping fifteen touchdowns. In four mostly full seasons since, he has had a combined thirteen scores. As I’m sure most of you remember, that included zero last year from him and the rest of the Kansas City wide receivers. Even though I’m not a big fan of the soon-to-be-31-year-old receiver now in Cleveland, it’s a pretty safe bet that he’ll catch at least one touchdown this year. Bowe’s not actually one of the receivers I’ll be looking at here because I don’t think he is worth a lot of fantasy attention, but that one is just too easy!

Last year I wrote about four wide receivers who would see an increase in touchdowns in 2014. I hit on all four: Jordy Nelson (from 8 to 13), Torrey Smith (4 to 11), Mike Wallace (5 to 10), and Kendall Wright (2 to 6). I focused on a few specific factors--size, speed and target volume. Of the fifteen receivers that hit double-digit touchdowns last year, nine (60%) were at least 6’2”. The other six were either exceptionally fast (Torrey Smith and Mike Wallace), among the league leaders in targets (Antonio Brown, Jeremy Maclin) or a combination of both factors (Odell Beckham Jr, Randall Cobb). Once you know what to look for, finding potential touchdown increases becomes pretty easy. I won’t guarantee a 100% success rate again, but I feel pretty confident these five will find the endzone more often this season.

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Julio Jones

Those factors I mentioned above? You can check off all three of them for Julio. Not only does he have great size (6’3”), but he’s also incredibly fast with a 4.39 40-yard dash. When you combine that with the fact that he's one of the most targeted and productive receivers, it’s actually amazing he didn’t have more than six touchdowns last season. Of the six other receivers to exceed 1,450 yards over the past two seasons, none had fewer than eight touchdowns. The only thing that may stop Julio from getting there is a potential injury, as he’s played just one full season in his career.

Looking at Julio’s first three seasons, where he played 34 total games, he averaged 9.4 touchdowns per 16 games. He has become an even better player with each season as well. With his high target volume expected to continue, expect last year’s six touchdowns to look more like an outlier. Julio had eight and ten touchdowns in his first two seasons, and I would think he’s got a very good shot to set a new personal high. Eight touchdowns is the minimum expectation, with even 12 scores being reasonable. If touchdowns were your worry with Julio, it’s time to reconsider.

 

DeAndre Hopkins

Seeing Hopkins on this list might surprise some. He lacks exceptional size and he’s on a bad offense that just lost its most important player (Arian Foster) for half the season, not to mention he already had a decent six touchdowns last year. For me, the positives outweigh the negatives here. Most importantly, Hopkins has proven himself to be a very good receiver in his first two seasons. Secondly, Hopkins already saw 120 targets as the #2 behind Andre Johnson. Johnson is gone, and the only candidates besides Hopkins to pick up his 141 targets are rookie Jaelen Strong and the oft-injured Cecil Shorts.

Before Hopkins’ emergence last year, Andre Johnson finished fifth and first in the NFL in targets in 2012 and ‘13. There is a very good chance that Hopkins will now be the one to finish in the top five. With no Arian Foster and no Andre, this offense will run through Hopkins for at least eight games. No matter how bad the QB and the run game might be, there will still be plenty of opportunities to score. Hopkins should see an extra two targets a game in ‘15 and at his catch percentage of 63.3% last year (via Pro Football Focus) that would be an extra 20 catches.

You can point to Andre Johnson’s lack of touchdowns in the same offense with a same high target volume, but that appears to be more of an Andre Johnson issue. Despite leading the league in catches and yards twice, Johnson never managed to reach double-digit touchdowns. Hopkins has not had such a history and in fact doubled Johnson’s touchdowns last year on fewer targets and catches. If you look back into Hopkins' college years, you’ll see he finished second in all of the FBS with an impressive 18 touchdowns in his final season. I expect Hopkins to make good use of his increased target volume and find the end zone plenty of times.

 

Larry Fitzgerald

Larry Fitzgerald has fallen victim to some of the worst quarterback play in the past decade. Fitz has had to deal with the “talent” of Matt Leinart, John Skelton, Max Hall and Ryan Lindley over the years, to name a few. Thankfully it hasn’t been all bad, and when Fitzgerald has been lucky enough to have a competent quarterback he has produced in a big way. From 2005 to 2009 Fitzgerald hit 10+ touchdowns in four different seasons. That directly coincides with the arrival and departure of the great Kurt Warner. The one season during that span that Fitzgerald didn’t reach the double-digit mark? 2006, when the Cardinals drafted Matt Leinart 10th overall despite already having Warner. They hopelessly tried to make that a successful pick and started Leinart for 11 games. There was still a battle the next year but Warner ended on top and started 11 games. To no one's surprise, Fitzgerald’s numbers drastically improved.

Following a few dark years in the post-Warner era, the Cardinals wised up and signed Carson Palmer. After averaging just six touchdowns per season in three years of his prime, Fitz was back in the double-digits in 2013. Last year things were looking up once more before two separate injuries sidelined Palmer for all but six games. It should come as no surprise that Fitzgerald (and the entire team) struggled without Palmer. Fitz had just two touchdowns last year and sure enough, both came with Palmer throwing the ball. In fact, Fitzgerald was putting up close to elite production in games that Palmer started. He had a line of 32-483-2 in six games with Palmer and 31-301-0 in 8 games without. It’s safe to say that someone is very happy to have Palmer back. We can only hope he stays healthy.

Even factoring in a little age decline for both Palmer and Fitzgerald, Fitz should have no problem getting at least five touchdowns. Given that he has managed to hit 10+ every season that he’s had a capable QB for a majority of games, it’s not unreasonable to expect that trend to continue. Fitzgerald is far from done as some may have assumed. He just had the misfortune of suffering through the worst QB play any team had to go through last year.

 

Jordan Matthews

This one is admittedly more bold than the others. Jordan Matthews already had an excellent rookie season, putting up a 67-872-8 line, so can he really score more touchdowns? I believe he can. I have a really hard time finding anything not to like about Matthews. Size? 6’3”, 212 lbs--check. Speed? 4.46-40 time with a height-adjusted speed score in the 87th percentile via Player Profiler--check. Volume? It’s a little more debatable but with Jeremy Maclin gone, Matthews should become the primary target for a team that was fifth in pass attempts last year with Nick Foles and Mark Sanchez. If Sam Bradford stays healthy that number might go even higher. Matthews already saw 98 targets despite playing just 779 snaps to Maclin’s 1043. Nelson Agholor is there as well, but I certainly don’t expect him to be the #1 receiver in his rookie season (or ever as long as Matthews is on the same team), nor do I expect Riley Cooper to come very close to repeating his 91 targets. So again, I give Matthews a check for volume.

Jordan Matthews was also truly dominant in college. His numbers don’t pop out, but that is only because he was in a run-heavy offense with poor QB play at Vanderbilt. Matthews’ eight touchdowns in 2012 and seven in 2013 were both a greater percentage of his teams total passing touchdowns than the previously mentioned 18 by DeAndre Hopkins at Clemson and Matthews’ college dominator rating on Player Profiler falls in the 92nd percentile. At quarterback he will get one of two scenarios: he has a better QB in Sam Bradford which helps his numbers, OR he gets Mark Sanchez again. That doesn’t sound great on the surface but Matthews actually thrived under Sanchez. This success came despite roughly the same number of targets with both passers. In fact, Jordan Matthews had more yards and touchdowns than Jeremy Maclin over the final eight games. Maclin was a top ten receiver, and Matthews was better than him for a full half season. The more I look into it, the more I am confident that Matthews will see even more touchdowns in 2015.

 

Taylor Gabriel

For the last player I wanted to go off the radar a bit. For those of you who don't recognize the name, Taylor Gabriel is an interesting receiver for the Cleveland Browns. He is exceptionally small at 5’8”, 167 lbs and he isn’t likely to see a high volume of targets, so he may look out of place on this list. However, he had just one touchdown last year, so the bar is set low. Besides that, Gabriel is a talented receiver with real speed and agility. He runs a 4.45 40-yard dash and has an excellent burst score in the 87th percentile according to Player Profiler.

With no Josh Gordon for most of the season, little Taylor Gabriel was the primary deep threat and a pretty good one. On 36 catches, Gabriel had 17.2 yards per catch, good for third in the league. Not bad for a severely undersized, undrafted rookie from a small school. Gabriel had five different games with a catch of at least 35 yards. If he can keep that big play ability up, he is going to score more touchdowns. Recently both Dwayne Bowe and Joe Haden spoke glowingly of Gabriel. Preseason talk is rarely taken very seriously, but when Joe Haden says someone is going to be special, it’s worth taking note of.

The depth chart for the Browns is certainly muddled with the additions of Bowe, Brian Hartline and rookie Vince Mayle. Just don’t think Andrew Hawkins and Gabriel are in direct competition because of their similar statures. Hawkins is a possession guy and I’ve written about him as a deep PPR sleeper. Gabriel is a deep threat and potentially a good one, and Taylor’s size is hardly a limit in that role, as players like DeSean Jackson and Antonio Brown have proven. Gabriel shouldn’t be drafted in standard-sized leagues, but keep him on your radar over the course of the season.

 

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RotoBaller has assembled a list of daily MLB injury updates to help you prepare both your seasonal and daily fantasy baseball (DFS) lineups, every day of the MLB season. Below is our updated list of injured MLB players for October 23rd, 2020. Only players on teams that are scheduled to play today will appear below... Read More


Lineup Order Risers and Fallers: AL West 2020 Review

It’s the offseason and there are about to be a bunch of moving parts. This allows for speculation in terms of players gaining or losing playing time, moving up or down a batting order and much more. The idea here is to highlight some lineup situations for each team and some potential winners or losers... Read More


2021 1st & 2nd Year Players with James Anderson - Benched with Bubba (Episode 317)

Bubba (@bdentrek) is joined by James Anderson (@RealJRAnderson) on episode 317. The guys will go over 30+ first and second-year players. They will discuss their current ADP's in the 2 Early Mocks, what to expect of the players in 2021, and much more. They also go over some listener questions, compare Juan Soto to Mike... Read More


Daily MLB Injury Roundup for October 21st, 2020

RotoBaller has assembled a list of daily MLB injury updates to help you prepare both your seasonal and daily fantasy baseball (DFS) lineups, every day of the MLB season. Below is our updated list of injured MLB players for October 21st, 2020. Only players on teams that are scheduled to play today will appear below... Read More


Daily MLB Injury Roundup for October 20th, 2020

RotoBaller has assembled a list of daily MLB injury updates to help you prepare both your seasonal and daily fantasy baseball (DFS) lineups, every day of the MLB season. Below is our updated list of injured MLB players for October 20th, 2020. Only players on teams that are scheduled to play today will appear below... Read More


Bubba and Bat Flip 54: 2 Early Mocks APD Player Debates - Benched with Bubba (Episode 316)

Bubba (@bdentrek) is joined by Bat Flip Crazy (@BatFlipCrazy) to take a deeper look at the 2 Early Mocks ADP. They go over some of the positions and look at players with similar ADPs and debate. Going around the diamond discussing some players people are high on and some they are down on with a... Read More


Daily MLB Injury Roundup for October 18th, 2020

RotoBaller has assembled a list of daily MLB injury updates to help you prepare both your seasonal and daily fantasy baseball (DFS) lineups, every day of the MLB season. Below is our updated list of injured MLB players for October 18th, 2020. Only players on teams that are scheduled to play today will appear below... Read More


Daily MLB Injury Roundup for October 17th, 2020

RotoBaller has assembled a list of daily MLB injury updates to help you prepare both your seasonal and daily fantasy baseball (DFS) lineups, every day of the MLB season. Below is our updated list of injured MLB players for October 17th, 2020. Only players on teams that are scheduled to play today will appear below... Read More


2021 Early Mock ADP Values & Reaches: WPC+ Videocast

Pierre Camus and Nicklaus Gaut prepare for the 2021 fantasy baseball season with a look at early mock draft results from the RotoBaller Expert mock. Like and subscribe to the RotoBaller channel on Youtube to get all our latest podcasts and catch us on iTunes and BlogTalkRadio as well! Be sure to also tune into RotoBaller... Read More


Statcast Season Review: 2020 Barrel Leaders (Hitters)

The 2020 MLB season will always be one for the record books, even if everything that took place will have multiple asterisks attached to it. Evaluating Statcast numbers is a nice way to find hot and cold hitters, as well as underachievers and overachievers. Now that the regular season is over, let's reflect on the... Read More


Daily MLB Injury Roundup for October 16th, 2020

RotoBaller has assembled a list of daily MLB injury updates to help you prepare both your seasonal and daily fantasy baseball (DFS) lineups, every day of the MLB season. Below is our updated list of injured MLB players for October 16th, 2020. Only players on teams that are scheduled to play today will appear below... Read More


Daily MLB Injury Roundup for October 15th, 2020

RotoBaller has assembled a list of daily MLB injury updates to help you prepare both your seasonal and daily fantasy baseball (DFS) lineups, every day of the MLB season. Below is our updated list of injured MLB players for October 15th, 2020. Only players on teams that are scheduled to play today will appear below... Read More


Daily MLB Injury Roundup for October 14th, 2020

RotoBaller has assembled a list of daily MLB injury updates to help you prepare both your seasonal and daily fantasy baseball (DFS) lineups, every day of the MLB season. Below is our updated list of injured MLB players for October 14th, 2020. Only players on teams that are scheduled to play today will appear below... Read More


Bubba and Bat Flip 53: 2 Early Mocks APD Trends & More - Benched with Bubba (Episode 315)

Bubba (@bdentrek) is joined by Bat Flip Crazy (@BatFlipCrazy) to take a deeper look at the 2 Early Mocks ADP. They dig into trends, some interesting risers/fallers, and much more. They also go over some listener questions at the end to keep the Fantasy Baseball information coming even in the offseason. Be sure to subscribe... Read More