There’s some serious worry around fantasy football leagues regarding the status of top flight Atlanta Falcons receiver Julio Jones and his Detroit Lions contemporary Calvin Johnson. Though only the latter set of fantasy owners have reason to worry. Thru four games Jones is second in the NFL with 447 yards and three touchdowns off 29 receptions, but he was limited the first two days of practice this week due to ankle injuries. However, Jones was reportedly a full participant in practice Friday, and he’s now listed as probable for Week 5’s huge matchup with the New York Giants, according to the Associated Press. That’s a huge relief for Jones owners, but Johnson’s status is still very much in the air.
A three-time first-team All-Pro and consensus best receiver in the game, Johnson was on and off the field throughout Detroit’s Week 4 victory over the Jets with a nagging ankle injury. Johnson picked up 12 yards off two receptions, and was a huge bust for those who started him. Now there’s worry of a repeat performance or worse.
Just like last week, Johnson sat out the first two days of practice, but was seen on the field Friday, MLive reports. And Lions head coach Jim Caldwell indicated it’s a “possibility” that Johnson could be pulled from the starting lineup against Buffalo’s mighty defense this week.
Now, if you’re an owner who happens to possess Lions No. 2 receiver Golden Tate, that’s great news. But if you’re like owners who spent a first-round pick on Johnson, you’re probably about ready to combust before scouring your current roster and the waiver wire.
But don’t get too stressed out. For one, Johnson’s never missed more than two games in a single season during his career, so even if he is out you’re only likely to sit him for one week. Second, there are several receivers capable of putting up big numbers this week in place of Johnson, should he be sidelined. But there are also some receivers owners should avoid starting in his place.
Based off FantasyPros expert consensus rankings, here are three overrated and three underrated wide receivers to take a closer look at before Sunday’s and Monday’s Week 5 games.
Demaryius Thomas, Denver Broncos
It’s extremely taboo to call any receiver on the other end of Peyton Manning’s passes overrated, especially when they’re second on the team with 27 targets. But Thomas has only managed to haul in 13 catches for 141 yards and one touchdown thru three games, and seven of Manning’s eight touchdown passes have gone to his tight ends Julius Thomas and Jacob Tamme. While he’s a huge moving target at 6-foot-3 and 229 pounds, Thomas is one of six options for Manning, and both his and Emmanuel Sanders’s numbers should decline with Wes Welker back in the mix. Week 5’s matchup against Arizona doesn’t help things either, considering how much talent they have in the secondary and how they’ll likely opt to limit big plays down field to Thomas and live with short dump offs to Welker or Sanders.
Jeremy Maclin, Philadelphia Eagles
Maclin’s well on pace for new career-highs in receptions and yards with 20 catches for 353 yards and three scores so far, but he and the Eagles take on a staunch St. Louis defense ranked third against the pass this season. The Rams also have too talented a defensive line to have only one sack after three games, and they could feast on Philly quarterback Nick Foles coming off the worst game of his career. This is a much better matchup for Eagles running back LeSean McCoy to bust out, and not so much for Maclin and the rest of the Eagles receivers.
A.J. Green, Cincinnati Bengals
Green’s just as dynamic a playmaker as Johnson, and he should be rested after the Bengals bye week. But the matchup against New England’s Darrelle Revis likely keeps Green out of the end zone, even if he has more opportunities given how dreadful the Pats offense has been. A better option is Chicago’s Alshon Jeffery who’s hitting the road to face Carolina. In his short three-year career, Jeffery has actually performed far better away from Soldier Field, with 75 catches for 1,156 yards and seven touchdowns.
Michael Floyd, Arizona Cardinals
Floyd’s slowly taking the No. 1 receiver spot from Larry Fitzgerald, and he’s ready to bust out. Though he hasn’t pulled in a touchdown yet, Floyd leads the NFL with 22.9 yards per reception, with four of his 11 catches for 20-plus yards. Increase his volume of targets, which is sure to happen with Fitzgerald declining and running back Andre Ellington still battling a foot injury, and Floyd could punish Week 5 opponent Denver. The Broncos do have top corner Aqib Talib for owners to worry about, and Arizona QB Drew Stanton has never played at Mile High, but Floyd’s already proven he can make the most of limited opportunities. He’s a better start over Atlanta’s Roddy White and possibly Carolina’s Kelvin Benjamin, both of whom are ranked ahead of him this week.
Julian Edelman, New England Patriots
Tom Brady’s favorite target by a huge margin, Edelman’s hauled in 26 receptions for 283 yards and one score this season. He’s been targeted 36 times, with tight end Rob Gronkowski next on the team with 26. Again, the matchup in Week 5 against a Cincy secondary that’s given up only two touchdowns is questionable, especially given Brady and the rest of the offense’s struggles this season. However, Edelman is still a better option than the 49ers Michael Crabtree (vs. Chiefs re-emerging D) or Houston’s Andre Johnson and DeAndre Hopkins (still too hard to trust QB Ryan Fitzpatrick). Also, who else can Brady throw to?
Percy Harvin, Seattle Seahawks
Even with Harvin healthy, the Seahawks are sticking with the ground game to win games. And it’s clearly a winning formula. But they’ll need to air it out some against a Washington D ranked No. 8 against the run. Harvin’s yet to reach the end zone this season, but with his athleticism and speed, and the Redskins ineptitude, that should change Monday night. The loss of No. 1 tight end Zach Miller also means more targets for Harvin.