JuJu Smith-Schuster, Nelson Agholor, Kenny Stills, Cooper Kupp, Paul Richardson, Chris Hogan, Sterling Shepard, Josh Doctson, Randall Cobb, Kenny Golladay, Adam Humphries, Chris Godwin, Ted Ginn Jr. and Keelan Cole.
That's just a partial list of wide receivers who were in the fantasy spotlight in 2017 despite entering the season third or lower on their respective teams' depth charts.
Fantasy football leagues aren't won during the first few rounds of your draft. Much to our chagrin, guys underwhelm and/or go down with injuries. For this reason, it's important to become familiar not only with superstars, but also with role players and emerging youngsters who could find themselves on the fantasy radar during the 2018 season.
With that in mind, I have ranked the current No. 3 wide receivers for each NFL team in terms of expected 2018 fantasy production -- not strictly on skill. As you'll see in the explanations, scheme, playing-time security and supporting cast are among the other variables in play.
Some of these players are worth your attention on draft day, while others are names to scoop up in dynasty leagues or file away for later.
Note: Mentions of three-plus wide receiver sets throughout this article refer only to pass plays.
It's easy to debate who the third wide receiver is in Sean McVay's offense, but -- let's be honest -- it doesn't really matter. Last season, the Rams had a third wide receiver on the field for a league-high 92 percent of their pass plays. Robert Woods and Cooper Kupp both played very well and averaged target shares above 20 percent. Cooks, meanwhile, has fallen short of a 20 percent share in each of his first four NFL seasons, which is why he's slotted in behind his two teammates for this exercise. Regardless, all three receivers will be a near-every-down players and on the fantasy radar in what figures to again be one of the league's highest-scoring offenses. The Rams are the rare team that could support three top-36 fantasy receivers.
2. Paul Richardson, Washington Redskins
The Redskins have ranked seventh, fifth, eighth and 14th in three-wide sets during Jay Gruden's four seasons as head coach. Richardson, who finished 39th at the position in fantasy points last season, signed a five-year, $40 million contract with the club during the offseason. That hefty price tag suggests he won't be short on opportunities in an offense that also includes Josh Doctson and slot man Jamison Crowder. Though Washington obviously hopes Doctson -- a 2016 first-round pick -- emerges as the team's top receiver, he's far from a sure thing. If Doctson stumbles, Richardson could conceivably lead the Alex Smith-led offense in targets this season.
3. D.J. Moore, Carolina Panthers
Moore was the first wide receiver selected in April's draft and, though I'm currently slotting him third on the depth chart, he very well could be an every-down player in a hurry. Devin Funchess is the team's top wideout and 2017 second-round pick Curtis Samuel was promoted to a full-time gig last season prior to suffering a season-ending injury in Week 10. The Panthers didn't run many three-wide sets under former offensive coordinator Mike Shula (they ranked 27th at 61 percent last season) and that's unlikely to change under Norv Turner. Moore might start slowly, but his upside makes him a well worth a bench spot.
4. Kenny Golladay, Detroit Lions
The Lions changed head coaches during the offseason, but Jim Bob Cooter is back as offensive coordinator. That's notable because Detroit has had a third wide receiver on the field for at least 80 percent of its pass plays in each of Cooter's three campaigns in the position, ranking in the top five in the category all three seasons. Golladay, a 2017 third-round pick, showed big-time flashes as a rookie, averaging 17.0 yards per reception (YPR) on 28 catches. His upside is capped a bit by the presence of Golden Tate and Marvin Jones Jr., but Golladay won't be short on routes in Cooter's scheme.
At 66 percent, the Falcons ranked 24th in the NFL in three-wide sets last season, Steve Sarkisian's first as offensive coordinator. That number figures to rise significantly in 2018 after Ridley fell into the team's lap at the 26th pick of April's draft. The former Alabama star will begin his career behind superstar Julio Jones and slot man Mohamed Sanu, but there's certainly room for 50 or so catches and a handful of explosive plays during his rookie campaign.
Believe it or not, the Bengals have ranked top 10 in three-wide sets each of the past two seasons. That includes seventh (80 percent) in 2017. Bill Lazor has coordinated three offenses over the past four years and all three have been at or above the 80 percent mark. That bodes well for Ross, who barely played as a rookie but sports massive upside as the ninth overall pick in the 2017 draft. Ross won't pass A.J. Green in the pecking order any time soon, but if he comes close to his pedigree, the likes of Josh Malone and Tyler Boyd shouldn't be hard to overtake. Ross has about as much upside as you can find in a late-round pick.
The Saints have finished outside the top 20 in three-wide sets each of the past five seasons, but if Meredith is near as good as he was in Chicago, he'll demand a generous target share as the slot man in New Orleans' high-scoring offense. Meredith missed all of last season with a devastating knee injury, but broke out for 66 catches and 888 yards in 14 games in 2016 and sports a ridiculous 70 percent career catch rate. There's a real chance he quickly becomes a favorite target of Drew Brees.
There's still a lot to be learned about the Raiders' offensive scheme after the franchise brought in Jon Gruden as head coach and Greg Olson as OC during the offseason. Though Olson's usage of three-wide sets has been inconsistent, it's fair to expect the team to lean heavily on the "11" package -- three wide receivers, one running back, one tight end -- after signing Jordy Nelson and trading for Bryant to go along with Amari Cooper. Bryant's off-field issues have been well-documented, but he's scored 17 touchdowns in 36 career games and is still only 26 years old. He's a boom/bust pick, but there's some upside here with Cooper and Nelson both coming off rough 2017 showings.
Coach Adam Gase has always been heavy on three-wide sets and that was again the case in 2017. Miami had three wideouts on the field for 87 percent of its pass plays, which trailed only the Rams for highest in the NFL. Gase has been a head coach or OC each of the past five seasons and his units have ranked third, fifth, 10th, fourth and second in the category. Jarvis Landry is long gone, but Miami was quick to replace him with Wilson and Danny Amendola to go between DeVante Parker and Kenny Stills. Gase's scheme and Wilson's three-year, $24 million deal should assure the former Chiefs wideout a significant offensive role.
The Steelers leaned heavily on three-wide sets during the Todd Haley era, including the league's fourth-highest rate (85 percent) last season. Haley is out and Randy Fichtner is in as OC, but not much figures to change in this department with Antonio Brown, JuJu Smith-Schuster and 2018 second-round pick Washington in the fold. Washington's ceiling is limited by the presence of Brown and Smith-Schuster, but it's smart to invest in top-three receivers in elite offenses, and that's particularly the case when it's a player with Washington's pedigree.
Offensive-minded Eagles head coach Doug Pederson has ranked below average in three-plus wide receiver sets throughout his career as a coach and coordinator. That includes a 2017 season in which Philadelphia finished 21st in the category (70 percent). Of course, the Eagles also operated one of the league's most effective and highest-scoring units. After spending most of his career as a No. 1 receiver, Wallace slides in behind Alshon Jeffery and likely Nelson Agholor in Philadelphia. Wallace will be hard pressed to provide standalone value in 2018, but his sneaky handcuff value shouldn't be overlooked.
Coach Anthony Lynn has tended to lean on heavier offensive sets in recent seasons and that was the case in 2017. Despite boasting one of the league's deepest receiver groups, the Chargers ranked 19th in three-plus wide receiver sets (71 percent). That number figures to rise in 2018 with Hunter Henry out for the season, but Williams -- the seventh overall pick in the 2017 draft -- will still have his hands full earning a full-time gig. Keenan Allen is locked in atop the depth chart, leaving Williams to battle with Tyrell Williams and Travis Benjamin. The 6-foot-3 ex-Clemson star has tons of upside, but an unclear path to targets makes him no more than a late-round flier.
Pryor joins the Jets following a breakout 2016 campaign in Cleveland and a disappointing, injury-plagued 2017 season in Washington. Robby Anderson is the team's top wide receiver, with slot man Quincy Enunwa currently appearing to be second in line for targets. Pryor is the favorite to work the perimeter opposite Anderson in three-wide sets, but will need to hold off Jermaine Kearse, Chad Hansen and ArDarius Stewart. New York ranked eighth in three-wide sets last season (79 percent) and, especially considering the team's shaky tight-end situation, that mark doesn't figure to change much with Jeremy Bates now running the offense. There's room for Pryor to emerge as a top target in this offense, making him a worthwhile late-round flier.
The Seahawks ranked 16th in the league in three-wide sets last season (74 percent) and new OC Brian Schottenheimer has been all over the place in terms of personnel usage during his years as a playcaller. Schottenheimer has been below average in the category during four of his past six seasons as a coordinator, and Seattle's move to a run-oriented offense means it's fair to expect a below-average rate of "11" personnel packages in 2018. That would be problematic for Marshall's volume, as he figures to begin 2018 behind Doug Baldwin and Tyler Lockett. Marshall's 2018 fantasy value will rely heavily on touchdowns; he's found the end zone at least 10 times in four different seasons since 2009, but has only three scores over the past two seasons.
Though he'll certainly face competition from 2017 third-round pick Carlos Henderson and fellow 2018 draft selection DaeSean Hamilton, Sutton, who was scooped up in the second round of April's draft, appears to have the leg up on No. 3 duties according to ESPN Broncos reporter Jeff Legwold. Denver ranked ninth in three-wide sets last season (79 percent), and OC Bill Musgrave has been above average in the category during each of his past three seasons in the position. Little figures to change in 2018 considering the team's recent injection of youth to the position. Sutton is a sneaky handcuff with Demaryius Thomas and Emmanuel Sanders now over the age-30 hill.
The Patriots don't run many three-wide sets (59 percent, ranked 31st last season), but Dorsett certainly needs to be monitored with Julian Edelman facing a four-game suspension. Dorsett, a 2015 first-round pick who struggled in Indianapolis before being sent to New England in last year's Jacoby Brissett trade, played 34.2 snaps per game from Week 9 on last season, but was targeted only 13 times during nine active games. Dorsett will need to fend off the likes of Kenny Britt, Cordarrelle Patterson, Braxton Berrios and Malcolm Mitchell, but he very well could end up on the fantasy radar throughout the season if he locks down a significant role in New England's high-scoring, pass-heavy offense.
Despite operating one of the league's run-heaviest offenses last season, the Jaguars ended up near mid-pack in three-wide receiver sets (73 percent). Marqise Lee and well-paid Donte Moncrief are the favorites to "start" this season, leaving Westbrook to fend off Keelan Cole and second-round pick D.J. Chark for No. 3 duties. Westbrook averaged 6.5 targets per game in 10 rookie-season outings and actually paced the team's wide receivers in snaps and routes during three playoff games. Westbrook is a potential second-year breakout player and thus worth stashing in deeper leagues.
The Titans ranked near the bottom of the league in three-wide sets last season (65 percent), but that's a figure likely to rise -- perhaps massively -- with Matt LaFleur now running the offense. LaFleur, of course, was the OC for a Rams team that paced the league in three-wide sets in 2017 (92 percent). Eric Decker is gone, leaving 2017 third-round pick Taylor as the favorite to man the slot between Corey Davis and Rishard Matthews. Taylor was limited to 16 catches as a rookie, but his playmaking upside in an offense trending in the right direction should keep him on your radar.
The Vikings have ranked right around league average in three-wide sets during each of Mike Zimmer's four seasons as the team's head coach. That includes 76 percent in 2017, which put Minnesota 13th in the category. Adam Thielen and Stefon Diggs are locked in as the club's top two receivers, but Wright offers an upgrade on the likes of Jarius Wright and third-year Laquon Treadwell. Wright could sneak his way into fantasy relevance in deeper PPR leagues as is, but also has some handcuff appeal in a Vikings offense likely to rank among the league's top-scoring units.
Coach Hue Jackson's offenses have utilized heavier personnel packages throughout most of his career, but that figures to change with Todd Haley now running the unit. Haley has ranked above average in three-wide sets each of the past five seasons, averaging a 79 percent rate during that span. Coleman's first two NFL seasons have not gone as planned (56 receptions and a 46 percent catch rate in 19 games), but Haley's offense should allow him significant playing time behind Josh Gordon and Jarvis Landry. There are a lot of similarities between Coleman and the 2017 version of Nelson Agholor -- both former first-round picks who struggled as primary targets, but faced less pressure in a better offense in their third season. Agholor broke out in a big way in 2017 and Coleman will try to follow suit this season.
The Packers have finished no lower than eighth in three-plus wide receivers each of the past 11 seasons. That includes top-two finishes in five of the past six seasons. Considering that Green Bay is also one of the league's highest-scoring teams when Aaron Rodgers is healthy, that makes the team's No. 3 wide receiver very attractive in fantasy. So why the "low" ranking for Allison in this exercise? Suspect job security. Allison is the de facto No. 3 receiver after Green Bay cut loose Jordy Nelson, but the 2016 undrafted free agent has only 35 career receptions to his name. He'll face serious competition for reps from a trio of 2018 draft picks in J'Mon Moore, Marquez Valdes-Scantling and Equanimeous St. Brown. The winner of the competition belongs on the fantasy radar, so this is obviously a battle to monitor.
The Ravens have ranked 31st, 26th, 27th and 32nd in three-wide receiver sets over the past four seasons. Similarly, OC Marty Mornhinweg's offenses have ranked below average in the category during his past four campaigns in the same position. Baltimore's improved wide-receiver room could lead to a change in 2018, but it's hard to imagine anything more than a slight adjustment. This should obviously raise red flags about Snead's ability to generate enough volume to allow consistent flex production. Michael Crabtree is locked in as the team's top wide receiver, leaving Snead to try to knock off John Brown for No. 2 duties and fantasy relevance.
The Texans have ranked 18th, 10th, 19th and, most recently, 25th in three-wide sets during Bill O'Brien's four seasons as head coach. Coutee was scooped up by Houston in the fourth round of April's draft and is already the favorite to beat out Braxton Miller for slot duties between DeAndre Hopkins and Will Fuller V. Coutee is a highly intriguing prospect, having posted a 93-1,429-10 receiving line at age 20 while aligning in the slot on 94 percent of his snaps at Texas Tech last season. Coutee is tiny (5-foot-10, 181 pounds with 8.4-inch hands), but his explosive playmaking ability makes him well worth a dart throw in deeper leagues.
24. Adam Humphries, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Fun fact: Humphries caught more passes than Alshon Jeffery last season. I'll hold while you look that up. All good now? Excellent. Humphries is one of only 26 wide receivers who have caught 55 or more passes each of the past two seasons, but is a candidate for reduced opportunities with second-year Chris Godwin ticketed for a larger role. The Bucs have ranked near mid-pack in three-wide sets during each of Dirk Koetter's three seasons with the team, and that doesn't figure to change much with tight ends Cameron Brate and O.J. Howard locked into significant roles. Humphries is only worth a look in deep PPR leagues, though Godwin is an intriguing (albeit rare) wide-receiver handcuff.
The Bears' offense is going to look a lot different with John Fox out and Matt Nagy in as head coach, but that doesn't figure to mean a large increase in three-wide sets. The Chiefs ranked 29th (59.81 percent) in the category with Nagy as the offensive coordinator last season, which put them just one spot ahead of Chicago (59.77 percent). It's possible Gabriel opens 2018 as Chicago's No. 2 wide receiver, but it's more likely that he'll settle in as a situational deep threat behind Allen Robinson and second-round rookie Anthony Miller (Kevin White is also in the mix). That won't lead to consistent volume in an offense that will make heavy use of tight ends Trey Burton and Adam Shaheen.
The Cowboys have turned to a run-heavy offense in recent seasons, but they've still leaned on three-wide sets when passing. Dallas ranked 11th in the category at 78 percent in 2017. Dez Bryant is gone, leaving the likes of Beasley, Allen Hurns, Terrance Williams, and rookie Michael Gallup to compete for snaps and targets. It's possible one from the bunch emerges as a consistent fantasy option, but it's hard to get excited for secondary receivers in a run-heavy offense.
Former Arizona head coach Bruce Arians was fond of three- and four-wide sets, and things might not change much with Mike McCoy now running the offense. McCoy's units have ranked above average in three-wide usage during seven of his past nine seasons as a head coach or OC. Larry Fitzgerald is the team's clear top receiver and 2018 second-round pick Christian Kirk the early favorite for No. 2 duties. That leaves Nelson to compete with Brice Butler and Chad Williams for No. 3 duties. It's a long shot, but considering McCoy's scheme, this could be a sneaky spot for fantasy production in deeper leagues if Josh Rosen quickly emerges into a star.
The 49ers ranked 28th in three-wide sets last season (60 percent) and were even lower (48 percent, 31st) during Jimmy Garoppolo's five starts. That's been a theme for coach Kyle Shanahan's offenses, which have been below average in the category during eight of his 10 seasons as a head coach or OC. Taylor showed relatively well with 43 receptions as a rookie, but he'll be hard pressed to repeat that mark with Pierre Garcon back to full health and second-round pick Dante Pettis in the mix.
The Bills ranked 22nd in the league in three-wide sets last season at 69 percent. New OC Brian Daboll, meanwhile, hasn't coordinated an NFL offense since 2012. Buffalo operates a run-first offense, lacks depth at wide receiver and will keep fullback Patrick DiMarco involved. That's the long way of saying this offense figures to again finish on the lower end of the league in three-wide sets. It's possible Kerley beats out Zay Jones for the team's No. 2 gig, but there's simply not much fantasy appeal here barring a surprise emergence from one of AJ McCarron, Josh Allen and Nathan Peterman.
The Colts have hung around league average in three-wide sets during Andrew Luck's tenure with the team and the résumés of new head coach Frank Reich and offensive coordinator Nick Sirianni suggests that's unlikely to change much in 2018. Additionally, the Colts' wide-receiver depth is weak (or, at least, uncertain) and the signing of Eric Ebron to team up with Jack Doyle supplies them with a solid one-two punch at tight end. T.Y. Hilton is the team's top offensive target, leaving Rogers, Ryan Grant and rookies Deon Cain and Daurice Fountain to compete for snaps and targets. Cain has generated some offseason hype and has the most upside behind Hilton.
Coach Andy Reid loves to throw the football, but that simply hasn't led to much reliance on three-wide sets. Kansas City has ranked 30th, 27th, 30th and, most recently, 29th in the category over the past four seasons. Tyreek Hill and Sammy Watkins are locked in as the team's top wide receivers and, with Travis Kelce and Kareem Hunt also ticketed for large roles, there's simply not much left for depth receivers. Recent mid-round picks Conley, Demarcus Robinson and Jehu Chesson are positioned very poorly for 2018 breakouts.
Following three seasons of extremely high reliance on three-plus wide receiver sets, the Giants dipped to 20th in the category (70 percent) last season. New head coach Pat Shurmur has relied on three-wide sets often throughout this career, but new OC Mike Shula ranked near the basement of the NFL in the category each of his five seasons in Carolina. Odell Beckham Jr. and Sterling Shepard are locked in as New York's top receivers, leaving the likes of Latimer, Roger Lewis and Russell Shepard to compete for scraps. None is likely to join the fantasy conversation this season.