The fantasy outlook for the league’s No. 3 receivers

The first thing a WR needs to do to produce is be on the field. Jeff Ratcliffe looks at which teams use a third WR most often.

| 3 weeks ago
(Elsa/Getty Images)

(Elsa/Getty Images)

The fantasy outlook for the league’s No. 3 receivers


You can’t score fantasy points on the sideline. Stating the obvious here, but this is often something fantasy players overlook when considering the third receiver on a given depth chart. NFL teams don’t all run the same amount of three- or four-wide receiver sets.

While it’s rare for three receivers from the same team to finish among the top 36 fantasy receivers, knowing team tendencies will give you an edge on your opponents, especially in deeper leagues. Below, you’ll find all 32 teams ranked in order of percentage of total offensive plays with three wide receivers on the field from last season along with insights on the fantasy outlook of each team’s No. 3 receiver. At the bottom, there’s a ranking of all 32 teams’ No. 3 receivers.

1. New York Giants – 92.6%

Ben McAdoo’s offense essentially runs three-wide at all times, which means a near every-down role for Sterling Shepard. The second-year receiver has some appeal following a rookie campaign where he found the end zone eight times. But fantasy drafters should keep in mind that the Giants added Brandon Marshall in free agency and drafted dynamic tight end Evan Engram. With so many mouths to feed, it’ll be tough for Shepard to be anything more than a WR4/5.

2. San Francisco 49ers – 77.3%

This number came on Chip Kelly’s watch. New head coach Kyle Shanahan ran three-wide just 45.9 percent of the time last season, which ranked 29th. Jeremy Kerley flashed on the fantasy radar at points last season, but he isn’t likely to see the field enough to be more than an occasional one-week wonder.

3. Detroit Lions – 75.8%

The Lions project to use Golden Tate and Marvin Jones in two-wide sets, but things get interesting with their third wide receiver. The early favorite is rookie third-rounder Kenny Golladay. He enters the NFL with an intriguing size/speed profile and has been generating some buzz in OTAs. If he earns the job, Golladay will play outside in three-wide sets with Tate kicking to the slot. That would give him some appeal as a late-round flier in redraft leagues.

4. Miami Dolphins – 75.5%

Like Tate in Detroit, Jarvis Landry plays outside in two-receiver sets and mans the slot with three receivers on the field. Our depth charts favor DeVante Parker as the No. 2 receiver with Kenny Stills coming on in three-wide sets. Stills wasn’t heavily targeted last season (75), but he managed a top-30 fantasy season in standard scoring thanks to his nine scores. He comes with a lot of week-to-week volatility, but Stills remains in the fantasy conversation thanks to his high ceiling.

5. Jacksonville Jaguars – 75.1%

Allen Hurns project as one of Jacksonville’s top two receivers (along with Allen Robinson), but there’s arguably more fantasy appeal for their No. 3 receiver Marquise Lee. Hurns moves to the slot in three-wide sets with Lee playing outside the numbers. The oft-injured Lee finally managed to stay on the field last season and actually outscored Robinson down the stretch. From Week 11 on, Lee caught 25 balls for 359 yards and three scores, ranking 25th among receivers in fantasy scoring over that span.

6. Washington Redskins – 72.6%

Sean McVay is gone, but there isn’t any indication to expect a dramatic overhaul for Washington under new offensive coordinator Matt Cavanaugh. The Redskins figure to use Terrelle Pryor and Jamison Crowder as their top two receivers, and second-year man Josh Doctson is the favorite for No. 3 duties. He’ll play outside with Crowder in the slot. Doctson is unproven, but oozing with upside. He’s worth consideration in the later rounds of fantasy drafts.

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| Director of Fantasy

Jeff Ratcliffe is the Director of Fantasy at Pro Football Focus. He produces all of our projections and is 2016's second-most-accurate ranker in the fantasy industry. Jeff also is the host of our show on SiriusXM fantasy sports radio and is one of the main hosts of our Fantasy Slant podcast.

  • Don Elretseo

    Excellent article, really enjoy the breakdown of coachng tendencies.