Where should you draft Davante Adams?

Last night, following the news of Jordy Nelson's ACL tear, I participated in my first draft of the season. The news was so fresh that ESPN had not yet adjusted the ranking of either Nelson or Adams or even indicated that Nelson was hurt. One very unfortunate drafter took Nelson 18th overall while I leapt at the opportunity to take Davante Adams 61st overall. At first glance, that seems way too high. But consider that Davante Adams, even before the Jordy Nelson injury, was ranked 109th overall. I did not pick again until the 80s and I highly doubt Adams would still be there for me at that point. 

What kind of production can we expect out of Adams?

Why am I so high on the second-year receiver out of Fresno St.? It's simple: Aaron Rodgers.

Why am I so high on the second-year receiver out of Fresno St.? It's simple: Aaron Rodgers.

Honestly, a lot. Jordy Nelson had 98 receptions, 1,519 yards, 13 touchdowns, and 221 fantasy points on 151 targets. He finished 3rd among wide receivers in fantasy. Meanwhile, Adams proved himself as a reliable third option in his rookie year last season. And Aaron Rodgers is still the best QB in football. Rodgers will put up numbers and not all of it can go to Randall Cobb. 

So what's Adams' floor? Well, Adams generated 38 receptions, 446 yards, 3 touchdowns, and 58 fantasy points on 66 targets last year. The low-end estimate of the targets he'll see this year is about double: about 122 (this still leaves 85 of Nelson's 151 targets unclaimed). So even if Adams does not improve at all from his rookie year, we can expect his absolute floor to be about 116 points which would have been 29th among wide receivers last year. That's a decent floor but it's not enough to be worth the 61st pick overall. But Adams has considerable upside too. Nelson finished 3rd among wide receivers in fantasy last year (221 points) and Cobb finished 7th (191 points). With Aaron Rodgers throwing the ball, it is conceivable that Adams could have that kind of upside as well. But let's be a little more conservative and project a middle ground. I think Adams has a good chance at scoring around 150 points this year which would put him inside the top 15 wide receivers. The 15th ranked receiver right now is DeAndre Hopkins who is 32nd overall. While I wouldn't take Adams that high, I think he's definitely worth being drafted as a top 25 receiver which is 60th overall, which justifies my taking him at 61. So in a 12 team league, I'd advocate taking Adams as early as the 5th round. 

My personal wide receiver rankings:

Tier 1
1. Antonio Brown
2. Demaryius Thomas
3. Julio Jones
4. Dez Bryant
5. Randall Cobb
6. Odell Beckham Jr.
7. Calvin Johnson
8. A.J. Green

Tier 2
9. Mike Evans
10. Alshon Jeffery
11. T.Y. Hilton

Tier 3
12. Emmanuel Sanders
13. Brandin Cooks
14. Jordan Matthews

Tier 4
15. DeAndre Hopkins
16. Andre Johnson
17. Mike Wallace
18. Sammy Watkins
19. Davante Adams
20. Brandon Marshall
21. Jeremy Maclin
22. Vincent Jackson
23. DeSean Jackson
24. Keenan Allen
25. Nelson Agholor