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Post-Draft Dynasty WR Tiers

Reception Perception creator Matt Harmon gives commentary on his updated tiered wide receiver dynasty rankings in the aftermath of the 2016 NFL Draft and OTAs

I don’t like rankings, not even a little bit. In my view, it’s taking a linear thought process to an inherently fluid and non-linear thought process. I often find there’s a heavy amount of frivolous debate on subjects like “why do you player-x at No. 12 but player-y at No. 15?” I don’t think it does the reader a service to try and take the numerical order as a one-to-one comparison, nor do I believe we learn anything of use or substance about the players in the discussion. 

With that out in the air, I do hold that tiering rankings helps offset some of the uselessness of rankings. It helps take some of the frivolity of arguing a few spots’ difference in the order. Most of the players in one tier have roughly the same value, whether they fall first in the set or last. 

A minor tangent of that regard probably was not what you expected at the start of a rankings article. Not conforming to expectations is one of my favorites. Anyways, what follows is my wide receiver dynasty rankings as we sit here in July, after offseason free agency movement and the influx of rookies in the 2016 NFL Draft. For this update, rookies were added and with a wealth of new data from a large amount of players’ Reception Perception samples. You can find the pre-draft set of rankings here. 

Enjoy the rankings, and if you would like to have a thoughtful discussion about a player’s place, or why I value someone in a way you don’t expect, feel free to drop me a line on Twitter. More than anything, this exercise is less about the grand order of players, but rather to get some thoughts out about a large variety of receivers.

Tier One

1) Odell Beckham Jr. NYG 

2) Antonio Brown PIT 

3) Julio Jones ATL 

4) Allen Robinson JAC

5) DeAndre Hopkins HOU 

Nothing changed with the top-five from the pre to post-draft rendition of the rankings. I did give some small thought to bumping DeAndre Hopkins down to Tier Two, due to many of the reasons he’s closer to the bottom of my WR1 rankings in redraft. When the Texans are on their winning script Hopkins scores in the WR12 range, as he did from Weeks 9 to 17. Losing game scripts and an unsustainable volume made him the WR2 overall he was in the first half of the season, but clearly, that didn’t hold. However, Hopkins being just 24 years old and a supremely talented craftsmen, he keeps his spot.

Tier Two

6) A.J. Green CIN 

7) Mike Evans TB

8) Keenan Allen SD

9) Sammy Watkins BUF 

10) Amari Cooper OAK

11) Dez Bryant DAL

12) Alshon Jeffery CHI

One of the big updates to Tier Two was Keenan Allen jumping from WR11 to WR8. It’s not a major jump, and is not an indictment on any of the players he jumped. Rather, it’s taking notice of what a fantastic player he is. Allen’s 77.1 percent Success Rate Vs. Coverage score in Reception Perception last season was the fourth-best ever logged in series history. There’s no reason to think his ceiling is any lower than the four players behind him and he’s still just 24 years old. Allen was on pace for over 170 targets before going down last season, and should push for that again in 2016.

Dez Bryant and Amari Cooper are tough players to rank. Bryant is the most volatile of any receiver so far. His skill set should put him near the top of this list, but his quarterback’s injury history and lack of a massive target share gives him a shaky floor. Despite Cooper’s pristine route running skills and appealing youth, I’m beginning to wonder if WR10 is right around his ceiling for at least the next two to three seasons. Cooper not only has to swap 2015 target share numbers with Michael Crabtree going forward, he needs to take major steps forward in red zone use and winning contested catches. 

Alshon Jeffery feels like a steal at WR12. He might not be the well-rounded talent the 11 wideouts ahead of him are, but he’s not far off either. He owned a massive target share, getting looks on 33 percent of his pass routes, per Scott Barrett of PFF. That’s right in line with Jay Cutler’s tendency to lock onto one guy. If that share holds even with the introduction of Kevin White, Jeffery could soar past WR12 on a yearly basis.

Tier Three 

13) Demaryius Thomas DEN 

14) Jordy Nelson GB

15) Randall Cobb GB 

16) John Brown ARI

17) Brandin Cooks NO

18) Jarvis Landry MIA 

19) T.Y. Hilton IND

20) Laquon Treadwell MIN

The only change to this tier is the welcoming of Laquon Treadwell at WR20. The Ole Miss product and current Vikings receiver was my top-rated player at the position in the draft. There was a chorus of critics during the pre-draft process, but those accused flaws weren’t supported by his Reception Perception evaluation, which profiled him as an outlier to typical standards. The Vikings aren’t a voluminous passing offense. The team ranked 22nd and 32nd in pass attempts the last two seasons with Teddy Bridgewater at the helm. However, there’s some reason to believe the winds will change once Adrian Peterson moves on and retires. For now, the ideal fit with his team and quarterback are enough to boost him to WR20, but the lack of volume is enough to keep him below a few inferior talents. 

I’m a Jarvis Landry fan as an NFL player, but even I can admit WR18 feels a bit optimistic. After a visit to the RSP Film Room with Matt Waldman, I’m more convinced than ever that Leonte Carroo ends up as a really important player for them. We might have already seen Landry’s target ceiling, but his relative safe floor is comforting in a dynasty league. 

The more I go back over Randall Cobb’s 2014 Reception Perception results, the better I feel about his dynasty stock. Those numbers painted him as a legitimate high-end No. 2 and slot receiver. The shoulder injury he sustained likely had just as much to do with a down, outlier 2015 campaign as the loss of Jordy Nelson.

Tier Four

21) Donte Moncrief IND

22) Corey Coleman, CLE

23) Kevin White CHI

24) Michael Floyd ARI

25) Tyler Lockett SEA 

26) Kelvin Benjamin CAR

27) Brandon Marshall NYJ

28) Josh Doctson WAS

29) Dorial Green-Beckham TEN

30) Sterling Shepard NYG

31) DeVante Parker MIA

Donte Moncrief climbed from WR27 to WR21. I’m more convinced than ever that he’s the clearest breakout candidate for 2016. Once he reaches that status, even this ranking might look conservative. 

Corey Coleman and Josh Doctson jump into Tier Four after entering the NFL. Coleman has a chance to lead the Browns in targets this season after being one of their most sensible draft picks in recent memory. He’s with a creative coach and the opportunity brings more positive feelings than his quarterback situation should worry us. Doctson completes the Washington wide receiver corps and will be their No. 1 before too long. 

I brashly defended Kelvin Benjamin’s dynasty stock in the previous rankings update, but still dropped him from WR20 to WR26. That has more to do with re-evaluating the players now ahead of him and honestly assessing where they stand in relation to Benjamin.  

By now you’ve likely heard that Tyler Lockett absolutely demolished Reception Perception’s scoring in his rookie season. He is the top second-year breakout candidate this season and moved up from WR33 in Tier Five to Four. The winds are changing in Seattle towards a more passing-friendly approach, and Lockett is right at the center of the storm.

Sterling Shepard also enters Tier Four, and yes, over DeVante Parker. The new rookies is already a pristine route-runner, whereas Parker still struggles at the nuances of the game. He also plays in the more stable offense and with the far superior quarterback. But hey, I guess Parker is taller. Shepard’s route-running acumen in the short to intermediate areas is a perfect fit with the Ben McAdoo offense. Frankly, everything about his landing spot is perfect for what could be the most productive rookie wideout this year.

I didn’t drop Dorial Green-Beckham much at all in light of the news regarding him running behind Tajae Sharpe in OTAs. It would be irresponsible to do so, but this ranking could be flirting with his ceiling.

Tier Five

32) Jeremy Maclin KC

33) Martavis Bryant PIT

34) Eric Decker NYJ 

35) Doug Baldwin SEA

36) Jordan Matthews PHI

37) Emmanuel Sanders DEN

38) Larry Fitzgerald ARI

39) Julian Edelman NE

40) Willie Snead NO

41) Golden Tate DET

There’s a ton of veteran goodness in this tier, with perhaps Jeremy Maclin the most underrated of them all. He’s an incredibly efficient receiver playing the best football of his career. The lack of volume in the Chiefs offense limits his sex appeal in dynasty. 

Eric Decker, Larry Fitzgerald, Emmanuel Sanders and Golden Tate can all offer great production for your dynasty teams for the next two seasons, at least. Don't rule out you can get them at a discount but veterans tend to go up in value the closer we get to the season starting. 

Jordan Matthews dropped a tier, and the more I ponder his situation, the less I’m interested in owning him. If he truly loses a healthy amount of snaps staying as the slot receiver in a primary two-receiver offense, that would be catastrophic. He’s already set to lose volume just based on the pace in Philadelphia coming to screeching slowdown with Doug Pederson replacing Chip Kelly. 

Doug Baldwin got an award from the Seahawks for a strong 2015 in the form of a big new contract. He feels like something of a value at WR35 given his attachment to one of the league’s best cornerbacks who is still on the upswing. 

Willie Snead is a new Reception Perception favorite. As an under 25-year old receiver who is a detailed technician and attached to Drew Brees, there’s no way his dynasty stock should be as low as it is.

Tier Six

42) Breshad Perriman BAL

43) Allen Hurns JAC

44) Torrey Smith SF

45) DeSean Jackson WAS

46) Michael Thomas NO

47) Michael Crabtree OAK 

48) Marvin Jones DET

49) Kamar Aiken BAL

50) Nelson Agholor PHI

Kamar Aiken enters this tier for the first time after Reception Perception revealed that his surprising 2015 production was a legitimate breakout. For one year at least, he has as good a chance as anyone to lead the pass-happy Ravens in targets and yards. He’s still early enough in his career that the best might just be ahead for him.  

You can lock Torrey Smith in for a bounce back season in 2015 with the arrival of Chip Kelly. DeSean Jackson is also a screaming value in dynasty with a WR58 asking price. 

I don’t know what to do with Nelson Agholor right now. I’ve bumped him way down until his legal situation is clearer than it is at press time.  

The WR43 ranking of Allen Hurns feels unfair. He is a legitimately good young receiver on an offense that is theoretically ascending. Nevertheless, I just cannot objectively project him for the rate stats he posted in 2015 and he doesn’t have a path to volume that the others in the preceding tiers do. 

Tier Seven

51) Will Fuller HOU

52) Devin Funchess CAR

53) Stefon Diggs MIN

54) Leonte Carroo MIA

55) Travis Benjamin SD

56) Tavon Austin LA

57) Markus Wheaton PIT 

58) Kendall Wright TEN 

59) Phillip Dorsett IND 

60) Malcolm Mitchell NE

61) Jeff Janis GB 

62) Devin Smith NYJ

Will Fuller and Leonte Carroo slot in as the new rookies in this tier and both probably fell too far in your rookie drafts. Fuller might not ever offer weekly consistency, but he will bring throat-cutting ability as a WR3 in your lineups. Carroo fell because of landing spot, but his ability to defeat press coverage, reliable hands and prowess in contest situations bring a combination of attributes that the current Dolphins starters don't have in totality. He has a chance to produce right off the bat and could earn a long-term vital role. 

Jeff Fisher said he think Tavon Austin could catch 100 passes this season. That’s aggressive, but Austin was the WR28 in PPR leagues while netting 104 total offensive touches. With that in mind, his WR56 ranking feels like a major slight. Again, just like with Hurns, it’s hard to say I’d want him on my roster over any of the other players ahead of him.

We’ve been down this road of opportunity with Markus Wheaton before. I’ll believe that he can capitalize on it properly when I see it. 

Tier Eight

63) Josh Gordon CLE

64) Sammie Coates PIT

65) Tyler Boyd CIN

66) Rashard Higgins CLE

67) Jaelen Strong HOU 

68) Chris Conley KC 

69) Bruce Ellington SF

70) Jamison Crowder WAS

71) Mike Wallace BAL

72) Albert Wilson KC

73) Davante Adams GB

74) Seth Roberts OAK 

75) Kenny Bell TB

76) Mike Thomas LA

77) Pierre Garcon WAS

I’m over Josh Gordon until more news arrives on his outlook. I don’t expect it to. Don’t forget about Jaelen Strong, who garnered buzz in OTAs as a totally different player. I’m in on the Bruce Ellington hype train as the potential slot receiver in Chip Kelly’s offense. His minuscule Reception Perception sample was promising. Mike Wallace has at least one year left of intrigue remaining as the primary healthy deep threat in Baltimore’s offense. 

Without a doubt, I’m lower on Tyler Boyd than most of my colleagues. He struggled to separate in college, despite being a strong route-runner, and I think the landing spot is a bit overrated. He’s behind two established target hogs and is unlikely to pass Brandon LaFell, per the team’s contention. It’s hard to see the ceiling for fantasy football, even if he does become a useful player for the Bengals. 

On the other hand, Rishard Higgins does have my affection. He’s already received some run as a starter in three-wide sets in OTAs. He’s another one I would bet on being an outlier. 

Tier Nine

78) Kenny Stills MIA 

79) Danny Amendola NE 

80) Steve Johnson SD 

81) Tajae Sharpe TEN

82) Mohamed Sanu ATL

83) Vincent Jackson TB 

84) Rishard Matthews TEN

85) Ty Montgomery GB 

86) Steve Smith BAL

87) Anquan Boldin FA

88) Ted Ginn CAR

89) Chris Moore BAL

Don’t forget about Steve Johnson, who put out some productive weeks when healthy this season. He’s an important third wheel in what I believe is a top-five receiving corps in the NFL.

Tajae Sharpe being used as a motivational tool by the coaching staff still should not diminish the fact he’s starting already as fifth-round rookie. It’s not an exciting situation in Tennessee, but Sharpe has a shot to carve out a reliable role. 

Mohammed Sanu still does not move the needle for me, despite a path to playing time in Atlanta.


Tier Ten

90) DeAndre Smelter SF

91) Keyarris Garrett CAR

92) Brian Quick STL

93) Justin Hardy ATL 

94) Robert Woods BUF

95) Terrance Williams DAL

96) Brandon LaFell CIN

97) Victor Cruz NYG 

99) Jermaine Kearse SEA

100) Cody Latimer DEN

101) Cordarrelle Patterson MIN 

If he makes the roster, Keyarris Garrett makes sense as a potential deep sleeper for Carolina. However, he is no lock to do so and could lose his spot to Stephen Hill, who the team likes. 

Robert Woods has a shot to move up these rankings in a hurry if he switches teams next season. Don't be surprised if we get some surprising value out of Terrance Williams this season, but Dallas needs to upgrade that position before the 2017 season kicks off. 

DeAndre Smelter is much farther down this list than he was before the draft. Some beat writers don’t think he will make the team and his recovering is still a work in progress. He showed the skills in college to be an NFL player, but the signs are not good right now. I’m not blowing the candle out on that story, but we’re on high-alert.