UPDATED 8/30: When I draft, I always have a tier sheet handy. I find that organizing players by tiers is far more beneficial than merely ranking players.
I could rank Julio Jones over Odell Beckham Jr., but it is impossible to truly predict who will have a better season between the two of them, but I do know that both should finish better than a guy like Brandin Cooks.
Another reason I prefer tier rankings is that a range of outcomes approach is preferable to just this is what a guy will finish with at the end of the season. Jason Witten and Frank Gore have low end RB1 and TE1 numbers the past two years, but their weekly numbers are not going to help you win your weeks for the most part. In essence, you are looking for a player that has a chance to perform at a weekly level that is higher than a mere replacement level player, even if that replacement level player may have decent looking year-end numbers. Which brings me to my final point, fantasy football, in season long leagues, is about winning weeks, so you need to draft a combination of players where some have high ceiling, while some of high floors. That is how you win.
Antonio Brown, Steelers – The best wide receiver in the NFL and in fantasy as long as Ben Roethlisberger stays healthy. The return of Martavis Bryant should also help keep some of the pressure off. The only real worry is those Roethlisberger home/road splits, which can kill you.
Julio Jones, Falcons – An absolute beast and perhaps the only wide receiver in the league capable of going off for 12 catches for 300 yards, like he did against the Panthers last year. He once again battled lower leg injuries and his targets were down from 204 to 129. Hope for health and expect his targets to bounce back into the 175+ range with very little else at the receiver position.
Odell Beckham Jr, Giants – Eli Manning force fed him far too much last year, so they went out and signed Brandon Marshall and drafted rookie move tight end Evan Engram to go along with solid second-year receiver, Sterling Shepard. His target percentage will come down from the absurd 27% it was last year, but the quality of targets should be better and the coverage on those targets easier.
A.J. Green, Bengals – PFF's 4th rated receiver from last year and my fourth ranked this year. Was killing it last season and leading the league in receiving yards before he got injured, accumulating nearly 1,000 yards in just 9.5 games. Additions of weapons should help him, and without the semblance of an offensive line to run the ball, they could pass a ton.
Jordy Nelson, Packers – Entering his age 32 season, coming off a monster year and he is Aaron Rodgers boy. He did look sluggish at times last year, but was that due to his recovery from a knee injury or due to age? Probably a bit of both, but look for him to have 85+ catches and 10+ touchdowns again this year if he stays healthy. Speaking of health, with an average draft position (ADP) of 2.01, it all comes down to how much you are willing to invest in an older player so early in the draft with other good options available. That said, per Curtis Patrick at DLF, over the past 16 games played, he's tied with Keenan Allen (my guy) for percent of finishes in the top 6, and 4th in top 12. I certainly wouldn't look down on anyone for taking him in the first round.
Mike Evans, Buccaneers – 1,200+ yards and 10+ touchdowns should be the norm, but keep in mind he was the only game in town last year at the receiver position and they have other legit weapons now, especially in deep threat DeSean Jackson, not to mention rookies Chris Godwin and O.J. Howard. The other concern is Winston, who was PFF's 20th ranked quarterback and who had a middle of the pack 64.9 QBR rating from ESPN last year. Winston's erratic play showed up in Evans box score down the stretch where he would mix in big games with some major duds. While Evans will not see another 175 targets, he will still get his, but I'd rather take the guys in Tier 2 over him at this point in the pre-season, which means I'm probably owning very few shares.
Michael Thomas, Saints – With Brandin Cooks out of town, Thomas is the lead dog in this receiving corps. He was Pro Football Focus' (PFF) 5th rated wide receiver last year and finished with Football Outsiders second best DVOA score, which represents value, per play, over an average WR in the same game situations. Additionally, in Matt Harmon's Reception Perception metric he performed amazingly well, finishing with some of the best numbers on the season: Success rate vs: Man-74%, Zone-84%, Double-73%, Press-80%. All that said, keep in mind that it's not as easy being the man and taking on teams top corners and/or seeing extra coverage and being game planned for, then it is having a guy like Cooks on the other side of the field taking some of the pressure away. As Scott Barrett at PFF mentioned, Thomas had the 4th easiest corner back schedule last year, while Cooks had the 52nd out of 95 receivers. This year, the Saints have the leagues 7th toughest schedule for outside receivers, so there is some cause for concern despite my love of his talent. Drew Brees also likes to spread things around and as Graham Barfield from Fantasy Guru mentioned, Saints lead receivers usually see around 20% target share, while 36 receivers saw more than 20% last year. That said, the Saints have a high volume pass attack and the quality of those targets are top notch coming from Brees. Early in the pre-season I had him a tier lower, but I'm buying him as safe and great late first or early second round pick.
T.Y. Hilton, Colts – Andrew Luck's go-to guy stymied last year by mediocre quarterback play and still caught 91 passes for 1,448 yards and 6 touchdowns. However, as Rotoworld's Evan Silva pointed out, Hilton averaged 10.3 targets for 101.3 yards and a 9 touchdown pace in games where Donte Moncrief missed, but fell to a 9.2 target, 82.1 yards, and four touchdown pace when Moncrief played. In terms of fantasy scoring, that is a difference between 19.8 fantasy points per game versus 14.8 fantasy points per game. With Moncrief fully healthy, it is realistic to assume Hilton's lower clip could certainly be the proper pace. Although, even so, that is still a finishing line of 147 targets for 1,313 yards, good enough for a top 12 finish at the position last year. The biggest red flag is his quarterback. Andrew Luck still is not throwing from off-season shoulder surgery and there is talk that he could miss a few games to start the season or even go on the PUP list. He’s gone from a very safe second round pick to a risky one. I’ve debated dropping him a tier and I'm not drafting him at the moment.
Doug Baldwin, Seahawks – Has some serious mojo with Russell Wilson and that cannot be underestimated. Baldwin put up 94 catches for 1,128 yards and 7 touchdowns on 125 targets with a 75.2% catch rate. His 15.9 FPG ranked 9th among all wide receivers. He's an underrated talent and finished in the top 10 in both PFF and Football Outsider rankings, look for that to continue.
Dez Bryant, Cowboys – He is as talented as any wide receiver in the league and is also by far the best receiver on his team. Unfortunately, he is perpetually capped by volume and as Scott Barett of PFF pointed out, he is the most cornerback sensitive wide receiver in the league. Over the past three years, he averages just 1.2 fantasy points per target against top 25 corners and 3.3 fantasy points per target against bottom 25 corners, so the start to his season will be tough going up against the Janoris Jenkins (88 PFF grade) Aqib Talib (90.6 PFF grade) and Patrick Peterson (83.9 PFF grade). Then on the season he faces Jenkins again, Josh Norman (81.9 PFF grade) twice, Desmond Trufant (78 PFF grade), Casey Hayward (88.4 PFF grade), Richard Sherman (84.4 PFF grade) and Marcus Peters (83.9 PFF grade). All in all, 10 of Bryant’s 16 matchups this fantasy season will be against top 25 corners, while Trufant is certainly at that level as well, making it 11. Working in Bryant’s favor is that his domination against bottom corners is near the top of the league and some of his struggles the past two years against the top corners could have easily been due to nagging injury and scattered quarterback play. Nonetheless, this is a stat to keep in mind when playing DFS and also something to be aware of in your season long leagues.
As for the positives, Dez is still a dominant red zone receiver and his mojo with Dak Prescott certainly improved as the season went on. After Week 8, he had five top 12 weeks, and ended the fantasy season (through Week 16) averaging over 15 fantasy point a game, which ranked 13th overall despite the slow start to the year and despite Prescott averaging the fewest throws per game in the league. If we just take his Week 8 through 16 numbers, he would have averaged 16.6 fantasy points per game, extrapolated over a full season would have made him the WR6. In Prescott’s second season, we should expect the offense to open up more and see an uptick in the number of passes thrown a game. Possibly Dez’s biggest obstacle though is staying healthy, as he is entering his age 29 season and continues to get dinged up every year, playing in only 13 games last season, so despite his rock solid per game numbers, he finished outside of the top 25. While I wouldn’t blame you for drafting Bryant in the second round, you might be better off going with another running back and catching the slew of solid receivers available in the 4th and 5th rounds.
Keenan Allen, Chargers – Was on pace for a 134 catch, 1,450 yard and 8 touchdown line before he got injured in Week 8 two seasons ago with a lacerated kidney and then had a dominant first half of the first game of the year last season against Marcus Peters before tearing his knee. Fortunately, he will have had a full 12 months of recovery by the time this season starts and he is already running at nearly 100%. His talent on tape matches the analytical data. He finished 2nd overall against man coverage, 1st overall against double coverage and 2nd overall against press coverage in Matt Harmon's Reception Perception methodology. It's a more crowded receiving corps this year, but he's the alpha male and has been dominating in camp and in practices against other teams. Some will disagree with this ranking, but they will be wrong.
Amari Cooper, Raiders – He's still just 22 years old and is entering his third season in the league, a year many receivers usually break out. Despite some down weeks last season, overall he had a very good year and will be even better this year. Case in point, last season Seth Roberts inexplicably had 21 red-zone targets, while Cooper had just 13. Look for that to flip flop this season. Reception Perception showed that he dominated against zone coverage but struggled against man, and that was certainly the case last year when determining whether or not to play him in DFS last season. Being so young, I'm hopeful that his rate against man coverage improves this year. In fact, beat writers have mentioned that he has noticeably "bulked up" and Derek Carr stated, “the guy has been going off all offseason. We're laughing about how impressed we are.” While Michael Crabtree is a very close 1b, which does cap his upside, between the two, Cooper at least has the higher ceiling.
Demaryius Thomas, Broncos – Coming off of his third straight 1,000-yard season, Thomas welcomes back offensive coordinator Mike McCoy and his deployment of the screen pass, a play Thomas uses to dominate opposing defenses and put up major fantasy points. Last season's down year was due to a lingering hip issue and essentially first-year quarterback play. The quarterback play should be somewhat improved and Thomas should improve on his 5 touchdowns, especially after seeing a very solid 18 red zone targets last season. While the hip is feeling better, it is a potentially chronic issue, so for those that are risk adverse, you might want to keep that in mind. He is a solid floor play in all formats, catching more than 90 passes and going over 1,000 yards the past five season, however he has had only few blow up weeks the past two years, eclipsing 100 yards only once last season. I like Thomas as a safe pick, but I'd rather grab Sanders a few rounds later.
DeAndre Hopkins, Texas – Major regression last season and I'm not talking about his quarterback play. Routes, effort, precision and technique all regressed. That's not to say the quarterback play was very good, and unfortunately, it may not be very good again this year. For a big receiver, he also faired poorly against man coverage, finishing 20th out of the 50 players Matt Harmon tracked in his Reception Perception metric. Not a player I'm targeting at this point.
Brandin Cooks, Patriots – The loss of Edelman is huge for his value. He's talented, but perhaps not elite just yet, finishing last season at number 15th in Football Outsiders DYAR rankings and as PFF's 31st rated pass catcher. Additionally, he's had some issues playing outside of the dome in the past, and put up horrible numbers in Matt Harmon's Reception Perception metric: Success rate vs: Man-51%, Zone-74%, Double-38%, Press-32%. That said, I have been a big Cooks fan since he came into the league, he's still just 23 years old and has been “an absolute savage” in camp. PFF has also targeted the Patriots with the 3rd easiest schedule for outside receivers this year. He's seems to be a solid round3 pick, although Brady did seem to favor Hogan once Edelman left the game, so there is risk here still.
Larry Fitzgerald, Cardinals – The juice is gone, but his hands and route running aren't. This is also a team totally devoid of any legitimate and reliable passing options outside of him. He's a safe WR2, albeit, one that has faded towards the end of the season two years in a row now.
Terrelle Pryor, Washington – Pryor is a freak of an athlete standing 6'4" 240 pounds with 4.38 forty speed. His conversion from quarterback to receiver looks to finally be complete, and he could end up turning in a monster year, especially after training with Antonio Brown and Randy Moss during the off-season. DeSean Jackson and Pierre Garcon abandon 216 targets between them, a good chunk of which will go to Pryor. Playing in a much better offense with a far more capable quarterback, look for him to push 80+ catches, over 1,000 yards and 7+ touchdowns as the team's top outside receiving threat. Lots of competition (Doctson, Crowder, Reed) for targets keeps him in this tier, but there is upside especially if Doctson can't get healthy.
Davante Adams, Packers – People are quick to judge and write off players these days, when back just a few years ago we use to give receivers until at least the third year to break out. Well, Adams was written off and proved all doubters wrong by breaking out in his third year. It's a lesson to remember. Something interesting to note though is that Adams did very poorly in Reception Perception on man coverage, winning just 58% of the time, while he crushed in zone coverage, dominating on 87% of his routes. I wonder if teams will recognize this and start to play him with tighter coverage. Aaron Rodgers also does like to spread the ball around, so Adams may not have more than 80 catches, but unless coverage changes, he hits 1,000 yards this year with another 8+ touchdowns. There is some risky downside here though, especially if Randall Cobb is healthy and starts taking back some of his lost target share, so he’s tough to fully go all in on at his current ADP.
Alshon Jeffery Eagles – Eagles quarterback Carson Wentz showed some promise in his rookie season, although he did have a horrible receiving corps and lost his right tackle to suspension. Right tackle Lane Johnson is back and Jeffery is now the unquestioned alpha male receiver in this offense. Coming off of a busted season and playing for a big contract (once again), he's certainly motivated. Camp reports have been very positive mentioning that Alshon looked great and has caught everything thrown his way. It also helps that he practiced with Wentz in the off-season in North Dakota. Jeffery’s biggest issue is that he can't seem to stay healthy, which is why he is not ranked higher. He’s a soft tissue risk. He could end up being a steal if you get him at the right price, and right now with an ADP in the 4th round, the price is right. You want him has your WR2 not your WR1.
Golden Tate, Lions – Slow start to the season last year, but Matthew Stafford will continue to sling it at a high volume, including in the red-zone, and Tate is going to be his go-to guy once again. Only 4 receivers have had over 90 catches the past 3 seasons: Odell Beckham, Antonio Brown, Demaryius Thomas and .... Golden Tate. Even after an atrocious start last season, he hit that 90 catch mark, so there is room for growth.
Michael Crabtree, Raiders – Underrated and potentially the 1a to Amari Cooper's 1b. Should be an 85+ catch guy again this year, making it three in a row. He has more consistent floor than Cooper and comes at a cheaper cost.
Allen Robinson, Jaguars – Blake Bortles is really bad, and this year's garbage time production should be reduced due to a very strong Jaguars defense and a seeming commitment to put the ball in Leonard Fournette's belly and not Bortles' hand. In fact, the team’s head coach has stated that he would ideally like Bortles to have “zero pass attempts a game.” Marqise Lee also started coming on strong last year and proved to be a more reliable receiving option as Robinson struggled mightily against top rated corners, averaging a pathetic 0.68 fantasy points per targets against the top 20 corners according to Scott Barett at PFF. The Jags do have one of the easiest schedules in the league this year and a middle of the pack schedule for outside receivers. While Robinson is still one of the best young receivers in the league, and has been the start of camp per mutiple reports, with fewer opportunities, he's a risky grab in the second round when you want to bank on a sure thing.
Sammy Watkins, Rams – Foot injury concerns were enough for the Bills to turn down his 5th-year option and to trade him to the Rams. However, he looked great in his first pre-season game and when healthy he is one of the leagues best receivers. His value takes a perceived hit playing with Jared Goff, but Goff has looked very good so far in the pre-season, head coach McVay loves to take shots down field and Watkins is the clear alpha male in this receiving core. He's a bit more risky now, but it also presents a buying opportunity. It's no like Goff is any worse than Siemian or Savage throwing to Thomas or Hopkins.
Martavis Bryant, Steelers – A truly dominant player when on the field, he has caught a touchdown or gone over 100-yards in 15 out of 24 career games. Hopefully he stays on the straight and narrow since he gets drug tested 3 times a week and meets with a counselor 2 times a week. I wouldn't think badly of you if you picked him above everyone else in this tier. Fantasy football is about winning and he's a beast when he's on the field.
Stefon Diggs, Vikings – I love the talent and if he was on a team like the Saints, he could be a Tier 2 receiver, but there isn't heavy volume to go around with the addition of a slew of running backs, Adam Thielen, Kyle Rudolph, the signing of Michael Floyd, and possibly the emergence of Treadwell. His fantasy points per target numbers are very poor versus top 20 corners (0.26PPR/route) but fortunately the Vikings have one of the easiest schedules against slot corners in the league this year, per Scott Barett of PFF, where he lines up a lot of the time. That said, if he can stay healthy, he's proven to be a top end talent and their have been reports that Thielen will kick into the slot more often this season, which is huge for his value and for his saftey. He will have monster weeks to go along with many average ones. I'd rather target Thielen later, but there is no denying his talent.
DeVante Parker, Dolphins – Can he have a third-year breakout like Davante Adams had in Green Bay? I'm still a bit skeptical, but the Dolphins keep talking him up, like they do every pre-season. His Reception Perception numbers were very poor, with just a 51% success rate against man coverage, something he has struggled with since his days in college. Additionally, after Week 4, the Dolphins became increasingly run heavy, finishing as the leagues 5th most run heavy team in the league, even in games they were losing in the 4th quarter compared to other teams. The addition of Jay Cutler should at least be an upgrade for Parker’s value as Cutler is not afraid to let it rip and test defenses with tight throws, something Tannehill rarely did. Cutler was able to produce greatly with Brandon Marshall and Alshon Jeffery; perhaps Parker is next in line as he certainly looks the part. The Dolphins beat writers are high on him and with Cutler in town, this just might be his year. He's got some upside.
Brandon Marshall, Giants – People are writing him off because he didn't put up big numbers playing in a horrible offense last year with the NFL's worst rated quarterback. Use that to your advantage when you steal Marshall in your drafts and watch him return solid WR2 numbers, with legit double-digit touchdown upside. The simple case for Marshall: Last season over 30% of his targets were deemed off-target; the Giants do not want to force feed Odell Beckham Jr. like they did last year; Marshall won't be game planned for like Beckham will be; he will be playing against teams #2 corners and/or facing single coverage for the majority of games for the first time in his career; he stands 6'4” while Beckham and Shepard are both under 6'; he's a dominant red-zone threat up there with Rob Gronkowski and Dez Bryant; Giants will probably use a short passing attack to hide their offensive line and running back deficiencies, a game plan that suits Marshall well; and the team lacks a dominant tight end.
Tyreek Hill, Chiefs – I’ve been slow to embrace Hill as anything more than a gadget player, but I’m fully on board the hype train. They will continue to use him in a variety of ways and he is a threat to take it to the house any time he touches the ball. Head coach Andy Reid indicated that he is going to be taking over Jeremy Maclin's role as the teams Z receiver, which is the featured receiver position in Reid's offense. Does he have the talent to be T.Y. Hilton? He just might. Per multiple reports he has been “lighting it up” in camp, burning shut down corner Marcus Peters who stated that “they think he is just fast but he's really a technically sound receiver, he’s a little dude in a big man body." Sports Illustrated’s Peter King added that he was “extremely impressive” to watch at camp. As for last year’s tape, according to Matt Harmon's Reception Perception methodology, he received very positive grades in his success rate against man coverage (72%), press coverage (80%) and zone coverage (86%). However, that was mostly against teams #3 corner backs, and he will have a much harder time facing off against teams top corners, especially when teams will have had a full season to game plan for his antics. In fact, he never even faced double coverage last year, something that should change now that he is the team’s top wide receiver. It should also be noted that the Chiefs have the toughest schedule in the league this year for outside receivers per PFF. There is risk with this pick if his ADP continues to rise into the 3rd or 4th round, but he’s looking like a future stud.
Emmanuel Sanders, Broncos – Perennial and safe season long WR2 with weekly WR1 upside. He hovers around 140 targets a season since joining the Broncos, and that should continue this year. I would rank him higher if the quarterback play wasn’t so bad. Hopefully the return of the screen game with new offensive coordinator Mike McCoy, can help ease some of that. His Reception Perception numbers are also far better than Thomas', but you can draft him over two full rounds later. Showed a lot of mojo with Siemian last year, and he looks to be the starter this season.
Jarvis Landry, Dolphins – Around 85 catches, 1,000 yards and 4 touchdowns should be a yearly occurrence for Landry. Worth noting that production dipped once the Dolphins committed more to Jay Ajayi. Before Week 5 last season, Landry caught at least seven passes a game, once Ajayi got going in Week 5, Landry only caught 7 or more passes in three of the remaining 12 games, catching 4 or less in six of those. Additionally, when bullets started flying he was Ryan Tannehill’s safety blanket, which is not going to be the case with Jay Cutler at the helm. It's all cause for concern with an ADP in the 3rd or 4th round, so he's not someone I'm drafting.
Kelvin Benjamin, Panthers – Very disappointing season after coming off of the ACL tear. While he reported to OTA’s over-weight, he has looked good in camp and is still the team’s number one receiver. The impact of rookies Christian McCaffery and Curtis Samuels are unknown at the moment, but at his current ADP in the 6th or 7th round, the downside is built in. He is not someone I'm targeting but he has fallen into my lap in round 8 before, and that's too good of value to pass up.
Willie Snead IV, Saints – With Brandin Cooks gone and a suspect group of tight ends, Snead should be very active in this offense. The departure of Cooks opens up 112 targets, some of which will go to Snead, although beat writers say that him and Ginn sill split time opposite Thomas in two wide sets. He showed very well in the Reception Perception metrics, ranking 10th in Success Rate vs Man Coverage (72.8%) and 4th against Zone Coverage (87.2%). The "Man" rate is particularly impressive since slot receivers usually have a tougher time against man coverage, as evidenced by the numbers of touted slots receivers such as Golden Tate (56%), Randall Cobb (56%), Jordan Matthews (57%), Jamison Crowder (57%) and even Larry Fitzgerald (67%). Scott Barrett of PFF also recently mentioned that the Saints have the 3rd easiest strength of schedule against slot corners this year after having one of the toughest last season. The biggest obstacle facing Snead is playing time, as the Saints use of three wide sets was a week-to-week proposition and it appears with their running back additions and there are whispers that they plan to run the ball a bit more this year. He has also never commanded heavy red zone targets, especially inside the 10, which is yet another issue. Finishing as fantasy's WR30 & 32 in his first two season, look for Snead to push into the top 30 this year, making him an excellent WR3, with WR2 upside entering his third year in the league, a year many receivers break out.
Jeremy Maclin, Ravens – Had a very disappointing season, in part due to injuries, which is something that has hampered him throughout his career. His release supposedly had more to due with cap space and future injury concern, than ability. He lands in a good spot with the Ravens and is already drawing rave reviews in camp. There are reports of him manning the slot with Perriman and Wallace outside. With Pitta done for the year, with Maxx Williams still injured and Ben Watson 37 years old and coming off of an Achilles injury, Maclin could easily gobble up all of Pitta's 121 targets and 85 catches, working that same area of the field. As a base of reference, over the past 6 years when the slot was manned by Anquan Boldin and then Steve Smith, they averaged around 77 catches for 1,056 yards and 5.5 touchdowns a season. He's a cheap WR3 option that could easily put up solid WR2 numbers in PPR leagues. He's free of Alex Smith, rejoice.
Eric Decker, Titans – Coming off an injury-riddled season, getting released from the Jets is the best thing that could have happened to his fantasy value. He has been playing very well in camp so far and Decker is one of the leagues best red-zone receivers and Mariota has thrown 33 touchdowns in the red-zone without a single interception, so this could be a match made in heaven. However, joining the Titans isn't necessarily the best offense to maximize his value either. He joins a crowded receiving core in Tennessee, with highly touted rookies Corey Davis and Taywan Taylor, to go along with Rishard Matthews, running back Demarco Murray and tight end Delanie Walker. While the offense should be opened up more this season, they supposedly are still committed to their smash mouth brand of football and slow pace of play. Decker is the team’s best receiver in theory and he should handle most of the work out of the slot in three wide sets, although the Titans ranked near the bottom of the league in 3-wide sets last year. Meanwhile in 2-wide sets, it would make sense for Decker to be on the field as well, but perhaps they keep him fresh at his age and coming off injury, splitting time with Matthews and Davis. Unfortunately the pie doesn’t get bigger, but rather each slice gets a little smaller. At the moment he is going in the 8th round, which is very good value, just be careful if that starts moving up into the 6th or 5th.
Tyrell Williams, Chargers – Expect an even bigger breakout in his third season. He finished 7th overall against man coverage and 5th overall against zone coverage last year in Matt Harmon's Reception Perception methodology. Additionally last year Williams had at least 65 yards and/or a touchdown in 12 of the 16 games he played in last year, and that includes two games against a tough Denver defense. Even before Mike Williams’ injury, I predicted he would lock down that second receiver role, which looks like a certainty at this point. Keenan Allen said Williams is also working hard and pushing the pace, as a 89th percentile SPARQ athlete from a small school, Williams looks ready to blow in his third year.
Pierre Garcon, 49ers – Garcon is the 49ers only legitimate receiver, understands the Kyle Shanahan offense and Brian Hoyer is a capable quarterback. His floor looks like 65 catches for 850 yards and 4 touchdowns with a ceiling of 90 catches, 1,100 yards, and 8 touchdowns. Performed well in Matt Harmon's Reception Perception metric. Older receivers, playing on bad teams with suspect quarterbacks always scare me though.
Chris Hogan, Patriots – With Edelman done for the season and Malcolm Mitchell dealing with a sore knee throughout camp, Hogan looks to be locked in as the teams starting outside receiver. He stand 6'1" 210 pounds, with 4.5 forty speed and put up a monster 28 bench reps at his pro day. He averaged a league leading 17.9 yards per reception last year and when starting, he could easily put up WR2 numbers, especially since he should be on the field for all two and three wide sets. The big X-factors are Mitchell's health and the Patriots week-to-week offense. When healthy, Mitchell could easily eat into some of those two wide sets along with Brandin Cooks. There is also talk of more two tight end sets and/or use of Dion Lewis and James White in the slot. Still a lot of mouths to feed here, but there is no denying the value playing with Tom Brady and the serious mojo he has with Brady. It wouldn't suprise me if he was the next great white hope for the Patriots and finished far above the ranking.
Donte Moncrief, Colts – Big time talent that is only 23 years old. Last year's breakout season was hampered and cut in half due to a serious shoulder injury. Despite playing in only 8 full games, he showed red zone mojo with Andrew Luck catching 7 touchdowns. In fact, he had the 2nd best red zone conversion percentage in the league last season, catching all 6 of his targets inside the 10 yard line for touchdowns. Now fully healthy, he has a realistic chance to catch 85+ passes, gain 1,100+ yards and score 10+ touchdowns. Biggest obstacle to fantasy success is Luck’s shoulder injury and there are reports he could miss the start of the season. I'm tempted to move him down a tier, but waiting one more week and I believe too much in the talent and opportunity. A cheaper and less risky buy in to this offense than Hilton, but tough to pull the trigger on too early with Luck still out.
DeSean Jackson, Tamp Bay – Great landing spot and will benefit from having Mike Evans on the other side of the field. Despite a down year last season, he still had over 1,000 yards and ranked 12th in Football Outsider DYAR rankings, which “gives the value of the performance on plays where this WR caught the ball, compared to replacement level, adjusted for situation and opponent and then translated into yardage.” Look for his catches to push 65+ (which is a lot for him), and his yardage and touchdowns to spike to 1,200+ and 7+ respectively. Showing good chemistry with Winston in camp so far.
Jamison Crowder, Redskins – Did well in the slot and he's a baller that benefited from some injuries last year. Head coach Jay Gruden has stated he wants to keep him on the field as much as possible, putting a 80 catch, 1,000 yard and 5 touchdown season within reach, especially with 203 targets available from last year with the departure of Garcon and Jackson. The Redskins also used 3 receiver sets on 73% of their plays, so he will see the field a lot. A great WR3 piece to own but it is a crowded field with Josh Doctson, Jordan Reed and Terrelle Pryor.
Kenny Britt, Browns – While he is probably a downgrade from the departed Terrelle Pryor in terms of talent, he is coming off an outstanding season of his own. Last year he put up a 68 catches, 1,002 yards and 5 touchdowns on 111 targets, it took Pryor 140 targets to hit that yardage and touchdown totals. Britt also did it playing with one of the leagues worst quarterbacks and running the most routes against PFF’s top 25 graded corner backs. Since entering the league he ranks third with highest percent of receptions going for more than 25 yards, so a better grab in leagues that reward big plays. The quarterback play can’t be any worse, although probably not a whole lot better either, but another 68 catch, 1,000 yard and 5 touchdown line? Sure, especially if he can up his target total to 120 or so. But that's his ceiling.
Adam Thielen, Vikings – Perhaps the best receiver on the Vikings and currently a value pick in the 10th round. Finished the year as the 9th ranked receiver in Football Outsider DYAR metric, and 6th in their DVOA metric. In its simplest form, DYAR measures a wide receiver with more total value while DVOA means a wide receiver with more value per play. He could end up being a rock solid weekly WR2. Biggest obstacle to success is Michael Floyd who has looked great in camp, but who is also going to miss the first four weeks of the season due to suspension.
Randall Cobb, Packers – It's bounce back or bust for Cobb in fantasy. He's a talented player who has not done much of anything the past two seasons despite playing with the league's best quarterbacks. Injuries were an issue once again last season, but he still graded out as PFF's #19th ranked passing receiver. Like a lot of guys in this tier, the downside is built in with a late 7th round ADP, which makes him potentially a decent number three receiver for your team.
Mike Wallace, Ravens – Has finished as a top 35 receiver in fantasy (depending on your scoring) in the past seven of eight seasons (and we can forgive him for that one down year in Minnesota), look for that to continue this season. Just watch the health of Joe Flacco carefully. The biggest issue with him is week-to-week reliability even though the year end numbers will look good.
Corey Davis, Titans – Deservedly the first receiver drafted in this years draft, he's a great athlete and a precise route runner. That said, it's tough to get a full gauge of his talents due to playing against sub-par competition in college. Early reports from camp have been glowing, but now with Eric Decker on board, Davis may not even be on the field in 2-wide sets to start the year. Exotic smash mouth will also limit his production in this offense as well, so there just might not be enough pass attempts to rely on any of these receivers from a week-to-week basis in season long leagues. That said, if he is the special player we think he is, he might end up being too tough to take off the field, so clearly a player with massive upside and someone who just might shoot up these rankings.
Corey Coleman, Browns – Failed to live up to Odell Beckham Jr. billing finishing the season with a horrible 45% catch rate, although it was also tough to expect much playing with a rotating cast of quarterbacks, missing time with a broken wrist and coming from a college team where he was just asked to run only a handful of routes. This season, Browns head coach Hue Jackson stated earlier this year that Coleman would be “the guy” in this passing game, but he is being outplayed in camp by fellow second year player Ricardo Louis and it’s tough to expect a major breakout given their quarterback situation. In dynasty leagues, he's a great player to acquire on the cheap, but the real breakout will probably come next year, and it could be a big one.
Marvin Jones Jr, Lions – People will hate on him, but he was not the same player after he got injured in week 3, so health is key here. While he is not a WR1, he can be a solid WR2 in this offense and a WR3 or 4 for your team.
John Brown, Cardinals – His breakout season was a major disappointment after suffering from sickle cell and also developing a cyst on his spine. He had surgery to remove the cyst, but he is still dealing with issues from sickle cell and has been sidelined at practice due to hamstring issues once again. Head coach Bruce Arians went as far to call his lack of practice a "concern." The top-end talent is still there and should be the team's lead receiver on the outside if he can get healthy. Going into last year, his Reception Perception scores were excellent: Success Rate vs Man (72%), vs Zone (77%) vs Press (75%), which are very solid WR2 numbers. At his best, he has T.Y. Hilton upside, so he is someone to keep a close eye on while his ADP still depressed, but he is a major risk if you reach for him at the moment.
Jordan Matthews, Bills – Matthews is best used best as a complimentary receiver, but now on the Bills, he is once again going to be taking on a lead role. The biggest question is whether he will play outside or man the slot. Last year he couldn't even beat out Dorial Green-Beckham or Nelson Agholor for an outside role, that role, so hopefully they do keep him in the slot, where he plays well. All that said, volume is king and with Watkins gone, Matthews should provide solid WR3 PPR value with the potential for more. Unfortunately he is also dealing with a chip fracture in his sternum and will miss much needed reps before the start of the season. If he is cleared soon, move him up a tier.
Kendall Wright, Bears – This ranking may appear to be agressive to some, but he is more talented than he was allowed to be in Tennessee. I was projecting him to have a good year before Cameron Meredith went out for the season, he's now the teams number one receiver, over Kevin White who has dissapointed. Could easily catch 85 passes this season.
Danny Amendola, Patriots – Was a possible cut candidate, but with Edelman injured, he should handle a lot of the slot work, especially with Mitchell still dealing with a knee issue. Tough to invest a lot in him due to age and injury history, but while on the field, he will produce.
Breshad Perriman, Ravens – He is one of this season's biggest breakout candidates as he enters his third year in the league. A 95% SPARQ freak of an athlete, he stands 6’2 212 pounds and ran a 4.26 forty. Reports during the preseason have been glowing from teammates and coaches alike. Dennis Pitta stated “nobody is having a better camp than him so far,” while Mike Wallace said that "Perriman will be a top wide receiver (in the league) this year." While the Ravens only went three wide on 56% of their snaps, Dennis Pitta was essentially used as a wide receiver and he is now gone, so expect that number to spike. The addition of Jeremy Maclin is a major buzz kill, but Maclin is an injury risk, Mike Wallace will be 31 this season and Ben Watson is 37 years old. The NFL’s Gil Brandt, who was the head of Cowboys player personnel from 1960 to 1988, recently mentioned that he thinks Perriman has “the ability to become an outstanding receiver … and an explosive talent, something special -- perhaps the best receiver Joe Flacco has ever played with.” That’s some high praise considering he played with Steve Smith and Anquan Boldin. If Perriman continues his march to dominance this pre-season, he’s going to end up being a major steal in drafts.
Zay Jones, Bills - Jones is 6'2” 201 pounds with 4.45 jets. He knows how to play all three receiving positions and his value gets a boost with Watkins gone and Boldin retired. In his final year of college he set the single season record for most catches in a season with 158, while also posting a 3.7 drop rate, which was the best of all receivers last year. He is having a good camp so far and could easily see 100+ targets this year, it would actually be a dissapointment if he doesn't.
Rishard Matthews, Titans – The signing of Eric Decker and drafting of rookie Corey Davis is a major hit to his value. Yet he's an underrated and talented receiver who should be starting outside with Davis opposite him and Decker in the slot. In two wide sets, he may be an every down player as well, at least to start the season. But this is a murky situation, so there is no telling how things will shake out, especially on a team supposedly still committed to their smash mouth brand of football. If Decker and/or 33-year-old tight end Delanie Walker gets injured, there is no reason he can't have another 65 catch, 950 yard and 9 touchdown line this year. Long time Titans beat writer, Jim Wyatt, mentioned that he believes Matthews will lead the team in targets, and that could certainly be the case.
Cooper Kupp, Rams – Kupp is a 6'1” 204 pound slot receiver who runs precise routes, can beat all forms of coverage and has very reliable hands. He’s been shinning in practice since OTA’s and is locked in as a starter in all three wide sets with Woods and Watkins on the outside. Beat writers have projected him to have the second most targets of the receivers in this offense behind Watkins and he has sneaky PPR upside and just might have the best rookie season of all receivers this year's wide receiver class. He’s a candidate to move up these tier rankings and he's a player worth stashing on your team.
Torrey Smith, Eagles – When all is said and done, it would not surprise me if he finished as a top 36 receiver. Smith is starting in all two wide sets and Wentz and him have connected on deep plays every practice. He's a steal with tons of upside at his current ADP in the 19th round.
Kenny Stills, Dolphins – Not a high volume guy, but he did score 9 touchdowns that season. While many would argue he is in for regression, the addition of Jay Cutler actually helps him. Could end up surprising and beat writers have been talking him up since Cutler signed.
Josh Doctson, Washington – He was my favorite wide receiver in last year's draft class and will be the starter on the outside opposite Pryor. While he profiles as a potential future WR1 (6’2” 202 pounds with 4.5 forty speed and an insane 41 inch vertical as a 94th-percentile SPARQ athlete), currently there are lots of mouths to feed and this is essentially his rookie season. He also has to prove he is over his Achilles injury, which plagued him last year. The talent is there though and a prime candidate to outperform my current ranking of him. He’s looked good in camp so far, making a number of tough grabs every day.
Kenny Golladay, Lions – The Lions moved up to draft him in the 3rd round, which should tell you something. He stands 6'4 218lbs with 4.5 forty speed. Think a lower case A.J. Green, or as Player Profiler comps him, Josh Gordon. He has great hands, with only 5 drops in two years at college and has been the clear third receiver so far in camp, drawing rave reviews. There is lots of value in this offense playing on the outside with Golden Tate in the slot and with Marvin Jones Jr on the other side of the field, especially since the Lions used three receivers on 75% of their pass plays. Beat writers say not to go to crazy with him since he is still a rookie and has made a number of bad plays to go with the great. One of my favorite late-round dart throws on a pass first team, especially in the red-zone, an area of the field the Lions love to throw.
Marqise Lee, Jaguars – Was their most consistent receiver, good for 4 or 5 catches a game, so more of a PPR play. Their lack of a legitimate tight end gives him a weekly boost and he could even take a bigger step further this year. A sneaky player to keep on your radar since he was drafted higher than Allen Robinson in real life football.
Ted Ginn Jr, Saints – The hype on him has gotten out of control, mainly due to a few prominent fantasy analysts who are projecting 90+ targets. I'm telling you right now, he is not a replacement for Brandin Cooks, think more Devery Henderson or Robert Meachum, who both occupied similar roles in this exact same offense in years past. All three profile similarly (Ginn: 5'11" 178 pounds 4.35 forty; Devery: 6'0” 198 pounds 4.36 forty; Meachum: 6'2" 215 pounds 4.39 forty) and even if you take Meachum and Henderson’s target totals in 2011, a year in which Brees threw 468 times (he threw 471 last year), they combined for just 72 targets. Some will argue that Ginn saw 90 targets the past two seasons on Carolina, but remember that Kelvin Benjamin missed the 2015 season and Funchess was a rookie, and last year Benjamin was hobbled and Funchess face planted. They literally had nobody else. And how did peppering him with 90 targets work out for them, not too well. Just as 1+1 does not equal 3, Ginn + Saints does not equal Cooks. This is the Fleener is Jimmy Graham hype train we had last year all over again. He was PFF’s 71 graded receiver last year and Football Outsiders 72nd. He’s a much better best ball and DFS spot play than a reliable week-to-week fantasy option.
Sterling Shepard, Giants – Love the talent, but the additions of Brandon Marshall and Evan Engram kills his value, especially since Eli Manning's skills seem to be deteriorating. At the moment, he's going to be tough to rely on week-to-week beyond a depth option. The Giants at least did use three receiver sets on a league high, 97% of their pass plays, so Shephard will be on the field a ton.
Devin Funchess, Panthers – Fool me once, but fool me twice? You want some upside in a player, but reports once again have him looking great in camp and predicting a breakout is imminent. He does have 10 touchdowns in just 59 career catches and is a starter on the outside.
Kevin White, Bears – Played on one side of the field throughout college, missed his rookie season due to injury, looked totally lost in the few games he played his second season before again going on injured reserve. He's physically gifted, but he doesn't know how to play receiver yet in the NFL. A higher ranking would be based solely on potential, but I'm skeptical at the moment.
Malcolm Mitchell, Patriots – Being severely overlooked after showing serious mojo with Tom Brady and earning his trust. He should easily push Danny Amendola to the bench and will be a starting receiver in what looks like a pass heavy offense. If you want a cheap piece to this offense, this is it, and he would be a legit WR2 if there are some injuries to this receiving corps ahead of him, which seems to happen every year. The Patriots also have the 3rd easiest schedule for outside receivers, while one of the toughest for slot receivers. He's a great depth piece for your fantasy team although he is dealing with a lingering knee injury so he needs to get fully healthy first.
Nelson Agholor, Eagles - Standing 6’0” 198 pounds with 4.42 speed, Agholor enters his third season after being a major bust his first two years in the league. The talent is there, unfortunately he gets inside his own head too much and it has showed on the field. The additions of Alshon Jeffery and Torrey Smith are actually a good thing for his development, since the pressure is all off and he can settle into being a role player for the time being. He has looked very good since OTA’s and has continued that play in camp. With Jordan Matthews now off to Buffalo, he is their new slot receiver. It's a crowded receiving core, but he could easily have a 2016 Marqise Lee type season as his floor.
Tyler Lockett, Seahawks – He's a baller, but never going to reach his potential in this offense and broke his leg in late December, so availability is questionable right now. Worth a dynasty hold if he can find a new team like Golden Tate did when he exited Seattle. I can't see him as anything more than a DFS dart throw to start the season.
Marquise Goodwin, 49ers – A true deep threat, even racing in in the 100 meter dash in the last Olympic Games, Goodwin has looked like the clear number two receiver in camp and the Shanahan offense is known for running play-action and taking shots down field. Brian Hoyer has been connecting with him deep regularly, so there is a bit of value there. A solid late round best ball grab and there is the possibility for more.
John Ross, Bengals – Much more than just a deep threat, at his best, think DeSean Jackson or TY Hilton. His biggest issues will be health, something he has struggled mightily with his whole college career, and getting enough targets in this talented offense to be reliable weekly. I may be severely underestimating him right now.
Michael Floyd, Vikings – He has to serve a 4 game suspension to start the year, but he is lighting it up in camp per multiple beat writer reports. In fact, head coach Mike Zimmer stated that he has been the best receiver in camp. If Floyd can stay sober, he is going to impact the bottom line of both Diggs and Theilen, not to mention turn himself into a usable fantasy asset
Cole Beasley, Cowboys – 4 or 5 catches a game for 40 or 50 yards. That's it. He literally averaged year 4.5 catches and 52 yards a game last year … and did that every week. He finished 5th in Football Outsiders DYAR metric, 3rd in their DVOA metric and was the 10th receiver by PFF, so he's talented at what he does … catching 4 or 5 balls for 40 to 50 yards. Every week. That's it. I guess I should have him ranked higher and an analytics guy would probably tell me to draft him, I prefer upside.
Josh Gordon, Browns – For what it's worth, I still think he eventually gets reinstated. He supposidly went to rehab again two months ago under the guidance of the NFL and could be reinstated in September. Maybe I'm just an idiot, but if you are going for upside, he's it. Quarterback play if he stays on the Browns certainly an issue though.
Mohamed Sanu, Falcons – Expect similar numbers from last year, which makes him a better DFS spot play. However, he would be an every week WR2/3 in PPR leagues if Julio Jones missed serious time, so a nice depth piece.
Robert Woods, Rams – Once again going to take a back seat to Sammy Watkins. He should be starting outside in all 2-wide sets, although just because you change teams doesn't mean you become a fantasy asset. Reports have him behind Watkins, Kupp and Higbee in the pecking order.
Terrance Williams, Cowboys – You're probably not winning your fantasy league if you are drafting him. You're that guy. Find a co-owner that knows more and if your co-owner also wants to draft him, time to find a new co-owner. There is literally no upside here.
Jaelen Strong, Texans - With Will Fuller V banged up and missing time, it looks like Strong is going to be starting opposite Hopkins. He's a big receiver, standing 6'4" and 220 pounds with 4.44 speed, although he doesn't always play to his size. There is a opportunity here and he has flashed in the past.
Robby Anderson, Jets – He had some big games last year and should be their deep threat. I just have a hard time drafting anyone on the Jets, but as they say, someone has to get the ball, and they will be playing plenty catch-up. Was arrested this off-season for fighting with a security guard.
Jaron Brown, Cardinals - 6'2" 205 pounds with 4.40 speed, Brown is a role player who just may have a role on a Cardinal's team without much at the receiver position. Bruce Arians stated he was the only receiver outside of Fitzgerald looking like a pro receiver at the moment. He's a late round flier, but if they don't sign someone else, a flier that might hit since he is their number 2 receiver for the moment. I would be suprised though if they didn't sign someone else.
Paul Richardson Jr, Seahawks – Former 2nd round draft pick who is finally coming off a fully healthy off-season. We could be talking about him as a WR4 with upside come this time next year. Week-to-week consistency may be sporadic, and Tyler Lockett is ahead of him on the depth chart, but he makes for an excellent late best ball grab.
J.J. Nelson, Cardinals – Deep threat speedster who stands 5'10 165 pounds with 4.28 forty jets. I can't imagine they want Carson Palmer to have two shorties on the outside, with John Brown also just 5'10”. I’m not sure what happens here, but I just can't see him as a reliable weekly play and right now Jaron Brown is ahead of him in the pecking order. A best ball only grab.
Curtis Samuel, Panthers – He's 5'11” 196 pounds with 4.31speed. If you are looking for this seasons Tyreek Hill, Samuels, like Carlos Henderson, just could be it. Funchess described him as electric in OTA's and he is much more than a receiver, rushing 97 times last season with a 7.9 yards per carry average. Ranking him this low might be foolish.
Travis Benjamin, Chargers – I think Tyrell Williams starts over him on the outside, but has been looking good in practices and is not a bad best ball dart throw for the few weeks he blows up. Lots of mouths to feed on the Chargers.
Andre Holmes, Bills – With Watkinss traded, Boldin retired and Streater injured, all of a sudden he is a starter on the outside. He stands 6'4" 210 pounds and has showed moments of promise. A waiver wire guy to monitor.
Braxton Miller, Texans – He's their slot receiver and could make a big jump in year two, having a great off-season and working out with Wes Welker. With Will Fuller V done for most of the year, there is opportunity in this offense, if he can stay healthy, which he isn't again.
DeDe Westbrook, Jaguars - He stands 6'0" 175 pounds with 4.34 forty jets and earned unanimous first-team All-American honors last season in college with 80 catches for 1,524 yards and 17 touchdowns, being awarded the Biletnikoff Award that goes to nations top wideout. He was pushed down draft boards due to a domestic violence incident against the moth of his two kids (two kids already in college?!). His biggest weakness is his frame, which is small, but he is dangerous after the catch and a good route runner. He's another one of those Tyreek Hills guys who could take it to the house any time he touches the ball.
Chester Rogers, Colts – Standing 5’11” 198 pounds with 4.5 speed, there is nothing overly impressive about his athleticism, but he has been standing out in camp and looks to be starting over both Kamar Aiken and Philip Dorset at the moment. He’s a player to keep an eye on, as there is value playing with Andrew Luck.
Taywan Taylor, Titans – Stands 5'11” 203 pounds with 4.50 speed. With Rishard Matthews and Corey Davis on the outside and Eric Decker in the slot, he's going to need an injury ahead of him to be a useful fantasy commodity. I love the talent, so he is someone to monitor and to stash in dynasty. At his best, perhaps Emmanuel Sanders type player, but on a run first team, and a slew of capable receivers and a great tight end in Delanie Walker, targets are going to be tough to come by. For what it's worth, Titans long time and respected beat writer, Jim Wyatt thinks Taylor was the star of OTA's.
Chris Godwin, Tampa Bay - Standing - 6'1” 209 pounds with 4.42 speed, Godwin is a great athlete who is great at making contested catches, no wonder he put up 25 bench reps at the combine. Matt Harmon thinks he's nearly elite while Greg Cosell said he lacks effort, struggles against man coverage and doesn't always play to his speed. Think a Marvin Jones Jr type receiver with the possibility for more, Godwin unfortunately joins a crowded receiver core as an outside receiver playing with two of the games best outside receivers in Jackson and Evans. He has looked very good in camp and the teams head coach has said he carries himself like a veteran.
Josh Reynolds, Rams – It's a crowded receiving core, but beat writer reports from camp have him making spectacular plays every day. Very fluid athlete and long strider. If Watkins can't stay healthy, he is their deep threat and there is a chance he pushes Robert Woods to the bench.
Mack Hollins, Eagles - Stands 6'4" 221 pounds with 4.53 speed. He was a limited receiver in college, but a vertical threat who finished with 20 touchdowns on just 71 catches. He's been a standout in the pre-season for them and is an Alshon hamstring away from starting on the outside.
Tavon Austin, Rams – If he doesn't succeed in moving to the outside, he could be just a special teams player, as rookie Cooper Kupp will handle the slot from here on out. With addition of Watkins, he seems to be nothing more than a depth piece.
Carlos Henderson, Broncos - Might get a lot of run on special teams early, but could also take over that 3rd receiver role and eventually make a big impact as a Brandin Cooks type player. He looks like a special player, so I love in dynasty, but I'm just not sure what he will provide this year since he is out right now with a broken wrist. Perhaps he will be like Tyreek Hill in terms of just scoring and making plays every time he touches the ball.
Brandon LaFell, Bengals – They really like him, but more of a DFS spot play with all these weapons than a weekly season long one.
Tyler Boyd, Bengals – Not an elite athlete and sometimes issues with separation, but runs good routes, good hands and physical for size. Should man the slot on a team with weapons galore. Better real-life player than a fantasy one.
Bruce Ellington, Texans - He was cut by the 49ers after he missed all of last season due to a knee injury. He's a talented player and with Will Fuller V out, he has an outisde chance to step in and make an impact, especially since Braxton Miller can't stay healthy himself. He has 4.45 forty with impressive 39.5 vertical and played very well in his first pre-season action after just signing with the team.
Dontrelle Inman, Chargers – He stands 6’ 3” 200 pounds with 4.47 speed. He started his career in 2012 in the Canadian league, being signed by the Chargers in 2014. Since that time has been Mr. Reliable, filing in whenever needed. With Keenan Allen injured last season he saw 97 targets for 58 catches, 810 yards and 4 touchdowns. The signing of Mike Williams was a buzz kill for his potential streamer value, but he looks to be back in business with Williams now potentially out for the year. He’s a waiver wire option only, but someone worth remembering if you need a receiver in a pinch or if Tyrell or Keenan get injured.
Eli Rogers, Stealers - Currently their third receiver and the team's slot receiver. Small, but fast, with good hands. They say they want to play with more 3 and 4 wide sets.
Phillip Dorsett, Colts – Lots of mouths to feed and looks to now be the team's 4th receiver behind Chester Rogers as well. Beat writers have said he is playing well, apparently just not well enough to beat out Rogers. Can he break out in year three?
Ricardo Louis, Browns – Intriguing second year player who stands 6’2” 215 pounds with 4.43 speed and a monster 11-foot broad jump. The analytics obsessed Browns thought well enough of him to spend a fourth round pick on him, and the gamble appears to be paying off. He trained with Brandon Marshall during the off-season and Browns wide receiver coach Al Saunders and head coach Hue Jackson have praised him repeatedly. There are quiet murmurs that he even could start over Corey Coleman on the outside, pushing Coleman into the slot. He’s worth keeping tabs on.
Mike Williams, Chargers – I was lower on him than most before his back injury that may require season ending surgery. A 6'3" 215 pound possession receiver that is not a burner, but is great at making contested catches. Philip Rivers loves turning it loose, and a guy like Williams is a great fit for that "go and get it" mentality. Unfortunately, he joins a crowded receiving corps of very talented pass catchers even when healthy. Currently dealing with a major back injury, he has started to run on the sidelines, but it usually takes another 4 to 6 weeks from that time to start practicing in full, let alone playing in games. Looks like a lost season.
Ardarius Stewart, Jets – He'll end up being the Jets best receiver by the end of the year and both Greg Cosell and Matt Waldman love his talent. Think Golden Tate. The big problem is who in the world is throwing this guy the ball and he just underwent groin surgery. That said, it would not shock me if come week 12 he is all of a sudden a viable weekly play for those in need, especially since there is legitimately nothing else here. A great dynasty grab and a player with a lot of upside.
Taylor Gabriel, Falcons – Not reliable enough to be a weekly fantasy option, since he played on less than 7% of the teams plays, but a great DFS play on certain plus matchup weeks. If you have deep benches, not a bad last round grab and then plug in a few games on the season.
Brandon Coleman, Saints – Coleman is a big receiver (6-foot-6, 225 pounds with 4.56 forty speed) and now in his third season with the team, it looks like he will be starting opposite Michael Thomas on the outside when rotating with Ted Ginn Jr. He’s looked good in camp, knows the system and has made progress every year since entering the league. Nor a horrible depth piece in grabbing a player that catches passes from Drew Brees, who recently said he is his most trusted receiver. No joke.
Jeremy Kerley, 49ers - An average slot receiver on a team that won't feature the slot.
Laquon Treadwell, Vikings - I have no clue what is going on with him and he only had one catch last year. Could easily skyrocket up these rankings, or totally drop out. Early camp reports have been positive, so I have him here for the moment. He was great in college and supposedly injured all last season. Could be a major bargain. Michael Floyd has been outplaying him by far in camp though.
Demarcus Robinson, Chiefs - Was drafted in the 4th round last year, but could have been drafted higher if he didn't have off-field issues. HC Andy Reid has mentioned him a few times as someone that has performed well in OTA's and he has a real chance to take ahold of the outside receiving role opposity Tyreek Hill. Someone to monitor as he battles Chris Connley in camp. Unfortuantley the Chiefs offense isn't a fantasy goldmine regardless.
Rod Streater, Bills – Has been a “highlight” of training camp and looks to be a potential starter now on the outside with Watkins gone. Unfortunately he got hurt and may now miss the season.
Aldrick Robinson, 49ers – He knows the offense and they are devoid of a proper receiving corps.
Vincent Jackson, Buccaneers – Entering his age 34 season, the upside is probably gone, but he wants to continue to play and many teams (Cardinals, Lions, Chiefs, etc …) could use a big veteran receiver like him. Worth monitoring and could end up being a steal for MFL10 drafters taking him in round 20.
Will Fuller V, Texans – Tough to get excited about this offense unless rookie quarterback DeShaun Watson can put up a Dak Prescott type rookie year. He is now out for at least the first month of the season with a broken collarbone. I'm avoiding him.
JuJu Smith-Schuster, Steelers - He stands 6'1” 215lbs with 4.54 forty speed. He's very young, just 20 years old, so it's understandable that he isn't the most refined route runner. He also won't be able to punk smaller corners like he did in college, using his size instead of good technique. It may take a year or two for him to round into form and with Martavis Bryant back and Eli Rogers in the slot, JuJu is probably on the bench.
Chad Williams, Cardinals – They drafted him as their Michael Floyd replacement. He stands 6'1” 205lbs with 4.43 speed and had a monster 21 bench reps. He has some character flaws but landed in a good spot for that. He plays bigger than his size and with some physicality to his game. The opportunity is there but he came into camp over weight and head coach Bruce Arians says he has a ways to go.
Malachi Dupre, Packers - Packers GM Ted Thompson knows how to pick great wide receivers late in the draft, and Dupre looks like his latest find. Two years ago he was being touted as a potential first round pick by Todd McShay of ESPN and other analysts, but a down year for the whole LSU football team (even their head coach got fired mid-season) kaboshed all hope in that. He stands 6'2" 198 pounds with a 39.5 vertical and 135" broad jump, both of which led all rookies at the combine. He's been a stand out in camp, so he's someone to monitor closely.
Tajae Sharpe, Titans – Crowded receiving corps with not much upside. Perhaps he surprises, but not a bad player.
Jared Abbrederis, Lions - Playing very well in camp, and has a chance to start in three wide sets. He was drafted by Packers GM Ted Thompson, who has a great history of drafting quality receivers late in drafts. It would not surprise me if he made an impact this year in that Boldin role if he can beat out rookie Golladay.
Ishmael Zamora, Raiders - He's 6'4” 224 poundswith 4.49 jets. While his hands are questionable, and he has major character concerns, he's a gifted athlete that could emerge as a Martavis Bryant type player.
Mike Thomas, Rams – Good size and speed (6'1" 200 pounds - 4.5 forty) and plays even bigger with toughness and physicality. Could emerge to be a reliable WR2 for the Rams, and has been getting some good reviews, but they have a lot of competition there now and he's been suspended for PED use to start the season. A sneaky player to stash in the deepest of leagues.
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