This is part three of a five part series where we review positions for the upcoming fantasy football season. This segment focuses on the league’s prima donna position, left handed starters for the Boston Red Sox with names that rhyme with Rice…. oh sorry, wrong article, this segment is about NFL wide receivers.
The expected schedule of release for each fantasy relevant position is found below:
Quarterbacks: July 20th
Running Backs: July 23rd
Wide Receivers: July 26th
Tight Ends: July 29th
Team Defense: August 1st
Kickers: Why do yall keep asking about kickers? In spite of #PuntersArePeopleToo , I will not write a whole article outlining whom you should select as your kicker. But if you’re looking for a last guy left sleeper in the last round, don’t be afraid of this California transfer, Daniel LaRusso. Let me get to the wide receivers before I wax on too much about his unorthodox style.
Just like with the Quarterbacks and Running Backs, the players found below are grouped together, not ranked 1-68. Within each group you’ll receive a brief explanation of what that group is, and then the players therein will be listed alphabetically. I repeated kindergarten just to make sure I could get the alphabetical right just for you, so if you see a mistake, suck it up buttercup and move on.
GROUP ONE: (Receiving is probably the most fickle position to gauge. Even an outright stud will have games where he catches 2 balls for 15 yards. The key is to select players with the lowest likelihood of having a stinker, while also providing the most frequent blow up games. The guys in this group represent your best hope for capturing this lightning in a bottle. All these rankings are working under the assumption that your league allows for points per reception. Its 2017 people, time to get with the program, Fantasy Football is supposed to be like a drunk frat boy, all about scoring… okay, it could also be like a sober frat boy, all about scoring.)
Odell Beckham Jr. When healthy for the Giants there aren’t many better than ODB
Antonio Brown: This Steeler stud will have you dancing like a star after he leads you to a fantasy championship
Dez Bryant: No denying the talent this Cowboy boasts, if Dak develops, Dez will produce
Brandin Cooks: Bad news for Brandin Cooks, he is leaving Drew Brees. Good news for Brandin Cooks, he’ll be Tom Brady’s new top receiver in New England.
Amari Cooper: A fairly decent chunk of Derek Carr’s success for the Raiders can be attributed to having this stud catching balls for him.
Mike Evans: The clear cut #1 for the Buccaneers and Jameis Winston, Evans is a huge target on the edge.
AJ Green: A stud regardless of how many guys are covering him, even with Andy Dalton leading the show for the Bengals
T.Y. Hilton: A return to health for Andrew Luck will equal a return to fantasy prominence for the Colts’ best receiver
DeAndre Hopkins: A slight downtick in production for the Houston Texan can be attributed to poor quarterback play. Will fellow Clemson Tiger Deshaun Watson correct that?
Julio Jones: A physical freak, Jones is likely the best receiver in the game. Its not his fault the Falcons blew a 28-3 lead in the Superbowl, but he is their best bet to carry the load if they hope to return to the show.
Jordy Nelson: Another year removed from major injury, Nelson is the most consistent option in the Packers’ high powered offense.
DeMaryius Thomas: Seimian? Lynch? Whoever is lining up under center for the Broncos will be looking to Thomas often.
GROUP TWO: (These guys all have the capacity for blow up games, but maybe have a slightly worse chance to toss out a stinker while you’re waiting. You’ll be happy more often than not with these guys)
Davante Adams: The 3rd head in the Packers 3 headed receiving monster. Also the youngest and most likely to improve.
Keenan Allen: Were it not for his consistently getting injured, he’d likely be in group one for the Chargers
Doug Baldwin: Baldwin went on a tear the 2nd half of the 2015 season for the Seahawks. He has developed into Russell Wilson’s favorite weapon
Randall Cobb: When he gets going, few players in the league are as electric as Cobb is for the Packers
Julian Edelman: Being Tom Brady’s bro isn’t a bad way to make a living, the Patriot signed a 2 year extension showing Cooks is in Foxborough to help Edelman, not replace him.
Alshon Jeffrey: The Eagles went and got Carson Wentz some new toys. Jeffrey is one of the best big body jump ball receivers out there
Jarvis Landry: One of the more underrated receivers in the league, Landry catches an awful lot of balls for the Dolphins
Terrelle Pryor: This former Brown bolted for Washington D.C. and a chance to catch balls from Kirk Cousins. He’ll have more competition for receptions in the nation’s capital.
Allen Robinson: One of the hot names of last off season, Robinson failed to live up to expectations. With the Jaguars always trailing, he should still be a better than solid fantasy contributor.
Emmanuel Sanders: Predictably Sanders’ production for the Broncos dipped when the level of quarterback play dipped. That likely won’t be altered this year
Golden Tate: Thrust into the role of #1 receiver for the Lions, Tate had a solid, though unspectacular season.
Michael Thomas: Remember to choose the Saints’ Thomas, and not the Rams. There’s a slight difference in the level of quarterback play each receiver is privy too.
Sammy Watkins: Talent wise, few are better than Watkins. Unfortunately availability is not a skill Watkins excels at for the Bills. That and poor QB play hurts the former Clemson star.
GROUP THREE: (These are like your mother’s mashed potatoes… not my mashed potatoes, those are just ducking awesome… solid, comfortable, occasionally good, occasionally bad, a nice side dish, but not needed every meal. These guys can be solid if injuries hit your starting line up, and also capable to not being a black hole during your bye weeks)
Tavon Austin: If he ever had an offense that could function, he could be a real dynamic player for the Rams
Cole Beasley: The Cowboys yin to Dez Bryant’s yang, Beasley is sure handed, but not spectacular. His value is found in his points per reception.
John Brown: In 2015 it looked like Brown was on the cusp of being the Cardinals next big thing. In 2016 he looked very average. Which is the real Brown?
Michael Crabtree: A post hype breakout star who really started to take off when he moved across the bay to the Raiders. A more than capable sidekick to Amari Cooper
Jamison Crowder: Especially valuable during the 10 or so games Jordan Reed misses for the Redskins. Crowder is quick and sure handed, great qualities for a slot receiver.
Eric Decker: Is this next stop in Tennessee an opportunity to resurrect his career after playing for the hapless Jets, or his swan song? He’ll have to earn his playing time for the Titans and show it was the Jets offense, and not him.
Stefon Diggs: As much as anything, ranking Diggs in this group is a reflection of the mediocrity that Sam Bradford brings to the fantasy table.
Quincy Enunwa: Quincy is the best receiver for the Jets who will be playing from behind every game, all season. By default he has to produce some numbers, even if they’re somewhat hollow
Larry Fitzgerald: Even at his age, Fitzgerald will have some great games for the Cardinals. The problem is, they distance between when those games occur is likely to grow, not shrink
Pierre Garcon: This is likely the least amount of offensive talent Garcon will have every played with, and that includes his stops at D3 schools Norwich, and Mount Union. The 49ers offense could be that bad.
Allen Hurns: The “other” Allen for the Jaguars, this big play threat hasn’t proven himself consistent enough to move up to group two, and likely never will
Desean Jackson: Another year older won’t help Jackson, but no longer being the #1 guy should help him as should find playing in Mike Evans’ shadow beneficial. The Buccaneers certainly hope so
Marvin Jones III: Jones had a real nice stretch in his first season for the Lions. An increased familiarity in the offense and with Stafford can only help
Jeremy Maclin: Still not certain why the receiver starved Chiefs would release Maclin late in the offseason. Another man’s trash is another man’s treasure. He’ll be counted on to help replace Steve Smith for the Ravens. Can’t imagine that works out well.
Brandon Marshall: I’m not going to write off Brandon Marshall completely, its been done too many times, and its been wrong each time. But the Giants new receiver is long in the tooth, and will have 2nd year receiver Shepard nipping at his heals.
Jordan Matthews: Possibly a sleeper pick. Torrey Smith and Alshon Jeffrey are the trendy new guys for the Eagles. But Matthews is the guy Wentz actually knows, and who will find more space underneath with downfield guys Smith and Jeffrey in the fold
Rishard Matthews: The Titans’ big free agent pick up last off season, the Titans new acquisitions could put him 3rd or 4th on the depth chart
Cam Meredith: Was Meredith’s success with the Bears last year a result of his skill, opportunity, or chemistry? We’ll find out. But I suspect it was chemistry with quarterbacks no longer around.
Donte Moncreif: This will be year 39 of the Moncreif watch where he is expected to make the leap from being Hilton’s sometimes sidekick to become the 1B to Hilton’s 1A. Like any sane Colts fan, I am not holding my breath
Eli Rogers: Meet the next developmental wide receiver for the Steelers who develops into a stud. Likely Roethlisberger’s most consistent target this year not named Antonio Brown
Mohamed Sanu: First he was AJ Green’s sidekick, in Cincy, now he’s with Julio Jones in Atlanta. Can’t say Sanu doesn’t know how to pick his receiver mates
Willie Snead: He’ll be sneaded if the Saints hope to remain an offensive force. Between him or Brandon Coleman becoming the Saints’ new number 2, I’d bet on Snead all day long
Kenny Stills: The big play threat for the Dolphins, he balances Landry’s slot ability well. Its tough to count on him for consistent game to game production though.
Adam Theilen: I’m just not theilen the Vikings offense under Sam Bradford. I appreciate his lack of turnovers, but that’s just not the stuff fantasy legends are made of.
GROUP FOUR: (A talented group of guys, there are just too many questions with them. Of the seven, its almost guaranteed at least 3 of them will blow up and make me look foolish, I would just have a hard time counting on them. Don’t be afraid to grab any one of these guys, just be wary of when you select them. Any of them could be a home run, and any of them could be a complete bust)
Kelvin Benjamin: I’ve just seen too many photos of Benjamin this off season where he looks like he’s on my diet. If I’m the Panthers I’d make sure to keep the training camp kitchen doors locked at night.
Martavis Bryant: When Bryant is an exciting player for the Steelers. The when he’s on the field is the part that has proven tricky for Bryant
Tyreek Hill: Disclaimer, its a stone cold lock that Andy Reid knows more about football, and BBQ ribs than I do. That being said, I don’t see letting Maclin go, leaving Hill as your #1 receiver. With a history of off the field problems, and no evidence to suggest Hill can be a consistent threat as an NFL receiver (not questioning his return skills, but is he Antonio Brown, or Devin Hester, I’m thinking Hester), it just doesn’t make sense to me.
DeVante Parker: One of these years Parker is going to emerge as a stud NFL wide receiver. Probably. Its that nagging probably comment that makes me hit pause on Parker. Like I said, at least 3 of these guys will blow up and make me look stupid.
Breshard Perriman: The Baltimore Ravens version of Joel Embiid, minus the awesome twitter skills, and tremendous upside. Every year the Ravens count on the former first rounder to emerge, and every year he disappoints. This is likely his last chance with Ozzie Newsome.
Torrey Smith: I was a big fan of Smith as a sleeper out of Maryland years back, I thought he’d be the second coming of Mike Wallace, that he’d excel with strong armed Joe Flacco. That seems like a lifetime ago. Maybe a return to the east coast can breathe life into Smith’s career. He’s a true boom or bust guy.
Kevin White: Easily the most talented receiver on the Bears roster, his health and ability to develop a rapport with new QB Mike Glennon will determine how valuable White’s season is. Watching he and Glennon in the pre-season will tell a lot.
GROUP FIVE: (These are the young pups looking to make their bones. Rookies and second year guys who just need the consistent opportunity. If you’re in a keeper league, these are primo mid-late round targets. If you’re in a year to year league, these guys all have big upside, the only question is, are they ready to cash in on their talent yet)
Tyler Boyd: Given a chance to replace Sanu and Jones to become AJ Green’s sidekick in Cincy last year, he didn’t deliver as they hoped. Don’t sleep on him emerging in year 2 to claim that throne.
Corey Coleman: Two questions, can the Browns find someone to throw him the ball, and can he stay healthy enough to be on the field. If the answer to even one of those questions (preferably the second question) is yes, then he’s a valuable fantasy commodity.
Corey Davis: The Titans drafted Davis to become Mariota’s go to guy. As talented as he is, I just don’t trust rookie receivers in fantasy.
Will Fuller: Poised to make a second year jump. If he manages to develop chemistry with whomever wins the Texans job, he could be a stud fantasy contributor.
Malcolm Mitchell: Mitchell came on strong for the Patriots late in the year with Brady showing tremendous trust in the rookie wide receiver, something Brady never does. If Brady approves of him, who am I to argue
DeMarcus Robinson: I’ve already expressed my doubt with regards to Hill emerging as the go to guy for the Chiefs. As much a result of that doubt as of anything else, I think Robinson could emerge as a break out player in Kansas City this year
John Ross: The man who broke Chris Johnson’s combine 40 time record. Will he develop into a complete receiver for the Bengals, or will he become the next James Jett? I wouldn’t count on him much as a rookie.
Curtis Samuel: After trying to run the passing game through 2 down field big body threats last year with Benjamin and Funchess, could the Panthers turn to quicker, shiftier athletes with McCaffrey and Samuel in the fold, the less time Newton holds the ball, the less of a beating he’ll take. Makes sense to me.
Sterling Shepard: Poised to become a breakout player across the field from Beckham, the question is now, how much will Brandon Marshall’s arrival effect Shepard’s role in the Giant offense.
Ryan Switzer: Move over Barry, theres a new Switzer in town. It won’t take Switzer long to show that he’s a better version of Cole Beasley. The Cowboys could do worse than having them both just running crossing routes all day and letting the defense decide who to cover.
LaQuon Treadwell: More talented than Diggs or Theilen, in his second year Treadwell could emerge as Bradford’s go to guy. Unfortunately for fantasy owners, that still results in a big ole yawn.
Mike Williams: Not your older brother’s Mike Williams, this is the rookie out of Clemson. The same Clemson that has produced Sammy Watkins, DeAndre Hopkins, and Martavis Bryant. He should prove a nice compliment to Keenan Allen in the Chargers’ offense.
Well there it is, a review of 68 of the league’s top potential fantasy receiver’s this year. Inevitably, as happens every year, someone will come out of left field and emerge as a must have fantasy receiver. It happens every year. The receiver position is all about having that balance between acquiring consistent, known commodities, while also hoping to purchase Microsoft stock as an IPO.
Best of luck drafting, and catch us back here when we review the Tight End position.
- Jason Sullivan
- Find me on Twitter @TopDucker