Thursday, April 5, 2018
Antonio Brown (WR1) > Julio Jones (WR2) > DeAndre Hopkins (WR3) > Odell Beckham (WR4) > Michael Thomas (WR5) > Keenan Allen (WR6) > Mike Evans (WR7) > A.J. Green (WR8) > Davante Adams (WR9) > Doug Baldwin (WR10)
Summary: Tier-one receivers are target monsters and offensive focal points, ideally with at least serviceable quarterback play and sustained track records of high-end production. Our generation’s version of Jerry Rice, Brown has been a top-three wideout in four straight seasons, leading the NFL twice in catches and twice in receiving yards during that span. Julio scored just three TDs last year despite finishing second in the NFL in receiving yards and is an easy positive touchdown-regression candidate. Thomas and Evans can be viewed similarly; both managed five TDs but have double-digit scores squarely in their range of potential outcomes. Hopkins was the overall WR1 from Weeks 2-8 with Deshaun Watson. Before last year’s season-ending ankle injury, Beckham was a top-five fantasy receiver in three straight years. Green has finished as a top-12 receiver in points per game in all seven of his NFL seasons. Adams and Baldwin are Aaron Rodgers and Russell Wilson’s No. 1 wideouts, respectively. Baldwin’s arrow is especially pointing up with Jimmy Graham and Paul Richardson out of town and Seattle’s defense in disrepair, increasing Wilson’s pass-attempt projection and Baldwin’s raw target expectation.
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Summary: Tier-two receivers offer tier-one upside but carry more risk and/or lower target projections. Hill exploded as last year’s overall WR5, but he ranked 22nd among wide receivers in targets and is now playing with a different quarterback while competing for looks with highly-paid Sammy Watkins. Thielen and Diggs are co-No. 1 wideouts whose outlooks are improved by Kirk Cousins’ quarterback upgrade. Jones passed Golden Tate as Matthew Stafford’s go-to guy last year, finishing as the overall WR4. Eric Ebron’s departure frees up 86 targets. Jones has been undervalued in early drafts I’ve done, routinely lasting until the sixth round. The Raiders sound committed to making Cooper the focal point of their passing game. Hilton would be a tier-one candidate if we knew for sure Andrew Luck would be ready for Week 1. Fitzgerald has 100-plus catches in three straight seasons, and new Cardinals QB Sam Bradford has leaned heavily on slot receivers from Danny Amendola to Jordan Matthews to Diggs in 2016. Jeffery took a while to get going in his first year as an Eagle, then exploded for 219 yards and three touchdowns in three playoff games. Despite his injury-prone reputation, Jeffery has played 16-game seasons in three of the last five years.
Brandin Cooks (WR19) > Allen Robinson (WR20) > Dez Bryant (WR21) > Devin Funchess (WR22) > Golden Tate (WR23) > JuJu Smith-Schuster (WR24) > Sammy Watkins (WR25) > Chris Hogan (WR26) > Julian Edelman (WR27) > Josh Gordon (WR28) > Pierre Garcon (WR29) > Robert Woods (WR30) > Cooper Kupp (WR31) > Jamison Crowder (WR32) > Nelson Agholor (WR33) > Demaryius Thomas (WR34) > Emmanuel Sanders (WR35) > Will Fuller (WR36)
Summary: Tier-three receivers have warts but can flirt with WR1 value if things go their way. I dropped Cooks from tier two after his trade to L.A. to play Watkins’ old coverage-changer role. I think Cooks will outproduce Watkins, but he’ll have to do more with less on a balanced Rams offense where Woods, Kupp, and especially Todd Gurley command targets. Robinson should easily lead the Bears in targets, although a healthy Cameron Meredith and Trey Burton are formidable challengers, and Robinson hasn’t actually played well since 2015. Bryant struggled to get open in 2017. The Cowboys considered releasing him after the season. Funchess sits clearly atop a weak Carolina pass-catcher corps and offers double-digit TD upside in his contract year. Tate is a volatile week-to-week scorer, which matters less in best-ball formats. He has 90-plus receptions all three years in Detroit. Smith-Schuster was the overall WR20 as a rookie and has room for growth at age 21. Hogan and Edelman were both solidified in this tier by the Cooks trade, Hogan rising most dramatically. Crowder and Garcon are Alex Smith and Jimmy Garoppolo’s projected No. 1 wideouts. Thomas and Sanders often last until the mid to late rounds and look like early value picks. Agholor and Fuller are volatile WR3s with high game-to-game ceilings but low game-to-game floors.
Michael Crabtree (WR37) > Sterling Shepard (WR38) > Jarvis Landry (WR39) > Corey Davis (WR40) > Robby Anderson (WR41) > Marquise Goodwin (WR42) > Jordy Nelson (WR43) > Mohamed Sanu (WR44) > DeVante Parker (WR45) > Martavis Bryant (WR46) > Kenny Stills (WR47) > Rishard Matthews (WR48)
Summary: These are WR3/4 picks with lower ceilings or raised risk. Crabtree is the heavy favorite to lead Baltimore in targets but turns 31 in September and downgraded quarterbacks from Derek Carr to Joe Flacco. Shepard’s stock will rise when/if Brandon Marshall gets cut, and skyrocket if Odell Beckham gets traded. Landry is a volume-dependent scorer whose volume will take a big hit in Cleveland. In Tyrod’s three years as Buffalo’s quarterback, no Bills pass catcher ever topped 60 receptions. It’s unclear what Nelson has left after a miserable 2017 season. Now 33, Jordy has gone 18 straight games without reaching 80 yards. After a spotty rookie year, Davis is a breakout candidate in Tennessee’s revised offense. Big-play specialist Anderson was cleared on felony charges but could still be at risk of a second suspension for violating the NFL’s conduct policy. Goodwin, Bryant, Parker, and Stills are big-play threats who lack consistency. Sanu and Matthews are not sexy picks but have locked-in roles with strong quarterback play and are always undervalued in drafts.
Randall Cobb (WR49) > DeSean Jackson (WR50) > Marqise Lee (WR51) > Ted Ginn (WR52) > Tyler Lockett (WR53) > Kenny Golladay (WR54) > Paul Richardson (WR55) > Dede Westbrook (WR56) > Jordan Matthews (WR57) > Tyrell Williams (WR58) > Kelvin Benjamin (WR59) > John Brown (WR60) > Cameron Meredith (WR61) > Josh Doctson (WR62)
Summary: This is a mishmash of receivers with lower-volume projections, suspect quarterback play, recent dips in performance, and in-limbo roles. Cobb’s outlook is enhanced by Jordy Nelson’s exit, but balanced by Jimmy Graham’s addition, and Cobb hasn’t been a top-30 wideout since 2014. Jackson, Lockett, and Williams are intriguing buy-low picks coming off down years. Lee and Richardson have job security after landing big-money deals, but must overcome average or below-average passing games. As a deep-threat contested-catch receiver, Richardson’s fit with arch-conservative Alex Smith remains to be seen. Golladay flashed big-time playmaking ability as a rookie but remains the Lions’ No. 3 receiver behind Marvin Jones and Golden Tate. Westbrook and Doctson don’t project for heavy volume in crowded passing games but offer high game-to-game ceilings. Benjamin and Meredith are coming off knee surgery. Matthews became an intriguing late-round flier when he signed with New England. Brown is the Ravens’ latest attempt to find a deep threat for Joe Flacco.
Mike Wallace (WR63) > Curtis Samuel (WR64) > Corey Coleman (WR65) > Jermaine Kearse (WR66) > Keelan Cole (WR67) > Trent Taylor (WR68) > Albert Wilson (WR69) > J.J. Nelson (WR70) > Josh Reynolds (WR71) > Terrelle Pryor (WR72) > Kendall Wright (WR73) > D.J. Moore (WR74) > Calvin Ridley (WR75) > Geronimo Allison (WR76) > Willie Snead (WR77) > Carlos Henderson (WR78) > Mack Hollins (WR79) > Courtland Sutton (WR80) > Terrance Williams (WR81) > Quincy Enunwa (WR82) > Cole Beasley (WR83) > Taywan Taylor (WR84) > Jeremy Maclin (WR85) > Zay Jones (WR86) > Taylor Gabriel (WR87) > Eric Decker (WR88) > Donte Moncrief (WR89) > Michael Gallup (WR90) > Chester Rogers (WR91) > Travis Benjamin (WR92) > Brandon Marshall (WR93) > Chad Williams (WR94) > Chris Godwin (WR95) > Brandon LaFell (WR96) > Mike Williams (WR97) > Torrey Smith (WR98) > James Washington (WR99) > Danny Amendola (WR100) > Bruce Ellington (WR101) > Chris Conley (WR102) > Anthony Miller (WR103) > Allen Hurns (WR104) > Kevin White (WR105)
Summary: Many members of tier six will elevate or fall off the radar altogether as the season approaches. They are worth late-pick consideration at the moment. As of this posting, my favorite final-round best-ball targets in this group are Nelson, Samuel, Trent Taylor, and Brown.