As the NFL evolves more and more into a passing league, an astounding number of wideouts have emerged as strong weekly fantasy contributors. Where not too long ago, there was an elite group of three or four receivers that warranted consideration in the first two rounds of the draft, now there are 10-12 such players. The quality of WR3 and WR4 options also continues to emerge. There are also players whom I left off my personal top 50 rank list that I would be comfortable starting on a weekly basis.
Aside from the fact that there are so many potential fantasy studs at the WR position, they are also far more reliable than their RB counterparts. You are far more likely to hit on your early round WR picks than you are to hit at RB. The top options have gradually crept their way up draft boards, and this season, you could see as many as 5 WRs drafted in the top 12 picks. If you fail to land in the top half of the draft and miss on one of the elite RBs, do not worry. Snagging 2 of the top options from this list may be just what you need to ensure your team is competitive.
Whether you get your wideouts early or late, there are plenty of quality options here! As always, we welcome discussion in the comment section. We would love to hear your take or answer your questions. Now, on to the ranks!
1. Which WRs are you most willing to reach for during your draft?
Andy: I liked DeAndre Hopkins, and now with Arian Foster’s injury, I think he gets a ton of targets. Andre Johnson is gone now and other than Hopkins there isn’t another skill position player that is even above average. I think the top 10 receivers will be hard to get past barring injury to any of them, but Hopkins has the ability to do it.
Joe: Keenan Allen – He’s a WR1 with a dependable QB. Several notable WR1 with questionable QB situations are being ranked ahead of Allen, perhaps because of their “home run” appeal. Allen is being undervalued, and with Antonio Gates serving a 4-game suspension, Allen could see more targets early.
Tommy: I love all the elite WR options, but I don’t think where I would draft any of them would be considered a “reach.” I believe Jordan Mathews is going to hit it big this year and I would be willing to take him somewhere near the middle of round 3. He is the clear lead receiver in a Chip Kelly offense. If you need a reminder of what Matthews upside could look like, go check DeSean Jackson’s and Jeremy Maclin’s numbers from the past two seasons. Amari Cooper is the other guy I would take a little earlier than most. He is as polished as any rookie to enter the league in a long time, and I think he is going to have a big year.
2. Which WRs will you be looking to avoid this season?
Andy: The rookie wide receivers are going to go way earlier than I plan on drafting them. I don’t think any of the high end rookie wideouts landed in a great spot to produce right away. I will draft them if they fall far enough but I know they won’t. I won’t have Amari Cooper or Kevin White on any of my rosters unless their ADP really drops in the next month. I am also low on Kelvin Benjamin. I think Funchess takes more receiver targets away from him, and his numbers will take a bit of a hit.
Joe: Eric Decker – Even though he may sit as the 32nd WR drafted, that is still way too high for my taste. Take away his 221 yard romp in week 17 (which probably meant zilch to most fantasy owners), and he totaled a meager 741 yards in 2014. There are plenty of other negatives to consider, starting with an underwhelming and unsettling QB situation. Decker will also have to compete for targets with Brandon Marshall opposite him.
Tommy: I can’t see myself owning Kelvin Benjamin this year. He just is not a very good football player, at least not yet. He had a ton of drops last year and Cam Newton is not exactly a model of efficiency. I want a safer pick if I am going to invest in a 3rd round WR. Emmanuel Sanders is the other obvious choice. He will have a tough time getting close to last year’s numbers in the new Denver offense.
3. Which “average Joes” are you willing to settle for to round out your WR line up?
Andy: I want at least one elite WR. That means I will own one of Dez Bryant, Antonio Brown, Demaryius Thomas, Jordy Nelson, Julio Jones, Odell Beckham Jr., Calvin Johnson or A.J. Green. Receiver is a really deep position, and I understand there is a lot of talent to go around, but having one, or two of the elite guys will really set your team apart.
Joe: Jeremy Maclin – Many expect a drop in production since he left Philadelphia, and perhaps the odds are not in his favor to repeat with over 1300 yards. But the playbook should be a familiar one since he reunited with Andy Reid. Maclin is being drafted as a WR3 this year, but if the reunion is a good one, he could flirt with WR2 numbers.
Tommy: Vincent Jackson, Mike Wallace, Marques Colston and Brandon LaFell are all seasoned vets who make for excellent, cheap WR3s. Each man is being overlooked to a certain extent for different reasons, but they are each capable of producing like a WR2. And although he is no average Joe, Allen Robinson is another guy you will want to own come September.
4. Who are some late round lottery ticket WRs that you feel may hit it big this season?
Andy: I am high on Cody Latimer and Devante Adams. I think both will have big years and are being drafted as bench receivers in most leagues. I also like Terrance Williams a lot this year. I bit the bullet and was wrong on him last year, but I think he has a good year with top 20 upside.
Joe: Anquan Boldin – He may be old (he’ll be 35 in October) but he’s one of Colin Kaepernick’s favorite targets with 168 receptions the last 2 years. While others may be taking chances on unproven rookies late in the draft, or on younger receivers they hope can be relevant – Boldin finished standard scoring leagues ranked 22nd last season, and 15th in 2013. With 40 some odd receivers going ahead of him, there really is very little risk in drafting him.
Tommy: I am all in on the Steelers offense this year, so give me Markus Wheaton. Although his stock is sure to rise in the coming weeks, right now he is being ignored. Anybody good enough to beat out Martavis Bryant in a high flying offense deserves to be drafted. Kendall Wright and Marvin Jones are two more late value picks who could do big things for their owners.
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