Since the focus was on QBs and RBs last week, it is time to look at the pass catchers. There are many young exciting receivers and tight ends in the midst of breakout seasons, while a few of the old reliables have started to decline. We have had quite the volatile start to the season, and I expect these rankings to change quite a bit from week to week.
How to Use this Column
Players from each position will be ranked along with a quick comment regarding their most recent news. Rankings will reflect rest of season value, not just the current week. The players’ track record, most recent production and overall health will all be factored in to the ranking.
In theory, players ranked side by side should be relatively equal in value. Owners can use these lists when trying to figure out whether to drop an under-performing player for a hot waiver add or use it as a tool to evaluate a potential trade.
Lastly, this column assumes standard scoring (4 point pass TDs, 1 point for 25 passing yards, 1 point for 10 pass/receiving yards, no PPR). If your league uses another scoring type, you may need to adjust for differences.
1. Julio Jones – Jones is coming off of back to back mediocre outings as he has dealt with a tight hamstring. If he can make it through Thursday night he will have a nice break to get healthy and start dominating again.
2. Antonio Brown – Brown would still be number 1 if Big Ben were healthy, but Mike Vick under center really limits Brown’s upside.
3. DeAndre Hopkins – Hopkins is for real. The Texans will continue to target him relentlessly. He has been targeted 12 more times than Julio Jones, who is second in the NFL.
4. A.J. Green – The Bengals’ aggressive vertical passing attack gives Green more value than ever before. He would have had a huge week 5 if not for a 72 yard TD being called back for a holding penalty.
5. Randall Cobb – Cobb posted a massive dud in week 5 against the tough Rams defense. He may have been affected by his shoulder injury. Expect a bounce back for Cobb in week 6.
6. Demaryius Thomas – Thomas is among the league leaders in targets, but he is yet to find the endzone and Peyton is really struggling.
7. Odell Beckham – He is getting a lot more attention from defenses this season and he has had a couple slow games as a result. Coming off a big week 5 game, I had Beckham teed up in the top 5, but the hamstring issue makes me nervous.
8. Julian Edelman – Edelman is the unquestioned lead receiver in the league’s most dynamic offense. He is averaging 15 standard league points per week
9. Larry Fitzgerald – The 32-year-old WR is leading the NFL in TD catches and is second among WRs in fantasy points.
10. Dez Bryant – Dez could be back as early as week 7, but I am nervous that his injury will affect his production if he comes back too soon. This could actually be a decent time to sell given the current news.
11. Brandon Marshall – Marshall is the clear lead WR in a pretty good Jets’ offense. He is averaging 11 targets a week and is playing like a WR 1.
12. James Jones – Jones has clearly emerged as a go to guy in the Packers’ offense. Last week’s line could have looked a lot like Cobb’s had he not turned a 20 yard pass into a 65 yard TD. Jones is an every week fantasy starter.
13. T.Y. Hilton – Hilton has 382 yards on 50 targets. The targets and the yards are there, so don’t worry about the TDs. Hilton will get his share.
14. Jeremy Maclin – Maclin has been on quite a tear over the past 3 weeks with 374 yards on 36 targets. One can only assume that his role will increase with Charles out. Now, if he can only start finding the endzone.
15. Allen Robinson – Robinson had another 2 TD game in week 5 against the Bucs. He is a top 10 WR at the moment, but Orange Julius could steal a few red zone looks.
16. Emmanuel Sanders – Sanders is very difficult to rank. He is a pretty safe play as a WR 2, but Manning’s struggles limit his upside.
17. Amari Cooper – Cooper looks like a fantasy stud in the making. He is a solid WR 2 right now with upside to be a truly elite receiver down the line.
18. Alshon Jeffery – Jeffery has to be back soon, right?
19. Calvin Johnson – Johnson is not the elite player he once was, and the Lions’ struggles will make it difficult for him to more than a WR 2. The volume is still there, so he will still have his share of big games, just not nearly as often.
20. Keenan Allen – Allen’s overall point total is due almost entirely to two monster games. Now that Gates is back, Allen’s target totals will surely take a hit.
21. Jarvis Landry – The Miami target monster is best suited for PPR leagues. He offers a pretty safe weekly floor in standard formats also, even if the upside does not blow anybody away.
22. Mike Evans – Evans has literally done nothing good for fantasy owners this season. Better times are ahead, so forward thinking owners should consider a buy low offer.
23. Jordan Matthews – Matthews target totals remain high, so there is reason for owners to be optimistic. He has not played particularly well, however, so his role is not exactly what fantasy owners were hoping for.
24. Eric Decker – Decker has averaged 12 fantasy points a game with 3 TDs in 3 games. He makes for a pretty safe WR play since the Jets only really have 2 passing game options.
25. Travis Benjamin – Benjamin has not found the endzone since week 3, but he has emerged as one of the top options in Cleveland with double-digit targets in 3 consecutive games.
26. Donte Moncrief – Moncrief was non-existent during Andre Johnson’s revenge game. I still expect Moncrief to be the man moving forward, but the situation is much murkier now than it was last week.
27. John Brown – Brown has been solid so far, but he is not performing like the breakout many expected. Fitzgerald has been too good and remains the number one option.
28. Brandin Cooks – Cooks had his best game of the season in week 5 as he went over 100 yards and notched a garbage time score. He still looks somewhat overmatched as the Saints’ go to WR.
29. Pierre Garcon – Garcon is the lead dog in the Redskins’ passing attack. The trouble is that they would prefer to run it and Cousins is difficult to rely on. Garcon remains a solid WR 3.
30. Steve Smith Sr. – Smith could be back next week for the struggling Ravens. He has had two huge games and two massive duds in four tries. I expect the 36-year-old to slow down as the season progresses.
31. Vincent Jackson – Jackson has always been a boom or bust WR, and Winston’s erratic play is not helping him any. Mike Evans should be the lead WR in Tampa Bay going forward.
32. Mike Wallace – Wallace appears to be the number one option in Minnesota and has developed a nice rapport with Bridgewater. His upside is limited by the Vikings’ run first nature, however.
33. Allen Hurns – Hurns has been fantastic lately. Owners beware. His yearly totals are buoyed by one 15 target game and a 59 yard catch in week 5. He is producing like a WR 2, but aside from the week 4 explosion, his target totals could render him a WR 4 going forward. This is a sell high moment.
34. Desean Jackson – Jackson pulled up lame on his first target of the season. He has a decent chance to return in week 6 against Revis and the Jets. The Redskins need him desperately.
35. Martavis Bryant – Bryant will likely make his season debut in week 6. Few WRs have more upside, but he will probably need Roethlisberger to return before Bryant becomes usable. Now is the time to target Bryant in trades.
36. Willie Snead – Snead is trending up after securing 6 catches for 141 yards on 11 targets. Brees seems very comfortable looking Snead’s way, so he has a good chance to retain WR 3 value all season.
37. Sammy Watkins – Watkins has loads of talent, but he is injured and has Tyrod Taylor as his QB.
38. Golden Tate – Tate has fallen victim to the Lions’ struggles early on. He has been targeted 47 times in 5 games, but he has been able unable to produce so far.
39. Leonard Hankerson – Hankerson struggled along with his QB against the Redskins on Sunday. He only caught 1 pass for 14 yards on 4 targets. Despite the poor outing, he remains the third option in the Falcons’ passing attack behind Jones and Freeman.
40. Andre Johnson – Johnson had 26 more yards in week 5 than he had in the first 4 games combined. I am not buying that Johnson is back until he does it again.
41. Kendall Wright – Wright sustained a minor knee injury on Sunday and he is reportedly frustrated with his role in the offense. He is a talented player, but he is also very difficult to trust in fantasy.
42. Michael Crabtree – Crabtree relies on volume to produce, and he has been getting it lately. His best days are long behind him, but he can still be a useful FLEX play.
43. Brandon LaFell – LaFell is eligible to return in week 7 and appears on track to do so. He was a strong fantasy contributor last year, and could be once again for the high-flying Patriots.
44. Davante Adams – Adams remains out with an ankle injury. He has value due to his role in an elite passing attack, but Jones has established himself as the #2 WR.
45. Rueben Randle – Randle is locked into a big role for the Giants, but he left week 5 with hamstring tightness. He is worth considering as a FLEX option when healthy.
46. Anquan Boldin – Boldin had an excellent game against the Giants with 107 yards and a TD. The only problem is that it is very difficult to trust any WR with Kaepernick throwing him the ball.
47. Stevie Johnson – Johnson performed well for the first couple games. Now, he is out with a hamstring injury and with Gates back, his role in the offense is sure to diminish.
48. Marvin Jones – Jones is highly talented, but it is very difficult to know what you are getting from week to week.
49. Torrey Smith – Smith is somewhat limited as a receiver to begin with. Now that he is paired with Kaepernick, he is really tough to trust.
50. Tavon Austin – Austin does not get enough targets to be more than a FLEX play. He has a knack for finding the endzone, just beware of the dud potential.
51. Percy Harvin – Harvin was shut out in week 5 and has been trending the wrong way. Tyrod Taylor is not the ideal QB to support fantasy WRs.
52. Terrance Williams – Dez Bryant’s return might actually help Williams. For now, he is really difficult to trust. I can’t see Williams having any real value until Romo returns.
53. Cecil Shorts – Shorts has been averaging nearly 10 targets a game and has a chance to return from his shoulder injury next week. The Texans’ are likely to pass less frequently as Foster regains his form, but Shorts is worth a roster spot in deeper leagues.
54. Doug Baldwin – Baldwin is difficult to trust on a weekly basis. He has been targeted just 10 times over the past 3 games. He is not a great fantasy play.
55. Rishard Mathews – Mathews’ value is minimal. A monster game against the Bills caused many owners to grab him off waivers after week 3. His future roll is highly uncertain, however, with a new head coach and a promising rookie playing behind him.
56. Charles Johnson – Johnson’s upside makes him worth owning in deeper leagues. He has been an afterthought for Bridgewater so far, but that could change as the season plays out.
57. Ted Ginn – It is difficult to trust any Panther WR, but I guess Ginn would be the one if you had to go there.
1. Rob Gronkowski – This one is easy. About the only thing that can stop Gronk is the bye week. He will be the number 1 TE by a wide margin if he stays healthy.
2. Travis Kelce – Kelce’s usage has been frustrating, but one would think that Andy Reid will have to unleash mini Gronk now that Charles is out.
3. Tyler Eifert – Eifert leads all TEs with 5 TDs. His production has been up and down, but he actually has more points than Gronk in PPR.
4. Greg Olsen – Olsen is tied with Jordan Reid for most targets per game from the TE position. He is the safest non Gronk TE play.
5. Jimmy Graham – Graham continues to disappoint owners with yet another poor performance (3 catches for 30 yards). He does not appear to fit the Seahawks offense at all. Many owners will view Graham as a buy low candidate, but I actually think this could be a good time to sell. His name value still commands a hefty return.
6. Martellus Bennett – Bennett was targeted 11 times in week 5, but only managed 32 scoreless yards. He is still a high-end TE play.
7. Jason Witten – Witten is the focal point of the Cowboys’ Bryantless passing attack. He will continue to amass targets, just don’t expect a ton of yards or TDs.
8. Gary Barnidge – Barnidge is 3rd among all TEs in fantasy points. He is not a special talent by any stretch of the imagination, but he seems to have a great rapport with McCown.
9. Antonio Gates – Gates looked awfully sharp in his first game back. I would not be surprised if he had another big season in him.
10. Julius Thomas – Thomas unexpectedly made his return this week. He did not do a whole lot, but he has upside and Bortles has appeared to be fairly competent.
11. Charles Clay – Clay came crashing back to earth with a 1 catch, 7 yard day in week 5. He is a low-end TE 1.
12. Austin Seferian-Jenkins – Jenkins will likely miss another week or 2 with a strained shoulder. He has not really had the opportunity to validate his week 1 breakout, but since he is nearing return, he should be owned in most leagues.
13. Jordan Cameron – Cameron still has upside and is worth holding. Fantasy owners are best served leaving him on benches until the Dolphins offense shows signs of life. Cameron has parlayed 28 targets into 170 scoreless yards.
14. Eric Ebron – Ebron was off to a great start to the season before hurting his knee in week 4. He has a good shot to return for week 6.
15. Crockett Gillmore – Gillmore has been impressive when active. He has missed the last two weeks with a calf strain and does not have a definitive timetable for his return.
16. Richard Rodgers – Rodgers is typically thought of as a TD dependent fantasy option. This week, he managed to catch 6 of 8 targets for 45 yards.
17. Zach Ertz – Ertz showed some signs of life in week 5, with 5 catches for 60 yards. He needs to do a lot more to get back on the TE1 radar.
18. Coby Fleener – Fleener has as much upside as anybody, but his role is limited when Dwayne Allen is healthy.
Jordan Reed- Reed is a TE 1 when healthy. Unfortunately, given his injury history, owners should not be counting on his services anytime soon.
19. Delanie Walker – Walker has not been the offensive focal point many thought he would be. He may have injured his hip late in the loss to the Bills, so his value could be drying up.
20. Ladarius Green – Every year the Chargers promise to get Green more involved. I will believe it when I see it. Unless they are able to play Gates and Green together, Green’s snap count will limit his production.
21. Heath Miller – Miller is a decent bye week replacement option.
22. Larry Donnell – Donnell is always involved in the Giants’ passing game. The problem is that he is not very good.
23. Dwayne Allen– Allen is a red zone monster when healthy.
24. Owen Daniels – Daniels appears to be a TD or bust player with just 62 yards receiving on the season so far.
25. Jared Cook – Cook played very well the first two weeks. Since, he has totaled 5 receptions for 37 yards.
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