The last three weeks, I have attempted to rank two offensive positions at once in an effort to turn the rank lists over every other week. I was a little too ambitious. This week, I will be focusing exclusively on the Wide Receiver position. Next week will be Quarterbacks and Tight Ends, and the week after will be all about Running Backs.
Wide receiver production seems to be a lot more reliable than running back, and as a result more and more owners seem to be using receivers in the FLEX spots weekly. The truth of the matter is that the top backs and receivers are scoring at very similar levels, but the usable talent pool at the receiver position is substantially deeper once you get past the top 40 or so.
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.
Players ranked in the same tiers 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. If you disagree with a player’s ranking, feel free to discuss in the comments section.
Lastly, this column assumes standard scoring (4 point pass TD, 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.
Super Elite Tier: These men are the cream of the crop. They have extremely high weekly floors because of immense target totals.
1. Antonio Brown – Brown’s recent struggles were directly tied to Mike Vick. He amassed 124 yards on 6 catches in week 7, and now that Big Ben is primed for a return, the top spot belongs to Brown once again. If you are able to acquire him for anything less than an overall cost of a WR1, you should do it.
2. Julio Jones – Jones got back on track in week 7 and he appears fully past his injuries. He did not have the most efficient day, but his 17 targets are in line with what he was doing weeks 1-3 before the injury issues.
3. DeAndre Hopkins – Hopkins posted his second dud of the season with just 50 yards on 6 catches. The good news is that he was targeted 12 more times and continues to be heavily featured. With Arian Foster now out for the season, Hopkins will be the Texans’ primary offensive weapon. That may be both a blessing and a curse at the same time.
WR1 Tier: These players are a notch below the super elite because their floor is not quite as high. However, the weekly upside is every bit as high.
4. Odell Beckham – Beckham is a special player. Eli Manning is a very ordinary quarterback. Now is a great time to make a buy low offer with the Saints on deck in week 8.
5. Brandon Marshall – Marshall has been the model of consistency this season. He has been over 100 yards in four of six games and has scored a TD in four of six games as well. Weeks 7 was the first time he failed to do either. He still managed 67 yards on 7 targets.
6. Dez Bryant – Bryant looks like he will make his return in week 8. Name brand value carries his rank, but I would consider selling. The Cowboys’ passing attack is a complete mess and Bryant has substantial risk of re-injuring his foot.
7. Larry Fitzgerald – I don’t fully trust Fitz to keep performing at this rate, but he has been awesome so far. His production coupled with inconsistency from the other top receivers leads to his elevated rank.
8. Demaryius Thomas – Peyton looks terrible, but Thomas is third in the league in targets per game and he will start finding the end zone eventually.
9. Calvin Johnson – Johnson is averaging just under 10 targets per game and he has caught TD passes in back to back weeks. His value is on the rise despite a streaky quarterback.
10. A.J. Green – The Bengals passing offense looks terrific. Unfortunately for Green owners, Dalton has been sharing the wealth more than in years past. Green is averaging just 8.33 targets per game this season.
11. Allen Robinson – Robinson is 3rd among all wide receivers in fantasy points and 6th in targets. He has red zone skills and big play ability. As Bortles continues to improve, Robinson’s upside is as high as anybody’s.
12. Alshon Jeffery – Jeffery returned with a monster game in week 6. The week 7 bye has given him more time off to heal up and Jeffery should be locked in as a WR1 the rest of the way.
High End WR 2 Tier: These players miss the cut for the WR 1 ranks, but are not far behind and offer high-end upside with just a tad more risk.
13. T.Y. Hilton – Hilton had a huge game in week 7 with 150 yards and 2 TDs. Even though he was aided by two blown coverages on long TD catches, Hilton offers a ton of upside as the top option in the Colts’ offense.
14. Keenan Allen – Allen is an absolute target monster. He will post duds from time to time, but he has amassed 13 or more targets in four of seven games and is third in the NFL in targets.
15. Randall Cobb – Cobb has clearly been impacted by his shoulder injury. Packers OC Tom Clements said that it has impacted his ability to get open, and so have consistent double teams. Hopefully the bye week has helped Cobb heal up.
16. Mike Evans – Coming off the bye week, Evans went off to the tune of 164 yards and a TD on 8 catches. He could have a monster second half.
Low End WR2 Tier – These players lack the upside of those ranked ahead, but they are every week starters for your fantasy team.
17. Emmanuel Sanders – Sanders averages nearly 11 targets per game and is option 1B in the Broncos passing attack. Peyton Manning has really struggled though.
18. Amari Cooper – Cooper is an extremely impressive player. Low target totals over the past two weeks limit his upside, however. Opposing defenses are keying on him.
19. Julian Edelman – A dislocated finger slowed Edelman in week 6. In week 7, it was Darrelle Revis. Edelman will continue to be highly targeted, but LaFell’s return limits his upside somewhat.
20. Jeremy Maclin – Maclin was a surprise inactive on Sunday after reportedly passing through the league’s concussion protocol earlier in the week. The Chiefs could become more reliant on Maclin and Smith now that Charles is out, or the entire offense could suffer Charles’ loss.
21. James Jones – Jones is averaging just 4.83 targets per game. Owners should expect high-efficiency from Rodgers top red zone target, but he will not finish the season ranked among the WR1’s unless he starts being targeted more often.
22. Jarvis Landry – Landry has posted nice fantasy lines under the new regime, but his target totals have been way down. He has had 9 targets the last two weeks combined after no fewer than 10 in weeks one through four. I think his owners should consider selling high.
23. Martavis Bryant – All he does is catch touchdowns. He has legitimate WR1 upside with Roethlisberger’s impending return.
24. John Brown – Brown is a dynamic playmaker in an explosive offense.
High End WR3 Tier – Some of these players are safe, predictable options, and others are risky with high weekly upside.
25. Eric Decker – Decker is extremely efficient. He is averaging over 11 fantasy points per game due to a great red zone rapport with Fitzpatrick.
26. Stefon Diggs – Diggs looks legit. He has the potential to move up this list quickly, but Teddy Bridgewater is his QB. He has averaged 9.33 targets per game and appears locked in as the top WR for Minnesota.
27. Steve Smith Sr. – Smith has posted two massive duds, missed a game due to injury and played like an elite WR three times. I am not sure what to expect for the rest of the season. He looked pretty good on Monday night.
28. Travis Benjamin – Benjamin posted a huge dud on Sunday, but his target totals remain high. He has had brutal matchups the last two weeks and will face one more against Patrick Peterson and the Cardinals in week 8.
29. Donte Moncrief – Moncrief salvaged his week 7 box score with a late TD. The Colts offense is a bit of a mess right now, and Moncrief’s weekly target totals have fluctuated wildly.
30. Sammy Watkins – Watkins sat out week 7 with an ankle injury. He has a good chance to return following the week 8 bye and offers high-end upside.
Low End WR3 Tier – Here you will find some over achievers along with a couple of guys who can only be considered massive busts at this point.
31. Allen Hurns – Hurns is the eighth ranked fantasy WR despite having three games with only two receptions. He is a good player, just don’t count on this level of production moving forward.
32. Brandin Cooks – Cooks’ 13 targets in week 7 were a good sign, but he has managed only 122 scoreless yards on 18 targets since his week 5 breakout.
33. Jordan Matthews – Matthews’ abysmal week 7 performance has owners considering other options moving forward. He is not this bad, but we could be looking at a lost season for the talented Eagle wideout.
34. Davante Adams – Adams is likely to make his return in week 8 and could be just what the struggling Packers’ offense needs. He has WR2 upside.
35. Anquan Boldin – Boldin is more of a high upside matchup play due to Kaepernick’s struggles. His target volume is high, but there are days where Kaeps simple cannot complete a forward pass.
36. Michael Crabtree – Crabtree offers his owners a relatively high floor because of high target totals. He lacks upside, but has tallied at least 4 catches in every game this season.
Matchup Plays with Upside – These players are all capable of posting strong fantasy lines, but they are just as likely to put up a dud.
37. Kendall Wright – Wright’s target totals have been inconsistent, and the Titans’ QB situation is far from good. Still, Wright has emerged as a decent FLEX option.
38. Brandon LaFell – LaFell had a miserable 2015 debut with six drops on eight targets. The big news, however, is that he is back. He posted WR2 numbers last season and needs to be owned in all leagues.
39. Marvin Jones – Jones is as streaky as can be, but he offers high-end upside when he hits.
40. Golden Tate – Tate’s target totals remain high, but he needs to start doing more with those targets.
41. Nate Washington – Washington has been targeted at least 8 times in every game he has played. He seems to be a safe bet for weekly production with all the attention paid to Hopkins; just don’t expect a repeat of week seven’s line ever again.
42. Rishard Matthews – Matthews is the primary deep threat on the Dolphins. He does not get a ton of targets, but since the new regime in Miami appears more inclined to take shots down the field, Matthews’ value could be on the rise.
Steady Performers – These guys have limited upside, but may be worth consideration as a bye week replacement.
43. Pierre Garcon – Garcon really has not done enough with Jackson and Reed out of the lineup. He has only posted more than 55 yards on two occasions. One has to assume that his usage will decline once everyone is healthy.
44. Vincent Jackson – VJax left week 7 with a knee injury. It did not seem serious, but owners should not count on him in week 8.
45. Willie Snead – Snead’s production has disappointed the last two weeks with 80 yards on 7 catches. He remains a low upside FLEX play.
46. Cecil Shorts – Shorts is a heavily targeted option on what figures to be a very one-dimensional Texans’ offense.
Bench Stashes – These players all offer upside, but may be best left on fantasy benches for now.
47. Michael Floyd – Floyd has a lot of upside if his role continues to increase.
48. Terrance Williams – Williams looked to be a bigger part of the game plan with Cassell under center. If he can produce again next game, he may again emerge as a playable fantasy option.
49. Tavon Austin – Austin has been targeted at least five times in four straight weeks. His floor is very low, but he does have a knack for finding the end zone.
50. Rueben Randle – Randle has posted decent numbers the past two weeks despite Manning’s struggles. He has totaled 112 yards, which is 16 more than Beckham.
51. Stevie Johnson – Johnson has been targeted eight times in each of the last two games. Keep in mind though, his best games have occurred with Gates out of the lineup.
52. Andre Johnson – Johnson’s role has increased since his week 5 breakout against the Texans, but he remains well behind Moncrief on the depth chart.
53. DeSean Jackson – Jackson will have value when he returns, but when will that be? He suffered a setback two weeks ago and currently does not seem very close at all.
54. Ted Ginn – It is difficult to trust any Panther WR, but I guess Ginn would be the one if you had to go there.
55. Mike Wallace – Wallace has done almost nothing the past two weeks and now appears to be the second option on a run first offense. Not good.
56. Torrey Smith – Smith has had two games this season where he went without a catch. He has also had two games where he totaled at least 3 receptions. If I owned Smith, I would be dropping him.
57. Leonard Hankerson – Hankerson is just not very good. The Falcons offense has sputtered recently because they have been unable to get reliable production from a second wide receiver. Hankerson is a dart throw matchup play, nothing more.
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