The pass-happy NFL has changed the way we look at receivers. Last season, there were 23 receivers with 1,000 receiving yards, while only 13 running backs hit 1,000 rushing yards. What’s more,15 receivers had double-digit receiving touchdowns, while just two backs ran the ball in for a score at least 10 times (DeMarco Murray and Marshawn Lynch). Yes, backs can also help out in the passing game, but the days of thinking you can sneak by with mediocre receivers in your fantasy league are over.
Another important aspect of fantasy leagues is how many starting receiver spots you have. If you only start two in a standard league, you can possibly get away with not going with a receiver in the first two rounds. On the other hand, three-WR leagues almost force your hand to grab one in the first 30 picks.
First tier of elite guys
In a standard league, the first tier is somewhat deep. Dez Bryant and Antonio Brown are both solid first-round picks, while owners could certainly consider Demaryius Thomas at the tail end. There’s also nothing wrong with grabbing Julio Jones, Calvin Johnson or even Odell Beckham Jr. — OBJ does carry some risk with his balky hamstring and Victor Cruz coming back, though.
Second tier of elite guys
You could throw Jordy Nelson, A.J. Green and Alshon Jeffrey into the first tier because any of those guys could easily be the top receiver in the NFL. Nelson and Jeffery both hit double-digit TDs and were top-seven in targets, while Green could bounce back from injuries with what could be a high-powered offense.
Let’s take a quick look at how our rankings compare beyond the top 10 to others out there. This is based on our rankings vs. the average ADPs on FantasyPros.com.
Who we like
DeAndre Hopkins - He had one of the biggest games of the season with 238 yards and two scores against the Titans last season. The Texans do not have Andre Johnson anymore, so Cecil Shorts and Jaelen Strong are the biggest threats for targets. Plus, with Arian Foster down with a groin injury, we should see a ton of targets going to Hopkins.
Keenan Allen - He burned a lot of fantasy owners last year after a very impressive 2013. The Chargers won’t have tight end Antonio Gates to start the season due to suspension, so expect Allen to get some extra red-zone targets. He’ll need those after hitting pay dirt just four times last season.
Who we don’t like
Julian Edelman - His ADP is the 19th receiver off the board and we have him a lot lower than that. While Edelman could prove to be a solid WR2 in PPR leagues, it’s a little tough to count on him in that role in a standard. The Patriots are going to lean on Rob Gronkowski a ton, while Brandon LaFell came on last year, too.
Sammy Watkins - We have him at 28 while his ADP is 22. There are a lot of reasons to like Watkins: He is the no-doubt WR1 on his team and he is reportedly destroying his teammates in camp. The downside? He’s on the Bills, who figure to be one of the worst offenses in the NFL. Watkins will certainly have his big games, but expect him to have multiple games with less than five fantasy points in a standard league.
Mike Wallace - For some reason, he’s the 30th receiver going off the board. Yeah, a change of scenery could help, but Wallace graded out as one of the worst receivers in the NFL last season. None of our six writers have him at 30 or higher.
(DK: Daniel Kelley; DC: Dan Ciarrocchi; AW: Alex Welch; JD: John Daigle; KA: Kenneth Arthur; SK: Scott Kaliska; MG: Michael Gallagher)
|6||Odell Beckham Jr.||NYG||6||5||5||6||2||5||6|
|31||Steve Smith Sr.||BAL||26||33||31||33||29||30||42|