Last week we looked at
my way too early top 15 at the RB position. The series concludes
this week with Wide Receivers. 2017 was an extreme outlier for the
position in terms of futility. There is no chance that wide receivers
perform that poorly again in 2018. That creates opportunity for
value as players capable of high level production will be available
later than usual. But it also offers a cautionary tale as the WR
tiers are starting to blur as the separation between a mid-WR1 and
a low-WR2 continues to shrink.
Running backs dominated wide receivers in 2017 and will dominate
the early portions of 2018 drafts. As we continue to inch closer
towards the 2018 NFL season, here are my way too early top 15
The new No.1 in Green Bay. Davante Adams
has posted double digit TDs in back-to-back seasons.
Brown – I am not even going to explain this one. Brown
is the best wide receiver since Jerry Rice and I legitimately
believe he is the second best wide receiver in NFL history. He
is unstoppable and has been the overall fantasy WR1 (FPts/G) for
four straight years. No matter where you take AB, he is never
a bad pick.
Hopkins – I did not see 2017 coming. We knew the talent
was there, but apparently the only thing that can hold back Hopkins
Osweiler. A healthy Deshaun
Watson won’t be a bad thing for Hopkins in 2018, even though
he was actually more productive with Tom
Savage, if that can somehow be believed. Hopkins’ body control
and ability to toe tap the sidelines is amongst the best I’ve
ever seen. He was far and away the second best WR in fantasy in
2017 and worthy of that spot in 2018.
Beckham Jr. – His injury was a random occurrence that
happens in a violent game. Beckham will return in 2018 completely
healthy and go back to being one of the league’s best wide receivers.
He was a consensus top three wide receiver in 2017 and a year
of injury is not going to change that.
Thomas – Congratulations Michael Thomas, you proved
yourself in 2017. I’ve seen enough to know that Thomas just understands
the craft of being a wide receiver. He’s not the most athletic
player, but he knows how to play the position and play it well.
Tethered to Drew
Brees, Thomas comes with a high target floor and should improve
upon the mere five touchdowns he caught in 2017.
Hill – My crowning achievement in 2017 was projecting
Hill as a WR1. Hill only saw 105 targets last season. Although
he’s the league’s best deep threat, he is also very capable of
catching the ball underneath. Hill doesn’t drop anything and is
one of the league’s best contested pass catchers, which is surprising
for a guy his size (5-10). Hill’s floor is certainly lower with
Pat Mahomes, but his ceiling is higher. Hill was a top seven WR
last year and he is still being underutilized.
Nelson is done. Adams is the new No.1 option for Aaron
Rodgers. Adams finally put it all together in 2017 and had
an excellent season, despite spending most of it with Brett
Hundley. Adams will continue to improve and a full season
of Rodgers should unleash Adams’ full potential.
Thielen – Another contested catch machine, Thielen
is essentially Jordy Nelson 2.0. He’s a great deep threat that
can run precise routes and make all the catches underneath. He’s
simultaneously a big play guy and a safety valve. Thielen’s 2017
breakout is merely the foundation for a bigger 2018. If Kirk Cousins
signs in Minnesota, that only bolsters Thielen’s outlook.
Green – It’s hard to know what to make of Green’s 2017
season. He saw 143 targets, but only caught 75 of them, by far
the lowest catch rate of his career. The Bengals are a team trending
in the wrong direction, but Green is still in his prime. Given
his track record, I’m buying a rebound over a continued slide.
Fitzgerald – I am completely done doubting this man.
Fitzgerald is an all time great and I firmly believe his offseason
conditioning program and work ethic is so high that he won’t allow
himself to experience a drop in play. As long as he is playing,
he will do so at a high level. I am also banking on Arizona signing
Cousins or someone competent.
Landry – This is another guy that gets no respect.
Landry is a PPR monster. He led the league in receptions last
season and although he only managed 987 yards on 112 catches,
his nine touchdowns bolstered his value. A touchdown regression
is just as likely as an efficiency positive regression. Landry’s
floor is incredibly high and he’s proven himself for three straight
Evans – Since his rookie season, Evans has alternated
boom and bust years. In 2017, not only did the touchdowns bust,
but the yardage did as well with Evans barely eclipsing 1000 yards.
Evans was a mid-range WR2 last year, but just a couple touchdowns
away from being a WR1. Drafting him as a low end WR1 seems pretty
safe to me.
Jones – I’m giving Quintorris Lopez Jones the benefit
of the doubt, even though he probably doesn’t deserve it. For
a 6 foot 4 elite athlete, Jones has just one double-digit touchdown
season on his resume, way back in 2012. I don’t think Julio has
that 120-catch, 1600-yard season ceiling anymore. We’re talking
about a guy that didn’t even average double digit PPR fantasy
points per week in the 15 games where he didn’t drop 50+ fantasy
points on the Bucs. Simply put, Julio is overrated in fantasy
Baldwin – I really regretted owning Baldwin in 2017.
His streak of exceeding his previous season’s receptions total
ended at four as he dropped from 94 in 2016 to 75 catches in 2017.
Baldwin was fine. Russell
Wilson just had no interest in throwing him the ball. Baldwin
had 116 targets, which is more than I thought, but a 10% decrease
in catch rate made it look like a lot less. I’m more bearish than
bullish on Baldwin in 2018.
Allen – If this seems low, then it’s probably a good
spot. Allen wasn’t nearly as good as people think last season.
He had a three game stretch where he went 12-159-2, 11-172-1,
and 10-105-1. He finished as the overall WR3 by average fantasy
points, but he did it mostly in those three weeks. Allen had nine
other games where he averaged around 5-50-0. There were only six
times (not counting Week 17) where you were glad you had Allen
in your lineup last year. That’s fine for a WR2, but not for a
WR1, which is why Allen is ranked near the bottom of this list.
Diggs – Yes, the Vikings are the only team with two
wide receivers in the top 15! Stefon Diggs’ draft stock will undoubtedly
see an artificial increase based on the Minneapolis Miracle against
the Saints, but Diggs is legitimately a good wide receiver. He
began 2017 blazing hot, but had his season derailed a bit by injury.
Diggs does not play well when hurt. If he can remain healthy,
he has WR1 upside. Like Thielen, Diggs would also be aided by
the arrival of Kirk Cousins.