In the first of our NFL positional ranking articles Craig Gilhooly presents a look at the top ten wide receivers for 2018.
The G.O.A.T. He is the definition of a true great, a technician at his position. Brown might not be prototypical size and weight, but he is fast, elusive, agile and most importantly a very smart footballer. He makes guys like Casey Heyward and Marcus Peters look pedestrian. His numbers are on par to be only behind Jerry Rice for overall yards in his career. He is the focal piece of the number 1 offence in the NFL and his talent is head and shoulders above the rest of the receivers in the league. The only guy I’d consider in the first round of a redraft league ahead of running backs. If fit expect 130 receptions, 1800 yards and 10 touchdowns as the out and out number 1 wide receiver in 2018.
Odell Beckham Jnr
The modern day superstar and media darling. OBJ is a household name who makes just as much from his marketing department (yes the man is a brand) as he would from his new 95 million dollar contract extension. His first 3 years in the NFL are so far and beyond anyone in the game that when fit it’s hard to not draft Odell at number 1. His worst full season has been 1367 yards and 10 touchdowns @ 85 yards per game. Compare that to draft darling Hopkins year last year (96 targets for 1378 yards and 13 touchdowns) you can see why OBJ is the highest paid receiver in the NFL. He is a massive value in drafts this year and it would not surprise me if he even beats out Antonio to take the 1 spot. The talent is there and Eli will feed his number 1 weapon. Yes Pat Shurmer likes to throw to the slot, however I don’t believe that Beckham won’t see over 160 targets this year giving him every opportunity to show the world just how good this kid can be. Draft him and smile when he wins you a championship
A rollercoaster ride, unreliable, very up and down….these are all clichés used to describe Julio Jones’ 2017 season. Last year was an outlier. Julio has been a WR1 every year in fantasy since 2012. On a week to week basis, Julio has finished as a WR1 on 40% of occasions which is second only to OBJ. 1400 yards and over 100 receptions is his floor. The knock has always been his lack of touchdowns, only 3 last year being the reason people are down on him. Don’t let this fool you. Julio Jones is one of the most talented receivers in the NFL. The true prototype of a WR1. Great at high pointing the ball and creating separation with his size and speed. He is due for an uptick in Touchdowns this year and the addition of Ridley is a bonus for Julio. Ridley will not steal targets from Jones, instead the strong safety will have another target to focus on which will give Julio more freedom between the numbers. If you’re lucky enough to draft both he and OBJ near the turn in the first you could potentially have the best two receivers this year. Enjoy the ride.
Unlike Julio, Adams bread and butter is his touchdown upside. The guy can find in end zone. Add to that he has the greatest quarterback of all time throwing him the ball and a resurgent packer’s offence. All signs point to Adams being a top 5 Receiver this year. Rodgers is going to throw 35 TD’s and Apart from Adams I don’t see any other out and out TD monster at the Packers. Cobb is injured, Graham is old and slow, Allison is unproven and TY will get his 5 or 6. Even though he will see top corners all year, ARod is the man that can throw to tight windows and find Adams on a regular basis. The TD upside and high scoring offence is the reason I have him here. Yes it’s close to his ceiling however I feel that this will be his true breakout year into this tier of elite NFL receiver’s.
Let me start by saying that I love DeAndre Hopkins. Drafting him as the first receiver in round 1 would not be a mistake. I just wouldn’t do it. I have been watching Hopkins for 5 years now and he’s shown how great he truly is……..twice. The other 3 seasons…….not so much. Elite speed and hands the guy is a freak anywhere on the field. Get the ball near him and he will catch it. That’s the issue though. I don’t think the Texans will throw as much this year. Their offensive line is woeful, however their defence is improved and should keep them in the game more often. This will push the offence to look at the short-intermediate pass game. Yes Hopkins will get his, yes he will make plays on his own based solely on his incredible talent. I just don’t trust his Quaterback. The touchdown rate WILL regress and I don’t believe Watson is as accurate or as productive as he was forced to be last year. On talent alone Hopkins is my number 3. I just think a slight regression is on the cards as a whole for the Texans offence and this does not bode well for DeAndre
The PPR monster himself. Allen has never been a high Touchdown guy and makes his money working the slot and intermediate routes. Immensely talented on a great offence with one of the most reliable and accurate QB’s in the game. His chemistry with Rivers was on show toward the end of last year and I see no reason why that kind of production shouldn’t continue. Mike Williams limits his touchdown upside however Henry’s injury will surly increase his target share. Only worry being his injury history. I can’t see him being top 5, however his floor isn’t outside the top 10. Barring injury a very safe highly productive WR
The young man of the group. Thomas is Mr Consistency. A top 24 WR week in and week out. His first two seasons in the NFL have been highly productive and very rewarding for fantasy owners who drafted him ahead of TJ Yeldon (yes he was going behind him in rookie drafts). As long as one of the greatest Quaterbacks in the NFL is throwing him the ball Thomas will be a rock solid starter in your WR1 slot week in and week out. The presence of Kamara and a big target like Cam Meredith only help his cause.
Always under the radar. AJ Green has been a stalwart in many of my dynasty teams. He has been a top 30 WR in over 76% of his starts. That consistency is unheard of. He was still a top 10 WR last year(4th time in last 6 years) on a Bengal’s offence that struggled to say the least. All I see is upside with AJ, he is a physical specimen and supremely talented. I think his offence restricts the potential of being top 5 but target volume and talent should see Green maintain his ultra-high consistency and solidify his standing as a year in year out top 10 WR in the NFL
A new head coach and a new Quaterback bode well for this rising star. He performed a miricale against the saints last year and has rode that wave to top 10 contention this year. The Vikings are another offence with multiple weapons and picking one to stand out is bold. I just think Digg’s talent is what differentiates him from the rest. Cook will catch some balls, Rudolph will do Rudolph things however I think Theilan will suffer a large regression this year. Shurmer loves to throw the slot. Shurmer is gone. Diggs is the premier talent who can create amazing separation with his speed and route running. Cousins has already developed chemistry with him and I see Diggs being his go to guy in the offence this year.
The Elder Statesman. Larry has been under drafted for 4 years straight now. Yet he has not dropped out of the top 10 once. He is always there and he demands targets. Let’s be honest. Who else is Bradford going to throw to? Yes DJ will get his share of the load and could easily get to 1000 yards on the season. I think that Larry will reach that too. A high volume slot receiver and a hyper accurate short to intermediate route throwing QB on a team that’s going to be struggling. Ill take that volume any day of the week. Especially on Sundays. Larry Fitz will no doubt be a hall of famer and he needs 92 Receptions to eclipse Tony Gonzales to be number two in NFL history (no one’s catching Randy). Another solid producer who will get 100 receptions 1200 yards and 8 touchdowns with a very high floor and the odd week winning game. Draft him late and enjoy the value.
Guys on the fringe
Amari Cooper, Mike Evans, Doug Baldwin and Tyreek Hill.