Fantasy Football 2017 – Wide Receivers

Fantasy Football 2017 – Wide Receivers

With the current pass heavy NFL, the importance of most running backs have been diminished. On the other hand, wide receivers have become key factors in determining which fantasy team wins a league. The elements for an elite wide receiver are talent, quality of his quarterback, chemistry with the quarterback, and targets. Accordingly, it is very difficult to assess all those criteria to pick the correct wide receivers. My draft strategy will try to get one Tier 1/ Tier 2 wide receiver as my WR1 then try to grab some value picks throughout the rest of the tiers in hopes of a breakout season for my WR2 and a couple more solid players for my WR3 and flex spots.

Tiers are based on current Yahoo ADP.

Tier 1
Antonio Brown Pit
Odell Beckham Jr. NYG
Julio Jones Atl
Mike Evans TB – WR

Antonio Brown is now over 30. I have a bad experience of drafting wide receivers over 30 in the past. The NFL is generally a young man’s game. Brown’s stats were still great last year but there was still a sharp decline from his monster season of two years ago. Moreover, Big Ben is getting older and his skills will regress soon. More importantly, Big Ben has issues staying healthy and playing a full season now. Of course, Brown is still a great pick but there are some factors to consider. In my opinion, he should no longer be the lock top receiver in the draft. One of the contenders for top receiver is Odell Beckham Jr. He is a great player who is in his prime. He is already providing Tier 1 numbers and could get better. He dodged a bullet that his injury from a hit to his knee in the preseason is not more serious. In addition, he needs to mature to take the next step of his career. His on the field antics, specifically his hot temper, hurt his team and his career. Julio Jones is consistently ranked among the top receivers. Upon further review of the offense in Atlanta and his overall stats, he might be the weakest fantasy receiver in this tier. First, the Atlanta offense is loaded so the ball is spread around. There is no need for Matt Ryan to force it into Julio Jones all the time. Next, as great as Jones is, he has only caught more than 10 touchdowns in a season once in his career. In regards to Mike Evans, I am a big fan. He took a huge step forward last season. He will be even better this year with another year of experience playing with Jameis Winston.

MIchael Thomas

Tier 2
A.J. Green Cin
Jordy Nelson GB
Michael Thomas NO
Dez Bryant Dal
Doug Baldwin Sea
T.Y. Hilton Ind
Amari Cooper Oak
Brandin Cooks NE
DeAndre Hopkins Hou
Terrelle Pryor Sr. Was
Demaryius Thomas Den
Alshon Jeffery Phi

A.J. Green missed 6 games last season but was still great in the games he played. He is a Tier 1 talent but his fantasy upside is capped by Andy Dalton and the Bengals knowing they need to have a conservative offense to limit their quarterback’s mistakes. Jordy Nelson rebounded nicely last season from his injury. He produced typical Jordy Nelson numbers. Nonetheless, he is 32 now and will eventually regress. On the other hand, Michael Thomas is a receiver on the rise. He had an excellent rookie season and diminished Brandin Cooks’s role in New Orleans, which led to the trade of Cooks to New England. Expectations are sky high now that he is the primary receiver in the Big Easy. He will be a trendy pick at the top of this tier. My expectations are moderate. His numbers were already solid last season. I expect continued development and improvement but I am not sure they skyrocket, especially in an offense that will always spread the ball around. In terms of Dez Bryant, I would pass on him. He has not play a full season since 2014. In addition, Dak Prescott limits Bryant’s fantasy value. Then again, maybe Dak continues to get better. Regardless, there are a lot of question marks for Bryant I am not comfortable with. In terms of Doug Baldwin, he is a good fantasy receiver who is only great if he catches a lot of TDs. It is a very unpredictable variable. I would take him but only if he drops to the bottom of this tier. T.Y. Hilton is a good but not great receiver. His numbers are based on volume because he drops a lot of balls. Moreover, Andrew Luck’s health is in question. I would not touch Hilton. Amari Cooper is a young receiver I have loved since he entered the NFL. He has been good but I am still waiting for that full breakout season. Cooper plays with one of the better quarterbacks in the league in Derek Carr and a great young offense in general. It should only be a matter of time before Cooper joins the ranks of the elite receivers.

Back to Brandin Cooks, he is a very talented receiver. He should it in very well in New England. Nevertheless, I tend to avoid anyone but Tom Brady in New England for fantasy purposes because their week to week game plan is unpredictable and the focus of the offense changes. Except for Brady, Rob Gronkowski and Randy Moss are the only other Patriots I can remember providing predictable, elite fantasy value. Cooks is good but he is not nearly as good as those two. DeAndre Hopkins is a top 5 wide receiver talent with a quarterback problem. He produced Tier 1 production two seasons ago with a mediocre quarterback so I assessed that he was quarterback proof going into last season. However, no receiver is quarterback proof. A lot of his value now depends on Tom Savage or rookie Deshaun Watson. I am skeptical. Nevertheless, Hopkins is still good value as a pick in Tier 2. Demaryius Thomas is in a similar situation. He was a top 5 receiver when he played with an older but still very productive Peyton Manning. The switch to Trevor Semien and company has turned him into a back end WR1. Nevertheless, he is a good value pick like Hopkins. Terrelle Pryor had 1,000 receiving yards last season in Cleveland despite not having a QB. Now, he is in Washington. Is Kirk Cousins the QB that turns Pryor into an elite receiver? Personally, I think Pryor will be a solid WR with Cousins but I would not go too crazy extrapolating too much with the projection. In regards to Alshon Jeffery, he is injury prone but very talented. His value is based on staying healthy and Carson Wentz’s progression. I am more confident in Wentz’s improvement than Jeffery’s durability. Nevertheless, I like him as a pick.

Except for Green, I like the bottom half of this tier more than the first half.

Tyreek Hill

Tier 3
Davante Adams GB
Allen Robinson Jax
Tyreek Hill KC
Keenan Allen LAC
Michael Crabtree Oak
Julian Edelman NE Out for the Season
Sammy Watkins LAR
Martavis Bryant Pit
Emmanuel Sanders Den
Jarvis Landry Mia
Larry Fitzgerald Ari
Jamison Crowder Was
Kelvin Benjamin Car
Golden Tate Det

This tier is very similar to Tier 2 in terms of ability but it has more question marks. Davante Adams started very slow. Then, he had big months of October and November. He finished with a very modest final month. Nevertheless, he finished with 997 receiving yards and 12 TDs. He was a trendy breakout pick last year and his final stats are promising. Nevertheless, his inconsistency is a concern. He is a good pick because of Aaron Rodgers and the potential to get better but do not reach on him. Allen Robinson had 1,400 receiving yards and 14 TDs in 2015 then dropped to 883 yards and 6 TDs last year. Blake Bortles is an incredibly inconsistent quarterback. He is also a stat padder. The QB situation in Jacksonville has been fluid. Bortles seems to have secured the job but he could easily lose it. Nevertheless, I think Robinson is still a good value pack in this tier. Tyreek Hill is a very interesting pick. He is totally explosive and the Chiefs offense drastically improved once he was unleashed. On the other hand, he has had a poor preseason and his overall stats last year were modest. Moreover, he will no longer be returning punts which is a point to take note if your league counts return yards. Nonetheless, he is a total game breaking player rushing and receiving. I would love to take a gamble on him in this tier. Keenan Allen is another fascinating. He has only played 9 games in the last 2 years. However, he is an elite wide receiver if he is healthy. Personally, his lack of durability scares me but he is a gamble that could win a league for his fantasy owner. Michael Crabtree is a boring pick. He provides predictable production but has a low ceiling.

Sammy Watkins is a high risk, high reward player. He is very explosive but injury prone. HE had 1,047 receiving yards and 9 TD in 13 games two seasons ago. He only played in 8 games last year and did not do much. He has been traded to the Los Angeles Rams and still has a lot of unrealized potential. I do not see Jared Goff getting it out of him. Martavis Bryant is another receiver with a lot of unrealized potential. His issue is with suspensions for off field issues. It appears he has them behind him. He also plays with Ben Roethlisberger. As such, he has great upside and worth a shot in the right round. In terms of Emmanuel Sanders, he is not great without Peyton Manning. I would not spend a pick on him. Jarvis Landry should be ignored. The Miami Dolphins are trying to trade him. Devante Parker is the receiver to own in Miami. Their ADPs should be flipped and probably will be once more drafts are completed. Larry Fitzgerald is still a solid WR2 if Carson Palmer can still play. Palmer is a question mark though. He looked shot at the end of last season. Jamison Crowder is a solid player. He took a huge step in Washington last year. However, I am not sure if there is another leap of his game in hm. It is worth a shot to pick him and find out. Kelvin Benjamin is a receiver who should be higher on the list. He is a big rebound or breakout candidate after a full year back from a significant injury. Moreover, he was still decent last year during his first season back. I also like the Panthers offense to come back strong this year. Golden Tate is a solid WR3. However, he is nothing else but a 1,000 yard receiver with limited TDs. He is a high floor, low ceiling pick.

Eric Decker

Tier 4
DeSean Jackson TB
Willie Snead NO
Brandon Marshall NYG
DeVante Parker Mia
Tyrell Williams LAC
Donte Moncrief Ind
Stefon Diggs Min
Cameron Meredith Chi Out for the Season
Jeremy Maclin Bal
Pierre Garcon SF
Eric Decker Ten
Randall Cobb GB
Chris Hogan NE
De’Anthony Thomas KC
Rishard Matthews Ten
Kenny Britt Cle
Danny Amendola NE
Cole Beasley Dal
Mohamed Sanu Atl
John Brown Ari

Desean Jackson had a good year in Washington last season with 1,000 yards and 4 TDs. However, he is a speed receiver who is over 30 now. Last season’s production is his best case scenario. He is more valuable to Tampa Bay in real life than he will be for fantasy players. In regards to Willie Snead, I never trust a WR2 in New Orleans because the ball is spread around. Brandon Marshall can still play but I do not trust the Giants offensive line and they have other weapons so Marhsall will not get nearly as many targets as he has in the past. Donte Moncrief has talent but has never busted out. The uncertainty about Luck’s health puts Moncrief on my Do Not Draft list. Tyrell Williams did well last season with 1,059 yards and 7 TDs. He is a solid WR2/WR3 but his ceiling will not be as high as most WR2s in a spread it around offense. However, Keenan Allen could get hurt again and boost Williams’s value. Williams is a good value pick. Again, DeVante Parker is the receiver to own in Miami. He should be flipped with Jarvis Landry. In regards to Steon Diggs, his targets dramatically increased last year but his production did not follow. He has upside but we are still waiting for a breakout year. He also missed 3 games each of his first two years so durability is another question mark. He is a high risk, high reward pick but the risk is definitely higher than the reward.

Jeremy Maclin was hurt last season and his performance declined when he did play. He has limited upside anyway so I would avoid him. Pierre Garcon is still good but the QB situation in San Francisco is not helping his cause. As a result, Garcon has modest value with a huge QB risk. On the other hand, I really like Eric Decker as a WR2 with upside since Mariota is a QB on the rise. Randall Cobb is a name that should be forgotten. He had dynamic seasons in the past but the production is just not there anymore. Chris Hogan is a talented player. However, the Patriots have said he may not necessarily slot in for Edelman’s role. Hogan is a good player in real life but irrelevant for fantasy. De’Anthony Thomas was supposed to be Tyreek Hill for the Chiefs before Tyreek Hill. Accordingly, Thomas will be used as a return man to replace Hill in that role. He is irrelevant unless your league has return yards. Rishard Lewis turned 100 targets into 945 yards and 9 TDs last year. His targets are sure to go down with the acquisition of Eric Decker and the drafting of Corey Davis. Leave Lewis on the wire unless there is an injury. Kenny Britt had a solid season last year with 1,000 yards and 5 TDs. However, it is his best case scenario in Cleveland with a rookie QB. I would not touch Britt. Danny Amendola was so 5 years ago. I do not understand why fantasy players are still drafting him. Cole Beasley is a poor man’s Julian Edelman for the Cowboys. He is a nice player but nothing special for fantasy. Mohamed Sanu is a good player but there are too many mouths to feed in Atlanta. I would only pick him up if Julio Jones got hurt. I like John Brown as a receiver. However, he has yet to have a breakout season. I also do not trust Carson Palmer.

Zay Jones

Tier 5
Sterling Shepard NYG
Jordan Matthews Buf
J.J. Nelson Ari
Cooper Kupp LAR
Allen Hurns Jax
Marqise Lee – Jax
Taylor Gabriel – Atl
Adam Thielen – Min
Kevin White – Chi
Zay Jones – Buf
Corey Coleman – Cle
Robby Anderson – NYJ
Corey Davis – Ten

Tier 5 consists of the remaining WR pool that I feel is relevant. Sterling Shepard had a solid rookie season. He is a receiver on the rise. The offensive line and other talented players at the Giants skill positions limits Shepard’s fantasy potential for this season. He is worth a late stash in case of injuries. With the trade of Sammy Watkins, Buffalo and its QB Tyrod Taylor will look for another lead receiver in Jordan Matthews or rookie Zay Jones. Matthews is talented but has been disappointing so far, especially with dropped balls. Zay Jones had impressive production in college. I would pick him out of the Buffalo situation. I would say he is a good sleeper pick but he is getting a lot of hype as potentially the best rookie receiver. J.J. Nelson is another talented receiver in Arizona. Either he or John Brown could break out. Brown is higher because the fantasy community believe he has a better chance of breaking out. Cooper Kupp is another potential rookie star. He has done very well with Goff in the preseason and broke records in college. He is a trendy sleeper pick and a name to keep in mind. Allen Hurns had 1,031 yards and 10 TDs two years ago. If Bortles can pull it together, Hurns can re-emerge. However, it is a big “if”. Marqise Lee is also a threat to take Hurns’s role even if Bortles has a good season.

Taylor Gabriel is a boom or bust wide receiver in a loaded offense. For me, he is nothing more than a gamble on a stream unless there is an injury. Adam Thielen’s final line last season was inflated by a one off 200 yard game late last season. On the other hand, he has upside for fantasy if Diggs busts again. The Chicago Bear receiving situation looks bleak after the season ending injury to Cameron Meredith. Kevin White is basically the only receiver left in Chicago. He was drafted high so he has talent. He has a golden opportunity to establish himself. He is a good sleeper pick but obviously a gamble. Corey Coleman is a name I really like. He flashed glimpses as an elite receiver last year but got hurt. DeShone Kizer is a huge question mark but Coleman is definitely worth a roll of the dice late. Robby Anderson is the only receiver with any experience on the New York Jets. As a Jet fan, I would highly recommend avoiding anyone but Bilal Powell or Matt Forte and I would only touch those two late. The Jets are on track for a historically terrible offense. Another rookie receiver to keep an eye on is Corey Davis. He is currently hurt but the Titans used a top pick on him to give Mariota another weapon.

For tiers for other positions:
Running Backs
Tight Ends, Defenses, and Kickers

Pat Wong

About Pat Wong

Patrick is a contributor for Rookerville. He is an avid sports fan. Before joining Rookerville, he was part of a defunct New York Yankees message board, NYYankeefans, where he was its top poster and was inducted in its Hall of Fame for his contributions. Patrick is also a passionate fan of movies. He has enjoyed reading movie reviews over the years and is excited about the opportunity to review movies. Patrick is also a passionate foodie. He is Yelp Elite for three years in a row and shares his great finds in New York and his travels.


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