Written by Mikey Ostrowski
In my last article I talked about the importance of drafting running backs first, so keep that in mind as we go through these players. Outside of maybe the top 3 on my list, none of the following guys should really be going in the first round. You know, its kind of funny, I had to fight myself to type that last sentence because I’ve always been that guy drafting the receivers first.
See, up until this year I’ve always gone after the Antonio Browns and the Julio Joneses rather than the Le’Veon Bells and Todd Gurleys (as you can imagine, that didn’t work out well for me in 2017). But I have been reborn and now see that there is no beating a truly elite running back.
However, there are at least a handful of receivers that will be a gigantic asset to your squad… I mean, I don’t know about you, but I’d be pretty pumped about having Antonio Brown in my WR1 spot in any format. Speaking of Mr. Brown, let’s get right into it.
- Antonio Brown (PIT)
- DeAndre Hopkins (HOU)
- Odell Beckham Jr. (NYG)
- Julio Jones (ATL)
- Keenan Allen (LAC)
- Michael Thomas (NO)
- Tyreek Hill (KC)
- Mike Evans (TB)
- DaVante Adams (GB)
- Jarvis Landry (MIA)
Taking a quick look at my list, you may be wondering: where’s A.J. Green? Where’s Doug Baldwin? Where’s Adam Thielen? Well my friends, they’re not there, but I’ll get into that at the end of this segment.
Antonio Brown, the clear-cut #1 wide receiver in the NFL will once again (for like the millionth time in a row it seems) be the top receiver in fantasy drafts. Despite missing three games, AB secured 310 PPR points to lead all receivers. He also was crowned with the most receiving yards on the season. There will be some concern if Big Ben retires in the offseason, but Brown could probably make my little sister look like a half-decent QB so I wouldn’t worry too much. Tony-Toe-Tap is just too damn good. He’s a surefire top-5 overall pick in all formats.
Next, we have DeAndre Hopkins, a receiver that I traded away last summer in my dynasty league because of his off-year in 2016, and the concern of having an unproven rookie (at the time) being his QB for 2017. I shot myself in the foot, to say the least. Despite losing Watson halfway through the year, Nuk Hopkins managed to match Antonio Brown’s fantasy stats (scored only 0.5 less than AB on the year) and looked like a complete stud. With Watson healthy in 2018, Hopkins has a legitimate chance at challenging AB for that #1 spot.
2017 KILLED us with injuries. Actually, looking at it, for my QBs, RBs, and WRs, at least one player in the top 3 in each category sat out the majority of 2017 with injury. Odell Beckham Jr. is about as talented as it gets and should bounce back in a big way next season. He’s going to be playing in a contract year under a new GM (a GM notorious for moving big players, I might add), so he will have a lot to prove if he wants to become the highest-paid receiver in the NFL. Barring an injury, he’s a safe bet to be a top-5 wide receiver.
#4 might be the lowest rank Julio Jones has seen in a while, and to be honest I wouldn’t be surprised to watch it fall again next year. Despite having almost 1,450 yards in 2017, Julio only found the endzone 3 times. Plus, about 625 of his yards came in just 4 of his games, and while that is an impressive stat line, you have to look at the other side. He only had 825 yards over the course of his other 12 games. He’s obviously got the biggest home-run potential in the NFL, but those games are few and far in between. Do yourself a favor, don’t draft him in the first round. You’ll get your heart broken.
For the past 3 years, I have been Keenan Allen’s biggest advocate, and I was finally right! His talent has always been there but unfortunately, he has been so plagued with injuries in the past that most people were too afraid to draft him. Prior to the 2017 season, I advised people to reach on him as early as the late second round; you all laughed at me… well who’s laughing now boys?! Keenan Allen; 1,393 yards, 6 touchdowns, and no reason to think he’ll stop there. Seacrest out.
Coming in at #6 on my list is Michael Thomas. Prior to 2017, I had Thomas ranked as the #7 receiver on the boards, and he finished #6 (See, I’m a wide receiver kind of guy so trust my rankings, let’s win you that championship). The Saints have a scary offense, and with the emergence of their running backs, the pressure is off of Michael Thomas. He’s just going to keep getting better, and Brees is still going to be around for a little while. He could make a fine WR1 for your squad.
Tyreek Hill might just be one of the most exciting guys to watch in the NFL. He does everything. He runs, he catches, he returns kicks, and even had a pass attempt (for an INT) this year… literally does it all. Despite sitting out week 17, Hill had the same amount of points on the year as breakout star, Adam Thielen, and only finished about 10 points behind Julio Jones. Kansas City’s offense finally clicked this year, and Hill should remain a constant factor for quite some time.
Mike Evans was a massive disappointment in 2017. Ranked as a top-5 guy in many formats, he finished at #17 with roughly 200 fantasy points. However, a large part of this can be blamed on Winston and Tampa’s inconsistent offense. Evans’ first five weeks included four games of 10+ points, and finished the season with three 10+ point games as well. I wholeheartedly believe that Tampa Bay figures out what went wrong with their offense. Mike Evans could be the fantasy bounce-back candidate of the year in 2018.
Coming in at #9 we have star Green Bay receiver Jordy Ne… Wait, it’s not Jordy Nelson? DaVante Adams is the new star receiver in Green Bay, and rightfully so. He missed two games to injury in 2017 and still finished with over 220 fantasy points, good enough to be the #14 WR on the year. Mind you, half of his season was played without Aaron Rodgers. But with Rodgers returning, Adams has no where to go but up in this offense and should emerge as a top-10 guy in 2018.
Lastly we have a surprise top-10 receiver: Jarvis Landry. Prior to this season, Landry was only respected as a top-20 type of guy, but he really stuck it to us this year. Though he did fail to reach 1,000 yards, he scored 9 touchdowns and reeled in almost 120 receptions. The volume is there, the offense is trending in the right direction, and he should be on his way to a large contract this offseason. There is a slight chance that he does not re-sign in Miami, but I’m sure they’ll be more than willing to throw money at him, especially after his performance this year. And yes, I meant to have him ranked higher than A.J. Green and those other guys I had previously mentioned.
Speaking of that, let me explain why Green, Baldwin, and Thielen were left out of this list. Do I think they’re excellent receivers? Absolutely. But the tides are changing in the NFL. Green is wildly inconsistent on an even more inconsistent team. He alone does hold WR1 value, but his situation bolsters more of a shakey WR2 at best. Cincinnati is experimenting with their offense, and I don’t think they are smart enough to make Green the priority again.
Doug Baldwin is in a good situation, and he is a good receiver, so why the hell would I leave him out? Maybe it’s my bias that he didn’t show up when I needed him to at the end of the season, or maybe it’s this: Russell Wilson likes spreading the ball around. Though it doesn’t seem like it, Seattle has a lot of mouths to feed. Baldwin has become almost dependent on those home-run plays. He’s a heavy hitter and has potential to win you games, but it’s just a little hard to trust him as a true WR1.
And last but certainly not least, Adam Thielen was left off of this list. Sure, he broke out this year. Sure, he helped me make the playoffs. Sure, he’s going to be highly sought after in 2018. But I’m going to avoid him, at least in the first few rounds. We don’t know who the QB is going to be, we don’t know how having Dalvin Cook back will affect the offensive scheme, and we don’t know whether Diggs or Thielen will be the main target at any given week. He’s a phenomenal player, he really is, but that offense cannot support him AND Diggs. I think he remains a top-20 guy at the very worst, but be mindful on what you’re spending on him.
That’s a wrap on my way too early wide receiver rankings for 2018. Coming up next: Tight ends.
Check out my rankings for QBs, RBs and TEs at the links below.
As always, feel free to reach out to me on Twitter. I’m always down to talk some fantasy football.
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