2016 Fantasy Football Rankings - Wide Receivers
Wide receivers seem to be the belle of the ball these days. They are, in the eyes of many, the safest players to pick. Think about how far we’ve come on that level. The first three picks on average in standard leagues right now are all wide receivers. That’s crazy to think about given how much people have generally drafted running backs in those spots over the years. With that said, here’s how I view them. The top 50:
1. Antonio Brown, Pittsburgh Steelers - Last 16 games for Brown with Ben Roethlisberger under center: 154 receptions for 2,089 yards and 13 touchdowns on 209 targets
2. Julio Jones, Atlanta Falcons - The only thing Jones doesn’t do at a prodigious level is score TDs. He’s a damn good bet to break the receptions record this season if he plays 16.
3. Odell Beckham, New York Giants - 96-1,450-13 line he posted in 15 2015 starts. 187 catches for 2,755 yards and 25 touchdowns in his first 27 NFL games. The guy is a terror. I wouldn’t be surprised if he established himself as the best wide receiver in both the fantasy and reality realms this season. Right now, him and Brown are the clear 1-2 real football wise to me.
4. AJ Green, Cincinnati Bengals - Mohammed Sanu and Marvin Jones both left for greener pastures and Tyler Eifert will start the season on the shelf. 2016 AJ Green might be 2015 Julio Jones with regards to the art of being a target hog. He’s going to see ALL of the targets. He’s gone for 1300 yards and 10 touchdowns in three of his five seasons in the NFL.
5. Dez Bryant, Dallas Cowboys- Last three full seasons from Dez: WR6, WR3, WR4. In those three seasons: 12 TD, 13 TD, and 16 TD’s. You can’t have full confidence drafting Bryant because of Romo’s situation but if Romo plays 13 or so games, Bryant is going to come back with a vengeance.
6. DeAndre Hopkins, Houston Texans - DeAndre Hopkins is damn good at football. He concerns me this season because I’m not sure his ceiling is as high as his contemporaries. His QB situation is bad, and his 192 targets are probably not repeatable. Lamar Miller presents another option to siphon touchdowns from him as well. I am slightly nitpicking and he’s almost sure to be a top 10 WR but his situation concerns me a little.
7. Allen Robinson, Jacksonville Jaguars - This guy is 22 years old and just put up 80-catches/1400 yards/14 touchdowns. I don’t think the touchdown total is repeatable but maybe the catch number goes up? Or maybe this guy is like Dez Bryant and is a consistent redzone dominator? Either way, the sky is the limit.
8. Alshon Jeffery, Chicago Bears - I think I’m probably the high guy on Jeffery. I don’t really give a damn about his injury history. Yes, it’s annoying but his weekly ceiling when he’s on the field is too much for me to pass because of some damn hamstring problems. He scored a touchdown and/or compiled 75 yards in eight of his nine games. In his last 16 games? 95 catches 1314 yards 11 touchdowns. Just draft the guy.
9. Keenan Allen, San Diego Chargers - Allen was on an insane pace last year before his injury in week 9. He put up 67 catches for 725 yards and four touchdowns in eight games last season. While the Chargers will probably run fewer plays, Allen is a damn fine #1 WR in FF.
10. Brandon Marshall, New York Jets - He had either 100 yards or a touchdown in 14 of his 16 starts last season. Nothing much has changed with the Jets and they ran the sixth most plays in football. Marshall once again should crack 100 catches and go for about 1350 yards and quite a few touchdowns in his age-32 season.
11. Mike Evans, Tampa Bay Buccaneers - Efficiency is the name of Evans game this year. Can he score more and can he drop the ball less? If he can do both, he should be a WR1. If not, he’s going to burn people again. I’d bet on him especially assuming Winston improves.
12. Jordy Nelson, Green Bay Packers - Last full season from Nelson? 98-1519-13. He’s 31 and recovering from an ACL surgery. I’ll take my chances with him though
13. TY Hilton, Indianapolis Colts - With Andrew Luck back healthy, he’s shaping up to be a nice value. He’ll probably get 135 or so targets.
14. Brandin Cooks, New Orleans Saints - From weeks 4-16, Brandin Cooks was the WR8. He also had six games with 20 or more points. Beware of New Orleans home/road splits.
15. Sammy Watkins, Buffalo Bills - In his final six games, Watkins went for 679 yards and six touchdowns. I think he has top five kind of talent. My issues with him are his health, and his team’s run to pass ratio. I don’t expect that they will ever open up the playbook and Watkins foot scares me. He could smoke his third round ADP if he stays healthy all year though.
16. Randall Cobb, Green Bay Packers - Last season Jordy Nelson was healthy Cobb put up 91/1287/12. Last year was a year you can’t really draw much from given how much of a disaster the Packers offense was. Cobb is a rock solid WR2.
17. DeMaryius Thomas, Denver Broncos - DeMaryius wasn’t great from a real football standpoint last year but he still had 105 catches for 1304 yards and six touchdowns. The QB situation isn’t any worse than it was last year despite all the hoopla. If he returns to 2014 form, maybe he gets back into the top 10. I doubt it but he’s still a safe pick with a high floor.
18. Amari Cooper, Oakland Raiders - Cooper finished with 72 catches, 1,070 yards and six touchdowns. He was on pace for more before battling through plantar fascia down the stretch. Does he qualify as a breakout candidate? If so, I think he can be.
19. Golden Tate, Detroit Lions - Tate was a top 25 receiver in both of the last two seasons (WR12, WR21). With Calvin Johnson having retired, he’s probably the de facto go to guy?
20. Jarvis Landry, Miami Dolphins - Landry is about as interesting as a desk chair but his numbers can’t be disputed. 110/1157/4 last year and he’s locked and loaded as Ryan Tannehill’s safety blanket. He’s a high floor/ceiling WR2. He gets a downgrade on standard leagues because he’s allergic to the endzone.
21. Donte Moncrief, Indianapolis Colts - Moncrief was targeted 54 times in Luck’s seven starts last year and scored five times. He also doubled his receptions and touchdowns from his rookie season to last year. If I had to pick one guy to be this year’s “2015 Allen Robinson” it would be him.
22. Eric Decker, New York Jets - One pass catcher has more touchdowns than Eric Decker in the AFC over the last five years. Rob Gronkowski.
23. Jeremy Maclin, Kansas City Chiefs - He was the WR17 last season. I don’t believe in his QB and the schedule gets harder for them. He’s pretty safe but I think there will be a lot of frustrating weeks.
24. Michael Floyd, Arizona Cardinals - From week 6 on, Floyd was 17th in points amongst WRs. Arizona was the best offense in the league last year and I think Floyd is the best WR on the team. I’m not sure about his consistency but his big weeks should probably sway weeks for the people who roster him.
25. Doug Baldwin, Seattle Seahawks - From weeks 12 to 16, Baldwin caught 11 touchdowns. ELEVEN! In that stretch he also had 544 receiving yards. If you think his Jerry Rice act from that stretch is sustainable, more power to you. I do think he’ll be a pretty solid WR2. And if his targets go up, maybe his ceiling is higher than I think it is.
26. Julian Edelman, New England Patriots - Edelman’s only question is his health. Garappolo starting four games isn’t ideal either. He set a career high in touchdowns last year with 7.
27. DeVante Parker, Miami Dolphins - In his last six weeks, Parker put up 22 catches, 445 yards and three touchdowns. Health is a worry as he seems to deal with nagging injuries consistently, but Adam Gase typically gets the most out of his X receivers (DeMaryius Thomas, Brandon Lloyd, Alshon Jeffery). Parker has a high ceiling.
28. John Brown, Arizona Cardinals - In the last four years, no team has a higher air-yards-per-pass-attempt mark than the Cardinals. Last season, only six wide receivers averaged more air yards per target than John Brown. It’s not often that a team employs three really good fantasy receivers. Health willing, the Cardinals probably will this season.
29. Kelvin Benjamin, Carolina Panthers - Inefficient rookie season. He’s coming off an ACL tear and all that garbage time stuff he capitalized on in his rookie year probably isn’t going to be there this year. The Panthers love Devin Funchess as well. I think Benjamin’s ceiling is probably 1000 and 10, which is still damn good.
30. Jordan Matthews, Philadelphia Eagles - If you were starting Jordan Matthews before his final month of the season explosion, you probably were amazingly frustrated. He’s also a prime garbage time beneficiary. He’s the best receiver on the Eagles for whatever that is worth as well.
31. Larry Fitzgerald, Arizona Cardinals - First three weeks for Fitzgerald last year: 23 catches, 333 yards, five touchdowns. Next 13 games: 86 catches, 882 yards, four touchdowns. I think he takes a step back but his ceiling is hard to get a gauge on. His weekly floor might be the highest of the three Cardinals receivers while his ceiling might be the lowest.
32. Emmanuel Sanders, Denver Broncos - Peyton Manning, even in his diminished state, targeted Sanders heavily. Brock Osweiler didn’t when he had his opportunities and I’m not sure Mark Sanchez will. He is a really good player, but it’s hard to predict what he’s going to do this year with any kind of confidence. He screams boom or bust to me.
33. Josh Gordon, Cleveland Browns - I don’t expect 2013 Josh Gordon to walk through that door but it would be awesome if that happened.
34. Allen Hurns, Jacksonville Jaguars - 65/1041/10 last year. re·gres·sion/rəˈɡreSH(ə)n/noun -1. a return to a former or less developed state.
35. Kevin White, Chicago Bears - At the point where Kevin White goes in drafts, you’re basically betting on upside and physical ability. He has both of those things in droves, and Jay Cutler has proven he can support two really good fantasy WRs on the same team. A Mike Evans like rookie campaign out of White isn’t out of the question.
36. Tyler Lockett, Seattle Seahawks - Even with Wilson seeing an uptick in targets and such, it would be rather surprising if the Seahawks supported two really good fantasy WRs at the same time. That said, Lockett is a fun player.
37. Sterling Shepard, New York Giants - There are targets to be had, and this guy apparently has no trouble getting open. The Giants defense doesn’t seem to be shaping up as something that’s going to be great so there will be a lot of shootouts. Operate accordingly.
38. Desean Jackson, Washington Redskins - Jackson was the WR23 in PPR in weeks 9-16 once he came back from injury. In his last 16 full games with Washington, Jackson's receiving line is 60-1,169-7 on 96 targets.
39. Marvin Jones, Detroit Lions - As expectations get higher with this guy; just remember that he is still a Detroit Lion. That said, he could potentially be a top 30 guy. I think these camp reports are getting out of control though.
40. Michael Crabtree, Oakland Raiders - The Raiders gave Michael Crabtree a baffling amount of volume within their offense given that he’s not particularly good. Maybe Cooper’s injury has something to do with but I expect the Raiders to operate with some good sense regarding Mr. Crabtree this year.
41. Kamar Aiken, Baltimore Ravens - He was the WR16 in PPR formats after the Ravens bye week last year. Baltimore’s offense with regards to forecasting fantasy production is a damn mess.
42. Tavon Austin, Los Angeles Rams - Austin receiving numbers (52-473-5) and rushing (52-434-4) represented career hights. He was the WR29 in PPR leagues last year.
43. Torrey Smith, San Francisco 49ers - Not that Colin Kaepernick is some world beater but Smith would be higher on this list with him at QB instead of Blaine Gabbert.
44. Corey Coleman, Cleveland Browns - Really nice skillset but will probably be third on the totem pole for targets at bare minimum.
45. Willie Snead, New Orleans Saints - Guessing which weeks will be good is no different than playing Russian Roulette. Happy guessing!
46. Stefon Diggs, Minnesota Vikings - Much better real life player than fantasy player. It’s conceivable he could take a step forward if Minnesota passes the ball more, but why would they do that?
47. Devin Funchess, Carolina Panthers - If Kelvin Benjamin has a tough time recovering he could become a household name quickly.
48. Sammie Coates/Markus Wheaton, Pittsburgh Steelers - When you look up mediocre in the dictionary, you see Markus Wheaton. Yes, that’s hateration all up in this fantasy football dancery. I don’t know what exactly to expect from Coates but I’d rather have him.
49. Mohammed Sanu, Atlanta Falcons - Someone has to catch the ball when Julio isn’t right?
50. Vincent Jackson, Tampa Bay Buccaneers - Contract year, blossoming passing offense. He could be good for some very productive weeks.