In the most recent episode of The Fantasy Footballers podcast, hosts Andy, Mike, and Jason gave us their early preseason rankings at the wide receiver position. In the first episode of this two-part series, we get the #1 through 10 ranks. All rankings are based on 0.5 PPR, which is the Fantasy Footballers preferred scoring format.
Want access to more wide receiver content? Be sure to check out Matt Harmon’s Reception Perception series highlighting the top rookie wide receivers in the 2019 NFL Draft! Okay, onto the rankings!
1. DeAndre Hopkins, Houston Texans
There’s no need to overanalyze it – DeAndre Hopkins was simply outstanding last year, finishing as the WR2 overall in fantasy football. He’s now entrenched as a top-2 option at the wide receiver position with a quarterback in Deshaun Watson who can get him the ball on a consistent basis. How often is Watson looking towards Hopkins in the Texans’ offense? Check out this interesting stat – Nuk Hopkins has led the league in Target Share in back to back seasons (2017-35%, 2018-32%), even with his career-high 115 receptions last year he had ZERO drops. The guy is simply amazing and well deserving of his WR1 ranking.
2. Davante Adams, Green Bay Packers
The question marks surrounding Davante Adams entering 2018 after the departure of Jordy Nelson from Green Bay were quickly put to bed after his overall WR3 finish in fantasy last season. He was the most consistent receiver in fantasy football last year, finishing 2018 without being a bust in your lineup in any of the 15 games he played. How impressive is this? The only other player to finish with a 0% bust rate was DeAndre Hopkins in 2017. Adams’ fantasy gold came from his ability to find the end zone with consistency last year, and he’ll be hoping to replicate that success with another double-digit TD performance in 2019. With Aaron Rodgers throwing him the ball, he’s a virtual lock to score at least 10 TDs.
3. Julio Jones, Atlanta Falcons
There’s no denying the talent that Julio Jones possesses, as he is absolutely dominant every single year. Throughout his NFL career, he easily surpasses 1,000 yards receiving every year. In fact, Julio is the only WR in the NFL to have over 1,400 receiving yards in each of last 5 seasons. The only question mark surrounding Jones is whether or not the touchdown production will be there in 2019. Matt Ryan finished 2018 as the QB2 overall in fantasy, so its possible regression is coming with the Falcons offense. If it does, Julio may not reach the 8 TD total that he saw in 2018, his highest total since 2015.
4. Michael Thomas, New Orleans Saints
Michael Thomas was a PPR machine in 2018, finishing 125 receptions (most among WRs) from Drew Brees. His reception total is impressive, but his 85% catch rate might be even more impressive. Thomas has some of the surest hands in the league, catching almost everything thrown his way. The only knock against Thomas is his lack of deep receptions. His 7.6 average depth of target (aDOT) was 7th lowest in the league last year. He reels in a ton of volume, making him one of the safest options at the receiver position, but because he lacks the deep receptions, he may not win you a week as often as someone like a Julio Jones or DeAndre Hopkins.
5. Odell Beckham Jr., Cleveland Browns
Odell Beckham is arguably the most complete WR in the league, as he’s produced ever since he’s stepped on an NFL field. After the trade to Cleveland, Beckham goes from a declining Eli Manning to an up and coming superstar in Baker Mayfield as his QB. This is a big upgrade for Beckham, as the entire offense should be much better than that of the New York Giants. However, Beckham goes from being the only show in town in New York to be one of many playmakers in Cleveland. With Jarvis Landry, David Njoku, Nick Chubb, and Kareem Hunt all on the roster, it is possible Beckham’s target share comes down in 2019, especially given Baker Mayfield’s tendency to spread the ball around. Regardless, Beckham’s talent should be able to overcome this, and he should still be in line for a big season in 2019.
6. Tyreek Hill, Kansas City Chiefs
The Cheetah, Tyreek Hill, finds himself at number six on the list after finishing last year as the WR1 overall in fantasy football. Tyreek Hill scored more than three times the fantasy points (284.5) than the top WR for the 49ers (Kendrick Bourne – 93.7) and the top WR for the Redskins (Josh Doctson – 87.2). There isn’t much to say about Hill. He’s in one of the best offenses in the league, has one of the best quarterbacks in the league, and is an absolute game breaker. However, his legal concerns at this point in time keep him at number six. If his name is cleared from recent off the field allegations, he should be in for another top 5 finish at the WR position, but for now, it’s wait and see mode for Hill.
7. JuJu Smith-Schuster, Pittsburgh Steelers
Last year’s WR9 in fantasy, JuJu Smith-Schuster now finds himself as the top receiving option in Pittsburgh after the departure of Antonio Brown. Early in his NFL career, JuJu has shown the ability to perform at the highest level, but the vast majority of his success has come with Brown in the lineup. There’s no denying JuJu’s talent in this league, but for fantasy purposes, there is uncertainty as to whether or not JuJu can truly perform as the WR1 for an NFL offense when the coverage is focused on him. Brown leaves behind 15 TD from last year in the pass-happiest offense in the league. If JuJu can increase his TD count, he could sneak into the top 5 at the WR position.
8. Antonio Brown, Oakland Raiders
Antonio Brown’s production can’t be questioned, as he’s been absolutely dominant during his time in Pittsburgh. He’s scored double-digit touchdowns in four of the last five seasons and he’s had at least 1,284 yards receiving six years in a row! For the first time in a long time, Brown finds himself at the back end of the top 10 rankings given the question marks that surround his situation in Oakland. Will Derek Carr and the Raiders offense be able to support Brown’s historic numbers in recent years, or are his days as a top fantasy option in the rearview mirror?
9. Mike Evans, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
All Mike Evans does is have 1,000 yard receiving campaigns in the NFL. Since entering the NFL in 2014, he’s gone over the 1,000-yard mark in every single season. He’s consistent from a yardage perspective but is up and down when it comes to the TD totals. With Bruce Arians now in town as the head coach, he brings a high flying offensive scheme, which should favor Evans and make him a WR1 yet again in fantasy. Coming off his highest yards per catch (17.7) of his career and after leading all WRs in aDOT (15.7), Evans will look to continue this momentum into his 6th year in the NFL.
10. T.Y. Hilton, Indianapolis Colts
T.Y. Hilton will continue to be a great option at the WR position as long as Andrew Luck is throwing him the ball. It was a tale of two seasons last year for Andrew Luck, who definitely wasn’t himself early in the season after coming off shoulder surgery. However, late in the year, Luck was fantastic, and Hilton flourished as a result. From Weeks 10 on, he was WR5 in fantasy football. If Luck can put together the number he produced in the second half of the year, Hilton’s ceiling is a top 5 WR in fantasy. After all, he is coming off his highest catch rate (63.3%) and yards per Game (90.7) of his career, so there are no signs of Hilton slowing down entering his age 30 season.