Fantasy Football: Early Top 20 WR Rankings
The regular season is a long way off, but it’s never too early to start talking about rankings! In this edition, we will cover The Fantasy Footballers’ Early WR rankings for the 2018 season and include context for some of the players we feel necessary to address. Be sure to listen to the full episodes below if you would like to hear thoughts on these RBs from Andy, Mike, and Jason!
Half PPR Scoring
|3||Odell Beckham Jr.||NYG||4||2||3|
Consensus Rank: T-5
Michael Thomas burst onto the scene in 2016 with an impressive rookie season catching 92 of his 121 targets from Drew Brees for 1,137 yards and an impressive 9 TDs. Heading into that rookie season, he was being drafted as a late-round flyer, if he was even drafted. The impressive rookie season pushed him easily inside the top 10 for 2017. He rewarded his owners with another impressive season, hauling in the 3rdmost receptions in the NFL with 104 receptions on 149 targets. His yards per target fell slightly, but still posted 1,245 yards. The biggest difference was touchdowns, dropping from 9 in 2016 to 5 last year. The 5 TDs limited him to just one “great” game, which left many owners feeling as if it was a disappointing season. However, the volume of receptions made him a very reliable start every week, having only having 1 “bust” game. For 2018, the only real change at the time of this writing is the addition of Cameron Meredith through free agency. Michael Thomas feels like a very safe pick inside the top 10 WRs in 2018 drafts and a consensus rank of Tied-5th reflects that confidence.
Consensus Rank: 9
Beyond the two uber-stud WRs at the top of the rankings (three depending on your view of Odell Beckham coming off a limited 2017), two WR profiles populate the Ballers’ Consensus Top 10 Rankings; volume pass catchers or red zone targets. Very few WRs possess the combo of target hog AND red zone monster. Players like Julio Jones, Keenan Allen, Michael Thomas and Adam Theilen racked up the receptions, but the lack of touchdowns limited their week-winner upside. On the flip-side is a player like Davante Adams, who was tied for second most red zone targets with 23 in 2017, hauling in 10 TDs. The departure of Jordy Nelson and return of Aaron Rodgers points to increased volume for Adams in 2018. Can he make the leap into the uber-stud WR category?
Consensus Rank: 11
Kicking off the second half of the consensus top 20 is Seattle’s Doug Baldwin. Itâs been an interesting string of seasons for Baldwin since becoming a full-time starter in 2014. His 14 TD explosion in 2015 nearly tripled his career high of 5TDs in 2013. In 2016, his TDs were cut in half, down to 7, however, 2016 also set career highs in targets, receptions, and yards. 2017 fell somewhere in the middle. He played all 16 games for the 4thconsecutive season but saw his target volume fall slightly. Also concerning is seeing his catch percentage fall to 64.7% in 2017 after posting two consecutive seasons of 75%. The departures of WR Paul Richardson and TE Jimmy Graham should open a few more targets, perhaps even a few in the red zone. His boom/bust history definitely has an impact on ranking him outside the top 10.
Consensus Rank: 12
No player inside the top 12 is facing more change in the team around him. Tyreek Hill finds himself with a new starting QB in Patrick Mahomes and competition for targets in the form of the newly signed Sammy Watkins lining up across the field from him. Throw in one of the league’s premier TEs, Travis Kelce, and an impressive running game that also factors heavily in the passing game and you have some major competition for targets for Hill. His week-winning upside is enticing, but his ADP will push him into the same round as other WRs with a significantly easier path to a higher volume of consistent targets.
Consensus Rank: 19
Oh, how the mighty have fallen. There was a time, not too long ago, that Dez Bryant was a top 3 WR in industry-wide rankings. Injuries and inconsistency have dropped him to 19th in the Ballers’ consensus rankings. To top it all off, there is even a chance that he could find himself on another team for 2018. Where he once commanded a massive target-load, especially in the red zone, his 2017 found Dez on the “receiving” end of 53 uncatchable targets. Bryant also recorded the lowest yards per reception of his entire career while playing all 16 games for the first time since 2014. His best days for fantasy owners may behind him, but the intrigue of double-digit TDs persists for a player who may have a resurgence in a new location.
*Update: Dez Bryant was released today by the Dallas Cowboys.