Fantasy Football: Midseason WR Review

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Before the 2017 season began, we came up with an article series called “The Path to WR1 Fantasy Season” to highlight some “unlikely” players to be a WR1 this year. We highlighted 10 different wide receivers in that series and through the first 8 games of 2017, only 1 of them are actually ranked as a WR1. We are now halfway through the season and so much can change in the second half. Let’s take a look at who are the current WR1s in fantasy football and give some thoughts on who surprised us, who didn’t, who will finish out the year as a WR1 and who else could end up on this list by season’s end.

Current Rank Player ADP Fantasy PPG Fantasy Points
1 Antonio Brown  WR1  16.2  130
2  DeAndre Hopkins  WR13  17.9  125.1
3  A.J. Green  WR5  14  98.2
4  Mike Evans  WR4  13.6  95.4
5  Brandin Cooks  WR9  11.7  93.8
6  Michael Crabtree  WR22  13.4  93.6
7  Tyreek Hill  WR21  11.6  92.5
8  Chris Hogan  WR36  11.5  92
9  Adam Thielen  WR46  11.2  89.8
10  Larry Fitzgerald  WR25  12.6  87.9
11  Nelson Agholor  WR85  10.3  82.7
12  Jarvis Landry  WR31  11.7  82.1

*Data and ADP numbers are based on half-point per reception from FantasyData.com, compiled before Week 9 of the NFL season.

Take into consideration the bye weeks for some of these WRs listed. Some have played 8 games, others have played fewer games.

We asked some of our writers to provide their thoughts on the current WR1 list and reflect on the season as we head into the second half.

1. Who were you most right & most wrong about on this list coming into the season?

Most right: It has to be AJ Green. I wrote an article in the preseason about his consistency and how he was being undervalued in most 1st rounds. He has proven again this year that he pretty much does what he wants when he wants…as long as Andy Dalton doesn’t turn the ball over 5 times.
Most wrong: was Nate’s favorite: DeAndre Hopkins. I pretty much faded him every time I touched my draft board and don’t own him anywhere. Oops. – Ryan Weisse

Most right: I’ll take Michael Crabtree, primarily on the merits that I recommended him over Amari Cooper coming into 2017. Not just a better draft value, but over Cooper straight up. It was easy to get more excited about Cooper because of how well he played in each of his first two seasons, but many overlooked the fact that Crabtree outscored him in fantasy in both of those seasons. So far, we’re on track for a Crabtree three-peat.
Most wrong: Adam Thielen. Thielen’s yardage totals and consistency have been incredible and he is fully deserving of a spot in or near the top 12 overall. We’ll see if that holds up when Stefon Diggs returns, but these two could be the surprise pair many expected from Antonio Brown and Martavis Bryant. – Matt Okada

Most right: As mentioned by both of my colleagues above, DeAndre Hopkins has been “my guy” all preseason and he has done a fantastic job at making me look like I know what I’m talking about sometimes! I have mentioned Hopkins in countless articles this season and preseason talking about his talent and how any QB would be an upgrade from Brock Osweiler. In fact, I featured DeAndre Hopkins as my wide receiver choice for “The Path to WR1 Fantasy Season: DeAndre Hopkins article“. Well, none of us expected Deshaun Watson to be who he has been the first half and Hopkins has certainly benefitted from it. It will be interesting to see how much of a hit Hopkins’ production takes with Tom Savage moving forward. I’d expect no matter who is at QB, they will heavily target Hopkins and I am confident he remains a WR1 rest of season.
Most wrong: Brandin Cooks. I thought for sure that Cooks would just be another big name receiver that comes into New England to become fantasy irrelevant. That has not been the case. Cooks has been every bit a number 1 wide receiver for the greatest quarterback of all time. Cooks only has 3 touchdowns on the season but his big play ability is what has impressed me the most and has played the main role in his WR1 status. He is currently ranked as the 5th best wide receiver in fantasy in half-point per reception formats and I would not be surprised if he finishes as at least that. – Nate Hamilton

2. Who will not finish the year inside the top 12?

DeAndre Hopkins
DeAndre Hopkins. I know, it’s bold, a bit depressing, and especially painful for Nate, our resident Nuk-truther. But without Deshaun Watson, Hopkins and this offense will be a completely different machine. It will take an incredible collapse for Hopkins to plummet from the top two to a WR2, but Tom Savage is a pretty terrible architect. He’ll be a mid- to low-end WR2 rest of season and slowly slip out of the WR1 ranks. – Matt Okada

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Larry Fitzgerald
I’m gonna take the easy answer and say, Larry Fitzgerald. He’s already near the bottom and with Carson Palmer out. I can’t imagine him as anything more than a WR3 to end the season. – Ryan Weisse

First of all, I’d like to tell my good friend, Matt (above) that he is crazy! No one doubts my guy, DeAndre Hopkins! Now that I got that off my chest, how can you not pick Larry Fitzgerald, here? I realize this is the easy pick but he is currently ranked as the WR10 out of 12 for WR1s and just lost his quarterback for the season. It won’t take much of a loss in production for Fitzgerald to fall outside of this group. I expect his production to take a big enough hit with Drew Stanton as his quarterback to knock him out of WR1 status by the end of the season. – Nate Hamilton

3. Which player currently outside the top 15 has the best shot at finishing the year on this list?

Sterling Shepard
It’s going to take A LOT of work but watch out for Sterling Shepard. The Giants are going to be throwing the ball a lot and Shepard and Evan Ingram are their best, and only, targets. He’s got a lot of ground to makeup but I expect him to turn some heads to end the year. – Ryan Weisse

Julio Jones
It’s got to be Julio Jones. I don’t expect any drastic changes in the Atlanta offense (which I warned would be much worse this year) and I don’t even think Matt Ryan will suddenly return to MVP form after a disappointing first half. But this is Julio Jones we’re talking about. He’s probably the best in the game and the Falcons have to get him more involved if they want to win. That means feeding him Hopkins-level targets and finding him in the red zone. If he stays healthy, Julio will climb his way to WR1 status soon. – Matt Okada

I’m now going to forgive Matt for his misjudgment of DeAndre Hopkins earlier and agree with him here. It’s got to be Julio Jones! Jones has one of the easiest schedules for wide receivers in the second half of the season and there has got to be by nature, some positive regression for both Julio Jones and Matt Ryan as this season moves on. Between the pure talent of Julio Jones and the fact that too many big name QBs have gone down for the season to completely turn this WR1 list on its head, leads me to believe that Jones has a great shot at becoming a WR1 by season’s end.
– Nate Hamilton

 

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