With 2017 in the books and the NFL draft still months away, it’s just the right time to start looking ahead to the 2018 fantasy season. And when it comes to wide receivers, that quickly becomes a fascinating task. As much as 2017 was the year of the rookie running back, it was NOT the year of the fantasy WR. We lost Odell Beckham Jr. at the start of the season, were greatly disappointed by first-round stars like Julio Jones and Mike Evans, and saw an all-around dip in WR fantasy production relative to past years. I mean, does anyone really want to see Marvin Jones finishing in the top 10?
Still, hope is not lost. We got to experience the breakouts of Keenan Allen, Adam Thielen, and others, and revel in the antics of JuJu Smith-Schuster. Josh Gordon made his long-awaited return to the NFL and showed flashes of his former greatness. And DeAndre Hopkins miraculously overcame around 10 games of atrocious quarterback play to finish as the No. 1 receiver in fantasy.
We know it’s early (Way Too Early, to be precise), but the Fantasy Footballers’ writing staff has landed on a consensus top-10 WRs for 2018. Here to break down the list with me are Nate Hamilton, Ryan Weisse, and Matthew Betz. Check out the pieces on running backs and tight ends as well, as well as the QB article to come.
2018 Consensus Top 10 Wide Receivers (Half-PPR Scoring)
|Consensus Rank||Player||Team||Highest Rank||Lowest Rank|
|3||Odell Beckham Jr.||NYG||2||5|
Now that we have our top 10 rankings, I’ve asked some of the other writers to explain their decision-making process in ranking the WRs for 2018. Below are my questions and our answers.
1. Of the WRs outside the Consensus Top 10, who do you think has the best chance of making it in and why?
I know that having a rookie QB scares people away from Hill but if you honestly look at the strengths of Patrick Mahomes, you’ll quickly come to the conclusion that they match up with the strengths of Tyreek Hill. He is a great deep ball catcher that has the ability to extend plays. He is a versatile WR that will continue to be heavily used in this offense and, oh yeah, he finished as the WR8 in 2017. – Nate Hamilton, @dominateff
A few years ago, Seattle was known for its ground and pound attack with Marshawn Lynch. However, in recent years, Seattle’s offense has done a 180 and become one of the most pass-happy offenses in football. Since entering the league in 2012, Russell Wilson has seen his pass attempts rise every single year. Unless the Seahawks can fix their run game, expect Wilson’s pass attempts to rise yet again, leaving Baldwin with even more volume. With Jimmy Graham expected to leave town, Baldwin should see more targets inside the red zone. A higher volume and bigger target share in a pass-happy offense could place Baldwin back inside the top 10 where he finished in 2015 and 2016. – Matthew Betz, @TheFantasyPT
He’s my No. 9 overall and I think him and Wentz will be special in 2018. After only scoring 2 TDs in the first 7 games of last year, he scored 7 in his next 7, mostly with Wentz finding rhythm in the red-zone. – Ryan Weisse, @thefantasyfive
With Diggs, it all comes down to health. He has made a habit of starting the year incredibly strong, only to suffer a soft tissue injury and never fully recover for the remainder of the season. Through the first four games of 2017, the guy had 22 catches for 391 yards and four TDs. And now he’s a playoff legend to boot. Whether it’s Sam Bradford (who kickstarted the crazy numbers I just mentioned), Case Keenum (who should get better with a year of proper preparation as the starter), or Teddy Bridgewater (the team’s original franchise QB) under center, Diggs is one healthy season away from breaking out huge. – Matt Okada, @FantasySensei
2. The Elite Three (Brown, Hopkins, OBJ) are universally agreed upon, but five different guys received votes for No. 4. Who did you choose and why?
He has completely earned Aaron Rodgers trust and will likely be his number one target in 2018. Adams finished 2017 as the WR14 without Rodgers for the majority of the season. I think it’s safe to say Davante Adams should easily climb the rankings with a healthy Aaron Rodgers in 2018. – Nate Hamilton, @dominateff
After a breakout year as a target hog with a good QB, he’s locked in as a top 5 option for me. The injuries sustained early in his career were very inconsistent and unlucky. I think what we saw in 2017 is the real Keenan Allen. – Matthew Betz, @TheFantasyPT
Do I need to say much about a guy capable of a 12-253-2 stat line? (Editor’s note: no, no you don’t). He and Matt Ryan should regain some redzone magic next year and I think top 5 is his floor. – Ryan Weisse, @thefantasyfive
First off, according to the law of Even-Year-Mike-Evans-Seasonal-TD-Totals, the 24-year-old is guaranteed for 12 touchdowns in 2018. It’s just math. But seriously, Evans’ “down” year in 2017 still included 1,001 receiving yards, and it came with a few missed games from Jameis Winston. This guy finished 0.1 fantasy points from No. 1 overall in 2016, so we know he has the ceiling. I’m expecting a bounce-back campaign. – Matt Okada, @FantasySensei
3. Former Top 10ers Dez Bryant, Demaryius Thomas, Allen Robinson, and Josh Gordon fell fall short in this year’s rankings. Which guy has a shot at returning in 2018 and why?
To be honest, I’m not confident in any of these WRs returning as a top 10 in 2018 but if I had to throw a name into the hat it would be Dez Bryant. It was such an off year for Dez in 2017 and I’m having a hard time believing Dak Prescott is the QB we saw in the second half of the season. When the Cowboys have Dak, Zeke, and Dez all back on the field for 16 games in 2018, I would bet Dez has a bounce-back season (unless he gets released or traded – you heard it here first). – Nate Hamilton, @dominateff
Blake Bortles is still gonna Bortles next year and I’m not putting any faith in any Cleveland Brown. I honestly don’t think Dez and Dak have any chemistry or trust so I’ll say DT by default. He’s survived bad QB play for years so he can if he has to but rumors are he might have Kirk Cousins. The Broncos should behind a lot next year and I like Thomas as a volume play. – Ryan Weisse, @thefantasyfive
After another season of truly depressing post-Manning QB play in Denver, John Elway has to be fed up. I don’t expect him to sit on his carousel of backups or even to risk another failed pick in the draft. Instead, my gut tells me he’ll go after the best available option in Kirk Cousins. Even if he can’t land Captain Kirk, there’s the departing Vikings, Super-Bowl-MVP Nick Foles and others on the market. Whoever it is, as long as they’re capable of middling QB play, Demaryius Thomas can put up another top 10 season with his rare combo of volume and scoring potential. – Matt Okada, @FantasySensei