Last year, receivers dominated fantasy leagues. If you didn’t have some great ones (or if your top ones, like Dez Bryant, got hurt) then you were in trouble. That sea change is reflected in the draft moves this year. Many leagues will see the first three picks come from the position, a drastic change from a decade ago, when the first eight picks might be running back.
This is part 3 of the projections (Quarterback here, Running Back here). As with the others, I went through and made team-wide projections based on roster, past history of team and coach. It’s educated guesswork. Nowhere is that guesswork more true than at this position (along with tight end). How will the receiving splits go? In some cases, it’s easy up top, barring injury. Brandon Marshall and Eric Decker are going to be clear options 1 and 2 with the Jets. Antonio Brown and Julio Jones will get his. What do you do with the Ravens, though? Steve Smith just came off PUP, Kamar Aiken thrived once Smith was out last year and he was the only option, and they’ve now added Mike Wallace. Oh, and last year’s 1st round pick Breshad Perriman, still on the PUP, is a wildcard. It’s difficult to project more forcefully in those cases.
Anyway, here are the rankings, in tiers, with projected PPR points:
A pretty clear top tier threesome here for me of Antonio Brown, Julio Jones, and Odell Beckham, Jr. All three will get the lion’s share of passing production, should cross 100 receptions while getting lots of yards if healthy, and score. All also have pretty solid veteran QBs throwing to them.
DeAndre is good enough to be in the top tier. I have concerns about his quarterback. Hilton should put up big numbers with Luck back. Bryant returns, and hopefully has Romo throwing to him. Green has question marks around him (Eifert injured, questions at other spots) and is the man in a more run-heavy offense. Robinson is a physical freak and Evans should see the touchdown numbers regress back to pretty good, while continuing to be the focal point of the passing game.
The guys at the top of this tier could easily bump up, but many have injury concerns coming off last season (Allen, Jeffery, Nelson), or questions at QB (Demaryius).
I’m probably higher on Parker than the consensus with this projection. There are a couple of factors here: new offensive coach, second year (most frequent breakout season, ahead of third year), and Jarvis Landry strikes as more of a #2 WR longterm–low touchdown rate and YPC despite heavy volume last two years.
Here, we start to get some top receivers in offenses that have question marks. Golden Tate will now move up the food chain with Calvin Johnson retired. Kelvin Benjamin comes back from missing last season. Torrey Smith looks like the best of limited options in San Francisco, as does Jordan Matthews in Philadelphia. This is the tier to take a chance on Josh Gordon if so inclined, or young guys like Treadwell and White.
Several rookies who could be starting, other young, unproven guys, and old faces in new places show up on this tier. Keep a close eye on preseason usage over the next two weeks and adjust accordingly. Hitting on the right guy could help make your draft.
Most of this group is outside draftable range. Most are WR3’s on their own teams (or WR2’s on bad passing offenses) but keep an eye on news here. I’ve especially got the situation in New England circled, with Amendola on the PUP and plenty of unproven guys with the Patriots who could get an opportunity.
Here are all the tiers together.