SportsGuyRy’s 2018 Fantasy Football Rankings
Wide Receiver Edition (1-10):
*Photo provided by Scout.com*
Thank you for coming back after my RB series to gain my insights on who I perceive to be the best wide receivers in fantasy for 2018. We will be covering the top 30 receivers over my next three articles – starting with the top ten.
As I mentioned in my previous RB articles, the WR group is going to be a much deeper fantasy option vs. RBs and TEs. There’s a few elite options in the draft but don’t fret if you don’t get one because there are plenty of receivers who will be able to contribute well for your team in the earlier to mid rounds.
With that being said, let’s dive into these top ten guys!
**Warning, there will definitely be some bias in this top ten**
1. Antonio Brown – Pittsburgh Steelers – #2 ranked WR to end 2017 with 201 points (14.4 per game)
*Photo provided by Sports Illustrated*
Honestly, there’s not much to say here. Antonio Brown is the best wide receiver in the game and there’s not much debate on that. Although he finished with less overall points in fantasy compared to the number two player on my list by 4 points, he missed two games and averaged more per game.
Going over 100 catches for the 5th consecutive season, he averaged a whopping 15.18 yards per catch for 1533 yards and 9 touchdowns. The 9 is his lowest since 2013, but I’m not too worried here considering he missed two games. Not much has changed in his environment, with Big Ben still throwing the rock, some good receivers working opposite him in Juju Smith-Schuster and who I anticipate to be a good rookie, James Washington. The best thing Brown has going for him is an exceptional run game with Le’Veon Bell.
The only slight concern is the change in offensive coordinator but I wouldn’t worry too much there. Brown is easily the top receiver taken here and feel confident doing so in any spot in the first round.
2. DeAndre Hopkins – Houston Texans – #1 ranked WR to end 2017 with 205 points (13.7 per game)
*Photo provided by Houston Chronicle*
I wonder if Hopkins would have bypassed Brown by now if he had competent QB play over the last few years. For example, Hopkins had Deshaun Watson for 6.5 games and had 99 fantasy points. He had a 224 yard game in Watson’s last healthy game. He averaged about 11 catches per game during those games. Those are platinum numbers there.
The great thing about Hopkins is, it doesn’t matter who’s the QB, he’s going to still produce. Last year was great with Watson and Co. putting up 96 receptions for 1378 yards and 13 touchdowns. I anticipate huge numbers again with Watson back healthy and another year to play together. Lamar Miller and D’Onta Foreman should be able to keep defenses honest enough and although he’s got two real tough games a year against Jacksonville, the rest of the divisions corners should get eaten up.
Expect another great season for Hopkins and if Watson can stay healthy, Hopkins may be looking to be the top scoring receiver two years straight. (total points, not points per game)
3. Odell Beckham Jr. – New York Giants – #79 ranked WR to end 2017 with 43 points (10.8 per game)
*Photo provided by Giants Wire – USA Today*
Coming off one of the hottest starts to a career in the history of the NFL from a wide receiver, Odell Beckman Jr. had an unfortunate hit to the ankle during the preseason last year. He only missed the first game and was able to get back on the field, although less than 100%. The bad luck continued as he ended up having to miss the rest of the season after week 5.
Beckham Jr. has consistently been a top three receiver when healthy. He’s had a long time to recover from his ankle woes and let’s all hope he’s healthy because when healthy, he’s one of the most dynamic and polarizing players to watch in the NFL. In his first three seasons, where he was MOSTLY healthy, he averaged almost 12 touchdowns a year, 1375 receiving yards and 96 catches a game. Going a bit deeper, that’s 96 yards per game with almost 7 catches and a touchdown a game. With the Giants drafting Barkley and having other weapons in Shepard and Engram, it should take some of the heat off Beckham Jr. consistently.
He’s only had one fully healthy season, which is always a risk. He’s also a “hot head” being known for antics that are prone to suspension. If he can stay on the field, he’s easily a top 3-5 receiver and although he’s coming off a lost season, he’s healthy and will likely resume his dominant ways.
4. Julio Jones – Atlanta Falcons – #4 ranked WR to end 2017 with 155 points (9.7 per game)
*Photo provided by Falcons Wire – USA Today*
If you go off pure athleticism and skill, Julio Jones might be the best wide receiver on the planet. Unfortunately for him, there hasn’t been a legitimate threat opposite him since Roddy White retired and he might be the most injury prone superstar I’ve ever seen (although he often plays through it). Typically my WR1, he finally has worn out his welcome at the top of my WR list after yet another season of nagging injuries and underutilization by his coaching staff in the red zone.
All of this sounds awful, but even with all the information I just shared, he still finished last year as the 4th ranked receiver. He played all 16 games, again fighting injuries in many of them, and put up 1444 yards. The yardage has never been the issue for Jones. Where you get frustrated with this elite talent is his touchdown production. Last year, he only had 3 touchdowns. For the 6’3” 220lb, dominant player, this is unacceptable. His coaching staff prefers to throw to anyone else in the red zone which is infuriating. This was the lowest total of his career in which he played most of the games. He’s only topped 10 touchdowns once in his seven year career, which was back in 2012.
I do hope he turns it around a bit this year. His team drafted a great college receiver in Calvin Ridley to take some pressure off of him. Sanu is coming off a solid year so his owners will hope that helps as well. He’s got a very solid QB in Matt Ryan and a great running back duo in Devonta Freeman and Tevin Coleman. He’s going to get his yards but if he can add those touchdowns, he’ll challenge these previous three receivers for the best receiver in the league.
5. Keenan Allen – Los Angeles Chargers – #3 ranked WR to end 2017 with 168 points (10.5 per game)
*Photo provided by Chargers.com*
Kennan Allen is one of my favorite players in the league. He’s not overly athletic, he’s not overly fast, he’s not overly big but he just knows how to play the game at an EXTREMELY high level. One of the top route runners in the game who can set corners up and make them look silly, he’s just so fun to watch.
In his first season where he played in all 16 games in his 5 year career, he turned out the third best fantasy season from a receiver last year. Pulling in 102 receptions for 1393 yards and 6 touchdowns, it was a very productive season. It was a breath of fresh air for a guy who spent much of the previous two seasons on the IR.
That is and always will be in the back of the mind of anyone who drafts Allen, his injury history. He showed he can stay healthy last year but given his history, it’s tough to forget. Playing with a great QB in Phillip Rivers will always give him opportunities to dominate as long as he’s healthy.
6. Michael Thomas – New Orleans Saints – #7 ranked WR to end 2017 with 146 points (9.1 per game)
*Photo provided by Nola.com*
I wrote this article previous to seeing this ridiculous move he put on Ken Crawley at training camp that impressed so much that I had to come back into this article and write about it. I’m not going to lie, I loved Michael Thomas coming out of college but I was definitely on the Laquon Treadwell to the Vikings train. That’s a big L for us as Treadwell has yet to do much in the NFL short of a great catch over a Packers corner, while Thomas has taken off into superstardom.
Thomas is fast, he’s big, he’s strong, he can run after catch, he’s mean. I can go on and on. He’s everything you want in a receiver. He runs sets from the X, Z and slot. He took a step back in 2017 from a touchdown standpoint (5) but he added to his receptions (104) and yards (1245). Brees is always known for spreading the ball around and the Saints have moved to a heavier run game with Kamara and Ingram but Thomas still got his.
There’s not much to NOT like about Thomas. If you’re grabbing him, you know that he’s going to produce. He’s pretty safe so far in his career.
7. Davante Adams – Green Bay Packers – #13 ranked WR to end 2017 with 140 points (10 per game)
*Photo provided by OnMilwaukee.com*
In my four articles I have now written, Adams is the first Packer I’ve had to write about. It pains me to have him this high as well. He’s not an overly great receiver in my opinion. Due to some injuries, he took a very small step back last year compared to 2016 in receptions, yards and touchdowns. But let’s not forget that last year, he had Brett Hundley throwing him the ball for most of the year. (Thanks Anthony Barr) (Just kidding, cheering for injuries is lame).
So with that being said, the 885 yards and 10 touchdowns is quite impressive. He’s getting Aaron Rodgers back and Jordy Nelson is now gone, giving Adams the WR1 title with arguable the best quarterback in the league for 2018. Coming off back to back 10+ touchdown seasons, I’m excited (from a fantasy perspective) to see what Adams can do.
*Okay, I have to go throw up now*
8. A.J. Green – Cincinnati Bengals – #10 ranked WR to end 2017 with 144 points (8.8 per game)
*Photo provided by Cincy Jungle*
If you would have told me 3-4 years ago that A.J. Green would be 8th on my list for 2018, I would have said you were nuts. But, with years of nagging injuries and the relative incompetence he has at the QB and offensive line positions, this is where I have him. Although he finished all 16 games last year, he put up the lowest production at receptions (75), yards (1078) and touchdowns (8) in a season which he finished all 16 games.
He did have a down year compared to his standards, but it was nice to see him complete 16 games after coming off a 10 game campaign. I anticipate his offensive line getting better which should give Andy Dalton more time to lob up the bombs that Green has made him money on catching. His running game should also get better with the line improving and Joe Mixon expected to take over the workhorse role. I do expect an increase in production and hopefully he can return to form in 2018.
9. Adam Thielen + Stefon Diggs – Minnesota Vikings – #14 and 17 ranked WRs to end 2017 with 139 points (8.7 per game) and 125 points (8.9 per game)
*Photo provided by Vikings Wire – USA Today*
What a breakout season 2017 was for Adam Thielen. From making the practice squad as a tryout player, to working his way to special teams, to flashing some in 2015 in extremely limited opportunities, to being mocked in training camp joint practices by Adam Jones, to a putting up a 91 catch, 1276 yard season where he found pay dirt 4 times on his way to the pro bowl.
After averaging 1122 yards over the last two seasons and making the pro bowl last season, I don’t believe he’s going to be overlooked anymore. That’s okay though because he was still producing when teams shadowed their best corner on him. Thielen just knows how to set up corners and run crisp routes. Once he has the ball in his hands, he finds extra yards with his deceptive 4.42 speed. He has an upgrade at QB this year with Kirk Cousins which also should have the arrow pointing up for him and the team as a whole.
There’s not much to hate about his game, similar to what I had said about Michael Thomas. His biggest negative is he has another great receiver working opposite of him and there’s only so many passes to go around with a great running game and a defense that allows you to play with the lead often.
Speaking of that other great receiver, we have Stefon Diggs. It’s tough to rank Thielen over Diggs or Diggs over Thielen. They’re both great and in very similar ways. Diggs might be the best route runner in the league not named Antonio Brown. He’s quick, shifty, fast and has incredible hands.
In 2017, he led the whole league in contested catch rate. That comes from using his body to shield defenders, generate separation and utilize those incredibly sticky hands. Diggs is playing in a contract year, if he doesn’t work something out in camp (#PayDiggs), which will likely give him extra motivation to have his best season yet. His career averages as of today are 67 catches, 824 yards and 5 touchdowns. The great thing is 8 of those 15 career touchdowns came last year.
The reason some feel there’s hesitance to commit long term for premier dollars is due to his injury history. Diggs has never had a fully healthy season in his first three years. We’ll see if he can do so this year. If so, he may be in for a big year with Kirk Cousins throwing the ball and having Thielen on the other side giving him one on one opportunities. Expect big things from this duo this year.
This wraps up my top top 10 list for my wide receiver rankings for 2018 fantasy season. Stay tuned for another article to be posted soon regarding my 11-20 receivers. There should be some interesting rankings vs. what you might see by the national guys in the 11-30 range.
As always, thank you for reading and any feedback is welcomed!