The fantasy football wide receiver pool is deep this season, but there are numerous inconsistent players to be wary of in the lower tiers.
With the NFL turning into a pass-first league, there is depth everywhere at wide receiver. There are few wideouts, however, that will give consistent top-tier production on a weekly basis. Drafting a wide receiver in the first two to three rounds will result in a well-balanced team.
Davante Adams, Green Bay Packers
There are three major factors to look for in a wide receiver. First, his quarterback. Davante Adams has the best quarterback in football throwing him the ball, check. Second, does the wide out score touchdowns? Adams has 35 over the past three seasons (leads all NFL receivers). Last, is he productive in receptions or receiving yards? Check and check.
Over the past two seasons, Adams has averaged 92 receptions and 1,135 yards per season. He’s the total package and he is the first option on a good offense. Adams will finish in the top three again this season at wideout.
DeAndre Hopkins, Houston Texans
DeAndre Hopkins has the best hands in football and it honestly doesn’t matter who is throwing him the ball. He has now finished as a top-six fantasy receiver in three of the last four seasons, including his first No. 1 finish at wideout in 2018. The Texans will face the second-hardest overall CB schedule (according to Mike Clay’s article about best and worst WR/CB matchups). This is nitpicking here but it could be the difference when deciding on who should be your first choice off the board at wide receiver.
Julio Jones, Atlanta Falcons
Over the past five seasons, Julio Jones has finished as a top-10 wide receiver each year. His season averages over that span: 104 receptions, 1,598 yards, and six touchdowns. When he’s healthy and on the field, there aren’t many better wide receivers in the league. He’s a safe pick in the second round and he’s the perfect fit for a team that goes running back in round one.
Odell Beckham Jr., Cleveland Browns
Odell Beckham Jr. is going to be the number one option on a very good offense. If he and Baker Mayfield have a connection right from the start, he has the talent to finish as the number one overall wideout. Injuries have slowed him down over the past few seasons but he is healthy now and needs to be in the conversation as the first wideout taken off the board.
Michael Thomas, New Orleans Saints
Michael Thomas has been in the league for three seasons. He’s finished all three as a top-10 wideout. Thomas led all pass catchers in catch rate percentage last season (85.03%) and is the number one option in the passing game. Don’t let Thomas slip too far. He’s as consistent as they come and one of the few players that are matchup proof.
Tyreek Hill, Kansas City Chiefs
It doesn’t matter what you think about Tyreek Hill, he’s going to finish the season inside the top-10 at wideout. He’ll have his off games but overall, he is a big play waiting to happen on an offense that will put up a ton of points. He’ll have more value in non-PPR leagues because he won’t catch 100 balls but his yards and touchdowns will be elite. Keep this in mind, Kansas City wideouts have the toughest schedule this year.
JuJu Smith-Schuster, Pittsburgh Steelers
JuJu Smith-Schuster is my bet to lead the league in targets. Ben Roethlisberger tends to target one wide receiver especially when there isn’t much talent around him. He’s shown that he can be a reliable target, but this season will show everyone if he is a true number one.
Smith-Schuster is going to face the top cornerback on every team and most likely see doubles every game. JuJu has struggled at times in games without Antonio Brown lining up on the other side of the formation. A ton of targets could lead to fantasy stardom for JuJu and this could be the last season he is outside the top tier.
Mike Evans, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Mike Evans should benefit from a full year of Jameis Winston and the new hire of Bruce Arians as head coach. Tampa Bay’s defense will be one of the worst in the league which will result in the offense being on the field a ton.
Over the past four seasons, Evans has averaged 149 targets per season and over 1,250 yards. The touchdowns have been too low for a player of his size and caliber, but expect him to be one of the top pass catchers in fantasy this season.
T.Y. Hilton, Indianapolis Colts
If Andrew Luck is hurt, T.Y. Hilton loses a ton of value this season. When Luck is healthy, Hilton is a lock to finish inside the top 20 at receiver. Keep an ear out on Luck’s health because if he is going to miss some time, Hilton becomes a risky play.
Keenan Allen, Los Angeles Chargers
Keenan Allen is the ideal wideout to target if you go running back with your first two picks. Allen has more value in PPR leagues because he should be around 100 receptions and around 1,200 yards. He won’t score many touchdowns, but you draft him for his consistency at catching the ball and racking up receiving yards.
Antonio Brown, Oakland Raiders
Antonio Brown is still the best pure wide receiver in the NFL but his switch in quarterbacks is going to hurt his production. If Derek Carr can get Brown the ball when he is open, he will give the people who drafted him tremendous value on draft day.
Don’t let him slip past the third round this season, he will still give you elite production. The seasons of 130-plus catches with 1,800 yards and 15 touchdowns might be a thing of the past, so lower your expectation for the future Hall of Famer.
With all that said, this is assuming that Brown moves past the helmet issue that is a constant headline surrounding the Oakland Raiders.
Amari Cooper, Dallas Cowboys
Since joining the Dallas Cowboys last season, Amari Cooper was maddening to own. He had four games in where he scored fewer than seven fantasy points (PPR scoring). However, he had two monster games in where he scored 38 and 49 fantasy points.
Consistency has always been Cooper’s Achilles’ heel and that’s going to continue in an offense that wants to run the ball first. The jury is still out on Dak Prescott and that’s the main reason why Cooper won’t be on any of my fantasy teams. He’ll have three to four monster games but the rest will be frustrating and make you want to punch yourself in the face. Make sure he isn’t the first wideout on your team this season.
Adam Thielen, Minnesota Vikings
Adam Thielen is a PPR-monster. He finished tied for fourth in the league with 113 receptions to go along with over 1,300 yards and nine touchdowns. Minnesota has one of the best offenses in the league and with a healthy Dalvin Cook, the sky is the limit. Draft with confidence this season.
Stefon Diggs, Minnesota Vikings
Stefon Diggs will have around 100 receptions, over 1,000 yards and near 10 touchdowns. Just like Thielen, he’s a rock-solid top 15 receiver this season with the upside to finish inside the top five.
Julian Edelman, New England Patriots
The reigning Super-Bowl MVP is the number one option with Rob Gronkowski retiring. He’s out of the preseason with a thumb injury, but all reports are saying he’ll be good for Week 1. He’s a top-15 option in PPR leagues. But in standard leagues, he’ll be a solid WR3 on your team because of how often the Patriots run the ball in the red-zone. If he stays healthy, he’ll be around 100 catches and near 1,000 yards.
Brandin Cooks, Robert Woods, and Cooper Kupp, Los Angeles Rams
All three will be reliable options each week but it’s impossible to tell you which one will go off. Cooks, Woods, and Kupp will all make for a solid WR2 on your squad this year and you’ll want any piece of the Rams offense you can get. Draft all with confidence.
A.J. Green, Cincinnati Bengals
A.J. Green will miss a couple of weeks to start the season with an ankle injury but once he returns, he will be a borderline top-10 play every week. Let’s hope the injury doesn’t slow him down to start the season but with missing training camp plus the injury, he is a risky player to own at the start of the season. In every season he’s played 16 games, he’s finished as a top-10 wideout. Green could be a draft day bargain this season.
Chris Godwin, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Reports out of training camp are that Chris Godwin will challenge Mike Evans as the number one option in the passing game, but I’m not buying it. Jameis Winston tends to target bigger receivers (especially in the red-zone) and it’s difficult to see the offense producing two top-20 wide receivers this season. He’ll have his monster games, but expect a handful of three-reception, 50-yard games for Godwin.
Kenny Golladay, Detroit Lions
The Detroit Lions are looking to run the ball and become a more balanced offense. Kenny Golladay finished as the No. 21 wideout last season and that was with Golden Tate and Marvin Jones missing multiple games. Jones will be back and with the emphasis on running the ball more, Golladay will be limited. Take him as your fourth or fifth wide receiver this season and in the right matchup, he could have a big game.
Tyler Lockett, Seattle Seahawks
If there’s one wideout to draft in this tier for Week 1, it should be Tyler Lockett. Lockett scored the third-most fantasy points out of the slot last season (behind A.J. Green and Tyreek Hill) and with Doug Baldwin retiring, he should be locked in as Russell Wilson’s top wideout in 2019.
Mike Williams, Los Angeles Chargers
Mike Williams could be a top-10 wide receiver this time next year. He’s a big target and if Melvin Gordon is to miss any time, he will be in line for an increase of targets. There have been just 16 wide receivers who have been able to finish as a top-20 fantasy receiver with fewer than 100 targets over the last 10 years. Williams did it with 66 targets last season.
Alshon Jeffery, Philadelphia Eagles
Alshon Jeffery is the number two pass catcher on one of the best offenses in the NFL. He will be touchdown dependent, but he will be involved enough in the offense to be a good third receiver for fantasy. Jeffery finished as the 26th wideout last season despite missing three games. Solid floor, but he has limited upside.
Calvin Ridley, Atlanta Falcons
Calvin Ridley finished as the number 20 wide receiver last season mostly because he scored 10 touchdowns. There aren’t many receivers that fit the bill of a “hand-cuff” but if Julio Jones goes down with an injury, Ridley will be a top-15 player at the position.
Tyler Boyd, Cincinnati Bengals
With the injury to A.J. Green to start the season, Boyd has a chance to build off a strong 2018 season. Boyd finished last season with over 1,000 receiving yards and seven touchdowns. He makes for a solid WR3 with solid upside.
Josh Gordon, New England Patriots
When Josh Gordon was on the field last season, Tom Brady averaged over 300 passing yards a game. When he was off the field, he averaged barely over 200. Out of any receiver that has ever caught a pass from Tom Brady, Gordon has the highest YPC at 16. In every game that he received more than three targets last season, he averaged 13 fantasy points per game. He’s this low on the tiers because there’s a better chance he plays zero games compared to all 16. Huge upside but he’s the riskiest player in fantasy (again) this season.
Every wideout in this tier will be tough to start off the season, but they have the upside to become every week starters. These are all draft and stash plays to see how they are incorporated into the offense and see what their role is.
D.J. Moore and Curtis Samuel, Carolina Panthers
One of these two will become a reliable player and the other will be a boom-or-bust player. Good luck trying to figure out which one it will be! My advice, if you draft one, draft both.
Allen Robinson, Chicago Bears
Allen Robinson is coming off a torn ACL and the offense he plays in will limit his upside. He’ll have big scoring weeks, but others when the offense struggles. Draft him as a bye week filler or to use when he has a favorable matchup.
Robby Anderson, New York Jets
Jarvis Landry, Cleveland Browns
Jarvis Landry is now the second option for Baker Mayfield. He will be a solid PPR play but he was inconsistent in his first season in Cleveland. It will be hard to count on week in and week out.
Sammy Watkins, Kansas City Chiefs
He plays in a good offense, but he is the fourth option.
Corey Davis, Tennessee Titans
Tennessee has added Adam Humphries and they drafted A.J. Brown. Davis was a top-five pick but hasn’t lived up to the hype. The upside is there but he is limited by his quarterback and Tennessee’s run-first offense. Draft Davis and if he gets off to a hot start, trade him while his value is at an all-time high.
The Rest of Tier 5
Marvin Jones, Detroit Lions
Christian Kirk, Arizona Cardinals
Dante Pettis, San Francisco 49ers
Sterling Shepard, New York Giants
Dede Westbrook, Jacksonville Jaguars
Geronimo Allison, Green Bay Packers
DeSean Jackson, Philadelphia Eagles
Draft and stash these players and hope they have a big start to the lesson. If after a couple of weeks they aren’t producing, drop them.
Courtland Sutton, Denver Broncos
Larry Fitzgerald, Arizona Cardinals
Marquez Valdes-Scantling, Green Bay Packers
Anthony Miller, Chicago Bears
Donte Moncrief, Pittsburgh Steelers
Michael Gallup, Dallas Cowboys
Emmanuel Sanders, Denver Broncos
John Brown, Buffalo Bills
Devin Funchess, Indianapolis Colts
Tyrell Williams, Oakland Raiders
Kenny Stills, Miami Dolphins
Golden Tate, New York Giants
Keke Coutee, Houston Texans
James Washington, Pittsburgh Steelers
Jamison Crowder, New York Jets
N’Keal Harry, New England Patriots
D.K. Metcalf, Seattle Seahawks
Marquise Goodwin, San Francisco 49ers
Devante Parker, Miami Dolphins
Marquise Brown, Baltimore Ravens
Nelson Agholor, Philadelphia Eagles