Which Fantasy Football Wide Receivers Are a Catch?

 

As we get nearer to Fantasy Football season, it’s time to brush up on the NFL’s top Wide Receivers. Where running backs used to dominate the first round, more and more wide receivers have been making a case for inclusion among the elite players in the league.

So let’s get into it and figure out when and where you should take some of the NFL’s best pass catchers.

1. Antonio Brown, Pittsburgh Steelers – In the last couple of years, he’s gone from second fiddle to Mike Wallace to sleeper third or fourth round wide receiver to now being the game’s biggest threat. Brown is the rare mix of a possession receiver with the afterburners to generate big plays as well. He’s Ben Roethlisberger’s most tried and true offensive weapon.
Draft Zone: Mid first round to early second round.
Strategy: He’s not the clear cut No. 1 wide receiver, but could go as high as No. 5 or No. 6 or could fall into the second round if your league’s owners prefer Dez Bryant or Demaryius Thomas. But given his knack for catching the short pass as well as the home run, he’s more likely to be consistent. Plus, depending on your league’s scoring, he might also net you some special teams points.

2. Demaryius Thomas, Denver Broncos – The defections of Eric Decker, Julius Thomas and concussion issues of Wes Welker in recent years means that Thomas is probably more essential to the Broncos offense than he’s ever been. He’s home run hitter and a goal line threat due to his size.
Draft Zone: Mid first round to early second round.
Strategy: If your league does not favor point per possession, you might want to take Thomas over Brown, though you can’t really go wrong with either.

3. Dez Bryant, Dallas Cowboys – He’s the man in Dallas. Terrence Williams hasn’t progressed, Jason Witten is slipping and the backfield is a mess. All eyes on Bryant this year.
Draft zone: Late first round to early second round.
Strategy: He’s a tick under Brown and Thomas mostly due to the fact that Dallas’ offense has so many questions and teams can begin to key in on him. But regardless, he’s a beast at the goal line and hard to contain. Snag him around 9 or 10 and if you can get him on the way back in the second round, consider yourself a winner.

4. Jordy Nelson, Green Bay Packers – Green Bay likes to throw it around and more often than not Nelson is the beneficiary. He’ll put up several monster games, but might have a few lesser games where Cobb is the go-to that will offset it. When healthy, he, like Brown, can be the possession receiver or the burner.
Draft zone: Early to late second round.
Strategy: Though Cobb put up big numbers last year, Nelson is still the top option. Every year it seems like bigger names are picked ahead of him, but he ends up typically outscoring them by year’s end. Jump on Nelson in the mid-second if he’s available.

5. Odell Beckham, Jr., New York Giants – Everyone is salivating over Beckham given his late 2014 performance. But a regression is natural here. Victor Cruz will be healthy and back playing and likely taking a few looks away from Beckham. Plus, teams have had some time to study and game plan for the receiver.
Draft zone: Late first round to late second round.
Strategy: Just because of the publicity, a lesser studied owner might grab him in the first round. But seasoned owners will be looking to take him somewhere in the second and depending on potential, you could see him drafted ahead of Nelson.

6. Julio Jones, Atlanta Falcons – His last two season have been curtailed by injuries, so there is a risk here. But there’s little denying that when on the field and healthy, Jones has shown the ability to be as good as any in the game. The Falcons are going to throw, especially with an unsettled backfield.
Draft zone: Mid-second round to early third-round.
Strategy: How much stock do you put in his health? If you’re banking on a healthy season after two injury-riddled ones, then go grab him early. If you’re a little gun shy, he’d be a steal in the early third round.

7. A.J. Green, Cincinnati Bengals – Much like Jones, injuries have played a role in limiting his production the last couple of years. When healthy, Green is one of the game’s best and a serious threat. Probably more likely than Jones to get through the season unscathed, but not as explosive as Jones when both are healthy.
Draft zone: Mid second round to early third round.
Strategy: Look for a rebound season from Green and by proxy, Andy Dalton. He’s likely to go toward the end of the second round wide receiver run.

8. Calvin Johnson, Detroit Lions – He’s money when healthy, but last year he wasn’t. Even before the injury, there was a little drop off and he’s no longer a spring chicken. Look for Megatron to still scare defenses this year, but there’s a lot of concern of whether he can last a full season.
Draft zone: Mid second round to early third round.
Strategy: Depending on how you feel about his health, you could see him going ahead of Julio Jones and/or A.J. Green. He’s a steal in the early third round.

9. Randall Cobb, Green Bay Packers – Aaron Rodgers will make sure that Cobb gets taken care of. Rarely does he get shut down. And even though he’s second fiddle to Jordy Nelson, there will be weeks he has the bigger game.
Draft zone: Late second round to mid third round.
Strategy: Late second round may be viewed as a stretch by some, but he’s a quality wide receiver who has consistently put up big numbers and has had the rare off week. Snag him in the late second or early third and feel good about it.

10.Emmanuel Sanders, Denver Broncos – Last year’s surprise will get snatched up earlier this year. And with more unproven depth on the Broncos roster, he’ll be relied upon more. Could have some big games, but as we saw last year, he’s more of the possession receiver and not necessarily a target at the goal line.
Draft zone: Third round
Strategy: Not the flashiest of picks, but will consistently put up numbers. Grab him in the third and sit back and watch.

11. Alshon Jeffery, Chicago Bears – Is he ready for the big time? You could say he benefitted from playing second fiddle to Brandon Marshall. But in his third year, the lanky receiver will be called upon to be the guy. The offense is still expected to throw.
Draft zone: Late second round to late third round.
Strategy: How do you feel about the Chicago Bears offense with Jay Cutler at the helm? That likely informs where Jeffery gets taken. Some project late second round, but a mid third round grade is more likely.

12. T.Y. Hilton, Indianapolis Colts – Does still have some drops, but put up huge numbers last year. There’s no more Reggie Wayne, but Andre Johnson could steal some looks. Still, he’s the burner in a high octane offense.
Draft zone: Third round.
Strategy: You could project him higher than Sanders or Jeffery. And after last year, he’ll definitely get more looks. But there are plenty of weapons on an upgraded offense, so his production could slide a little as a result of spreading the ball around. Take him in the third round and be happy.

13. Mike Evans, Tampa Bay Bucs – He came on late in his rookie season and looked like the real deal. With Jameis Winston at QB and a team still struggling to get better, look for the Bucs to be throwing often. And Evans will be a big recipient.
Draft zone: Late third round to early fourth.
Strategy: Tampa Bay is not a huge offensive threat and now they have a rookie QB. Look for Evans to have an inconsistent season as a result and keep an eye on those matchups.

14. DeAndre Hopkins, Houston Texans – Certainly looks ready to step up and claim the No. 1 WR spot in Houston. This third-year receiver will be the man on a team that will be playing from behind a lot.
Draft zone: Late third round to early fourth round.
Strategy: There’s lots of upside on Hopkins until you realize he’s playing in the Houston offense. Snag him in the fourth if you can.

15. Julian Edelman, New England Patriots – Every year it seems like people underestimate him, but every year he puts up stats. Even with Brady out for a few games, look for Edelman to be the guy that has the most rapport with backup Jimmy Garoppolo.
Draft zone: Fourth round to early fifth round.
Strategy: If you’re in a points per reception league, he’ll be even more valuable. Don’t overlook Edelman and feel comfortable taking him anywhere in the fourth round. Third round might be a stretch and fifth round is a steal.

16. Kelvin Benjamin, Carolina Panthers – Quickly emerged as one of Cam Newton’s favorite targets as a rookie and routinely made unbelievable catches. His size also comes into play at the goal line. With a year of seasoning, look for him to improve on last year’s stats.
Draft zone: Fourth round to early fifth round.
Strategy: He’s a stud, but Carolina isn’t necessarily a big throwing team. He may have a dud or two (as will most WRs at this point), but expect him to put up solid if not spectacular numbers each week. A bonafide low end No. 2 WR and a stud No. 3 WR.

17. Brandin Cooks, New Orleans Saints – Was having a stellar rookie year when an injury slowed him down. With no Graham, no Stills and Colston a year older, look for Cooks to emerge as the main threat in the Saints passing attack.
Draft zone: Fourth round to early fifth round.
Strategy: He’s a burner who can put up some serious yards after the catch. It will be a different look Saints passing attack this year. I still expect them to throw it around, but Cooks will get his fair share. Feel good if you get him in the mid-to-late fourth round and jump for joy if he falls into the fifth.

18. Jordan Matthews, Philadelphia Eagles – Matthews came on as the season continued and became a goal line threat. Jeremy Maclin is gone, Riley Cooper is Riley Cooper and Nelson Aghalor is a rookie who will need to be worked in. The Eagles drafted Matthews to be this guy and now he gets the chance.
Draft zone: Late fourth round to fifth round.
Strategy: Owners may be a little jumpy over the small sample size and the major changes in the offensive skill players, but it’s still the Chip Kelly offense. He’s get his looks no matter who’s behind center. At this point, he’s a high upside late fourth rounder and a steal if he’s there in the mid fifth-round. Trust in the offense, trust in Matthews to get a chance to shine.

19. Sammy Watkins, Buffalo Bills – He’s the real deal on a sputtering offense. Despite the flaws on last year’s team, he put up solid rookie offensive numbers. And it’s probably that Buffalo will need to throw often again.
Draft zone: Fifth Round
Strategy: The offense is too shaky to put too much stock in Watkins. He’s better than his offense, but expect some inconsistency. Take him in the fifth, but beware the matchups.

20. Vincent Jackson, Tampa Bay Bucs – Count him among the most overlooked. Like Watkins, he plays in an offense with a lot of question marks, among them a rookie quarterback. But Jackson has size on his side and is typically good to win battles against smaller defenders. Evans is everyone’s pick to click on this team, but Jackson should still get his.
Draft zone: Fifth Round.
Strategy: Much like Watkins, the offense is what brings him down. But he’ll still have some big games. Take him in the mid fifth round and he should be good.

21. Andre Johnson, Indianapolis Colts – Yes, he has some age on him. But he’s now playing with Andrew Luck instead of Ryan Fitzpatrick at quarterback. And there’s even more weapons around him that should take off some of the pressure. Look for Andre Johnson to thrive in this change of scenery.
Draft zone: Fifth round to early sixth round.
Strategy: Some will say that he’s past him prime and let him slide. But if there’s still juice left in the tank, he could have a major rebound year in this offense. Take him in the fifth and depending on how you feel about him, he could go ahead of Jackson and Watkins. If he falls to the sixth, jump on it.

22. Keenan Allen, San Diego Chargers – He fell off considerably in his second season and was a fantasy bust last year. But Allen is still quite talented and with Antonio Gates out early, he should get more looks. With Stevie Johnson as his running mate, he looks like an even more viable option.
Draft zone: Fifth round to sixth round.
Strategy: What do you think of the Chargers passing attack? That will define where you take him. He’s probably not as good as his rookie season, but not as bad as his stats last year. That would put him as a solid fifth round and outstanding sixth round pick.

23. Amari Cooper, Oakland Raiders – He was the prize of the rookie WR class and with a young Raiders offense improving, he’s right at the center of things. Expect some inconsistency, but also look for Cooper to have some big games as well.
Draft zone: Sixth round.
Strategy: Here’s your boom or bust flier. He has the pedigree to come in and star immediately. But he also plays on an unproven but high potential offense. If you’re drafting on potential, take him in the sixth round and hope he outperforms the spot.

24. Brandon Marshall, New York Jets – He’s a stud WR and a threat at the goal line, but can the Jets offense move the ball? It’s a big question. When they do, expect Marshall to be a big part of it.
Draft zone: Sixth round.
Strategy: He’ll get looks for sure and the Jets will be playing from behind more than likely. For a guy who was a third round pick for the Bears, his move to the Jets offense has dropped him appropriately. Take him in the sixth and be good with it.

25. Golden Tate, Detroit Lions – Made a solid impression during his first season with the Lions, but likely benefitted from Calvin Johnson being out. Even with Johnson healthy, the heavy-on-the-pass Lions should get Tate his targets.
Draft zone: Sixth to early seventh round.
Strategy: Could be a sleeper pick in the sixth. He’ll put up stats, even if he’s not the primary option.

26. Martavius Bryant, Pittsburgh Steelers – Antonio Brown can’t catch every ball, and it seems like every time Bryant touched it in 2014, it resulted in a touchdown. He likely won’t repeat the TD totals, but Bryant will likely get more looks than he did last year.
Draft zone: Sixth to early seventh round.
Strategy: Young star on the rise. What’s not to like? Take him in the sixth and maybe even snag him earlier than some of the vets on bad offenses ahead of him.

27. Mike Wallace, Minnesota Vikings – Had a better year in Miami than most realize, but looking to reclaim his reputation on a team that can use his veteran presence. It’s scary to think what he might accomplish with Bridgewater and defenses that are keyed in on Adrian Peterson.
Draft zone: Sixth to early seventh round.
Strategy: Look for a rebound year for Wallace. This could be a really sweet connection for a still young fallen star looking to reclaim his mojo.

28. DeSean Jackson, Washington Redskins – He’s still DeSean Jackson, but this is the Redskins offense. It’s going to be inconsistent for sure. And he has to vie for receptions with Pierre Garcon.
Draft zone: Late sixth to mid seventh round.
Strategy: Until the Washington Redskins offense settles on a QB, you’ll have some inconsistent games from the receiving crew, Jackson included. If someone drafts him in the fifth, it’s a stretch. Given the Redskins offense, he should be going in the seventh.

29. Larry Fitzgerald, Arizona Cardinals – If Carson Palmer can stay healthy, look for Fitzgerald to put up stats, especially early while Michael Floyd recovers from surgery. He’s not the player he once was, but he’s still a pretty nifty possession receiver.
Draft zone: Seventh Round.
Strategy: After a few bad years, he’s gone from over drafted to under drafted.

30. Kevin White, Chicago Bears – Like Jeffery was to Marshall, White will now be to Jeffery. How quickly will the rookie develop? That remains to be seen, but he could be scary good.
Draft zone: Seventh round.
Strategy: This is a pure potential pick. White was considered the second best receiver in the draft and will get a chance to show his skills early and often.

31. Jeremy Maclin, Kansas City Chiefs – Had a career renaissance with the Eagles last year, but the Chiefs are not the Eagles. In fact, no Chiefs WR caught a touchdown last year. He’s a definite upgrade over Dwayne Bowe and should thrive in a reunion with former coach Andy Reid.
Draft zone: Seventh round.
Strategy: Owners will underdraft him based on the ineptitude of past Chiefs receivers. But he’s much better than what they had before. Expect him to break the TD streak early and put together a quietly solid season. Grab him early in the seventh and don’t feel like it’s a stretch if you grab him in the sixth.

32. Jarvis Landry, Miami Dolphins – Came out of nowhere to become the Dolphins top target last season. And this is an offense that’s show signs of improving each of the last two years. Give Landry his shot.
Draft zone: Late seventh to eighth round.
Strategy: There’s no Mike Wallace there. Look for Landry to be top dawg and expect him to put up solid numbers in a mid-level NFL passing attack. Projected to the eighth round, but not a bad reach in the late seventh.

33. Brandon LaFell, New England Patriots – Quietly put up a big year for the Patriots last year. He surpassed Danny Amendola on the depth chart and was a threat at the goal line. The Patriots will throw no matter who’s behind center and Edelman won’t catch everything.
Draft zone: Eighth round.
Strategy: He’s a nice sleeper pick. He’s still not considered a major threat, but will win you a few weeks as your No. 3 WR or bye week fill-in.

34. Nelson Agholor, Philadelphia Eagles – Maclin’s gone, Matthews is expected to be the No. 1, but don’t forget about this rookie. He turned quite a few heads and is expected to surpass Riley Cooper at some point early in the year.
Draft zone: Eighth round.
Strategy: Like most rookies, he’s a pure potential pick. But you could do a lot worse than a guy who may be starting in the Eagles fast-paced offense.

35. Allen Robinson, Jacksonville Jaguars – We know you probably weren’t watching Jacksonville games, but Robinson put up some big weeks with Blake Bortles behind center. Look for this big play pairing to connect for several big games in 2015 as well.
Draft zone: Eight round to early ninth round.
Strategy: He’s a great sleeper pick and worth taking a shot on this late.

36. Eric Decker, New York Jets – Will Decker make good on his big money contract? Until they get a solid quarterback, it’s not likely. But having Marshall on the other side will take some of the pressure off and he could quietly put up a solid year.
Draft zone: Ninth round.
Strategy: He could rebound or he could continue to sputter in the Jets offense. Our bet is on a better year than his first campaign in New York.

37. Torrey Smith, San Francisco 49ers – He’s a solid WR, but much like in Baltimore, he’s not in a pass-happy offense. He’ll be the Niners top WR, but it’s still about a rushing QB and rushing in San Fran.
Draft zone: Ninth round.
Strategy: He’s a solid bye week fill-in who could also put up decent stats if you have an injury. But the San Fran passing attack is too shaky to expect much more.

38. Roddy White, Atlanta Falcons – Injuries have zapped the last couple of years of his career, but when healthy, he’s part of a lethal combo with Julio Jones. And the Falcons could be throwing more this year with an unsettled backfield.
Draft zone: Ninth Round to early tenth round.
Strategy: Here’s your veteran rebound if there ever was one. If he can stay healthy, he’s a steal in the ninth round.

39. Charles Johnson, Minnesota Vikings – Surpassed Cordarelle Patterson and now former WR Greg Jennings by year’s end last year. Developed a solid rapport with Bridgewater. Should play second fiddle to Wallace in the new look receiving corps.
Draft zone: Ninth round to early tenth round.
Strategy: He’s capable of putting up monster stats and if Wallace is more first year Miami than first year Pittsburgh, you could see him emerge as the go-to guy. The potential here could see him rise into the Top 30 WRs.

40. Michael Floyd, Arizona Cardinals – A pre-season injury may limit him early, but has the potential to be the stud WR on this team when healthy.
Draft zone: Late ninth to tenth round.
Strategy: Draft him late, stash him for a couple of weeks and hope he becomes the 2013 version that showed so much promise.

Best of the rest:
41. Steve Smith, Baltimore Ravens – He’s retiring at the end of the year, but showed there was still plenty left in the tank last year. With no Torrey Smith, he’s probably the lead guy.

42. Brian Quick, St. Louis Rams – Until an injury ended his 2015 season, he was finally showing lead receiver skills and numbers. Now healthy, look for him to pick up where he left off.
43. Victor Cruz, New York Giants – Everyone loves Odell, but Victor Cruz was the No. 1 guy before his 2014 injury. Now healed, look for him to get back into the flow with a more comfortable Giants offense.
44. Marques Colston, New Orleans Saints – He’ll drive you crazy trying to figure out which week he’ll strike gold. He’s aging, but with some of Drew Brees’ targets gone, he may become relevant again.
45. Breshad Perryman, Baltimore Ravens – No Torrey Smith, but he’s the drafted heir apparent. Look for an inconsistent, but promising year.
46. Anquan Boldin, San Francisco 49ers – He’s another year older, but still has a knack for finding the end zone.
47. Davante Adams, Green Bay Packers – He’ll get some looks in the pass-happy Packers offense and is an injury away from being fantasy relevant.
48. John Brown, Arizona Cardinals – He’s the No. 3 guy, but had a few big games and could challenge for more looks this year.

49. Pierre Garcon, Washington Redskins – If the Redskins can get the quarterback situation figured out, Garcon has been a solid possession receiver. Look for him to catch a lot of balls.
50. Doug Baldwin, Seattle Seahawks – Never on anyone’s radar, but always ends up being fantasy relevant as the season continues. Just grab him now before someone else beats you to him on the waiver wire.
51. DaVante Parker, Miami Dolphins – Beware his foot issues, but could be primed to take the No. 2 slot in this improving passing attack.
52. Terrance Williams, Dallas Cowboys – If he can be more consistent this year and hold off Cole Beasley, look for him to have some big weeks opposite Dez Bryant.
53. Kendall Wright, Tennessee Titans – Arguably the band’s best receiving threat, but how long will it take before they become a passing team?
54. Percy Harvin, Buffalo Bills – Washed out with Minnesota, Seattle and the Jets. Last chance, Buffalo. Lots of talent, not so much production.
55. Kenny Britt, St. Louis Rams – Like Quick, he’s a big target. He put up nice stats after Quick’s injury and his career revival should continue this year.
56. Cole Beasley, Dallas Cowboys – Situational wide receiver, but could push Williams for more looks.
57. Stevie Johnson, San Diego Chargers – Can Johnson revive his career after a less than stellar year in San Francisco?
58. Cecil Shorts, Houston Texans – Who lines up opposite DeAndre Hopkins in Houston? It’s the former Jacksonville favorite. Here’s a chance to revive his career.

59. Marvin Jones, Cincinnati Bengals – There was a lot of love for Jones, who lost his 2014 season to injury. Is he ready to overlap Mohammed Sanu and become a major factor in the offense?
60. Donte Moncrief, Indianapolis Colts – Will get first shot at spelling Hilton and Johnson in the high powered Colts offense.
61. Eddie Royal, Chicago Bears – If Kevin White doesn’t live up to expectations, look for Royal to take advantage of the opening.
62. Cody Latimer, Denver Broncos – Can Latimer step up to be the team’s No. 3 WR? He was a sleeper pick last year, but let’s see if he can knock off the sleepy dust this year.
63. Dwayne Bowe, Cleveland Browns – Because someone has to catch the ball.
64. Mohammed Sanu, Cincinnati Bengals – He proved to be a valuable offensive option last year, but could get passed up by Marvin Jones.
65. Michael Crabtree, Oakland Raiders – Will he be used in Oakland more than he was in San Francisco? At least early, he looks like a viable option.
66. Riley Cooper, Philadelphia Eagles – In a young receiving corps, look for him to get more looks early in the season. But he should be passed up by Aghalor by mid-season.
67. Marquise Lee, Jacksonville Jaguars – Will he improve upon the promise of year one, or will Robinson continue to eclipse him?
68. Reuben Randle, New York Giants – Will still get plenty of looks as the team’s No. 3 receiver.
69. Malcolm Floyd, San Diego Chargers – Will Floyd or Stevie Johnson line up opposite Keenan Allen? Floyd is nothing if not consistent for the Chargers.
70. Devin Funchess, Carolina Panthers – Look for the rookie receiver to challenge for a starting spot.
71. Tyler Lockett, Seattle Seahawks – Quickly making a name for himself in training camp and could line up opposite Doug Baldwin once the season begins.
72. Cordarrelle Patterson, Minnesota Vikings – His talent is scary, but his inconsistency may keep him off the field. He’s been passed by Charles Johnson and the team added Mike Wallace. Needs to show something to get back on the field.
73. Andrew Hawkins, Cleveland Browns – Last year’s leading pass catcher returns.
74. Allen Hurns, Jacksonville Jaguars – Can last year’s surprise run carry over?
75. Tavon Austin, St. Louis Rams – Could put up some big yardage with the Rams knack for flat passes and occasionally using him in the run game.

76. Dorial Green-Beckham, Tennessee Titans – Lots of talent, but a bit of a headcase. Tennessee, meet your new Kenny Britt.
77. Nick Toon, New Orleans Saints – Will get more looks now that some of the vets have moved on.
78. Greg Jennings, Miami Dolphins – What’s left in the tank? He didn’t show much in Minnesota, but a change of scenery and a rising passing attack may revive his career.
79. Rod Streater, Oakland Raiders – A onetime receiving leader is now a better fit as the No. 3 receiver.
80. Steadman Bailey, St. Louis Rams – Has shown flashes of brilliance, but the Rams tend to play match-ups rather than have one focal target, so hope you land on the week that Bailey’s number comes up.

Required fields are marked *. Your name and email will not be published.

%d bloggers like this: