2017 Fantasy Football Wide Receiver Rankings

Author Jay Clemons

Sports Hub Technologies, in conjunction with its partner LeagueSafe.com, takes a fresh look at the top 75 wide receivers for standard-scoring leagues.

To be honest, this remains a tough listing to navigate after the first 20 selections. A lot of players in the 20-30 or 35-55 ranges have ‘star’ potential; but alas, their respective flaws are as equally damning.

In terms of the newbies, here’s a good rule of thumb when handling rookies: Lower the bar of expectations in Year 1 … and you’ll never be disappointed.

The lesson here: History is chock-full of highly touted receivers who took NFL life on the chin as rookies.

TOP 75 WIDE RECEIVERS

1-25
1. Antonio Brown, Steelers
2. Julio Jones, Falcons
3. Odell Beckahm Jr., Giants
4. Jordy Nelson, Packers
5. Mike Evans, Buccaneers
6. A.J. Green, Bengals
7. DeAndre Hopkins, Texans
8. T.Y. Hilton, Colts
9. Michael Thomas, Saints
10. Alshon Jeffery, Eagles
11. Brandin Cooks, Patriots
12. Allen Robinson, Jaguars
13. Keenan Allen, Chargers
14. Amari Cooper, Raiders
15. Jarvis Landry, Dolphins
16. Terrelle Pryor, Redskins
17. Demaryius Thomas, Broncos
18. Doug Baldwin, Seahawks
19. Sammy Watkins, Bills
20. Jordan Matthews, Eagles
21. Julian Edelman, Patriots
22. DeVante Parker, Dolphins
23. Davante Adams, Packers
24. Kelvin Benjamin, Panthers
25. Marvin Jones, Lions

RATIONALE
1. Antonio Brown has the top-strata goods over Julio Jones and Odell Beckham Jr. for two decisive reasons:

a) Among receivers, Brown might have the greatest four-year track record in NFL history, averaging 120 catches, 174 targets, 1,579 yards and 11 touchdowns since 2013. Putting that in perspective … league history only has 11 recorded instances of 120 or more single-season receptions.

b) Brown (only one missed game since 2013) owns the best odds, among Jones and Beckham, of playing at least 15 games this fall.

2. There’s significant risk in attaching top-5-overall value to Jones. Yes, he delivered on last year’s greatest daily fantasy effort, pounding the Panthers for 12 catches, 300 yards and one touchdown (Week 4). But Jones also had his share of clunkers, accounting for four or less receptions and zero touchdowns five times last season.

The one selling point, when ranking Jones (83 catches, 1,409 yards, 6 TDs last year) over Beckham: The Giants have absurd depth at the receiving spot, potentially diluting Beckham’s chances of 100-plus catches and/or double-digit TDs.

3. Jordy Nelson has evolved into the NFC version of Brown, in terms of getting the best bang for your fantasy buck every year. Of his last three seasons, Nelson has stealthily averaged 93 receptions, 1,363 yards and 12 TDs. Of his last 32 games, Nelson has also notched 90 yards and/or one score 23 times.

4. Five years ago, Mike Evans might have entered the 2012 season as fantasy’s No. 1 receiving prospect. In the current climate, though, the Bucs wideout is essentially trapped at the No. 5 slot — for both standard-scoring and Points Per Reception leagues. And that’s a shame, given how Evans enjoyed seismic leaps last year with catches (96), receiving yards (1,321) and touchdowns (12).

What’s more, his quarterback, Jameis Winston, has an unlimited ceiling in the fantasy realm, creating the notion that Evans could hit 100 catches, 1,500 yards or even 13-14 touchdowns this fall. But until that happens, Evans stands to get the ‘Demaryius Thomas Treatment’ from the Peyton Manning days with the Broncos, as in, Yes, he’s a dominant player … but I’m also waiting for the other shoe to drop.

5. There are no worries with Emmanuel Sanders hitting the dreaded age of 30 in March. In fact, I’m rather comfortable with his most recent track record of stats, consistently corralling 78 catches, 136 targets, 1,085 yards and 5.5 touchdowns over a two-year period.

It also helps that neither Bennie Fowler, Jordan Taylor nor Cody Latimer are ready to supplant Sanders as the WR2 in the Denver offense, which averaged 35.6 pass attempts per game last season. That’s a high number, when factoring in how the Broncos had nine games decided by 10 or more points in 2016.

6. Here’s a good indicator of Year 2 ‘upside’ when addressing Michael Thomas: The Ohio State product enjoyed a monster rookie campaign (92 catches, 1,137 yards, 9 TDs) without any dominant stretches. Thomas never had back-to-back games of seven or more receptions; and he didn’t post consecutive outings of 80-plus receiving yards until the final two weeks — rolling for six catches/98 yards and 10 catches/156 yards/1 TDs against the Buccaneers and Falcons, respectively.

7. In 2016, Amari Cooper posted career highs with catches (83), targets (132) and receiving yards (1,153); and yet, there isn’t much top-10 buzz surrounding the Raiders wideout. Here’s why:

a) Cooper didn’t crack the 100-yard mark in November, December or January last season.

b) Citing 32 career games, Cooper has tallied four or fewer receptions 14 times.

c) Cooper has only collected double-digit targets in consecutive games twice.

d) The Alabama star has never scored a touchdown in back-to-back games.

26-50
26. Pierre Garcon, Redskins
27. Michael Crabtree, Raiders
28. Emmanuel Sanders, Broncos
29. Jamison Crowder, Redskins
30. Larry Fitzgerald, Cardinals
31. Rishard Matthews, Titans
32. Brandon Marshall, Giants
33. Cameron Meredith, Bears
34. Randall Cobb, Packers
35. Corey Coleman, Browns
36. Dez Bryant, Cowboys
37. Sterling Shepard, Giants
38. DeSean Jackson, Buccaneers
39. Tyreek Hill, Chiefs
40. Stefon Diggs, Vikings
41. Golden Tate, Lions
42. Donte Moncrief, Colts
43. Willie Snead, Saints
44. Breshad Perriman, Ravens
45. Eric Decker, Jets
46. Martavis Bryant, Steelers
47. Adam Thielen, Vikings
48. Jeremy Maclin, Chiefs
49. Tavon Austin, Rams
50. Allen Hurns, Jaguars

RATIONALE
1. Corey Coleman may be this summer’s most fascinating case study: His Browns are a miserable bunch (at least in the moment), and their quarterbacking quartet of Cody Kessler, Brock Osweiler, Kevin Hogan and rookie DeShone Kizer brings new meaning to the word, Meh.

On the plus side, though, Cleveland has a progressive offensive guru (head coach Hue Jackson), a vacuum to fill at the WR1 slot (Terrelle Pryor joined the Redskins), a strong rushing attack (Isaiah Crowell/Duke Johnson) and a potential star in Coleman, who rolled for five catches, 104 yards and two touchdowns against the Ravens, before going down with a substantive injury.

The best questions to pose:

a) Is Coleman ready to be the primary passing option, especially in lieu of tight end Gary Barnidge getting the boot?

b) And can we take Kenny Britt seriously, in his quest for back-to-back seasons of 1,000 yards receiving?

2. Jamison Crowder enjoyed across-the-board spikes in production last year, accumulating 67 catches, 99 targets, 847 yards and seven touchdowns, while dutifully serving behind DeSean Jackson and Pierre Garcon (both receivers signed elsewhere in March).

So, how will things be different this season? On paper, Pryor (77 catches/1,077 yards/4 TDs last year) is the perfect asset for Jay Gruden‘s vertical offense, and Jordan Reed should be a top-3 tight end in PPR leagues, when healthy.

As such, Crowder’s Year 3 development largely hinges on two factors: His personal penchant for working his butt off during the offseason (within his control) and Josh Doctson‘s ability to overcome a useless rookie campaign, due to injury (completely out of his control).

3. Sorry to be a downer on future Hall of Famer Larry Fitzgerald, who painfully averaged just six catches, 48 yards and 0.1 TDs in his final seven games last season. Fitz still has rock-solid value in PPR drafts (Round 6 or 7), but his standard-scoring value has dipped considerably. (It would drop even lower, if Arizona had a viable WR1 successor.)

Since 2012, Fitzgerald has tallied only three December touchdowns, aka Crunch Time for the fantasy playoffs.

4. From a ‘sleeper’ perspective, I have immense faith in Breshad Perriman becoming relevant in fantasy. But I’m also not blind to the following foible:

The second-year pro (lost rookie season to injury) has never collected five or more receptions in a single game. Ugh.

5. When looking at Willie Snead (heading into Year 3) … the optimist would point to his remarkable consistency with receptions, targets, yardage, games played and touchdowns.

The fantasy pessimist, however, would lament the lack of monster fantasy days — the very lifeblood of daily fantasy success.

For instance, Snead has two career outings of multiple touchdowns, but the averages for the games came out to five catches and 59 yards. Furthermore, if you subtract Snead’s Week 1 demolition of the Raiders last year (9 catches, 172 yards, 1 TD) … he produced averages of only four catches, 52 yards and 0.2 TDs for Weeks 2-17.

51-75
51. Kenny Stills, Dolphins
52. Mohamed Sanu, Falcons
53. Kenny Britt, Browns
54. Chris Hogan, Patriots
55. Corey Davis, Titans
56. Dorial Green-Beckham, Eagles
57. Markus Wheaton, Bears
58. Kamar Aiken, Colts
59. Sammie Coates, Steelers
60. Mike Wallace, Ravens
61. Paul Richardson, Seahawks
62. Mike Williams, Chargers
63. Cole Beasley, Cowboys
64. Ted Ginn Jr., Saints
65. Brandon LaFell, Bengals
66. Jermaine Kearse, Seahawks
67. Kevin White, Bears
68. Robert Woods, Rams
69. John Brown, Cardinals
70. Zay Jones, Bills
71. Torrey Smith, Eagles
72. Taylor Gabriel, Falcons
73. Marqise Lee, Jaguars
74. Laquon Treadwell, Vikings
75. Tyler Lockett, Seahawks

Jay Clemons, the 2015 national winner for “Sports Blog Of The Year” (Cynopsis Media) and 2008 Fantasy Football Writer of the Year (Fantasy Sports Writers Association), can be reached via Twitter, day or night, at @ATL_JayClemons.