Fantasy Football 2017: Wide receiver rankings 2.0 features risers, fallers
Aug. 25 (UPI) — It’s finally here. Most of your mock drafting should be complete. You should be well-read on the latest fantasy football magazines and have those sleepers buried in the back of your brain.
If you are one of the unlucky fantasy football players with a draft during the preseason, you still could be in for a scare from a fluke injury or suspension. But either way, you should pay close attention to rankings updates and camp battles to best arm your squad for glory.
Although last season seemed to be the year of the wide receiver in fantasy football circles, there are still plenty of strong pass-catching candidates worthy of going high in your draft. If you are the type of owner who wants to build your team around skilled wide outs, you’re going to need to snatch these guys up early and also eye some depth in sleepers with high ceilings.
That is why we have ranked our top 100 wide receivers for your 2017 fantasy football draft kit. Feel free to also check out our Top 150 players overall this year in fantasy football.
SCROLL DOWN FOR TOP 100
For clarity, here are some of the best pass-catchers to look out for in five separate tiers, as well as some unheralded sleepers.
HALL OF FAME
Only David Johnson and Le’Veon Bell are worthy of being selected before Atlanta Falcons star Julio Jones in fantasy football drafts this year. That is, unless you are a wide-receiver-centric owner. Jones had a ridiculous 1,871 yards on 136 receptions in 2015. He responded with his second straight All-Pro campaign in 2016, snagging 83 receptions for 1,409 yards and six scores. Jones leads the league with 108.7 receiving yards per game over the last two seasons. He’s due for another huge season this year catching passes for 2016 NFL MVP Matt Ryan. Jones faces just one pass defense this season that finished in the top 5 for fewest fantasy points allowed to receivers in 2016.
Cincinnati Bengals wide receiver A.J. Green somehow does not get enough publicity. Green has maintained a quiet swagger throughout his six-year career. He has been to the Pro Bowl every season and remains unquestionably the Bengals’ best offensive weapon. This season, the Bengals’ running game is expected to get a jumpstart from second-round pick Joe Mixon. Burner John Ross will demand attention in the slot. Tight end Tyler Eifert is expected to be on the field at the start of the season. What is not to like about Green? If you are looking for safety at the start of your draft — which you should be — take Green. Green finished 36 yards short of his sixth-consecutive 1,000-yard season in 2016, playing in just 10 games due to injury. This year he will see from 120-150 targets in this offense. He has at least 10 scores and 1,200 receiving yards in every season in which he has been targeted at least 132 times.
With the cloud of injury hovering over Odell Beckham Jr., Green is now my No. 3 wide receiver. But Beckham doesn’t slip too far. His talent keeps him locked in as a top-5 player at the position, just ahead of the next tier of pass catchers.
With Brandin Cooks out of the picture, Michael Thomas is Drew Brees‘ No. 1 option for the New Orleans Saints. That’s always a good thing in fantasy football. The Saints’ present talent had to be a factor in their willingness to shed Cooks to the New England Patriots. Thomas is the best they have. I don’t expect a sophomore slump in this spot like Evans. Thomas had 121 targets last season and he only started 12 games. He finished the year with 1,137 yards and nine scores. At this time next year, we will be pondering Thomas as a possible first-round option.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers wide out Mike Evans is another stud to build your team around. He should likely be taken in the second round in larger leagues as a second wide receiver or a complement to a top-tier running back. But Evans is in no way a complement to the Buccaneers’ offense. He is Jameis Winston‘s favorite weapon. And this year’s Buccaneers are absolutely loaded. Evans was a questionable early-round pick last season. Fantasy football team owners were worried after Evans followed up his stellar rookie season with just three scores in 2015. He rebounded in 2016, setting career highs with 96 receptions, 1,321 receiving yards and 12 touchdowns. Like Green, Evans has a burner complement in DeSean Jackson. He now also has some help down the seam in rookie O.J. Howard and established tight end Cameron Brate. Look for another big year for both Evans and Winston in this sizzling offense.
SCROLL DOWN FOR TOP 100
Terrelle Pryor had to be Mr. Do Everything last season for the Cleveland Browns. Now he’ll be Kirk Cousins‘ best option in the Washington Redskins‘ pass-heavy offense. Pryor will truly get a chance to show off his receiving ability in 2017 in this prolific offense. He should be the biggest benefactor of Cousins playing for his mega contract. Pryor has been impressive in training camp and looks the part of a No. 1 wide out. He should be looked at as a WR2 in your draft and is a great target if you decide to get running-back-heavy early on. I’m expecting career-highs in receiving yards and touchdowns here, putting Pryor at a possible nine receiving scores and over 1,200 yards.
JUST NAPPING [EARLY TO MID-ROUND SLEEPERS]
Oakland Raiders pass catcher Michael Crabtree had a renaissance of sorts over the last two seasons. He has 17 touchdowns and nearly 2,000 receiving yards in 32 contests since joining the franchise. He also has 29 more targets than Amari Cooper. Crabtree screams consistency in this offense. The only reason he isn’t ranked higher for me is due to the division he plays in. With four matchups against the stellar Denver Broncos and Kansas City Chiefs secondaries, he value is slightly decreased.
Crabtree is a high-end WR2.
DRIFTING OFF [MID TO LATE-ROUND TARGETS]