2017 Never-Too-Early Rankings: Wide Receivers

2017 Never-Too-Early Rankings: Wide Receivers

By John Paulsen (Senior Editor), last updated Feb 10, 2017

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John was named the Most Accurate Fantasy Football Expert by FantasyPros for the 2010 and 2014 seasons, finished as runner-up in 2011 and 4th in both 2012 and 2015 for a total of five Top 5 seasons in the last six years. Cumulatively, John was the most accurate expert from 2010-15 while also winning the 2011 Fantasy Sports Trade Association award for the most accurate draft rankings. 

Follow John on Twitter: @4for4_John.

Below you'll find my first take on 2017 rankings for the receiver position. I don't generally like to publish rankings prior to free agency and the draft, but I know that early mocks/drafts have already started up, MFL10s are close behind, and 4for4 subscribers may be wondering where I stand on certain players heading into the offseason.

These rankings will go up one position per day this week, so be sure to check the front page if you’re interested in seeing the other positions.

The rankings are based on PPR scoring systems. I’ve included 2016 points per game, two-year points per game (where applicable) and two-year Coefficient of Variation (CV) which measures how consistent a player is on a week-to-week basis. (The lower the CV, the more consistent the player.) I’ve also included the difference (DIFF) between my rank and the player’s current rank at Fantasy Football Calculator, a site that compiles ADP data for early mock drafts. A positive number means that I'm relatively high on the player while a negative number means -- you guessed it -- that I'm relatively low on the player.

Below the rankings you'll find some discussion about a few players that jump out as particularly good or bad values heading into the spring.

# Player Team 2016 PPG 2YR PPG 2YR CV DIFF
1 Antonio Brown PIT 20.5 21.7 52% 0
2 Odell Beckham NYG 19.1 20.6 44% 0
3 Julio Jones ATL 18.3 20.8 54% 0
4 Jordy Nelson GB 19.5 19.5 45% 2
5 Mike Evans TB 18.8 17.1 52% -1
6 A.J. Green CIN 18.6 17.9 61% -1
7 T.Y. Hilton IND 17.1 15.3 57% 0
8 Dez Bryant DAL 15.0 12.8 66% 0
9 Doug Baldwin SEA 16.5 16.9 59% 3
10 Michael Thomas NO 16.0 16.0 46% -1
11 Brandin Cooks NO 16.1 16.3 57% 3
12 Amari Cooper OAK 14.2 14.5 57% -2
13 DeAndre Hopkins HOU 11.9 16.4 52% 0
14 Michael Crabtree OAK 15.2 14.9 51% 9
15 Julian Edelman NE 13.2 15.5 43% 1
16 Larry Fitzgerald ARI 15.3 16.4 48% 8
17 Allen Robinson JAX 12.3 15.7 62% -2
18 Davante Adams GB 14.9 12.3 71% 1
19 Demaryius Thomas DEN 14.4 15.3 36% 3
20 Emmanuel Sanders DEN 14.2 15.1 62% 10
21 Alshon Jeffery CHI 13.1 15.1 45% 0
22 Jarvis Landry MIA 13.8 15.4 45% -2
23 Keenan Allen SD 12.3 19.3 59% -12
24 Sammy Watkins BUF 10.8 15.0 67% -7
25 Tyreek Hill KC 12.5 12.5 54% -7
26 Stefon Diggs MIN 14.9 13.6 62% 6
27 Eric Decker NYJ 13.5 16.3 31% 6
28 Golden Tate DET 13.4 13.4 58% -2
29 Terrelle Pryor CLE 13.0 12.2 74% -1
30 Tyrell Williams SD 13.6 13.6 50% -
31 Martavis Bryant PIT - 16.9 53% 0
32 Rishard Matthews TEN 12.3 12.7 51% 3
33 Donte Moncrief IND 11.4 11.5 58% -6
34 Kelvin Benjamin CAR 11.7 11.7 66% -5
35 Brandon Marshall NYJ 10.4 15.6 56% -10
36 Jamison Crowder WAS 12.5 9.9 67% -2
37 DeSean Jackson WAS 12.5 12.7 54% -1
38 Jordan Matthews PHI 12.2 13.0 57% 3
39 Kenny Britt LA 13.1 11.4 56% 12
40 Willie Snead NO 12.9 13.2 51% 12
41 Randall Cobb GB 11.4 12.2 62% -4
42 Mike Wallace BAL 12.9 10.3 60% 5
43 Sterling Shepard NYG 11.8 11.8 49% -3
44 Corey Coleman CLE 9.3 9.3 79% 0
45 Jeremy Maclin KC 9.1 13.1 63% -3
46 DeVante Parker MIA 10.4 10.3 61% 4
47 Michael Floyd ARI 7.4 10.1 74% -8
48 Adam Thielen MIN 12.9 10.0 100% -
49 Marvin Jones DET 11.4 11.2 69% 4
50 Marqise Lee JAX 10.5 8.5 67% -2
51 Cameron Meredith CHI 12.7 10.8 83% -
52 Pierre Garcon WAS 12.5 12.0 39% -
53 Kevin White CHI 9.7 9.7 28% 1
54 Cole Beasley DAL 12.1 10.4 67% 1
55 Tyler Lockett SEA 8.3 9.7 82% -6
56 Brandon LaFell CIN 11.5 10.4 64% -
57 Taylor Gabriel ATL 10.8 7.9 85% -
58 Kenny Stills MIA 10.3 9.3 68% 10
59 Ted Ginn CAR 9.8 11.4 66% -16
60 Anquan Boldin DET 10.5 11.1 53% 3
61 Chris Hogan NE 8.7 8.2 79% -1
62 Tavon Austin LA 10.3 11.3 69% -1
63 Mohamed Sanu ATL 9.5 7.7 75% -4
64 Paul Richardson SEA 3.4 3.5 108% 1
65 Allen Hurns JAX 9.2 12.8 62% -
66 Breshad Perriman BAL 6.1 6.1 72% 0
67 Tyler Boyd CIN 7.8 7.8 64% -9
68 John Brown ARI 7.1 11.0 70% -6
69 Will Fuller HOU 9.0 9.0 73% -5
70 Travis Benjamin SD 9.5 11.2 68% -3

Coming off an ACL tear, Jordy Nelson got off to a slow start, and was the #30 WR through Week 7 despite five touchdowns in his first six games. From that point on, he was the #1 receiver in both standard and PPR formats, averaging 7.0 catches for 94 yards and 0.90 TD (on 10.1 T/G).

In 22 games over the last two seasons with Andrew Luck under center, T.Y. Hilton has averaged 5.4 catches for 88 yards and 0.41 TD per game. He finished the 2016 season as the #5 receiver in both standard and PPR formats.

Dez Bryant’s per game output dropped a bit in 2016, but he still averaged a solid 4.2 catches for 66 yards and 0.71 TD per game with Dak Prescott throwing the ball. He capped off his year with a nine-catch, 132-yard, two-touchdown effort against the Packers, which was his second two-touchdown game in his final three games. The Cowboys are primarily a running team, which has led to some quiet weeks for Bryant.

Doug Baldwin has finished in the top 9 in two consecutive seasons, and hasn’t missed a game since 2012. Over the past two years, he has averaged 5.4 catches for 69 yards and 0.66 TD (on 7.1 T/G).

Michael Crabtree was a nice value in 2016 – he was going in the 6th/7th round and finished the season as the #12 WR. Early ADP has him going near the 4th/5th turn, so he’s looking like a good value this year as well. Over the past two seasons, in 31 games with Derek Carr, Crabtree is averaging 5.5 catches for 61 yards and 0.55 TD (on 9.1 T/G).

Larry Fitzgerald finished #10 in PPR formats, but averaged just 13.0 FP over the final eight games after averaging 17.9 PPG in the first half of the season. Early ADP has him going in the 5th round, so he should continue to be a good value at that point in fantasy drafts, especially in PPR formats.

I (somewhat foolishly as it turns out) thought that Brock Osweiler would be an upgrade over the three-headed QB that the Texans utilized in 2015, and that DeAndre Hopkins was quarterback-proof. Houston’s quarterback situation should be closely monitored this offseason. If the Texans can land a proven passer, Hopkins could find himself back in the 1st round of fantasy drafts.

Speaking of QB situations, will the Broncos make a move to upgrade the position? Trevor Siemian was decent, but the team’s passing game should be able to produce more given their good receiver duo of Demaryius Thomas and Emmanuel Sanders. If they get a better quarterback (Tony Romo?), they could move up the rankings quickly. Sanders already looks undervalued.

In nine games he’s played over the past two seasons – I know, that’s a serious red flag – Keenan Allen is averaging 8.1 receptions for 88 yards and 0.44 TD (19.5 PPG). For his career, he is averaging 5.8 catches for 69 yards and 0.42 TD (15.3 PPG). If he stays healthy, he should provide low-end WR2 numbers, though the emergence of Tyrell Williams is a concern for Allen’s volume (and upside).

Tyreek Hill averaged 71 total yards and 0.64 TD in his final 10 regular season games (15.3 PPG). HC Andy Reid has indicated that Hill’s snaps (41% for the year) could “double” and it sounded like Reid was planning to start Hill in the slot. Per 4for4's Player Snap App, among players who played at least 40% of their team's snaps, Hill ranked first in fantasy points per snap in both standard and PPR formats. He was the #11 fantasy receiver (PPR) after his team's Week 5 bye. His fantasy value will be a hot topic this offseason. Will he be the next Cordarrelle Patterson, or is he destined for something more? It does seem like Reid knows how to use Hill’s talents.

Stefon Diggs got off to a blistering start, catching 16 passes for 285 yards and a touchdown (on 20 targets) through the first two weeks. Throughout the year, Diggs was on and off the injury report, and there was a stark contrast in his production. In the seven games where he was listed on the injury report at some point during the week, he averaged 4.0 catches for 37 yards and 0.14 TD. In those games, he never cracked the 60-yard mark and found the end zone just once. In the six games where Diggs was not on the injury report, he averaged 9.3 catches for 107 yards and 0.33 TD (on 11.5 T/G). He cracked the 60-yard mark in five of six such games and gained 100-plus yards three times.

From Week 4 on, Rishard Matthews averaged 4.2 catches for 65 yards and 0.69 TD on 6.9 T/G; he was the #12 WR in that span. We’ll see what the Titans do this offseason to bolster their receiving corps, but Matthews looks like a nice value in the middle rounds.

Filed Under: w21, 2016

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