2017 Never-Too-Early Rankings: Wide Receivers
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|
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.