Never-Too-Early 2018 Wide Receiver Rankings
Below you'll find my second stab at 2018 rankings for the wide receiver position.
The rankings are based on PPR scoring systems. I’ve included 2017 points per game and two-year points per game (where applicable). I’ve also included the difference (DIFF) between my rank and the player’s current average draft position (ADP) of 12-team PPR best ball drafts at DRAFT. 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 poor values heading into the spring.
|Rank||Name||Team||2017 PPG||2-YR PPG||DIFF|
A Few Notable Players:
- It looks like the ADP of JuJu Smith-Schuster is significantly higher at DRAFT than it was at Fantasy Football Calculator, which was my ADP source for the first iteration of these rankings. He wasn’t targeted in his first NFL game, but starting in Week 2, he averaged 4.4 catches (on 6.0 targets) for 66 yards and 0.57 touchdowns per game. The resulting 14.4 PPR fantasy points equate to top 10 numbers at his position. After the team’s Week 9 bye, he never played less than 80% of the snaps, so he basically became a full-time player for the Steelers.
- Larry Fitzgerald and Golden Tate should continue to return good value, especially in PPR formats. Fitzgerald finished No. 5 in PPR leagues last year and should have a better QB situation now that Sam Bradford is under contract. Tate has finished No. 12 and No. 17 in the last two seasons and is the 27th receiver off the board. Go figure.
- I also like Tate's teammate, Marvin Jones. He finished as the No. 11 receiver in PPR and No. 5 in standard formats, yet he’s the 23rd receiver off the board at DRAFT. (Like Smith-Schuster, Jones is going much later at FFC.) He has stability at quarterback and offensive coordinator, and the Lions are unlikely to use an early pick at receiver after finding Kenny Golladay last year, but Golladay doesn’t look poised to threaten Jones’ role at this point. Jones never played less than 90% of the snaps in 2017 and saw at least five targets in 13 of his 16 games, posting a top 5 finish in air yards.
- I’m low on Josh Gordon, though he has moved up a bit after the Browns acquired Tyrod Taylor as a stopgap quarterback. In Gordon's last 10 games (five each in 2017 and 2014), he averaged 4.2 catches (on 8.9 targets) for 64 yards and 0.10 touchdowns. Production-wise, that's a far cry from his monster 2013 season.
- I was targeting Pierre Garcon heavily in 2017 and will do so again in 2018 with Jimmy Garoppollo under center. He was on pace for 87 catches for 1100-plus yards on 144 targets (top 20 numbers in PPR formats) through his first seven games, prior to his neck injury. He’s an extremely safe pick in the sixth round.
- Sterling Shepard finished with the No. 21 per game average (PPR) serving as the de facto No. 1 receiver for the Giants after the team lost both Odell Beckham and Brandon Marshall to season-ending injuries. Shepard only managed to play 11 games in 2017, but averaged 5.4 receptions (on 7.6 targets) for 66 yards and 0.18 touchdowns per game. With Beckham back (and Marshall a likely cap casualty), Shepard should serve as the No. 2 receiver for the G-men, and may see a slight dip in targets as a result. On the flip side, Shepard should benefit from the defensive attention that Beckham will draw, so his efficiency should increase.
- Calvin Ridley seems to be the consensus No. 1 rookie receiver in this year’s draft. He’ll probably land with a team that will need him to play immediately. Last year’s crop of first round receivers (Corey Davis, Mike Williams, John Ross) did not fare particularly well. 2016’s first round receivers (Corey Coleman, Will Fuller, Josh Doctson and Laquon Treadwell) were pretty spotty as well. Fuller had his moments as a rookie, but the other three had disappointing seasons.
- The Jacksonville receiver situation will be fun to watch this offseason. Allen Robinson is gone and Marqise Lee is back, and the Jaguars brought in Donte Moncrief to shore up the position. From Week 2 to Week 14, Lee averaged 4.7 catches (on 7.7 targets) for 59 yards and 0.25 touchdowns per game. Rookie Dede Westbrook averaged 7.3 targets per game from Week 11 to Week 17 and undrafted rookie Keelan Cole had three straight games with at least 99 yards late in the season. This receiving corps is deep but it lacks a clear No. 1 option. I think Lee is the best bet to assume that role.
- The Brandin Cooks trade came out of left field and the impact will be felt in both teams' receiving corps. For the Rams, Robert Woods and Cooper Kupp should be downgraded slightly since they were going to enjoy a jump in targets with Sammy Watkins out of the way. Now those targets (and perhaps more) will go to the speedy Cooks. Speaking of Cooks, he's seeing a downgrade at quarterback and his role will likely be reduced in L.A., so he drops in my rankings from a fringe WR1 to a fantasy WR3. In New England, his departure is great news for Chris Hogan and Julian Edelman, who both moved up significantly in my rankings. If the Patriots swing a trade for Odell Beckham or draft a receiver early, we'll have to reassess.
Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images.