2017 Early Rankings: Wide Receivers

2017 Early Rankings: Wide Receivers

By John Paulsen (Senior Editor) on Mar 29, 2017

John Paulsen's picture

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% 6
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% 1
8 Dez Bryant DAL 15.0 12.8 66% -1
9 Michael Thomas NO 16.0 16.0 46% -3
10 Doug Baldwin SEA 16.5 16.9 59% 6
11 Amari Cooper OAK 14.2 14.5 57% -2
12 DeAndre Hopkins HOU 11.9 16.4 52% -1
13 Brandin Cooks NE 16.1 16.3 57% 0
14 Michael Crabtree OAK 15.2 14.9 51% 8
15 Larry Fitzgerald ARI 15.3 16.4 48% 16
16 Allen Robinson JAX 12.3 15.7 62% -4
17 Demaryius Thomas DEN 14.4 15.3 36% 2
18 Emmanuel Sanders DEN 14.2 15.1 62% 9
19 Davante Adams GB 14.9 12.3 71% 1
20 Alshon Jeffery PHI 13.1 15.1 45% -3
21 Jarvis Landry MIA 13.8 15.4 45% -3
22 Keenan Allen LAC 12.3 19.3 59% -8
23 Sammy Watkins BUF 10.8 15.0 67% -8
24 Julian Edelman NE 13.2 15.5 43% 2
25 Stefon Diggs MIN 14.9 13.6 62% -2
26 Golden Tate DET 13.4 13.4 58% -1
27 Eric Decker NYJ 13.5 16.3 31% 15
28 Tyreek Hill KC 12.5 12.5 54% 1
29 Terrelle Pryor WAS 13.0 12.2 74% -8
30 Tyrell Williams LAC 13.6 13.6 50% 10
31 Brandon Marshall NYG 10.4 15.6 56% 1
32 Martavis Bryant PIT - 16.9 53% 11
33 Rishard Matthews TEN 12.3 12.7 51% 6
34 Willie Snead NO 12.9 13.2 51% 0
35 Donte Moncrief IND 11.4 11.5 58% -11
36 Jamison Crowder WAS 12.5 9.9 67% -6
37 Randall Cobb GB 11.4 12.2 62% 0
38 Kelvin Benjamin CAR 11.7 11.7 66% -10
39 Pierre Garcon SF 12.5 12.0 39% 6
40 DeSean Jackson TB 12.5 12.7 54% -5
41 Jordan Matthews PHI 12.2 13.0 57% -5
42 Kenny Britt CLE 13.1 11.4 56% 12
43 Kenny Stills MIA 10.3 9.3 68% 17
44 Corey Coleman CLE 9.3 9.3 79% -11
45 Mike Wallace BAL 12.9 10.3 60% 13
46 Jeremy Maclin KC 9.1 13.1 63% 2
47 Adam Thielen MIN 12.9 10.0 100% 5
48 Cameron Meredith CHI 12.7 10.8 83% -4
49 Marvin Jones DET 11.4 11.2 69% 6
50 Marqise Lee JAX 10.5 8.5 67% 11
51 Ted Ginn NO 9.8 11.4 66% 13
52 DeVante Parker MIA 10.4 10.3 61% -11
53 Kevin White CHI 9.7 9.7 28% -4
54 John Brown ARI 7.1 11.0 70% -4
55 Cole Beasley DAL 12.1 10.4 67% 18
56 Sterling Shepard NYG 11.8 11.8 49% -5
57 Tyler Lockett SEA 8.3 9.7 82% -4
58 Brandon LaFell CIN 11.5 10.4 64% 26
59 Tavon Austin LAR 10.3 11.3 69% 10
60 Mohamed Sanu ATL 9.5 7.7 75% 17
61 Allen Hurns JAX 9.2 12.8 62% 10
62 Breshad Perriman BAL 6.1 6.1 72% -5
63 Chris Hogan NE 8.7 8.2 79% 16
64 Taylor Gabriel ATL 10.8 7.9 85% 2
65 Tyler Boyd CIN 7.8 7.8 64% 3
66 Will Fuller HOU 9.0 9.0 73% -10
67 Torrey Smith PHI 5.4 7.1 90% 13
68 Robby Anderson NYJ 7.1 7.1 87% 17
69 Robert Woods LAR 9.2 9.2 70% -2
70 Josh Doctson WAS 4.3 4.3 79% -23
71 Malcolm Mitchell NE 6.9 6.9 110% -8
72 Tajae Sharpe TEN 7.0 7.0 78% 9
73 Brian Quick WAS 7.5 5.8 91% -
74 Travis Benjamin LAC 9.5 11.2 68% 8
75 Quincy Enunwa NYJ 10.4 8.7 67% -13
76 Eli Rogers PIT 9.5 9.5 64% 7
77 Anquan Boldin - 10.5 11.1 53% -
78 Paul Richardson SEA 3.4 3.5 108% -
79 Devin Funchess CAR 5.6 6.0 80% -5
80 Marquess Wilson CHI 10.3 8.6 95% -
81 Kendall Wright CHI 8.2 8.9 86% 5
82 J.J. Nelson ARI 9.1 10.0 86% -17
83 Michael Floyd - 7.4 10.1 74% -
84 Kamar Aiken IND 4.2 8.6 80% -8
85 Eddie Royal CHI 9.1 8.3 76% -
86 Jeremy Kerley SF 9.0 8.9 75% -
87 Marquise Goodwin SF 6.3 6.2 97% -
88 Greg Salas BUF 9.5 9.5 141% -
89 Terrance Williams DAL 7.5 8.3 61% -
90 Laquon Treadwell MIN 0.4 0.4 - -15

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. I'm looking at you, Tony Romo.

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, 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. The Titans haven't done anything to bolster their receiving corps, so Matthews looks like a nice value in the middle rounds.

Eric Decker has averaged 15.0 PPG (PPR) over the past three seasons. He should see a ton of targets for the Jets, assuming he's healthy for Week 1. (Reports on his recovery have been positive.) Quarterback is an obvious red flag, but Josh McCown is capable of feeding the ball to Decker.

Martavis Bryant still needs to be reinstated by the league, but he appears to be on track to return in 2017. He averaged 3.6 catches for 63 yards and 0.67 TD from 2014-15.

Pierre Garcon turns 31 in August, but is coming off a season where he caught 79 passes for 1,041 yards and three touchdowns. In fact, he has at least 68 catches in four straight seasons. In San Francisco, he’ll be reunited with his former offensive coordinator, Kyle Shanahan. In Shanahan’s last year in Washington, Garcon caught 113 passes for 1346 yards and five scores. He’s four years older now, but should see heavy volume playing for Shanahan.

Filed Under: Preseason, 2017

We are your friend's secret weapon.

  • Get 4 FREE downloads
  • Receive breaking news alerts & analysis.
  • Battle-Tested by 40,000+ fantasy football diehards since 1999.