Never-Too-Early 2018 Wide Receiver Rankings

Never-Too-Early 2018 Wide Receiver Rankings

By John Paulsen (Director of Forecasting), last update Apr 12, 2018

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John was named the Most Accurate Fantasy Football Expert by FantasyPros for the 2010 and 2014 seasons, and has finished in the Top 6 in seven of the last eight years. Cumulatively, John has been the most accurate expert from 2010-17 while also winning the 2011 Fantasy Sports Trade Association award for the most accurate draft rankings. 

Follow John Paulsen on Twitter: @4for4_John.

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.


Other PositionsQB | RB | TE


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.

Never-Too-Early WR Rankings (2018)
Rank Name Team 2017 PPG 2-YR PPG DIFF
1 Antonio Brown PIT 22.0 21.2 0
2 DeAndre Hopkins HOU 20.7 16.4 0
3 Odell Beckham NYG 18.5 18.5 0
4 Michael Thomas NO 16.2 16.6 1
5 Julio Jones ATL 15.7 17.1 -1
6 Keenan Allen LAC 17.4 17.1 0
7 A.J. Green CIN 14.2 15.9 0
8 Mike Evans TB 13.4 16.2 0
9 Tyreek Hill KC 15.9 14.1 0
10 Davante Adams GB 15.9 15.6 1
11 Doug Baldwin SEA 13.8 14.8 3
12 Adam Thielen MIN 15.0 13.6 -2
13 Stefon Diggs MIN 14.2 14.5 5
14 T.Y. Hilton IND 11.0 14.0 -1
15 Larry Fitzgerald ARI 16.2 15.8 10
16 Jarvis Landry CLE 16.3 15.3 0
17 Golden Tate DET 13.9 13.9 10
18 JuJu Smith-Schuster PIT 13.7 - -1
19 Alshon Jeffery PHI 11.9 12.0 0
20 Marvin Jones DET 14.1 12.8 3
21 Josh Gordon CLE 11.5 - -6
22 Demaryius Thomas DEN 12.9 13.4 7
23 Julian Edelman NE - - 11
24 Allen Robinson CHI 2.7 11.8 0
25 Amari Cooper OAK 11.3 12.8 -5
26 Dez Bryant DAL 11.7 12.6 -4
27 Pierre Garcon SF 11.3 12.1 18
28 Will Fuller HOU 11.3 9.8 5
29 Robert Woods LAR 13.6 11.3 -1
30 Brandin Cooks LAR 13.7 14.5 -18
31 Chris Hogan NE 12.2 9.9 10
32 Jordy Nelson OAK 9.1 14.3 -11
33 Michael Crabtree BAL 12.0 13.5 -3
34 Devin Funchess CAR 12.2 9.0 -3
35 Corey Davis TEN 6.3 - 2
36 Robby Anderson NYJ 12.5 9.8 0
37 Cooper Kupp LAR 11.8 - -5
38 Emmanuel Sanders DEN 9.5 11.7 8
39 Marquise Goodwin SF 10.5 8.3 -13
40 Marqise Lee WR 10.4 10.6 9
41 Jamison Crowder WAS 10.7 11.3 -2
42 Sterling Shepard NYG 13.1 12.2 2
43 Ted Ginn NO 10.6 10.3 8
44 Rishard Matthews TEN 11.2 12.3 10
45 Sammy Watkins KC 9.8 10.0 -10
46 Mohamed Sanu ATL 11.6 10.7 -3
47 Nelson Agholor PHI 11.7 8.8 -9
48 DeVante Parker MIA 10.0 10.2 -8
49 Kelvin Benjamin BUF 9.7 11.1 1
50 Randall Cobb GB 10.5 10.9 2
51 Dede Westbrook JAX 9.6 - -3
52 Martavis Bryant PIT 8.7 - -5
53 Kenny Stills MIA 10.9 10.7 0
54 Calvin Ridley ? - - -
55 Cameron Meredith FA - - 1
56 DeSean Jackson TB 9.9 11.0 4
57 Kenny Golladay DET 8.6 - -2
58 Corey Coleman CLE 7.3 8.4 0
59 Chris Godwin TB 5.8 - 3
60 Tyrell Williams LAC 8.6 11.1 11
61 Tyler Lockett SEA 7.4 7.8 8
62 Paul Richardson WAS 9.4 6.7 -3
63 Josh Doctson WAS 7.5 7.1 -21
64 John Brown BAL 7.0 6.9 15
65 Donte Moncrief JAX 6.4 8.6 -2
66 Mike Williams LAC 2.1 - -5
67 Jeremy Maclin FA 8.5 8.8 -
68 Mike Wallace PHI 10.1 11.4 -3
69 Terrelle Pryor NYJ 5.6 10.5 -5
70 Eric Decker FA 7.3 8.2 -
71 Jordan Matthews FA 5.7 9.5 -
72 Cole Beasley DAL 6.1 9.0 27
73 Keelan Cole JAX 8.3 - -16
74 Geronimo Allison GB 3.1 3.6 10
75 Kendall Wright MIN 7.9 8.0 -
76 Zay Jones BUF 4.7 - -8
77 Jermaine Kearse NYJ 11.0 8.6 -5
78 Danny Amendola MIA 9.3 7.7 -12
79 Willie Snead FA 1.4 8.0 1
80 John Ross CIN - - -7
81 Allen Hurns DAL 9.9 9.5 -14
82 Travis Benjamin LAC 7.8 8.6 0
83 Josh Reynolds LAR 1.8 - 13
84 Brandon Marshall NYG 6.7 9.5 -9
85 Albert Wilson MIA 8.9 6.8 -4
86 Taylor Gabriel CHI 5.1 7.6 2
87 Brandon LaFell CIN 7.8 9.7 11
88 Tyler Boyd CIN 5.7 6.9 7
89 Curtis Samuel CAR 3.7 - -15
90 Jaron Brown FA 6.4 6.0 -

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. 
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