Wide receiver might be the sexiest position in all of sports. Right up there with point guard and Kevin Kiermaier.
But in fantasy football, it’s important to be mindful of where you’re drafting them because the position is so loaded. In all reality, you’re going to stumble upon a receiver in the eighth round that will match the production of one or two guys drafted in the fourth.
It’s the ultimate test of navigating high variance.
That’s why I try to organize my receivers into tiers rather than rank them in one list. Instead, I’m going to go round by round and list all of the receivers I would feel comfortable drafting in that round (for leagues of 10 or 12).
Here’s Blen’s 2015 fantasy football WR preview.
Julio Jones, Antonio Brown, Dez Bryant, and Demaryius Thomas.
Just because I would draft all four in the first round doesn’t mean you have to. It means if you find them still available when your second round pick comes around, take them without hesitating.
It’s basically a guarantee they’ll outscore those second and third tier of running backs that will probably be there in that second round.
Alshon Jeffery is the only receiver I would take in the second round, and you’d probably be reaching in the eyes of your peers. But I am not your peer, I am your sherpa.
I think Alshon Jeffery finishes 2015 as the WR5 in fantasy football. Am I higher on him than most? Of course. But I’m willing to put my name behind that.
I like Jeffery over T.Y. Hilton, OBJ, and A.J. Green – and I’d be willing to spend a second round pick on him if the above four guys are all gone.
You’re going to see a slew of wide receivers taken in the third round, and it’ll be your time to attack if you went RB/RB or drafted a QB with either of your first two selections.
This is where I’m targeting A.J Green, Calvin Johnson, Odell Beckham, Jr., Randall Cobb, TY Hilton, and Mike Evans.
Now, a lot of people have already asked me what Jordy Nelson’s injury means for Randall Cobb’s fantasy value. The short answer is nothing. Cobb is a gimmick player, and a really good one at that, but his role in the Packers offense isn’t going to change because of Nelson’s knee.
If anything, it may cause him to see more attention from defenses. I’ve been treating Cobb the same as I did prior to Nelson’s injury, and still view him the same after his shoulder injury.
T.Y. Hilton, who got paid handsomely this offseason, also just suffered a concussion in the Colts’ last preseason game. Those two facts, combined with Indy’s crowded passing attack, means Hilton will struggle to finish as a top 10 fantasy receiver in 2015.
A.J. Green and Calvin Johnson are safe options too, but they’re not scratching that ‘elite’ status like they once were. Green is severely limited by the inability of his quarterback, while Megatron has had trouble staying on the field.
And you may already know my thoughts on Odell.
You’re going to find a lot of recent risers in these next two rounds and for good reason. There’s a ton of young talent around the league in plus opportunities. In round four, you should look for the upside of guys like DeAndre Hopkins, Brandin Cooks, Emmanuel Sanders, Jordan Matthews, and Jeremy Maclin.
Most will say Maclin is flying up draft boards because they whiffed on their initial projections of him. But Maclin’s time in Philly was a representation of his talent more than it was a representation of Chip Kelly’s system at work.
Maybe I’m just saying that because I saw him dominate at Missouri, but it’s evident that the Chiefs are going to scheme for Maclin rather than fit him into their own.
Overall, this range is headlined by established young receivers. You have Cooks and Matthews coming off promising rookie years, and DeAndre Hopkins is now the No. 1 option in Houston entering his third season.
Amari Cooper, Davante Adams, and Golden Tate.
Davante Adams’ production is going to skyrocket because of Jordy Nelson’s injury as it’s likely he’ll absorb a lot of Nelson’s target share. Last season, when Adams was targeted more than seven times in a game, he averaged 6.2 receptions and 88 yards.
He wasn’t efficient when you look at the big picture, but he was quite productive when the Packers needed him to be.
Cooper is a monster. I already said that (LINK) and only grow fonder of him by the day.
Tate is a PPR-type player, but you can never go wrong with them to balance out a roster. Just don’t wait too long thinking you can lean on them.
Round 6 presents a lot of boom or bust candidates in terms of receivers, like Mike Wallace, DeSean Jackson, Sammy Watkins, Keenan Allen, Vincent Jackson, Jarvis Landry, Andre Johnson and Julian Edelman.
Notice a lot of these guys are ‘big play’ guys — Wallace and Jackson specifically. It’s taken just about every fiber in my body to justify DeSean Jackson in the sixth round, but I have. There’s no question Kirk Cousins makes him a safer fantasy option.
In Cousins’ six starts for the Redskins, D-Jax has produced three top 10 weeks. Those are numbers I simply can’t ignore.
DeSean Jackson in Kirk Cousins' five starts last year: WR9, WR81, WR3, WR13, WR52. Six rec. of 25+ yards. 19.7% of the team targets.
— Rich Hribar (@LordReebs) September 2, 2015
Keenan Allen fell victim to a sophomore slump/shoulder injury, but he’s a very interesting bounce back candidate as the No. 1 in a pass-heavy offense.
He, like Jarvis Landry, are strong PPR options. My only concern is their touchdown production.
Rounds 7, 8, and 9
Now we’re getting into the nitty-gritty, digging deep and searching for guys who will legitimately help our team.
Steve Smith and Anquan Boldin are two veterans that should have above-average seasons for where you’ll draft them at. Larry Fitzgerald is another one, though I prefer his younger and more versatile teammate John Brown (and Michael Floyd).
Eric Decker should develop a nice rapport with Ryan Fitzpatrick, but I have a general rule to avoid all things New York Jets.
I like rookies Nelson Agholor and Devin Funchess in that latter half of these three rounds but I’m not drafting them over Charles Johnson, Allen Robinson, and Martavis Bryant (even with his suspension).
I will, however, make a strong case for Agholor and Funchess over Roddy White, Torrey Smith, and Marques Colston. Not everyone thinks this way, but I like to find opportunities for major upside rather than play it safe.
Cordarrelle Patterson 107 yard kickoff return TD pic.twitter.com/4GYcjShnY9
— gifdsports (@gifdsports) August 29, 2015
I generally dislike the word ‘sleeper.’ If I’m talking about the damn guy he’s obviously not sleeping, and if you hear me talk about him, then you know about him too.
But there are receivers worth filling out your roster with in the later rounds. Guys who some will deem ‘wasted picks’ but could turn out to benefit your team come playoff time. I’m talking DaVante Parker, Markus Wheaton, Stevie Johnson, Cordarrelle Patterson (not a joke), and Kamar Aiken.
Do not—let me repeat—do not draft Reggie Wayne. I will laugh at you.
It’s also not a bad move to round out your roster by taking a shot on one of the upside rookies that are out there. However, like I talked about here, just temper you expectations of them.