2017 Standard Ranking Analysis - Wide Receiver

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With the NFL season just around the corner, it's time to check in with the Rotoballer experts and see what they're thinking about at the wide receiver position. Whether you're getting ready for a last minute draft or trying to figure out your lineup for Week 1, we're here to help.

The wide receiver position looks strong this year, especially with the NFL trending more and more toward being a pass first league. With the running back position becoming less reliable as well--teams are running less and also running with more player rotations--there's been an uptick in receivers at the top of the draft. Remember those days when everyone just told you to go running back in round one? Yeah, things have changed.

Our experts have ranked the players at the receiver position and placed them in tiers that correspond to their relative values. I'm here to breakdown those choices and tell you why you should listen to them--and maybe to occasionally tell you when not to.

Editor's note: Purchase any NFL Lineup Optimizer pass (including daily DFS cheat sheets), and you also get access to NBA and NHL Optimizers and DFS cheat sheets.

 

Standard Wide Receiver Tiered Rankings

Tier 1

1) Antonio Brown, Pittsburgh Steelers
2) Julio Jones, Atlanta Falcons
3) Odell Beckham Jr., New York Giants
4) Mike Evans, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
5) Jordy Nelson, Green Bay Packers

The Steelers feature one of the league's most explosive offenses. Running back Le'Veon Bell is a consensus top two player at his position. His presence makes the dangerous and very talented Antonio Brown even more dangerous--teams have to focus on stopping both players, which in turns leads to them both getting good opportunities. Brown's only major issue is that he could struggle if (or, you know, when since it always seems to happen) quarterback Ben Roethlisberger misses time.

Julio Jones, Odell Beckham Jr., and Mike Evans are all among the most talented players in the NFL. Beckham is currently a little banged up, but all three are very safe picks. Jones has the advantage because he has the best quarterback of the group. Jordy Nelson is the top receiver on a team that has Aaron Rodgers. Even if he's older than these other guys and not exactly as skilled, he'll have tons of chances to put up points.

 

Tier 2

1) A.J. Green, Cincinnati Bengals
2) Michael Thomas, New Orleans Saints
3) Dez Bryant, Dallas Cowboys
4) Amari Cooper, Oakland Raiders
5) Brandin Cooks, New England Patriots

A.J. Green has Tier 1 talent but the fact he only played ten games last year downgrades him a little bit. He should rebound in 2017 and put up big numbers. Remember all those years when it was tough to trust a Saints receiver because you'd never know which one would go off which week? That's changed. Michael Thomas is going to have a really, really strong season. He'll be consistent on a week-to-week basis. The Willie Snead suspension will only up his stock. Dez Bryant, like Green, is hugely talented. But there's a bit of an inconsistent streak there that knocks him down a few spots.

Amari Cooper can disappear at times because he's got the best WR2 of anyone in the first two tiers, Michael Crabtree. He's a very good player who will have a lot of good games, but there will be times when Crabtree grabs the spotlight. Brandin Cooks is going to really enjoy playing with Tom Brady. I don't think we're talking Randy Moss in New England-type stuff, but he'll have himself a very nice season.

 

Tier 3

1) Doug Baldwin, Seattle Seahawks
2) T.Y. Hilton, Indianapolis Colts
3) DeAndre Hopkins, Houston Texans
4) Demaryius Thomas, Denver Broncos
5) Keenan Allen, Los Angeles Chargers
6) Alshon Jeffery, Philadelphia Eagles

Doug Baldwin has finished the last two years as a top ten wide receiver. Seattle's backfield is not very good, which means that they'll be throwing the ball a good amount. Baldwin should be in line to finish in the top ten again. T.Y. Hilton's potential depends a lot on Andrew Luck. If Luck returns soon, Hilton has top ten potential. If he doesn't, he likely ends up more in the 15-20 range. I know that the number one receiver on teams with bad quarterbacks often excel, but this is a team who will be starting Scott Tolzien. They aren't doing much offensively without Luck.

DeAndre Hopkins looks like he's developed some chemistry with quarterback Tom Savage. If that happens, he'll rebound from last season's debacle. The good news for Demaryius Thomas is that the curse that destroyed Hopkins, Brock Osweiler, probably won't see the field for the Denver Broncos this year. Thomas feels like he's been a solid player forever and that shouldn't change.

A healthy Keenan Allen would be scary for opposing defenses. A healthy Keenan Allen. We'll see. Alshon Jeffery has a chance to succeed in Philadelphia with quarterback Carson Wentz. He also has a chance to fail there. A lot depends on Wentz's development. I like Jeffery at this value, though I could see a case for pushing him down a little.

 

Tier 4

1) Terrelle Pryor, Washington Redskins
2) Tyreek Hill, Kansas City Chiefs
3) Michael Crabtree, Oakland Raiders
4) Davante Adams, Green Bay Packers
5) Allen Robinson, Jacksonville Jaguars

The tier of flawed but intriguing players. Pryor was very good with Cleveland last year, but he's still fairly new to the position after entering the NFL as a quarterback. We'll see how he adjusts to a new offensive scheme. Tyreek Hill has to prove he can do more than gimmick play. Can he run great routes? Can he be the number one receiver on a team? Will that adjustment end up taking away the other parts of his game--the end arounds, the electrifying punt returns?

Crabtree and Adams are both number two receivers on strong offenses, which means there will be games where they go off and games where they don't see enough targets. Allen Robinson is coming off a very disappointing season and will have Blake Bortles as his quarterback again. He seems equally as likely to either rebound or continue his downward slide. He's a good risk to take, but he's definitely a risk.

 

Tier 5

1) Golden Tate, Detroit Lions
2) Martavis Bryant, Pittsburgh Steelers
3) Larry Fitzgerald, Arizona Cardinals
4) Sammy Watkins, Los Angeles Rams
5) Kelvin Benjamin, Carolina Panthers
6) Brandon Marshall, New York Giants

I was really high on Golden Tate throughout mock draft season and then ended up owning no shares of him. I think partially that's from the uncertainty with the Lions offense--it seems like all the skill positions are in flux. Tate's a solid own, but he might not see too many red zone targets.

Martavis Bryant and Brandon Marshall are both WR2s on teams with top tier number one receivers. I'm not super high on either player this year when there are number one receivers below them. Larry Fitzgerald isn't the same player he once was, but he's still a very solid option. Sammy Watkins moving to the Rams hurts his value. There's upside, but I don't love him. Kelvin Benjamin is apparently in great shape and is ready to go. Keep your eye on him.

 

Tier 6

1) Jarvis Landry, Miami Dolphins
2) Emmanuel Sanders, Denver Broncos
3) Devante Parker, Miami Dolphins
4) Willie Snead, New Orleans Saints
5) Jamison Crowder, Washington Redskins
6) Stefon Diggs, Minnesota Vikings
7) DeSean Jackson, Tampa Bay Buccaneers

This tier has a lot of players whose value in Standard doesn't match their PPR value--Landry, Sanders, Crowder, and Diggs will see the ball a lot, but they'll be working the short routes more than some owners will want to see. Still, they're all solid plays whose floors are high enough to negate some of the lowered upside.

This tier also has two players who play in Florida and will try to stretch the field to be effective--Parker and Jackson. They'll have their games, but they'll also post a few duds. Willie Snead will miss three games after a DUI suspension. Once he's back, he'll put up solid numbers.

 

Tier 7

1) Chris Hogan, New England Patriots
2) Donte Moncrief, Indianapolis Colts
3) Pierre Garcon, San Francisco 49ers
4) Jeremy Maclin, Baltimore Ravens

I'm in full wait-and-see mode on Hogan right now. It's very likely he takes most of the snaps that the injured Julian Edelman would have taken, but it's not guaranteed. Thursday night's game against Kansas City should clarify some things.

Moncrief benefits from having Andrew Luck as his quarterback. He is playable when Luck is healthy and avoidable as long as the Colts are using Tolzien. Garcon and Maclin both have a little wear on the tires and are hoping that changes of scenery can help revitalize their careers. I think they both have a good shot at having solid 2017s.

 

Tier 8

1) Mike Wallace, Baltimore Ravens
2) Eric Decker, Tennessee Titans
3) Tyrell Williams, Los Angeles Chargers
4) Kenny Britt, Cleveland Browns
5) Jordan Matthews, Buffalo Bills
6) John Brown, Arizona Cardinals
7) Zay Jones, Buffalo Bills

We've reached the point where you shouldn't be trusting these players in your lineup. Not yet, at least. There are reasons that each player could outperform their current position, but I'd wait a little bit. Will Mike Wallace emerge as the Ravens top threat? Will Decker and Marcus Mariota develop chemistry? Was Tyrell Williams a fluke in 2016? Is Kenny Britt good? Will there be enough targets in Arizona for Brown? And the Bills--will they even throw the football a single time? (Kidding, but they will be running the ball a lot.)

 

Notable Players Below Tier 8

Kevin White, Chicago Bears (Tier 9) could have a solid season if he finally establishes himself as the Bears top receiver. Someone has to catch the ball in Chicago, right?

Corey Davis, Tennessee Titans (Tier 9) and Rishard Matthews, Tennessee Titans (Tier 9) could be good plays if the Titans passing game continues to improve. Davis is young and has a lot of upside. Matthews is coming off a really good 2016 season.

Robby Anderson, New York Jets (Tier 11) is in a similar position as Kevin White--bad team, someone has to get targets.

 

Updated Tiered Rankings and Analysis


Check out all of RotoBaller's 2017 fantasy football rankings. Staff rankings are updated regularly for all positions and include standard formats, PPR scoring, tiered rankings and dynasty leagues.