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2018 NFL Draft Prospects - Wide Receiver Tiered Rankings


In the first two editions of my tiered rankings, I broke down the quarterback and running back positions. Today, I'll provide some insight into my wide receiver rankings for dynasty purposes.

Unlike QB and RB, this isn't seen by most experts as a particularly strong class. There is no Julio Jones or A.J. Green at the top of the draft who is a surefire superstar, but there does appear to be a strong depth to the class which could provide low-level WR1 production, but is more likely to produce as a WR2.

Also unlike RB where my rankings will eventually be heavily tied to the NFL combine, my WR tiers are tied heavily to production, age, and projected draft position. While these, too, are very preliminary, the adjustments will be more associated with draft stock than raw athleticism.

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Pre-Combine Rookie WR Rankings

RANK TIER NAME SCHOOL HEIGHT WEIGHT
1 1 JAMES WASHINGTON OKLAHOMA ST 6'1" 205
2 1 CALVIN RIDLEY BAMA 6'1" 188
3 1 COURTLAND SUTTON SMU 6'4" 205
4 1 D.J. MOORE MARYLAND 5'10" 215
5 1 CHRISTIAN KIRK TEXAS A&M 5'11" 200
6 2 MICHAEL GALLUP COLORADO ST 6'1" 195
7 2 AUDEN TATE FLORIDA ST 6'5" 225
8 2 EQUANEMIUS ST BROWN NOTRE DAME 6'4" 205
9 2 ANTHONY MILLER MEMPHIS 5'11" 190
10 2 TRE'QUAN SMITH UCF 6'1" 205
11 3 ALLEN LAZARD IOWA ST 6'4" 227
12 3 SIMMIE COBBS JR INDIANA 6'4" 220
13 3 MARCEL ATEMAN OKLAHOMA ST 6'4" 220
14 3 DEON CAIN CLEMSON 6'2" 200
15 3 D.J. CHARK LSU 6'3" 187
16 4 DANTE PETTIS WASHINGTON 6'1" 185
17 4 KEKE COUTEE TEXAS TECH 5'11" 180
18 4 RICHIE JAMES MIDDLE TENN 5'9" 180
19 4 CEDRICK WILSON BOISE ST 5'10" 188
20 4 DAE'SEAN HAMILTON PENN ST 6'0" 213
21 5 JALEEL SCOTT NEW MEXICO ST 6'6" 215
22 5 JESTER WEAH PITT 6'2" 213
23 5 STEVE ISHMAEL SYRACUSE 6'2" 209
24 5 JORDAN LASELEY UCLA 6'1" 210
25 5 THOMAS OWENS FIU 6'1" 225
26 5 J'MON MOORE MISSOURI 6'2" 209
27 6 TREY QUIN SMU 6'0" 202
28 6 RICKY JEUNE GEORGIA TECH 6'3" 212
29 6 BYRON PRINGLE KANSAS ST 6'1" 205
30 6 ANTONIO CALLAWAY FLORIDA 5'11" 197
31 6 BRAXTON BERRIOS MIAMI (FL) 5'9" 183
32 6 KOREY ROBERTSON SOUTHERN MISS 6'1" 210
33 6 TAVARES MARTIN JR WASHINGTON ST 6'1" 183
34 6 DEONTAY BURNETT USC 6'0" 170
35 6 JAKE WIENEKE SOUTH DAKOTA ST 6'4" 215

 

Tier 1

I covered this in my WR preview, but D.J. Moore appears to be the hidden gem of this draft class. With four different quarterbacks and an offense that only mustered 1940 passing yards, Moore still managed to eclipse 1000 yards and added on eight TDs. Moore is one of the youngest prospects in the class and his production has a high historical success rate for fantasy success. If he can elevate his draft stock safely into day two, he could become an immediate contributor.

Many have Ridley as the number one WR and he's likely to be the top WR drafted which is why he can't fall too far. Age is the biggest concern with Ridley.  He will turn 24 during his rookie season and there's not a consistent history of success for WRs drafted at the age of 23 or older. In addition to age concerns, Ridley never had a truly dominant season despite having a career market share of 29 percent of his team's yards. While he's likely to become a solid contributor at the next level, Ridley is among the weaker top WR prospects in recent years.

Tier 2

Tre'Quan Smith produced every year for the UCF Knights.  He managed more than 30 percent of the receiving yards each of his first two seasons and 27 percent during his final season. With an improved offense, Smith's raw production numbers substantially improved. He finished with 1171 yards and 13 TDs in 2017 with an average of 19.8 yards per receptions.

Equanemius St. Brown was arguably the top WR prospect in the class entering 2017 and while he was a meaningful part of the Notre Dame offense, both his raw and market share production numbers decreased during his final season. Had St. Brown simply repeated his 2016 campaign, he would likely be in my tier one, but his fall off drops him into tier two.

Tier 3

Allen Lazard didn't do anything amazing, but did, seemingly, everything very well. He finished his four seasons with a career 27 percent market share of his team's receiving yards and 30 percent of his team's TDs. Because he's a slightly older prospect and he was never a true deep threat, he dips slightly in the rankings, but he projects well as an immediate contributor even if his career ceiling is slightly lower.

I don't really know what to think about Deon Cain. His raw athleticism is worth giving credit, but he's still very green to the WR position. Using the regression tree from my prospect previews, Cain would finish in the worst outcome with only a 2.6 percent historical success rate. With only 16 percent career market share of yards and 20 percent share of TDs, Cain failed to produce enough to match his athletic profile and therefore, fell down my rankings.

Tier 4

Cedrick Wilson was second in the FBS in total receiving yards with 1511 yards which accounted for 41 percent of his teams total yards.  Wilson spent two seasons in junior college and then exploded onto the scene when he arrived at Boise St. He accounted for 35 percent of the team's offense in his two years. He'd likely be ranked higher if his draft stock were higher, but for now, he's an interesting late round prospect.

Keke Coutee didn't make a major name for himself until his final season, but he made a mark during that year. Accounting for 33 percent of his team's receiving yards, Coutee piled up 1429 yards in the air raid offense. Coutee's ranking is hindered due to his lack of success in previous years. His career market share is only 16 percent for yards and 14 percent for TDs.

Tier 5

Jester Weah accounted for 28 percent of his team's receiving yards over his final two seasons and 35 percent of TDs. Weah has led Pittsburgh in receiving each of the last two seasons with over 17 yards per reception each year. His draft stock is currently projected for a later round selection, but his propensity for deeper receptions make him a viable late round flier.

Jaleel Scott is often lumped in with Michael Gallup and Cedrick Wilson because of their similar paths, but Gallup and Wilson produced at a higher level when joining and FBS program. Scott peaked at 24 percent of his team's yards and his 10 TDs during his final year only represented 23 percent of his team's total. Scott is a popular sleeper candidate for dynasty players, but his production doesn't appear to warrant it.

Tier 6

Ricky Jeune is a name that most are probably unfamiliar with, but he was among the FBS leaders in yards per reception and accounted for 61 percent of his team's receiving yards. Jeune is likely not worth drafting in any dynasty league due to his lower draft capital, but his share of his team's yards and TDs makes him a player worth watching if he finds his way onto a roster.

Antonio Callaway could have been higher on this list if he played in 2017, but off-field issues and associated lack of career production puts this former top prospect in my tier six. He's a prime candidate to climb the ranks if his draft stock can rise to relevance, but if he's selected late in the draft, he's only worth a priority waiver claim.

 

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