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Biggest Surprises of 2018 - Wide Receivers


The 2018 fantasy football season was full of plenty of surprises at the wide receiver position.

The rookie wide receiver class was fairly underwhelming for the most part. We also saw some breakout players who many fantasy owners weren't expecting them to put up the numbers they did. Several of the typical studs like Antonio Brown, Julio Jones, and DeAndre Hopkins did perform up to their draft price. On the other hand, some guys like Odell Beckham Jr. or A.J. Green did not.

As the NFL season comes to a close, it's a good time to look back at some of the WR surprises that shaped the 2018 season.

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2018 WR Fantasy Leaders (PPR)

Robert Woods - Los Angeles Rams

Rank: WR11 (265.6 PPR Points)

First up on our list of biggest surprises at the wide receiver position is Robert Woods. According to Fantasy Football Calculator, Woods was the 42nd wide receiver off the board and was a 9th round pick in most fantasy football drafts. Woods went from being an afterthought in most drafts, to an every-week starter and fantasy stud. The Rams offense was on fire damn near every week this year, and that whole receiving corps was startable on a weekly basis. Cooper Kupp (WR51) went down after eight games and was averaging 16.9 PPR points per game. Brandin Cooks (WR13) had himself another typical year of borderline WR1 production, averaging 16.2 PPR points per game in 15 total games played on the year.

All in all, the Rams offense was one of the most productive ones of the 2018 season, and the passing game was the fifth most productive on the year. This offense had 4,507 total passing yards on the season, which was good for the fifth-most in the NFL. While all of these Rams wide receivers produced in a big way, being someone that was drafted in the ninth round and finishing as a WR1 puts Woods on this list. Anyone who can produce that far and beyond their ADP is without a doubt, a nice surprise.

 

Tyler Lockett - Seattle Seahawks

Rank: WR16 (222.4 PPR Points)

Seattle's fourth-year wide receiver finishing as the WR16 in fantasy was a very big surprise for fantasy owners. Tyler Lockett stepped up in a big way this year as Doug Baldwin (WR46) was battling injuries for the majority of the season. Baldwin did end up starting in 13 total games but dealt with knee and hip injuries throughout the year. It was tough to trust Baldwin when he did play, as he was listed as questionable on a regular basis. This allowed Lockett to step in and get some nice volume and ultimately, some nice fantasy production. Lockett was coming off the board in the late-11th round or in the 12th round of most drafts. Depending on how deep your leagues and rosters were this year, this is damn-near the end of the draft and potentially someone that came off the waiver wire at some point or another in some leagues.

Lockett did much more than just put up some big plays for his fantasy production like he's done in the past. This year he was getting similar targets as he was in his first three seasons, but this year was different in a big way for him. Touchdowns. Finishing the season with 10 receiving touchdowns was more than any fantasy owner could've asked for. Lockett's 10 receiving touchdowns was tied with Calvin Ridley and Mike Williams, and good for the fourth-most in the NFL this year. While the production out of Lockett wasn't exactly consistent, finishing with 10 touchdowns and ultimately the number 16 wide receiver in fantasy, was a big surprise for everyone.

 

Tyler Boyd - Cincinnati Bengals

Rank: WR17 (221.1 PPR Points)

Next up is the third-year wide receiver in Cincinnati, Tyler Boyd. Boyd wasn't drafted in many leagues last year, and while it did take an injury to the number one receiver for the Bengals in A.J Green (WR44) for Boyd to really breakout, finishing as the number 17 wide receiver in fantasy was a huge surprise. There was even a point where I saw several people on Twitter talking about Boyd being more valuable than Green in dynasty football leagues. I'm not ready to go that far, but Boyd certainly did look the part when he needed to step up, and he has some nice value moving forward.

In 14 total games started this year, Boyd finished the season with 1,028 receiving yards on 76 receptions with seven receiving touchdowns. He did have 108 targets which was all very promising for him moving forward in Cincinnati across from Green. It's safe to say Boyd was a pretty surprising breakout candidate this year. Whether it be largely due to Green's injury or not, it was very nice to see Boyd step up when he needed to, and prove that he could offer some nice value for fantasy purposes moving forward.

 

Chris Hogan - New England Patriots

Rank: WR69 (106.2 PPR Points)

The last name on this list is Chris Hogan, who was one of the biggest surprises of the year for fantasy purposes, in a bad way. Hogan was roughly a fourth-round fantasy draft pick a year ago, and he finished nowhere relatively close to that price. Despite playing in all 16 games this year, Hogan simply wasn't involved enough to be fantasy relevant and was likely available on the waiver wire after he had just 11 total receptions after Week 5. The odd part with Hogan was that he really never has produced more than he did this year, but for whatever reason, he was seen as a massive breakout candidate and his pre-season ADP reflected that.

Hogan has been in New England since 2016, and has seen 58, 59, and 55 targets respectively in each of those seasons. In addition to Hogan being a massive disappointment for fantasy owners, Tom Brady and Rob Gronkowski were also very disappointing to fantasy owners. The entire New England offense outside of Julian Edelman (WR20) was a surprise this year, and as someone who was being drafted inside the top-20 for wide receivers, Hogan was a surprise for fantasy owners in a bad way.

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