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Five Wide Receivers Who Could Return to Top Tier Status in 2016

With the changing landscape in fantasy football, locking up two or three star wide receivers is becoming a requirement at draft time. Everyone knows to target Antonio Brown, Odell Beckham, and Julio Jones at the top of drafts, but taking the wide receivers that come after them becomes just as important. Let's take a look at some wide receivers who could return top tier value this season.

All ADP references come from Fantasy Football Calculator and assume you play in a 12-team PPR league.

Editor's Note: Purchase a full season NFL Premium Pass (including Draft Kit + DFS Premium), and also get MLB Premium + DFS for free through the playoffs. Premium DFS lineup picks, expert lineups, tools and more - seven days a week. You can see screenshots of our NFL Premium and MLB Premium and DFS tools. What are you waiting for?

 

Elite Wide Receivers to Target in 2016

Alshon Jeffery, Chicago Bears

The football world is fully aware of what Jeffery is capable of accomplishing on the field. The big wideout put together a stretch from 2013-2014 where he averaged 87 catches for 1,277 yards and 8.5 touchdowns while playing in 32-of-32 possible games. Those numbers average out to 265 points, which would have placed him as WR9 in scoring in 2015. Unfortunately, in 2015, Jeffery struggled with injuries, missing seven games with assorted soft-tissue injuries and generally letting down his fantasy owners.

What may be forgotten amidst all the injuries was how dominant Jeffery was when he was on the field in 2015. He had a three-game stretch last season from October 18 through November 9 where he put up 28 catches for 414 yards and two touchdowns. We know that Jay Cutler has a history of featuring his number one wide receiver heavily in the passing game, going back to his days with Brandon Marshall in Denver.

With some reports coming out that Kevin White is still looking a bit green and may not be ready to contribute at a high level until 2017, Jeffery should see all the work he can handle yet again in 2016. Jeffery is currently the 13th wide receiver coming off the board and can be drafted at the end of the second round, yet he has a serious chance to return mid-to-low end WR1 numbers in 2016.

 

T.Y. Hilton, Indianapolis Colts

Hilton, like the rest of the Colts offense, really bogged down after Andrew Luck was lost for the season. If you don't count his rookie season, Hilton either set or tied a career-low in catches, yards, and touchdowns in 2015 despite playing in all 16 games.

Look for the Colts offense to more closely resemble the unit that dominated defenses in 2014. While Hilton is a better wide receiver in standard leagues, he's shown that he has week-winning upside every time he steps on the field. Even without Luck for half of the 2015 season, Hilton still finished as the 21st highest-scoring receiver and has a good chance to finish as a low WR1/high WR2 in 2016.

 

Michael Floyd, Arizona Cardinals

Floyd is my dark horse candidate to finish 2016 as a WR1. Some drafters may shy away from the fifth-year wide receiver as he has to split targets with Larry Fitzgerald and John Brown, but he has a chance to lead Arizona's wide receiving corps this year. It's easy to forget that Floyd suffered what was described as a "gnarly" hand injury in the preseason before the 2015 season. He had three dislocated fingers on his hand which required surgery. The injury set Floyd back as he didn't really come into his own until Week 4.

Floyd enters the 2016 season fully healthy while playing for one of the top passing offenses in the league. There could be more targets to go around in the Arizona offense to start the year with John Brown having sustained a concussion during the preseason. It has been reported that Brown is still experiencing headaches and that his Week 1 status is now in question. Combine that with an age 32 Larry Fitzgerald who could see his production could drop off at any point and Floyd shapes up as someone who could be the Cardinals' number one wide receiver by the time the season is over.

 

DeSean Jackson, Washington Redskins

Jackson is another player who had his 2015 campaign sidetracked by injuries. He only played in nine games after dealing with knee, foot, hamstring, and shoulder injuries throughout the year. Jackson is just one year removed from an excellent 2014 season which saw him rack up 56 catches for 1,169 yards and six touchdowns. Jackson finished that year as the 21st-highest scoring PPR receiver and 17th-highest scorer in standard leagues.

The Redskins offensive line has been struggling to run block throughout the preseason and the team is expected to feature an uninspiring Matt Jones in the backfield, so expect Jay Gruden and Kirk Cousins to employ a pass-heavy scheme which will benefit D-Jax. Jackson's schedule also gives reason for hope as he will play two games each against the Eagles, Giants, and Cowboys. All three of those teams are not expected to have good defenses this season. It is not out of the realm of possibility that Jackson finishes as a high-end WR2 this season if he's able to stay on the field.

 

Randall Cobb, Green Bay Packers

The plight of the Green Bay offense in 2015 is well known by now. With Jordy Nelson lost for the year, Cobb struggled to get open with all the additional attention that teams were able to pay to him. Perhaps forgotten in all the other injury news was the fact Cobb himself played the entire season with a shoulder injury that he and coach Mike McCarthy later admitted affected him the whole year.

Add in an ineffective Davante Adams across from him and an offensive line that suffered injury after injury and it's easy to see what went wrong in 2015. With Nelson back this season and the o-line healthy, expect the Packers offense to regain some of the firepower they lost last season. With defenses unable to key in on stopping Cobb this year, he should go back to being an automatic WR1 in PPR leagues, just like he was in 2014.

 




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