WIDE RECEIVER TARGET ANALYSIS BREAKDOWN
- Julio Jones ATL: One can make the argument Julio is the best wide out in the game and in the fantasy world. Over the last four seasons he is one of two receivers to catch at least 420 balls on at least 650 targets; Antonio Brown being the other. Jones has a catch rate of just under 65% in that span with just under 10 yards per target as he’s racked up 6,401 yards; more than any other wide out in that period. Last year Jones had the 3rd most receptions (113) behind Michael Thomas and DeAndre Hopkins, and Julio’s 7.1 catches per game were 4th best among receivers last season. Jones hasn’t had a season with fewer than 80 grabs and 1,400 yards since 2013! He may not get the love and respect that AB or OBJ receives but all it takes is a few extra trips to the end zone and he will be leaps and bounds ahead of the rest of the receiver pack. Don’t sleep on Quintorris Lopez Jones!
2. Davante Adams GB: Adams has been not only consistent, but getting better as the years have gone on. He’s averaged better than 15PPG each of the last three seasons with his 22 per contest last year being tops thus far. 2018 saw Adams post career-highs in targets (169), receptions (111), yards (1,386), and touchdowns (13) but he’s had at least 74 grabs, 885 yards, and 10 scores each of the last three years despite playing a full slate just once since 2016. Oh, and last year Adams was the only wide out to score at least 16 points in EVERY SINGLE GAME! Draft him as your top receiver without hesitation.
3. Antonio Brown OAK (PIT): Brown as finished as a top 5 receiver each of the last six seasons with his WR5 finish last year being his worst since 2013, and he led the league with 15 receiving touchdowns in 2018. Now Brown has moved on from Pittsburgh to the bay joining the Oakland Raiders. Big mistake on his part if you ask me. Brown is an elite talent but moving from a juggernaut in the Steelers with a future Hall of Fame quarterback in Big Ben to a mess of a franchise in Oakland with Derek Carr, who may not be the man under center next year when the team moves to Las Vegas, is not going to keep Brown in that same conversation as Hopkins, Thomas, Jones, and Adams. Brown hasn’t hit 110 receptions since 2015 and he’s gone over 1,300 yards just once in the last three seasons. Brown will be 31 before 2019 kicks off and we’ve only seen 5 wide outs achieve a line of 105-1200-8 after they hit the big 3-1; Jerry Rice has done it three times, Rod Smith and Jimmy Smith both hit it in 2001, Brandon Marshall and Larry Fitzgerald both went for it in 2015. Could Brown do it? Yes. Will he? I wouldn’t put money on it. The days of Brown being the no brainer top WR off the board are over and I can make an argument to take 8 other receivers over him in your 2019 draft.
4. Juju Smith-Schuster PIT: Antonio is out and that leaves Juju as the man in Pittsburgh in the receiving corps. Juju showed last year he could be the man with a monster season snagging 111 balls on 166 targets for 1,426 yards. He’s scored 7 times each of his first two seasons catching 69% of his targets. He had 8 or more targets in 13 of 16 games last year; 10 times having double-digit looks – the most in the league. Big Ben, Juju, and the rest of the Steelers are out to prove that Antonio Brown and Le’Veon Bell weren’t the reason they were such a dominate offensive force in the league and I have a feeling that Juju is going to just get peppered with targets this year. 200 looks anyone? Give me Juju over AB all day this year!
5. DeAndre Hopkins HOU: Nuk finished 2018 as the top wide receiver posting a monstrous 333 points; 6th most points by a wide out over the last five seasons. HIs 115 catches and 1,572 yards both ranked 2nd among his peers and he found the end zone 11 times; the third time in the last four years he’s hit pay dirt double-digit times. He’s gotten at least 150 targets in each of the last four seasons and averaged better than 20PPG in three of those four. DeShaun Watson is the best thing that ever happened to Hopkins and if the offensive line improves even in the slightest in Houston, Hop could have an ever bigger 2019.
6. Adam Thielen MIN: Man did Thielen put on a clinic in the first half of 2018! He had double-digit looks in his first seven games (9 total games) and caught no fewer than 6 passes in each game (10 games with 6 or more grabs for the year). He had 100+ yards in his first eight contests and he failed to hit at least 12 points in just two contests and had as many touchdowns (9) in 2018 as he did in 2016 and 2017 combined. Thielen’s catch rate of 73% was second on this list only trailing the Saints’ Michael Thomas. The Vikings offense is one of the most explosive in the league and they have arguably the best wide receiver duo in the league with Thielen and the next man on this list …
7. Stefon Diggs MIN: … Stefon Diggs. Thielen and Digss were the only set of teammates in the wide receiver world that both finished as top 12 wide outs (WR7 and WR11, respectively). While Thielen had career numbers across the board last season, so did Diggs. Stefon had 148 targets and caught 102 balls; his first 100+ reception season. He had his first 1,000+ yard year (1,021) while his 9 touchdowns were also tops for a single season in his four year NFL career. Diggs has yet to play a full 16 game slate but he’s had better than 80 targets and 50 catches each year with 95+ targets and 64+ receptions in each of the last three seasons. The men on the outside for the purple and gold should have no problem putting up points once again and if Dalvin Cook can stay healthy and draw defenses into the box, even a little further, watch out for Thielen and Diggs.
8. Jarvis Landry CLE: Landry made his first year in Cleveland memorable on Hardknocks but on the field he was just hard to watch. His catch rate of under 55% was by far the worst of the 25 receivers on this list and by far his personal worst as his first four seasons saw Landry finish with catch rates of 75%, 66%, 72%, and 69%. His four scores and 81 catches last year were career-lows while his 976 yards were only more than his rookie campaign (758). Learning a new scheme with a rookie quarterback learning the NFL game definitely aren’t optimal situations for a pass-catcher but the best don’t see their numbers drop so drastically. Odell Beckham Jr. joining the Browns should help Landry see lighter coverage and hopefully help his numbers jump up closer to what we are used to seeing out of him in his career.
9. Michael Thomas NO: Try and tell me Michael Thomas is the most beastly wide out in the game, cause you are wrong. Thomas finished 9th among wide outs with his 147 targets but his 125 receptions were more than anyone else – 10 more than D-Hop who finished second in that category – and his 85% catch rate dwarfed everyone else on this list; Humphries and Thielen both caught a “pedestrian” 73% tying for second. Thomas has caught at least 90 passes for no fewer than 1,125 yards and found the end zone at least 5 times each of his first three NFL seasons; only 16 receivers in NFL history have posted three or more straight seasons with 90-1,125-5 but only Thomas and Odell Beckham Jr. have done it in their first 3 years in the league. Thomas looks like a man amongst boys down in the Superdome and nothing will change in year four for this freakishly-talented first round pick.
10. Mike Evans TB: Evans had one of the best seasons of his career in 2018 setting career-highs in yards (1,524) and catch rate (62%) while his 86 grabs and 8 scores both ranked as his 2nd best outputs in five years. Evans has caught at least 65 balls for better than 1,000 yards each of his five NFL seasons and he’s been held to fewer than 135 targets just once; when he had 122 as a rookie. Outside of his WR3 finish in 2016, Evans tends to finish as a mid-to-high WR2 and if you can snag him late round 2 or early round 3, you will take that production all day!
11. Keenan Allen LAC: After two injury-lost seasons in 2015 and 2016, Allen bounced back the last two years with 102 and 97 receptions respectively, going for at least 1,190 yards each season and scoring 6 times in both 2017 and 2018. No one ever questioned his talent and ability and any year Allen stays healthy he will always be in WR1 territory and his WR3 finish in 2017 shows how far his talent can take him in the fantasy world. Last year Allen was held to under 7 targets just twice in 15 games and he caught at least 4 passes in all but one game in 2018. He’s got 19 games with 9+ targets in the last two seasons (31 games) and the Chargers may be the quietest best offense in the NFL. With the veteran quarterback experience, offensive line, running game, and Mike Williams coming into his own as an NFL receiver, Allen will be an absolute steal in your draft since he’s not as high profile as the first 7 or 8 names off the board and won’t carry the same hype or “upside tag” as the handful of names that should (and probably won’t) be drafted after him.
12. Tyreek Hill KC: With the legal issues that have popped up with Hill there is some questioning as to what to do and where to take him. We know he is one of the best and most dynamic playmakers in the NFL, and his numbers prove that. He’s had 105+ targets each of the last two years with his 137 looks last year marking a single-season best for Hill. He’s upped his catches, yards, and touchdowns each season as well with 87 grabs last year for 1,479 yards or 17YPC. He also is used in the run game averaging 160 yards and a score each season on the ground, and his 15 yards per touch from scrimmage last season led the NFL. A guy who would have been a sure-fire first round pick before the legal troubles now slides to second round territory and if you got the cojones to take the chance we know he will pay off big time so long as he doesn’t miss any playing time this year.
13. Robert Woods LAR: Woods ended 2018 with his first top 10 finish among wide receivers posting career-high across the board. His 130 targets marked just the second instance he was given over 100 looks in a season; his other came way back in 2014 with the Buffalo Bills. His 86 catches were more than 20 better than his previous high while he hit 1,000 yards for the first time in his career (1,219). Woods had fewer than 4 catches just twice in 16 games last year while he was held to under 7 targets in just three contests. Cooper Kupp going down actually hurt Woods more than it helped as Woods had his only three 100-yard games last year with Kupp in the line up and was held under 70 yards just once in eight games with Kupp while Woods was held under 70 three times in the back half of the season. If you draft Woods don’t get frazzled if he starts slow if Kupp can’t go in week one, be patient and it will pay off, and if you don’t draft Woods because someone takes him way too high then wait until they get frustrated and get a bargain deal on a guy that will be even better when his teammate returns this year.
14. Odell Beckham Jr CLE (NYG): OBJ is moving on from The Big Apple to the big disappointment in Cleveland. Yeah I know, they are up-and-coming on offense and they do have a ton of pieces but until we see a Browns team actually do what they brag about in the offseason it’s all smoke and mirrors. But I digress, let’s talk about how OBJ can help the Browns’ offense take that next step. Beckham is a transcendent talent at the wide out position as he’s hit better than 75 grabs and over 1,000 yards in four of his five NFL seasons. While he has only played one full season in his NFL career, he always posts big numbers and is worthy of a top round pick. He will have a teammate in Jarvis Landry that can finally help draw some coverage off plus these guys played together in college at LSU and have been lifelong friends so if any teammates will have chemistry from the jump. I also like the fact he’s got a young gunslinging QB in Baker Mayfield over the aging and decrepit Eli Manning. The Browns seemed to be set up to be one of the next great offenses, let’s just hope they don’t “Cleveland” it up!
15. T.Y. Hilton IND: Hilton is still the guy in Indianapolis, I don’t care how big of a year Eric Ebron had in 2018, Hilton is still the dude! After a lackluster 2017 campaign, he bounced back with his average T.Y. numbers snagging 76 passes on 120 targets in 14 games; extrapolate that over a 16 game season and he would have caught 87 balls on 137 targets. His averages from 2013-2017 came out to be 76 receptions on 134 targets, so boy is consistent. He’s gone for 1,100+ yards in four of his last five years while scoring no fewer than 4 and no more than 7 touchdowns. He’s probably never going to be a 100-catch guy or a 12TD scorer but with his big play ability a big touchdown year is never out of the question and snagging him as a WR2 puts you way ahead of the 8-ball in that category.
16. Kenny Golladay DET: Golladay put up some big games as a rookie in 2017 but needed to be more consistent to become the man and in 2018 he got that opportunity and took full advantage of it. The Lions shipped Golden Tate to the Eagles and Golladay will be the top pass-catcher in Detroit for the foreseeable future. In 15 games last year he was given 7 or more targets 10 times and saw 12 or more looks on four separate occasions. His 119 targets last year marked just the 10th wide out in Lions history to be allotted 119 or more looks in a season. The addition of a legit threat up the middle in rookie tight end T.J. Hockenson should help open up the outside some more for Golladay and Marvin Jones, and if Golladay get more opportunities he should have no issues making the most of them. He’s a big-bodied guy with speed and red zone hands, no reason he can’t see more looks in 2019 and improve on his sophomore season line of 70-1,063-5 and receivers in year three tend to really break out, just sayin.
17. Brandin Cooks LAR: Last year Cooks became the first player in NFL history to have 100+ targets in three consecutive years with three different teams (Saints, Patriots, Rams). He had his second 80+ catch season while his 1,204 yards were a personal best for him. He had 7 games of six or more receptions last year, while his 5 games of 100+ yards were as many as he had in 2016 & 2017 combined. He managed three straight games of 6+ receptions and 100+ yards for the first time in his career from weeks 9-11 and posted double-digit points in 12 of 15 games he appeared in. Just like Robert Woods, this receiving corps performed even better with Cooper Kupp on the field so if they start a little slow don’t panic, let Kupp slide back into the line up and watch the Rams offense continue to be one of the leagues best.
18. Golden Tate NYG (PHI): Is Golden Tate on his way out of a guy you felt comfortable drafting in fantasy leagues and had no issues starting weekly? I think so. Tate was traded to Philadelphia last year after week 8 and his production took a big dip. In 8 games with the Eagles, Tate failed to catch more than 5 passes in any contest, and had just one game over 50 yards and one touchdown; which happened to be the same game. Before the transition, Tate had more than 5 receptions in five of seven games with the Lions, went over 50 yards in five games (over 100 twice) and scored 3 touchdowns. So now that he moved on to the New York Giants to be the team’s number one wide out with Odell Beckham Jr. gone to the Dawg Pound, what can we expect? Tate’s four best years, averaging 16, 13, 14, and 14 points respectively, all came in Detroit. He’s never had a 1,000-yard season outside of a Lions uniform and his 31 year old body looks to be slowly breaking down. He’s going to a sliding offense (outside of sensation Saquon Barkely) and personally I don’t have much faith drafting Tate in any format this year.
19. Larry Fitzgerald ARZ: It saddens my heart to say this, but Fitz is done. The man has had one of the most amazing careers for a wide receiver of all-time. The dude is already 2nd all-time in receiving yards (16,279), currently 3rd but just 23 receptions from passing Tony Gonzalez to jump into 2nd in NFL history in that category (1,303), and ranked 6th in receiving touchdowns (116) with a very, very slight possibility reaching 5th (12 back) or 4th (14 back). He will be 36 years old before we kick off 2019 and he’s missed just 6 games in his 15-year NFL career. When it comes to this upcoming season though, I don’t have a ton of confidence in Fitz. He’s playing with a rookie quarterback for the second straight year, has his third head coach in as many year (and a guy who has NFL experience at that), and there isn’t a ton of talent around Fitz outside of running back David Johnson to take some of the offensive pressures off him. Last year Fitzgerald went for 15+ points just three times and was held to single-digit fantasy points in 6 contests; he was held to fewer than 10 points just 7 times in 2016 & 2017 combined while he went for 15+ on 14 separate occasions in that period. Everyone breaks down and starts to slide at some point and with his age mixed in with exterior factors I think the great Larry Fitzgerald is done with his fantasy relevance. Thank you for all you’ve done Mr. Fitzgerald, a future Hall of Fame player without question!
20. Corey Davis TEN: After a disappointing rookie season in 2017, Davis counted back with a big improvement year in 2018; snagging 65 of his 112 targets for 891 yards and 4 scores (after 34-375-0 as a rookie). What Davis needs to focus on this season is catching more looks headed his way. 112 looks is nothing to sneeze at but catching just 58% of them; second worst on this list, is not going to get it done. If he can jump his catch rate to the average of the wide outs on this list at 66.2% he’d have 75 grabs for 1,027 yards and 5 scores or a total of 209 points which puts him in mid WR2 territory instead of the high WR3 area. The addition of Adam Humphries in the slot and the return of Delanie Walker should help get Davis better looks, not necessarily more, but better looks will still turn into more points and that’s what you will need if drafting Davis this season.
21. Tyler Boyd CIN: Boyd basically put two years worth of work into one last season. He had exactly as many receptions in 2018 as he did in 2016 & 2017 combined (76) while his targets were nearly identical as well, 108 in 2018 compared to 113 in 2016 & 2017. He had his first 1,000-yard season last year and his 7 scores were also a career-high by far. For Boyd, however, A.J. Green being in the lineup is his biggest benefit. In the 8 gamete played with Green last season Boyd averaged over 8 targets and 6 catches per game for 77 yards per contest and 5 total scores. Without Green on the field, Boyd got 7 looks per contest with 4 grabs for 68 yards and just 2 total touchdowns. Boyd is definitely worth of a flex option weekly and possibly WR2 if Green is taking away the top coverage but without A.J. then Boyd’s value does take a hit.
22. Amari Cooper DAL: If you know me you know I’ve never been the biggest Amari Cooper fan; and honestly probably never will be, but I can admit when I’m wrong and damn was I wrong once Cooper landed in Dallas last year. The boy was on fire with Dak Prescott throwing him the rock! Cooper hauled in 53 of 76 targets for 725 yards and 6 scores in 9 games in Dallas last year; those numbers were all better (other thanTDs) than his 2017 year with the Raiders in which he played 14 games (48-680-7). He had four games in a Cowboys’ uniform in which he went for 75 or more yards; he had four such games with the Raiders in his last 22 with Oakland. In that same 22 game stretch with Oakland he had 8 games of 7 or more targets; he had 7 games with 7+ looks in his first 9 with Dallas. I may not be the biggest Amari Cooper supporter, but I can get behind drafting him a lot more now in Dallas than what I saw out of him with Derek Carr throwing him the rock.
23. Julian Edelman NE: Since 2013 Edelman has had four of five seasons with over 100 targets, and in 2015 when he missed that mark he had 88 in 9 games. He’s caught at least 60 balls and scored 3 or more times in all five years while he’s gone for 850 or more yards in all but that injury plagued 2015. With Gronk gone and the rollercoaster of Austin Seferian-Jenkins coming in to take that spot, there is no way in hell Tom Brady doesn’t look to Edelman even more than he usually does. Edelman has averaged 14 ore more points per game the last five seasons he’s played and his high of over 19 per contest in 2015 would be reached or even passed with more looks coming his way in the fast-paced, quick-hitting New England offense.
24. Sterling Shepard NYG: Shepard is in a unique position this year because with Odell Beckham Jr. moving on to Cleveland, someone needs to step up in the Giants receiving corps. Yes, they did sign Golden Tate but he’s no spring chicken (31 before the year begins) plus Evan Engram is an injury risk and the team can’t rely on Saquon Barkley to do it all himself again. Eli Manning has played with Shepard the longest of all his targets so those two getting an even stronger chemistry is key. Shepard has had at least 80 targets each of his first three seasons. He’s caught fewer than 65 balls just once (59 in 11 games in 2017) while his yardage has steadily grown each season. He’s been a hot and cold guy with just 6 games of 100+ yards in 43 played but if he can start snagging more targets thrown his way; 31 games of at least 6 looks, then there is no reason he can’t lead this team in every receiving category. Tate will be the man thought of by most of your opponents but I like Shepard’s youth and already-established-connection with Eli over Tate.
25. Adam Humphries TEN (TB): Humphries is taking his career-year of 2018 form Tampa Bay and starting anew in 2019 in Tennessee with the Titans. He had his first 100-target season last year (104) and posted high in receptions (76), yards (816), and scores (5). Although he had a career-season in 2018, Humphries has had some consistency the last three years with at least 80 targets and 55 receptions in each. He will take over the slot role in Tennessee and provide a weapon for Marcus Mariota that he really has never had. When it comes to best return on investment wide receivers in this year’s draft, Humphries should end up being right near the top of that list.
Five Up/Five Down
Every year we see new players emerge as passing threats as well as watch some people drop the ball for their opportunity to reappear on this list next season. So who could make the leap to potential PPR glory? And who will trip and fall flat in 2019? Here are a few names to keep in mind.
A.J. Green CIN
Mike Williams LAC
Robbie Anderson NYJ
DaeSean Hamilton DEN
Brandin Cooks LAR
Alshon Jeffery PHI
Larry Fitzgerald ARZ
Sterling Shepard NYG
Tyler Boyd CIN