Ah yes, the wide receivers. Since the development of the Zero-RB strategy, the receivers saw their highest peak in draft price in 2016, following the death of running backs in 2015. While it seems as if things have evened out following the 2016 season, one thing is clear- wide receivers still have the highest total value at their position. So now I present to you, my top 10 fantasy football wide receivers for 2017.
Top 10 Fantasy Football Wide Receivers
AB is in the midst of the greatest four-year tear in NFL history. With arguably Pittsburg’s best supporting cast around Brown in 2017, the Steelers’ offense will be among the most potent in the league. Brown has four consecutive seasons of 100+ catches and 1000+ yards, as well as 3 straight seasons of 10+ touchdowns. Brown will feast once again on the bodies of roasted defensive backs this year.
Odell Beckham Jr
OBJ is putting up numbers to start a career only rivaled by the great Randy Moss, in spite of his quarterback. Eli Manning has been an average QB at best since Beckham’s arrival in New York. The Giants have added Brandon Marshall and Evan Engram in the offseason, but don’t expect either of them to take away from 28.3% target share. Beckham’s ability to take a simple slant route to the house makes him a home run threat on every play.
A YAC machine, Jones is just 2 years removed from leading the league in receptions and yards. With 2016 MVP Matt Ryan leading the charge once again, expect Julio Jones to run amok through opposing defenses. The major question for Atlanta’s offense is how will new OC Steve Sarkisian’s offense compare to the departed Kyle Shanahan?
With 66 receptions through 9 games last season, Green was on track to have his best season as a pro. Andy Dalton’s favorite weapon since they entered the league together in 2011, AJ Green has seen little resistance for the most targets on the team. With new offense weapons Joe Mixon, John Ross, and a healthy Tyler Eifert, Green could see a slight decrease in target share in 2017.
Mike Evans was a beast in 2016, leading the league in targets and air yards while finishing 2nd and 6th in touchdowns and receptions, respectively. The problem with Evans was that when Tampa Bay started winning, his production started decreasing. Following their week 9 loss to Atlanta, Evans only saw more than 10 targets in a game twice, while seeing 10 targets or more in 7 of the previous 8 games. With Tampa Bay being a sexy pick to compete for the playoffs, Evans could see a minor drop in production, though I don’t see it causing him to fall out of the top 5 wideouts.
The (bad) Michael Thomas was everything but disappointing in his rookie campaign, posting a 92/1137/9 line. Brandin Cooks being out of the picture should open up, even more, opportunities for Thomas, and with Drew Brees tossing him the rock doesn’t hurt either.
Ageless wonder Jordy Nelson put up his 2nd best season in his career and led the NFL in receiving touchdowns with 14. Entering his 10th season, Jordy has been playing the best ball of his career. Quarterback Aaron Rodgers will be targeting his favorite receiver early and often in 2017.
Cooper is one of the cornerstones on a team built around young solid talent. Since entering the league in 2015, Cooper has amassed 155 receptions, 2,223 yards, and 11 touchdowns. The only thing keeping Cooper this low on the list is his lack of red zone receptions (5 in 2016) and touchdowns. If Cooper can assume the red zone role his counterpart Michael Crabtree has, watch out. Amari Cooper will be a top 5 dynasty selection for the next 10 years.
Fantasy analysts seem to be all over the map with Brandin Cooks, and possibly deservingly so. Cooks has been rated as high as 8 by some analysts and as low as 21 among wide receivers. New England gave up their first round pick for Cooks, adding him to what seemed like an already loaded receiving core leaving us wondering how many opportunities he will get. Cooks was a star in New Orleans, racking up a 215/2861/20 line in 3 years with Drew Brees. Cooks was already a player with an extremely high ceiling, and due to the unfortunate season ending injury to Julian Edelman, Cooks has grown into a safe bet for WR1 status.
Nuk Hopkins has been one of the more undervalued stars this offseason. His Achilles heel hasn’t been his actual Achilles but has been his quarterback play. Houston has not had a relevant quarterback since Matt Schaub (and he was barely relevant), yet Hopkins has a WR1 and WR2 season to his name thus far. With rookie Deshaun Watson now waiting in the wings, Hopkins has his best opportunity to regain his 2015 form, where he finished as WR4 overall.