2017 WR Rankings Part 1

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1. Antonio Brown

Godspeed

2. Julio Jones

Season after season, this guy continues to dominate and is well worth the early round investment. New Offensive Coordinator Steve Sarkisian commented saying, “When you have a player like Julio, it’s making sure we maximize his opportunities. Let’s make sure he’s one of the primary receivers on that play because it is such a tough matchup for anybody one on one.” Julio recorded 6 Touchdowns last season and only was targeted 9 times in the red zone … Expect that to change drastically for the better with Sarkisian recognizing this from the rip. Jones is a can’t miss opportunity and no doubt first round talent.

3. Odell Beckham Jr.

You don’t want analysis on OBJ, what you really want is information on why you should or shouldn’t draft him over Antonio Brown or Julio Jones …

OBJ enters his 4th season in the NFL where he’s finished as WR5 (2014), WR5 (2015) and WR4 (2016).  There’s concern that 33.5 year old Brandon Marshall will steal a large amount of OBJ’s volume/target share for the 2017 season, but at some point you have to wonder how much BMarshall really has left in his tank.

OBJ has seen significant growth in targets each of his 3 seasons in the NFL. With Marshall now in New York, it’s highly likely OBJ will see a drop from his 26 Red Zone Targets last season (3rd highest in the NFL). Marshall has always been a major Red Zone hog. Last season, 100% of Marshall’s TDs were scored while inside the Red Zone. In 2015, 11 of his 14 TDs were scored from inside the Red Zone. With his age, that’s likely going to be his specialty in 2017. We’re not saying OBJ has a significant drop off in production, we’re saying this is why AB and Julio should still be drafted ahead of him.

4. A.J. Green

Prior to ending his 2016 season in Week 10 to a hamstring injury, Green was on pace for career high numbers averaging just short of 100 yards per game! At 29 years old, Green has missed 9 games over the previous 3 seasons. Still locked in as Andy Dalton’s WR1,  the only concern for Cinci this season is the downgraded Offensive Line.

Last season, this Offensive Line ranked 26th in the league in Pass Protection. When Dalton was under pressure, his passer rating dropped to 57.1, which ranked 7th worst in the NFL. Even worse, when blitzed he posted a passer rating of 76.2, which ranked 4th worst in the NFL. This issue may be more concerning for Joe Mixon and Andy Dalton rather than Green. Consider AJ an easy WR1.

5. Mike Evans

By week 9 last season, Evans saw 101 Targets and caught 8 TDs! Evans concluded his season with an NFL leading 173 targets finishing as the Fantasy WR1. The arrival of DeSean Jackson and O.J. Howard shouldn’t affect Evans too much. In fact, it should stop teams from continuously double-teaming him! These arrivals will definitely give Evans a dip in Targets thrown his way, but will help him immensely in the Red Zone.  Winston threw Evans’ way 17 times in the Red Zone last season while catching 5 of 7 balls for 5 TDs inside the 10 yard line. Expect continued production and Fantasy WR1 numbers again in 2017.

6. Jordy Nelson

Nelson finished as the Fantasy WR2 last season. Much of his success was the fact that Rodgers threw the ball a career high 610 times due to poor RB play.

There’s a few reason why we don’t think Jordy Nelson will post Fantasy WR2 numbers in 2017 as well as build on his career high 152 targets from last season:
1 – Green Bay went out and drafted 3 RBs as a testament to their willingness to run the ball.
2 – Green Bay added TE Martellus Bennett, a likely Red Zone target hog for Aaron Rodgers.
3 – Randall Cobb played much of 2016 injured. At 26 year old he returns at full health. Mike McCarthy also said he wants Cobb to get more targets in 2017.
4 – Breakout WR Davante Adams finished as the Fantasy WR7 after seeing the 20th most targets among WRs.

7. Mike Thomas

As a Rookie in 2016, Thomas totaled 92 Receptions on 121 Targets, yielding a 76% Reception/Target Ratio, which outpaced Julio Jones (83 Receptions on 129 Targets – 64%, Antonio Brown (106 Receptions on 154 Receptions – 68%) and OBJ (101 Receptions on 169 Receptions – 59%). Additionally, Thomas totaled 1,137 Receiving Yards and 9 TDs. In our opinion, the arrow is pointing straight up for here and we remain extremely bullish on Thomas, with the bonus that Brandin Cooks and his 78 Receptions, 117 Targets, 1,173 Yards and 8 TDs are now in New England. Thomas will move into the Top 5 Fantasy WR category for drafts after this season as long as Drew Brees remains in NOLA.

8. TY Hilton

Concerning his noncommittal comments concerning Week 1 availability, Andrew Luck expressed, “It’s hard for me to look beyond, really, today’s rehab session. That’s the approach I have to take … if you want to get truly healthy.” Luck’s comments combined with HC Chuck Pagano’s words about Hilton’s light hamstring issues raises some eyebrows. Last season, Hilton posted career best numbers, grabbing 91 Receptions, 1,448 Receiving Yards and 6 TDs. Hilton is locked in as a WR1, but continue to monitor the health of both Luck and Hilton before pulling the trigger over other options in the same tier. Hilton has the ability to blow up and win games for fantasy owners, which makes his appeal all that sweeter.

9. Doug Baldwin

After coming off of a career year and back-to-back +1,000 Yard Seasons, Baldwin led the team in 2016 with 94 Receptions, 1,128 Receiving Yards and 7 TDs. Yet, it’s a mystery why Baldwin still gets overlooked? Since 2012 a.k.a Russell Wilson’s Rookie Season, Passing Attempts have increased from 393 in 2012, 407 in 2013, 452 in 2014, 483 in 2015 and 546 in 2016. Baldwin has grown consistently as well with this volume increase, seizing the WR1 job and solidifying his role within the offense in all statistical  formats. Don’t overlook Baldwin or you might miss out on another Top 10 Fantasy WR Season from him, being that he has finished Top 10 in back-to-back seasons in 2015 and 2016. Don’t get caught snoozing here!

10. Amari Cooper

Cooper started off Weeks 1-8 hot, but down the stretch (Weeks 9-17) averaged 46 Yards Per Game and totaled 3 TDs in that same period. On the flip-side and speaking volumes toward the strength of this offense and team, QB Derek Carr’s Yards Per Game have increased from 204 in 2014, to 249 in 2015 to 262 in 2016 with “Completion Percentage” also taking an uptick by 2-3% each season, even though he has regressed in Passing Attempts in each of his three seasons. Carr is becoming more efficient and Oakland is getting better and controlling the game more often each season. To extrapolate that, Cooper has seen these same trends, which tells a growing and positive chemistry between both Cooper and Carr. Cooper has had an increase in both Receptions, Targets and Yards each season, with an important statistic being our ever-favorite Reception/Target Ratio, increasing from 55% in 2015 to 63% in 2016. We expect Cooper’s red zone looks to increase in 2017, which should bring him up to a 7-8 TD Season along with overall efficiency, which should provide a bump in yardage totals. This is pretty telling data and one we recommend going forward. Buy-Buy-Buy!

Jordan and Michael Tozzi were 2013's Most Accurate Fantasy Football Experts in the nation. Owners of LegionReport.com

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