We spend a lot of time projecting players’ most likely outcomes. Considerably less energy is devoted to forecasting the extreme ends of the spectrum. What will happen if everything goes right? If it all goes wrong? This is not a mathematical endeavor, but a reasoned attempt at guessing players’ poles. Body of work, age, injury history and supporting cast are all taken into account. Although health is considered, it is also assumed that the true “worst-case scenario” for any NFL player is “ruptured Achilles’ as he falls from cart following torn ACL.” The quarterbacks list can be found here. Running backs are here.    


Note: Rankings are based on Evan Silva’s “Early-Camp 150.” For complete rankings and projections, be sure to order the Rotoworld Draft Guide.


1. Antonio Brown

Best Case: Brown meets his three-year averages in catches, yards and touchdowns, posting a 124/1,605/12 line to finish as the WR1. Just kidding, Brown breaks the single-season receptions record of 143.  


Worst Case: With Ben Roethlisberger slowing down and Martavis Bryant heating up, Brown’s 2016 emerges as a new baseline. He catches 105 balls for 1,200 yards and 10 touchdowns.  


2. Julio Jones

Best Case: Blowing by 120 receptions for the second time in three years, Jones posts just the second 1,900-yard season in NFL history. His 15 touchdowns best his previous career high by five.


Worst Case: With Kyle Shanahan gone, Matt Ryan regresses more sharply than expected. Even worse, Jones never fully recovers from his latest foot operation, looking a step slow as he fails to reach 1,000 yards for the first time since 2013.  


3. Odell Beckham

Best Case: Easily winning receiving’s triple crown — catches, yards and touchdowns — Beckham’s 18 scores are tied for the third most in NFL history. His career year doubles as one of the greatest receiving displays of all time.  


Worst Case: Eli Manning’s downward spiral ramps up while Brandon Marshall’s slows down. Beckham barely reaches 1,200 yards as erratic Manning funnels a surprising amount of targets Marshall’s way.


4. A.J. Green

Best Case: Green triples last year’s pitiful touchdown total (four) while breezing past 1,500 yards for the first time in seven NFL seasons. Every fantasy owner who bet on Green over Mike Evans looks like a genius.


Worst Case: Green hits his three-year average of three missed games, failing to eclipse 1,000 yards for the second consecutive season. Fantasy owners begin to wonder if John Ross is the best Bengals receiving bet in Dynasty leagues.


5. Jordy Nelson

Best Case: Nelson repeats his 2016, with the lone deviation being his touchdowns increase from 14 to 15, matching his 2011 career high.


Worst Case: 32-year-old Nelson is another year removed from shredding his knee, but instead of looking healthier he looks older. Davante Adams’ 2016 proves not to be a fluke and Randall Cobb shakes his two-year slump. Last year’s WR2 overall is suddenly a WR2.



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6. Mike Evans

Best Case: It’s hard to regress when you’re this good. Evans’ targets do decline from last year’s 175, but his efficiency as an explosive-play threat actually increases on last season’s excellent 2.28 yards per route run. Evans coasts by 100 catches and 1,400 yards.  


Worst Case: The Bucs stick with the run-heavy formula that produced a 6-2 finish in 2016. Jameis Winston, meanwhile, gladly spreads the ball around to new weapons DeSean Jackson, O.J. Howard and Chris Godwin. 2017 Evans posts 2016 Demaryius Thomas numbers.


7. Michael Thomas

Best Case: Thomas refuses to settle for “Marques Colston sophomore campaign” (98/1,202/11), as his 1,400 yards are the most ever for a Drew Brees receiver in New Orleans. Thomas’ second season is the logical progression fantasy owners dreamed about all summer.  


Worst Case: Willie Snead leads the Saints’ post-Brandin Cooks receiver corps in targets while new addition Ted Ginn goes full Devery Henderson (50/800/5). Thomas is a top-18 option instead of the top-10 player he was as a rookie.  


8. Doug Baldwin

Best Case: Baldwin posts new career highs in catches (100) and yards (1,250) while splitting the difference between his 2015-16 touchdown totals (10). He’s a WR1 for the third straight year.


Worst Case: Russell Wilson is reined back in below 500 pass attempts as a healthy Tyler Lockett and third-rounder Amara Darboh make for a deeper receiver corps. Baldwin finds middle ground, but it’s between his 2014-15 seasons (72/947/8).


9. Dez Bryant

Best Case: Dez roars back after two years in the injury wilderness, scoring the second most touchdowns of his career (14) while reaching new heights in yardage (1,400). His 155 targets are spread out unusually evenly by his standards as the Cowboys spend more time playing from behind than they did in 2016.  


Worst Case: Bryant matches his two-year average for games played (11) as Dak Prescott suffers steep declines on his rookie efficiency. Although he’s still only 29 (in November), Bryant becomes a “never again” player in fantasy.  


10. T.Y. Hilton

Best Case: Posting the first 100-catch campaign of his career, Hilton surprisingly leads the league in yardage (1,600). He flirts with WR1 overall status as he reaches 10 touchdowns for the first time in six NFL seasons.


Worst Case: It’s #TolzienTime as Andrew Luck (shoulder) begins the year on the PUP list. Even with Luck returning in Week 7, Hilton struggles to reach 1,000 yards as the Colts’ offense never gets in sync.  


11. Amari Cooper

Best Case: Cooper follows the Mike Evans career arc, putting it all together as a 23-year-old junior. Mysterious lingering injuries and frustrating touchdown droughts are a thing of the past as Cooper throws his hat into the “top-five in the league” ring.


Worst Case: Derek Carr stops outperforming his peripherals, making the Raiders’ offense one of the most disappointing in football. Not that Cooper can blame it all on his quarterback. He continues to invent new ways not to score touchdowns, and regresses instead of improves on his baffling sophomore season.  


12. Sammy Watkins

Best Case: Finally healthy, Watkins is DeSean Jackson meets Demaryius Thomas as a deep threat capable of doing major damage after the catch. He’s an elite WR1 in a passing offense that increases both its volume and efficiency post-Rex Ryan.


Worst Case: Still always injured, Watkins sets career lows in games played and yards per catch. He’s the league’s oldest 24 year old.  


13. Larry Fitzgerald

Best Case: 200 receptions behind Tony Gonzalez for the second most all time, Fitz gets halfway there, snagging 100 balls as his yards per catch gets back into the 11.0 range.  


Worst Case: As usual, Fitz wore down in the second half last season. Not as usual, this time he doesn’t bounce back. Fitz looks every bit his 34 years as he’s held below 780 yards for the first time in 14 NFL seasons.  


14. Demaryius Thomas

Best Case: Peyton Manning isn’t walking back through that door, but OC Mike McCoy is. McCoy reinstates Thomas’ receiver screens as the offense’s signature play, sparking both Thomas and the team. Thomas is the year’s cheapest WR1 investment.


Worst Case: With Gary Kubiak no longer managing and manipulating Trevor Siemian, Thomas’ quarterback play manages to be even worse than it was in 2016. Thomas’ gift for his 30th birthday is a recurrence of the hip pain that dogged him all last season. The glory days are dead and gone.  


15. Keenan Allen

Best Case: Turning narratives on their head, Allen is one of the lone Bolts to stay healthy. He does so as the player he’s always teased, vacuuming up targets while averaging 11 yards per catch. He scores every other game and is one of the league’s most consistent WR2s.


Worst Case: Even at 25, years of injury leave Allen looking like a diminished player. There’s no need to force him targets as Mike Williams rallies back from his back injury and Hunter Henry builds on his stellar rookie campaign. Tyrell Williams is the Chargers’ No. 1 receiver even when Allen is healthy enough for the 46-man roster.  


16. Terrelle Pryor

Best Case: Pryor completes the transition Tim Tebow never made, going from dual-threat quarterback to star pass catcher. Pryor plucks down jump ball after jump ball from surprisingly aggressive quarterback Kirk Cousins, who is trying to burn villages on his way out of Washington. Pryor is a $6 million WR1.


Worst Case: Pryor can’t match his camp highlights while Cousins locks onto BFFs Jordan Reed and Jamison Crowder. Sophomore Josh Doctson’s breakout further marginalizes Pryor on the outside of an offense that primarily focuses underneath. Pryor’s starting point in free agency is $3 million.


17. Golden Tate

Best Case: Tate exploits Anquan Boldin’s absence by securing a bigger role in the red zone, as his yearly 90 catches and 1,100 yards come with a career-high eight touchdowns.


Worst Case: The Lions double down on keepaway, cutting Matthew Stafford’s attempts from 594 to 550. Breakout players Eric Ebron and Ameer Abdullah pick up Boldin’s touchdown slack while third-rounder Kenny Golladay draws a surprising amount of targets. The Lions ponder cutting Tate in the offseason instead of letting him play out the final year of his deal.   


18. Stefon Diggs

Best Case: This time, Diggs’ hot streak lasts the entire season. The third-year pro eases by 100 receptions while hitting his career mark of 11.9 yards per catch. He doubles his lifetime touchdown total of seven.


Worst Case: Laquon Treadwell’s breakout and Adam Thielen’s steady ascension trap Diggs in Cole Beasley Land. For fantasy owners, he’s more fun owning in theory than practice.


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19. Jarvis Landry

Best Case: The status quo holds for Landry, who sees a modest uptick on last year’s 131 targets. Both the 90-catch and 1,100-yard campaigns are his third straight. The Dolphins seem suddenly interested in re-signing their slot machine.


Worst Case: Coach Adam Gase already planned to continue his slow rollback of Landry’s target share, but new quarterback Jay Cutler accelerates it even further. Landry is suddenly a standard slot man, finishing with 65-70 catches. It’s understood he will be allowed to walk in free agency.


20. DeAndre Hopkins

Best Case: Deshaun Watson takes 2017 by storm and Hopkins rides shotgun, erasing memories of his dispiriting 2016 by leading the league in receiving yards. The Clemson alums play pitch-and-catch instead of Brock Osweiler tooth extraction.  


Worst Case: Weak-armed Watson can’t lead Hopkins down the field, making every catch a contest. Tom Savage is eventually called in, solving nothing. An even more off-the-rails offense than 2016 produces another unfathomable sub-1,000 yard campaign.  


21. Davante Adams

Best Case: Adams bests last year’s catch (75) and yardage (997) totals while his touchdowns (12) and efficiency (62 percent of his targets are receptions) hold steady. His streakiness evens out into someone you can count on as a weekly WR1.  


Worst Case: Splitting the difference between Adams’ nightmarish 2015 and surprising 2016 doesn’t cut it. Adams is wildly uneven except for his drops, which increase from nine to 11. The Packers decide to let the 2014 second-rounder walk in free agency.


22. Allen Robinson

Best Case: Robinson picks up where he left off in 2015, rendering 2016 a confusing memory. Robinson can’t quite match his 80/1,400/14 breakout, but his 85/1,250/10 re-establishes him as an elite Dynasty league commodity.   


Worst Case: Blake Bortles’ attempts are slashed from 625 to 500. On the rare occasions he is passing, Bortles is spreading the ball around more than he did during Robinson’s salad days. Another sub-1,000 yard season suddenly has Robinson at a career crossroads.


23. Brandin Cooks

Best Case: Cooks cuts through the red tape of target competition by simply dominating. He sets new career highs in catches, yardage and touchdowns as he adds a yard to his already excellent 2016 yards per catch (16.0). He’s a more consistent WR1 than he was in New Orleans.  


Worst Case: The Pats manage to find a role for everybody — Gronk, Julian Edelman, Chris Hogan, Malcolm Mitchell, Dwayne Allen, James White, Dion Lewis, Rex Burkhead — driving Cooks mad with target envy. His campaign is a pout-filled disaster that can’t even produce WR2 status.


24. Alshon Jeffery

Best Case: Risk-taking sophomore Carson Wentz lets Jeffery high point the ball to the tune of 1,200 yards. The ex-Bear just narrowly misses his second 10-touchdown season. Jeffery can’t wait to cash in on the open market, but the Eagles decide to use the franchise tag.


Worst Case: To the naked eye, it’s hard to tell if Jeffery left Chicago. His quarterback play is erratic, as is his health. Jeffery makes it clear he’s transitioning to the Hakeem Nicks phase of his career.


25. Martavis Bryant

Best Case: First off, Bryant stays off the suspended list. Second off, he does what Josh Gordon never could, transcending his bans for a full-blown comeback. Finishing just outside the WR1 ranks, Bryant guarantees he will be drafted as a top-12 receiver in 2018.


Worst Case: Full reinstatement never comes, leaving fans to wonder just how exactly Bryant ended up on the Justin Blackmon scrap heap.  


26. Tyreek Hill

Best Case: Hill has the unholy amalgamation of a standard Jarvis Landry campaign and Tyler Lockett’s would-be 2016. His stats are those of a compiler, but his fantasy numbers are those of someone who busts frequent big plays. He’s one of the most unconventional WR1s of all time.


Worst Case: It’s not quite the fate of all gadgetkind — Hill has already proven he’s no Cordarrelle Patterson — but he ultimately can’t out-run his frame and natural role. After a month of being miscast as the Chiefs’ No. 1 receiver, Hill resumes his Percy Harvin-lite lifestyle.  


27. Julian Edelman

Best Case: Appearing in all 16 games for the second straight year, Edelman refuses to give his target competition an opening. He repeats his 2016 and rolls over questions about his fit and future in New England’s crowded offense to 2018.  


Worst Case: The only leaderboard Edelman remains near the top of is drops. With Brandin Cooks transforming the Patriots’ offense, Edelman becomes much more scattershot. His 3-4 missed games don’t help matters. At age 31, he has the looks of a near-future ex-Pat.


28. Michael Crabtree

Best Case: Everyone’s least favorite borderline WR1/2 more or less repeats his first two years in Oakland, only this time he reaches double-digit touchdowns. The souped-up Brandon LaFell you never asked for, Crabtree is nevertheless an asset you’re glad to have in crunch time.  


Worst Case: Crabtree extrapolates last year’s second half — 42/434/2 — out over the entire season as Derek Carr stops out-performing his rate stats. The Raiders recognize the need to get a more explosive player opposite Amari Cooper.


29. Jamison Crowder

Best Case: Crowder reaches the top rung of the Emmanuel Sanders/Golden Tate ladder, leading the Redskins in catches, yards and touchdowns. One year after finishing as the WR29 in standard, Crowder blurs the line between WR1/2.  


Worst Case: Terrelle Pryor emerges as a true WR1 while Josh Doctson seizes a surprising amount of DeSean Jackson and Pierre Garcon’s 216 lost targets. Crowder can’t quite get himself in the Stefon Diggs conversation as he struggles to match last year’s numbers.   


30. Emmanuel Sanders

Best Case: With the Broncos’ offense stabilized by OC Mike McCoy, Sanders finds the middle ground between Peyton Manning and Trevor Siemian, nabbing 88 balls for 1,200 yards. He’s one of the most extreme values in all of fantasy football.


Worst Case: With neither Siemian nor Paxton Lynch gelling with McCoy, Sanders’ run of 1,000-yard, 130-target seasons is snapped at three. He’s a rich man’s Stevie Johnson, a role that produces only intermittent fantasy value.  


31. Willie Snead

Best Case: With Brandin Cooks out of the picture, Snead has Michael Thomas’ rookie season, posting a 90/1,130/8 campaign. True to his summer word, Snead is more of a threat down the field, making him a versatile and dangerous weapon for a team that doesn’t miss Cooks a bit.


Worst Case: Most of Cooks’ lost targets are replaced by backfield touches, as the Saints tweak their age-old formula of passing and then passing some more. Ted Ginn also has a career year in New Orleans’ Robert Meachem role. Snead’s repeat of his solid 2015-16 numbers feels like a disappointment.  


32. Kelvin Benjamin

Best Case: In better shape with a better attitude, Benjamin has an 80/1,100/10 career year as the Panthers’ offense improves across the board on last year’s disaster.


Worst Case: “kelvin benjamin weight” replaces “eddie lacy weight” as the top weight-related fantasy search. With Benjamin struggling to stay in shape, rookies Christian McCaffrey and Curtis Samuel happily eat into his targets. The Panthers decline Benjamin’s club option and move on to Plan B.


33. Pierre Garcon

Best Case: Reunited with Kyle Shanahan, Garcon can’t quite repeat the ridiculous numbers he posted the last time Shanny was calling the plays — 113/1,346/5 — but comes much closer than anyone expects. Garcon is an every-week WR2 in one of the league’s least-talented offenses.  


Worst Case: The only 49ers pass catcher opposing defenses have to respect, Garcon gets shadowed like he’s Antonio Brown. On the rare occasions the YAC dynamo manages to find open space, career 59.6 percent passer Brian Hoyer routinely overshoots him. Garcon struggles for WR3 value.   


34. Jeremy Maclin

Best Case: Steve Smith Sr., but with less anger. Maclin catches 80 balls for around 1,100 yards and eight touchdowns, similar to what Sr. did as a first-year Raven in 2014. It becomes clear early on that Maclin’s disastrous 2016 was all about injury.  


Worst Case: Last year was injury related, but along with Maclin’s many previous ailments, it takes a permanent toll on his effectiveness. That, coupled with more regression from Joe Flacco makes Maclin a faint WR4.  


35. Donte Moncrief

Best Case: Moncrief posts new career highs in catches and yards while remaining a featured presence in the red zone. His 10 touchdowns are amongst the league leaders.


Worst Case: The ghost is given up. Moncrief continues on his middling trajectory, struggling enough for WR3 value that fantasy owners are no longer kidding themselves by October.


36. DeSean Jackson

Best Case: Jackson averages over 20 yards per catch for the first time since 2014. His eight touchdowns are one off his career high.


Worst Case: When the Bucs aren’t running, they’re funneling targets to Mike Evans. Jackson has the feel of a gadget player in his age-31 season. Fantasy owners have to decide if they want Malcom Floyd 2.0 on their roster.   


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