Tier One: Elite WR1s
Overview: Tier-one wideouts are volume monsters and offensive focal points with multi-year track records of elite production. Brown arguably deserves his own tier as our generation’s version of Jerry Rice. Hopkins, Jones, and Beckham are virtually interchangeable in the WR2 spot. Hopkins was last year’s overall WR1 during Deshaun Watson’s Weeks 2-8 stint under center. More impressively, Hopkins was last year’s WR1 with Tom Savage and T.J. Yates at quarterback. Incredibly, Julio is gunning for his fifth straight season above 1,400 yards and is due for positive-touchdown regression after scoring on just 3.4% of his 2017 receptions. Jones’ previous career TD rate was 8.0%. Beckham has been a top-five receiver in fantasy points per game in 4-of-4 NFL seasons. OBJ slant routes and increased slot usage should be staples of new Giants coach Pat Shurmur’s quick-hitting attack. Allen’s scoring-position role is virtually uncontested following Hunter Henry’s ACL tear. Thomas scored only five touchdowns as a sophomore after making nine end-zone trips as a rookie, and the 2018 Saints’ passing volume is likely to rise. Adams leads the NFL in both red-zone targets (46) and receiving touchdowns (22) over the past two years and gets Aaron Rodgers back. Green has been a top-12 receiver in points per game in 7-of-7 seasons. Evans is another positive-touchdown-regression pick after scoring on just 11.1% of his targets inside the ten-yard line last year. Previously, Evans scored on 57.9% of his career targets inside the ten.
Tier Two: Third- and Fourth-Round Picks with WR1 Potential
Overview: These receivers aren’t quite as stable as those in tier one but are capable of scoring in the same ballpark. Although Fitzgerald is 35 years old, he has turned in three straight 100-plus-catch seasons, improved his separation numbers from 2016 to 2017, and faces minimal target competition in Arizona. He’s finished top 12 in red-zone targets in back-to-back years. Thielen and Diggs are 1a and 1b in a Minnesota passing game stabilized by Kirk Cousins’ addition. Cousins has strong historical dome-game splits and will play a career-high 8-of-15 fantasy-relevant weeks indoors this year. Hilton is one Andrew Luck injury-ruined season removed from leading the NFL in receiving yards and should dominate targets in a Colts offense otherwise short on pass-catching talent. Hill exploded for top-five WR1 results in a sophomore breakout, but quarterback change and Kansas City’s acquisition of Sammy Watkins add volatility to his projection. Baldwin was my overall WR9 before suffering a knee injury that will cost him all of camp. Pete Carroll has expressed optimism about Baldwin’s Week 1 availability, but Carroll’s past injury declarations have been less than reliable. I am still willing to draft Baldwin in the fourth round.
Tier Three: WR2 Staples with Chances to Finish as Back-End WR1s
Chris Hogan (WR16) > Marvin Jones (WR17) > Jarvis Landry (WR18) > Amari Cooper (WR19) > JuJu Smith-Schuster (WR20) > Brandin Cooks (WR21) > Golden Tate (WR22) > Sammy Watkins (WR23) > Demaryius Thomas (WR24) > Alshon Jeffery (WR25)
Overview: Hogan leads off this tier after putting up top-ten receiver stats in last season’s first eight games, then suffering a shoulder injury that ruined his second half. Finally healthy in the Super Bowl, Hogan went off against Philly (6/128/1). As Cooks is gone and Julian Edelman is on suspension, Hogan will open the year as Tom Brady’s top wideout. A top-ten WR1 in 2017, Jones concerningly lost 4.5 targets and 24.1 yards per game with Kenny Golladay healthy, although Eric Ebron’s exit frees up 86 targets in Detroit. I was down on Landry all spring, but Corey Coleman’s departure, Josh Gordon’s uncertain status, and Antonio Callaway’s latest off-field blunder have massively boosted Landry’s stock and made me regret that pre-camp stance. Landry is going to vacuum targets yet again. Jon Gruden has vowed to make Cooper the “main vein” of his passing game and compared Amari to ex-pupil Sterling Sharpe. Smith-Schuster should offer a stable WR2 floor and league-winning upside if Antonio Brown were to miss time. It’s hard to imagine the Rams not using Cooks more than 2017 Watkins after signing him to a five-year, $80 million extension. Cooks has topped 1,000 yards in three straight years. Tate has cleared 90 catches all four seasons in Detroit and has a post-Ebron stranglehold on targets in the middle of the field. A lid-lifting decoy for last year’s Rams, the Chiefs figure to push more targets Watkins’ way after making him the NFL’s fourth-richest receiver. I’ve mostly avoided Thomas based on his continued efficiency descent going on age 31, but he belongs in the WR2/3 mix with upgraded quarterback play. Jeffery’s recovery from a significant shoulder surgery has cost him all of training camp to this point.
Read the rest of Silva’s WR Tiers in the 2018 Rotoworld Draft Guide.
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