clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Fantasy Football 2015: Wide Receiver Rankings

Armando Marsal shares his top 50 wide receiver rankings

Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

Wide Receiver Rankings

Armando Marsal

Fantasy Writer

As the NFL has shifted to a passing game, receivers have gained value in fantasy football. In most instances, fantasy leagues are now created as PPR formats. If you're not familiar with PPR, it is a point per reception. Essentially, each time a player catches a pass he gets one point. Fantasy football is no longer what it was a couple of years back. The change of the game and the changing of formats, along with more running back by committees, have balanced the playing field a bit. The first 10 picks of a fantasy draft are no longer composed of the top 8-10 running backs; you'll see more receivers taken than you may have in years past.

If you have a middle pick in this year's fantasy draft, then you may want to consider taking an elite receiver over the best available running back, especially if you're in a PPR format league. That being said, let's take a look at my top 50 receivers below.


Antonio Brown PIT


Julio Jones ATL


Dez Bryant DAL


Calvin Johnson DET


Jordy Nelson GB


Odell Beckham NYG


Demaryius Thomas DEN


A.J. Green CIN


Randall Cobb GB


Brandin Cooks NO


T.Y. Hilton IND


Alshon Jeffery CHI


Jordan Matthews PHI


DeAndre Hopkins HOU


Emmanuel Sanders DEN


Julian Edelman NE


Mike Evans TB


Kelvin Benjamin CAR


Andre Johnson IND


Keenan Allen SD


Brandon Marshall NYJ


Jarvis Landry MIA


Golden Tate DET


Breshad Perriman BAL


Amari Cooper OAK


Sammy Watkins BUF


DeSean Jackson WAS


Vincent Jackson TB


Allen Robinson JAC


Michael Floyd ARI


Martavis Bryant PIT


Roddy White ATL


Nelson Agholor PHI


Jeremy Maclin KC


Charles Johnson MIN


Ruben Randle NYG


Kevin White CHI


DeVante Parker MIA


Davante Adams GB


Mike Wallace MIN


Brandon LaFell NE


Anquan Boldin SF


Eric Decker NYJ


John Brown ARI


Steve Smith BAL


Larry Fitzgerald ARI


Victor Cruz NYG


Marques Colston NO


Kenny Stills MIA


Terrance Williams DAL

Quite frankly, the top three receivers, Antonio Brown, Julio Jones, and Dez Bryant, are interchangeable in my opinion. Brown offers consistency, while Jones and Bryant offer extreme upside. Brown led the league in receptions and receiving yards last season, and had the second most receptions (110) and yards (1,499) in 2013. He averaged 23.8 fantasy points per game in PPR formats and 15.7 fantasy points per game in standard leagues. Brown is the focal point of the Steelers passing game and should remain just that in 2015. Jones is a freak of nature and offers a ceiling that not many receivers offer. Injuries have hurt him throughout his NFL career as he's only played one full season in four years as a pro. Last year, he hit career highs in receptions and yards, but only caught six touchdown passes. He finished with the third most receiving yards, as well as the third most receptions.  Keep in mind, he missed a game and dealt with injuries throughout the season. Assuming he can stay healthy, the sky is the limit for Jones. The Falcons signed offensive coordinator, Kyle Shanahan this offseason. The reason I mention that is because while he hasn't been an extraordinary coordinator, the X receiver on his offenses have found success. Shanahan became an offensive coordinator in 2008. Since then, he's had a receiver with at least 90 catches and 1,100+ receiving yards in four of those seasons. This includes three receivers with over 100 catches in a season. Keep in mind, in 2011 he had few weapons on the Redskins offense and last year he was the Browns OC. Need I say more? In Atlanta, there is plenty of talent, starting with Jones himself. I am confident that Shanahan will revolve a good amount of his offense around Jones. Bryant has improved in probably the most important category each season, touchdown catches. He has now caught double digit touchdowns in three consecutive seasons. What's even more mind boggling is that he had 16 last year, and the Cowboys defense was a run first team. Now that DeMarco Murray is in Philly and there's not an elite runner on this offense, this team could rely on Tony Romo's arm more this season. With that said, Bryant could be the beneficiary of this because he's, by far, the most talented receiver on this offense and Romo's go-to guy. He's caught 88+ passes and has 1,200+ yards in three straight seasons to go along with the double digit touchdowns. He's yet to break 100 receptions and 1,400 yards in a single season, but there's a good chance that changes this season and he could reach career highs in both of those categories. You know what you're going to get with Bryant and he offers plenty of upside too.

Right below those three receivers is Calvin Johnson. For me, he's on a tier of his own. He's not quite at the tier with the top three receivers, but he's a tier above the receivers below him. For this article's sake, let's consider Megatron tier 1b. What keeps him out of the top tier with Brown, Bryant, and Jones, is his inability to stay healthy. Granted, the same can be said about Julio Jones, but Johnson will turn 30 this season and has now missed five games in the last two seasons. The good news is that he still went over 1,000 receiving yards despite missing three games in 2014. If Johnson can remain healthy, he can easily finish as the top receiver this season, but that's a big if at this point in his career. That being said, he offers a pretty high ceiling and had been consistent throughout his career. He's currently being drafted as the sixth receiver in the middle of the second round, which can end up being one of the steals of this year's draft for many fantasy owners. If it was guaranteed he'd stay healthy all season, it's very likely he'd be getting picked in the first rounds of most leagues.

The next four receivers, A.J. Green, Jordy Nelson, Odell Beckham Jr, Demaryius Thomas, are all relatively close for me. Normally, Thomas would be the receiver I'd lean on from this bunch, but to be quite honest, I'm not confident in Peyton Manning this season. Thomas has finished with the fourth most or better receiving yards in the last three seasons. He's the most proven and arguably talented of the bunch, but Manning concerns me. Nelson is catching passes from perhaps the best quarterback in the NFL right now. Last season he finished with the second most receiving touchdowns and fourth most receiving yards. This Packers offense is as good as it gets and Nelson is targeted the most of any player on this offense. Beckham came out after missing the first four games of the season and posted mind boggling numbers. He had 91 catches for 1,305 yards and 12 touchdowns. He finished seventh in fantasy points in PPR formats and fifth in standard scoring. Beckham had at least 90 yards in all of the last nine games of the season. He caught 70 percent of the passes thrown his way and showed exceptional route running skills. The sky is the limit for Beckham, but we also have to be realistic here. There's a good chance for some regression, but even if that happens, he should be able to finish as a high-end WR1. Green is someone that I feel is being overlooked because of his 2014 season. He's been drafted as late as the third round in some drafts. Green caught over 90 passes and had double digit touchdowns in 2012 and 2013. Last season he finished with 69 catches for 1,041 yards and six touchdowns. However, he missed three games and had an injury plagued season. He is coming into a contract year and just saw Dez Bryant and Demaryius Thomas collect a hefty check. Talk about motivation. There's not a lot of buzz around him, but I'm anticipating a bounce back season. If he's sitting around in your draft in mid second or late second, take him with a smile.

Randall Cobb, Brandin Cooks, T.Y. Hilton and Alshon Jeffery are the last receivers that I'd consider a WR1 in a 12 team league. Cobb is the most established of the bunch, is in the best offense, and is the least risky. That being said, I think Cooks could finish with the best numbers of the group. He was sidelined for the season after week 10 in his rookie campaign after suffering a thumb injury. Prior to getting injured, the speedster caught 53 passes for 550 yards and three touchdowns in 10 games, averaging 5.3 catches per game and 55 yards per game. He was targeted 70 times in those 10 games and caught 77 percent of the passes thrown his way, which was the highest of all receivers with at least 50 catches. That shows good hands and a reliable option for the quarterback. The Saints traded away Jimmy Graham and Kenny Stills this offseason, leaving Cooks as one of the main targets. Brees showed confidence in Cooks last season and I'm expecting him to be his go-to receiver all season. I wouldn't be shocked to see a 100 reception season for Cooks. Hilton and Jeffery are close, but I'm more comfortable with Andrew Luck at quarterback than I am with Jay Cutler. Chances are Hilton will see less targets this season, but he is in a much better situation. Jeffery will head into the season as the team's number one receiver for the first time in his career. With no Brandon Marshall around, I'm interested to see how Jeffery will handle being covered by a team's best corner all season long. He's definitely talented enough to surpass that and should have no problem posting up solid numbers, but Hilton is much safer as well as the more explosive of the two.

DeAndre Hopkins, Jarvis Landry, Julian Edelman, Keenan Allen, and Breshad Perriman are the receivers I'm most excited about in the next twelve. Edelman and Landry are both much better options in PPR formats. Hopkins is the one receiver who has the potential to finish in the top 12, but the lack of talent at the quarterback position makes that a much tougher obstacle than one would like. Allen intrigues me this season for a couple of reasons. First off, he's entering his third season which is usually the season receivers develop and get over the hump. Second, he should get plenty of looks early on this season since Antonio Gates is suspended for several games. Lastly, he appears to be more focused in becoming a better receiver by preparing himself for the upcoming season. I have Allen as a bounce back candidate this season. I wouldn't be surprised to see him as a top 15 receiver at the end 0f 2015. The only rookie I have amongst my top 24 this year is Breshad Perriman. Yes, I have him ahead of Amari Cooper. I'm very excited for this Ravens offense, now that felt weird typing. They brought in offensive coordinator Marc Trestman who is an offensive guru. Perriman should immediately become the team's No. 1 receiver and could see a heavy amount of targets early on. Not only is the young receiver big, but he's also fast. His only downfall is that his hands aren't great. That being said, I'm not too concerned as I'm expecting big things from this rookie this season.

Some receivers out of the top 24 that can surprise fantasy owners this season are Reuben Randle, Vincent Jackson, Allen Robinson, and Nelson Agholor to name a few. It wouldn't surprise me to see them outperform their ADPs.  Make sure to keep an eye on training camps and preseason as some receivers can see drops and bumps in rankings due to injuries and depth charts changes. Best of luck to all this season!