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Wide receivers: The elite, the middle and the bargain

Three wide receiver targets for three different fantasy tiers.

NFL: Minnesota Vikings at Detroit Lions Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports

If there is ever a time to zig while others zag, to play parcheesi while others play pong, to drink stouts while others drink IPAs, that time is now. With the fantasy world going crazy for all these running backs, wide receivers are getting pushed down draft boards to levels we would never think possible.

Per Fantasy Football Calculator, only two wide receivers are going in the first round. Six of the top 10 receivers can be drafted in the second round. The final two fall to the third round. Meanwhile at running back, the top 10 backs are all going in the first round.

Like I said, it’s a perfect time to zig.

Below are three wide receiver targets, one from each tier, so if you want to draft your receivers early or wait and see who could fall right into your lap, you’re covered.

(ADP via Fantasy Football Calculator)

The Elite

Odell Beckham Jr (ADP: 2.01, WR3)

NFL: Cleveland Browns at New York Giants Noah K. Murray-USA TODAY Sports

Odell Beckham is currently lasting until the second round of fantasy drafts. Let that sink in. This is a man who has finished at least a top five fantasy reciever every year he’s been in the league (ignoring last year of course). In 2015, he was the eighth best fantasy player OVERALL. And you can get that in the second round!

Beckham is recovering from a broken ankle that kept him out all of last year but I don’t think that’s going to hinder him heading into this year. Even with Saquon Barkley now on the team, this offense is going to revolve around Beckham and he could be even more dominant with a strong ground game to keep defenses honest.

Don’t overthink this.

Honorable mention: A.J. Green

The Middle

Marvin Jones (ADP: 5.09, WR24)

NFL: Detroit Lions-Minicamp Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports

Someone is going to have to explain to me why the fifth best fantasy receiver last year is getting drafted at WR24 this year despite nothing in the offense changing. The Lions didn’t go out and get a big name receiver nor did they lose Matthew Stafford. I understand people wanting to be cautious and build in a little bit of regression but do you really think he’ll fall from a top five receiver down to the 20s?

Jones has only gotten better since he joined the Lions and he’s firmly entrenched himself as a go-to down the field guy for Stafford. For those Kenny Golladay truthers who think he’s going to come out of nowhere to completely replace Jones, think again. Even if Golladay does become a legit weapon in the passing game, there are plenty of targets to go around in Detroit. The Lions got rid of Eric Ebron who was third on the team last year in targets with 86. That’s plenty for Golladay to eat into without touching any of Jones’ production.

tl;dr: Jones has WR1 upside—the same WR1 upside he displayed last year—and is going backend of the fifth. Please and thank you.

Honorable mention: Chris Hogan, Marquise Goodwin

The Bargain

Chris Godwin (ADP: 14.02, WR63)

NFL: New Orleans Saints at Tampa Bay Buccaneers Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Chris Godwin has been generating a ton of buzz coming out of Buccaneers camp and it seems he’s overthrown Desean Jackson as the second receiver in that offense even with two preseason games left. Through two games of the preseason, Godwin is tied for second on the team in targets (6), third in catches (4) and first in touchdowns (1). His yards haven’t been impressive but it’s clear the coaching staff is looking to get the ball to Godwin to see what he can do.

Godwin is the perfect low risk, high reward candidate as he’s going in the last rounds of drafts and could emerge as a WR2/Flex option in a high powered passing attack. His value could be off the charts this year.

Honorable mention: Michael Gallup, Josh Doctson

Bonus Uber Bargain

James Washington (undrafted)

If you want to wow all your friends with an uber sleeper, James Washington is your guy. First off, the Steelers have already proven to be one of the only teams in the NFL that can give rookie receivers fantasy value. For whatever reason, every other team struggles implementing rookie receivers, yet we all saw what JuJu Smith-Schuster did in that offense last year.

Washington will have a hard road to get any targets come regular season, but he’s been more than showing out during the preseason. He’s the sixth most targeted receiver in the NFL so far in the preseason and leads the league in touchdowns and is third in yards. If he’s given a chance, he’ll produce for your fantasy team.

Honorable mention: Jaron Brown