It can be tough to predict where you should draft wide receivers in your fantasy football league. Instead of trying to do it yourself, I’ve listed out the optimal order to draft the top 52 fantasy receivers this year. You’re welcome.
1. DeAndre Hopkins – Houston Texans
This one is pretty simple: Hopkins gets a ton of targets, and that should continue even if the rest of the Texans receiver corps is healthier this year. DeAndre may not finish number 1, but he feels like one of the safest options here at the top.
2. Julio Jones – Atlanta Falcons
This is another nod to stability and longevity. Julio has been dominating for years, and the whole band is getting back together in Atlanta. Passing on Julio seems like one of those ‘getting too cute’ moves.
3. Davante Adams – Green Bay Packers
It is an embarrassment of riches at the top of wide receiver class, and Adams is, unfortunately, a victim of circumstance here. I wouldn’t argue against Adams as THE WR1, but once you sit down and start making the list, it’s odd how guys can fall sometimes.
4. Mike Evans – Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Speaking of perhaps getting too cute… I think folks are sleeping on what we might see out of Bruce Arians and Winston down in Tampa Bay. I am excited about Chris Godwin, but let’s not forget the Bucs already have one of the best receivers in the league, a receiver who’s never had fewer than 1,000 yards and has 2, 12 TD years under his belt.
5. Odell Beckham Jr. – Cleveland Browns
Beckham’s injury history and his moving to a new team are the only things keeping him out of contention for the WR1 rank. I believe Baker Mayfield is a truly special quarterback, and Odell is a truly special receiver. If the stars align, Odell could outpace the rest of the field on a Todd Gurley-in-2017 level.
6. Tyreek Hill – Kansas City Chiefs
A lot of fine statistical models scream regression is incoming for Hill. Sometimes, though, there is a player who is lives in outlier territory. With Hill and Mahomes in the Andy Reid offense, we may not have seen Hill’s peak yet.
7. Michael Thomas – New Orleans Saints
He keeps getting better every year, and his ADP continues to stay below his true value.
8. Antonio Brown – Oakland Raiders
A tumultuous offseason may be blocking our memories for what an amazing player Brown truly is. We may see AB’s numbers take a slight step back with Captain Checkdown in Oakland, but let’s not be too afraid to bet on perhaps the best receiver in the game producing even in an austere offense.
9. Keenan Allen – Los Angeles Chargers
Allen is a stalwart producer who’s run in to some very odd injury luck. We saw last year just how good he and Rivers can be when Allen is out there for a full season, and even with Melvin Gordon holding out, I think we would call the Chargers situation rather stable. Take the boring, productive pick with Allen.
10. JuJu Smith-Schuster – Pittsburgh Steelers
Juju’s struggles against man coverage concern me for his first year where he’s expected to carry the load as the wide receiver 1 in Pittsburgh. I also expect him to be in the top 5-10 for targets. Despite misgivings about a mismatched role and skill set, I think Smith-Schuster is a solid, end of the 2nd round pick.
11. T.Y. Hilton – Indianapolis Colts
Well we’re back to worrying about whether or not Andrew Luck is going to play football this year, but for now I’m ranking Hilton as though everything is going to be ok by the team the real games start. Perennially undervalued, Hilton is, once again, presenting an amazing bargain to fantasy drafters.
12. Julian Edelman – New England Patriots
I think we’re all looking past the obvious answer to the Patriots receiver corps question. It is going to be tough for Edelman to hold up for a full year with his size, age, and frequent deployment on middle of the field, get-your-ass-lit-up routes, but he could sneak up to the WR5-6 territory on that huge volume.
13. Adam Thielen – Minnesota Vikings
Thielen continues to produce and be underappreciated. Having said that, I’m having a hard time getting him higher in my ranks.
14. Stefon Diggs – Minnesota Vikings
The cop-out of cop-outs here. The Vikings have two amazing receivers in Diggs and Thielen, and despite Thielen being the taller of the two, Diggs seems the better outside receiver. I expect Gary Kubiak to have a heavy influence on the Vikings offense this year, and that’s worrisome considering the WR2 in Kubiak's system generally hasn’t been fantasy relevant. I’m splitting the baby here, please forgive me.
15. Tyler Lockett – Seattle Seahawks
Seattle may not like to pass, but even in the Seahawks had to throw it 427 times last year. Yes, that is a shockingly low figure, but that is still plenty of attempts for a receiver like Lockett and QB like Russell Wilson to make plenty of hay. Lockett had almost a thousand yards on fewer than 60 targets last year, and I expect the ‘Hawks to ask more from him now that Doug Baldwin has retired. You probably don’t have to draft him as the WR15, but you should.
16. Robert Woods – Los Angeles Rams
Woods had a steady season in his second year in the Rams’ offense. Despite concern over Todd Gurley’s knee, I’d say the Rams situation has been relatively stable. We should be able to count on another safe-but-boring, WR2 season from Woods.
17. Kenny Golladay – Detroit Lions
Golladay is an incredible talent beset on all sides by confounding circumstance. Despite having one of the best quarterbacks in the league, Matt Patricia mandates the Lions rush to the point of malpractice. Marvin Jones is still on the team and is also a fine receiver. This is maddening.
18. Chris Godwin – Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Godwin is a fantasy darling and for good reason. He’s shown tremendous talent in his first two seasons, and with a few departures in the Bucs receiving group, Godwin is cleared for takeoff.
19. A.J. Green – Cincinnati Bengals
This rank is assuming AJ misses a week or two to start the year, then comes back healthy. There is a whole lot of unknown in there, but I don’t want us to forget how valuable a healthy AJ Green can be just because he might miss the first week.
20. Brandin Cooks – Los Angeles Rams
The Rams move the ball and score a ton of points, and Cooks has shown, yet again, that he’s a fantastic receiver. His bursty production knock him down a few spots in the ranks, though.
21. Cooper Kupp – Los Angeles Rams
I’d love to see Kupp looking like his old self in the pre-season before investing a valuable pick on him, but I think we’re going to have to make this call based on camp reports. It’s hard for me to get him any higher with his coming off an ACL injury that seemed to take a little longer to heal than some we’ve seen lately.
22. Jarvis Landry – Cleveland Browns
A good offense has more than enough production to support 2 receivers as talented as Landy and Beckham Jr. The only fear here is that Landry shouldn’t be the absolute target hog he’s been early in his career.
23. Robby Anderson – New York Jets
Anderson is really tough to project. He’s a gifted athlete among gifted athletes, playing for a new head coach with a second year QB who has potential to be outstanding. We’re getting to the point where you’re taking shots on guys with a few warts, but you could do worse than betting on Anderson’s league-winner potential.
24. Tyler Boyd – Cincinnati Bengals
This is likely a little low for Boyd. I’m not putting him here because I’m worried about AJ Green, I have him this high because he’s proven to be valuable even with Green in the lineup.
25. Amari Cooper – Dallas Cowboys
Amari Cooper played AMAZINGLY once he joined the Cowboys… in that one game. Well, to be fair, in those 2 games. After each big performance he completely disappeared. So, ah, good luck figuring out which Amari we’ll get, when this year.
26. Christian Kirk – Arizona Cardinals
It feels very wrong to rank someone ahead of Larry Fitz, but what we saw from Kirk in his rookie year, and we might see from him if the Cardinals take even a modest step forward on offense is just what you’re looking for in a swing-for-the-fences WR2.
27. Dante Pettis – San Francisco 49ers
Pettis had an outstanding rookie season, all things considered. This rank is telling of the excitement I have for the Niners offense this year. The zone-run scheme that Kyle Shanahan runs can make a super-star out of a receiver with Pettis’s talent. We just have to close our eyes, cross our fingers, and hope that the snake-bit years are behind San Fran.
28. Mike Williams – Los Angeles Chargers
Williams looked good in his first healthy season with Philip Rivers. I’ve got him pushed down my ranks a bit because I am a true believer in Hunter Henry returning from his ACL injury and absorbing a bushel of Chargers receiving TDs. I do, though, think there is plenty of room for Williams to grow as far as volume is concerned. This is a real talented receiver held back a bit, fantasy wise, by playing on a very talented squad.
29. D.J. Moore – Carolina Panthers
Moore was touted as a bit of a project with nearly unlimited upside coming out of Maryland, and that is about what we saw from him in his first year. If DJ takes a step forward in year 2, and Cam Newton takes a step forward in the 2nd phase of his career (the ‘stop trying to get yourself killed and let the backs and receivers do that work’ phase) we could see big things out of Moore.
30. Curtis Samuel – Carolina Panthers
When Matt Harmon raves about a wide receiver, you should listen. Samuel has become a bit of a fantasy industry darling in the runup to draft season and for good reason. We saw flashes from Samuel last season, and Panthers’ camp reports are awash in praise for Samuel.
31. Will Fuller – Houston Texans
Fuller being so far down this list is 100% injury concern. Another swing-for-the-fences WR2 pick here.
32. Marvin Jones – Detroit Lions
Jones ranking this low is probably just an over-reaction to his injury-shortened season. And Matt Patricia ruining the Lions offense. And my love of Kenny Golladay.
33. Calvin Ridley – Atlanta Falcons
Ridley had a solid rookie season, showing he was well worth a first-round pick. It may be tough to get consistent production in Julio’s shadow, but Ridley is plenty talented to demand a bigger share of the Falcons air-attack.
34. John Brown – Buffalo Bills
Full disclosure, I’ve loved John Brown for a very long time. He was getting a good target share in Baltimore with Joe Flacco, but the Lamar Jackson experience was not kind to ole John Brown. There is real concern that Josh Allen may be too up and down to trust, but if Allen is good at something other than rushing, it is throwing the deep ball. This is one of those picks that might be pretty easy to get away from when we’re looking to make room for that hot waiver add in Week 3.
35. Allen Robinson – Chicago Bears
Robinson is unquestionably talented, but Mitchell Trubisky has been slow to develop despite having an amazing offensive mind as his head coach. Perhaps Mitch will take a step forward and bring Robinson with him, but I’m not optimistic.
36. DeSean Jackson – Philadelphia Eagles
I’m really excited about Jackson playing with Carson Wentz. Wentz has no fear throwing deep, and Jackson should give him plenty of chances to chuck it.
37. Keke Coutee – Houston Texans
It’s hard to separate Coutee’s preseason Week 1 injury from his injury plagued rookie season, but I don’t generally believe in throwing the injury-prone tag on guys so early. With Deshaun Watson under center, all things seem possible down in Houston. One of those possibilities is that we see Keke take what he did at Texas Tech and do it in the pros. That is tempting enough for me to take a shot on him a round or two before consensus ADP tells me I should.
38. Sterling Shepard – New York Giants
This is likely way too low for where Shepard will end up with his end of year scoring, but I just don’t want anything to do with the Giants outside of Saquon.
39. Geronimo Allison – Green Bay Packers
With so much uncertainty around who will end up as the 2nd receiver (production wise, not depth chart, folks) in Green Bay, its tough to take that number 2 for the Pack much higher than this. I do, though… THINK Allison will out-produce Marquez Valdes-Scantling.
40. Sammy Watkins – Kansas City Chiefs
I’ve likely been too high on Watkins for too long, and so it is with great sadness that I have him this low. It’s hard for me to imagine starting him and feeling comfortable with it, but if you’re in deeper leagues, or leagues with deep benches, he’d be a good stash or flex plugin.
41. Marquez Valdes-Scantling – Green Bay Packers
If you think I’m wrong about Allison, you’ve got to take MVS.
42. Alshon Jeffery – Philadelphia Eagles
It feels a little odd to have so much distance between Jeffrey and the famously streaky DeSean Jackson, but I just can’t get Jeffrey any higher in my ranks.
43. Kenny Stills – Miami Dolphins
Whether we get the fearless Fitzpatrick or developing Josh Rosen, I can see taking Stills and stashing him on your bench to see how things shake out in Miami.
44. Emmanuel Sanders – Denver Broncos
Concern with Sanders injury seems to have been put to bed with his camp performances. He may have lost half a step (total speculation) but he is a full go in camp. Joe Flacco might not be interesting as a fantasy QB, but he’s serviceable enough to support a fantasy viable receiver (or two if you believe in Cortland Sutton). I’m going to bank on Emmanuel coming back well enough to still make a fantasy impact as third receiver / spot starter / flex option.
45. Myles Boykin – Baltimore Ravens
I’ve given this a lot of thought and determined I am indeed NOT just over-reacting to the first preseason game. Now, I may be overreacting to the first preseason game AND camp buzz, but we might just be getting that glimpse of a league-winning sleeper with Boykin.
46. Larry Fitzgerald – Arizona Cardinals
I promised myself I’d never be the kind of guy to undervalue Larry Fitzgerald… and now look at what I’ve become. Why wouldn’t Fitz get 95 catches for maybe 1,100 yards and 6 TDs? Why do I have him this low!? I hate myself sometimes.
47. Marquise Goodwin – San Francisco 49ers
As much as I love Pettis to dominate targets, I really like Goodwin as a spot starter when you’re desperate for a big week. Goodwin’s speed is game-changing.
48. Devin Funchess – Indianapolis Colts
We’ve seen giants go to Indy and haul in double-digit TDs out of nowhere before. Funchess could end up as Eric Ebron 2.0
49. Paris Campbell – Indianapolis Colts
Again, I’m just assuming we get a healthy Andrew Luck all year. With Luck, and the addition of a couple of weapons in Funchess and Campbell, the Colts’ offense has plenty of room to grow. Campbell is an electric rookie receiver, and the Colts are pretty thin at the position after TY. Campbell has a good chance to become a spot-starter, flex in his rookie season.
50. Marquise Brown – Baltimore Ravens
My only concern with Marquise Brown is that he’s way too low in my ranks. You might have to draft Brown and hold on to him for a little while, but I think Marquise is going to be well in play by the time the fantasy playoffs come around.
51. Jamison Crowder – New York Jets
Great talent with injury history going to a new team with a 2nd year QB and a new head coach. Good luck!
52. Mecole Hardman – Kansas City Chiefs
It’s tough to put too much faith in a rookie wideout, especially one buried on the depth chart by a ton of talent. Hardman is a burner, though, and we want to keep an eye on guys with Mecole’s skillset catching passes from Patrick Mahomes.