This week we’re looking at the top 20 wide receivers for 2018. Unlike the RBs, the top fantasy WRs tend to not fluctuate as much year to year so there might not be many surprises here. It is important to get your top WR picks correct, however, because a stud WR can really carry you for an entire season (Owning Randy Moss in 2007 still brings a smile to my face). Feel free to leave a comment if you think my list stinks. Remember, we’re all just guessing.
1) Antonio Brown (PIT): Until further notice, Brown is always the #1 WR no matter what. He put up over 100 catches and 1500 yards last season, and has 5 straight seasons of at least 100 catches and 1284 yards. He averages 10 touchdowns a season over that span as well. The King of Consistency, Brown should typically come off the board anywhere between 4th to 6th overall in most drafts after the elite RBs.
2) Deandre Hopkins (HOU): If Brown is the clear #1, Hopkins is the clear #2. He posted 96 catches, 1,378 yards, and 13 TDs with Tom Savage as his QB for a majority of the season. That alone should put him in the Hall of Fame. If Deshaun Watson stays under center for the entire season, it’s possible Hopkins puts up better numbers than Antonio Brown this year. For what it’s worth, Hopkins had more targets than Brown last year.
3) Odell Beckham Jr (NYG): There are only a few receivers than can single handedly win a week for you, and Beckham is one of them. We all know what he can do. He’s an absolute freak with elite hands and speed. Having Saquon in the backfield should only help matters, since this should be the first year the Giants have a legit running game since Brandon Jacobs and Ahmad Bradshaw were in town. As dumb as he looks, Eli is smart enough to know that he needs to get Beckham the ball as frequently as possible.
4) Julio Jones (ATL): There are some mixed opinions on Jones this year. Some people point out the lack of touchdowns from last year. I’ll point out that he put up 1,444 yards on only 88 catches for an average of over 16 yards per reception. That’s what NFL insiders would call “good”. Jones probably has the best combination of physical tools in the NFL. The touchdowns will come.
5) Keenan Allen (LAC): Not necessarily a household name just yet, Allen definitely produced like one in 2017. After some fluky injuries early on, Allen stayed healthy and played in all 16 games for the first time in his career. The result was 102 catches for just under 1,400 yards. With Hunter Henry already out for the season, there should be even more targets available for Allen this year.
6) Michael Thomas (NO): Thomas comes into the year as Drew Brees’ top target in that magical 3rd season for wide receivers. That should be enough to make you want to invest. With Ingram and Kamara both going nuts last year, the Saints didn’t throw as much as we’d normally expect, putting a damper on Thomas’ numbers a bit. With Ingram out the first 4 games, expect Brees to sling it more. I’m expecting both the yardage and TDs to increase for Thomas this year.
7) Davante Adams (GB): Bye bye Jordy, hello Davante. Nelson’s out in Green Bay so that leaves Adams as the top target for this dude named Aaron Rodgers. You may have heard of him. Adams leads the league in TD catches over the past two years with 22, and there’s no reason to think that pace won’t continue. He hasn’t had a 1,000 yard season yet (997 in 2016, so give him a break) but that’ll change this year. 1,200 yards with 10-12 scores is very much within reach.
8) AJ Green (CIN): Green is a little bit of a mystery to me. He’s an elite talent with great size and speed, but he seems to disappear on the stat sheet every now and then. Some of that could be his QB, some of it could be the lack of any other real receiving threats in Cincy to take defenders away from him. He basically spends all season in double coverage, but so do a lot of the top guys on this list. Bottom line is he’s not a lock to put up dominant numbers week in and week out. The upside is there, so if you can handle the occasional dud game, Green is a good low-end WR1.
9) Mike Evans (TB): Jameis Winston is out for the first 3 weeks of the season, but I don’t think that really makes too much of a difference. Evans is the main piece in the TB offense so the targets will be there, and Ryan Fitzpatrick is competent enough to get him the ball. He’s put up over 1,000 yards in each of his 4 seasons so far, and if you believe in trends, he’s due for a 12 TD season since he’s scored 12 every other year since he was drafted.
10) Doug Baldwin (SEA): The Seattle offense has been an anomaly the past few years. They can’t run the ball since Lynch left, and their O-line has Russell Wilson running for his life almost every play. Russ also accounted for all but ONE touchdown the Seahawks scored last year. That shouldn’t be possible. With a slightly improved O line, and what should be an improved running game, the Hawks should almost resemble a real NFL offense this year. With Jimmy Graham and his red zone target hogging gone, Baldwin should benefit big time. I’d be much more comfortable with him as my WR2, but if you start your draft with 2 stud RBs, Baldwin is an acceptable WR1. (EDIT: since this was written, it was reported Baldwin is out for a few weeks with a knee injury, so who the hell knows. I still like him in this spot if he’s back by week 1)
11) Larry Fitzgerald (ARI): Death, taxes, and Larry Fitzgerald putting up 100 catches when he’s supposed to be retired. The 3 constants in life. It seems like every season for the past 5 years was supposed to be his last yet he keeps on ticking. As long as he’s on the field, roll with Fitz as your WR2. While Sam Bradford stinks in real life and will probably be in a body cast by week 3, he should at least be able to get Fitz the ball while he’s upright. I don’t know if you’ll get another 100 catch season out of him, but it should be close, along with 5 or 6 TDs sprinkled in.
12) Tyreek Hill (KC): It’s right around this point in the WR rankings where things get a little muddy and your personal preference should kick in. I’ll go with Hill at this spot. He’s tiny and not necessarily a target vacuum, but he can do more with his targets than maybe any WR on the list. With the Chiefs making the switch to Patrick “Gunslinger” Mahomes, they should be a high flying offense looking for big plays and Hill tends to find himself on the end of a lot of those. There are safer picks in this range, but I can’t help myself from picking the upside of Hill.
13) TY Hilton (IND): This ranking is entirely dependent on Andrew Luck starting week 1, and as of now it seems like he’s on track to do that. I’ll also mention that I don’t like Hilton. At all. His season ending numbers for the past 5 seasons actually look good. They weren’t even that bad last year with Brissett as his QB. But it’s not the stats that are my problem, it’s how he gets them. Similar to Desean Jackson, Hilton seems to have 4 or 5 big games a year with a bunch of duds mixed in. That makes him extremely annoying to own. Sure, you’ll love him on those weeks he puts up 200 yds and 2 TDs, but good luck guessing which weeks that will occur.
14) Josh Gordon (CLE): I feel uncomfortable typing this. He’s probably clearing a bong as we speak. He also hasn’t had a dominant season since 2013, and that was really his only one. But keep in mind he did that with Brandon Weeden as his QB, so his potential is off the charts with a competent starter. If Gordon makes it through the offseason without getting kicked out of the league, this might actually be too low for him. For now though, we’ll exercise some caution. You 100% should have a backup plan if you roll the dice on Gordon.
15) Demaryius Thomas (DEN): Coming off a bit of a down year, I like Thomas to rebound this season. Case Keenum is no stud, but he’s also an upgrade over Trevor Siemien. Thomas always seems to be dinged up, but he’s a huge red zone threat and still the main option in the passing game. Let’s conservatively estimate a 1,000 yd 6-7 TD season. You could do worse in this range.
16) Stefon Diggs (MIN): We’re going back to back Vikes receivers here. I have Diggs ahead because he’s more explosive than the possession receiver Thielen. Diggs hasn’t played a full 16 game season yet, but if he can accomplish that with Kirk Cousins in town he could absolutely outscore this spot.
17) Adam Thielen (MIN): ZzZzZzZzZz…..oh sorry. I fell asleep thinking about owning Thielen on my team. Bottom line is he’s not a flashy choice, but he’s reliable and can put up yardage. In a PPR league, he’s the kind of guy that makes a perfect WR3. Steady catches and yards but minimal TD production. If you’re okay with that then Thielen might be your guy. Last year’s numbers (91 rec 1,276 yds 4 TDs) are probably his ceiling so don’t expect any more than that this year.
18) Allen Robinson (CHI): This one is a tough call. With Robinson we’re looking more at potential than actual production. He really only popped in 2015 (1,400 yds 14 TDs!) but that season was sandwiched between two very average ones. Some of that can be blamed on having Blake Bortles as a QB, but not all of it. He’s also coming off a season-ending ACL injury, but on the plus side that injury occurred 4 seconds into week 1 so he’s had plenty of time to recover. The Bears offense as a whole looks to take a step forward this year, so Robinson should be a big beneficiary of that. Do we have any faith in Mitchell Trubisky though?
19) Amari Cooper (OAK): Spider. Two. Y. Banana. There are a few wild cards to consider when picking Cooper this year. Is he a stud like his first two seasons, or is he a dud like last year? Does Gruden know how to coach anymore? Is Derek Carr even any good? I’m giving Cooper the benefit of the doubt here and expecting him to return to form. If Gruden has any sense he’ll target Cooper a ton. If the targets are there and Cooper disappoints again he might see a Dez Bryant-like fall from grace.
20) Juju Smith-Schuster (PIT): Juju is a fun guy off the field, and he should be fun to own this year as well. We all know the Steelers offense runs through Brown and Bell, but there are plenty of targets available for Smith-Schuster with Martavis Bryant taking his suspension tour to the West Coast. He finished the year with over 100 receiving yards in 3 of his last 7 games along with with 4 TDs in that span. Primed for a big leap in his 2nd year, Juju is a high upside pick.