Fantasy football is a fickle game. One season, you can have an incredible team, the next you’re scrapping the bottom of the waiver wire to finagle a win. Regardless of stats, analysis, and expertise, conjecturing about player outcomes is tricky. I can safely say that anyone that has made fantasy predictions has been wrong at least a few times. That being said, believe that my list of wide receivers below will turn out to be fairly accurate.
All of these rankings are based on 10-person, standard scoring leagues.
Round 4: Allen Robinson
This first suggestion is for the more intrepid, courageous, or foolishly hopeful team manager. Allen Robinson had an underwhelming season last year (845 yards, 6 TDs), no denying that. However, I wouldn’t count him out just yet. A-Rob has outstanding leaping abilities, is deceptively strong, and is tall. He’s undoubtedly the best wide receiver on the Jags. Most fantasy players would feel apprehensive about this pick given Blake Bortles‘ regression last year. But I would argue that the Jaguars’ offense just got a major relief in the addition of Leonard Fournette, a relief that will take some pressure off Bortles, which subsequently could give A-Rob more opportunities to snag his once very common long distance touchdown catches. If you’re feeling bold, take this high risk, and who knows, it may yield a pretty darn high reward, maybe even another 1000+ yard double digit TDs reward.
Round 5: Tyreek Hill
This selection is a no-brainer. Hill is a dynamic speedster that can get you points in a myriad of ways: touchdown receptions, runs out of the backfield, punt returns; he can do it all! Now that the Chiefs are without Jeremy Maclin, it’s likely that Hill will soak up more targets. Granted, Travis Kelce is likely to still draw most of the attention. However, I would argue that with another year to develop a rapport with Alex Smith and less competition at the receiver position, Hill is poised for a big sophomore year. Don’t be surprised if finishes as a top-10 wide receiver in fantasy scoring.
Round 6: Michael Crabtree
Michael Crabtree being ranked this low surprised me. Yes, Amari Cooper is a stud and led the Raiders in targets. But Crabtree is the much better bargain. The two wide receivers play on an explosive offense led by budding star Derek Carr. With Carr’s pension for throwing the ball, Crabtree and Cooper both had great years in the previous season. Also, and most important to his case, Crabtree was targeted more in the end zone than Cooper, a fact that was reflected in their final fantasy point totals being much closer than you’d expect. He may be the number two on his team, but given the wealth of opportunities, Crabtree is a steal for the 6th round.
Round 7: Julian Edelman
I was apprehensive while writing up this recommendation. I, like most NFL fans, don’t doubt Edelman’s skills, but there are a lot of factors to consider here. The addition of Brandin Cooks and the return of Gronk certainly place a question mark over Edelman’s potential targets, and heck, even his overall role. However, let’s consider a few facts. For starters, Gronk takes some serious shots from defenders, hits so severe, he’s been injury prone for the past few years. If Gronk goes down, Edelman eats up those middle of the field targets. Also, let’s not forget that Tom Brady and Edelman are best friends that have played together for awhile. I don’t suspect Cooks is going to be able to establish a better connection with Brady in his first year. And of course, this is the Patriots we’re talking about, they’ll put up enough points for everyone to eat well.
Round 8: Willie Snead
Another obvious selection, and perhaps one of best late rounders that’ll be available. Michael Thomas will definitely be Drew Brees‘ main receiver. But come on! Brees throws a billion yards every year (it’s more like 5000+). There’s no way Snead doesn’t snag some of those numbers. And, although I think they will be an improvement, the running back tandem of Mark Ingram and Adrian Peterson isn’t going to take away from Brees’s need to air it out. Snead’s role as the second wideout on a gunslinger’s offense makes him a really valuable late-round flex pick.
Round 9: Jeremy Maclin
I can’t believe Maclin’s ADP is listed this low. I understand that he’s coming off an injury ridden season, but it’s not like he tore his ACL. In fact, Maclin was only released by Chiefs as a measure to save money, but I digress, let’s examine his potential on the Ravens. Joe Flacco was near the top of passes per game, which makes sense given that their running game is atrocious. Maclin is going to slide into an excellent role, one in which he can easily become the lead receiver for a quarterback that likes to throw bombs. His only competition is some aging wideouts and unproven young players. I would even go so far to argue that Maclin is going to be one of the best options Flacco has had in his entire career. Last year aside, Maclin has had multiple 1000+ yard seasons, and as long as he stays healthy, he’ll replicate those numbers again.
Round 10: DeSean Jackson
This is a gamble, but considering we’re in the 10th round, you’re not going to be waging too much. The Buccaneers have only one reliable target, granted, that one target is a superstar, Mike Evans is still only one wide receiver. The young duo of Evans and Jameis Winston has gotten better every year since entering the league. Jackson adds two key components to this budding offense. For starters, he provides a veteran perspective for his young teammates. But more importantly, he gives Winston a quality second option if Evans is being blanketed. Jackson is still fast, has strong hands, and is tough. As with Maclin, if Jackson stays healthy, I think he’s going to put solid stats for the Bucs.
Round 11: Rishard Matthews
I’m aware that the Titans are a run heavy team. I’m also aware that they drafted Corey Davis and picked up Eric Decker. However, 11th round selections are pretty barren, so why not Matthews. And Matthews put up outstanding numbers last season! 945 yards and 9 TDs! Even if he produces only half of that, he’d still be worth an 11th round selection. Also, let’s consider the facts that Decker gets injured pretty often and has yet to establish a rhythm with Marcus Mariota. Davis too needs to have a rapport with Mariota, and he’s yet to play in the league. I’m just saying, don’t count out Matthews just yet.