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Top 12 Wide Receiver Fantasy Football Predictions

by FantasyPros Staff | @fantasypros | Featured Writer
Aug 24, 2018

Kelvin Benjamin is the clear-cut top wideout for Buffalo

I’ve been working my way through this series for the last few weeks where I’ve been analyzing the top 12 finishers at each position along with their ADPs, then using that information to project the top 12 for the 2018 fantasy season. The exercise helps manage expectations and points out players with the upside to become the next Adam Thielen or Michael Thomas. Today, I’m covering wide receivers, but if you want to look back on my pieces, you can click the links below. Also, please remember that these are not my projections or rankings, if you want to see where I am drafting players, take a look here. As always, if you have questions or disagree, feel free to hit me up on Twitter.

Top 12 TE Predictions
Top 12 RB Predictions
Top 12 QB Predictions

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2017 WR1s

  1. DeAndre Hopkins (ADP #14)
  2. Antonio Brown (ADP #2)
  3. Keenan Allen (ADP #13)
  4. Tyreek Hill (ADP #20)
  5. Marvin Jones (ADP #42)
  6. Julio Jones (ADP #1)
  7. Brandin Cooks (ADP #9)
  8. Michael Thomas (ADP #7)
  9. Larry Fitzgerald (ADP #25)
  10. A.J. Green (ADP #5)
  11. Doug Baldwin (ADP #11)
  12. Adam Thielen (ADP #46)

2016 WR1s

  1. Mike Evans (ADP #9)
  2. Jordy Nelson (ADP #8)
  3. Antonio Brown (ADP #1)
  4. Odell Beckham Jr. (ADP #2)
  5. T.Y. Hilton (ADP #15)
  6. Julio Jones (ADP #3)
  7. Davante Adams (ADP #59)
  8. Brandin Cooks (ADP #14)
  9. Michael Thomas (ADP #50)
  10. Doug Baldwin (ADP #22)
  11. Michael Crabtree (ADP #36)
  12. Amari Cooper (ADP #11)

2015 WR1s

  1. Antonio Brown (ADP #1)
  2. Julio Jones (ADP #4)
  3. Brandon Marshall (ADP #21)
  4. Allen Robinson (ADP #27)
  5. Odell Beckham Jr. (ADP #3)
  6. DeAndre Hopkins (ADP #13)
  7. Doug Baldwin (ADP #52)
  8. A.J. Green (ADP #7)
  9. Calvin Johnson (ADP #5)
  10. Eric Decker (ADP #33)
  11. Larry Fitzgerald (ADP #28)
  12. Brandin Cooks (ADP #10)

The top drafted wide receivers are much more likely to return value compared to other positions. There will still be several who slip out, be it from injuries or more commonly, a regression from a high TD-rate. There are also bound to be a handful of surprises who find their way into the top 12 so I’ll be sure to make my predictions with that target in mind.

Top 12 Fantasy Football WRs of 2017

WR #12: Geronimo Allison (ADP #71)
Please remember that these are not my rankings. Granted, I do have Allison in my top 40 rankings, but certainly not top 12. The point here is that he has this type of upside. It isn’t as though he is an all-world talent like Mike Evans or A.J. Green, but that he has the greatest quarterback in the history of the world throwing him passes. If Rodgers stays healthy, you can bank on 4,400 yards and 35 touchdowns. Seeing that Randall Cobb is banged up and Jimmy Graham still is fighting off two long-term injuries, it is possible that Allison has that James Jones type of season. Let’s not forget, after all, that Rodgers has supported two top 12 receivers several times in his career already.

WR #11: Mike Williams (ADP #51)
This almost certainly won’t happen unless Keenan Allen suffers another big injury because let’s face it, Allen is due for an absolute ton of targets. And sure, Tyrell Williams is technically ahead of Mike on the depth chart for now, but when his very own coach compares Mike to Terrell Owens after drafting him in the top 10 the previous year, your ears should perk quite a bit. Phillip Rivers is a near-lock for 30 touchdowns and with Hunter Henry out for the year, Mike is probably the top red zone threat remaining in the offense.

WR #10: Stefon Diggs (ADP #12)
Going back and watching the tape, I can’t help but believe Diggs is ready to take the next step into the elite tier of wide receivers. For those of you concerned about Adam Thielen, consider that slot-receiver-happy Pat Shurmur is out of town and Case Keenum is no longer the signal caller. Sure, Kyle Rudolph, Dalvin Cook and Thielen will still be involved, but when you have a potential superstar like Diggs on your roster, you’ll find a way to get him the ball plenty.

WR #9: DeAndre Hopkins (ADP #2)
Yeah, I know he finished number one last year and that Deshaun Watson was incredible (for five games). But do you remember Hopkins finishing as the WR38 just two years ago or 2016’s #1 receiver dropping all the way to WR20 last year? What about Blake Bortles also having an incredible small five-game sample size? Sure, Hopkins has a chance to repeat his dominant season, or perhaps even improve on it, but color me skeptical that we should bank on either happening.

WR #8: Kelvin Benjamin (ADP #43)
This is almost the complete opposite as Hopkins. Yes, I realize Benjamin was awful last year (like Hopkins in 2016), but he was also traded mid-season, had to pick up a new offense, and battled through an injury. The matter of the fact is that his first two years in the league were historically impressive as only six receivers in NFL history had more yards, receptions and touchdowns in their first two years: Randy Moss, Isaac Bruce, Larry Fitzgerald, A.J. Green, Marques Colston and Odell Beckham. Add in how impressive Benjamin has looked this preseason and he may end up being the steal of the mid-rounds.

WR #7: Corey Davis (ADP #28)
Here is another player who was awful last year, but try to remember that he missed the majority of the season including all of training camp and the crucial early part of the season when a rookie gels into their offense. The Titans are making it clear that he is not only their number one receiver this year, but that he will get a major target share while being moved all across the offense. There is a reason several likened him to a young Brandon Marshall and fantasy owners are going to find out why this year.

WR #6: Amari Cooper (ADP #15)
Cooper was inconsistent in 2017 because his targets were inconsistent. Jon Gruden is now in place as the Raiders’ head coach and has made is clear that he sees Cooper as a 140+ target type of monster. Keep in mind, Cooper was injured last season too and while he was a fantasy disappointment, he just turned 24 years old and already has two 1,000 yard seasons under his belt. Michael Crabtree is out of the picture too so don’t be surprised if Cooper explodes forward this year.

WR #5: Doug Baldwin (ADP #14)
While the Seahawks held Baldwin out the entire preseason with a minor knee concern, he will be ready to roll in Week 1 and should see his largest target share of his career. The Seahawks have absolutely nothing besides him in their receiver core and Russell Wilson may have the biggest year yet passing the ball since the lack of defense will require it. Add in that their far-and-away leading red zone threat, Jimmy Graham, is out of the picture and we might see Baldwin return to a dozen or more touchdowns in 2018.

WR #4: Antonio Brown (ADP #1)
This has little to do with Brown’s skill set retreating, although he is 30 years old this season, and more to do with the fact that there are just too many weapons to ignore on the team. Le’Veon Bell is going to be run into the ground with 400+ touches while JuJu Smith-Schuster is clearly a significant talent and rookie wide receiver, James Washington, is not only an upgrade over Martavis Bryant, but may actually end up as impressive as JuJu himself. As if that weren’t enough, Vance McDonald is expected to be a bigger part of the offense this year and Big Ben is nearing the end of his career. It all comes together to seem like Brown may take a slight step back in production.

WR #3: Davante Adams (ADP #7)
Last season, the WR3 finished with 182 standard league fantasy points. In the 8 healthy seasons Rodgers has had as the Green Bay quarterback, he has produced six wide receivers who eclipsed that mark including three different players. Adams is next in line after finishing fifth in fantasy points per game last season with one of the worst quarterback situations in the league. Fifteen touchdowns is a distinct possibility this year, especially if Randall Cobb ends up missing some time.

WR #2: Michael Thomas (ADP #5)
Over the past two seasons, only Antonio Brown and Julio Jones have finished with more half-PPR fantasy points than Thomas, who was in his first two years in the league. This is true despite him having far fewer touchdowns than Antonio Brown, DeAndre Hopkins, Mike Evans and Devante Adams. Positive touchdown is coming for that entire Saints passing offense this year and you’d have to think Thomas would be the foremost beneficiary.

WR #1: Julio Jones (ADP #4)
Among players with at least 50 NFL games under their belt, Julio has the post PPR points per game in NFL history ahead of Antonio Brown, Calvin Johnson and Jerry Rice. In fact, despite having just 9 touchdowns in his past 30 games, Jones is still #2 in that time behind Brown. Much like Cris Carter, a receiver this talented can only be shut out of the end zone for so long.

Notable Exclusions

Odell Beckham Jr. (NYG) – Zero chance he finishes outside the top 12 apart from another fluke injury or another lingering soft tissue issue

Keenan Allen (LAC) – Was the WR30 through the first nine weeks last season

A.J. Green (CIN) – Had fewer points per game over the final nine games than Mike Wallace, Keelan Cole and Rishard Matthews last year

Mike Evans (TB) – Hasn’t finished in the top 20 in two of the past three seasons

Tyreek Hill (KC) – Unlikely to see 105 targets again or an astronomical TD-rate with no red-zone targets

T.Y. Hilton (IND) – Hasn’t caught more than 7 TDs in any season and has finished inside the top 20 only twice in six years

Thanks for reading. If you haven’t already, please check out the FantasyPros Football Podcast (below) that I co-host with Mike Tagliere. Good luck this season.

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