Third Year Wide Receiver Rankings (2019 Fantasy Football)
Beyond our fantasy football content, be sure to check out our award-winning slate of Fantasy Football Tools as you prepare for your draft this season. From our free mock Draft Simulator – which allows you to mock draft against realistic opponents – to our Draft Assistant – which optimizes your picks with expert advice – we’ve got you covered this fantasy football draft season.
It’s here, it’s finally here! Draft season is officially upon us as we reach the end of August when we can see Thursday night’s season opener just around the corner. As you prepare for your fantasy drafts, you may notice that 2019 features some terrific third-year wide receiver talent. With guys like JuJu Smith-Schuster, Chris Godwin, and Kenny Golladay all entering their third seasons, this group is deep. Today I’m going to rank my top-12 third-year wide receivers to target in your drafts.
JuJu Smith-Schuster (PIT)
There isn’t much that needs to be said about JuJu. He is an elite talent with a future hall of fame quarterback, and it doesn’t get much better than that. But wait, it does. With Antonio Brown and Jesse James out of town, there are 207 vacated targets in this Steelers offense and Juju should see a large chunk of them come his way. Last year, on 166 targets, Juju finished as the WR8. He was targeted 166 times with Brown still there! Juju can legitimately push for 200-plus targets this year. All he’d need is 34 of those 207 vacated targets, and I expect him to get that easily. I have JuJu as my WR4 heading into 2019 and that still might be too low.
Chris Godwin (TB)
Is there any wide receiver that has gotten more hype than Chris Godwin this offseason? Probably not, and that’s for good reason. Thanks to the departures of DeSean Jackson and Adam Humphries, there are now 234 vacated targets in this offense and Godwin should be the one to benefit the most. New head coach Bruce Arians has already said that Godwin should be on the field in all down and distances, lining up in the slot as well as on the outside. The Buccaneers have been one of the pass-heaviest teams in the league for years and that shouldn’t change in 2019. I like Godwin as a solid WR2 with upside.
Cooper Kupp (LAR)
I know a lot of you might be scared off because of his ACL injury last year, but I wouldn’t be too concerned. Cooper Kupp is already back on the field and we’ve seen a much better track record for wide receivers after ACL tears than running backs. Now let’s get to football. Since entering the league, Kupp has become Jared Goff’s go-to guy over the middle of the field and in the red zone. In the 22 career games that he finished, Kupp has 11 touchdowns. It doesn’t take a brain surgeon to see that he’s scored in 50 percent of his NFL games. That touchdown upside is what makes Kupp such an intriguing option. Look for him as a high-end WR3 or flex option in all formats.
Kenny Golladay (DET)
Since the mid-season departure of Golden Tate, Lions wide receiver Kenny Golladay has become Matthew Stafford’s number one option. He is a big, fast, and physical receiver who can be a force on those 50/50 balls in the end zone. A lot of people are very high on for 2019 but I have my concerns. It’s not his talent that makes me nervous, it’s the offense that he plays in. The Lions’ offense has been mediocre for a while now, and with defensive-minded HC Matt Patricia, they are looking to run the ball more. There is no doubt that Golladay will have some big games, but he’s also going struggle with consistent production. He’s a high-end WR3/flex with upside.
Mike Williams (LAC)
Former top-10 pick Mike Williams has had a bit of an up and down start to his career. As a rookie, Williams fought injuries and only recorded 11 receptions, which caused people to label him a bust. Well, he proved the haters wrong in 2018 after scoring 10 times on 43 catches for 664 yards. As you can see, the touchdown numbers are terrific, but his catches and yards must come up if he wants to improve on a solid second year in the NFL. I think he has a really good shot of improving those numbers now that Tyrell Williams is in Oakland and Melvin Gordon is still not with the team. That being said, Williams will enter 2019 as the number two option in this offense, behind Keenan Allen. That said, he should excel as a WR2. He’ll have more value in standard rather than PPR, but he is a great flex option in both formats.
Curtis Samuel (CAR)
If there is any wide receiver getting close to as much hype as Chris Godwin, it’s Curtis Samuel. It seems like every other day there is another glowing report on Samuel making plays all over the field as both a receiver and a rusher. In 2018, Samuels had 39 catches for 494 yards and five touchdowns while also rushing for 84 yards and two touchdowns on eight carries. Don’t overlook those rushing numbers, since he’s going to get some carries and he’s very dangerous with the ball in his hands. One of the biggest reasons I’m so high on Samuel is his current ADP compared to his teammate D.J. Moore. As of this writing, Moore is being picked 59th overall while Samuel is coming off the board at 96th, even though Samuel was better on a per-game basis in 2018. In his final nine games last year, Samuel scored double-digit fantasy points in seven of them. Look to pass on Moore in the sixth round and to instead grab Samuel in the ninth. Your fantasy team will thank you.
Dede Westbrook (JAC)
There may not be a team harder to predict for 2019 than the Jacksonville Jaguars. Most of their success will come down to Nick Foles, and so far, I like what I’m hearing out of Jaguars camp. Reports are that Foles has looked really comfortable in the offense and that he is developing a rapport with his wideouts. That being said, Foles’ number one option should be Dede Westbrook, a receiver who quietly put together a solid 2018 season. He finished the year averaging double-digit fantasy points and had some splash weeks as well, scoring 17 or more points on four separate occasions. Westbrook shouldn’t be someone you need to rely on week-to-week, but in the right matchup, he could be a game-winner.
Corey Davis (TEN)
Former top-five draft pick Corey Davis has been, for the most part, a disappointment in his first two seasons in the NFL. While his yardage numbers in 2018 weren’t awful (891), he only scored four times all season. Now to be fair, his quarterbacks have been an often-injured Marcus Mariota and Blaine Gabbert, which definitely hasn’t helped his case, but you still need more from a top-five pick. Looking ahead to 2019, there is some reason for optimism because of his dropping ADP. This time last year, Davis was a breakout candidate and was getting taken as a top-60 player. In 2019, he’s coming off the board 95th overall as the WR38. With such a cheap price tag, Davis could be worth the flier as a bench wide receiver with plenty of upside.
Zay Jones (BUF)
Zay Jones enters year three in what should be the best offense he’s played in since he came into the league. Second-year quarterback Josh Allen should improve as a passer behind an upgraded offensive line which will open up more deep-ball opportunities for Jones. He flew under the radar in 2018 because he plays for the Bills, but he was actually very impressive down the stretch. In his final seven games, Jones averaged 14.3 PPR points while scoring 23 or more on three separate occasions. If you’re looking for big-play upside super late in your draft, Jones is a great option.
David Moore (SEA)
Seahawks wide receiver David Moore is the definition of boom or bust. In games that Moore did not score a touchdown, he managed to exceed five points just once. In the games that Moore did score, he averaged over 18 points. This kind of volatility can be very difficult to accommodate in season-long leagues, so Moore is best suited for dynasty or best-ball drafts.
Josh Reynolds (LAR)
Fourth-string Rams wide receiver Josh Reynolds enters 2019 as nothing more than a handcuff to one of their three starting wideouts. In games where all three of Brandin Cooks, Robert Woods and Cooper Kupp played, Reynolds never exceeded 6 PPR points. He only got more involved in the offense when Kupp went down for the year with an ACL tear. Once Reynolds became the third option, he played pretty well, as he scored 12 or more PPR points in four of his last eight games. All that being said, Reynolds is only worth a pick in deeper leagues as more of a handcuff than anything else.
John Ross (CIN)
Has there been a bigger bust from the 2017 class than John Ross? Probably not. He finished his rookie year with one total touch, and it ended in a fumble. His second year was better but also not repeatable. Ross finished with seven touchdowns on 21 catches! That means every third catch he made was a touchdown, which will almost certainly never happen again. To make matters worse, he is now missing time with a hamstring injury and is not expected to play at all during the preseason. At this point, Ross is simply not draftable in season-long leagues.