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WR3s that could finish as WR1s (2020 Fantasy Football)

by Jason Katz | @jasonkatz13 | Featured Writer
Aug 24, 2020

T.Y. Hilton is currently the WR27 and is a screaming value at cost.

The game of fantasy football has evolved substantially over the years. Yet, one thing has remained constant – upside wins championships. This has been obvious for as long as you’ve played fantasy football whether you realized it or not. If every single one of your draft picks returned par value, you would consistently make the playoffs, but you’d never win. Not because your team would be bad, but because at least one of the other 11 teams in your league would have players that outproduced their ADP.

Given that the elite wide receivers are more consistent in terms of staying at the top than the elite running backs, it’s important to be able to find those breakout wide receivers.

In 2019, Allen Robinson and D.J. Moore were two of the best values in fantasy football, drafted at WR3s and finishing as WR1s. In 2018, there weren’t any WR3s or lower that finished as WR1s, but there were lower drafted WRs that finished with more fantasy points per game than 2019 WR1s (since 2019 was a down year for receivers). Examples were Julian Edelman, Robert Woods, and Cooper Kupp.

It stands to reason that wide receiver scoring will bounce back this season and the position is as deep as ever. There a number of WR3s with a realistic shot at finishing as WR1s. I will discuss as many as I can.

Check out our consensus ADP to identify values across the most popular league hosts >>

T.Y. Hilton (IND)
This is, by far, the most obvious name on the list. With T.Y. Hilton it all comes down to health. I won’t even entertain the idea that Hilton won’t finish as or near a WR1 if he can stay on the field. He’s done it before. He’s shown no signs of slowing down. And he was on pace to do it last season with Jacoby Brissett.

Through the first seven weeks of the 2019 season, Hilton averaged 18.1 ppg. He was the overall WR5 during that span. The high-end talent is still there. Philip Rivers is nowhere near the quarterback he once was, but he is still an upgrade on Brissett. He’s also shown a propensity to pepper his top target. Hilton can be his new, more dynamic, more athletic Keenan Allen. Hilton is currently the WR27 and is a screaming value at cost.

A.J. Green (CIN)
I won’t waste too much time explaining this one because you already know. A.J. Green has been one of the premier wide receivers of the past decade. He was on pace for a 1,200 yard, 10-touchdown season when he was last healthy in 2018. At age 32 and many injuries later, there are legitimate questions as to what Green has left in the tank. History shows us that wide receivers really start to fall off at age 33/34. It’s entirely possible Green has one or two WR1 years left in the tank. He’s currently the WR28 by ADP. He comes with a ton of risk, but if he’s still A.J. Green, there’s no question that WR1 is in his range of outcomes.

Diontae Johnson (PIT)
If you’ve been following me for the past year or so, you knew this list wouldn’t be complete without Diontae Johnson. Coming off one of the most impressive under the radar rookie wide receiver seasons where he led all receivers in target separation and was able to flash despite awful quarterback play, Johnson is poised to fully break out in his sophomore season.

The hype train has fully left the station, but I’m not sure if fantasy gamers are truly grasping Johnson’s upside. We all remember 2018 where Antonio Brown and JuJu Smith-Schuster were both WR1s. With a healthy Ben Roethlisberger running a pass-heavy offense, it’s not impossible for JuJu and Diontae to be the new JuJu and AB. Notice how I put AB second there – that was to intentionally match him up with Johnson – because Johnson is the AB of this duo. That’s not to say he’s definitely going to be the better fantasy receiver, but it is my belief that Diontae Johnson is a better, more complete wide receiver than JuJu Smith-Schuster.

We still haven’t seen JuJu produce without AB. 2019 was supposed to be his year, but it was derailed due to injuries and the duo of Mason Rudolph and Devlin Hodges. JuJu also flat out didn’t play well last season. His true catch rate was 58th in the league. He was 68th in target separation. He averaged just 7.7 yards per target (although that’s not entirely his fault). It’s definitely possible that Johnson ends up being the WR1 on this team.

There’s room for both and regardless of who plays what role, I expect Johnson to be a value at his WR39 price tag. There’s just a very plausible world where Johnson establishes himself as a true alpha WR en route to a WR1 season.

2020 Draft Kit: View printable cheat sheets, sleepers & mistakes to avoid >>

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Jason Katz is a featured writer at FantasyPros. For more from Jason, check out his archive or follow him @jasonkatz13.

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