Unfortunately, it’s time say goodbye to fantasy dynamite receivers such as Anthony Miller, Michael Gallup, and James Washington. While also taking into consideration that only five of the top 20 receivers last season are returning, let’s dive into the top 10 returning receivers in 2018.
10. Penny Hart, Georgia State
This may come as a surprise to some after a shaky end to the 2017 season, but Hart comes in at No. 10 on this list. After breaking his foot in 2016, Hart returned to account for 1,121 receiving yards and eight touchdowns. Hart was unable to top 100 yards or score in any of the final four games, but his future remains bright. Hart’s receiving totals have increased over two seasons with spotty QB play, and 2018 will be no exception.
9. Deebo Samuel, South Carolina
Samuel looked like one of the nation’s best athletes in 2017 before breaking his leg early on in the season. Samuel had no fewer than 10 points in all three games last season, with touchdowns in all three contests. One skill that puts Deebo above the rest is his ability to return the ball. Samuel had two kick return touchdowns in three games last season and will assuredly have a similar role this season. His lack of competition and consistent quarterback play will prove favorable for the senior as he builds his draft stock.
8. Denzel Mims, Baylor
Baylor was the best awful team in football last season, and their offense was admittedly better than their 1-11 record showed. Mims stepped onto the scene early on and consistently scored double-digit points each week. Mims went for 1,087 yards and eight touchdowns in 2017 with three different quarterbacks throwing to him. Charlie Brewer seems to has cemented himself as the starter going forward, which will benefit Mims and give owners a better idea of how good Mims is.
7. James Gardner, Miami (Ohio)
Gardner isn’t the standout that most Group of 5 receivers of this caliber should be, but he’s serviceable. Gardner’s production has improved every year, with his 927 yards and 11 touchdowns last season being his career highs. Luckily, Gus Ragland will return for the Red Wolves one last time next season, and if he stays healthy, Gardner will reap the benefits. Expect Gardner to finally top 1,000 yards (barring injury) and continue to improve.
6. Andy Isabella, UMASS
Isabella is another receiver that will benefit from a returning quarterback in 2018. Say what you will about Andrew Ford, but Isabella produced 980 yards and nine touchdowns with Ford under center last season. Isabella has blazing speed and will be the top target for the Minutemen with Adam Breneman graduating. He will have no problem breaking 1,000 yards this season and should lead the MAC in receiving touchdowns.
5. Cody Thompson, Toledo
The downside for Thompson in 2018 is the loss of veteran quarterback Logan Woodside as well as his back up, Michael Julian. Thompson’s upside, however, is that he is a freakish athlete and an excellent receiver. Thompson opened up last season with four straight 100-yard outings before breaking his leg against Eastern Michigan. This is Thompson’s money year, and given his outlook on life, according to The Toledo Blade, he is looking to be the next great Group of 5 receiver to make it in the NFL.
4. N’Keal Harry, Arizona State
There are many unknowns in Tempe, Arizona this season, but Harry is not one of them. Harry finished last season inside the top-20 fantasy receivers despite a very inconsistent offense. Harry finished with 1,142 yards and eight touchdowns, but the real number to notice from last season is his 82 receptions. If Harry continues to get this many touches next season with Manny Wilkins or Blake Barnett under center, he will continue to produce huge numbers in what is likely his last season as a Sun Devil.
3. A.J. Brown, Ole Miss
After Shea Patterson went down, it seemed as though Brown would fall to the back of receiving options, but Jordan Ta’Amu made sure that didn’t happen. Brown finished with 1,252 yards, 11 touchdowns, and 75 receptions in 2018 and could do just as well, if not better, with Ta’Amu returning. His target volume alone makes him a must-add, let alone his ability to produce yards. Expect Brown to be at the top of most stat categories in the SEC next season as long as Ta’Amu continues to develop.
2. Anthony Johnson, Buffalo
In any other year, Johnson would likely be at the top of this list. Johnson’s stats do a better job of convincing owners to draft him than I would, with his 1,356 receiving yards, 14 touchdowns, and 76 receptions. The Bulls return Tyree Jackson at quarterback, who passed for 2,000+ yards in eight games last season. As long as Jackson can find ways to get Johnson the ball, he will be one of the best receivers in fantasy this season.
1. David Sills V, West Virginia
Is Sills healthy? Check. Is Will Grier returning in 2018? Check. Sills may have been third in receiving yards and receptions for the Mountaineers last season, but he (along with Anthony Miller) led the nation with 18 receiving touchdowns. With Ka’Raun White graduating, Sills will likely see more volume and put up even more yards this season. That said, his true value still remains in the red zone. Sills was also a quarterback in high school, which makes him a threat to throw a passing touchdown or two at some point next season, as well.