It feels like Fantasy Football formats in 2018 favor the wide receiver position more than ever before. Typical Best Ball rosters have three slots for the position and many standard leagues have adopted the same format. The running back position has been an anomaly for the last five seasons or so and I simply cannot trust it. We saw value in having a “bell-cow” running back in 2017 and this label has been more prevalent over the last two seasons. In 2014 and 2015 there were five players to have over 250 carries. In 2016 there were nine and last season there were eight. Of the eight players with 250-plus carries in 2017 only three of them were drafted in the first round. There are currently nine running backs being selected in the first round in standard scoring. Believe it or not the way running backs are being drafted affects how you view the wide receiver rankings below.
Most of the running backs being selected with high draft capital also have significant work in the passing game. While there are obviously no points for receptions in standard leagues, the receiving yards these all-purpose backs like Todd Gurley and Alvin Kamara produce are game changers. Like my buddy over at FantraxHQ and bestselling author of the Fantasy Football Black Book always says: Points are points.
But I still don’t trust running backs. And I sure as hell do not trust one in the back-half of the first round. As we travel deeper into the draft, touches for running backs will be harder and harder to project. Sony Michel is being drafted in the fifth round on average according to Fantasyfootballcalculator.com, right around where Larry Fitzgerald is going. Do I want a rookie Patriots running back or a wide receiver who has caught 100-plus passes and gone over 1,000 yards for three straight seasons. The safer choice is Fitz any way you slice it.
The running back dominance in overall touches is scarce. It gives you a clear advantage to draft a high-volume back who can put up monster numbers like a Le’veon Bell. That is obvious. But there are going to be times later in the draft where the volume sides with the wide receiver.
So I did the dirty work for you people (yet again) because I want you to succeed in Fantasy Football in 2018. I broke down my Top 60 wide receiver rankings in standard scoring and separated them into tiers for your convenience. The wide receiver rankings further down the page include ranks for both Standard and PPR formats.
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Wide Receiver Tier 1
Antonio Brown, Pittsburgh Steelers
WR7, WR1, WR1, WR3, WR2. These are AB’s finishes in standard scoring from 2013-2017. He is the unanimous WR1 overall by all accounts which is truly impressive. His brilliance is almost glossed over but Brown should be considered a Top 5 pick in Fantasy drafts. He has had at least 154 targets in every year since 2013 and that market share is not changing anytime soon.
DeAndre Hopkins, Houston Texans
D-Hop was back with a vengence in 2017 after a poor 2016 that we can chalk up exclusively to terrible quarterback play. Hopkins was targeted 174 times and caught 96 of those attempts for 1,378 yards and 13 touchdowns. He was the number one wide receiver in Fantasy. We even saw how great Hopkins truly is when he has elite-level quarterback play as DeShaun Watson took over the NFL for a quarter of the season in 2017. Projecting Watson for 16 games makes it hard to justify Hopkins as anything else besides one of the top two wdieouts in this season’s wide receiver rankings.
Odell Beckham Jr., New York Giants
Beckham has been a standout since he broke out during the 2014 campaign. That year he finished as the WR5 in only 12 games. He was the WR5 again in 2015 and the WR4 in 2016. Beckham is a double-digit touchdown threat which is so important for standard scoring. He demands over 150 targets and has caught 62.9 percent of passes thrown his way for his career. He is available late in the 1st round which is highway robbery.
Julio Jones, Atlanta Falcons
There is a prominent opinion out there in the Twitterverse within the Fantasy football community that Julio Jones sucks at football. It is quite comical but his 88 catches for 1,444 yards was not good enough for Fantasy owners. He finished as the WR6 despite only having just three touchdowns. With the kind of market share that Julio gets in the Falcons offense, it is easy to project him finishing in the Top 3 at his position if he can get six or seven touchdowns. His 19 red-zone targets in 2017 (13th in the NFL) suggest that positive regression in that category is coming.
Take all the possible skills a WR can possess.
Drop them into a 6-foot-3, 220-pound frame.
— NFL (@NFL) June 30, 2018
Michael Thomas, New Orleans Saints
Thomas’s targets increased from 121 in 2016 to 149 in 2017. He improved in every category except those precious touchdowns in which he scored five compared to nine in his rookie season.
I see a scenario where Thomas is utilized more in the red zone in the absence of Mark Ingram for the first four games of the season. While Kamara has received a significant bump up in ADP since the Ingram suspension, Thomas can still be taken in the middle of the second round. The Saints will lean on Thomas more with the absence of Ingram and the team will pass more in general. Their bread and butter will be to find Kamara in open space and get the ball in the hands of their number one receiver. If Thomas can improve that touchdown number in 2018 he will climb inside the Top 5 of the wide receiver rankings.
Keenan Allen, Los Angeles Chargers
Allen’s value increases in PPR where he proved he can sustain 100-plus receptions when he is healthy. His 102 catches for 1,393 yards and six touchdowns were good enough to finish as the WR3 in Fantasy football in 2017.
Allen is in a prime position to repeat as a Top 5 wide receiver as the number one option in the Chargers offense. With Hunter Henry out for the year, there is actually even more opportunity for touchdowns for Allen.
His 24 red-zone targets were second in the NFL last season which suggests that his role is safe in that area of the field.
Allen’s 2.08 ADP is a product of everyone going running back crazy in the first round. Take Allen at that draft price as he is a stud at the position and has WR1 overall upside.
Mike Evans, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
In Evans’ rookie campaign he had 12 touchdowns. In 2015 he had three. In 2016 he was the WR2 with 12 touchdowns yet again, but he disappointed last season with only five. Touchdowns are what breeds success in Fantasy Football and Evans should be able to bounce back in the category.
His ADP is 3.01 and that could continue to drop now that Jameis Winston has officially been suspended for three games. I do not think the Winston suspension will affect Evans significantly enough to alter his slot in the wide receiver rankings. He is still a guy who demands a lot of targets regardless of who is playing quarterback. Look for Evans to return to his WR1 form in 2018.
— Bucs Report (@BuccaneersFGSN) July 6, 2018
Davante Adams, Green Bay Packers
Adams has scored 10 or more touchdowns in the past two seasons. He has also not surpassed 75 catches or 1,000 yards in those seasons. He was the WR13 in 2017, but he is in store for a large market share in a prime Fantasy position in 2018.
Adams enters the season as Aaron Rodgers’ number one wide receiver and should see the most targets of his career. It is yet to be determined if Adams can handle the workload that is in store for him. However, he is a proven red-zone threat and should be able to once again score double-digit touchdowns in the Packers offense. With the increased market share and high touchdown projection, Adams is a WR1 in Fantasy.
Wide Receiver Rankings for Fantasy Football 2018
For more rankings and great fantasy football analysis check out all of our 2018 Fantasy Football Draft Prep.
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