The fantasy football regular season is almost over, and statistically, it means the season is ending for most of us. If you didn’t make the playoffs this year, maybe you should do a bit more research for next year? It’s never too soon to start preparing, and it’s never too early to start taking a look at next year’s draft order. Below are the preliminary top twelve wide receivers for next season. This is of course subject to change, but it’s not too early to start looking.
- Antonio Brown, Pittsburgh
Nothing surprising here, Antonio Brown is one of the most consistent and dynamic wide receivers in the league. His routes are great, his hands are sublime, and his speed & quickness are off the charts. Him being the apple of Ben Roethlisberger’s eye doesn’t hurt, either. The only question here is if Big Ben takes a step back and takes Antonio Brown with him.
- Julio Jones, Atlanta
The best wide receiver in the league comes in at #2 on the list mostly due to his inconsistencies this season. Still, he has the highest ceiling of any wide receiver in the entire league, but his floors are maddening. In short: he’s had three games under 30 yards this year, and four over 130 (including a 300 yard (?!?!) game). It’s a razor thin margin between him and Evans, and on an odd day, I may take Evans over Julio.
- Mike Evans, Tampa Bay
Evans finally put it together in his third season, after going for 12 touchdowns and just over 1000 yards his rookie year, and over 1,200 last season (with only three scores). This year he is on pace to break both those totals, with 1,020 yards and ten scores over his first eleven games. A massive receiver in an offense with a lot of verticality equals a lot of opportunities. The only knock on Evans is his bad hands. Still, that’s not enough to keep him out of the top three.
- Odell Beckham Jr, New York Giants
When he’s not dating Kardashians or marrying kicking nets, Beckham is one of, if not the best, wide receiver in the league. His #4 ranking has nothing to do with his innate talent, it has to do with his offense. Eli Manning is prone to cratering and taking his receivers with him. ODB felt that this season, with four games under 50 yards. His acrobatic catches and dynamic after catch ability make him potentially the receiver most responsible for his yardage, but the Eli factor drags him down a tad.
- A.J. Green, Cincinnati
Only injury will stop Green from getting 1,000 yards in his first six seasons, but he was already dang close. He already had 964 yards when his hamstring tear cost him his season. He was on pace for his best yardage total ever, averaging 96 yards per game when he had never previously averaged even 90. The hamstring injury may shelve him for the year, or the Bengals might bring him back for a game or two if they’re still in it. He’s the only WR to get 1,000 yards each of the last five seasons, so you’d hate to see that streak come to an end.
- Dez Bryant, Dallas
Touchdown regression and a full off-season with Dak Prescott will get Dez right back where he belongs. He’s a monster of a wide receiver, who does absolutely everything well. The guys in front of him are just that much more amazing than Dez, but there’s nothing wrong with him as your top wide receiver. You’ll be extremely happy you did.
- Jordy Nelson, Green Bay
Like Hilton, Jordy is the preferred target of one of the quarterback elite. Davante Adams may eat into his production next year, but it’s doubtful it drops him out of the top ten. Even with Adams’ big games lately, Jordy is still #5. The Green Bay offense has supported two wide receivers in the past, so even if Adams jumps up into the top ten, Jordy can still be up there, too. His main concern is his age, but we’ve been digging Larry Fitzgerald’s grave for years.
- T.Y. Hilton, Indianapolis
Hilton is the preferred target of one of the best quarterbacks in the league, and even with Andrew Luck’s struggles this year and having to endure Scott Tolzein for a game, Hilton still ranks among the elite at the position in production. Should the Colts get their act together and protect Luck, #8 might be too low for Hilton.
- Amari Cooper, Oakland
The reason Mike Evans was such a massive value this year is that of his bad luck with touchdowns in 2015. Touchdown regression hit Evans hard this year, and scores are falling from the sky. This will happen with Cooper in 2016. He’s had plenty of red zone and end zone opportunities, but bad luck has made it, so he isn’t coming down with scores. This should change next season.
- Brandin Cooks, New Orleans
The story of Brandin Cooks is much more maddening than his final season totals will show you. He’s a rich man’s vintage Torrey Smith or DeSean Jackson, with huge games surrounded by duds. Despite inexplicably not getting a single target last week against the Rams, he is still thirteenth in the league in fantasy points per game. Between that game and the New Orleans’ week five Bye, however, Cooks had double-digit fantasy points in four of six games. The fact that he could be a week winner for you some weeks makes him a top-ten option.
- Terrelle Pryor, Cleveland (potential free agent)
This is banking on Pryor leaving the Factory of Sadness for greener pastures, but given his loyalties to Hue Jackson, he will probably stay in Cleveland (or they’ll slap him with the franchise tag because there’s nothing else to use it on in Cleveland). With a pupu platter of quarterbacks this season, Pryor is the #8 wide receiver, so this ranking is tempering expectations. It looks like the converted former quarterback made the right career choice.
- Jamison Crowder, Washington
Crowder has emerged as Kirk Cousin’s favorite target, and it’s easy to see why. The speedy receiver has great routes and catches most things sent his way. Should the Washington offense keep clicking, it will be because of Crowder. He has been a monster since Kirk Cousins started looking his way, and there’s no reason for him to stop looking towards Crowder.