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Fantasy Football: Wide Receiver Tiers

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With the Quarterback Rankings and the Running Back Rankings in the books, we now move on the position that has seemed to evolve the most over the past 10 or so years, the Wide Receivers. The world of fantasy football has evolved to 1-2 1st round WRs, so 5-6 1st round WRs, to this year, possibly the 1st four overall picks being WRs. So without further ado let get to the Wide Receiver Rankings and Tiers for the 2016 NFL season.

Remember, these rankings are in the order of my personal preference, so if they are within the same tier, I think all of them will be around the same range for fantasy point projections, so feel free to choose who you prefer.

Tier 1 – Elite

Antonio Brown
Odell Beckham Jr
DeAndre Hopkins
Julio Jones
AJ Green
Allen Robinson

Antonio Brown is the #1 WR in fantasy football, and when Big Ben is healthy, it isn’t close. Beckham probably is the popular vote right now as most mock draft’s #1 overall. I disagree and have him maybe 5th. Hopkins and Jones are pretty even in my eyes, both going mid-1st round. Green has a little higher ceiling this year with Cincy’s #2 and #3 WRs were gone, but he’s an every year injury risk. Robinson and Dez Bryant are pretty equal in my opinion but gave Robinson the edge due to Bryant’s health concerns. All of these WRs will be gone by probably picks 12-14.

Tier 2 – #1’s

Dez Bryant
Mike Evans
Alshon Jeffery
Brandin Cooks

If Bryant is healthy, he’s a top 5 WR. Mike Evans had an off year last year and still put up good numbers, has a high ceiling and a high floor. Jeffery similar to Evans, but more of an injury risk so lower floor, but possibly a higher ceiling. Cooks has a little Antonio Brown in him. He was a top 10 WR if you look over the last eight games of the year last year. These are all 2nd round, maybe very early 3rd round guys.

Tier 3 – Borderline #1’s

Amari Cooper
Keenan Allen
TY Hilton
Brandon Marshall

All 4 of these guys are similar and will be taken in the 3rd and 4th rounds. I just prefer Cooper and Allen because of their upside. I think we’ve seen the ceiling of both Hilton and Marshall; we haven’t seen that of Cooper or Allen yet, but if any of these guys are your #1 WR, no one is going to be crying for you. Allen comes with an injury risk, and Marshall has the age factor and QB factor against him.

Tier 4 – Starters

Jordy Nelson
Sammy Watkins
Randall Cobb
Golden Tate

Nelson would be a top 10 WR for him, but he is coming off ACL surgery. He is also a year older, which is never a plus for WRs. Watkins, hopefully, can stay healthy, while Cobb and Tate are similar players that will catch a lot of short and intermediate passes, move them up a little in PPR leagues.

Tier 5 – Borderline Starters

Jeremy Maclin
Kelvin Benjamin
Jarvis Landry
Demaryius Thomas
Larry Fitzgerald
Eric Decker

Maclin is the safest pick in this group. Benjamin has the biggest upside, but also the biggest injury risk. Landry is probably the 2nd safest guy, but may lose some targets to a guy in my next group. Thomas is the best WR of the group but has the worst QB. Fitzgerald is slowly passing the torch to Floyd. People who paid attention saw that last 5-6 games of the year last year. Decker is very productive, but I expect a dip in numbers due to Ryan Fitzpatrick not playing over his head like last year.

Tier 6 – Flex Options

DeVante Parker
Michael Floyd
Jordan Matthews
Donte Moncrief
Desean Jackson
Julian Edelman

Parker had huge upside and big time potential; the only question is if he’s ready or not. Floyd, as I said, will be the #1 WR for Arizona by year’s end. Matthews should soak up the targets in Philly as the only reliable WR. Moncrief has upside, but I’m not sold on him yet. Be careful, he’s going higher than I’d take him. Jackson is always hit or miss, but that’s typically what flex options are. Edelman would be a top 15 WR if he could stay healthy. Is the cumulative amount of hits getting to him?

Tier 7 – Bye Week Options

Doug Baldwin
Corey Coleman
Allen Hurns
Michael Crabtree
Emmanuel Sanders
Marvin Jones

Baldwin surprised me and everyone last year. His TD totals will come down if Jimmy Graham gets more involve, which I expect. Coleman is a wildcard, but I like him. Good player to take a chance with. Hurns and Crabtree are two #2 WRs on good offenses. They should both flirt with 1000 yards and 6-8 TDs. Sanders, as I mentioned with Thomas earlier, is strapped by his QB, Mark Sanchez. Marvin Jones could be a good TD guy for Detroit if Eric Ebron continues to stall in his progression.

Tier 8 – Keep for Depth

Josh Brown
Josh Gordon
Devin Funchess
Tavon Austin
Tyler Lockett
Stefon Diggs

Josh Brown is the 1st #3 WR I’m listing, over some team’s #1. If Fitzgerald or Floyd got hurt, he’s an every-week starter for all fantasy teams. Gordon had top 5 WR ability, but after being out of the sport so long, you have to wonder if he can get back to that level, huge ceiling, but also a bottomless floor. Funchess is showing signs, but he must prove it 1st. Austin is a slot guy, a very good one, but I’m never big on gadget player and slot guys. Lockett is a risk cause of his size, but he a player that shows big time flashes, similar to John Brown. Diggs is the #1 WR for Minnesota. He shows flashes, but too inconsistent to depend on.

Tier 9 – If You Are Desperate

Steve Smith
Torrey Smith
Andre Johnson
Terrence Williams
Kevin White
LaQuan Treadwell

Smith has retired, it seems like, five times already, but he’s still here. I’d stay away. Smith would be higher if Kaepernick were the QB in SF, but since that’s not assured yet, I’d also stay away. Johnson could end up being the best WR in Tennessee, as sad as that seems. Marcus Mariota is going to have to throw to someone other than Delanie Walker, right? Williams is more of a TD guy than a solid dependable guy, very hit or miss. White and Treadwell are essentially two rookies with big upside that has the combination of size and strength you want on your fantasy bench, just in case they blow up.

We’ve got one more Fantasy Football article this week, and it will be on the Tight Ends. Last year there were 5-6 TEs that stood out and the rest were nothing to write home about. Will it be the same? Or will we find some unknowns in there like Gary Barnidge last year? Before your draft, check it out. And as I always say, if you have a draft before then, good luck and if you have any draft or fantasy football questions, I can be reached on Twitter with the handle @Pacman453323.

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Robert D. Cobb
Founder, Publisher and CEO of INSCMagazine. Works have appeared and featured in places such as Forbes, Huffington Post, ESPN and NBC Sports to name a few. Follow me on Twitter at @RobCobb_INSC, email me at robert.cobb@theinscribermag.com