Featured Image by: Anthony J. Causi
Written by Sam Gubner
With drafts open, it is time to look at arguably the most important position in fantasy football: the wide receiver. It used to be the running back was the dominating position in fantasy, but over time talents at the receiver position have taken over. Here are some of these players, and some others primed to join them.
1. Antonio Brown
Antonio Brown is the best player in fantasy football without a doubt. Being the focal point of an offense with superstars such as Ben Roethlisberger and Le’Veon Bell already gives you an inclination of how good Brown is. Questions about his size have quickly dissipated after being top five in receptions, yards, and touchdowns the past two years. His rare blend of speed and explosiveness off the line have launched him into the fantasy elite and he is showing no signs of slowing down.
3. Odell Beckham Jr.
Odell Beckham Jr. has left the league in shock from plays such as “the catch” against the Dallas Cowboys to his always popular touchdowns dances. In a Ben McAdoo offense that has led to receivers such as Jordy Nelson and Randall Cobb to excel, who knows what’s in store for the much more talented Odell Beckham Jr. Some may think that putting him above Julio Jones is a mistake, but I beg to differ. Odell has been third in yards and first in touchdowns the past two seasons and has consistently been great. With his immense talent and the situation he is in with the New York Giants, Beckham Jr. could do even better than he has these past two years.
3. Julio Jones
A standout out of Alabama, Jones has used his size, speed, and agility to lead NFL receivers in yards and yards per game. This juggernaut is in a balanced offensive system in Atlanta that has a talented quarterback in Matt Ryan who always makes sure to give him a heavy dose of targets every game. Expect Jones to continue his success in 2016, and give opposing defenses fits.
4. DeAndre Hopkins
With all these amazing wide receivers, one may forget about DeAndre Hopkins. Hopkins had been slowly progressing his whole career and finally exploded in 2015 with 1,521 receiving yards and 11 touchdowns. What makes this outburst even more surprising is Hopkins put up these ridiculous numbers with the likes of Brian Hoyer and Ryan Mallett at the helm. The Clemson product uses his size and strength to catch over defenders in traffic and utilizes his concentration to watch the ball all the way into his hands during heavily contested catches. This ability to catch in traffic gives him huge fantasy potential.
5. Dez Bryant
THROW UP THE X! Dez Bryant has been pivotal to the Cowboys success and is the prime target for quarterback Tony Romo. And when these two are healthy look out because they are one of the most lethal duos in the league. But this is a questionable scenario as Dez Bryant and Tony Romo are constantly injured. So even though he may not be the safest option, I would take the risk on Dez because he could end up joining the fantasy elites once again in 2016.
6. A.J. Green
A.J. Green used to be higher on this list, but the emergence of young stars such as DeAndre Hopkins and Odell Beckham Jr. has forced him to move down a couple spots. The main target of Andy Dalton, Green always produces getting at least 1,000 yards and 6 touchdowns in every season of his career. And with Marvin Jones gone A.J. will get even more targets. Using his size and speed, Green will consistently get big downfield catches and touchdowns every game. With his consistency and important role on the offense, look for Green to be a superstar once again this year.
7. Sammy Watkins
While this may a bit controversial, I will tell you why Watkins is number seven on this list. First of all, out of all these wide receivers, Watkins still hasn’t reached his full potential but was still able to garner 2,029 yards and 15 touchdowns his first two seasons. Using his play-making speed and awareness, Watkins can take a top off of a defense and make big players after the catch. Even though there is an injury concern, Watkins’ talent is just off the charts. After two years of getting used to the system and finally a solid quarterback in Tyrod Taylor, Watkins is in for a big year.
8. Allen Robinson
In an up and coming offense featuring Blake Bortles, Allen Hurns, and the running back duo of Chris Ivory and T.J. Yeldon Robinson is a high-upside wide receiver one. Robinson made a major jump in 2015 going from 548 and 2 to 1,400 yards and 14 touchdowns. Using his strength and agility, Robinson will break away from defenders off the line and get big catches. Even though Robinson’s speed isn’t top-tier, he makes up for it with his rout running and vision. Expect a little regression as defenses will key-in on Robinson more than they did last year, but for him to still have a great season.
9. Jordy Nelson
An severe knee injury cut Nelson’s 2015 campaign short, but with his immense talent expect for him to make up for it this year. With his ability to speed down field and use his great hands for downfield grabs, Nelson has a strong aptitude for the game. In addition to his personal talent, he is arguably getting thrown to be the best quarterback in the NFL in Aaron Rodgers. Also, don’t forget that before his injury Jordy finished a 2014 campaign with 1,519 yards and 13 touchdowns. For these reasons, look for Jordy Nelson to rejoin the fantasy elites in 2016.
10. Kelvin Benjamin
Benjamin during his rookie year exploded for 1,008 yards and 9 touchdowns. He does this because his size, agility, and body control allow him to jump over defensive backs and pluck the ball at its highest point. Not to mention, Benjamin has a superstar in Cam Newton throwing to him, who’s only other target is Greg Olsen. But along with Nelson, Kelvin Benjamin suffered a season-ending knee injury during training camp. With this injury many people will forget about Benjamin and let him slip down the draft boards, which gives him tremendous value. In offense that made Tedd Ginn Jr. fantasy relevant, look for Benjamin to improve upon his first year numbers.