2017 fantasy football position rankings: Wide Receivers

Continuing our series of position rankings for the upcoming 2017 fantasy football season, we’ll take a look at wide receivers before turning to tight ends next week. We’ve ranked the QBs 1-32 and running backs from 1 to 36. We’ll rank the wide receivers 1-36 and the tight ends 1-24. Defenses and kickers will be ranked 1-12.

While there are tiers at every position, knowing them at the wide receiver spot is especially important. What’s nice about this season is that there appears to be a tier of five receivers at the top. A case could be made that any one of the first five in this list could be the No. 1 wideout by season’s end.

1. Antonio Brown, Steelers—His consistency has been rewarded this offseason with a new five-year contract. The last four years have been money in the bank for fantasy owners. Though Ben Roethlisberger toyed with the idea of retirement, he’ll be back, ensuring Brown should shine again this season.

Antonio Brown #84 of the Pittsburg Steelers runs with the ball against the Cincinnati Benglas at Paul Brown Stadium on January 9, 2016 in Cincinnati, Ohio. (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
Antonio Brown #84 of the Pittsburg Steelers runs with the ball against the Cincinnati Benglas at Paul Brown Stadium on January 9, 2016 in Cincinnati, Ohio. (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)

2. Julio Jones, Falcons—Though he lost Kyle Shanahan to the 49ers, Jones should continue to put up numbers we’re used to seeing. A balanced offense opens things up for receivers and the duo in his backfield takes off some pressure. He’s averaged 108 catches, 1,624 yards and 7 touchdowns over the last three seasons.

3. Odell Beckham Jr., Giants—The addition of Brandon Marshall could make the Giants’ offense very potent in the air. The Giants’ running backs are suited for the passing game and I’d expect Eli to continue to air it out. No need to fear a drop in targets for Beckham.

4. Mike Evans, Buccaneers—His 96 catches last season were a career high, and though DeSean Jackson has been added to the mix, it’s clear that Evans is the top dog. Playing alongside Jackson, rather than being the only target in town, could end up yielding bigger numbers in the end.

5. A.J. Green, Bengals—I consider Green to be in the top tier of receivers. Andy Dalton doesn’t get a lot of respect in terms of fantasy, but he’s not bad at all. Green is also coming off a season in which he tore his hamstring, but don’t get scared off. He’s missed just 10 games in six season.

A.J. Green #18 of the Cincinnati Bengals catches a touchdown over Darrelle Revis #24 of the New York Jets during their game at MetLife Stadium on September 11, 2016 in East Rutherford, New Jersey. (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)
A.J. Green #18 of the Cincinnati Bengals catches a touchdown over Darrelle Revis #24 of the New York Jets during their game at MetLife Stadium on September 11, 2016 in East Rutherford, New Jersey. (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)

6. Jordy Nelson, Packers—Is he relatively healthy? Yes. Is Aaron Rodgers still his quarterback? Yes. Does that mean he’ll still be very productive? Yes. Nelson has 27 touchdowns in the last three years. He didn’t play in 2015. Let that sink in.

7. Michael Thomas, Saints—Through eight games last season Thomas already had five touchdowns and it was clear that he was quickly becoming the No. 2 receiver behind Brandin Cooks. Well, Cooks is now in New England so that makes Thomas a popular pick to take a step up.

8. Dez Bryant, Cowboys—Dak Prescott didn’t know he’d be starting for the Cowboys until Tony Romo went down in the preseason last year. Prescott will have an entire offseason to work with his receivers this time around. Improving his rapport with Bryant will help both players rise in value.

Dez Bryant #88 of the Dallas Cowboys dives for the end zone to score a touchdown after catching a pass from Dak Prescott during the third quarter against the Baltimore Ravens at AT&T Stadium on November 20, 2016 in Arlington, Texas. (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images)

9. Brandin Cooks, Patriots—Having Cooks in my top-10 of wide receivers is a statement about Tom Brady as a quarterback more than anything. If Cooks keeps his head on straight and learns the Patriots’ offense, Brady will make sure to utilize the talented burner.

10. DeAndre Hopkins, Texans—I overvalued him last season, but Brock Osweiler has left town and the Texans have a new quarterback that may be ready to start before too long. Even if Tom Savage holds off rookie DeShaun Watson, Hopkins has the talent and opportunity to put up big numbers.

11. Amari Cooper, Raiders—He’s been targeted over 130 times, topped 1,000 yards and scored at least five touchdowns in each of his first two seasons. If Derek Carr can learn to treat Cooper like the play-maker he is near the red zone, Cooper could be special.

Amari Cooper had a great game the last time he faced the Chargers. (Photo by Lachlan Cunningham/Getty Images)
Amari Cooper has been a top wideout in his first three years in the league. (Photo by Lachlan Cunningham/Getty Images)

12. T.Y. Hilton, Colts—With the Colts drafting offensive line help, Hilton becomes more likely to get more work. Andrew Luck just needs time in the pocket to make defenses pay and Hilton should remain a WR1 as a result.

13. Doug Baldwin, Seahawks

14. Davante Adams, Packers

15. Alshon Jeffery, Eagles

16. Allen Robinson, Jaguars

17. Sammy Watkins, Bills

18. Demaryius Thomas, Broncos

19. Tyreek Hill, Chiefs

20. Keenan Allen, Chargers

21. Michael Crabtree, Raiders

22. Terrelle Pryor Sr., Redskins

23. Jarvis Landry, Dolphins

24. Brandon Marshall, Giants

25. Martavis Bryant, Steelers

26. Julian Edelman, Patriots

27. Donte Moncrief, Colts

28. Kelvin Benjamin, Panthers

29. Larry Fitzgerald, Cardinals

30. Emmanuel Sanders, Broncos

31. Jamison Crowder, Redskins

32. Golden Tate, Lions

33. Rishard Matthews, Titans

34. DeSean Jackson, Buccaneers

35. Stefon Diggs, Vikings

36. Willie Snead, Saints

 

Fantasy football Week 1 recap and waiver wire suggestions

The fantasy football season opened up the throttle on Sunday, and there were definitely some high-octane performances.

Indianapolis Colts quarterback Andrew Luck (12) during the first half of an NFL football game against the Detroit Lions in Indianapolis, Sunday, Sept. 11, 2016. (AP Photo/R Brent Smith)
Indianapolis Colts quarterback Andrew Luck (12) during the first half of an NFL football game against the Detroit Lions in Indianapolis, Sunday, Sept. 11, 2016. (AP Photo/R Brent Smith)

Andrew Luck started his attempt at a bounce-back year with a stellar performance; he threw for 385 yards and four touchdowns without committing a turnover. Drew Brees might have been the top scorer of the week had he not lost a fumble. He threw for 423 yards and four touchdowns, including a 98-yard score to Brandin Cooks. And A.J. Green had a brilliant start, catching 12 of his 13 targets for 180 yards and a 54-yard touchdown.

A.J. Green #18 of the Cincinnati Bengals catches a touchdown over Darrelle Revis #24 of the New York Jets during their game at MetLife Stadium on September 11, 2016 in East Rutherford, New Jersey. (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)
A.J. Green #18 of the Cincinnati Bengals catches a touchdown over Darrelle Revis #24 of the New York Jets during their game at MetLife Stadium on September 11, 2016 in East Rutherford, New Jersey. (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)

The best performance by a running back came from the waiver wire pickup of the week, Spencer Ware. Once word got out that Jamaal Charles wasn’t quite ready, owners rushed to pick up his main backup before the season kicked off.
Ware didn’t disappoint as he rushed for 70 yards and a touchdown while catching seven passes for an additional 129 yards.

At the tight end spot, both of the Colts’ ends found paydirt. Dwayne Allen caught four passes for 53 yards and a touchdown while Jack Doyle had three catches for 35 yards and two scores.

The top defense of the week started slow but turned it on in the second half. Minnesota allowed 16 points to the Titans but forced three turnovers and added two sacks in addition to scoring two touchdowns.

Minnesota Vikings defensive end Danielle Hunter celebrates as he scores a touchdown on a 24-yard run after a fumble recovery against the Tennessee Titans in the second half of an NFL football game Sunday, Sept. 11, 2016, in Nashville, Tenn. The Vikings won 25-16. (AP Photo/Mark Zaleski)
Minnesota Vikings defensive end Danielle Hunter celebrates as he scores a touchdown on a 24-yard run after a fumble recovery against the Tennessee Titans in the second half of an NFL football game Sunday, Sept. 11, 2016, in Nashville, Tenn. The Vikings won 25-16. (AP Photo/Mark Zaleski)

It wasn’t all positive in the fantasy world. Quite a few players had some games to forget:
At the top of that list has to be Dez Bryant, who caught just one pass for 8 yards in the Cowboys’ loss to the Giants. He had a touchdown called back when it was reviewed and determined that he didn’t control the ball before touching out of bounds in the end zone.

Brandon Marshall, the top option for the Jets, had just three catches for 32 yards despite being targeted eight times.

Sammy Watkins also disappointed as he caught four passes for 43 yards. Additionally, Tyler Lockett, who was expected to break out for the Seahawks, had just three catches for 17 yards.

At running back, we saw Devonta Freeman produce just 40 total yards as Tevin Coleman gained 117 yards on 13 touches for the Falcons.

In Tennessee, Adrian Peterson rushed for just 31 yards as the Titans were able to key on the run with Shaun Hill starting at quarterback for the Vikings.

A striking theme from Sunday was the great performances from second-year players. Jameis Winston, David Johnson, Melvin Gordon, Donte Moncrief and Stefon Diggs all produced well to start their sophomore seasons.

Jameis Winston #3 of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers rolls out of the pocket agains the Atlanta Falcons at Georgia Dome on September 11, 2016 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
Jameis Winston #3 of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers rolls out of the pocket agains the Atlanta Falcons at Georgia Dome on September 11, 2016 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)

Cooks, also in his second season, had 143 yards and two touchdowns.
Unfortunately we saw Keenan Allen go down with a torn ACL after catching six passes for 63 yards. And word broke on Monday that Robert Griffin III could be done for the season with a shoulder fracture. Russell Wilson also has a sprained ankle to be monitored.

With that, look to the waiver wire:

Quarterbacks
Alex Smith, Chiefs (363 passing yards, 3 total TDs)
Carson Wentz, Eagles (278, TD)
Jimmy Garoppolo, Patriots (264, TD)
Dak Prescott, Cowboys (227, 0 turnovers)

Wide receivers
Will Fuller, Texans (5 catches, 107 yards, TD)
Mike Wallace, Ravens (6-91, TD)
Chris Hogan, Patriots (60, TD)
Nelson Agholor, Eagles (57, TD)
Sterling Shepard, Giants (43, TD)
Victor Cruz, Giants (34, TD)
Tajae Sharpe, Titans (7-76)
Michael Thomas, Saints (6-58)

Running backs
Tevin Coleman, Falcons (117 total yards, 13 touches)
Jalen Richard, Raiders (95, TD, 5 touches)
Shane Vereen, Giants (61, 9 touches)

Fantasy football position rankings heading into final weekend of drafts

It’s the final weekend before the fantasy football season kicks off. Here’s a look at my position rankings for the upcoming season. For quarterbacks I’ve listed two deep for a 12-team league. I’ve listed three deep for running backs and four deep for wide receivers. I’ve also listed the top 12 tight ends and defense/special teams.

Quarterbacks

1. Aaron Rodgers, Packers
2. Cam Newton, Panthers—I don’t think he’ll be quite as productive as he was last year, which is why I have him behind Aaron Rodgers.

Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton (1) looks to pass during an NFL football game against the New England Patriots in Charlotte, N.C., Friday, Aug. 26, 2016. (AP Photo/Mike McCarn)
Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton (1) looks to pass during an NFL football game against the New England Patriots in Charlotte, N.C., Friday, Aug. 26, 2016. (AP Photo/Mike McCarn)

3. Russell Wilson, Seahawks
4. Andrew Luck, Colts
5. Drew Brees, Saints
6. Ben Roethlisberger, Steelers
7. Tom Brady, Patriots
8. Blake Bortles, Jaguars
9. Carson Palmer, Cardinals—I’ve dropped him a couple of spots from the last time out because he hasn’t looked great in preseason. Plus there’s always the fear of him getting hurt. If he stays healthy, he’s got the weapons to end up as a top-5 quarterback.

Arizona Cardinals quarterback Carson Palmer (3) throws prior to an NFL preseason football game against the Arizona Cardinals, Sunday, Aug. 28, 2016, in Houston. (AP Photo/Jeff Roberson)
Arizona Cardinals quarterback Carson Palmer (3) throws prior to an NFL preseason football game against the Arizona Cardinals, Sunday, Aug. 28, 2016, in Houston. (AP Photo/Jeff Roberson)

10. Eli Manning, Giants
11. Philip Rivers, Chargers
12. Derek Carr, Raiders
13. Ryan Fitzpatrick, Jets
14. Tyrod Taylor, Bills
15. Kirk Cousins, Redskins
16. Jameis Winston, Buccaneers
17. Matthew Stafford, Lions
18. Andy Dalton, Bengals
19. Marcus Mariota, Titans
20. Matt Ryan, Falcons
21. Ryan Tannehill, Dolphins
22. Alex Smith, Chiefs
23. Jay Cutler, Bears
24. Brock Osweiler, Texans

Running backs

1. David Johnson, Cardinals—I think he has the potential to be the best back in the league. That said, he will probably not be the first running back taken in your draft. If not, make sure you don’t pass him up.

David Johnson #31 of the Arizona Cardinals runs with the ball against the Houston Texans in the first quarter of a preseason NFL game at NRG Stadium on August 28, 2016 in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)
David Johnson #31 of the Arizona Cardinals runs with the ball against the Houston Texans in the first quarter of a preseason NFL game at NRG Stadium on August 28, 2016 in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)

2. Todd Gurley, Rams
3. Adrian Peterson, Vikings
4. Ezekiel Elliott, Cowboys
5. Lamar Miller, Texans
6. Le’Veon Bell, Steelers
7. Eddie Lacy, Packers
8. Jamaal Charles, Chiefs
9. Mark Ingram, Saints
10. LeSean McCoy, Bills
11. Devonta Freeman, Falcons
12. Doug Martin, Buccaneers
13. C.J. Anderson, Broncos
14. Latavius Murray, Raiders
15. Thomas Rawls, Seahawks
16. Jeremy Hill, Bengals
17. Matt Forte, Jets
18. DeMarco Murray, Titans
19. Carlos Hyde, 49ers
20. Jeremy Langford, Bears
21. Melvin Gordon, Chargers
22. Jonathan Stewart, Panthers
23. Ryan Mathews, Eagles
24. Frank Gore, Colts
25. DeAngelo Williams, Steelers
26. Arian Foster, Dolphins
27. Matt Jones, Redskins
28. Chris Ivory, Jaguars
29. Gio Bernard, Bengals
30. Derrick Henry, Titans
31. Rashad Jennings, Giants
32. Duke Johnson, Browns
33. Danny Woodhead, Chargers
34. Ameer Abdullah, Lions
35. Isaiah Crowell, Browns
36. Christine Michael, Seahawks

Wide receivers

1. Antonio Brown, Steelers
2. Odell Beckham Jr., Giants
3. Julio Jones, Falcons
4. DeAndre Hopkins, Texans—Really excited to see what he can do with Will Fuller, Jaelen Strong and Braxton Miller spreading the defense thin.

DeAndre Hopkins #10 of the Houston Texans looks for room after a reception against the Arizona Cardinals in the first quarter of a preseason NFL game at NRG Stadium on August 28, 2016 in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)
DeAndre Hopkins #10 of the Houston Texans looks for room after a reception against the Arizona Cardinals in the first quarter of a preseason NFL game at NRG Stadium on August 28, 2016 in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)

5. A.J. Green, Bengals
6. Dez Bryant, Cowboys
7. Allen Robinson, Jaguars
8. Brandon Marshall, Jets
9. Jordy Nelson, Packers
10. Mike Evans, Buccaneers
11. Keenan Allen, Chargers
12. Amari Cooper, Raiders
13. Alshon Jeffery, Bears
14. Sammy Watkins, Bills
15. Brandin Cooks, Saints
16. T.Y. Hilton, Colts
17. Demaryius Thomas, Broncos
18. Randall Cobb, Packers
19. Jeremy Maclin, Chiefs
20. Donte Moncrief, Colts
21. Eric Decker, Jets
22. Jarvis Landry, Dolphins
23. Kelvin Benjamin, Panthers
24. Doug Baldwin, Seahawks
25. Michael Floyd, Cardinals
26. Julian Edelman, Patriots
27. Josh Gordon, Browns
28. Marvin Jones, Lions
29. Golden Tate, Lions
30. Allen Hurns, Jaguars
31. Larry Fitzgerald, Cardinals
32. Tyler Lockett, Seahawks
33. John Brown, Cardinals
34. Emmanuel Sanders, Broncos
35. Jordan Matthews, Eagles
36. DeSean Jackson, Redskins
37. Sterling Shepard, Giants
38. Michael Crabtree, Raiders
39. Kevin White, Bears
40. Willie Snead, Saints
41. Corey Coleman, Browns
42. Stefon Diggs, Vikings
43. Torrey Smith, 49ers
44. Tavon Austin, Rams
45. Vincent Jackson, Buccaneers
46. Travis Benjamin, Chargers
47. Laquon Treadwell, Vikings
48. Michael Thomas, Saints

Tight ends

1. Rob Gronkowski, Patriots
2. Jordan Reed, Redskins
3. Greg Olsen, Panthers
4. Travis Kelce, Chiefs
5. Delanie Walker, Titans
6. Coby Fleener, Saints
7. Gary Barnidge, Browns—He may not duplicate last year’s numbers, but Robert Griffin III could use him as a security blanket.

Tight end Gary Barnidge #82 of the Cleveland Browns catches a touchdown pass during the first half of the preseason game against the Atlanta Falcons at FirstEnergy Stadium on August 18, 2016 in Cleveland, Ohio. (Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images)
Tight end Gary Barnidge #82 of the Cleveland Browns catches a touchdown pass during the first half of the preseason game against the Atlanta Falcons at FirstEnergy Stadium on August 18, 2016 in Cleveland, Ohio. (Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images)

8. Tyler Eifert, Bengals
9. Julius Thomas, Jaguars
10. Antonio Gates, Chargers
11. Zach Ertz, Eagles
12. Jimmy Graham, Seahawks

Defense/special teams

1. Broncos
2. Seahawks
3. Cardinals
4. Panthers
5. Texans—They’ve got a Week 1 matchup against a hurting Bears offense and J.J. Watt may be healthy enough to play by then.

Drew Brees #9 of the New Orleans Saints is sacked by Jadeveon Clowney #90 of the Houston Texans, John Simon #51 and Whitney Mercilus #59 in the first quarter durting a preseason NFL game at NRG Stadium on August 20, 2016 in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images)
Drew Brees #9 of the New Orleans Saints is sacked by Jadeveon Clowney #90 of the Houston Texans, John Simon #51 and Whitney Mercilus #59 in the first quarter durting a preseason NFL game at NRG Stadium on August 20, 2016 in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images)

6. Vikings
7. Rams
8. Chiefs
9. Patriots
10. Bengals
11. Jets
12. Raiders

It’s time to start mock drafting

It used to be a good idea, but now it’s pretty essential to go through a few mock drafts in order to prepare yourself for an upcoming fantasy football season. I took part in one this week and learned a couple of things. First off, here’s the team I selected in a standard league mock draft on NFL.com.

mymockteam

mymockteam2

Drafting from the tenth and final spot of the round posed an interesting challenge. The first mistake I made was not taking a running back with my first two picks in the snake order. Though there’s some depth at the position on this team, there’s no clear RB2. Some might argue that Carlos Hyde isn’t even an RB1 at this point, but if he’s healthy I think he will be. Questions are swirling around DeMarco Murray, T.J. Yeldon, Thomas Rawls and Dion Lewis, however.

The wide receiver spot looks pretty good with A.J. Green and Amari Cooper taking the WR1 and WR2 spots, with either Donte Moncrief or new Lions receiver Marvin Jones taking a flex spot.

Tight end is probably the most solid position, but with Rob Gronkowski going without Tom Brady for four games Coby Fleener could get a couple starts if he has an instant connection with Drew Brees.

Speaking of quarterbacks, Ben Roethlisberger is a solid starter with Antonio Brown as his main weapon and let’s hope he doesn’t have to miss any time with an aging Tony Romo as his backup.

A few other things I learned from the mock draft:

  • David Johnson is likely a top-5 pick. The person with the first pick in my mock draft took him, but he should probably go no lower than sixth.
  • Le’Veon Bell probably won’t be the first, or maybe even second, running back selected. My draft had Johnson and Todd Gurley go ahead of him.
  • Ezekiel Elliott is no-doubt a first round pick. He went eighth in this mock draft, but I’ve seen him go higher.
  • Don’t be surprised if the first round is half running backs, half wide receivers. Antonio Brown, Julio Jones, Odell Beckham Jr., DeAndre Hopkins and A.J. Green went in the first round of this mock.
  • Lamar Miller is right in the late first round, early second round territory. Don’t feel like you’re being too risky taking the new Texan in the first.
  • If DeMarco Murray has a bounce back year, someone will be happy having taken him in the sixth or later.