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: To tinker or not to tinker?

Full disclosure, I went 0-2 in my leagues this week. It’s not the kind of start you want to see out of your trusted fantasy guru. In fantasy football there is the right play and there’s the winning play. They’re not always one and the same.

In one league I faced Drew Brees and Spencer Ware. Brees was the second-highest scoring quarterback, behind Andrew Luck, while Ware was the second highest scoring running back in Week 1.

Kansas City Chiefs running back Spencer Ware celebrates his fourth quarter touchdown with 1:03 remaining against the San Diego Chargers on Sunday, Sept. 11, 2016 at Arrowhead Stadium in Kansas City, Mo. (John Sleezer/Kansas City Star/TNS)
Kansas City Chiefs running back Spencer Ware celebrates his fourth quarter touchdown with 1:03 remaining against the San Diego Chargers on Sunday, Sept. 11, 2016 at Arrowhead Stadium in Kansas City, Mo. (John Sleezer/Kansas City Star/TNS)

In another league, the Office Football League here at the Statesman, I went up against DeAngelo Williams, the highest scoring running back in Week 1, in addition to Brandin Cooks and Antonio Brown. Cooks was the highest scoring receiver of the week while Brown was third best. Congratulations to Kirk Bohls on his near record-setting performance (191 points!) in the OFL.

Losing both of these games had me originally thinking about making some pickups or changing my lineup. Call me crazy, but I don’t think I’m going to touch a thing in one of these leagues.

Here’s my lineup from Week 1 in the OFL (standard + 6-points for TD passes, one point per two receptions):

QB: Jameis Winston
RB: David Johnson
RB: Ryan Mathews
WR: Mike Evans
WR: Brandon Marshall
TE: Antonio Gates
Flex: Demaryius Thomas
K: Dan Bailey
DST: Chiefs

Bench: Philip Rivers, DeMarco Murray, Darren Sproles, Laquon Treadwell, Tyler Boyd, Tajae Sharpe, Michael Thomas, Tyler Eifert.

There’s a lot of youth on my bench in this keeper league, but I don’t see replacing what I’ve got in my lineup. Maybe I could go with DeMarco Murray instead of Thomas at my flex, but is the top receiver in Denver really going to be held to 48 yards again? Benching Marshall seems like a bad move as well since he was targeted a decent amount of times (8) on his way to just 32 yards receiving.

New York Jets wide receiver Brandon Marshall (15) runs past Cincinnati Bengals' Karlos Dansby (56) during the second half of an NFL football game Sunday, Sept. 11, 2016 in East Rutherford, N.J. (AP Photo/Bill Kostroun)
New York Jets wide receiver Brandon Marshall (15) runs past Cincinnati Bengals’ Karlos Dansby (56) during the second half of an NFL football game Sunday, Sept. 11, 2016 in East Rutherford, N.J. (AP Photo/Bill Kostroun)

In the other league I’m in I may actually end up tinkering a little bit.

Here’s that league’s lineup (standard + 6-points for TD passes):

QB: Derek Carr
RB: David Johnson
RB: Mark Ingram
WR: Dez Bryant
WR: Jordy Nelson
WR: Jeremy Maclin
Flex: Christine Michael
K: Chris Boswell
DST: Chiefs

Bench: Melvin Gordon, Ben Roethlisberger, Tyler Lockett, Sterling Shepard.

Running back Melvin Gordon #28 of the San Diego Chargers rushes the ball on his way to his second touchdown of the game during the second quarter at Arrowhead Stadium on September 11, 2016 in Kansas City, Missouri. (Photo by Peter G Aiken/Getty Images)
Running back Melvin Gordon #28 of the San Diego Chargers rushes the ball on his way to his second touchdown of the game during the second quarter at Arrowhead Stadium on September 11, 2016 in Kansas City, Missouri. (Photo by Peter G Aiken/Getty Images)

I went with Michael in response to him getting the start over a recovering Thomas Rawls. Rawls did end up playing, however, and had just two fewer touches than Michael. I had to see Gordon produce well before I started him in my lineup. He did great in Week 1, though he had fewer touches than Danny Woodhead, so I’ll probably give him a shot in Week 2. I also like Sterling Shepard’s matchup with the Saints so I may sit Maclin this week.

Dez Bryant had a week to forget, but you’d think the coaching staff would make sure he gets a lot more targets in Week 2.

Let me know what you think @AAS_Cat. Would you tinker with either lineup?