Fantasy Football: Pros and Cons of Top Tier Wide Receivers

Consensus is almost unheard of in fantasy. Sure, there are exceptions. People can usually agree that the guys at the very top of the draft board are safe bets, and there’s usually a couple trendy sleeper picks. But more often than not, at least on draft day, beauty is in the eye of the beholder. There’s always more than one way to view a guy. Someone might be elated to draft Rob Gronkowski in the first round, considering he’s far and away, the best tight end in fantasy, who has one of the most reliable QBs throwing him the ball. But someone else may be just as ecstatic to see Gronkowski go in the first round, pointing out his exhaustive injury history, and that he will be without his super reliable future HOFer QB for the first quarter of the season. That is why you’ll often see someone’s name on one website’s “Top 5 Sleepers” list and another website’s “Top 5 Busts” list. It’s usually a crapshoot to know which is the truth, and that’s what makes fantasy so fun and difficult. Here, let’s go through the good and the bad of this year’s WRs.

Antonio Brown, Pittsburgh Steelers
Pros: Hmmm let’s see. EVERYTHING. He’s the king of consistency – had at least 5 receptions in every game last year, and at never had fewer than 72 yards in a game. He’s a virtual lock for 1500+ yards and double digit TDs. Should be considered for the top overall pick. Far and away the top option at a loaded position.

Cons: Literally none. Nothing to see here, folks, carry on, move along.

Dez Bryant, Dallas Cowboys
Pros: Romo’s favorite weapon, one of the most reliable guys at any position in fantasy. Will be a top 5 WR, easy.

Cons: A tad more reliant on TDs than some other top WRs. Not to punish Dez for being a TD magnet, but his receptions and yards lag behind the other truly elite WRs. Led the league in receiving TDs though, and if those come down a bit, from 16 to, say, 10 or so, his value could take a hit. 

Demaryius Thomas, Denver Broncos
Pros: Peyton Manning is still the QB, so pencil in Demaryius for another monster season. Julius Thomas signed on to catch passes from Blake Bortles, so Demaryius should get even more redzone targets.

Cons: By the second half of the year, the Broncos became a running team. Yes, undrafted C.J. Anderson, not future HOFer Peyton Manning, was the focal point of the offense. If that continues, Thomas’ upside is every so slightly capped.

Odell Beckham Jr., New York Giants
Pros: Freak athlete. Insane hands. Precise routes. Limitless upside.

Cons: Hamstring injuries tend to linger. Eli Manning is his QB. I guess defenses could have crazy schemes to try to stop him? The so-called “sophomore slump”? If Beckham regresses at all, it will be because of injury or Eli Dalton’ing his way through the year.

Julio Jones, Atlanta Falcons
Pros: Offense should be improved, and with Roddy White perennially banged up, Julio could get even more targets. In a down year, he still reeled nearly 1600 yards. Don’t count on only 6 TDs either. That number will be in the double digits. He’s too talented.

Cons: He does have a little bit of an injury history. That’s the only stopping him from being the top WR in fantasy.

Calvin Johnson, Detroit Lions
Pros: When healthy, still arguably the most talented WR in the NFL. The definition of the word ‘freak.’ Giant redzone target with speed too. We’ve seen him do it before. Everyone knows how dangerous Calvin is. His QB is just good enough to jam the ball into him a lot.

Cons: The preface to his pros… “When healthy.” Lately, he’s made a habit of missing some games, and that, combined with him getting older, makes lots of owners wary. For the first time in his career, Calvin has other options on offense. Golden Tate, Eric Ebron, and Ameer Abdullah could eat away some of his looks. His QB is just bad enough to hurt his value. Call it the Dalton effect.

A.J. Green, Cincinnati Bengals
Pros: The seemingly forgotten WR stud this season. He goes anywhere from 5-15 picks later than the guys above him, but he is a surefire WR1. His QB will do anything to get him the ball.

Cons: He left a sour taste in his owners’ mouths last year, missing games to injury. His QB will do anything to get him the ball… sometimes it doesn’t work out. Worth sitting in prime time games. His QB is that bad when the lights get bright.

Randall Cobb, Green Bay Packers
Pros: Jordy Nelson is out for the year, so Cobb is the best QB in the league’s top option. He should put numbers we’ve never seen from him before.

Cons: Tough to think of any when Aaron Rodgers is your QB. Probably not as physically talented as the guys above him, so that limits his upside a tad, but the MVP will make sure he gets his.

Alshon Jeffery, Chicago Bears
Pros: Brandon Marshall is gone, so Jeffery will get the lion’s share of the targets. His QB is kind of like Dalton. But actually, Cutler’s play hurts his real life team more than his WRs in fantasy. Cutler will throw lots of picks, but Jeffrey should be good for 1200/10.

Cons: Brandon Marshall is gone, and maybe Jeffery has a harder time with teams focusing on him more. Playing in a new offense under notoriously conservative play-calling John Fox.

Omissions

Mike Evans: Giant redzone target, who had a great rookie year, somehow forgotten in OBJ’s shadow. Lots will depend on Jameis Winston’s ability to feed him the ball and not play like a rookie. Only thing is Evans’ yardage was very inconsistent. Had a three game stretch with 460 yds and 4 TDs. Problem is, discounting that stretch, he averaged a hair under 50 YPG. Owners can similar production (and inconsistency) out of someone like DeSean Jackson a couple rounds later.

T.Y. Hilton: 1345 yards and 7 TDs is nothing to scoff at. It’s just that, the Colts signed Andre Johnson. And the Colts drafted Phillip Dorsett, another WR, at the end of the first round of the draft. The Colts also signed Frank Gore. All these additions limit Hilton’s upside.

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