2017 Fantasy Football Rankings: WR Tiers
Article by Mitch Lawson (Sleeperbot: @PeteCarroline)
Updated September 2, 2017
Welcome back to my 2017 Fantasy Football rankings. If you missed my last article which ranked Fantasy RBs, click here to read it.
We’re at a critical time in the fantasy season. It’s do or die mode for re-draft leagues, and an opportunity for dynasty owners to find the next big talent. Wide Receiver is the cornerstone position in fantasy, and your success or failure at the position can decide your season.
So, I’ve compiled the top Wide Receivers in Football and ranked them based on how confident I am in picking them. I’ll identify sleepers and PPR darlings while breaking down these receivers into tiers to help you identify where the dropoffs in talent occur.
For the rest of my rankings, check out the links below:
Without further adieu, here are my fantasy WR rankings for 2017.
Tier 1: The Cream of the Crop
1. Antonio Brown — PIT (PPR+)
Antonio Brown is a generational talent, and my layup of a pick for best WR in fantasy for 2017. He’s an even greater asset in PPR leagues as he had the 2nd most receptions in the league. He’s an easy pick for me.
2. Odell Beckham Jr. — NYG
Last year I cooled off on Odell Beckham, and laughed mirthfully as he “struggled” in his first 5 games (his best game was 12.1 FP in standard). He then proceeded to tear apart the league over the next 12 weeks. He may have a bad game or two this year, but he is a gamechanger that needs to be owned.
3. Jordy Nelson — GB
Jordy Nelson was an extremely shaky pick in 2016. He was coming off a torn ACL which cost him his entire 2015 season and he was turning 31. He then proceeded to have his second best fantasy season of his career. There’s nothing stopping him this year, draft him with confidence.
4. Julio Jones — ATL
You may be surprised that I’d list Jordy Nelson above Julio Jones but it’s the truth. Look, I’m not going to label Julio a “bust”, but he needs to get the ball more from Matt Ryan. His receptions plummeted from 136 to 83 last year. That’s 53 less receptions. Plus he loses redzone targets to Devonta Freeman and Tevin Coleman as much as he does to his receivers. Picture this: If he had gained just 100 yards against the panthers in week 4 when they rolled over and died instead of 300 yards, Julio would have finished behind Doug Baldwin for 10th in the league in fantasy points. He should bounce back to a degree, but the facts are all there.
5. A.J. Green — CIN
Before Green went down with an injury in week 11 (He didn’t register a reception in that game), he had scored 120.4 fantasy points through, essentially, 9 games. That would have put him on pace for 214 points if he stayed healthy, which would have been best in the league. Draft him with confidence in the back end of the first round.
6. Mike Evans — TB
It’s crazy to think that the #1 Fantasy WR in football (standard scoring) could be ranked as the 6th best option the very next year, but that’s totally the case for Evans. Evans left a bad taste in fantasy owners mouths when he produced 3.8, 4.2 and 5.9 points in weeks 13,14 and 15 respectively last year. But he was absolutely peppered by Winston the rest of the season, which should continue to happen in 2017. He could be a Top 3 WR this year barring injury.
7. Michael Thomas — NO
Michael Thomas was one of the more consistent WRs in 2016, posting 8 games of 10 points or more (and one game of 9.8), and that was with Brandin Cooks in town. Now he has the WR1 position to himself and should absolutely rake in the production from perennial 5,000 yarder Drew Brees.
Article by Mitch Lawson (Sleeperbot: @PeteCarroline)snooze.sleeperbot.com
Tier 2: High Level Talent With Top 5 Upside
8. Dez Bryant — DAL
Dez Bryant has had plenty of ups-and-downs over the past 2 seasons, but 2017 should be one of the ups. Dak Prescott has looked just as effective as ever, and could throw for over 4,200 yards this season. Zeke is gone so the Cowboys may have to air it out more, meaning Bryant’s TDs should also climb. They have a brutal schedule over the first 3 weeks so bear that in mind.
9. T.Y. Hilton
It’s really hard for me to move Hilton down this far, but the numbers don’t lie: Hilton is not himself without Andrew Luck. Luck’s injury is expected to keep him out for week 1 and potentially longer. Shoulder injuries also have a tendency to linger; and if Luck isn’t at 100%, neither is Hilton.
10. Brandin Cooks — NE
Cooks was not this high on my list in preseason, but after the injury to Edelman I can’t deny his potential. His situation hasn’t changed all that much as he’s still a top option for one of the game’s best QBs. I expect his production to be fairly consistent with last year with maybe a slight downgrade on TDs due to Gronk’s presence.
11. Amari Cooper-OAK
Cooper is entering the coveted third-year status of his career and has put up back-to-back 1,000 yard seasons to start his career. He figures to be the centerpiece of the Raiders’ aerial attack, which could be formidable if Derek Carr is at 100%.
Tier 3: Solid WR2s Throughout
12. Doug Baldwin — SEA (PPR+)
Doug Baldwin has basically improved like clockwork in every single season he has played. He now gets to catch passes from a healthy Russell Wilson all season long, and could see 100 receptions this year.
13. Terrelle Pryor — WAS
It’s amazing to see Pryor’s growth over the past 5 seasons. He’s gone from backup QB to starting Wide Receiver in almost no time. He’s an amazing athlete who managed to put together a 1,000 yard receiving season while playing for the Browns. Now, with Garcon and DeSean Jackson out of Washington, he should be primed for success.
14. Keenan Allen — LAC
I’m not the type of person to downgrade a player who’s at 100% but has a history of injuries, which is why Keenan Allen is number 14 on my board. He has been unreal in preseason, and I can’t think of a player who’s more motivated to succeed than him. He has Top 5 potential if he’s healthy all year.
15. Alshon Jeffery — PHI
Before Jay Cutler turned to melted cheese and the Bears suffered through the QB carousel of 2016, Alshon was a Top 10 Fantasy WR. Now healthy and motivated, he moves to Philly where he is set to be the #1 WR for Carson Wentz, which is an upgrade over Mike Glennon.
16. Michael Crabtree — OAK (Sleeper Alert)
Quick, without looking, who was the best fantasy WR on the Raiders last year? Yup, believe it or not Crabtree just slightly edged out Amari Cooper. That’s not a knock on Cooper, he’ll be great too, but I want to illustrate how underrated Crabtree is today. Crabtree is not a sexy pick by any means but he could be a guy that helps get you to the fantasy playoffs.
17. Demaryius Thomas — DEN (PPR+)
When I think of the wasted potential of Demaryius Thomas and Emmanuel Sanders with Trevor Siemian at QB I want to throw up. Siemian needs to take a step forward or Demaryius Thomas will live in the WR2 realm all season long. He is a PPR darling though.
18. Allen Robinson — JAX
It’s a shaky pick, I’ll admit. But Allen Robinson has all the tools to be a steal, and in my mind the chances of a resurgence are way better than his chances of being a bust. Bortles and Robinson should be just fine in an offense that improved over the offseason.
19. Larry Fitzgerald — ARI (PPR++)
I am well aware that Fitzgerald is 33, and you know what? I don’t care. He has had two straight 100 reception seasons with Palmer, and he’s consistently been a Top 20 wide receiver during his career. Lots of guys will want to make a flashy pick like Devante Parker at this point in the draft, but “boring” WRs like Fitz and the aforementioned Crabtree are what will help you consistently produce points.
20. Martavis Bryant — PIT
The Martavis Bryant Redemption Story starts right now. After missing the entire 2016 season, Bryant got serious. He moved away from LA to help avoid destractions and is focused on being the best WR he can be. He’s added 10 pounds of muscle and should be a redzone beast as well as a reliable option for Big Ben. I’m buying in.
21. DeAndre Hopkins — HOU
Why DeAndre?! Do you think I like putting you in here as the WR21?! It breaks my heart! Hopkins has as much talent as almost any receiver out there, but with his preseason injuries coupled with his unappealing QB situationI am going to have to keep him down here. Last year he finished as the WR34. I expect he’ll climb from that but I don’t feel like it will be a monumental climb.
Tier 4: This is Where Champions Are Made.
22. Tyreek Hill — KC
Tyreek is one of the more difficult players to analyze heading into 2017. The second half of last season was the Tyreek Hill show. He ran the ball well, he caught some huge passes for massive gains and he returned punts and kicks for TDs regularly. Now he’s a full-time WR, but it’s for the Chiefs, who sustained Maclin as a WR2 when he was healthy, and I feel like Tyreek might have more raw talent. Hill’s stats are anomalous, but his ceiling is so high he’s worth taking as your 3rd WR.
23. Kelvin Benjamin — CAR
Kelvin Benjamin is going to bounce back this year, I can feel it. Last year, the Panthers and Cam Newton imploded, and Benjamin still managed to be the WR20 catching just 63 passes. Newton will have to throw the ball more, Ron Rivera and Mike Shula will see to that. If Benjamin can get to the 80 catch plateau he could be a huge redemption story.
24. Golden Tate — DET (PPR+)
Golden Tate’s move to the slot for the upcoming season turned a couple heads, but what this means is that he will become a volume receiver. He could end up catching 100 passes this season which should mean plenty of consistent fantasy games.
25. Emmanuel Sanders — DEN
Poor Emmanuel, people are always looking past the little guy. Sanders is being drafted consistently about 12 WRs after Demaryius. Fine, he should be drafted after him. But check out their final standings in each of the past 3 years:
2014: Demaryius WR3 , Emmanuel WR7
2015: Demaryius WR 14, Emmanuel WR18
2016: Demaryius WR 19, Emmanuel WR 21
These guys follow each other so closely in production they should be considered almost equals. He’s a great option for your 3rd WR.
26. DeVante Parker — MIA
Parker has been one of the best looking receivers in preseason. It seems that Cutler’s replacing of Ryan Tannehill is a fantastic thing for Parker. There are also rumors that Jarvis Landry is being shopped, which would be a massive uptick for Parker. If he stays in Miami it will be fairly even spread, but I feel like Parker could lead the team in yardage.
27. Davante Adams — GB
Adams benefited from his 12 TDs last year and rose to be the #7 fantasy WR. I simply feel that he won’t be able to match that production. He’s a great WR, that’s why he’s at number 22, but he’s unlikely to repeat his redzone success.
28. Jarvis Landry — MIA
That didn’t take long. Yup, listed right behind Parker, his teammate. These guys are probably going to split the receptions fairly equally, and Jay Cutler will give them plenty of targets, as he’s averaged over 30 pass attempts per game in every season since 2012.
29. Jeremy Maclin — BAL
Maclin had a really disappointing season last year in KC after playing through a torn groin for most of the season. He gets his chance for redemption as the Ravens top wide receiver. Flacco should be healthy for week one and is coming off the most pass-happy season of his career.
30. Stefon Diggs — MIN
Diggs has a decent situation to play in and should take a step forward. It looks like he will primarily operate as a wideout rather than a slot receiver, which should help his yardage but hurts his PPR value a bit.
We polled our staff to find three receivers being drafted at WR3 or later, who should be able to outperform ADP.snooze.sleeperbot.com
31. Sammy Watkins, BUF (Bust Alert)
I’m sorry, I don’t buy the Watkins hype this year. He wasn’t even all that productive last year when he did play, granted it was through a foot injury. But now he joins a brand new team merely weeks before the season with little time to learn the playbook and develop rapport and he’s supposed to remain a top option? With Jared Goff throwing to him?! I just don’t like the looks of this season for Watkins.
Tier 5: Depth Bench Picks Are Key - Pay Attention!
32. Jamison Crowder — WAS
Crowder is a really talented receiver on a good team. There are whispers he could pressure Terrelle Pryor for most yards but I feel like Pryor is the clear-cut #1 at this point in time.
33. Ted Ginn — NO (Sleeper Alert)
Ted Ginn is a player that is being taken crazy late in drafts. He joins the best possible offense in the NFL and he’s a decent bet to be their WR2 if he can continue to produce. His 12th round ADP is an absolute sin.
34. Adam Thielen — MIN (PPR+)
Thielen had a breakout 2016 acting as the Vikings’ slot receiver, and his role shouldn’t change much. It should be noted that his value as a PPR receiver would take a hit if Bridgewater or Keenum were to ever take over.
35. Donte Moncrief — IND
Moncrief has shown several times that he can make plays. He turns slant routes into huge gains and some dump passes go for big yardage. He’s a possession receiver who won’t be too affected by Luck’s injury woes.
36. Tyrell Williams — LAC
Williams is dealing with a minor injury, but he’s likely to be good to go for week 1. Williams will likely not be able to repeat his WR14 performance from last year with Keenan Allen healthy, but he’ll have a role in this offense for sure.
37. Kenny Britt — CLE
Kenny Britt just had his first 1,000 yard career catching passes from Jared Goff, so why would DeShone Kizer be any worse? He’ll be just fine as a WR 3/4 that you can get in the 13th round.
38. Brandon Marshall — NYG (Bust Alert)
Brandon Marshall has a long and illustrious career to look back on, but it’s coming to a close. He has another shot at redemption by joining a pretty solid offense in New York, but he’s surrounded by better and younger receivers everywhere he looks. Be cautious with Marshall.
39. Pierre Garcon — SF
Garcon still has plenty to offer the NFL, this preseason has made that fairly clear. He’s been a target monster and could have himself a really nice season as the 49ers only legitimate WR option.
40. Eric Decker —TEN
Eric Decker is another Jets receiver who transfers to a better situation this season. He’s going to have to fight for his targets but he’s always been a huge redzone option. With Corey Davis battling injuries he could get some looks early.
41. DeSean Jackson — TB (PPR-)
DeSean Jackson has been a relatively reliable option for years, and he enters his 30-year old season as a Tampa Bay Buccaneer. He’ll obviously play second fiddle to Mike Evans, but Vincent Jackson used to see 50 yards per game when he was WR2 in Tampa. DeSean Jackson will have a low-floor as a deep threat, but when he connects it will be for huge gains.
42. Corey Coleman — CLE (Sleeper Alert)
Coleman had a couple decent games last year, but he suffered through the putrid mess that was the Browns passing game for much of the year. He’s developed some serious chemistry with DeShone Kizer and could be a breakout candidate for 2017. His ADP is around 120 overall.
Tier 6: The Criminally Over — and Under — Valued
43. Randall Cobb — GB (Bust Alert)
Cobb is not in the best situation this year with the emergence of Davante Adams. He’ll have 3 or 4 decent games this year, but he’s being way overvalued at his current 10th round ADP.
44. Willie Snead — NO
Snead and Ginn are fighting for the WR2 position in New Orleans, but even if Snead doesn’t earn the job he’s a fantastic playmaker and should produce more often than not.
45. Mike Wallace — BAL
Wallace benefitted from a pass-happy Flacco last year, totalling 1,017 yards through the air on 72 catches. Even at a slight downturn he’s worth taking as a WR4 as a guy who has a chance to produce a double-digit fantasy point total in any given week.
46. Chris Hogan — NE
Hogan might not be the same type of player that Edelman was, but he’s bound to see some targets now that Edelman is done for the year. He’s shown some true rapport with Brady in the preseason, which is the exact reason Edelman was so valuable. He’s well worth a shot at his ADP.
47. Marvin Jones Jr. — DET
Marvin Jones will again operate as a top wideout in Detroit, but with talented Kenny Golladay and Golden Tate around him and Eric Ebron healthy, Jones will struggle to find huge games.
48. Cole Beasley — DAL (PPR+)
Beasley is just about as consistent as it gets as far as yardage. He is not a flashy pick here, but if you’re taking him as your 4th or even 5th receiver off the board he’ll give you 50+ yards more often than not. Not a high-ceiling, but a good floor.
49. Tyler Lockett — SEA (Sleeper Alert)
Jermaine Kearse’s departure for New York opens up some receiving duties for either Lockett or Paul Richardson, I like Lockett a little more, but Richardson’s value will also rise. Lockett is a really good option super late in most drafts.
50. Jordan Matthews — BUF
Jordan Matthews and Zay Jones are side-by-side in my rankings this year. This is because it’s hard to tell what the storyline would read. Tyrod leans on a veteran wideout, or Tyrod and rookie Zay Jones click all season long… Jones is the pick in dynasty, Matthews is my pick in re-draft.
51. Zay Jones — BUF (Sleeper Alert)
Zay Jones was drafted in the second round as an explosive, vertical receiver. He is the all-time leading receiver in FBS football and he joins a Bills team that may be forced to give him WR1 volume if Matthews’ chest injury lingers.
52. Robby Anderson — NYJ
Yeah, he plays for the Jets. But if you neglect to pick Robby Anderson just because of that, you could be passing up a dependable receiver whose bound to lead his team in yardage. Even teams like the Rams and the Browns produced a 1,000 yard receiver. He had 587 yards in 13 starts last year, if that’s his floor he’s worth a flyer in the later rounds. He’ll be there.
53. Rishard Matthews — TEN
When the 2016 season came to a close, it looked like Rishard Matthews was the WR of the future for Tennesee. But some of his value has dropped due to the Titans’ acquisition of Eric Decker and the drafting of Corey Davis. Can’t be overlooked as he totalled 947 yards and 9 TDs just a season ago.
54. Kenny Stills — MIA
Stills will have to play a backseat role from the get-go in Miami. But with Jay Cutler in town, the ball will have to get spread around somewhere. Stills acts as a deep threat and could have one or two really huge games, and if Parker or Landry get injured (or traded) stills would be elevated to a WR3/FLEX
55. Sterling Shepard — NYG
I think he’s got a great chance to pass Brandon Marshall on the depth chart. Not only that, but maybe OBJ’s ankle injury lingers on a little longer than expected. He’s the type of player that’s got a 5 point floor but is one big game or injury away from earning plenty of targets.
56. Kevin White — CHI
Cameron Meredith’s injury has opened the door wide open for Kevin White or Kendall Wright. There has been some strange stories out of camp, but all in all Kevin White seems like he’s bound to start the season with a regular role.
57. Corey Davis — TEN
Davis has been off the field for all of preseason with injuries, but he’s rumored to be ready for week 1. Davis was working as the primary receiver in training camp, and he could assume that role before long, which would make him a really great late pick.
58. Marqise Lee — JAX
Lee is a really nice, affordable option really late in the draft. He totalled 851 yards last year and is likely going to play opposite Allen Robinson all year long.
59. Taylor Gabriel — ATL (Sleeper Alert)
Somebody is going to have to catch passes in Atlanta besides Julio Jones, and Taylor Gabriel is a great option for Matt Ryan. He has some serious big play potential, and if he can develop some rapport with Ryan he’s going to be a massive steal.
60. Kenny Golladay — DET
He’s going to get some starts in 3 wide sets to open the year, and Stafford is a QB that can support 3 receivers, especially with Ebron nursing injuries. He’s well worth looking at in the late rounds.
After # 60, listing players seems a little over-arbitrary, so here’s some bonus players to avoid, and some to target at the very end of your draft:
The After Party: 6 Deep Sleepers to Target Late and 3You Should Avoid
Jaron Brown — ARI: Jaron could easily overtake John Brown as the secondary receiver for a QB who moves the ball alot.
Paul Richardson — SEA: Richardson has a clear cut route to the WR2 job in Seattle, as Lockett’s injuries could open the door wide open for him.
Danny Amendola — NE: Brady has some really good rapport with Amendola, he might be a sneaky pick to be the biggest beneficiary of Edelman’s injury.
Cooper Kupp — LAR: He’s been the story of the preseason for the Rams. If Goff truly trusts Kupp, he’ll likely lean on him as he tries to salvage his young career.
Allen Hurns — JAX: Lots of guys have down years, but Hurns has seemed to sour everyone in fantasy football away from him. He’s still got the talent. If he can get some targets he’ll produce a handful of servicable games at the very least
John Ross — CIN: Especially if you’re in a dynasty league, Ross is a guy you should look for. He’s going to see targets in his first year and has the playmaking ability to be a standout. He will play second fiddle to A.J. Green all year, but Dalton racks up enough yards to support a WR2.
LATE ROUND BUSTS:
Josh Doctson — WAS: Doctson has ended up in Jay Gruden’s doghouse already. That doesn’t bode well for this second-year receiver. Leave him on the draft board.
John Brown — ARI: Brown is a banged up receiver with an unfortunate genetic disorder which holds him back. Plus, Bruce Arians just publically voiced that he has concerns with Brown’s role this year. I’m leaving him off my board.
Devin Funchess — CAR: Funchess is going to see targets here and there from Newton, but he’s third in the pecking order for a QB that averages around 3,300 yards per year. His ceiling is 750 yards and 4 TDs. His floor is 500 yards.
That’s it for my Wide Receiver tiered rankings. Check back regularly for updates and stay tuned for my QB and TE rankings set to come out right away!
Mitch Lawson is a Canadian based Fantasy Football enthusiast and lifelong Seahawks fan. If you have questions or comments, send him an email at email@example.com. You can also find him on: