While many fantasy publications will tell you that the wide receiver position has become increasingly “commoditized,” especially given the fact that 22 different wide receivers had at least 900 yards receiving last year, there’s still a clear line of demarcation between many of those “good to very good” wide receivers, and those truly “great” wide receivers.
That’s why we wanted to create a list of the top five wide receivers in the NFL for fantasy football purposes, and their current average draft position (ADP) in fantasy football drafts leading up to the start of training camp:
Michael Thomas, New Orleans Saints (ADP: mid-second round) — A year after setting franchise records for receptions, receiving yards, and touchdowns by a rookie wide receiver, Michael Thomas of the New Orleans Saints followed up his fantastic rookie year by catching 104 passes (third-most in the NFL last season) for 1,156 yards and six touchdowns. If you count Thomas’ last 10 games of the season (his last eight games of the regular season plus New Orleans’ two playoff games), he had 916 yards receiving and five touchdown catches in the span. Thomas continues to see a large number of targets from quarterback Drew Brees, and has quickly become one of the top receivers in the NFL.
Julio Jones, Atlanta Falcons (ADP: early-to-mid second round) — In truth, there’s no more physically gifted wide receiver in the NFL than Julio Jones. His combination of size (6’3 and 220lbs), speed (legit sub-4.4 seconds in the 40 yard dash), and strength is unparalleled. For the fourth-straight season, Jones had at least 80 receptions for more than 1,4000 yards; his 16.4 yards per catch last year was the third-highest total of his career. The only thing that’s keeping Jones from being mentioned among fantasy’s elite wide receivers is the fact that he hasn’t recorded double-digit touchdowns in any of the past five seasons.
Odell Beckham Jr., New York Giants (ADP: early second round) — Pretty much everything that could go wrong happened for the New York Giants last year, including losing Odell Beckham Jr. to a gruesome ankle injury early in the season. Entering his fourth year — a season in which many young wide receivers tend to put up their biggest numbers to date — Beckham was primed for a monster year. In four games, he already accumulated more than 300 yards receiving and three touchdowns, meaning he was on pace for more than 1,200 yards and a dozen touchdowns over the course of the season. Those numbers are right in line with what we’re used to seeing from him each year. Expect a healthy Beckham to put up those stats in 2018.
DeAndre Hopkins, Houston Texans (ADP: mid-to-late first round) — After a brief step back in the stats department in 2016, thanks to positively horrid quarterback play for his Houston Texas, DeAndre Hopkins reestablished himself as one of the games best wide receivers in 2017. His 1,378 yards was good for fourth-most in the NFL, and his 13 touchdown receptions led the NFL in that category. Just as importantly: there was minimal drop-off in his stats when the Texans lost Deshaun Watson to injury, meaning Hopkins is just that good and that consistent. With a healthy Watson returning next year, Hopkins could have another season filled with tremendous stats.
Antonio Brown, Pittsburgh Steelers (ADP: top five overall) — This list has some fantastic receivers… and yet, Antonio Brown stands above them all. The annual statistical production we’re seeing from Brown is absolutely staggering. 2017 marked his fifth-straight year with more than 101 receptions and well over 1,000 yards receiving. His 101 receptions was good for fifth-most in the NFL, and he led the NFL in receiving yards with 1,533. Here’s the incredible part: Brown missed the last two games of the season with a nasty high ankle sprain. He’s the type of player you grab as early in the draft as possible, and don’t think twice about it.