Uselessly Early 2017 WR Ranks

 

I had some time to kill on a Sunday, so instead of doing anything productive I elected to rank next year’s Wide Receivers. I am in a 12 Team PPR League so I ranked my Top 24 (i.e. WR1s and WR2s) under that assumption. This list is not necessarily as I expect the WRs to finish the season, but more so in order of how confidently I would draft them. Basically, I tried to take a lot of unknowns into account (injuries, suspensions, roster changes, etc) and then rank accordingly.

1 / Julio Jones / ATL

This might be a bit of a surprise at #1 — but a surprise in the sense of wanting Kenan at your “Super Sweet 16” party and Kel shows up.. you’re still getting a winner. Julio is a freak of nature in an explosive offense with an MVP quarterback. Sure, Shanahan was a big part of that offense and just skipped town, but Julio had worse numbers in the second year of Shan’s offense than the first. Major injuries aren’t really more of concern with Julio than any other player, he always seems to have a mother-in-law, that is, something nagging him. I expect there to be a few ‘is he a decoy this week?” posts per usual, but nothing to stop him from being the #1 WR off the board.

2 / Mike Evans / TB

I love Mike Evans and I don’t care who knows it! I refuse to let anyone else in my main league touch him. You may think he’s over-ranked above AB and ODB — that’s fair. They all fall in the Tier 1 group, so you can’t go wrong. In terms of raw, grown-man awesomeness, though, Mike leads the pack. He has his way with cornerbacks in the same way that kid that got held back 2x in fourth grade dominates gym class — and you better believe Sterling Moore’s mom will be calling the principal. The only thing that could slow Evans down last year was exhaustion. He had the rare drawback of having TOO MANY targets. The key addition of Desean Jackson (high end WR3) will take some of the attention away from Evans, which should result in better opportunities and less heavy breathing. Also, I’m expecting Jameis to have a better year which of course is good for Evans. 

3 / Antonio Brown / PIT

Hard not to rank AB #1, he seems to feast every game. If being ranked at 3 is a knock, then you’re doing something right. AB will be himself, but the combination of what I expect out of Julio and Evans combined with Big Ben’s questionable status land AB in the 3 hole. To be fair, Ben does have a history of not taking “no” for an answer, so I anticipate we see him back in 2017. 

4 / Odell Beckham Jr. / NYG

The luster of ODB (I like that more than OBJ, sorry) and his fantastic catches is wearing a bit thin for me. When things are going good for ODB, it’s all good. But once ODB stops having fun, so do his fantasy owners. No one can doubt his talent, but a cry-baby attitude, the blunts/boots/Bieber on the boat, and the addition of Marshall (not listed, but could be a WR2) sour him for me. While ODB will continue to have his way between the 20s, I think Marshall will eat into his redzone opportunities. Bonus Prediction: Grey/Purple hair is trending, ODB will be sporting the look.

5 / A.J. Green / CIN

Business as usual for AJ — No Man’s Land between Tier 1 and Tier 2. Always feel like I’d have to reach to land him, but you know what you get. 

6 / T.Y. Hilton / IND

TY may be a bit higher than you’d expect. He had a great year last year as, after a brief intermission and stint on the kidney-recipient list, Luck once again appears to be on his way to what we all thought he would be.

7 / Michael Thomas / NO

Full disclosure, I went to OSU and I am unapologetically a fan of CantGuardMike. Anyone that saw this play and didn’t draft Mike at his ADP, shame on you. He’s got some of the best fundamentals of any WR is the league — shout out to Uncle Keyshawn. Cooks leaving was a sign they trust this guy to be the man — on top of Brees’s incessant gushing about him last year. Ideally, I would match him up with another of the above WRs as my WR2, but if you go RB with your first pick you will do just fine with Thomas in Round 2.

8 / Dez Bryant / DAL

Dez will be Dez. If he can stay on the field, he will mostly put up WR1 numbers with a couple poopers mixed in.

9 / DeAndre Hopkins / HOU

The first real question mark for me. Addition by subtraction with the loss of Brock. If they can get Romo, then we will have some addition by, uh, addition with a guy that knows how to feed a WR1.

10 / Jordy Nelson / GB

If Jordy can stay healthy, no reason to believe he’s not a middle-of-the-pack WR1. He may have lost a step with age and injury, but he’s your token white guy — a “real hustler, gym rat, and surprisingly athletic.” While I don’t expect the insane numbers we saw last year from the 32 year old substitute teacher, he will be a solid play.

11 / Brandin Cooks / NE

Cooks to NE is another interesting story line. As I type this, he feels low at 11 but I’m 3 beers in and don’t want to change it, ok! He comes from an offense that shares the wealth, so I don’t expect any fall-off in another offense that is known to do the same. I think he’s the perfect player for Tom Brady and something the oft-champion Pats have not-so-desperately been missing. It’s like the Pats have some type of Dorian Gray painting connection with the Browns.

12 / Keenan Allen / LAC

Like many of the above, Keenan Allen also benefits from a prolific QB. His career was off to a great start when a series of unfortunate events threw him off the rails. It comes down to this — will he play or will he get hurt? Anyone who loved him last year and got burned may shy away. He could be a good value (as in top 5 WR) if you are willing to roll the dice — but if the initial investment is too steep (Round 2) you may be getting burned.

13 / Amari Cooper / OAK

Really 13a here. Everyone wants Amari to be the guy, but I think Crabtree is the alpha. 
 

14 / Michael Crabtree / OAK

And 13b. See above.

15 / Sammy Watkins / BUF

I don’t really ever want Sammy on my team, and now QB is a bit of question. If he could stay healthy, a great ground game should facilitate many opportunities for him to excel. But more than likely Sammy is on the sidelines for half the year in a walking boot or just simply whining about not getting the ball.

16 / Jarvis Landry / MIA

The offense got rolling a bit towards the end of the year. Ajayi seems like the real deal and will garner some attention. Jarvis is without question a security blanket for Ryan Tannehill — if only because Adam Gase makes Tannehill keep his real blanky in the locker room. Avoid him in non-PPR, but due to volume he’s a high-end WR2 in PPR.

17 / Alshon Jeffery / PHI

Alshon makes the list on skill alone. The thought of another pop on the old piss test, a history of injuries, a new playbook, and a sophomore QB all make me weary. Managing to have a top WR, a top RB, and Alshon as your 3, though, hmmm…

18 / Davante Adams / GB

I think we will see a net-effect between Jordy and Davante. The WR Corps for GB as a whole will ball out all year (I like Allison as a sleeper), but I’m not sure how the rise of Davante will affect an aging Jordy. While I have Jordy ranked higher, I wouldn’t be surprised to see Davante finish as the #1 GB WR. I will be targeting.

19 / Demaryius Thomas / DEN

Another possible future WR for Romo. Even if that’s the case, we are never going to see that elite Demaryius again. What made him special in Peyton’s Golden Year was his combination of size and speed — the ability to take a quick screen to the house or grab a fade over corners. At 29, losing half a step is all it takes. I think he could flirt with top 10 at best. Still solid and you can do worse.

20 / Terrelle Pryor Sr. / WAS

As I mentioned, I am a buckeye. I was lucky enough to get drunk and have TP turn down my offer of a shot of Jaeger one time (why the hell did I choose to off Jaeger?), so I feel personally involved here. The dude didn’t win 2 BCS games and get drafted to the NFL as a QB for his ability to throw. He was the best athlete in NCAA for 2 years. He showed signs of what TP-Truthers thought he could be last year, his inexperience was on display at time in just about every game. The move to WAS and another year of learning the position will result in big things for TP. I still think he’s a bit undercooked, but he’ll moved from raw to a nice rare.

21 / Golden Tate / DET

We all thought Golden was going to be the man after Megatron retired — and then Marvin Jones came out of the gates like Seabiscut, putting up top 3 numbers. As things settled and Marvin was sent to the Elmer’s plant, the Man with the Golden Tate began to meet expectations. I think we see more of what we saw in the back end of last year. Tate should be a fine, value WR2 on a deep fantasy team.

22 / Allen Robinson / JAC

I didn’t even want to rank Robinson at first, but that seemed a bit harsh. 2015 is not going to happen again — too much garbage time scoring for both Allens and Bortles. 2016 was the real deal — Bortles is not. Maybe that offense gets better and we see a bit of improvement, but don’t fool yourself into thinking there will be any return to 2015 numbers.

23 / Emmanuel Sanders / DEN

He will get enough volume to warrant a WR2 status in PPR leagues — and that’s really it.

24 / Larry Fitzgerald / ARI

Go get ’em, Larry!

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