As the preseason gets underway and everyone gets hyped for the start of the 2017 NFL season, we’re ranking each and every position for you as you get ready for your drafts. We’ll be releasing the top-60 wide receivers 20 at a time. We’ve already done the top-20, and now we’ll look at the top 40.
Here are our top 40 wide receivers for 2017:
21. Davante Adams (Green Bay Packers) – It’s always nice having Aaron Rodgers throwing you the ball, and Adams proved himself to be a very capable wide receiver last season. In fact, from week 4 through the end of the season, the only wide receivers who outscored Adams were Odell Beckham Jr., Jordy Nelson, Mike Evans, and of course, Antonio Brown. He’s due for a bit of a regression I would imagine, but he’s still a pretty safe bet with Rodgers throwing him the ball.
Tier 5: Highway 61 Revisited
22. Jarvis Landry (Miami Dolphins) – Landry is a big value in PPR leagues, but there’s not a lot of touchdowns going around on the Dolphins offense. It’s fair if you want to think that Davante Parker will take a big step forward this season, and that’s certainly a possibility, but Landry is talented and I think will do again what he did last year. If you’re in a PPR league, he’s a WR2 for sure, in a non-PPR, he’s a good flex play.
23. Emmanuel Sanders (Denver Broncos) – Could Sanders ultimately have a similar year to or better year than Demaryius Thomas? Sure, that’s possible, Sanders has the talent, but similar to Thomas, who knows what that offense is going to look like. There’s some built-in risk here, that’s without a doubt, but Sanders could easily have a great year. Sanders’ improved conditioning has been a bit of a story, and I think you can expect him to be better this year than he was last. Even with Trevor Siemian, Sanders broke 1,000 yards, and he might do even better this year.
24. Larry Fitzgerald (Arizona Cardinals) – Back to back 1,000 yard seasons for Fitzgerald for the first time since 2010 and 2011, and honestly I’m not all that concerned about his age. He and David Johnson are the focal points of the Cardinals offense, and my main concern is more Carson Palmer than anything. If Palmer can stay healthy, he’s got the ability to get Fitzgerald the ball a lot and that could make Fitz a very meaningful fantasy asset. If you told me today that Palmer was healthy all year, I’d consider him a top-20 receiver, but Palmer’s health is far from a guarantee.
25. Kelvin Benjamin (Carolina Panthers) – Benjamin is an exceptionally talented receiver who struggled mostly because Cam Newton also struggled mightily last season. With the addition of Christian McCaffery and Curtis Samuel, hopefully Benjamin will get less short targets and more deeper ones, but it will all depend on Newton’s health and how he plays, Benjamin will live and die by Cam. Benjamin has the skills to be a high-end WR2, but it all depends on the quarterback play.
26. Tyreek Hill (Kansas City Chiefs) – Now that Jeremy Maclin is gone from Kansas City, Hill will be the focal point of the passing offense, and that should result in some fantasy goodness, because Hill is a freak athlete who has some of the best big play ability in the NFL. He can make big plays as a receiver and as a runner, and should get plenty of looks. Hill just has to get the ball into the open field, once he does, look out.
Tier 6: Bringing It All Back Home
27. Golden Tate (Detroit Lions) – Tate emerged as Matthew Stafford’s favorite target, but that only resulted in four touchdowns on the year. Still, he came close to 1,000 yards and got a good handful of receptions. Similar to Landry, Tate gets a bigger boost in PPR leagues (he’s more a WR2 there) but in non-PPR leagues, he’s a solid flex play.
28. Stefon Diggs (Minnesota Vikings) – Diggs is another player who gets a big boost in PPR leagues as he nabs a lot of catches. But even in non-PPR leagues, he’s useful as he averaged over 100 yards per game when he wasn’t on the injury report, and that’s the key: health. He was on and off the injury report last year, and he wasn’t great when he played through injuries. If he can stay healthy, he’ll be a solid option this year.
29. Julian Edelman (New England Patriots) – Edelman is, without a doubt, a talented receiver, and he’s in a great offense, but now with the acquisition of Brandin Cooks, Edelman is lower on the totem pole than he has been before. Both Cooks and Rob Gronkowski are going to eat into Edelman’s targets. He’s never been a huge guy in the red zone, so it looks as though Edelman’s upside will be pretty limited this year. Still, being in a New England offense has a lot of potential.
30. Jamison Crowder (Washington Redskins) – With Terrelle Pryor and Josh Doctson joining the team, Crowder should be able to slide right back into the slot role he had last year, and could even be in for a bigger role. Jordan Reed will obviously eat into his targets some, but Reed isn’t always healthy, and if Reed’s out, Crowder’s role should increase. But even with a fully-healthy offense, Crowder is very useful.
31. Jeremy Maclin (Baltimore Ravens) – Maclin was awful last year, but that wasn’t entirely his fault. It was mostly due to injuries and the fact that the Chiefs apparently hate throwing the ball more than 15 yards at a time. Now he’s with Baltimore and he should be slotting right into the role Steve Smith formerly occupied, which means there should be loads of targets coming his way. He should be better than last year, and could even do better than his current ranking, as we’ve seen the potential he has in the right situation. The real concern with Maclin will be health, and also who’s throwing him the ball. As of now, Joe Flacco is hurt, and while the Ravens say it’s nothing serious and that he should be fine, they also said that about Breshad Perriman in 2015, and he ended up missing the whole season. There’s rumors the Ravens could sign Colin Kaepernick, and if they do and he’s starting, I’m not concerned, but if the Ravens are rolling Ryan Mallett out there for a significant amount of time, I think Maclin’s value will take a hit.
Tier 7: The Basement Tapes
32. Willie Snead (New Orleans Saints) – Now that Brandin Cooks is gone from the New Orleans offense, Snead should be seeing a good upgrade in targets, and with Drew Brees throwing to him, that’s good news. The Saints are going to throw, and they’re going to throw a lot, and as the second passing option in that offense, Snead should be a solid flex play.
33. Donte Moncrief (Indianapolis Colts) – If Andrew Luck is throwing him the ball and he stays healthy, Donte Moncrief should get a good handful of touchdowns and will be a very valuable receiver. However we don’t know if Luck is healthy or when he’ll be healthy, and we also can’t guarantee a healthy season out of Moncrief. That being said, there’s a lot of potential for a great season from Moncrief.
34. Martavis Bryant (Pittsburgh Steelers) – Bryant is back in the NFL and he seems to be doing the right things as of now. The guy is supremely talented and could be a WR2, but does anyone really trust him? I mean, one false move and he’s done, he’s got a short leash. There’s plenty of risk built in, but the reward is pretty tantalizing.
35. Brandon Marshall (New York Giants) – Marshall should see a good amount of work, but he’ll be playing second-fiddle to Odell Beckham Jr., which somewhat limits his upside. That being said, the New York Giants do love to pass the ball, but Marshall saw 128 targets last year and finished outside the top-50 of receivers. He’s 34 years old now, but he’s still Brandon Marshall. I think he’ll be somewhat of a boom or bust player this year, and you’ll know pretty quickly after the first few weeks what his role in that offense is.
36. DeSean Jackson (Tampa Bay Buccaneers) – Jackson’s always been a feast or famine receiver, but moving into the Tampa Bay offense is a really good fit for him, and his days could be more boom than bust. Playing on the opposite side of Mike Evans will help draw defensive attention away from him, and Jameis Winston is a solid deep thrower, so be prepared for a big year out of Jackson.
37. Pierre Garcon (San Francisco 49ers) – Garcon is the only legitimate receiving threat that the 49ers have, and he’ll be a number one receiver in a Kyle Shanahan offense. The last time he was in that situation, he led the NFL in targets. Those are all good things, but unfortunately the big thing holding back his value is the fact that he’s on the 49ers and will have Brian Hoyer throwing the ball to him. Still, Garcon’s in the right situation to produce and I think could be a good sleeper this year.
38. Corey Coleman (Cleveland Browns) – Coleman is a very talented receiver in a bad situation. However, that being said, he and Kenny Britt will be the top targets on the Browns offense, but the question remains, who will be throwing them the ball? None of the options on the Browns are particularly enticing, especially Brock Osweiler, who we saw kill DeAndre Hopkins’ fantasy value last season, but if Coleman gets the targets from a competent quarterback, he could be in for a good year.
39. Zay Jones (Buffalo Bills) – Now that Sammy Watkins is no longer in Buffalo, the question is will Zay Jones or Jordan Matthews be the number one receiver in Buffalo? Personally, I think the Bills will put Matthews in the slot and use Anquan Boldin as a possession receiver/red zone target. The Bills invested in Jones, I think this Watkins trade is a sign that they believe in him. I’m not 100% certain he’ll be the number one guy, but he makes for a really interesting pick if he is, because he has the talent to be very good.
40. Rishard Matthews (Tennessee Titans) – Marcus Mariota enjoyed throwing the ball to Matthews last year, but with the addition of Davis and Decker, the offense is getting a bit more crowded. Matthews isn’t going to just vanish though, he’ll still be targeted by Mariota, and likely a good amount, making him a solid WR3.