2018 Rankings: Top 20 Wide Receivers For PPR Leagues
Utilize our Ranking Hub for QB List’s 2018 Positional Rankings for all of your preseason positional needs.
Below is the first 20 in our Top-80 PPR Wide Receivers.
1. Antonio Brown (Pittsburgh Steelers): No other wide receiver in the past five years has had Antonio Brown‘s level of consistency and high level of play. Even with DeAndre Hopkins‘ phenomenal resurgence last year and at 30 years old, Brown is the consensus top wide receiver – factoring in PPR is just another gem in his gauntlet. The gap between Brown and the WR5 is nearly 50 points – Brown is a worthwhile first round pick.
2. DeAndre Hopkins (Houston Texans): In standard PPR scoring, Brown eeked out a top WR finish by 3 points (despite missing 2 games) (although Hopkins also sat in Week 17). Under a healthy DeShaun Watson and with a healthy Will Fuller V on the opposite side of the field, Hopkins may well come out on top this season. I had a difficult time ranking him at WR2 given he has not hit his fantasy ceiling, yet. I would be comfortable drafting Hopkins in the first round and if it all comes together, ranking him ahead of Antiono Brown next season.
3. Michael Thomas (New Orleans Saints): Michael Thomas is the top receiver on a high volume New Orleans’ team and finished 2017 with the third most receptions (104 on 149 targets). The volume should stay consistent this season and I would expect Thomas to expand on his 5 touchdowns in 2017 – giving him additional upside to his performance last season.
4. Odell Beckham Jr (New York Giants): After missing the 2017 season, Odell Beckham Jr. is returning to an offense significantly better than when he left it – much to his boon. A healthy Sterling Shepard, a rising Evan Engram, and rookie Saquon Barkley given Eli Manning options and will take coverage from Beckahm Jr. Despite these additions, Beckham Jr. is poised to get a lions share of the work and will be Manning’s first, second, and often third look in the red zone. If the Giants are a terrible team again, Beckham Jr. could get further shares of garbage time receptions.
5. Julio Jones (Atlanta Falcons): Julio Jones had an incredibly successful 2017, punctuated by a 12 reception, 253 yard game in Week 12. Removing Week 12 as an outlier would play Jones around the 15th best receiver last year, but he also had a career-low three touchdowns. What I’m getting at is fantasy football is weird. It is improbable Jones has a game like that this season, but it is likely that his touchdowns tick up closer to his 7 touchdown career average – still putting him in the top-10 receivers. Jones is an elite player that will find his way into the top-10 again this year one way or another.
6. Keenan Allen (Los Angeles Chargers): Keenan Allen was the fifth most targeted receiver and ended the 2017 season as the third highest scoring receiver in PPR. It was the season managers (and Chargers fans) had been hoping for after Allen missed large portions of 2015 and 2016 (playing 9 games between both seasons). His talent was never the question, but whether he can stay healthy again…is. Allen’s rank at #6 is optimistic that he will and in the Charger offense dominate with another 100+ receptions this season. Moreover, Allen is consistent having scored double-digit weeks in 13 games last season.
7. Davante Adams (Green Bay Packers): Davante Adams was incredibly efficient with his 74 receptions on 118 targets last season – although he needed to be as with Aaron Rodgers out for most of the season, he was Green Bay’s star offensive player. Adams was able to replicate his success from 2016 (even with a healthy Jordy Nelson). In 2018 he’ll be the clear WR1 on his team with a healthy Rodgers throwing it his way. I expect Adams to set career bests across the board and is only 25 years old – sign me up.
8. A.J. Green (Cincinnati Bengals): A.J. Green can’t get no respect. In his seven-year career, Green has put up 1,000 yards and 6 in all but one season (where he ended with 964 yards and 4 touchdowns in only 10 games). Green’s entire career has been with a mediocre quarterback and a generally terrible team (even when making the playoffs). Joe Mixon starting this year at running back will help alleviate some of the pressure. Fantasy football is about consistency week-to-week, not just a season end performance — bank on Green, he’s money.
9. Mike Evans (Tampa Bay Buccaneers): Mike Evans has been the most frustrating wide receiver to own the past few years as his talent screams top-10 and has an elite target rate (71 receptions on 136 targets), but hasn’t been able to produce consistently. Part of that stems from his quarterback woes, a poor offensive line, and lack of a run game. Tampa Bay’s quarterback situation is unclear, but the addition of Ronald Jones II should help to diversify their offense. I give his bullish ranking with the expectation that Evans is the clear first and second look in the red zone and has a ceiling that could place him as the WR3 this season (but a risk that lands him at WR 15).
10. Adam Thielen (Minnesota Vikings): Adam Thielen had the better target share last season (143 to Stefon Diggs‘ 95) although that could all change under new quarterback Kirk Cousins. Thielen’s target share, great hands, and crisp routes made him the go-to receiver last year in a Minnesota offense that managed to get along just fine even without its star running back Dalvin Cook. Theilen had four games with 100+ yards and if he can work in more touchdowns than last season (4) – he could take his game to new heights.
11. Larry Fitzgerald (Arizona Cardinals): I am hedging on Larry Fitzgerald after Fitzgerald put up a top-5 finish at WR last season with the second most receptions of any receiver (109 on 161 targets). Fitzgerald will turn 35 before the season starts and despite having a better quarterback than Carson Palmer/Drew Stanton and a healthy David Johnson. Fitzgerald will be heavily involved in what may be his final season – he has significant upside, but his depressed rank is representative of his risk.
12. Doug Baldwin (Seattle Seahawks): Doug Baldwin brought in 75 receptions on 116 targets, slightly less production than in 2016 – but paints a picture of a consistent receiver on an otherwise average offense. Seattle hopes to add an additional dimension to their offense through Rashard Penny who may help Baldwin get open more this season. Baldwin remains a key red zone target (8 touchdowns) for Russell Wilson and a pass-happy Seattle offense now without Jimmy Graham. Baldwin has top-10 upside and should come at a discount after a “down” 2017.
13. T.Y. Hilton (Indianapolis Colts): Disclaimer: this ranking is solely predicated on a healthy Andrew Luck returning. 2017 established how much Andrew Luck means to T.Y. Hilton. After spending his entire career with Luck, finishing with 1000+ seasons for four years – Hilton fell short (by about 500 yards from the year prior). 48% of Hilton’s fantasy points were scored in just three games in 2017 (Cleveland, San Francisco, Houston). This inconsistency made him unplayable most weeks last season, but he is expected to return to form under Luck and closer to the 155 targets he had in 2016.
14. JuJu Smith-Schuster (Pittsburgh Steelers): Set to be the #2 receiver behind Antonio Brown, JuJu Smith-Schuster stormed into the league his rookie year despite only starting 7 games (and playing in 14). He finished as the 20th best receiver in PPR only 58 receptions on 79 targets (a 73% catch rate!) (although a 15.8 YPR should be unsustainable). Pittsburgh is set to have one of the most potent offenses again in 2017 with Le’Veon Bell receiving the franchise tag again – expect Smith-Schuster to take another step forward in 2018.
15. Stefon Diggs (Minnesota Vikings): Stefon Diggs finished 2017 with 64 receptions on 95 targets, 849 yards, and 8 touchdowns. Diggs missed effectively 3 games in 2017 and had he played, based on his per game average he would have ranked in the fringe-top 10. With additions to the team in Kirk Cousins and Dalvin Cook, Diggs is in line for another monster season alongside Adam Theilen.
16. Tyreek Hill (Kansas City Chiefs): On a low-volume offense, Tyreek Hill manages to consistently get by a 70+ percent catch rate. Despite only 105 targets, Hill managed to bring in 75 last season and had the 7th highest yards-per-game of any receiver. Couple that with a nose for the end zone (7) and an aggressive head coach – Hill could go even higher this season.
17. Golden Tate (Detroit Lions): Leading wide receivers in catch percentage last year (76.67%), Golden Tate made efficient use of his above average 120 targets. Although that percentage may be difficult to sustain, Tate has built himself over the past four season as a consistent target for Matt Stafford. Tate only has 9 touchdowns the past two years although his lack of scoring is made up for by three 1000+ seasons in the past four years. Expect more of the same with Tate.
18. Demaryius Thomas (Denver Broncos): News of Demaryius Thomas‘ fantasy death have been exaggerated. Despite working with the league’s third-worst quarterback (Trevor Siemian had a 29.8 QBR last season) Thomas had the 10th most targets and the 10th most receptions – culminating in a 16th overall finish. Now with Case Keenum taking the helm and rookie Royce Freeman likely lining up as the team’s top back – Thomas could be in for a fringe top-10 season with these improvements. Throw in a few more touchdowns and you’ve got yourself a top-10 receiver.
19. Allen Robinson (Chicago Bears): Allen Robinson broke out in 2015 with an unsustainable 14 touchdowns and 1400 yards, fed largely through garbage time production. His production dropped off considerably in 2016 before missing the entire 2017 season with an ACL injury. Robinson has the tools to be a WR1, but given the question marks surrounding his production and new team – there is reason to doubt. Expect a high volume in Chicago as Robinson is set to be the focal point of their passing game and should fill the hole Alshon Jeffry left in the roster.
20. Marvin Jones (Detroit Lions): Of my top-20, Marvin Jones is my most skeptical placement (even after putting Allen Robinson in the top-20) with Kenny Golladay expected to have an expanded role this season. Both Jones and Golladay stretch the field quite a bit, but Golladay’s frame and play style are more akin to Matt Stafford‘s missing piece, Calvin Johnson. Despite his elite finish, Jones was only targeted 107 times (61 receptions) and built his season around the long ball (six 40+ yard catches) and touchdowns (8). On a Lions offense, Jones has the chance to repeat his 2017 success – but don’t invest based largely on his 2017 production.