Tier 1: A League of Their Own
1. Michael Thomas, (New Orleans Saints)- The Falcons fan in me wants to rank Thomas lower. Some would say that Thomas is not even the best receiver in his division. However, there is no denying his record-breaking 2019 campaign, where he set the record for receptions in a single season (149). He has led the NFL in receptions the past two seasons and is showing no sign of slowing down. With a whopping 185 targets last year, Thomas is a PPR player’s dream. The only thing that could hold Thomas back is aging Drew Brees and newly acquired Emmanuel Sanders vying for some of the target-share. The New Orleans Saints could also revert to a more run-heavy approach, especially with their defense being one of the best in the league.
2. Davante Adams, (Green Bay Packers)- Adams’ stock was red-hot this time last year and for good reason. Over the last two years, Adams has 16-plus PPR points in 23 games. Couple that with the fact that he is the only viable receiver on the Packers’ roster, and it is easy to see why Adams takes the number-two spot on this list. Although he missed four games last season, Adams still managed 83 receptions on 127 targets, and just barely missed eclipsing the 1,000-yard mark. He also chipped in five touchdowns, a number that I expect to double, at minimum, if Adams stays healthy.
3. Julio Jones, (Atlanta Falcons)- Like a fine wine, Julio just seems to get better with age. Jones has finished as a top-8 WR since 2014. Only missing one game last season, Jones posted a ridiculous 99 receptions on 157 targets for 1394 receiving yards. He also managed six receiving touchdowns, and of course, we would all like to see that number increase, but it is tough to find a more consistent player in PPR than Julio. The Falcons also boasted the most passing attempts by any team last year. Running back Todd Gurley II is far from a sure thing given his health concerns, so I expect the Falcons to continue to air it out. Many opponents on the Falcons’ schedule offer a high chance of shootout potential including Buccaneers, Chiefs, Cowboys, Packers, Saints. This gives Julio plenty of chances to feast.
4. *Tyreek Hill, (Kansas City Chiefs)- What better offense is there to own a piece of? The defending Super Bowl champions look unstoppable on that side of the ball and Hill is a big part of it. Not only is he a big-play threat waiting to happen, but he is also one of the fastest receivers in the league and lines up all over the field. A player who has been used in the running and return game, Hill can score points in a hurry. The harsh reality is that Hill has not been as consistent as the three mentioned above. Over the last three years, Hill has posted WR2 or better numbers only 21 times. However, when he booms, he is one of the best players to own in fantasy. He would be ranked even higher for me in leagues that reward return yardage. An interesting development arose after I wrote this and it appears Hill has suffered a hamstring injury. This will be something to monitor moving forward and hamstring injuries are usually not a good thing for receivers. We will learn more about the severity of the injury in the coming days.
5. DeAndre Hopkins, (Arizona Cardinals)- Hopkins is an absolute monster on the field. His route-running and ability to beat defenders is unparalleled. He has eclipsed 150 targets and 75 receptions in each of his last five seasons. All that being said, it is tough to rank Hopkins any higher, given his new situation. The spread-style offense sounds good in theory for Hopkins but he will have some competition for targets, something he has not been accustomed to. With a shortened offseason and no preseason games to gel with quarterback Kyler Murray, Hopkins could fail to reach the kind of production we are used to seeing. Temper your expectations.
Tier 2: Field of Dreams
6. Chris Godwin, (Tampa Bay Buccaneers)- Those who drafted Godwin last year were pleasantly surprised. There was a lot of pre-draft hype that he could break out but nobody saw the kind of ascension we witnessed. He shattered expectations with 1333 receiving yards on 86 receptions and added nine receiving touchdowns. With Mike Evans healthy, a new quarterback under center, and the addition of Rob Gronkowski, we will have to wait and see if Godwin can continue his monstrous production. With that new quarterback being Tom Brady and coach Bruce Arians still imploring his air-raid offense, I would be willing to bet Godwin finishes in the top-ten at minimum.
7. Allen Robinson, (Chicago Bears)- There is one big reason why Allen Robinson is this high and that is target-share. He saw 154 of them last year and is looking likely to have a similar output. With the Bears failing to make any improvements to the receiving core, Robinson will be the major benefactor of passes. The biggest question is, who is under center to start the season? If Nick Foles is named the starter, how will this affect ARob? No matter what, Robinson remains the Bears’ biggest weapon on offense.
8. Kenny Golladay, (Detroit Lions)- Golladay had the breakout everyone was expecting. His 2019 campaign could have been even bigger if Matthew Stafford was not injured. Golladay finished as the number six receiver last year and eclipsed double-digit touchdowns. With Stafford reinserted into the lineup and the Lions willingness to air it out, Kenny G could be in line for an even smoother stat line.
9. Juju Smith-Schuster, (Pittsburgh Steelers)- You would be hard-pressed to find anyone that believes in the JuJu bounce-back as I do. I had high expectations for him in 2019, even going as far as to say that he could be the number one receiver in fantasy. It turned out to be a lost season for the Pittsburgh Steelers, as JuJu and quarterback Ben Roethlisberger were both injured. Fast-forward a year later and I am once again on the hype train. It has been reported that the Steelers are going to move JuJu back into the slot role, where he had success opposite Antonio Brown. With the addition of Chase Claypool in the draft, the emergence of Diontae Johnson, and the return of Big Ben, look for the “Juice” to be back for the Pittsburgh Steelers and fantasy owners.
10. Mike Evans, (Tampa Bay Buccaneers)- Many in the fantasy community are overlooking Evans after Godwin’s breakout year last year. However, Evans had 1157 receiving yards on 118 targets with eight receiving touchdowns. This was with Evans missing three games. He is still one of the most dominant red-zone threats and has finished as a top-10 receiver in four of six seasons. There is no question that he will see less volume with all the weapons on the team. However, when given the chance, Evans is capable of making plays and should be in the top-ten WR conversation.
11. Adam Thielen, (Minnesota Vikings)- Many are down on Thielen this year but are forgetting just how good he was before his injury. Before last season, he had eclipsed 1,200 receiving yards in back-to-back seasons. He still managed seven receiving touchdowns last year in a 10 game span and with Stefon Diggs shipped to Buffalo, Thielen could be in for a monster season. There is no other receiver on the roster that has built a rapport with Kirk Cousins. Couple that with limited practice time and no preseason, Cousins will be relying on Thielen early-and-often. I would not be surprised to see Thielen get 120 targets this season if healthy.
12. Amari Cooper, (Dallas Cowboys)- I am probably higher than most on Cooper, especially since they added CeeDee Lamb in the draft and Michael Gallup is vying for target share. However, Cooper had 1189 receiving yards last season on 79 receptions, while garnering 119 targets. He was also one of the Cowboys’ best red-zone targets with eight touchdowns and I expect that trend to continue. Lamb should operate primarily out of the slot, allowing Cooper to get loose on the outside more often this season.
13. Odell Beckham Jr., (Cleveland Browns)- Oh how the mighty have fallen. OBJ was one of my highest-ranked receivers last season and underperformed, along with the rest of the Cleveland Browns offense, excluding Nick Chubb. OBJ is too talented to slide any further down this list and if there is one silver lining, OBJ saw 133 targets last season. One of the biggest issues was Baker Mayfield‘s accuracy. According to PFF Mayfield was only accurate on 52.1 percent of his passes last season. The biggest factor will be if Mayfield can take that next step and propel the offense forward this season.
Tier 3: Moneyball
14. D.J. Moore, (Carolina Panthers)- Many in the fantasy community have Moore higher than this. I do not understand the hype and do not believe in the kind of production that they are calling for. The Panthers have undergone changes at quarterback and coach this offseason. They have also had limited time to practice together due to Covid-19. The Panthers also added speedster Robby Anderson during the offseason. Combine all of these factors and there’s not a lot of room for optimism in my opinion. Perhaps the biggest caveat is that the Panthers’ defense does not project to be very good this season. That could lead to more passing attempts due to the Panthers playing from behind and more action for Moore.
15. Robert Woods, (Los Angeles Rams)- Is there anyone in PPR as consistent as this guy? He only had three total touchdowns all of 2019 and yet he finished as WR 17. In 15 games he saw 139 targets and amassed 1134 receiving yards on 90 receptions. He does not offer you the high ceiling of a WR1 but what he does offer you is guaranteed production from week to week. In his last 43 games, Woods has been a WR2 or better in 21 of them. There is not a better option as your WR2 on draft day than Robert Woods, specifically if you are in a PPR league.
16. Cooper Kupp, (Los Angeles Rams)- Kupp was off to a scorching pace through the first eight weeks last season. He was the number two receiver in fantasy during that span but cooled off significantly in the latter half of the season. During the last eight games of the season, Kupp only managed to become the 44th WR during that time frame, despite having five touchdowns. The departure of Brandin Cooks helps his case and Kupp should be squarely at the focal point of the Rams’ offense. Kupp is still one of the greatest red-zone threats the Rams possess but I do not expect him to be as consistent on a weekly basis as fellow WR Robert Woods.
17. Calvin Ridley, (Atlanta Falcons)- Many have been calling for Ridley to ascend to a level we have yet to see this season, including himself on social media. Before getting injured last season, he was on pace to be WR14 and saw a whopping 93 targets in 13 games. The Falcons had the most passing attempts of any team last season and they did not add any significant receiver during the offseason. Ridley and Julio should have plenty of big-game opportunities coming this season.
18. A.J. Brown, (Tennessee Titans)- I will admit that I did not see the Brown breakout coming last season. It was surprising to see a rookie on a run-first team become the number eight receiver in fantasy over the second half of the season. Despite these eye-popping numbers, his target share is less than desirable. Throughout 2019, Brown only managed 84 targets, which is alarming. One of the biggest factors for PPR receivers is target volume and I do not see it in this offense. What Brown does have going for him is a lack of competition at his position within the team. There is no doubt he is talented but temper your expectations outside of standard leagues.
19. Tyler Lockett, (Seattle Seahawks)- While many would assume that Metcalf is now Russell Wilson’s preferred target, I am not as quick to make that assertion. Lockett managed more targets (110) than Metcalf (100) and caught 75% of his passes versus Metcalf’s 58% on 24 more receptions. Through nine weeks last season, Lockett was the WR4 but fell majorly during the back-end of the year. It will be tough to predict which receiver will have the better output from week to week but I expect Lockett will be more consistent for PPR purposes. His utilization in the return and the run game also gives him the edge.
20. Keenan Allen, (Los Angeles Chargers)- Allen barely made the top-20 based on talent alone. The departure of Philip Rivers leaves a giant question mark around the Chargers’ passing game. With Tyrod Taylor at the helm, I expect the Chargers to rely more on their defense and running game. It is tough to predict just how many red-zone trips the Chargers will have in 2020 and the volume of passing attempts should come down tremendously. Do not let nostalgia cloud your judgment on Allen this year.
Photos courtesy of Icon Sportswire / Adapted by Justin Paradis (@freshmeatcomm on Twitter)