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I remember when you were never supposed to draft WRs in the first round, but in deep PPR leagues, there are now at least four that could make a pretty good case. The well of talent is deep, too. If I got No. 11 or No. 12 on this list as my WR-1, I would not be an unhappy camper at all.
1. Antonio Brown, PIT.
I've heard he's actually going as the No. 1 pick in some deep roster PPR Flex leagues. Led the NFL in catches in 2013 with 110, boosted that number to 129 last year, and could even surpass 130 this year if you believe the hype about the Steelers offense.
2. Odell Beckham, Jr., NYG.
Have seen Bryant and Thomas move ahead of him in some rankings, but 91 catches, 1,305 yards and 12 TDs ins 12 games makes me think he'll be better on all fronts this year. Plus NYG is pass-first, while DAL is run-first and DEN is looking to run more.
3. Dez Bryant, DAL.
They say he makes TDs look easy, and he should still be the Cowboys' top target in that respect, making him the best bet among all WRs for fantasy TDs. He's not a 100-catch guy, but if he beats double-teams and behaves himself, he could reach 1,400 yards, 15 TDs.
4. Demaryius Thomas, DEN.
Has the PPR value with 111 catches last year, and was way better than Bryant and Beckham yardage-wise with 1,619. Could easily move to top of the class if Manning the
Elder leans on him this season, but that's a fairly big if.
5. Julio Jones, ATL.
If he collects 2,000 receiving yards one of these years, I wouldn't be shocked at all. Some value this season will depend on ATL being better overall on offense and getting him more end zone targets, but could be money in the bank for 1,500 yards.
6. Jordy Nelson, GB.
I've always felt he gets half his yards and TDs thanks to Aaron Rodgers' acting ability (with pump fakes and such), but so what? Could have another season of 1,500 yards and double-digit TDs regardless.
7. Alshon Jeffery, CHI.
The injury to rookie WR Kevin White only makes it more clear he'll be busy. Seems like a lock for 1,200 yards, 12 TDs and a growing value for PPR leagues even if the Bears aren't good. If they're good? Well, let's not get ahead of ourselves.
8. Calvin Johnson, DET.
Just weeks ago, I felt the Lions approach would mean another season of barely 1,000 yards and eight TDs. But both he and QB Matthew Stafford are now being hyped as comeback cases. Having a problem ranking him any higher, but your results may vary.
9. Randall Cobb, GB.
Hard not to love GB WRs, and to be honest, I've always favored Cobb over Nelson, but Aaron Rodgers feels the opposite way, giving Nelson 151 targets to Cobb's 127 - but Cobb's 91 catches to Nelson's 98 give make the former much more efficient.
10. T.Y. Hilton, IND.
The biggest beneficiary of the most prolific QB last year still has weaknesses, like dropping passes, but his 16.4 yards per catch helped him to career-best 1,345 yards. Still could hit 1,500, but will Andre Johnson's presence on the Colts drive that number down a bit?
11. Emmanuel Sanders, DEN.
101 catches last year was fourth among WRs and 1,404 yards fifth. Ranked lower elsewhere, maybe because of his nine TDs, but also maybe because some see him as more likely than Thomas to take a big hit on his number if DEN runs more. I still like him.
12. A.J. Green, CIN.
Forgettable, injury-marred season from a former Top-3 WR: 1,041 yards and just six TDs. Yet, his career-best 5.1 yards after catch makes us believe he's got better seasons left in him. The biggest problem is QB Andy Dalton, who's backsliding.
13. Mike Evans, TAM.
If Jameis Winston turns out to be any good at QB, Evans could be the breakout player of this group. His talent suggests he could be top five in a great passing system. Even if Tampa's offense is so-so, he's in line for his second straight 1,000-yard, 12-TD season.
14. Jordan Mathews, PHI.
Broke out as a star of Philly's wild offense as a rookie in Week 3 of 2014 with eight catches and two TDs, though only 59 yards. Better sense of what we can expect came in the last eight games, when he had three 100+ yards games and five TDs.
15. Golden Tate, DET.
The top receiver in Detroit last year may not have been named Megatron. Tate dazzled with five 100+ yards games and 1,331 yards for the season, though only four TD catches. Guess Megatron takes back some yardage, but how about another TD or two for Tate?
16. DeAndre Hopkins, HOU.
Despite a revolving door at QB he caught 76 passes for 1,210 yards and six TDs. With Andre Johnson gone, he becomes the clear No. 1, so we have to expect 90 or more catches, although HOU's offense is still not exactly a well-oiled machine.
17. Sammy Watkins, BUF.
The sleeper that became the most hyped WR last year started well, showed some flash in four 100+ yards games, but finished quietly and without reaching 1,000 yards. A 200-yard game at some point wouldn't surprise, but still a WR-2 for now.
18. DeSean Jackson, WAS.
Only caught 56 passes, but averaged 20.9 yards per catch and collected 1,169 yards overall, both second-bests for his career. Still, he remains inconsistent game to game, and the WAS offense needs to get him the ball more to increase his value.
19. Julian Edelman, NE.
A PPR favorite with 92 receptions last year, but he didn't surpass 972 yards and only delivered four TDs. Wondering if he will miss Tom Brady for four games more than Gronk will, but still very reliable for touches on a weekly basis.
20. Martavis Bryant, PIT.
Didn't play until Week 8, but nabbed eight TDs and impressed with 21.1 yards per catch. With Brown and pass-loving RB LeVeon Bell around, he may not be a PPR darling, but a medium-risk, high-reward investment for his big play value alone.
Eddie Royal, CHI: Kevin White was supposed to get this spot, but since he's out for at least half the season, why not another Bear? Royal is experienced, sneaky around the end zone and has been getting rave reviews at camp. 62 catches for SD last year was his most since his 2008 rookie year.
Jarvis Landry, MIA: Not an unknown quantity, as he was very popular late last season in PPR leagues, and finished with 84 catches. His shortcoming was averaging only nine yards per catch, but if he improves that and Ryan Tannehill finds him for more than five TDs, he'll prove himself a rising star.
Jeremy Maclin, KC: His fantasy stock crashed when he ended up in KC, where deep routes - the kind that constitute much of his value - go to die. But he knows Andy Reid's system and is coming off a career-best 1,318 yards and 10 TDs in his first injury-free season that we can remember.
Previously in the Fantasy Fix 2015 Football Draft Guide:
* Overall Top 20.
* Top 20 QBs.
* Top 20 RBs.
Dan O'Shea is our man in fantasyland. He welcomes your comments.
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Posted on Mar 24, 2017