The number of 200 fantasy point scoring wide receivers have gone up over the past three years and were at 25 last season. Michael Thomas outscored the WR2 (Chris Godwin) by 100 points in PPR leagues. Looking at 2020, there were quite a few teams in need of upgrading their wide receiver core. Indianapolis, Oakland, Denver, Green Bay, and Philadelphia all come to mind. There are a lot of passing offenses that could make that next jump back into big fantasy numbers.
Some younger names started to gain some momentum, like Courtland Sutton out in Denver. Michael Gallup and D.J. Chark were both two names that finished inside the top 25. We also had DeVante Parker finally show us why he was a first-round draft pick, and health was a big reason why he struggled the past few seasons. While a few names were surprising, when you get down to their ability, not so much. None of these names come from notable passing offenses, but the volume was there.
It was a disappointing year for a few names in 2019, like Odell Beckham Jr. The Browns hype had him producing back to top ten wide receiver numbers. He still finished WR25, but his ADP was a top-two round pick. T.Y. Hilton battled injuries, and at his age, this is beginning to be a concern for his outlook this upcoming season. Adam Thielen was in a similar boat with injuries but is a name to bank-on returning to a strong fantasy perform. JuJu Smith-Schuster’s overall numbers took a hit, but Ben Roethlisberger’s injury played a part. Brandon Cooks struggled and only saw 72 targets in 14 games.
WR Fantasy Draft Strategy
With teams having 2-3 fantasy-relevant wide receivers, that gives us a decent selection to choose from. This is certainly more than other positions, but you have to remember there is a chance your roster format is going to force you to use 2-4 of them. League scoring is also something to note here. If you are in a PPR league, which means one point per reception, or even a half-point PPR league, the player pool opens a bit more. If you are in a league where receptions do not record any fantasy points, this takes away value from some names.
There are always going to be wide receivers that open up throughout the season and have fantasy value. For instance, in 2019, neither Preston Williams or DeVante Parker have drafted targets, yet both had significant value off the waiver wire. The same goes for Darius Slayton, who took advantage of missing targets in New York with Sterling Shepard and Evan Engram battling injuries. There will be this type of production each year. If you don’t have quite the depth you want, don’t panic.
In 2019 23 running backs scored over 175 fantasy points. Thirty-five wide receivers scored over that mark. Deciding between a tier-one wide receiver or a tier-one running back, I would lean slightly towards the running back. There are going to be still excellent wide receivers on your next few picks. I will say Michael Thomas is in a tier of his own, averaging over 20 fantasy points per game. That is the only name I’d draft over a top tier running back.
You can go a contrarian route and take the stud wide receiver to build your lineups to start, and then go tier two running backs in the next round. Names like DeAndre Hopkins, Julio Jones, Davante Adams, and Tyreek Hill are the names selected within the first round and a half. If you are drafting towards the end of the order, then you are looking at that quick turnaround where you can grab a strong wide receiver and running back.
As far as the middle rounds go, you can be on the lookout for safe production, and still find guys who will see a ton of volume. D.J. Moore was that last year, who was a middle-round pick with 135 targets. Jarvis Landry was as well. Both ended up being top 15 wide receivers. Drafting for upside is something to look for with wide receivers. John Brown ended up being a top 25 scorer and was a late-round pick who had some risk being in Buffalo and not having a huge track record, but he broke out. Marvin Jones and many of the rookies in this past class were also later round upside picks.
Wide Receiver (WR) fantasy football Rankings Frequently Asked Questions
Who Are The Best Fantasy Wide Receivers?
There has been a model of consistency from a few names over the past couple of seasons. Michael Thomas is one of them, but we will get to him in a moment. DeAndre Hopkins, Julio Jones, and Davante Adams have been in a tier of their own. For one, these guys dominate in team targets on a weekly basis, and when you get those double-digit targets each week, the production will be there. The yardage floor and ceiling is unlike many others, and it makes them less touchdown-dependent.
In PPR formats, Keenan Allen has been a reliable target. He has had over 100 receptions in two of the last three years, and the one he didn’t, he had 97. He isn’t the biggest touchdown producer, but in this format, he is a strong fantasy wideout. Tyreek Hill was viewed as a home run threat with a low weekly floor early on in his career. That changed when he produced a WR9 season in 2017, and a WR3 season in 2018. He had over 180 fantasy points in 12 games for 2019, where he was suspended four games.
Who Is The Number One Fantasy Wide Receiver?
This one isn’t all that close at the moment. Michael Thomas ran away with the top wide receiver scoring last season, posting 149 receptions, 1,725 receiving yards, and nine touchdowns. His weekly floor was around 18 fantasy points. He has produced over 1,100 receiving yards in each season and has also gone up in yards and receptions in each of his four seasons. He has had nine touchdowns in three of the four years as well. Thomas has not gone a season below 250 fantasy points and finished outside of the top eight in fantasy scoring among wide receivers.
Generally, a fantasy league is going to roster between two and four wide receivers. You have your FLEX spots that can include a wide receiver, but it also depends on if you have to roster two or three true wide receiver spots. Either way, having some depth at the position is not a bad idea. It gives you options on a week-to-week basis, where receivers can be more matchup dependent than other positions. It gives you the flexibility to start someone against a weaker defense that was on your bench over a weekly starter who is in a matchup against the top secondary in the league. I would shoot between 5-7 wide receivers on a standard roster. Once the season gets going and bye weeks kick in, it is always nice to have some options.
What Should I Look For In Drafting Fantasy Wide Receivers?
When looking at your WR1, you are going to want a player who brings you stability on a weekly basis. They can get to that 14-15 fantasy point mark generally without having to find the end zone to get there. Julio Jones is great at this, where he averaged 6.6 receptions per game in 2019, and averaged 92 receiving yards per game. This puts you on a weekly floor of 15 fantasy points. Jones is also a great mix of upside because he has those games where he can produce 100+ receiving yards and find the end zone. Generally, the tier one and two receivers are going to give you that perfect balance.
Now looking at the position as a whole, volume is your best friend. It is no surprise to see most of the top scorers also rank high in targets. When receivers see 8+ targets a week, this is good news for their fantasy potential. The lower you go, the more dependent they are on those big home run plays or finding the end zone. Allen Robinson was a great example of that, where he had to deal with poor quarterback play from Mitch Trubisky, and while the efficiency wasn’t great, he finished 4th in targets and 7th in fantasy scoring. If Robinson’s volume wasn’t as high, there is no way he is producing the fantasy production that he did. If there is a lack of volume, you want to find the efficiency and also the opportunity for the home run balls, like a Will Fuller.
Red zone targets are also something to keep an eye on, as you can find most of the big named fantasy scorers were also high in red zone targets. Teams with bad defenses also can produce more fantasy points in the passing game. Miami was a team that was constantly trailing, which pushed them to throw the ball. Carolina was in that same boat, as both teams ranked inside the top ten in pass attempts per game. We saw a lot of fantasy-relevant wide receivers from these teams for that reason. Teams that throw a low amount, you have to focus on where the volume is going. Minnesota doesn’t throw a ton, but Stefon Diggs and Adam Thielen get the bulk of it.
How Do Different Scoring Formats Effect Wide Receivers?
There are three different fantasy football formats that are considered popular, however, PPR has been the more popular of late. PPR is when one reception equals one fantasy point. Some leagues will do half-PPR, and then leagues will also not count receptions towards any stat. Each scoring system has a potentially major effect on fantasy wide receivers. It can create more of a need for touchdown producers, and drop the relevance down on guys who rack up receptions.
Player A’s Scoring
PPR - WR8
Half-PPR - WR11
Standard - WR17
Player B’s Scoring
PPR - WR21
Half-PPR - WR15
Standard - WR8
Julian Edelman is Player A. He has more worth in .5 and PPR leagues; therefore, you should not be looking to draft him as a high in standard leagues. This can also have a reverse effect as A.J. Brown is Player B. His touchdown and yardage production caused him to take a leap as others fell who didn’t produce as many yards or touchdowns as them. Knowing your fantasy scoring is important, and it will affect how you draft and names you want to watch out for on the waiver wire.