In fantasy football, the deepest position is wide receiver. Teams have a plethora of different receivers and many of them have different skillsets. Some are the dominant number one options, some are the big red zone threats and others the speedy slot receivers.
But these five receivers separate themselves from the rest and these are the top five fantasy wide receivers in 2017.
No. 5 A.J. Green, Cincinnati Bengals
Green has been dominant ever since he came into the league in 2011. In his first five seasons, he posted over 1,000 yards every year. He joins only Randy Moss in that category.
Twice he has finished as a top-five receiver in fantasy and once in the top-10 in those five seasons. He has also been Andy Dalton’s favorite target as he has seen over 100 targets in each of those five seasons.
In PPR leagues, he has finished in the top-nine at the position during three of the past five seasons.
However, in 2016 Green struggled with injuries and missed out on 1,000 yards. He averaged 96.4 yards per game on 6.6 catches per game (both personal bests) before a hamstring injury sidelined him for six games. He still managed to have 100 targets and caught 66 passes for 964 yards and four scores in 10 games. Green still ranked in the top-30 in standard leagues.
Green is finally healthy and expect him to still be a target machine for Dalton. There is a little concern due to Tyler Eifert finally being healthy taking away some targets from Green. That shouldn’t be enough to shy away from Green as a roster asset. Green is a no-brainer No. 1 receiver that is a high second-round pick if not a end of the first round.
No. 4 Jordy Nelson, Green Bay Packers
The best fantasy wide receiver last year, Jordy Nelson ranks fourth on my list for 2017.
The Comeback Player of the Year recipient also deserves the nod for fantasy comeback player of the year. He led fantasy scoring over 16 games and posted 10-plus points in nine of them. A lot of that last year was because the Green Bay Packers threw the ball 62.7 percent of the time thanks to a depleted run game.
He finished the 2016 campaign with a career-high in targets (152), and caught 97 passes for 1,257 yards and league-high 14 touchdowns.
But what puts Nelson on this list is his play in the red zone. He led all receivers from inside the 20-yard line with 29 targets, 19 catches, 127 yards and 11 touchdowns. He also led receivers inside the 10-yard line in targets (15), catches (11), yards (45) and touchdowns (9).
Nelson has been known to have very good hands and in the red zone he seems unstoppable. Some of that credit goes to Aaron Rodgers, but Nelson was on a mission in 2016 after missing 2015 with a torn ACL.
I don’t expect Nelson to have the dominant year he had in 2016 due to the improvement of their ground game in the draft and the signing of tight end Martellus Bennett taking some targets away especially in the red zone. I do believe Nelson will have a solid season still racking up over 1,000 yards, over 90 receptions and double digits in touchdowns.
When drafting Nelson, he is a No. 1 receiver and should be drafted by the second round.
No. 3 Odell Beckham Jr., New York Giants
When it comes to being a big play highlight reel, Odell Beckham Jr. doesn’t disappoint. The New York Giants’ star ranks third for wide receivers in fantasy.
In 2016, Beckham had a slow start compared to what he did in 2015. But Beckham finished strong and had career bests in both targets (169) and receptions (101). He still maintained well over 1,300 yards and double digits in touchdowns.
In a three-year average he has 96 receptions for 1,374 yards and 12 touchdowns. He’s finished as a top-seven fantasy wide receiver in each of those three years. He also ranked seventh in the NFL with 15 end zone targets last season (up from 11 in 2015) and led the league target percentage in the red zone from inside the 20-yard line.
The numbers and records he has at age 24 is historic and he is just getting started.
This coming season, Beckham should only improve and the ceiling for him is high. Even though the Giants signed Brandon Marshall, have second year receiver Sterling Shepard and drafted tight end Evan Engram, this should benefit Beckham in the long run. With the plethora of weapons for opposing defenses to cover, Beckham should get his reps and my bold statement is that he very well could finish the year as the best fantasy player in 2017. He is a definite middle pick in the first round.
No. 2 Julio Jones, Atlanta Falcons
Even though his numbers were down in 2016, Julio Jones is still a top two fantasy receiver.
When you compare Jones’ stats from 2015 to 2016, you can’t expect him to repeat those numbers especially the way the Atlanta Falcons offense played in 2016. His targets dropped by over 30 percent, his receptions by nearly 40 percent and his yards by nearly 25 percent. He also missed two games with a toe injury.
But it was the evolution of the Falcons’ offense that really dropped Jones’ stats. Players on the Falcons stepped up and helped Matt Ryan to not force the ball in Jones’ direction.
Jones was the league leader in 100-plus yard games at the receiver position with seven. He still managed to thrive in this offense as the sixth fantasy wide receiver. Jones has finished as a top-11 fantasy receiver during four of the past five seasons.
There is some concern though that comes with Jones. The first is his durability as he’s missed at least one game during four of his six NFL seasons. The other is former offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan leaving to become the head coach of the San Francisco 49ers.
The team hired Steve Sarkisian, a former college head coach who hasn’t been in the NFL since 2004. Sarkisian saw success as the Oakland Raiders quarterback’s coach, compiling more than 4,000 passing yards, ranking eighth out of 32 NFL teams in passing yardage.
Jones should continue to be a no-brainer as a reliable fantasy receiver as a middle pick of the first round pick.
No. 1 Antonio Brown, Pittsburgh Steelers
You don’t have to be an expert in fantasy to know that the number one receiver is Antonio Brown.
Compare his numbers from 2015 to last year and you will see that his numbers went down. He had 106 catches for 1,284 yards and 12 touchdowns. Even with the missed game he had, he still topped wide receivers in fantasy points for the third consecutive season.
He finished top-five in targets, receptions and receiving yards for the fourth straight year and Brown has delivered 10-plus fantasy points in 70.2 percent of his games over the past four seasons.
Brown should have another great season with Martavis Bryant back from a year suspension on the other side of him. With his addition, along with other targets, it will be impossible to double-team Brown all the time.
He’s averaged over 11 targets per game over the past four years and should repeat this stat again in 2017, even with the Steelers’ deep receiving corps and Le’Veon Bell at running back. He will remain Ben Roethlisberger’s top target and fantasy’s most consistently dominant wide receiver. He is worth taking in the top four picks and potentially the number one pick in PPR leagues.
Featured image from nj.com.
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