With only a few weeks left until the NFL preseason starts, fantasy football discussions are in full swing.
So, let’s talk wide receivers. Does Antonio Brown still have what it takes to be the top-scoring fantasy wideout, now playing with the Oakland Raiders? Will Odell Beckham Jr. deliver the goods in Cleveland?
Starting at No. 10 and working down the list to No. 1, here is my fantasy ranking for the receiver position.
10. A.J. Green, Cincinnati Bengals
If Green can stay healthy, he gets my vote in the top 10. Here is why. Green has averaged a respectable 9.2 targets per game since 2011. He has also averaged a productive 14.8 yards per catch and 80.2 yards per contest. Meaning when he gets his hands on the ball, he makes the most of his opportunities.
This veteran wideout makes for a sweet third-round draft target who could surprise with elite WR1 numbers this year.
9. Antonio Brown, Oakland Raiders
Despite his off-field drama, Brown is one of the best in the business. He is freakishly athletic and was a touchdown machine with Pittsburgh. Though now, the brakes need to be pumped. Brown will be part of a new offense that saw quarterback Derek Carr throw for a miserable 19 touchdowns last year.
Taking this into consideration, the top-shelf fantasy numbers Brown has produced for his owners might take a bit of a dip. Boldly, I predicted that Brown will either fail to surpass 1,000 yards or not score double-digit touchdowns. Now it’s up to him to prove me wrong.
8. Adam Thielen, Minnesota Vikings
Thielen was a fantasy rock star for most of last season. He wound up with more than 100 yards in nine games as well as nine touchdowns to finish the season.
The hope this year would be that Thielen gets back on track with quarterback Kirk Cousins. Some terrible errors on Cousins’ part ruined Thielen’s numbers late in 2018. Provided the duo can re-establish their chemistry, Thielen should return to his studly form.
7. Mike Evans, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Evans ranked sixth in wideout fantasy points last year after producing 1,524 yards and eight touchdowns. To keep Evans on pace with last season’s fantasy stats, quarterback Jameis Winston is going to have to keep up his level of performance.
Thankfully, The Bucs went to great lengths to improve this year by dredging out the retired Bruce Arians to coach their team. If things go according to plan, or even better, Evans stands to emerge as a top-five receiver.
6. Odell Beckham Jr., Cleveland Browns
The OBJ fantasy hype in Cleveland will soon be real.
Beckham stands to build on the 87.7 yards he averaged per game in 2018. It is possible that he gets back to his 2014 fantasy roots when he led the league with 108.8 receiving yards per clash. Even facing double coverage, Beckham will find those amazing athletic ways to move the ball. If Beckham falls to the second round in fantasy drafting, snag him.
5. JuJu Smith-Schuster, Pittsburgh Steelers
Even playing alongside Antonio Brown last year, Smith-Schuster was dynamite on wheels when he racked up 1,426 yards and seven touchdowns. This is the guy who made a league-leading and jaw-dropping 97-yard play in 2018. Now without Antonio Brown around sniping targets, the sky is the limit for this young fantasy stud. As such, Smith-Schuster’s stock is on the rise. Recent mock drafts for larger leagues have him falling off of the draft board in late Round 1.
4. Michael Thomas, New Orleans Saints
On the brink of possibly becoming the highest-paid at his position, Thomas is solid in his prime. He returns to your fantasy lineup fresh from a league-high 125-catch season. Thomas caught a whopping 85 percent of his targets for a total of 1,405 yards and nine touchdowns. There is little to suggest that Thomas is not going to keep this pace up in 2019. Heck, he might even improve on these numbers with Mark Ingram out of the picture.
3. Julio Jones, Atlanta Falcons
Some folks are a little hesitant when it comes to drafting Jones. Before last year, Jones scored a total of nine touchdowns in 2016-17. He picked up his pace and scored eight times in 2018 and also led the league with 104.8 receiving yards averaged per game. I might have ranked Jones even a bit higher here if it weren’t for fellow receiver Calvin Ridley’s presence in the red zone.
2. Davante Adams, Green Bay Packers
When it comes to fantasy consistency, Adams fits the bill.
There was only one time last season when Adams delivered single-digit fantasy points. His 13 touchdowns were the second-most scored by any wideout in the league. Adams plays with one of the most polished quarterbacks in the NFL and he should continue delivering stout fantasy numbers as long as Aaron Rodgers gets him the ball.
1. DeAndre Hopkins, Houston Texans
Saving the best for last, Hopkins offers what it takes to finish No. 1 in 2019. He last posted career-highs in receptions (115) and yards (1,572) and caught 70.6 percent of his targets. With quarterback Deshaun Watson evolving into elite status, Hopkins totally benefits. The 27-year-old receiver should continue to stymie double coverage and deliver fantasy gold for those who nab him mid-first round in 2019.