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NFL Fantasy Love, Hate, and Sleepers: Wide Receiver Edition

All the Love, Hate, and More with Receivers.

New Orleans Saints Michael Thomas - Carolina Panthers Donte Jackson by Jack Kurzenknabe is in the Public Domain

NFL Fantasy Love, Hate, and Sleepers: Wide Receiver Edition

Estimated Reading Time: 9 Minutes

Have you joined a fantasy football league yet?! It’s that time of year.

Welcome to Love, Hate, and Sleepers. I will be covering every position (except kickers and defense). Here we will focus on wide receivers, and I’ll tell you the receivers I love and hate going into this fantasy season (not personally of course!), as well as some sleepers to consider. The Sleepers are players who could significantly exceed their expectations, or surpass their average draft position (ADP). The receivers I love are ones who I think will have a really good fantasy year, and the receivers I hate will be ones who could potentially be busts or who I really would not reach for or go out of my way to draft.

So, let’s start with the Love list, shall we?

Wide Receivers I Love

DeAndre Hopkins

Let’s start with the obvious. You have to love Hopkins this year. Last season he had career highs in receiving yards (1,572), receptions (115) and a crazy catch rate of 70.6%. Hopkins was the 4th-ranked WR in fantasy last year.

With a healthy Will Fuller and Keke Coutee coming back, and after trading for Kenny Stills, Hopkins’ targets may dip a bit, but he’s still going to be an elite receiver, a big red zone target, and an overall strong WR1 in fantasy.

Davante Adams

I’m not very high on the Packers overall this year. But I am high on Adams as a receiver in fantasy.

He seems to be a receiver who is trending up and gets better and better each year. I don’t see why he can’t be a top-5 receiver again this year. He was 2nd in TD catches, 4th in targets, and 6th in receiving yards among WRs last season. In the past three seasons, Adams has caught 35 TD passes. That’s the second-most in that span only behind Antonio Brown.

Tyreek Hill

He is arguably the best receiver on the best offense in football. Hill has tremendous speed and is a perfect match for a passer such as Patrick Mahomes. I expect Hill to have a big year again. He won’t have as many receptions as some of the other top receivers, but he’s so freaking fast that he racks up a lot of yards after the catch. Hill still remains Mahomes’ favorite target at receiver.

Michael Thomas

Thomas just signed a five-year, $100 million deal, and he deserves it.

The time for the Saints to win a Super Bowl is now, and Thomas has rightfully been Drew Brees’ favorite target. In the past three seasons Thomas has been in the league, he has finished at least a top-7 receiver in fantasy.

Thomas led the NFL in receptions last season, and was 6th in receiving yards with 9 TDs and an insane 84% catch rate. Thomas is becoming one of the better hands in football, and I expect him to have another big year.

Mike Evans

I’m all in on Evans this year. He had a “down season” last year in fantasy and still managed to rack up 1,524 receiving yards. Now he’s part of a Bruce Arians offense and receivers tend to have great years under Arians’ offensive system. Evans has been criticized for his lack of TDs in recent years. In his rookie year, he caught 12 TD passes, but has tapered off a bit in his following seasons.

I think this time he scores more TDs (last year he had 8), but with the rise of Chris Godwin and the development of OJ Howard, he may have less receiving yards. But I still really like Evans to be a strong WR1.

Julio Jones

He led the league in receiving yards and targets last season and was 4th in receptions on a loaded Atlanta offense.  Julio has eclipsed 1,400 receiving yards in five of his eight seasons played in his career, and since 2013 he’s never finished worse than 7th in fantasy points among WRs. He’s a beast, and he should absolutely be one of the first wide receivers to go off the draft board.

The Vikings Duo

Adam Thielen and Stefon Diggs are both receivers who you would like to have on your team. Both of them had over 1,000 yards receiving and each had 9 TDs. If you’re asking me which one you take first, I would say Thielen. But Diggs is a fine pick in the second or third round.

I am overall high on the Vikings this season and so I think both of these guys will be very productive.

Wide Receivers I Hate

Antonio Brown

He’s going from Big Ben to Derek Carr at QB. So right off the bat I think Brown’s production goes down. And what have I always said…Oakland is the place where good receivers go to die. Maybe Brown still has a decent season, but no way does he come close to the production he had last year.

Odell Beckham Jr.

He’s missed 16 of his last 32 games. OBJ is super talented, but he can never quite stay healthy. And now he has a “hip injury” but the Browns say he’s ok? Hmmm…drafter beware…don’t reach.

Brandin Cooks

I just think he’s projected a little too high. Cooks didn’t even crack the top-20 in receptions last season, and towards the end of the season his production tapered off big time. There are a lot of mouths to feed on the Rams offense. And let’s not forget, Cooper Kupp comes back from injury. Cooks is someone I would not reach for. He also posted just 5 TD catches last season. There are better alternatives in the second and third rounds.

T.Y. Hilton

Since 2014, Hilton has cracked the top-10 in fantasy points among receivers just once. And in 2017 when Andrew Luck was injured and Jacoby Brissett was under center, Hilton was 27th in fantasy points among wide receivers. Yikes.

Alshon Jeffrey

Jeffrey has missed 14 games in the past 4 seasons and he hasn’t cracked 1,000 receiving yards since 2014. In 13 games last season he had just 6 TDs for 843 yards. I also think the Eagles are going to run the ball a lot more this year, and so I am not really expecting anything major out of Jeffrey. I think he is a talented receiver who is in the midst of his decline.

Sammy Watkins

I love the Chiefs offense this year, but I’m not loving Watkins. He hasn’t posted a top-40 fantasy season since 2015 and he has had issues with injuries. His durability is concerning and he only had ONE red zone target last season which is amazing considering how powerful the Kansas City offense was last year.

Jarvis Landry

Once upon a time this receiver led the NFL in receptions in the 2017 season. But last year he had 81 receptions for 976 yards and just 4 TDs.

That was without OBJ.

Now with OBJ as part of the receiving corps, and the rise of Nick Chubb and David Njoku, I’m not even sure if Landry is the 2nd– or 3rd-best option on that Cleveland offense. Unless OBJ gets injured again, I am just not sure if Landry is going to get much production this season like he used to when he was with Miami. He had 31 fewer receptions last year than in 2017 when he was the league’s receptions leader.

Sleeper Wide Receivers

Mike Williams

Williams quietly had 10 TD receptions last season and caught 65% of his targets. With Tyrell Williams gone, Mike Williams should see a much bigger role in the offense. I sense a potential breakout candidate here.

Chris Godwin

Bruce Arians said that Godwin could “push for a 100-catch season” and, seeing that it’s a Bruce Arians offense, I might actually believe it. Also get this: In the past 150 targets to Godwin, he only has three dropped balls. That’s insane, considering he’s been catching balls from Ryan Fitzpatrick and Jameis Winston.

Calvin Ridley

I think it’s possible the Falcons will have two 1,000+ yard receivers this season: Julio Jones and Calvin Ridley. Ridley was targeted only five times in the red zone last season, yet he had 10 TD receptions. Which means he was great after the catch.

I’m not sure he reaches double-digit TDs again, but I’m willing to bet he’ll have more targets, receptions, and receiving yards this season.

Tyler Boyd

He’s only 24 years old, and he’s already had a 75+ reception and 1,000+ receiving yard season catching passes from Andy Dalton, mind you. A.J. Green is currently injured and it’s a bit unclear as to when he will be back. The Bengals also have John Ross III, but I like Boyd to be the more productive receiver in the absence of Green.

Boyd also has a new offensive-minded coach in Zac Taylor, who once was a wide receiver coach for the Rams in 2017 when the Rams completely turned their franchise around from a terrible 4-12 2016 season. The following season the Rams went 11-5 with Robert Woods, Tavon Austin, and Sammy Watkins in the receiving corps. Cooper Kupp was also a rookie that year.

Maybe Boyd will start blossoming into a nice receiver in this league under the tutelage of Taylor. Time will tell, I guess.

Donte Moncrief

Moncrief has a career 12.7 yards per reception. And there are only three quarterbacks he’s caught passes from:

Blake Bortles

Matt Barkley

Jacoby Brissett

Yeaahhhh. He’s got Big Ben now…and Big Ben likes going deep. There’s a reason why the Steelers picked up Moncrief. He’s the perfect fit in this Pittsburgh offense.

Is Moncrief a Sneaky-Good Flex Option?

He’s also only 26 years old. I’m not saying Moncrief is going to be a dynamite 8+ TD/1,000+ receiving yards guy. But, especially in deeper leagues, Moncrief could surprisingly be a solid flex option. He’s averaged about 4 TDs and over 500 receiving yards per season throughout his career. Now he finally has a legitimate quarterback throwing to him.

Moncrief could be a nice flex-type sleeper.

Dede Westbrook

Westbrook had terrible QBs throwing to him last season and he still averaged 5.6 yards after the catch. That was 13th-best among wide receivers last season. He also had a respectable 66-reception and 5-TD season, to go with 717 receiving yards. With Foles under center, Westbrook could find greater success this season and end up being a top receiver target for the Jags.

Wide Receivers

Love Count: 8

Hate Count: 7

Sleeper Count: 6

Stay tuned for Tight Ends!

Matt lives in Newnan, Georgia but was born and raised in Upstate New York. He is a fan of the New York Yankees, New York Rangers, Pittsburgh Steelers, and Boston Celtics. At the collegiate level, he is a Notre Dame and Syracuse fan (yeah he can root for both, and what?!) He must, however, find a soccer team to root for. So him out there. All suggestions are welcome. You can catch Matt on the Turf mostly covering NFL, NBA, MLB, College Football and Basketball, and Horse Racing (that is not a typo, he practically grew up on a racetrack). It's nothing's strictly sports.

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