Fantasy Football: Top 10 Wide Receiver Rankings for the 2016 Off-Season

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Today will mark the third in my series of off-season rankings. Wide receiver could be valued higher than past seasons in 2016. Owners will have a tricky balancing act on draft day. Waiting to draft WR could leave a roster out to dry if running back suffers the same injuries it did last year.

 

1. Antonio Brown Pittsburgh Steelers- Yes, I do have a Steeler ranked at number 1 at three different positions. I am also a huge Steeler fan. However, this is not being a homer. The Steeler offense has potential to break records with some luck and better health in 2016. If Brown and QB Ben Roethlisberger both play 16 games, I predict Brown will have at least 150 receptions and will be the first WR to crack 2,000 yards receiving in a single season. Brown has the luxury of WR Martavis Bryant to complement him. Bryant is the perfect sidekick, as he can change the game on just three or four catches a game. Brown is one of the easiest rankings in fantasy.

 

2. Julio Jones, Atlanta Falcons- Even with QB Matt Ryan having a very uneven season in 2015, Jones finished tied for first in receptions and led the NFL in receiving yards. Atlanta desperately needs to find a play maker to take some heat off of Jones, but he will always be a target monster. On top of that, Jones is extremely consistent. He ended under 65 yards in a game just twice this past season. Julio Jones a clear step above his peers as the number two fantasy wide receiver.

 

3. Odell Beckham, New York Giants- Beckham will be a popular pick after Brown, but keep in mind he did finish 30 receptions and 400+ yards behind both Brown and Jones. That’s not to take anything away from Beckham. He had a fantastic season, totaling 106 receptions and 1,450 yards in 15 games. He was suspended in a well publicized incident with Carolina panthers CB Josh Norman, but that’s in the rear view mirror. Both he and QB Eli Manning shouldn’t fall victim to any coaching change issues as their offensive coordinator Ben McAdoo is now head coach. Also, the Giants’ run game was below average in 2015, finishing 19th. Combine that with a defense that finished 24th, and that means that Beckham will continue to be one of the top five WRs in football.

 

4. Allen Robinson, Jacksonville Jaguars- Robinson is coming off a breakout campaign, totaling 80 receptions for 1,400 yards and 14 TDs. Some will point to the fact that the touchdowns will not repeat in 2016. While that is probably true, Robinson still has room to grow. He will be entering his third season and will only be 23 years old. QB Blake Bortles could reasonably raise his completion percentage from the 58 per cent he had to around 62 per cent. The Jaguars offense as a whole is young and has not reached their full potential. Also, Jacksonville’s defense will continue to be a work in progress. The Jaguars offense will need to continue to carry the team. If you miss out on the top three, Robinson is a safe bet to be the best WR after them.

 

5. DeAndre Hopkins, Houston Texans- The Houston Texans played quarterback roulette in 2015 due to ineffectiveness and injury. They also had RB Arian Foster for just a handful of games before he tore his Achilles. The one constant for Houston was their star WR. Hopkins finished with 111 catches, 1,521 yards and 11 TDs. For all the QB issues, he finished with under 50 yards just one time. Like Robinson ahead of him, Hopkins will be under 25 in 2016.  Even with the likelihood the Texans are in the market for a new QB and RB, Hopkins can still be relied upon as a top five WR in fantasy.

 

6. A.J. Green, Cincinnati Bengals- Green had his worst statistical season while playing all 16 games in 2015. The scary part of this stat is he still finished eighth in receiving yards, meaning a top five finish is within reach for 2016. QB Andy Dalton took a healthy step forward before breaking his thumb, and will have many of his weapons that complement Green back next season. There is some concern now that Hue Jackson has moved on to coach the Cleveland Browns. Newly promoted coordinator Ken Zampese will be smart enough to know the smart way to run the offense is to feed Green the ball.

 

7. Julian Edelman, New England Patriots- The New England offense suffered through a ridiculous amount of injuries in 2015, and Edelman did not escape unscathed. He broke bones in his foot in Week 10 versus the Giants, and some owners may drop him a bit lower as a result. If you take the numbers Edelman put up in the eight games he started and finished, he was on pace for around 115 catches, 1,300 yards and 14 TD’s. QB Tom Brady leans on Edelman constantly. Whether your format is standard or PPR(point per reception), Edelman is a completely reliable option as a high end WR.

 

8. Sammy Watkins, Buffalo Bills- Watkins has suffered more than his share of injuries in his short NFL career, but seemed to find his way in 2015. After publicly demanding the ball more in October, Watkins was targeted fewer than five times just once. Additionally, Watkins found the next gear the last six weeks of 2015. He averaged just over 11 targets and over 113 yards, with six touchdowns. Watkins had the benefit of the best rushing attack in the NFL, and the Bills should be near the top again in 2016. QB Tyrod Taylor may or may not be the long term answer in Buffalo. But he can do one thing pretty well- get the ball to Sammy Watkins.

 

9. Dez BryantDallas Cowboys- Dallas and Bryant suffered through a nightmare season in 2015. QB Tony Romo was felled by injury for most of the season, while Bryant broke bones in his foot Week 1 and was never the same. He had his worst season as a pro, totaling only 31 receptions, 401 yards and three TDs. The good news is early indications are Bryant will be fully healthy for the start of 2016. He should have no trouble regaining his normal form. The only reason he is this low is the health of Romo. Dallas is frightfully thin behind him, and Bryant would be no more than a low end WR2 if Romo was to go down again.

 

10. Mike Evans, Tampa Bay Buccaneers- Evans helped break in rookie QB Jameis Winston to the tune of 74 receptions, 1.206 yards nd only three TDs. Of the top 15 WRs in yardage, Evans had the lowest number of receptions and TDs. He will only be 23 when the season kicks off, and is poised to take a leap forward. Tampa Bay may be without RB Doug Martin in 2016. Even if Martin is still in Tampa, the defense is below average. Winston and Evans will have to be featured players to keep Tampa competitive. Both of the reception and touchdown totals should increase easily in year two of the Evans-Winston combo, which will push Evans into a top 10 finish among WRs.

 

Wide receiver is arguably the deepest position in fantasy football. It will be viewed as a safer position to invest in with all the running back injuries that happened in 2015. It will be more important than ever to make sure you have a stud WR to help carry your fantasy team.

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