2017 wideouts took L's but '18 they bounced byke. Big Sean really hit the nail on the head with these lyrics. Shoutout Big Sean as well, might have gotten a tattoo on my thigh in college that reads "BoII" inspired by Big Sean, but unlikely. Anywho, 2018 was a big year for WRs, proving that they do IN FACT matter in fantasy football. Some were fluky, some were legit. We're here to break down the BDGE wide receiver rankings for 2019 fantasy football. yuhhhhh.
With Deshaun Watson. Without Deshaun Watson. With Will Fuller. Without Will Fuller. Don't matter. DeAndre Hopkins at 1. WR1. Finishing behind only Julio in receiving yards (1,572), D-Hop played in all 16 games for the 5th time in 6 years finishing as fantasy's WR2 overall, WR4 PPG. With Watson "healthy" for the 2018 campaign, Hopkins set career-highs in receptions, receiving yards and fantasy points. Hopkins had that anomaly 78-954-4 season in 2016 but from 2015-2018 (excluding 2016), Hopkins has averaged 176 targets, 107.3 receptions, 1,490 receiving yards and has scored at least 11 touchdowns and averaged greater than 17.0 FPPG (half ppr) in all three seasons. He set an NFL record this year, catching all 115 of his catchable targets without a single drop. He's as consistent as they come, with arguably the highest ceiling and floor combo as anyone in fantasy football. With a QB like Watson under center who, for better or worse, slings it deep constantly, ranking 4th in air yards/attempt, Hopkins operates as a possession receiver, a deep threat, and an endzone threat. You don't need to think too hard about this one. This one, however, you will need to think a bit harder about. Almost completely opposite from a fantasy production POV, Davante Adams and Julio Jones are interchangeable to me at WR2 and WR3. Adams tied Antonio Brown for this year's WR1 in fantasy (FPPG), never scoring fewer than 12 fantasy points. There were games that it seemed Aaron Rodgers looked at Davanta Adams like Joe Goldberg looked at Beck. That led Adams to seeing 12 or more targets in more than half of his games in 2018. His 29.2% target market share was 3rd in the NFL, and his RZ target share of a ridiculous 44.3% was number one. Rodgers simply didn't and still doesn't have another weapon in this offense that he trusts. Adams just turned 26, he's coming into his prime and he's the number one weapon for the world's best quarterback. It's pretty simple. Adams, similar to last year, is a lock for double-digit scores and likely the odds-on favorite to lead the NFL in receiving touchdowns. What's more is that I actually see spots to improve, from both an efficiency and volume standpoint. I was surprised to see that despite catching passes from Rodgers, Adam's ranked 67th in catchable target rate, 53rd in target quality rating and 64th in target accuracy, per PlayerProfiler.com. Imagine if Aaron Rodgers didn't fuckin stink!!! And, despite seeing the 2nd most RZ targets in 2018 (31), he was tied for 23rd (8) 10-zone targets. Perhaps a few more targets down there and we're looking at a 15+ TD campaign from Adams. While consistency plagued Davante Adams this year, Julio Jones' production was odd, to put it one way. Tha gawd led the league in both targets (170) and yards (1,676), but failed to top 8 receiving touchdowns for the sixth consecutive year, thanks to a scoreless 7 games to kick off the 2018 season. But he got it done for fantasy owners regardless, notching his fifth straight 80-catch, 1,400-yard season. Jones topped the 100-yard mark in a league-high 10 games, exceeding 20 FPs in 8-of-16 games, ZAMN. If Julio picks up in 2019 where he left off this season, we're looking at fantasy's WR1. It's great to see that even with "breakout" years from rookie wideout Calvin Ridley and Austin Hooper, Julio still led the NFL in targets. Expect the usual Julio numbers in 2019. One concern I did have was this: The next few picks are also super close, and will depend on your league scoring type as well as a couple of moves that take place this summer. If there's one thing I know, it's that I want a piece, if not 6 pieces of the Kansas City offense in 2019, how could you not? Whether that comes via Mahomes, Travis Kelce or Tyreek Hill, I don't really care tbh. Buuuuut, I would absolutely love to own Hill, considering he'll take the WR4 spot in my rankings, after finishing as the WR1 overall in fantasy in 2018. Hill caught 87 passes on 137 targets for 1,479 yards and 12 touchdowns, adding another 151 rushing yards and a score, AND a return TD. Hill defies anything we've ever seen from a fantasy WR, or any NFL WR1, really. It's nearly impossible to post WR1 numbers without elite levels of consistency, but Hill really was boom-or-bust. While he scored 25+ FPs in 5-of-16 games, including three week-winning 33+ point games, he also scored fewer than 11.5 FPs in half of his games. That's not good. What's "might be" encouraging are Hill's splits with Sammy Watkins on the field. It honestly feels like Watkins just didn't play this year, really: While the volume remained nearly the same, Hill was more efficient, racking up more receptions, yards and touchdowns, likely due to the defense spreading out further with Watkins on the field then they already have to. At the end of the day, this is probably going to be the league's best offense in 2019 and Hill is their most explosive weapon. He has week-winning upside every time he steps out there, so pair him with a stable WR2 and you should be alright. If we're in a full PPR league, Michael Thomas probably becomes the pick at WR4, but in half PPR I like Hill's lower reception total but the higher WoW ceiling. Michael Thomas, after catching 125 passes in 2018, the fifth highest single-season total in NFL history, is my WR5. That's almost 40 receptions more than Tyreek Hill. Thomas added 9 scores on 147 targets, catching everything thrown his way, racking up a career-high 1,405 yards. Thomas was a little more boom-or-bust then people realized, however. Like his teammate Alvin Kamara, Thomas started the year off at a blistering pace, but cooled down tremendously when October hit:
The offense in New Orleans is great, but Brees actually makes me a little bit nervous. He ain't really got that sauce anymore, especially on his deep balls. Brees, while ridiculously efficient with a 32:5 TD-to-INT ratio, threw his fewest pass attempts (489) since 2004 in San Diego and failed to hit the 4,000-yard receiving mark for the first time since 2005. If you're looking at these numbers and saying, hmmm, doesn't that mean positive regression? I would say that if any of his stats are looking at regression, it's his TD rate. He threw 32 TDs no just 489 attempts, a 6.5% rate. His career rate is 5.3%, in NOR it's 5.5%. It's the first time that number has been higher than 5.5% since 2013. Over the last five years starting in 2017 and moving backward, his TD pass rates were: 4.3%, 5.5%, 5.1%, 5.0%, and 6.0%. If there's a number that I see changes drastically for Brees, it's the TD rate. It might not seem like a lot, but a dip from his 6.5% down to his career average in New Orleans of 5.5% results in 5 fewer passing TDs for the Saints QB. He also ranked 19th in deep-ball attempts per PlayerProfiler, which resulted in a drop-off in deep targets YoY for Michael Thomas from 22 down to 12. So, while MT is getting more volume, it's not necessarily valuable volume outside of full PPR leagues and this seems the direction the Saints are insistent on staying with. Getting the ball out quick, running the ball a ton, and keeping Brees upright and healthy. For that reason, I don't think Thomas has the ceiling that a lot of people might think he does. Right behind MT is Antonio Brown and Brown's ranking is going to shift dramatically based on where he winds up when all is said and done. There's clearly beef between Brown and the Steelers. Brown's got some screws up in his head loose, on Twitter looking like the second coming of Coolio At this point we've heard reports from there's no chance Brown returns, to he wants to play in San Francisco, to the Steelers front office wants him back in 2019. per BetDSI
These are Brown's destination odds for the 2019 season. I think the Steelers are +1500 are a huge value (sign up at MyBookie to hit that shit!!! The way I look at it, it's a big downgrade going anywhere outside of Pittsburgh. The "chemistry" between Ben and Brown is unmatched, on the field. He forces it to Brown no matter what. Who knows if a new QB feels comfortable doing that with a guy the size of Brown. The way I look at it, there's really nowhere to go but down a bit for AB. He's still my WR6, and it depends greatly where he lands, I mean the Jets, Bills & Cardinals are 3 of the top 4 teams in terms of landing spots odds, all will crush his fantasy outlook in 2019. My WR7 might come as a surprise to some, and I think he will be tremendously undervalued in drafts. He's currently being drafted as WR10 and WR12, pick 30 and 25 overall per DRAFT and FantasyFootballCalculator. That's T.Y. Hilton. The last time Hilton played a full season with Andrew Luck, in 2016, he was the WR5 in fantasy football, he caught 91 passes for an NFL-high 1,448 yards and 6 touchdowns. Luck is back. And he's going to be better in 2019 then he was in 2018. This offensive line is going to be better in 2019 then it was in 2018 if that's possible. People will likely remember a semi injury-plagued year for Hilton in 2018, which is true, but he played in 14 games and finished with 76 catches for 1,270 yards and 6 touchdowns, a 16-game pace of 87 receptions, 1,451 yards and 7 touchdowns. That was despite having just a 22% target share on the team, 20th among NFL WRs and an endzone target share of 13%, 79th among WRs. He still saw those long balls though, which is where he excels. He saw 34% of the Colts air yards in 2018, 8th among NFL WRs, he had the 5th most 20+ yard catches and 2nd most 40+ yard catches, while only playing in 14 games. With the o-line playing at an elite level, Luck will have all day to let Hilton open up down the field. Hopefully, they can add a complimentary piece to Hilton opposite him this offseason.
Mike Evans is a guy I've consistently faded since he's entered the league. Because he's so inconsistent from a TD POV. In 2018, however, Evans had arguably is best career season, from an efficiency standpoint it certainly was. A year after finishing with just five touchdowns and a 20 game stretch without topping 100 receiving yards, Evans caught 86-of-135 targets, for 1,525 yards and eight touchdowns, topping 100 receiving yards 8 times, in 50% of his games. Coming into 2018, Evans had a career catch-rate of 53.7%, he upped that by a full 10% in 2018 (63.7%), he also upped his career YAC by nearly 50% in 2018. His 17.7 YPR was not only a career-high but a major step up from his career 14.8 YPR. It was truly a career-year for Evans. Looking at 2019, Evans is actually a really intriguing case study for a few reasons. Both Dirk Koetter and Todd Monken are gone and Bruce Arians will take over as the HC in Tampa Bay. Between his time as the OC in PIT (07-11), IND (2012) and as the HC in ARZ (2013-2017), Arian produced a slew of top fantasy WRs. Fitzgerald was obviously a stud in Arian's final three years with the Cardinals, the dip in 2014 was a result of Drew Stanton and Ryan Lindley playing QB, otherwise, Arians produces a top-15 fantasy WR nearly every single year that he's running an offense. Excluding the 2014 season and his first year as the PIT OC back in 2007, the WR1 in a Bruce Arians offense finishes with 89.4 catches on 140 targets, resulting in 1159 yards (over 1,000 yards in 8-of-9) and 7.4 TDs. That's 205 fantasy points, which will typically net you a top-10 fantasy WR. Those aren't jaw-dropping stats for those looking to draft Evans, but that proves consistency, and there are of course the players that went way over those stats and Evans is definitely a guy that can do that. I'm excited to see what Arians can turn this offense into with Winston at quarterback. I know Evans started off hot, and you might think he won't perform as well with Winston under center, but that's not true: He performed better in games that Winston was their QB in 2018. A huge piece of Evans' outlook, in my opinion, will be what happens with DeSean Jackson. Jackson can be let go without any penalty to the Bucs freeing up $10 million in the cap. However, Jackson's might want to stay now that Arians is here. We saw what a speedster like Jackson can do in an Arians offense. John Brown in 2015 going over 1,000 yards, Mike Wallace for a couple of years in Pittsburgh. If Jackson leaves, that will be a HUGE boost for Evans' 2019 fantasy outlook. It'll be a hit to Winstons, and the Bucs offense overall, but Evans will likely return to his 10+ target/game numbers we saw pre-DeSean Jackson ('15 & '16). AND a ton of those newly added targets will be deep balls. Evans already gets a ton of those. He paced the entire NFL in air yards in 2018, despite only seeing 139 targets. Other WR1s like Julio, AB, D-Hop, Davante, were pushing 170. He was #1. That was WITH DeSean Jackson also ranking in the top-25 in air yards and an average target distance (18.9) ranking 2nd in the entire NFL. Evans ranked 2nd in the NFL with 26 catches of 20+ yards and tied for 2nd in 40+ yard catches. While it was a big year for the Bucs wideout, he did have a big chunk of games (5), resulting in fewer than 60 receiving yards and 0 touchdowns. Those were just week killers for you. But he had just as many (5) games of 21+ FPs. So, technically you could describe him as a boom-or-bust player, but if Jackson is gone, the bump in volume will be enough to raise his ceiling and floor to the point of liking him here. I imagine the debate between JuJu Smith-Schuster and Odell Beckham Jr. is one that's going to be a hot topic all summer. What happens to Antonio Brown is largely going to effect JuJu's outlook, but I'm probably going with the 22-year old regardless. Even with Antonio Brown soaking up the 2nd most targets (164) in the NFL, JuJu's volume (161 - 4th most) was intact. JuJu caught 111 passes for 1,426 yards and seven touchdowns. His target share of 24.5% was still just 14th highest in the NFL, there's room for improvement for sure. What do you think will happen if Brown is gone. JuJu might see 185+ targets. He was someone I was super high on coming into 2018 and he outdid my expectations. He wins all over the field, top-10 in air yards, air yard market share, 20+ and 40+ yard catches, so he gets the deep balls. He gets the looks down by the endzone, 2nd most RZ targets in the entire NFL, and 4th most 10zone targets in the NFL, which makes sense given he had the 11th best-contested catch rate among NFL WRs in 2018, after having the 3rd highest in 2017. That RZ area is where defenses get tight and you need strong hands. That's a huge area of possible production spike we'll likely see in 2019. JuJu only scored 7 times this year, on 166 targets (4.2%). Last year, he scored seven times on less than half (79) targets. So that's almost a definite increase. You're getting a ton of targets, near the EZ, are very good at catching them, so somethings gotta give. Well, he was tackled inside-the-5, six separate times last year, and 5 of those came inside-the-2. He could just as easily had 12 touchdowns as he did 7 and you're looking at a top-5 fantasy WR. He's going to score 10+ times in 2019, and if Brown is gone, I wouldn't be surprised to see him have an absolutely monster year, flirting with 15+ scores. Oh, he's also been top-2 in YAC in both 2017 and 2018. This ranking might not be high enough tbh. The other thing about JuJu, as I like to play devil's advocate is this.
So, OBJ. Sure, he has the ceiling. But It looks like JuJu does, too. On a per-game basis, OBJ has arguably had the best start to a career of any WR in NFL history, averaging over 20 PPR FPs/game, double-digit targets, 6.6 receptions, 93 yards and a touchdown in 3-of-4 games. But I think we really need to start asking ourselves if OBJ's injury concern is a thing. He's played in a total of 16 games over the last two years, dealing with ankle, hamstring, hip and quad issues during his career. SIP, in my experience, has been really good, really accurate at projecting injuries. Sure, maybe you don't believe in this kind of stuff, but from what I've seen, for real, it's been pretty damn accurate. It has OBJ projected to miss over 7 games in 2019. There's no question that when he's on the field, he's elite. Speaking of elite, you can't spell it without Eli. Do you really want your WR1 catching passes from Eli? Eli was PFF's 32nd graded QB, behind Blake Bortles, 22nd in adjusted completion percentage, 22nd in deep ball accuracy, 26th in accuracy under pressure which is a huge problem given their o-line, pressured on the 8th most dropbacks. That's the other piece of the OBJ puzzle. I likely won't be using a Round 2 pick on him.