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Fantasy Insider: 2017 Wide Receiver Preview and Position Rankings

Scott Engel of RotoExperts.com returns for his seventh season of Fantasy Football analysis on seahawks.com. Scott is an inaugural member of the Fantasy Sports Writer’s Association’s Hall of Fame and a former FSWA Fantasy Football Writer of the Year Award Winner. He can be heard on FNTSY Radio every morning and seen on FNTSY Sports Network daily on CenturyLink’s sports package.

The wide receiver position is considered to be very deep in Fantasy Football, but needs to be a primary focus of yours in the early rounds of the draft. You start two to three wide receivers in many formats, so the better guys fly off the board pretty quickly. NFL.com default scoring requires you to start two players at the position, but you can also start a third in your flex position. Many custom leagues require three starting WRs. NFL.com does not award a point for a reception as a default, but many leagues have moved to awarding one point for a catch by now, making the pass-catchers highly coveted in the first five to six rounds as teams build out their starting lineups.

Antonio Brown is once again the first pick off the board according to NFL.com Average Draft Positions (ADPs) and in most other formats. He has caught 100-plus passes in each of the past four seasons and caught 35 total touchdowns in the past three years. He remains the top playmaker in one of the league’s most explosive passing games. Julio Jones is the second average choice on NFL.com. When he is healthy, Jones is a yardage superstar, as he has went over 1,400 yards in each of the past three years. Odell Beckham Jr. is as safe an elite player as you will find, and after scoring 195.60 points on NFL.com (fourth at the position in 2017), his ADP is third this year. Mike Evans, who led all WRs with 208.10 NFL.com points last year, rounds out the “Big Four” at the position. They all have ADPs in the range of the Top 8 of the first round.

A healthy A.J. Green could challenge to make it a “Big Five”, and Jordy Nelson, who caught 14 TD passes last year and finished second to Evans with 207.70 points, is sixth off the board. Dez Bryant, who like Green and Nelson, has a second round ADP, could be poised for a very good year after a healthy offseason as he gets into even more of a groove with Dak Prescott. Michael Thomas’ ADP is at 19.75 after a breakout rookie year in which he scored 163.70 points, ninth at the position on NFL.com. He should build on that success as he remains a primary weapon for Drew Brees.

T.Y. Hilton is a third round pick on NFL.com, but expect him to be taken earlier in PPR leagues after going over 90 receptions and 1,400 yards last year. Brandin Cooks, now in New England, has an ADP of 25.23, and should not see much of a drop-off in another diverse and potent passing game in which he will again be the featured deep threat. Amari Cooper has an ADP of 27.32, and we may not have seen the best of him yet. Once we do, I will rank him commensurate with where he is going on NFL.com, 11th off the board at WR.

The Seahawks’ Doug Baldwin has an ADP of 29.61 and was the 10th best player at the position last year on NFL.com with 159.60 standard points. Baldwin has vaulted to the upper tiers of the position over the past two years with consecutive 1,000-yard campaigns, 172 receptions and 21 TD passes. He has been the go-to guy for Russell Wilson since he arrived in the league, and Baldwin has become even more of a playmaking force over the last two years. Ideally, if you start your draft with two WRs, Baldwin fits on your roster as the WR2.

DeAndre Hopkins has an ADP of 30, and can regain his place among the league’s better wideouts with respectable play at QB this year. Demaryius Thomas (36.15 ADP) remains a very reliable WR2 and Alshon Jeffery (39.38) can re-emerge as a very good WR2 on an Eagles team that will throw the ball frequently and make him a top red zone option. Terrelle Pryor (41.10) is being undervalued, as he showed major signs of breaking out with Cleveland last year and now joins a very prolific Washington passing game. Allen Robinson (43.68) is a terrific NFL.com value with a fifth round ADP. He is a very talented WR who can certainly reclaim status as one of the better WRs in Fantasy this year.

Jarvis Landry (45.89) is one of the more dependable players in PPR formats, and Sammy Watkins (47.75) will be an outstanding value selection if he stays healthy. He can be a near-elite Fantasy WR when he is on the field. Michael Crabtree is underrated at 49.60, as he was Oakland’s best WR last year. My favorite value of all, though, may be Davante Adams at 63.32. He was the seventh best WR on NFL.com last year with 12 TD catches and 171.70 points.

Emmanuel Sanders (65.06) is another solid value for yardage, and should go earlier in PPR leagues. Julian Edelman (67.33) also gets more of a boost in non-standard formats. Keenan Allen (68.01) is a fine bargain right now on NFL.com. He is worthy of a third or fourth rounder in PPR leagues. Golden Tate (69.50) is also another WR who gets a real jump forward in PPR leagues. He has caught 90 passes in each of the past three seasons, and is Top 20 in non-standard formats.

Larry Fitzgerald was 17th in NFL.com scoring with 136.80 points last year, and he is certainly not done. Jamison Crowder is another prominent playmaker for Washington, and Willie Snead is a fine PPR WR3 as a consistent chain-mover for New Orleans. Martavis Bryant is back in Pittsburgh and is a big-play WR with a lot of upside. The Vikings have a nifty pair of pass-catchers: Stefon Diggs is a WR3 type in PPR formats, and Adam Thielen has some downfield playmaking promise. Indianapolis’ Donte Moncrief has emerged a prime TD threat on a potent offense. And certainly do not forget the Chargers’ Tyrell Williams, who finished 13th at WR last year with 147.90 points and should be a featured target for Philip Rivers again.

Some later picks for good depth and upside include Kenny Britt, now the prime option in Cleveland, Ted Ginn Jr. as a downfield guy for New Orleans, Corey Davis as an impact rookie for Tennessee, and Zay Jones as another first-year guy who can step forward for Buffalo. Another newcomer, Cooper Kupp, can be a deep sleeper for the Rams as a nifty possession type. Taylor Gabriel is a great later round pick for some big play promise.

Here are my Top 25 Fantasy WRs for PPR players this season, with full ranks available in the RotoExperts.com Xclusive Edge Fantasy Football package. Use promocode “seahawks” at checkout for a special discount at rotoexperts.com/discount.

  1. Antonio Brown, Pittsburgh Steelers
  1. Odell Beckham Jr., New York Giants
  1. Mike Evans, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
  1. Julio Jones, Atlanta Falcons
  1. A.J. Green, Cincinnati Bengals

  1. Jordy Nelson, Green Bay Packers
  1. Dez Bryant, Dallas Cowboys
  1. Michael Thomas, New Orleans Saints
  1. T.Y. Hilton, Indianapolis Colts

10. Doug Baldwin, Seattle Seahawks

  1. Davante Adams, Green Bay Packers
  1. Brandin Cooks, New England Patriots
  1. Terrelle Pryor, Washington Redskins
  1. Allen Robinson, Jacksonville Jaguars
  1. DeAndre Hopkins, Houston Texans

  1. Sammy Watkins, Buffalo Bills
  1. Keenan Allen, Los Angeles Chargers
  1. Alshon Jeffery, Philadelphia Eagles
  1. Amari Cooper, Oakland Raiders
  1. Golden Tate, Detroit Lions

  1. Jarvis Landry, Miami Dolphins
  1. Larry Fitzgerald, Arizona Cardinals
  1. Demaryius Thomas, Denver Broncos
  1. Michael Crabtree, Oakland Raiders
  1. Emmanuel Sanders, Denver Broncos

For more rankings and insights from Scott Engel and his team, register now for the Xclusive Edge Fantasy Football package right now at rotoexperts.com/discount. Seahawks.com readers get 10 dollars off with promocode “seahawks” at checkout.

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