A list of the top wide receivers to draft for the 2018 fantasy football season in PPR leagues.
1. Antonio Brown (PIT)
|Receiving Stats||Rushing Stats|
|2018 Projections||View Antonio Brown's 2018 projected stats.|
After a down year by his standards in 2016, Brown set the NFL ablaze again last year, leading the league in yards by a wide margin, despite missing two and a half games. In a down year for WR, he was an absolute monster, though his timing – his calf injury came during the fantasy playoffs – wasn't ideal. Brown averaged 9.4 YPT, fifth among the league's 27 100-target WR, and 15.8 YPC (7th). He had five games with 150-plus receiving yards, a league-leading 27 catches for 20 or more yards and tied for second with seven catches of 40-plus. At 5-10, 181, and running a poorly timed 4.56 40, Brown resembles an average man more than a freak NFL receiver. But looks can be deceiving – Brown plays more like a 4.4 runner, and his electrifying quickness makes him just about cornerback-proof. Consider what he did to Jalen Ramsey and A.J. Bouye in the AFC divisional playoffs while coming back from the calf injury – seven catches on 11 targets for 132 yards and two TDs. Brown will turn 30 in July, reaching an age where most receivers are on their downsides, but small receivers typically age better than big ones, and given his long track record of good health and no signs whatsoever of decline, this shouldn't be a major concern. That Ben Roethlisberger – who also seemed at the top of his game during the playoff loss to Jacksonville – has committed to 2018 locks Brown in as the No. 1 WR on the board. Second-year man JuJu Smith-Schuster looks like a star in the making, but given the Steelers' narrow tree, his presence might add rather than detract from Brown's value. The one wild card is the departure of offensive coordinator Todd Haley, but given that he's being replaced by former quarterbacks coach Randy Fichtner, a major scheme overhaul is unlikely.
2. Odell Beckham (NYG)
|Receiving Stats||Rushing Stats|
|2018 Projections||View Odell Beckham's 2018 projected stats.|
After missing Week 1 due to a summer ankle sprain, Beckham was on pace for a 1,200-yard, 12-score, 100-catch season through the better part of four games before breaking his ankle late in Week 5 and missing the rest of the season. Beckham is the only receiver in NFL history to post 90-1,300-10 receiving lines in his first two seasons, and he did it for three. At 5-11, 198, he has only average size, but he ran a slick 4.43 40 at the Combine, plays faster in pads and is even quicker than he is fast. One of the league's most dangerous players in space, he can beat defensive backs down the field or take a short slant to the house. And while Beckham isn't big, he plays big – Beckham can out-leap defensive backs in the end zone, and his large hands and ability to catch the ball one-handed extend his catch radius. Assuming Beckham is fully recovered – as expected – the biggest question is the Giants offense. The team is bringing back a declining, 37-year-old Eli Manning, but the departure of inept play callers Ben McAdoo and Mike Sullivan in favor of new head coach Pat Shurmur could have a major impact. After all, as offensive coordinator of the Vikings, Shurmur got 1,276 yards and 9.0 YPT out of Adam Thielen and 849 yards and 8.9 YPT out of Stefon Diggs with Case Keenum under center. Beckham is a far greater talent than either Vikings wideout and won't turn 26 until November, i.e., he's still firmly in his prime. Second-overall pick RB Saquon Barkley figures to occupy a large share of the team's offense, and third-year man Sterling Shepard will have a significant role as will second-year TE Evan Engram. But a healthy Beckham should command his usual target share, and the circumstances around him have never been better. At press time in June, coach Pat Shurmur said that Beckham, who sat out OTAs, was close to being cleared for a full return to practice.
3. DeAndre Hopkins (HOU)
|Receiving Stats||Rushing Stats|
|2018 Projections||View DeAndre Hopkins's 2018 projected stats.|
As great as Antonio Brown's season was, Hopkins' was arguably more impressive, given the positively barbaric QB play he endured for more than half the year – eight games of Tom Savage and 73 attempts from T.J. Yates. Even so, Hopkins reeled in 13 touchdowns in 15 games on a league-leading 174 targets. His per-play averages – 7.9 YPT (15th) and 14.4 YPC (10th) – were nothing special, but keep in mind he should have a healthy Deshaun Watson next year. During the six full games the duo suited up together, Hopkins posted a 45-606-7 stat line on 76 targets that prorates to 203 targets, 120 catches, 1,616 yards and 19 TDs over a full season, though his per-target (8.0) and per-catch (13.5) output was largely the same no matter who was under center. At 6-1, 215, and with a 4.46 40 during his Pro Day, Hopkins has good size and the speed to get separation, but he's not a freak in the Julio Jones or Mike Evans mold. Instead, he excels by making the seemingly impossible catch even when he's well covered and getting his toes down in bounds when there's barely an inch of room on the sidelines. In short, Hopkins' focus, concentration and ball skills allowed him to transcend some of the league's worst QB play, and in 2018 his situation should improve materially. The emergence of speedster Will Fuller could cut into some of Hopkins' downfield looks, but Fuller is the perfect complement – a small, modest-volume deep threat to occupy the defense but never threaten Hopkins' status as the team's undisputed No. 1. Hopkins missed Week 17 and the Pro Bowl with a calf injury, but he made a full recovery for offseason activities.
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