2015 Wide Receiver Rankings - Pre-Draft
Next up in our early look at 2015 fantasy football rankings is the wide receiver position.
Not that these rankings assume non-PPR scoring.
1. Antonio Brown – PIT
2. Demaryius Thomas – DEN
3. Dez Bryant – DAL
4. Calvin Johnson – DET
5. Julio Jones – ATL
6. Odell Beckham Jr. – NYG
7. Jordy Nelson – GB
Included in our top tier are the top-five fantasy wide receivers of 2014, as well as, Jones (missed one game) and Johnson (missed three games). These, of course, are your absolute superstars at the position. Brown and Bryant will cost you a first-round pick and you’ll be lucky to land any of these players after the mid-way point of the second round.
After flashing superstar potential in his first four seasons, Brown emerged as an elite fantasy option in 2014, snagging 129 balls, which is the second-highest single-season total in NFL history. A model of consistency, Brown caught fewer than seven passes just twice last season and had at least 70 yards in all 16 games. Fantasy’s No. 1 receiver in both standard scoring and PPR formats also finished third in the league with 22 end zone targets. The apple of Ben Roethlisberger’s eye, Brown has seen at least six targets in each of his last 33 games, with 12 or more targets coming in 15 of those games. Brown’s ascendant skills and a high floor/high ceiling combination positions him as the top wide receiver option in 2015.
After stumbling out of the gate to 13 catches for 141 yards and one score during the Broncos’ first three games, Thomas reeled off seven consecutive 100-plus yard performances. He topped the century mark in 10 of his final 13 games. Despite Peyton Manning’s noticeable decline, Thomas still posted career highs in catches (111) and yards (1,619) in addition to leading the league in end zone targets (23). While Manning is clearly on the downslope, there’s enough gas in the tank to sustain Thomas’ fantasy numbers for at least one more season. Thomas remains an elite fantasy wide receiver option.
Bryant finished in a dead heat with Jordy Nelson for the No. 3 spot in standard scoring and was just behind Nelson in PPR leagues last season. With Bryant, you know what you’re going to get: one of the league’s most explosive playmakers with a massive fantasy ceiling. With a combined 45 touchdowns and an average of 91 catches for 1,311 yards over the last three seasons, Bryant also offers a very fantasy-friendly floor. For fantasy purposes, no receiver was more efficient in 2014, as Bryant led the position with 0.64 fantasy points per opportunity. No player in NFL history has caught 16 or more touchdowns in back to back seasons, but Bryant is a decent bet to land in the 10-to-12 range. He remains an elite fantasy option.
While he’s no longer the consensus No. 1 fantasy receiver, Johnson is still an extremely strong option. Injuries hampered Johnson for most of the first half of 2014, but he regained his form following Detroit’s Week 9 bye, averaging 91.1 yards per game and scoring six times. Only Odell Beckham, Antonio Brown, Jordy Nelson, Dez Bryant and Demaryius Thomas outscored Johnson for fantasy purposes over that stretch. While the presence of Golden Tate draws attention of opposing defenses, this remains Johnson’s show. Tate’s target count dipped from an average of 9.4 per game to 7.6 per game after Johnson’s return last season. Johnson is a rock-solid second-round pick.
In a disappointing season where the Falcons struggled with offensive consistency, Jones still managed to post a Top 10 fantasy season. He finished as the No. 8 receiver in both standard scoring and PPR formats. Jones topped 100 yards seven times and displayed his massive ceiling in Week 11 when he went off for 259 yards and a score on 11 catches. Kyle Shanahan taking over as offensive coordinator in Atlanta bodes extremely well for Jones’ fantasy stock. As shown by Andre Johnson’s success under Shanahan in Houston and Pierre Garcon’s career year in 2013, Shanahan’s offense features the “X” receiver. One of the league’s premier players and still in his prime, Jones offers one of the highest fantasy ceilings among this year’s receiver crop.
After missing the first four games of the season and averaging five targets over the next three games, Beckham burst onto the fantasy scene, unleashing an historic stretch of performances over New York’s next nine games. During that stretch, Beckham caught 81 balls for 1,199 yards and nine touchdowns. Extrapolated over a full season, that’s a video game-like stat line of 144-2,132-16. An explosive playmaker, Beckham was also used heavily in the red zone. Only seven receivers saw more end zone targets (18). While the hype train is running full speed ahead, we’re not quite ready to put Beckham ahead of the more proven commodities. With that said, it’s impossible to ignore his 2014 output. Beckham’s fantasy ceiling is enormous.
The fantasy community finally caught on to Nelson last season, and for good reason. Nelson finished as fantasy’s No. 3 receiver in both standard and PPR formats. Only three wide receivers saw more targets (142) in the regular season – Antonio Brown, Demaryius Thomas and Julio Jones. Nelson was also the fourth most-targeted receiver in the end zone with 19. Nelson is now on the wrong side of 30, but 2014 showed there’s still plenty of fuel left in the tank. Paired with arguably the player in the league in Aaron Rodgers, Nelson remains a strong fantasy commodity who offers high upside in the second round.
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8. Mike Evans – TB
9. Alshon Jeffery – CHI
10. Randall Cobb – GB
11. A.J. Green – CIN
12. Emmanuel Sanders – DEN
Our second tier rounds out your WR1 options in most formats. Four of the five finished among the top-11 fantasy wide receivers in 2014, with Green (missed four games) being the only exception. A second or third-round pick will be required in order to land any of these players.
Though he was overshadowed by fellow rookie, Odell Beckham Jr., Evans put together one of the most impressive rookie seasons from a statistical standpoint in NFL history. Evans posted the rare double of 1,000-plus yards and double-digit touchdowns. He also finished as the No. 11 receiver in standard scoring fantasy leagues. Interestingly, Evans’ production wasn’t a product of volume. He ranked 24th among receivers in regular season targets (116), but 19 came in the end zone, which tied for fourth in the league. Evans failed to find pay dirt in only two of his final nine games, racking up 10 scores over that span. With Jameis Winston under center, Tampa Bay’s quarterback situation is much-improved, but rookies are obviously far from a sure bet. Still, we’re willing to place our chips on Evans as a back-end WR1.
One of the league’s up-and-coming stars, Jeffery was one of fantasy’s most consistent receivers last season with at least 100 yards or a touchdown in 11-of-16 games. From Weeks 11-16, Jeffery found the end zone seven times. Even with Brandon Marshall in the mix, Jeffery ranked fourth in the league with 19 end zone targets. He trails only Marshall in the category over the past two seasons. With Marshall now out of the mix, Jeffery is the clear-cut No. 1 receiving option in Chicago. He’s slated to play the Demaryius Thomas role in Adam Gase’s offense, which bodes very positively for Jeffery’s fantasy stock. Jay Cutler’s future is in question, but he’s been a productive player when active. Jeffery is an ascending talent and has an excellent chance to repeat as a WR1.
Cobb got things started with a bang in 2014, scoring 11 times over the Packers’ first nine games. That production regressed down the stretch, as he scored only twice during the final seven games of the regular season. Cobb is extremely efficient, but volume is a concern. Cobb topped double-digit targets just four times in the regular season, and among the Top 10 fantasy receivers, only T.Y. Hilton saw fewer than Cobb’s 125 targets. Still, Cobb is the No. 2 receiving option in one of the league’s most explosive passing offenses. This, coupled with his recent track record, keeps Cobb comfortably in the WR1 mix.
Injuries hampered Green for chunks of 2014, but he was able to produce stretches of strong fantasy play. From Weeks 9-14, he rattled off five double-digit fantasy performances, culminating in a Week 14 outburst in which he snagged 11 balls for 224 yards and a score against the Steelers. During that span, only four players produce more fantasy points per opportunity (0.64). Green also led all qualifying receivers last season with 2.96 yards per route run, meaning Green was the most productive player on a per-route basis. While the lackluster quarterback play of Andy Dalton somewhat limits Green’s ceiling, he remains a viable WR1.
Stop us if you’ve heard this before, but Peyton Manning tends to have a positive effect on a receiver’s production. After four humdrum seasons in Pittsburgh, Sanders blasted into the fantasy stratosphere, posting 1,404 yards and nine touchdowns on 101 catches in his first season with the Broncos. Sanders was the eighth most-effective receiver on a per-route basis (2.45) and finished as fantasy’s No. 6 receiver. An extremely efficient receiver, Sanders dropped just two of the 103 catchable balls thrown his way. Only Jeremy Maclin and Larry Fitzgerald had a low drop rates. While Sanders may regress slightly under Gary Kubiak this season, we still like him as a borderline WR1.
13. DeAndre Hopkins – HST
14. T.Y. Hilton – IND
15. Kelvin Benjamin – CAR
16. Julian Edelman – NE
Our third tier is a small one, but these players don’t have quite the ceiling we see in previously-discussed players, but make for safer investments than those we’ll discuss later. Expect three of these wide receivers to come off the board in the third round and Edelman to provide a value in the fourth or fifth.
Following a solid rookie year in which he put up 802 yards on 52 catches, Hopkins took a step forward in his sophomore season. A big-play threat, Hopkins caught all 12 of his catchable deep targets for 458 yards and four scores. He ranked 23rd among wide receivers with 120 targets, but a hefty 15.4 yards per reception mark allowed him the 12th-most receiving yards (1,210). Of course, there were only so many balls to go around with Andre Johnson on the field. With Johnson now in Indianapolis, it’s fair to expect a slight uptick in Hopkins target total. Despite Houston’s suspect quarterback situation, Hopkins is good enough and will see enough targets volume to warrant WR1 consideration.
Andrew Luck’s top target, Hilton posted a career high in yards (1,345) and finished as the No. 10 fantasy receiver last season. One of the league’s better deep threats, Hilton was 20-plus yards down field on 25.2 percent of his targets, and five of his seven scores came on a deep target. Big play ability abounds, but this also means Hilton doesn’t see many end zone targets. We don’t expect much to change here, especially with Andre Johnson now in Indy. Johnson will see his share of Luck’s targets, but his presence will also attract the attention of opposing defenses resulting in less double-coverage for Hilton. Still, his fantasy value is capped as a high upside WR2.
Entering last season, 13 rookie receivers in NFL history had topped 1,000 yards. Now there are 16, and Benjamin is one of them. The 6-foot-5 receiver quickly established himself as Cam Newton’s top target. With the Panthers extremely thin at wide receiver, Benjamin saw 27 percent of Carolina’s targets and tied with Demaryius Thomas for the most end zone targets (23). Only four players saw more total targets (142). Drops were a problem, as only Mohamed Sanu exceeded Benjamin’s regular season total of 11. One of the league’s biggest wide receivers and a featured target, especially near the goal line, Benjamin is an ascending player and a strong WR2 option.
Since Wes Welker’s departure from New England, Edelman has established himself as Tom Brady’s favorite target not named Rob Gronkowski. Over the last two seasons, Edelman has racked up 2,028 yards and 10 scores on 197 catches. Including the playoffs, he saw double-digit targets in seven of the Patriots’ final nine games in 2014. While he won’t threaten double-digit touchdowns, Edelman’s target volume ensures a high fantasy floor. Edelman makes for a low ceiling WR2 option in standard scoring leagues with high-end WR2 value in PPR formats.
17. Brandin Cooks – NO
18. Keenan Allen – SD
19. Vincent Jackson – TB
20. Andre Johnson – IND
21. Eric Decker – NYJ
22. Jordan Matthews – PHI
23. Brandon Marshall – NYJ
24. Sammy Watkins – BUF
Tier 4 rounds out our WR2 options. We have a nice mix of veterans (Jackson, Johnson, Decker, Marshall) and youth (Cooks, Allen, Matthews, Watkins). A majority of these wide receivers will come off the board during the fourth and fifth rounds, so be on the lookout for a steal in the sixth.
Many football pundits touted Cooks as the most likely of last year’s rookie receivers to make a Year 1 impact. We caught flashes of Cooks’ potential and, although his production was inconsistent, he was a Top 20 PPR receiver over the first eight weeks of the season. He was on pace to catch 85 balls for 997 yards before he landed on injured reserve in Week 12 with a broken thumb. Looking forward to 2015, Cooks is in line for an expanded role. The departure of Kenny Stills and Jimmy Graham means there are a lot of balls to go around. Our money is on Cooks to emerge as Drew Brees’ top target. With game breaking speed and youth on his side, Cooks has breakout written all over him.
Another one of the young guns at the wide receiver position, Allen experienced a sophomore slump after his breakout rookie campaign. Despite catching six more balls (77), Allen was utilized in more of a possession role, which led to a yardage dip from 1,046 in 2013 to 783 last season. Worse yet, a dip in usage near the goal line caused a drop from eight touchdowns in his rookie season to just four in 2014. There’s still a lot to like here. Allen is young (23) and has the size/speed profile of a No. 1 receiver. We like his chances of rebounding, and consider Allen a high-upside WR2.
Up to this point in his career, the best quarterback Johnson has played with is Matt Schaub. This year, he’ll have Andrew Luck throwing him the ball. Need we say more? Sure, Johnson sits in the twilight of his career at age 34, but there’s still some tread left on the tires. Despite finishing outside the Top 40 receivers last season, Johnson ranked sixth at the position with 141 targets. The problem with Johnson, as it has been for much of his career, is a lack of touchdowns. In 12 NFL seasons, Johnson has never topped double-digit scores. Operating in Indianapolis’ pass-heavy, high-scoring offense, don’t be surprised if he gets over that hump in 2015. Johnson is a back-end WR2.
Overall, Jackson didn’t do his fantasy owners many favors in 2014. He managed three 100-yard performances and found the end zone twice, in Weeks 3 and 4. But Jackson’s production wasn’t due to lack of opportunities. He was the league’s ninth-most targeted receiver and 15 of his 138 opportunities came in the end zone. His 13.3 percent end zone conversion rate is extremely low and very likely to regress for the better in 2015. With probable No. 1 overall pick Jameis Winston expected to be under center and Dirk Koetter in at offensive coordinator, we expect Jackson’s touchdown tally to rebound. Jackson’s subpar 2014 campaign means you’ll be grab him at a draft day discount.
Now over a full season removed from his time in Denver, Decker is coming off a surprisingly solid season given some ugly circumstances. Despite the Jets’ quarterback merry-go-round and Rex Ryan’s run-heavy offense, Decker still managed 74 catches for 962 yards and five touchdowns. He certainly padded those numbers with a massive Week 17 performance (10-221-1), but he’s shown he’s not just a product of Peyton Manning. Some have suggested that Brandon Marshall will siphon targets away from Decker, but we envision a slight uptick with Rex Ryan and his run-heavy scheme out of the mix. With new offensive coordinator Chan Gailey’s spread offense in place, Decker is shaping up as an undervalued WR2.
Not one of the highest profile rookies in last year’s class, Matthews flew under the radar for much of the first half of last season. He came on down the stretch, catching six touchdowns over the Eagles’ final nine games. Working nearly exclusively out of the slot, just four of Matthews’ 98 targets came when he lined up outside the numbers. With Jeremy Maclin now in Kansas City, Matthews is sure to see more work on the outside by default, but questionable separation skills means Chip Kelly will continue to keep him busy in the slot on passing downs. Think Marques Colston 2.0 and thus a solid, high-floor WR2.
A fantasy superstar over the last eight seasons, Marshall will start the next chapter in his NFL career with the Jets. Marshall has offered one of the highest fantasy floors among wide receivers, topping 1,000 yards each season spanning 2007-13. Over the past three seasons, the physical receiver snagged 31 touchdowns, though they came on a league-high 86 end zone targets. Sitting on the wrong side of 30 and heading to lesser offense, Marshall’s best fantasy days are in the rearview, but he’ll see enough volume in Chan Gailey’s spread offense to allow a bounce-back season. He’s a high-floor, low-ceiling back-end WR2.
While his production didn’t rival that of fellow rookie Odell Beckham, Watkins managed a solid line of 65-982-6. Through his first eight games, Watkins was on pace for 76-1180-10. However, nagging hip and groin injuries, in addition to the uninspiring quarterback play of Kyle Orton, slowed Watkins’ pace. Still, when healthy, Watkins displayed the explosive playmaking ability and polished skills that made him the top wide receiver selection in what will likely go down as a legendary draft class. Rex Ryan’s run-heavy approach and lingering questions at quarterback put a damper on Watkins’ fantasy stock, but he still offers borderline WR2 value.
25. Roddy White – ATL
26. DeSean Jackson – WAS
27. Jarvis Landry – MIA
28. Jeremy Maclin – KC
29. Michael Floyd – ARZ
30. Larry Fitzgerald – ARZ
31. Golden Tate – DET
32. Allen Robinson – JAX
33. Martavis Bryant – PIT
34. Marques Colston – NO
35. Steve Smith – BLT
36. Mike Wallace – MIN
37. Brandon LaFell – NE
38. Anquan Boldin – SF
39. Torrey Smith – SF
40. Kenny Stills – MIA
The fifth tier begins to show some of the depth at the position. There are plenty of values to be had here and there’s really no good excuse to reach on any of these players. Tate, Maclin and Jackson will be expensive (fifth), but the likes of Colston, Boldin and Robinson will provide WR3 numbers and only cost you a ninth or 10th-round investment.
Ex-Eagles Jackson and Maclin found new homes over the past two offseasons. Jackson landed in Washington last year and was his volatile self, finishing as a WR2 or better eight times, but outside the Top 50 in seven other games. Jackson turns 29 this year and struggles with durability. Big plays keep him in the WR2 conversation, but his inconsistency remains an issue…Maclin reunited with Andy Reid during the offseason, but this isn’t your older brother’s Reid offense. Targets won’t be an issue for Maclin, but big plays, deep targets and touchdown production will. Chiefs’ wide receivers combined for zero touchdowns last season.
White turns 34 in November and Smith hits 35 in May. Both provided borderline WR2 production last season, but are obviously candidates for a decline. White’s value takes a slight hit after Atlanta dumped pass-heavy offensive coordinator Dirk Koetter for balanced Kyle Shanahan. Smith’s value is actually up a bit with Torrey Smith and likely Dennis Pitta out of the mix, but Baltimore is likely to add to the position via the draft. Both players have limited upside, but are worthwhile WR3 options.
Arizona restructured Fitzgerald’s contract during the offseason, but that doesn’t necessarily make him the club’s No. 1 wide receiver. He’ll share that duty with Floyd, who finished 29th in fantasy points among wide receivers last season despite the team’s ugly quarterback situation. His 18.7 average depth of target paced the entire NFL. Fitzgerald suffered a worse fate, missing two games and finishing 55th at the position. He scored two touchdowns, which was half his previous career low. With Carson Palmer back, both players are in the WR3 mix and have WR2 upside.
Miami revamped its wide receiver unit during the offseason, trading Mike Wallace and cutting both Brandon Gibson and Brian Hartline. That leaves Landry and Stills, who was acquired from New Orleans, atop the depth chart. Rather quietly, Landry finished 14th among wide receivers with 84 receptions last season, but his 5.4 average depth of target was a position-low and he saw two end zone targets. He’ll be a target hog in this offense, but he’ll require more down field/goal line work in order to really emerge. The Saints trade of Stills still has us scratching our heads, but their loss is the Dolphins’ gain. Stills has a hefty 14.3 career average depth of target, but has caught an impressive 75 percent of his targets. His 82 percent career catch rate on targets with a depth below 20 yards is best in the league over the past eight seasons. Stills has a ton of upside and Miami’s replacement for Wallace is thus an ideal WR4.
Speaking of Wallace, he heads to Minnesota where he takes over as Teddy Bridgewater’s top target. Categorized (accurately) as a big-play, deep threat, Wallace also sits fourth in the league in touchdowns since he entered the league. The cold Minnesota air won’t make life easy for Wallace, but he’s good enough and will see enough work to provide WR3 numbers…Tate enjoyed a breakout season in his first year with Detroit, but a huge chunk of his production came in games Calvin Johnson was out or limited. He was fantasy’s No. 3 wide receiver during said games, but 31st in the 12 games Johnson was a full go. Also an underwhelming producer of touchdowns thanks to his 5’10”/202 frame, Tate is unlikely to live up to his ADP this season.
Colston turned 32 during the offseason and is coming off a 32nd place finish among wide receivers in fantasy points – his worst finish since 2008. Despite his recent downward trend in production, New Orleans shipped Jimmy Graham to Seattle and Kenny Stills to Miami during the offseason. This guarantees Colston a significant offensive role opposite Brandin Cooks…LaFell was nothing short of pedestrian during his time with Carolina, but busted out to the tune of 74 receptions, 953 yards and seven touchdowns in New England last season. Still ticketed for an every-down role with Tom Brady under center, LaFell will be an undervalued WR3 option.
With Michael Crabtree and Stevie Johnson out of the mix, the 49ers’ wide receiver unit will be led by the incumbent Boldin and newcomer Smith this season. Boldin turned 34 in October, but still managed to work 90 percent of San Francisco’s offensive snaps last season. He went over 1,000 receiving yards for the seventh time in his career and finished as a WR2 for the second consecutive season. Smith is one of the league’s premier deep threats and will look to help rejuvenate Colin Kaepernick’s long game this offseason. Guaranteed to regress from his 11 touchdowns on 49 receptions last season, Smith will be too inconsistent for WR2 consideration.
Robinson and Bryant both began to emerge last season, but neither had enough time to complete the breakout. A broken foot ended Robinson’s rookie campaign after 10 games. He was fantasy’s No. 27 wide receiver when the injury occurred. Only 22, there is tremendous upside here, but Blake Bortles will need to take a step forward in Year 2. Bryant made his NFL debut in Week 7 and went on to rank sixth in the league in end zone targets the rest of the way. Ben Roethlisberger’s new toy near the goal line, Bryant used his 6-foot-4 frame and 4.4 wheels to score on eight of his 48 targets. That rate is unsustainable, but an increased sophomore-season workload would allow double-digit touchdown upside.
41. John Brown – ARZ
42. Kendall Wright – TEN
43. Brian Quick – SL
44. Doug Baldwin – SEA
45. Percy Harvin – BUF
46. Charles Johnson – MIN
47. Malcom Floyd – SD
48. Marvin Jones – CIN
49. Davante Adams – GB
50. Donte Moncrief – IND
51. Justin Blackmon – JAX
52. Rueben Randle – NYG
53. Terrance Williams – DAL
54. Cody Latimer – DEN
55. Kenny Britt – SL
56. Dwayne Bowe – CLV
57. Pierre Garcon – WAS
58. Victor Cruz – NYG
The wide receivers in our sixth tier will be available after the midway point of most drafts. There are a few solid producers who will be useful on bye weeks and several intriguing, late-round stash options.
Following a strong start to the season, Brown finished 48th among wide receivers in fantasy points thanks, mostly, to the team’s struggles at the quarterback position. He remains behind Larry Fitzgerald and Michael Floyd, but the offense will score more often with Carson Palmer back and he’ll be on the field on most passing downs…After catching 94 passes in 2013, Wright managed 57 last season, but still managed to bail out his owners with six touchdowns. That matched his career total entering the season. Wright simply isn’t used as a target near the goal line and OTD suggests he’s in for regression in the category. He’s a slightly better option in PPR formats.
Quick appeared on his way to a breakout 2014 season, hauling in 25 passes for 375 yards and three touchdowns in just over six games. A shoulder injury cut his season short, however. Quick remains atop the Rams’ depth chart, but will face competition for targets from Britt, who hauled in 48 passes for 748 yards and three touchdowns last season. Concerns for both Quick and Britt include the team’s run-heavy offense and the fact that the jury very much remains out on Nick Foles.
Following the team’s early-season trade of Percy Harvin, Baldwin took over as Russell Wilson’s target. It barely allowed WR3 production. Now behind Jimmy Graham on the target totem pole in a run-heavy offense, Baldwin should not be in starting lineups…Harvin, meanwhile, has appeared in only 23 games over the past three seasons. Durability and consistency are major concerns, but, as Buffalo’s No. 2 wide receiver and a situational rusher, he will be on the WR3 radar during weeks he’s active.
Johnson received a ton of hype down the stretch last season, but barely produced WR3 numbers from Week 11 on and had zero Top 15 finishes. Now behind Mike Wallace on the depth chart, and with Kyle Rudolph and Adrian Peterson back, Johnson is unlikely to provide WR3 numbers…Floyd actually managed a full, 16-game season in 2014 and it allowed him to finish 28th at the position in fantasy points. In fact, it may surprise you to know that he’s finished as, at least, a WR3 four of the past five years. San Diego’s primary deep threat is now 33, but is an every-down player in a decent offense.
Hopes were high for Jones last season after he scored on 10 of 51 receptions in 2013. Instead, ankle and foot injuries cost him the entire campaign. Jones obviously won’t continue his touchdown pace, and Cincinnati’s run-heavy offense limits his upside, but he’s the favorite to start opposite A.J. Green, which makes him an intriguing post-hype sleeper…The fifth-overall pick back in 2012, Blackmon has appeared in a grand total of 20 games. That includes zero last season due to a suspension. Blackmon is only 25 and has superstar upside, but his off-the-field issues make him a risky investment. The Jaguars’ offensive woes make him an even less-inspiring mid-round flier.
Adams, Moncrief and Latimer tend to be categorized together extremely often and the comparisons make sense. All were selected in the second or third round last season by teams with extremely good offenses. Similarly, all remain buried on their respective team’s depth charts, but to varying extents. Adams is third in line in Green Bay, but the Packers’ paced the league in three-wide sets last season. The Colts operate the league’s pass-heaviest scheme, but prefer to keep two tight ends on the field with T.Y. Hilton and now Andre Johnson. Latimer is the No. 3 wideout in Denver, but the hiring of Gary Kubiak will lead to a severe dip in three-wide sets, a category the team ranked fifth in last season. This trio of sophomore backs has a top of upside, but none will provide consistent numbers without an injury above them on the depth chart.
The Giants moved to an offense heavy on three-wide receiver sets last season, which makes both Cruz and Randle names worth monitoring. Once a WR1, Cruz tore his patellar tendon in 2014, which puts his status for the 2015 season opener in question. Even if he plays, his effectiveness isn’t likely to match what we’ve seen from him in the past. If Cruz is out, Randle will be busy as New York’s No. 2 wideout. If not, he’ll be demoted to third, but, as noted, that will keep him very busy on passing downs.
Williams is as cut-and-dry as they come when we’re talking touchdown regression. Including the playoffs, Williams scored on 11 of his 41 receptions. Eight came in the regular season, which allowed him to finish 40th among wideouts in fantasy points. It’s possible his usage increases in 2015, but it’s unlikely with the team leaning on the run and after Cole Beasley stole away looks down the stretch. Williams is a name to avoid.
This may seem hard to believe, but Bowe was fantasy’s No. 2-scoring wide receiver in 2010. Since that point, he’s finished outside the Top 40 in three of four campaigns and no better than 17th. Alex Smith didn’t allow him many opportunities for big plays in Kansas City, but his situation only gets worse with Josh McCown under center in Cleveland…Garcon led the NFL with 113 receptions in 2013, but predictably regressed to 68 catches in 2014 after the Redskins added DeSean Jackson and Andre Roberts to the mix, while also hiring Jay Gruden. Now sharing targets and not much of a threat near the goal line, Garcon is well off the WR3 radar.
59. Justin Hunter – TEN
60. Marlon Brown – BLT
61. Cecil Shorts – HST
62. Nick Toon – NO
63. Michael Crabtree – FA
64. Marquess Wilson – CHI
65. Rod Streater – OAK
66. Andrew Hawkins – CLV
67. Greg Jennings – FA
68. Andre Holmes – OAK
69. Riley Cooper – PHI
70. Steve Johnson – SD
71. Jermaine Kearse – SEA
72. James Jones – OAK
73. Eddie Royal – CHI
74. Markus Wheaton – PIT
75. Josh Huff – PHI
76. Marqise Lee – JAX
77. Tavon Austin – SL
78. Danny Amendola – NE
79. Cole Beasley – DAL
80. Jarius Wright – MIN
81. Cordarrelle Patterson – MIN
82. Corey Washington – NYG
83. Robert Woods – BUF
84. Miles Austin – PHI
85. Allen Hurns – JAX
86. Brian Hartline – CLV
87. Jeff Janis – GB
88. Duron Carter – IND
89. Marcus Harris – NYG
90. Philly Brown – CAR
91. Nate Washington – HST
92. Jeremy Kerley – NYJ
93. Andre Roberts – WAS
94. Paul Richardson – SEA
95. Albert Wilson – KC
96. Mohamed Sanu – CIN
97. Stedman Bailey – SL
98. Corey Fuller – DET
99. Chris Matthews – SEA
100. Dontrelle Inman – SD
Hunter has the size and has shown flashes, but he was awful last season. Year 3 is a big one…Brown and Wilson have a shot to start in Baltimore and Chicago, respectively, if their teams doesn’t upgrade via the draft…Shorts will be a WR5 as Houston’s No. 2 receiver…No. 3 on the depth chart in New Orleans, Toon is a sleeper worth monitoring…Crabtree simply hasn’t lived up to expectations and remains a free agent…Austin, Cooper and Huff may be competing for one starting spot in Philadelphia. The winner will be a WR3 sleeper. Cooper isn’t very good, but is huge, fast and a sleeper for a half dozen touchdowns…Lee and Hurns will struggle for snaps if Justin Blackmon is reinstated and Marcedes Lewis sticks around…It’s hard not to love the potential in 2014 preseason all-star Washington and Harris is another Giants wide receiver to monitor if Victor Cruz can’t return…Wright is much better than his reputation and a candidate for slot duties in Minnesota. He’ll need to fend off Patterson, who is a post-hype deep sleeper…Woods’ value took a big hit after the Bills hired Rex Ryan and Greg Roman, while also adding Percy Harvin.
Note: Updated versions of these player capsules will be available in the 2015 PFF Fantasy Draft Guide, which will be for sale in late May and updated monthly through late August.