Early 2017 dynasty position rankings: WR and TE
Last week, I broke down the most recent updates to my dynasty quarterback and running back rankings. Today, we’ll hit up wide receivers and tight ends.
As a reminder, all listed ages are for next season’s opening day. These rankings are based on standard scoring and would only change slightly for PPR. Like we did with quarterback and running back, you’ll notice that these rankings prioritize youth.
|1||Odell Beckham Jr.||NYG||24.8|
If you have the first pick in a dynasty startup draft, the decision should be fairly easy. Odell Beckham has put up monster numbers as a pro, with over 1,000 yards and double-digit touchdowns in each of his first three seasons. We haven’t seen a player this prolific early in his career since Randy Moss. Better yet, Beckham won’t even be 25 on opening day. With the shelf life much longer at wide receiver than at running back, you could very well get eight more years of high end production out of Beckham.
Likewise, Mike Evans will only be 24 when the season starts. He’s coming off a massive season where he led all receivers in targets with 168, and proved the “bad hands” narratives woefully inaccurate with just seven drops on the year. Unlike Beckham, Evans has a young quarterback who is still on the upslope of his career.
After the Big 2, it’s difficult to make an argument against two of the two redraft options in Antonio Brown and Julio Jones. Both players are still under 30 years old, and provided they stay healthy, will still provide several years of high-end production. The same can also be said for A.J. Green.
But there’s also a need to project forward in dynasty startups. You’ll notice the top 20 doesn’t even remotely resemble re-draft rankings for the position. Players like Jordy Nelson, Dez Byant and T.Y. Hilton slide back slightly. While Amari Cooper, Sammy Watkins and Allen Robinson move up due to age.
You’ll also need to evaluate the long-term career arc of players who have yet to fully hit, or potentially haven’t hit at all. DeVante Parker and Corey Coleman are former first-rounders who have flashed at the pro level and offer high ceilings. Josh Doctson and Laquon Treadwell are also former Day 1 picks with upside, but neither has done anything in the NFL outside of Doctson’s 57-yard reception in Week 2. So it’s really a balance that you need to strike between established productivity and potential future fantasy output.
I’m not going to lie to you. Tight end is pretty rough right now. Injuries, inconsistency, and a general lack of incoming talent has left very few desirable options at the position. Unfortunately, that starts at the top with Rob Gronkowski and Jordan Reed. Don’t get me wrong. Both players are fantastic, but we need to use the qualifier “when healthy.” Injuries are always going to be a concern with these two, and that needs to be considered if you plan to take either player in a startup.
Hunter Henry stands out as arguably the most appealing option in the top 10. He’s coming off a strong rookie campaign where he didn’t suffer some of the growing pains we tend to see with first-year tight ends. With Antonio Gates on his last legs, Henry figures to be a fantasy force in short order. He has the skill set to be an elite-level fantasy option.
There’s also appeal in two of Henry’s draft class cohort. By many accounts, Tyler Higbee was this past draft’s most athletic tight end. We didn’t get to see much of him in his rookie campaign, but his arrow is point up. Likewise, Austin Hooper has a lot of appeal in a favorable offense in Atlanta.
An ideal strategy would be to try to grab at least one of these young guns and couple him with a top-25 veteran. In addition to the three aforementioned players, we could also include Eric Ebron in the “young guns” category. There are several strong veteran options, but I’d recommend shying away from Gates and Jason Witten. Both have been fantasy stalwarts for over a decade, but each is quickly approaching his respective expiration date.