Demaryius Thomas
Fantasy Football Draft Strategy: Wide Receiver Advice
Demaryius Thomas

Fantasy Football Draft Strategy: Wide Receiver Advice

Published Jul. 23, 2015 1:32 p.m. ET

We recently posted a running back committee preview that gave you some backfields to watch in training camp. We'll move on to wide receivers here, but they're a completely different animal. More than one player on a team can contribute, but how much?

The seven situations noted below all have some questions about who the alpha dog is, with some of the candidates being more accomplished (or just better) than others. Questions? Post a comment at the bottom, or hit me on Twitter (@jhalpin37).



Denver Broncos

Demaryius Thomas placed second among wide receivers in fantasy scoring last season, while Emmanuel Sanders was seventh. Are there two top dog wideouts in Denver? Not really. Thomas out-targeted Sanders by a margin of 184 to 141, and 83 to 57 over the final six games.

With Gary Kubiak likely to lean more on C.J. Anderson in a strong Bronco running game, there are only so many Peyton Manning passes to go around. If you weren't clear on this already - and we're pretty sure you were - Thomas is a top-five fantasy wideout, and Sanders is a clear margin behind as a WR2 sidekick.

Green Bay Packers

Jordy Nelson (98-1,519-13) was third among fantasy PPR WRs last season, with teammate Randall Cobb (91-1,287-12) finishing sixth. Both can be drafted with fantasy WR1 status, but Nelson stays atop the Packer wideout heap due to his home-run ability. You won't complain about either one, right?

If either Nelson or Cobb goes down, look for Davante Adams to gain lots of value (he's at WR42 for me).

Minnesota Vikings

The offseason's trendiest team has a couple of good wideouts to help QB Teddy Bridgewater and complement RB Adrian Peterson. Charles Johnson showed some game last season, catching 31 passes for 475 yards, including 14-235 in the final four games.

Mike Wallace was acquired from Miami during the offseason to give Bridgewater another option, and while he was perceived as an attitude issue in South Florida, he had a solid season with 10 touchdowns to go along with 67 receptions for 862 yards. Wallace has put up big numbers in the past and is still a legitimate deep threat, but the big, fast Johnson projects as the every-down "X" receiver. Unfortunately, Peterson's likely big workload and TE Kyle Rudolph's presence makes both Johnson and Wallace flex-y options. I have Wallace at WR30, and Johnson at WR32. I like Johnson, but have a bias against veterans with limited track records.

New Orleans Saints

Jimmy Graham is off to Seattle and Kenny Stills took his talents (via trade) to South Beach, so who gets all Drew Brees' attention now? The main candidates are Marques Colston, Brandin Cooks, Nick Toon and perhaps TE Josh Hill.

Colston is an old standby, but Cooks is the man now. On July 21, noted in a preview article that "there's little doubt Cooks will be Drew Brees' top target in the passing game." He might catch 90-100 passes, folks. I should move him up from WR20, right?

New York Jets

Brandon Marshall is a more accomplished receiver than Eric Decker, but the 31-year-old Marshall might be on the decline. Before missing the final three games of 2014 due to a collapsed lung, Marshall caught 61 passes for 721 yards, both of which were his lowest tallies BY FAR since 2006.

Decker finished at 74-962-5 last season, but started to click with Geno Smith late in the campaign, racking up 431 yards on 25 catches over the final four games. It's hard to hitch your wagon to any wideout whose fortunes depend so much on Geno, but Decker looks like a better bet than Marshall to creep into WR2 territory. He's my WR28 right now.

Philadelphia Eagles

Jeremy Maclin and his 143 targets are out the door to Kansas City, and there are many new faces in the Eagle offense. In addition to RBs DeMarco Murray and Ryan Mathews, the Eagles drafted Nelson Agholor with the 20th pick of the first round.

Agholor and Jordan Matthews (67-872-8) look to be Sam Bradford's top targets, along with TE Zach Ertz. Agholor looks like he'll be a solid contributor right away, but Matthews figures to lead the way, and put up bigger numbers while playing more on the outside instead of exclusively in the slot this season. Matthews looks like a solid fantasy WR2.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Tampa's twin towers had similar seasons in 2014, with Vincent Jackson catching 70 passes for 1,002 yards and two touchdowns, and Mike Evans grabbing 68 balls for 1,051 yards and 12 scores. Yes, Evans provided much better fantasy production due to his touchdown proficiency, but unusually high TD rates are tough to count on from year to year.

Most of the fantasy community is betting on the up-and-coming Evans, whose consensus ranking among analysts is WR13 (Jackson is at WR25). Evans is a big, talented receiver who won't turn 22 until August 21, and should improve in his second season. He's WR11 on my board. 



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