One year in a fantasy football league, I went WR-WR-WR as my first 3 picks. I drafted, in order; Dez Bryant, Antonio Brown, Jordy Nelson. It was a 3 WR league plus a flex. I was mocked in the draft chat for picking so many WR's. I won the league. This was in 2014. I picked RB's back to back next, ending up with Lamar Miller and Mark Ingraham. Not exactly high quality RB1's but more than good enough. The point is that once you get past Le'Veon Bell, Adrian Peterson, and Jamaal Charles (we will see if the injury alters his play) there's a gaggle of RB's who won't be separated much in their production. Yet, at WR there is more separation in production than not. You can't hit a WR over the middle anymore so production has spiked, draft accordingly.
The first group of WR's is the top tier, elite guys. These are guys worthy of a first round pick. You know, your friends know it, even the guy in your league who doesn't watch football knows it. Here they are.
Antonio Brown: The closest we will ever see to Jerry Rice with his ability to run routes and separate from the defense. His TD numbers were down last year, but he is the clear cut fantasy WR number 1. Add the fact that Le'Veon Bell should be back giving him more 1 on 1 coverage and he might improve upon a season where he put up video game stats.
Julio Jones: If Brown is a comp to Jerry Rice, then Jones is a comp to Terrell Owens, but with better hands. Jones is big, strong, powerful and fast. His route running could be better when compared to other top WR (OBJ, Brown, Dez) but he is still elite and will put up elite production. WR number 2, and is pretty close too Brown. Injury history is always a concern though. If he stays healthy he will bew worthy of your first round pick.
Dez Bryant: Say what you want about last year, but you will sound dumb. Dez played last year without his QB and he was injured. Dez for my money is the best WR in the NFL. He has the same athletic ability as Julio Jones, and close route running ability to Antonio Brown, he just doesn't match their production because Dallas will run first to control the ball to help their defense. Still, considering his TD's number the 3 years prior to last year were 12, 13, and 16 he is going to be worth a first round pick, if he slips to the early 2nd draft him.
After those top 3, you have some guys who might be worthy of the first round depending how your draft plays out. But I wouldn't let them slip past the 2nd or 3rd personally.
Golden Tate: Over 90 catches the last two years. 1K yards one and really close the next, and Calvin Johnson retired. Tate is going to put up big numbers in Detroit. He's already put up solid numbers being the #2 option. Tate has number 1 WR talent, and he's going to show it. In what will essentially be a contract year for him, my guess is he puts up something like 100 catches 1,300 yards and 10 TD's. A much better WR than Maple Bar thief, Tate is one of my sleeper players.
O'Dell Beckham Jr. Yes you should draft him before Tate. If the top 3 guys are all gone first round and you're picking in the bottom of the first round, you take him in the first. OBJ will be great again, my hesitation on him being in the top tier guys is the offense he's in. The Oline is bad, likely worse than last year. It's a new coach. Tom Coughlin's specialty was WR play. With a new HC and likely a lot more double teams, OBJ is a rung below. Still a Fantasy #1 but not a clear cut producer like the other guys. Long TD receptions make up a lot of his TD's and points, if he's double covered high and low those will slow. He also can't feast on the NFC south this year.
DeAndre Hopkins: Another guy I have ranked above Tate overall, just not in the format of the blog. Hopkins is my number 4 WR next year. We have to ask though, is his QB play really getting better? I'm skeptical of Osweiler. He's probably a small upgrade but that might not be a fantasy improvement. A dip in production for Hopkins is more likely to come from the addition of Lamar Miller. In Miami Miller was under used. In Houston I see him getting a lot of Carries as the Texans play ball control and trust their defense to win games while Osweiler learns how to Quarterback.
Six WR's I think you should definitely draft. Problem is, most people know you should draft them. They might be gone. How do you get an advantage? Stay away from potentially bad picks. Here are some WR's I think you should stay away from next year.
Doug Baldwin: Yes Baldwin just signed a big contract. Yes Baldwin just caught 14 TD's last year. No he won't do that again next year. Over a 4 game run, Baldwin caught 21 passes for 366 yards and 10 TD's. Over the other 12, he aught 57 passes, 703 yards and 4 TD's. Those 12 games over a 16 game average are 76 passes, 936 yards, 5 TD's. Even those modest numbers are a bump over his career averages. His 16 game average I just provided is more likely what he'll produce next year. You can get that from a #2 on some teams. That's what Michael Crabtree did in Oakland last year, but with less TD's and less catches. Do yourself a favor and don't over draft Doug Baldwin.
Sammy Watkins: If he could stay healthy, he would be a HUGE producer, but he can't stay healthy. In fact he's already hurt and might miss some training camp time. It sucks because I think he's a big time talent and could be a top5 WR in the league, but he can't stay healthy. Stay Away until later round, somewhere in rounds 8-10 he's worth the gamble.
Demaryius Thomas: This has nothing to do with his talent and production from past years. He is a very productive player. A WR1 for 3 straight years, but the system he's in now won't benefit him as much. I know you're saying "but they didn't get a new coach" yes I'm aware. But the offense was ran by Peyton last year, not Gary Kubiak. The Broncos will be running the ball a lot more this year, that's going to equal a dip in production for DMT. Ideally he would be your WR 2, and a very good one.
Now for some sleepers. Everyone knows fantasy is one by how you wavier, and how your sleeper picks that work out. Here are my sleeper WR's.
Keenan Allen: Played only 8 games last year, over those 8 games he caught 67 passes, 725 yards, and 4 TD's. Averaged out over a whole year, that's 134 catches, 1,450 yards, and 8 TD's. Those are fantasy WR 1 numbers on many teams. He might slip and be your number 2, steal Keenan Allen.
Torrey Smith: Played on an offense so bad last year you would think the aliens from Space Jam stole his talent. But, now the 49ers are coached by Chip Kelly. The same Chip Kelly who made Riley Cooper a fantasy producer. Made Nick Foles a 31 TD 2 int Quarterback. Looking at DeSean Jackson's best year came under Chip Kelly in Philly. 82 Catches, 1,336 yards, and 9 TD's. That was from Mike Vick (washed up him anyway) and Nick Foles. Jordan Matthews last year with Bradford, and Sanchez (two terrible QB's Kelly made decent) 85 catches, 997 yards, 8 TD's. What does this mean? It means Torrey Smith who is as good as both should catch 70-80 balls and because is a better deep threat than Matthews have over 1K yards. Doesn't mean his team will be good, but Torrey will have a good year.
There you have it folks, a short guide to control the WR position in your fantasy league. Best of luck this draft season, thanks for reading.