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The pass friendly NFL over the last few years has changed the way we look at wide receivers in fantasy. While only seven running backs rushed over 1,000 yards, a mouth dropping 26 wide receivers went over 1,000 yards. Now the tables have turned – Wide receivers are becoming more valuable and reliable than running backs. Here are my top five fantasy wide receivers and sleepers.
1.) Antonio Brown, Pittsburgh Steelers (Bye week 8) – Brown jumps from being the first wide receiver taken to the first player overall in fantasy. Since 2013, Brown has 5,031 receiving yards and 375 catches; most in the NFL. At 28 years old, he’s showing no signs of slowing down. He’s a beast!
2.) Julio Jones, Atlanta Falcons (Bye week 11) – Jones had another big year in 2015 leading the NFL in receiving yards (1,871) and 136 catches. My biggest issue with Jones is during his five year career, he’s only had one double digit touchdown season (10 TDs in 2012). Hopefully it will change this season as he’ll be targeted more.
3.) Odell Beckham, New York Giants (Bye week 8) – Mr. Hands like Glue aka ODB has been a monster since coming to the league in 2014 with 187 catches, 2,755 receiving yards, and 25 touchdowns. Just 23 years old paring with a great quarterback in Eli Manning, expect another 1,400 yards and double digit touchdowns this season.
4.) DeAndre Hopkins, Houston Texans (Bye week 9) – Hopkins stats have improved every season in all three categories (52 catches/802 receiving yards/2 touchdowns in 2013; 76 catches/1,210 receiving yards/6 touchdowns in 2014; 111 catches/1,521 yards/11 touchdowns in 2015). Now he has a new quarterback in Brock Osweiler to catch from so the question is “Will they have chemistry”?
5.) A.J. Green, Cincinnati Bengals (Bye week 9) – This choice was tough because you have Allen Robinson, Jordy Nelson, Dez Bryant, and you can throw in Brandon Marshall…BUT A.J. has been the most healthy/consistent player since he came in as a rookie in 2011. Over 6,100 yards in five seasons and is expecting to have another stellar year.
Here are my sleepers in no particular order.
1.) Josh Gordon, Cleveland Browns (Bye week 13) – Very excited to see how he’ll gel with Robert Griffin III once he comes off suspension in Week 5, even though he’ll be playing against the Patriots. Still has all the assets to be a WR2 (if healthy).
2.) Mohammed Sanu, Atlanta Falcons (Bye week 11) – This is just a gut feeling. With all the emphasis on Julio Jones, somebody will need to step up and catch the ball! Sanu will surprise a lot of people with his playmaking abilities.
3.) Tavon Austin, Los Angeles Rams (Bye week 8) – Showed some flashes last year in the slot position. He’ll be relied upon a lot from rookie quarterback Jared Goff, especially dump passes.
4.) Torrey Smith, San Francisco 49ers (Bye week 8) – With Anquan Boldin gone, Smith enters this season as the No. 1 receiver for the 49ers. Giving new head coach Chip Kelly’s history of No. 1 receivers (DeSean Jackson, Jeremy Maclin and Jordan Matthews), Smith could surprise a lot of fantasy owners and be a WR3. He is worth a pick and hopefully can outperform his draft position.
5.) Marvin Jones, Detroit Lions (Bye week 10) – Now that Calvin Johnson aka Megatron has retired, Matt Stafford can now just look for the open man instead of lobbing it up to Johnson. Don’t be surprised if Jones has a better overall fantasy season than Golden Tate and Anquan Boldin.