2019 Fantasy Football Draft Prep: Wide Receiver Tiers 3.0 and strategies

Wideouts bounced back in a big way last year. As a whole, receivers scored a record-high 532 touchdowns to boost their Fantasy numbers. Their running back counterparts didn't average as many Fantasy points per game in PPR based on top-12 (0.3 higher), top-24 (1.9 higher) or top-36 averages (1.8 higher). Can't remember the last time that happened.

But maybe the best news of all for Fantasy drafters is that wide receivers aren't quite as top-heavy as they were last year.

In addition to knowing your lineup requirements and scoring system, you must answer these questions:

  • How risk-averse are you?
  • How badly do you want to fill your starting lineup with no-brainers?
  • How deep do you think this position is?
  • Are you good at finding replacement receivers off waivers?

The first two questions go hand-in-hand: Wide receivers are generally safer than their running back counterparts, but they typically don't score as much in non-PPR, and only the top guys come close to matching up in PPR. The more of those "safe" picks you want for your starting group, the more receivers you should target early in your draft.

You can use my tiers to determine how deep you think the position is, but after stewing on this for six months (that's right, while you were living your life, I was studying these guys), I feel real good about the wideouts in the first four or five rounds being good starters. I'm also confident that the receivers in the fifth and sixth tiers make up a bunch of breakout and sleeper candidates who carry enough upside to warrant starting. You should find the entire class to your liking and may even decide to wait to draft your third or fourth receivers.

That last question? I'm not you, so I can't exactly answer that. But if you've played Fantasy Football for a while, you know that there are receivers with at least decent upside on waivers every week. No one who will cement himself into a starting spot, but someone who offers a chance at scoring a touchdown, going for 70 yards, etc. The better you (and we) are at finding them, the less urgency you'll need to draft deep.

Just know that nearly every Fantasy manager will select at least one very good receiver before the end of Round 3. That doesn't mean it's a mistake to lock up two of them if you want to differentiate your lineup, but that is a move that's best saved for PPR formats and smaller leagues (10 or fewer teams).  

But the safest plan on Draft Day is to pick enough receivers from the top-five or six tiers to cover your starting spots, then another two or three for the bench. And always remember that receivers who tend to play the best in Fantasy are those who regularly get a piece of the target share from good quarterbacks. When you're drafting a receiver who doesn't already carry stud status, ask yourself if he has the potential for 120 targets (to yield 70-plus receptions) and/or eight touchdowns. Those are the stats we're shooting for from the non-obvious guys in Round 6 and beyond. The more of those players you get, the more likely you'll compete for a trophy in December.     

PPR Wide Receiver Tiers

MEGA-ELITE

ELITE

ROUND 1

ROUND 2

DeAndre Hopkins

JuJu Smith-Schuster

Julio Jones

Tyreek Hill

Davante Adams

Michael Thomas

Odell Beckham

Antonio Brown


Mike Evans

 

Amari Cooper

 

Keenan Allen

 

 

EXCELLENT

VERY GOOD

ROUND 3

ROUND 4

Stefon Diggs

Brandin Cooks

T.Y. Hilton

Chris Godwin

Adam Thielen

Cooper Kupp

Julian Edelman

Robert Woods


Kenny Golladay

HIGH-UPSIDE VALUE

Calvin Ridley

ROUNDS 5-6


Robby Anderson

MID-VALUE UPSIDE

Tyler Lockett

ROUND 7

Tyler Boyd

Dede Westbrook

Dante Pettis

Alshon Jeffery

D.J. Moore

Allen Robinson

Mike Williams

Will Fuller

Christian Kirk

Corey Davis

A.J. Green

Sterling Shepard


Curtis Samuel

HIGH-POTENTIAL BACKUPS

Geronimo Allison

ROUND 8

Sammy Watkins

Jarvis Landry


Courtland Sutton

MID-POTENTIAL BACKUPS

DeSean Jackson

ROUNDS 9-10

Donte Moncrief

Larry Fitzgerald

Marvin Jones

Anthony Miller

Keke Coutee

Tyrell Williams


Parris Campbell

BENCH DEPTH

DaeSean Hamilton

ROUND 11+

Golden Tate

N'Keal Harry

John Brown

Devin Funchess

Kenny Stills

D.K. Metcalf

Marquez Valdes-Scantling

Marquise Brown

Albert Wilson


Emmanuel Sanders

What about punting on receivers and not taking any until after 50th overall? That's the kind of plan you're going to have to follow if you insist on drafting two stud running backs and a stud tight end with your first trio of picks. This is do-able in smaller non-PPR formats and it carries a chance at being successful, especially if you pull the lever on the right receivers starting in Round 5.

Non-PPR Wide Receiver Tiers

MEGA-ELITE

ELITE

ROUND 1

ROUND 2

DeAndre Hopkins

JuJu Smith-Schuster

Julio Jones

Michael Thomas

Davante Adams

Mike Evans

Odell Beckham

Antonio Brown

Tyreek Hill

Amari Cooper

 


EXCELLENT

VERY GOOD

ROUND 3

ROUND 4

T.Y. Hilton

Brandin Cooks

Keenan Allen

Chris Godwin

Stefon Diggs

Julian Edelman

Adam Thielen

Cooper Kupp

 


HIGH-UPSIDE VALUE

MID-VALUE UPSIDE

ROUND 5

ROUNDS 6, 7

Kenny Golladay

Tyler Boyd

Robby Anderson

D.J. Moore

Robert Woods

Mike Williams

Calvin Ridley

A.J. Green

Tyler Lockett

Christian Kirk

Dante Pettis

Will Fuller

 

Alshon Jeffery

HIGH-POTENTIAL BACKUPS

Dede Westbrook

ROUND 8

Allen Robinson

Sterling Shepard

 

Curtis Samuel

BENCH DEPTH

Geronimo Allison

ROUND 11+

Sammy Watkins

John Brown

Jarvis Landry

Marquez Valdes-Scantling

Corey Davis

Larry Fitzgerald

 

Golden Tate

MID-POTENTIAL BACKUPS

Emmanuel Sanders

ROUNDS 9-10

DaeSean Hamilton

DeSean Jackson

N'Keal Harry

Courtland Sutton

D.K. Metcalf

Donte Moncrief

Albert Wilson

Marvin Jones

Marquise Brown

Anthony Miller

Devin Funchess

Parris Campbell

 

Keke Coutee

 

Tyrell Williams

 

Kenny Stills

 

But the safest plan on Draft Day is to pick enough receivers from the top-five or six tiers to cover your starting spots, then another two or three for the bench. And always remember that receivers who tend to play the best in Fantasy are those who regularly get a piece of the target share from good quarterbacks. When you're drafting a receiver who doesn't already carry stud status, ask yourself if he has the potential for 120 targets (to yield 70-plus receptions) and/or eight touchdowns. Those are the stats we're shooting for from the non-obvious guys in Round 6 and beyond. The more of those players you get, the more likely you'll compete for a trophy in December.   

Senior Fantasy Writer

Dave Richard has spent nearly his entire career covering the National Football League. Beginning with NFL.com at the boom of the Internet, Richard was that site's first Fantasy Football writer before transitioning... Full Bio

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