Fantasy Football Dynasty Wide Receiver Tiers: Chris Godwin and D.J. Moore lead another wave
Heath Cummings says another young wave of talent is taking over the wide receiver position.
There's a changing of the guard coming at wide receiver. We just don't know when yet. What we do know is that most receivers struggle to maintain elite production after age 30 and two-thirds of my top tier in Dynasty are at least 27 years old.
Looking for how far they might fall in the next three years? The best-case scenario is likely Julio Jones, who is now No. 17 in my Dynasty rankings despite consistent top-5 production. A more likely outcome is more like T.Y. Hilton, who has fallen to No. 34 due to his age, quarterback situation, and injury history.
What might be more interesting is who is going to replace the vets when they drop. Chris Godwin is the lone receiver under 25 years old in the top tier and if he comes anywhere close to matching his 2019, he's an obvious choice. D.J. Moore, JuJu Smith-Schuster, DK Metcalf, A.J. Brown, Courtland Sutton and Terry McLaurin are all right there in the next tier. History tells us a couple of them will disappoint in 2020 and at least one will take another leap. If Metcalf, Brown or McLaurin see a big increase in targets, I'd bet on them.
We'll get to the most likely candidates to make that leap here — and you can check out my, and Dynasty tiers here.
The guy in this tier I'm most concerned about was No. 1 coming into the year. Yep, DeAndre Hopkins. His targets dropped off whenever Will Fuller was healthy, but his usage was what concerns me the most. Hopkins' average depth of target fell approximately 20% from 2018. That resulted in him posting his worst yards per target since 2016 (the Brock Osweiler year). This is not a trend yet, but if Hopkins is used as a possession receiver again in 2020 it will be hard to justify him as a top tier receiver any longer.
Smith-Schuster and Odell Beckham are the two guys in this tier who are ranked lower than they were at the start of 2019. If you look at their 2019 production, it's not hard to see why. Both have an opportunity to bounce back in 2020 but Smith-Schuster is definitely the one I'm most interested in. He's still just 23 years old and he played most of 2019 injured with a backup quarterback. We'll find out this year if he can carry the load of a No. 1 receiver with Ben Roethlisberger back. If so, he could be back in the top-five by midseason.
Kenny Golladay and Stefon Diggs top this tier and I could definitely entertain arguments that they're a tier too low. In fact, I could make those arguments. The reasons they aren't have nothing to do with their skill and everything to do with their situation. The good news is those situations could change. The bad news is that any change won't likely happen before their age-27 season, and possibly later. Both are extremely talented receivers who probably won't see more than 130 targets until they change teams or coaches. They're also coming off 2019 seasons that are more efficient than we should expect a receiver to repeat. That's what leads to my tiering of them being lower than their talent dictates.
This tier is full of difficult guys to project in 2020, much less beyond. But maybe none of them are more difficult than Brandin Cooks. Cooks won't turn 27 until after the season starts and he's been a top-13 receiver in four of his past five seasons. Unfortunately, his most recent season was an unmitigated disaster. Like Smith-Schuster, some of that is injury related but it also seems like he's third at best in the pecking order now behind Robert Woods and Cooper Kupp. Factor in Tyler Higbee and Todd Gurley and it's really hard to find enough targets for Cooks, who only saw 72 in 2019. All of that being said, I could definitely see Cooks bouncing back and making me look stupid in 2020.
Mike Williams has all the physical tools but he hasn't quite put everything together yet. We're getting close to the point in his career where we stop projecting based on those physical talents and look at what he's done. In fairness to Williams, he has averaged better than 10 yards per target the past two seasons. But at some point we need an answer for why he can't earn even 100 targets in a season. Considering he's still just 25 years old I'll wait at least one more year for the breakout, but it's starting to feel like his upside is that of a No. 2 in Fantasy and real life.
DeVante Parker is both a good example of why we shouldn't give up on talent and (probably) why we shouldn't overreact to small sample sizes. Parker has now played 70 games in his NFL career. He looked like a completely different guy for most of the last 10 games. He just turned 27 years old and it's possible he's a late bloomer. It's also possible he benefitted from Preston Williams' injury and Ryan Fitzpatrick's gunslinger mentality. In cases like these I prefer to hedge, which is why he's one of my , but still not as high as many will have him.
The real great hope of this tier is that the Chiefs cut Sammy Watkins and don't add anyone of significance to the receiving corps. As the de facto No. 2 receiver for Patrick Mahomes, Hardman would jump at least one tier before the season even started. He averaged 13.1 yards per target and scored once every seven targets as a rookie. He won't maintain that efficiency but he would still be the 4th-biggest concern of opposing defenses.
Hunter Renfrow had a really interesting rookie year. From Week 8 on he caught 35 of 45 targets for 490 yards and four touchdowns. That includes one game he didn't finish because of an injury. So why isn't he higher after his rookie year? For one thing, he's already 24 years old. He's also on a mediocre pass offense that could be looking to add more receivers. It's a tough needle to thread, but if Renfrow starts 2020 off hot he'll be a fast riser.
Well... some of them are young. Maybe they'll get better? The most interesting? Whoever earns the most targets opposite Smith-Schuster next year. If Ben Roethlisberger is his old self, the winner of that offseason battle could vault up the Dynasty rankings.
I just wanted to include Larry Fitzgerald because he's one of the GOATs. Any of these guys could be No. 3 receivers this year, but I doubt you'll get much more from them over the rest of their careers. They're best served as a deep flexes on win-now teams.
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