Everything's coming up roses for wide receivers. They're scoring more Fantasy points, their relevance in Fantasy Football is at an all-time high and they're growing. I can't remember a time where there were so many great receivers for Fantasy owners to pick from. It's like going to a buffet of all your favorite foods.
Might there be too much supply for the demand?! Is there such a thing as too many great receivers?!
That's how many yard receivers caught for last year, a record-high, breaking the 2013 mark of 81,605.
The number of consecutive seasons that the total amount of receiving yards have increased for wideouts, many by at least 1,000 yards.
The average Fantasy point total of the Top 12 wide receivers on a per-game basis, up 0.2 points from 2013.
The number of receivers that had double-digit Fantasy points in at least half of their 2014 games, up three from 2013.
Like the Jeffersons, the numbers are movin' on up for wide receivers. What makes the group even better is the talent infused via the 2014 NFL Draft. Guys like Beckham, Sammy Watkins, Mike Evans and Kelvin Benjamin figure to be Fantasy starters for a long time. And if that's not enough, there are some intriguing receivers coming in the 2015 draft who could end up making strong first impressions.
Unlike running backs, there are plenty of receivers to go around!
Dropping the tiers
So just how deep are receivers in 2015? Here's our first grouping of players at the position, slotting them into expected draft position (for now). Last year, the talent was top heavy. This year, the talent is rich through at least the first five tiers encompassing 27 receivers! And that doesn't include breakout candidates like Jordan Matthews, Donte Moncrief and Charles Johnson, nor does that include veterans like Michael Floyd, Vincent Jackson and Larry Fitzgerald. And it doesn't include the 2015 rookie class including Alabama receiver Amari Cooper. It's gonna get rich.
|Top Tier||Second Tier||Third Tier||Fourth Tier|
|Round 1||Rounds 1, 2||Rounds 2, 3||Rounds 4, 5|
|Antonio Brown||Jordy Nelson||Emmanuel Sanders||Sammy Watkins|
|Dez Bryant||TY Hilton||Kelvin Benjamin||Jeremy Maclin|
|Calvin Johnson||Demaryius Thomas||Randall Cobb||DeSean Jackson|
|Odell Beckham||A.J. Green||Mike Evans||DeAndre Hopkins|
|Julio Jones||Torrey Smith|
|Alshon Jeffery||Roddy White|
|Fifth Tier||Sixth Tier||Seventh Tier||Eighth Tier|
|Rounds 5, 6||Rounds 7, 8||Round 9+ Values & Sleepers||Late-round consideration|
|--||Jordan Matthews||Larry Fitzgerald||Marques Colston|
|Victor Cruz||Mike Wallace||Allen Robinson||Eric Decker|
|Keenan Allen||Michael Floyd||John Brown||Percy Harvin|
|Julian Edelman||Vincent Jackson||Brandon LaFell||Allen Hurns|
|Brandin Cooks||Donte Moncrief||Anquan Boldin||Stedman Bailey|
|Martavis Bryant||Andre Johnson||Pierre Garcon|
|Charles Johnson||Davante Adams||Steve Smith|
|Jarvis Landry||Marqise Lee||Cordarrelle Patterson|
|Terrance Williams||Cody Latimer|
So is the optimal strategy to just wait a little bit on receivers? Not optimal, but not bad either. We already see the running back depth being a big factor -- being stuck in Round 4 or 5 with one or no running backs is going to be a problem. Luckily, you will be able to find very good receivers in Round 4 and 5. I might aim for one receiver within your first three choices and then another in Round 4, and again in Round 5. And then, maybe one or two more the rest of the way.
Calvin Johnson is still a top-tier receiver, eh? Look, when he's healthy, he's a monster. So then the question becomes Will he stay healthy? Bumps and bruises seem to impact him more than others, unless those bumps and bruises are really breaks and strains and tears. We just don't know. We're also coming off of a season where oft-injured guys like DeMarco Murray, Antonio Gates and even injury poster boy Darren McFadden played 16 games. Turning 30 this September doesn't mean an instant turn from Megatron to Medic-tron, either.
Coaches will spend the offseason dissecting Odell Beckham. Aren't you afraid of a regression? Nope. I've seen plenty of Beckham's play from his last 12 games and I'm convinced he's as easy to cover as Antonio Brown. That's not easy. He's got magic in his legs and those hands, man. Plus, name a cornerback in the NFC East, NFC South and AFC East (who make up 14 of the Giants' 16 opponents) who can contain him?
A lot of long-time Fantasy stud receivers are lower than we're used to seeing them. What gives? Nothing lasts forever. Fantasy heroes like Brandon Marshall, Vincent Jackson, Larry Fitzgerald and Andre Johnson are starting to trend in the wrong direction. Some of them might even be on the move this offseason. I've played Fantasy long enough to know that it's better to spend a draft pick on the younger up-and-comer than the veteran who's slowing down, averaging 11.0 yards per catch and not scoring more than six or seven touchdowns. Let other people in your league draft the "brand names."
So how come Victor Cruz is in the fifth tier? Call it the Beckham effect. I expect OBJ to get big stats but there will be plays where Eli Manning drops back and Beckham is covered. Cruz, presuming he comes back from his torn ACL without issue, can take advantage. I'm counting on a bounce-back year from him, especially since he has the same simple schedule as Beckham.
Who are your favorite sleeper receivers? Podcast listeners already know the kind of jump I'm hoping for from Donte Moncrief and Davante Adams. Moncrief is a lock to play regularly in Indy; Adams might not be as impactful depending on how the Packers navigate this offseason with free agent Randall Cobb. Martavis Bryant is an obvious choice, as is Jarvis Landry. I'm especially intrigued by the Jaguars second-year trio and think we haven't heard the last from Charles Johnson. And if the Broncos move on from Wes Welker, Cody Latimer could get a real good opportunity.
Where's Justin Blackmon? When the NFL reinstates him he'll probably get some looks. Maybe he winds up as a mid-round pick. But the guy hasn't played football in over a year and there's no guarantee he'll be even close to the guy we last saw.
Back to back stats
For whatever reason, I've been interested in tracking the overall consistency with wide receivers. You know why? It's because we'll often see a receiver come out of nowhere and have a big game and then flock to that guy off waivers, only to see him deliver three points the following week. Typically, only the very good-to-elite receivers are true candidates for consistency.
Here's proof: There were 401 instances of receivers putting up 10-plus Fantasy points in 2014 (up 15 from last year, by the way). Only 31 percent of the time did those receivers come up with 10-plus Fantasy points in their next game (126 back-to-back 10-point performances -- also up from 2013). Of those 126 occurences, 98 of them were by receivers who finished as Top 24 options and 72 were by Top 12 receivers. So, more than half of the back-to-backs were by top-shelf wideouts.
Here's a breakdown:
Antonio Brown - 11
Demaryius Thomas - 10
Emmanuel Sanders - 7
Randall Cobb - 7
Dez Bryant - 6
Alshon Jeffery - 6
Jordy Nelson - 5
Odell Beckham - 5
T.Y. Hilton - 5
Julio Jones - 4
A.J. Green - 4
Mohamed Sanu - 4
Notables: Jeremy Maclin and Mike Evans had the fewest back-to-back big games among the Top 12 receivers with three each. ... The Top 24 receivers with the fewest back-to-back big games? DeAndre Hopkins, Steve Smith, Brandon LaFell and Anquan Boldin, each of whom did it once each. ... Sanu was the only receiver not to finish in the Top 24 with as many as four back-to-back quality outings. Martavis Bryant was next highest with three.