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Reason for order of top-five fantasy football wide receiver options

Aug 7, 2017

Reason for order of top-five fantasy football wide receiver options
By: Ben Morgan

The top-five wide receivers in fantasy football this year seem to be pretty much locked in place as fantasy drafts quickly approach. Debates regarding the order of those top five are entertaining and welcomed, but there’s a clear difference between this top tier of fantasy football’s most intriguing position compared to the rest.

These top-flight receivers include Julio Jones, Odell Beckham Jr., Mike Evans, A.J. Green and Antonio Brown – and while Jordy Nelson, Amari Cooper, Dez Bryant and several others are high-quality fantasy options – they aren’t in a position to unseat any of the players currently in the top five.

Here are the reasons behind Ben Morgan’s (@LoadedBox_Ben) top-five wide receiver rankings for the upcoming 2017 fantasy season.

5. A.J. Green

Green has become the stud receiver who is no longer deemed a “sexy” pick. Part of the reason for this is due to the fact that his quarterback, Andy Dalton, isn’t seen as a clear-cut starter in fantasy, which leaks into how Green is viewed come draft day.

With that being said, Green is my clear WR5 and I don’t see another receiver on the board that will bump Green from my top five before this season’s fantasy drafts.

Last season was the first time in Green’s six-year NFL career that he failed to record 1,000 receiving yards, which is a pretty cruel stat considering the fact he finished with 964 yards in just 10 games. The math on this points out that Green would have needed to average just six receiving yards per game to reach 1,000 yards in 2016; I hope you have a good sense of humor and appreciate the hard work I put into figuring out this equation.

Green was having another solid fantasy season last year before missing the team’s final six games. Averaging 13.4 fantasy points per game over the course of nine games, Green scored more than 20 fantasy points in a third of the games he appeared in.

Despite an unproven offensive line, the Bengals are a good bet for a bounce-back 2017 performance, and if this ends up being the case, Green will undoubtedly play a large role in the offense and once again finish as one of the top fantasy receivers.

4. Mike Evans

If there were odds in Las Vegas for who would finish as this season’s fantasy football WR1, my money would be placed on Evans.

Please realize Evans is my choice in this hypothetical situation due to what his odds would be compared to those I have ranked higher than him, but Evans is a unique talent who will win you weeks this fantasy season.

Evans finished 2016 as fantasy football’s WR2 with 204 points in an offense that featured Adam Humphries as the team’s second-leading receiver in regards to receptions, yards and touchdowns.

With the free-agent acquisition of DeSean Jackson, who provides top-level speed that nearly always commands safety help over the top, Evans may find himself in even more lucrative situations in Tampa’s up-and-coming offense in 2017.

At 6’5” 230-pounds Evans will always find himself in favorable matchups, and with the chemistry he has built with quarterback Jameis Winston the last two seasons, Evans is a safe bet to be in the top-five fantasy football receivers for the foreseeable future.

Make Evans your WR1, don’t shit the bed with a few more top picks, and enjoy your experience en route to your league’s championship game.

3. Odell Beckham Jr.

Beckham is in a similar situation as Evans now that both players are playing opposite a proven number two receiver compared to 2016 when both players were the only real threat to line up on the outside for their respective teams.

Preference is given to Beckham over Evans for just one simple reason because – as stated earlier – Evans is in line for a monster 2017 season. The reason is the following: 90-1,300-10.

The third-year standout from LSU is a model of consistency during his time in the NFL, and it’s consistency at a Hall-of-Fame level. Beckham has finished with more than 90 catches, 1,300 yards and double-digit touchdowns each season of his career and is only getting better.

While the addition of Brandon Marshall may eat into Beckham’s fantasy production, there is also the theory that Marshall’s presence will command additional attention from the opposing team’s secondary leaving more space and opportunities for Beckham to create.

2. Julio Jones

Arguably the most physically gifted receiver in today’s NFL, Jones is a consensus top-three fantasy football option at the position and lands at number two in my rankings.

The knock on Jones is his lack of touchdowns compared to other top-tier receivers. Through his six seasons in the NFL, Jones has just one year with double-digit touchdowns, averaging 6.7 touchdowns per season.

However, Jones has been and is Atlanta’s top offensive weapon and he makes up for his lack of touchdowns by consistently being one of the top-targeted receives in the league, which results in very impressive yardage totals.

Jones has totaled 4,873 receiving yards (1,624 per season) over the last three years despite playing just one full season over this time period – Jones missed one game in 2014 and two in 2016.

At a certain point in time the touchdowns will come for Jones as defensive coordinators begin to focus on the other dynamic playmakers the Falcons’ offense features.

It’s hard to argue the strategy of taking away Jones when the offense is within scoring position, but defensive coordinators will soon get tired of being scored on by Devonta Freeman and Tevin Coleman – who combined to score 24 touchdowns in 2016 – and make adjustments that will likely create more favorable opportunities for Jones to find the end zone.

1. Antonio Brown

Brown is the choice for number one receiver in fantasy this season for a plethora of reasons. Let’s first take a look at his consistency since becoming the Steelers true No. 1 option at the position (according to standard Yahoo scoring):

2016: WR3 – 201 points
2015: WR1 – 246 points
2014: WR1 – 249 points
2013: WR7 – 198 points

Sort of seems like a lock to finish in the top five at the position, right?

Second, you prefer your top selection to play on teams that rack up yards and points and the Steelers do just that. Let’s take a look at how Pittsburgh has faired in that department:

2016: 7th in yards per game (372.6) & T10th in points per game (24.9)
2015: 3rd in yards per game (395.4) & T4th in points per game (26.4)
2014: 2nd in yards per game (411.1) & 7th in points per game (27.3)

Recent history shows once again that Pittsburgh will be one of the league leaders in yards and points per game in 2017 as Ben Roethlisberger, Le’Veon Bell, Brown and Martavis Bryant lead the way for the offense.

Third, while some believe Bryant will dip into Brown’s stats if he ends up being reinstated and makes it through the season without being suspended, don’t buy into that assumption. While Bryant will inevitably take some targets from Brown, he may also command additional safety help leaving Brown with less clutter around him. Don’t let the return of Bryant hinder you from making Brown your WR1.

Be sure to check out our podcast later this week where we discuss fantasy wide receivers No’s 1-12 and follow @LoadedBox on Twitter.

Click HERE for fantasy wide receivers No’s 13-24 podcast