Way Too Early 2019 Fantasy Football Rankings: Wide Receivers

Mike Fanelli | January 10th, 2019

The 2019 NFL season is still several months away but it’s never too early to get ready the fantasy season. With free agency, trades and the NFL draft still to come, many of these players’ fantasy value will change for the upcoming season. In a four-part series, I take a shot in the dark and rank the top quarterbacks, running backs, wide receivers and tight ends for 2019 redraft leagues. Check out the previous parts here and here.

Players are ranked with where they finished at their position last season in PPR and four-point passing touchdown scoring.

The Top 20:

  1. DeAndre Hopkins, Texans (1st): I will wrestle with the top two guys on this list all offseason long as both are studs. However, I gave Hopkins the tiebreaker for one reason; his ability to play with any quarterback. Over the last four years, Hopkins has finished as the WR4 or better every season except the year with Brock Osweiler. Unless the Texans bring back Osweiler, Hopkins can play with any quarterback.
  2. Davante Adams, Packers (2nd): Before the 2018 season started I banged the table saying that Adams should be considered in the elite fantasy group with the likes of DeAndre Hopkins, Antonio Brown, Julio Jones and Odell Beckham Jr. because of Aaron Rodgers. Adams scored just 3.9 fewer fantasy points than Hopkins this season, despite playing one fewer game. Adams played well with Brett Hundley in 2017 but we have no idea how he produces with DeShone Kizer, so hopefully, Rodgers plays 16 games again in 2019.
  3. Julio Jones, Falcons (4th): My biggest concern with Jones entering the 2018 season was his lack of consistency and touchdown production. Well this season, Jones scored 11 or more fantasy points in 15 games this season compared to just 11 games in 2017. Jones’ eight touchdowns this season tied for the second most in his career, while his 1,677 receiving yards were a career high and led the league.
  4. Tyreek Hill, Chiefs (3rd): The Chiefs’ offense was historically great and a large part of that was Hill and his big play ability. The offseason will be critical for the Chiefs as they need to find a replacement for Kareem Hunt. Assuming the Chiefs have enough of a ground game to keep defenses honest, Hill should be in line for his third straight season with over 1,100 receiving yards in 2019.
  5. Michael Thomas, Saints (6th): Among wide receivers with at least 30 targets, no receiver had a higher catch rate than Thomas did at 85%. Thomas also finished sixth in the league in receiving yards and tied for eighth among wide receivers in touchdowns. The Saints will likely bring in a veteran receiver to pair opposite of Thomas and depending on who that is, Thomas fall in my rankings a tad. However, as long as Drew Brees is his quarterback, Thomas is a top seven lock.
  6. Antonio Brown, Steelers (5th): With all the trade speculation currently around Brown, it made it hard to rank him. However, I decided just to assume he would be playing for the Steelers next season. Many might be surprised that Brown is my WR6 for 2019 despite finishing as the WR2 on a points per game basis and leading the league in receiving touchdowns. However, I think 2019 is the year JuJu Smith-Schuster cements himself as a top 10 wide receiver in the league to some degree at Brown’s expense.
  7. JuJu Smith-Schuster, Steelers (8th): Speaking of Smith-Schuster, he finished this season as the WR8 and I don’t think that was a fluke. If Antonio Brown is traded, the Steelers need to replace him with a proven veteran receiver. If James Washington (who had a disappointing rookie season) is the starter receiver opposite of Smith-Schuster then I’m moving him down in my rankings. If Brown is back in 2019, I expect both Steeler wide receivers to finish as top 10 guys once again.
  8. Odell Beckham Jr., Giants (15th): The WR8 spot may seem a little low for Beckham but he has a history of injuries and his quarterback situation is completely up in the air for next season. However, if the Giants improve the offensive line in the offseason and upgrade at quarterback, Beckham will likely move up a couple of spots in my rankings.
  9. Keenan Allen, Chargers (12th): Allen is like the younger version of Larry Fitzgerald, fantasy owners aren’t crazy about him in non-PPR leagues but his ability to average over six catches a game while topping 1,100 receiving yards and grab around six touchdowns makes him a very safe low-end WR1. The Chargers have plenty of weapons on offense but Allen is the move the chains guy, and that role makes him a safe play every week.
  10. Adam Thielen, Vikings (7th): The Vikings were one of two teams to have two wide receivers finish in the top 10 this past season; the other was the Steelers. Thielen got off to a red hot start to the 2018 season but cooled off as the season went on. He is Kirk Cousins‘ favorite third-down weapon, making him another PPR favorite of mine.
  11. Stefon Diggs, Vikings (10th): While Thielen got a lot of the fantasy love, Diggs was just as good. Both receivers had over 100 catches, over a 1,000 receiving yards and nine touchdowns. Diggs does carry some injury concerns with him, missing at least one game every season in his career. However, Diggs did have a career year in 2018. Both Viking receivers’ fantasy value could take a hit depending on who the Vikings bring in at offensive coordinator.
  12. Mike Evans, Buccaneers (9th): Depending on who you talk to, Chris Godwin will be co-number one wide receiver with Evans next season; I don’t see that happening. However, I am high on Godwin and view him as a potential break out guy much like Tyler Boyd was this season, but Evans is an elite talent. Despite playing with two quarterbacks this season, Evans caught a career-high 61.9% of his targets and a career-best 1,524 receiving yards.
  13. Amari Cooper, Cowboys (19th): Prior to the trade to Dallas, Cooper was a fantasy nightmare, scoring more than four fantasy points just twice in six games. However, after the trade, Cooper scored 13.5 or more in four of nine games, including 38 or more twice. The knock against Cooper will be Dak Prescott, but a full offseason with Cooper will only make Prescott better. As a member of the Cowboys, Cooper was the WR12 during those nine weeks.
  14. T.Y. Hilton, Colts (14th): With Andrew Luck back and healthy, Hilton returned to his high-end WR2 status in 2018. Hilton scored 13.5 or more fantasy points in 10 of 14 games this season, despite getting the majority of the coverage from opposing defenses. With Jack Doyle back healthy in 2019, combined with Eric Ebron, Hilton won’t see as many double teams next season.
  15. Kenny Golladay (21st): During the first half the season, Golladay was on fire, scoring 17 or more fantasy points in four of his first five games. However, once the Lions traded Golden Tate and Marvin Jones got hurt, the Lions offense fell off a cliff and so did Golladay’s fantasy production, scoring 12 or more just once over the last five weeks of the season. Golladay enters 2019 as a dark horse candidate to finish the year as a top-10 wide receiver if Matthew Stafford can bounce back from a terrible year.
  16. A.J. Green, Bengals (44th): Prior to suffering a toe injury that ended his season, Green was having a good year, averaging 18.5 fantasy points per game. While there is some speculation that the Bengals could trade Green in the offseason, I don’t see that happening. Assuming Green is back in Cincinnati in 2019 with Andy Dalton under center, I expect him to finish as a high end WR2 with weekly upside to finish as a top-five performance.
  17. Cooper Kupp, Rams (51st): On a points per game basis, Kupp was the WR14 this season, highest among Rams’ wide receivers. However, two different knee injuries limited Kupp’s season to just eight games. Kupp is the best Rams’ receiver to own as he is Jared Goff‘s go-to guy and since his injury, the Rams’ offense hasn’t been the same.
  18. Brandin Cooks, Rams (13th): The interesting think about the Rams’ trio of wide receivers, all three finished the year as top 20 guys on a points-per-game basis. Surprisingly, Cooks finished third among the trio. However, Cooks’ big-play ability gives him the most upside on a weekly basis. Cooper Kupp should be ready to go for the start of the 2019 season and that is part of the reason why I have Cooks second on among the trio.
  19. Robert Woods, Rams (11th): When Cooper Kupp tore his ACL, Woods really stepped up his game, moving into the slot more and taking over Kupp’s role of Jared Goff’s go-to guy on third down. Of the trio, Woods is the most likely to regress this coming season because of his limited role once Kupp returns, but all three Rams’ wide receivers should be drafted in 2019 as a WR2.
  20. Tyler Boyd, Bengals (17th): Breaking out in his third season, Boyd might have been the waiver wire add of the season. After having just 76 catches in his first two seasons combined, Boyd had 76 in just 14 games in 2018. Boyd set career highs across the board and turned into Andy Dalton’s third-down guy. If A.J. Green is traded, Boyd will slide down my rankings a tad as I don’t view Boyd as a legit number one wide receiver.

Honorable Mentions:

  • Julian Edelman, Patriots (20th): Despite missing a quarter of the season with a suspension, Edelman still finished as a top 20 wide receiver. The Patriots have to give Tom Brady more weapons in the offseason and that could have an impact on Edelman’s value. However, as long as Brady and Edelman are healthy, Edelman’s is a weekly safe play to produce low-end WR2 numbers or better, making him one of my favorite wide receivers to draft.
  • Alshon Jeffery, Eagles (26th): Much like Julian Edelman, Jeffery missed the start of the season and still went on to have a productive year. Finishing as the WR26 despite playing with two quarterbacks and Zach Ertz eating up a huge amount of targets was impressive. The Eagles probably won’t make a major change to their offensive group for next season and I expect Jeffery to have a similar season in 2019.
  • Doug Baldwin, Seahawks (46th): Baldwin battled injuries all season long and missed three games because of it. However, he still led the team in targets and tied for second in receiving touchdowns. While Tyler Lockett had a breakout season, Baldwin is still the number one wide receiver for the Seahawks. The team’s new found love running game is a bit concerning but I’ll still take Baldwin as my low-end WR2/high end WR3.
  • Dante Pettis, 49ers (N/A): This may come as a surprise but I am all in on Pettis and I love his fit with the 49ers. Pierre Garcon will be cut in the offseason, Marquise Goodwin can’t stay healthy and no one else on the roster is a starting-caliber wide receiver. Meanwhile, Pettis scored 13 or more fantasy points with Nick Mullens in four of his last five games this season, imagine what he will do with Jimmy Garoppolo.

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