Michael Thomas may not put up the same numbers, but should be more efficient. (Chuck Cook-USA Today Sports)
Welcome back to the 2020 RotoRob NFL Draft Kit with the release of yet another cheat sheet. So as you wonder how Carolina is going to rebuild its defense, let’s take a look at the top 18 wide receivers.
This year features the deepest class of wide receivers in recent Fantasy memory, particularly in the fourth round of 12-man PPR drafts. Names like Michael Gallup, Terry McLaurin, and A.J. Brown all have potential to produce WR1 numbers at their respective ADP. We strongly urge all Fantasy owners to prioritize high value running backs — especially in 0.5 PPR and non-PPR formats.
In a chaotic year afflicted by Covid-19, we highly recommend Fantasy owners steer clear from rookie wide receivers. In addition to being one of the most difficult positions to learn, this year’s WR rookie class will also suffer from a shortened training camp and decreased rapport with the first string offense. Instead, we weighed more heavily towards receivers that are grandfathered into the offense and have produced at a high level like Julio Jones, Adam Theilen and JuJu Smith-Schuster.
Without further ado, we present our wide receiver rankings in 2020.
1. Michael Thomas, New Orlean Saints: After Thomas finished last season with 125 receptions for 1,405 yards and nine touchdowns, his 32 per cent target share is bound for negative regression. With the help of Emmanuel Sanders manning the Y position, Thomas is likely to improve on his efficiency metrics, so don’t get cute here — just go with the stud. But just in case you forgot what a beast Thomas is, the video below should remind you.
2. Davante Adams, Green Bay Packers: The Packers have shifted to a more run-centric offense, effectively capping Adams’ upside. But do you believe in an Aaron Rodgers‘ revenge tour? There isn’t a clear number two receiver (perhaps Allen Lazard or Devin Funchess), green lighting the funnelling of targets to Adams. With Adams commanding a 29 per cent target share last year, we believe he’ll hold or even exceed that threshold while generating eight yards per target.
3. Julio Jones, Atlanta Falcons: In his trademark fashion, Jones finished 2019 second in yards (1,394), first in air yards (1,913) and snagged six touchdowns on 157 targets. With no exceptional changes to the offense or head coach, Jones is expected to perform in line with his previous years. Having said that, but could the fact that Jones’ 2019 yards per target slid to 8.9 yards (compared to his career average of 9.7) be a canary in the coal mine? We expect Calvin Ridley to compete for targets but the departure of both Austin Hooper and Mohammad Sanu frees up 140 targets. With a bad defense in a shootout division, Falcons’ wide receivers are set to feast.
4. Tyreek Hill, Kansas City Chiefs: Hill’s 2019 campaign was limited to 12 games, yet he still producing 860 yards and seven touchdowns on 89 targets. His 9.7 yards per target was in line with his career average of 9.9. With Hill, Fantasy owners should be aware they’re drafting into upside, not consistency. He’s a dynamic threat on a great offense, and a top Fantasy asset if he and Patrick Mahomes remain healthy.
5. Mike Evans, Tampa Bay Buccaneers: If you’re not salivating at the prospect of drafting a more physical Randy Moss on a team with Tom Brady, we don’t know what to tell you. With Jamies Winston, Evans produced 1,157 yards and eight touchdowns on just 67 receptions (118 targets) in 13 games! Evans benefits most from the increased accuracy from his new QB (exceeded 56 per cent catch rate just once). Extrapolating his career metrics with 2020 predictions: on 128 targets, he’ll catch 78 passes (61 per cent catch rate) for 1,224 yards (which would mark a career best yards per reception) and eight touchdowns (10 per cent touchdown rate).
6. Adam Thielen, Minnesota Vikings: The Vikings’ passing game suffered from too many mouths to feed syndrome in 2019. Splitting just 444 pass attempts between Dalvin Cook, Stefon Diggs, Thielen and Kyle Rudolph ruined its Fantasy stock. With Diggs gone, the offense frees up 94 targets to re-distribute. Under Offensive Coordinator Gary Kubiak, Thielen’s best year is yet to come.
7. Allen Robinson, Chicago Bears: Snagging 1,147 yards on 154 targets thrown by Mitchell Trubisky, Robinson is a special receiver that can produce regardless of QB. The Bears have evolved from a weird pseudo run-centric 22 formation model to a poor man’s Philadelphia offense featuring RPOs, one on one opportunity for the boundary receivers and a bruising run game. Robinson will be put into a similar role as Alshon Jeffrey had on the Eagles.
8. JuJu Smith-Schuster, Pittsburgh Steelers: Under Head Coach Mike Tomlin, the Steelers have always produced top quality assets at wide receiver and running back. Smith-Schuster is due for a comeback year, assuming Ben Roethlisberger is healthy and able to stay on the field. As long as passing volume remains high under Big Ben, JuJu is poised for a strong year. There is upwards of 350 targets to be split.
9. DeAndre Hopkins, Arizona Cardinals: This offseason, the All-Pro landed in sunny Arizona with emerging star Kyler Murray and swaggy Head Coach Kliff Kingsbury. While this is a great situation for Hopkins, we argue it erodes his Fantasy value. In his first year, Kingsbury’s offense showed it is willing to spread the ball to less talented players; there was no single player with a target share higher than 25 per cent. Since Andre Johnson left Houston, Hopkins has never had target share of less than 30 per cent. Murray’s ability to run, Kenyan Drake‘s pass-catching ability and increased usage of 10 formation will hurt Hopkins’ Fantasy production.
10. Odell Beckham Jr., Cleveland Browns: In his first year with a new team, Beckham produced 1,035 yards on 133 targets with four touchdowns despite being labelled as a bust. While those are certainly not WR1 numbers, Cleveland was dysfunctional from top to bottom. From Freddie Kitchens refusing to let Todd Monken call plays to running the most predictable offense in all of football, the Browns were a joke. With Kevin Stefanski in, the running game will be the focus. Expect a lot of 12 formations and play action with Jarvis Landry and Beckham on each sideline.
11. D.J Moore, Carolina Panthers: Catching 87 passes on 135 targets from broken-ass Cam Newton and lame-duck Kyle Allen while producing 1,175 yards and four touchdowns, Moore is the real deal. With man-made-of-glass Teddy Bridgewater under centre, Moore should theoretically benefit from the most accurate QB he’s played with. Shootout division… worst defense in the league… no true competition and 23 per cent target share? Yup, Moore is poised for a monster year.
12. Calvin Ridley, Atlanta Falcons: In 13 games, Ridley racked up 866 yards on 93 targets with seven touchdowns to boot. Similar to Jones, the offense remains largely unchanged for Ridley. In a shootout division with a horrific defense, Atlanta’s only two relevant pass-catchers are Ridley and Jones. We expect Matt Ryan to attempt close to 600 passes, of which an enormous share will go to Ridley and Jones.
Others to Consider
13. Kenny Golladay, Detroit Lions: The No. 1 receiver in a talented receiver corps, Golladay had slightly fewer receptions last year, but personal bests in yardage and touchdowns.
14. Amari Cooper, Dallas Cowboys: Dallas paid heavily to land Cooper in 2018, and he helped the team to the division title that year, while staying healthy last year en route to a career-high 1,189 yards.
15. DeVante Parker, Miami Dolphins: The 14th overall pick from 2015 took some time to mature into a No. 1 receiver but in staying fully healthy last year he finally experienced the long awaited breakout.
16. Chris Godwin, Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Oh man, is Tampa Bay ever going to have a potent air attack this year. Godwin took a step forward as a deep threat last year; expect another bump in 2020.
17. Cooper Kupp, Los Angeles Rams: Kupp finally stayed healthy last year, experiencing a major breakout, but the jury remains out whether he’s even the best option on the Rams.
18. A.J. Brown, Tennessee Titans: Brown had a tremendous rookie season, but it’s hard to expect consistency from someone that has Ryan Tannehill feeding him the pigskin.
Here are a few receivers, in no particularly order, that we believe will outperform their current ADP.
Terry McLaurin, Washington Redskins (ADP: 64): This Ohio State product has great hands, and after topping 900 yards as a rookie, he’s poised for a nice encore.
Michael Gallup, Dallas Cowboys (ADP: 67): Despite missing a couple of games last year, Gallup enjoyed a breakout, hauling in 66 passes while topping 1,000 yards for the first time.
Tyler Boyd, Cincinnati Bengals (ADP: 75): After snagging a career-high 90 passes last season, Boyd has the potential to be a WR1.
Marquise Brown, Baltimore Ravens (ADP: 70): The Ravens are expected to target their WR corps more this year, so Brown could experience a big boost in his sophomore season.
Antonio Brown, Free Agent (ADP: N/A): San Francisco? Baltimore? After the failed experiment in New England last year, Brown will wind up somewhere and don’t forget that no receiver had more receptions between 2010 and 2018 than he did.
Christian Kirk, Arizona Cardinals (ADP: 92): Kirk has already been practicing with some of his teammates and seems poised for the classic Third-Year breakout.
RotoRob Tune of the Day
English-American rock band The Pretenders launched in 1978 and, despite a couple of lengthy breaks, is still at it today. In 1982, the band had a big hit with the single “Back on the Chain Gang,” but the B side — “My City Was Gone,” is an even better track for our money.
Now it’s your turn. In the comments below, let us know who you think is listed too high, too low or missing.