In today’s NFL the passing game is wide open. While wide receivers are a dime a dozen, there are a few that can carry your season. Selecting the right ones can make or break it. Let’s take a look at the ones at the top at the end of 2015, and where they might end up for 2016.
1. Antonio Brown, Steelers- Big Ben + Antonio Brown may be the surest bet there is in sports. Problem is, Ben has gotten nicked up a lot lately. Still, Antonio is the #1 WR, and I don’t see that changing anytime soon.
2. Julio Jones, Falcons- Despite having no other consistent receivers, Jones was able to put up a stellar year. Matt Ryan had a tough season, but still got the ball to him. Atlanta needs at least 2 WRs, a tight end, and a couple offensive lineman.
3. Odell Beckham Jr, Giants- Eli is looking at another coordinator change as Tom Coughlin has resigned. They need help on the offensive line and probably another WR. No one has done a better job at replacing WRs the past 5-6 years. Look for ODB to continue being a high impact fantasy player.
4. Allen Robinson, Jaguars- He convinced me this season that he is a top 5 fantasy WR. Blake Bortles may be a top 5 fantasy QB. His stats say that. They both would probably benefit from a legitimate running game. If Robinson falls out of the top 5, it’s only because someone like Dez Bryant or Demaryius Thomas crawled back into it.
5. Dez Bryant, Cowbows- Not sure what will happen with Romo, other than he is at the point where durability is an issue. Kellen Moore came on the last 2 games and looks like he might be a solid backup, if nothing else. I will have to see what the Cowboys do in the offseason to move him up any further.
6. AJ Green, Bengals- AJ had a nice season with the resurgence of QB Andy Dalton. That said, Green has always been slightly overrated in my book. A top 5 talent who didn’t always put up top 5 numbers for various reasons.
7. DeAndre Hopkins, Texans- Would rank him higher if he gets an upgrade at QB. As it stands, DeAndre put up some crazy numbers considering who his QBs have been. He could easily move into the top 5.
8. Demaryius Thomas, Broncos- Manning is clearly not the same QB. If he ends up playing another year, I might drop Thomas out of the top 10. Osweiler showed he was a decent backup but showed his flaws after teams had some tape on him.
9. Brandon Marshall, Jets- Had a magical season with the journeyman Fitzpatrick at QB. Brandon is not getting much younger, and has had issues the further along he is with a team. He will probably be a steal where he gets drafted.
10. Doug Baldwin, Seahawks- I think Doug finally emerged as a legit top 10 fantasy WR, even playing like a top 5 WR at times. Hopefully this continues into 2016. The playoffs should go along way to rank him.
11. Charles Johnson, Lions- Megatron is clearly a WR1. He is however, clearly not the top 5 WR he has been much of his career.
12. Sammy Watkins, Bills- Watkins is a top 10 fantasy WR who might even wind up in the top 5. Another year with QB Tyrod Taylor should benefit both players moving forward.
13. Mike Evans, Buccaneers- Evans disappointed at times, but should benefit from his QB Jameis Winston progressing in the 2nd year as a pro. Evans needs to have a good offseason and perhaps focus a little more on his craft too.
14. Alshon Jeffery, Bears- Alshon is a solid talent when he is on the field. He is pretty much “matchup proof”, which is fantasy gold. Problem is, Jeffery maybe slacked off a little on his fitness and could not stay on the field in 2015. He is also a free agent and could be in another city for 2016.
15. Emanuel Sanders, Broncs- Sanders is a great WR and capable of putting up top 5 numbers in any given game. His health and his aging QB hurt him in 2015. Keep an eye on the QB situation in Denver.
16. Brandin Cooks, Saints- He kind of broke out in 2015. Now it depends on his QB and head coach. Rumors are one or both of them could be gone for 2016.
In the mix: Amari Cooper, Raiders- Had a good rookie year. Should improve as a 2nd year pro. Has a good WR to take the pressure off in Michael Crabtree.
Kelvin Benjamin, Panthers- Has a lot of work to come back from his ACL injury. He has the benefit of having it earlier in the season. Still, usually takes 18+ months to fully recover.
Jordy Nelson, Packers- Same as Benjamin. Won’t be full healed when the season starts. Nelson isn’t a pure speed player, but will have to see how he is in preseason before moving him up.