Welcome to the 2020 redraft wide receiver landscape where there are viable options as far as the eye can see. Even as you progress down the road of your draft, names you would like to have on your team continue to stretch to the horizon line. Let this inform you to break ties against wide receivers early, because you won't want to pass on the position too often in the middle and late rounds. Let's take a tour.
Michael Thomas, NO
- Consider at ADP: Thomas
Strategy: The biggest question is whether to take a running back or Thomas with your top-five pick. It seems unlikely that he’ll match his 2019 peaks, so break ties in favor of the back unless you have a few aces up your sleeve at the position later in the draft. You’ll like the wide receivers in the mid-round a lot better than the running backs.
Thomas broke the record for receptions in a season in 2019 and did it without Drew Brees for five and most of a sixth game. He also benefited from a lack of a quality #2 receiver, which won’t be the case this year with the arrival of Emmanuel Sanders. Thomas is clearly the top fantasy wide receiver, but perhaps not worth a pick over a top-five running back.
- Consider at ADP: Adams, Jones, Hill
Strategy: These are your second-tier first-round wide receivers to weigh against backs like Joe Mixon, Nick Chubb, and Derrick Henry. All of them are safer bets to return first-round value barring injury, but wide receiver is easier to address later in your draft. If you take one of them in the first, have a good plan for running back targets in the following rounds.
Adams missed four games with a foot injury last year but didn’t lose a step when he came back. He was on pace to come close to career highs in yards and catches from 2018 if he had played 16 games. With no significant additions at wide receiver, Aaron Rodgers is going to rely on him as much as any quarterback relies on his #1, including Drew Brees. He’s the target if you’re going wide receiver in the second half of the first round.
Jones had a slight drop in catches and touchdowns and a larger drop in yards on a per-game basis in 2019, but he could get a bump in 2020 if Hayden Hurst isn’t ready to fill the shoes of Austin Hooper. He still offers a week-winning upside and is a shelter in the late first if you don’t like any of the running backs available.
Hill missed four games and most of two others with injuries last year to mar his fantasy season, but he was also about 50-50 in big impact games and merely solid games in the 10-16 point PPR range when he was on the field. Hill also failed to add value as a runner in 2019 The Chiefs brought back Sammy Watkins and Demarcus Robinson and added a great receiving back, so Hill is unlikely to grow in value in 2020, but he is still a safe high weekly ceiling WR1 who gives you a piece of Patrick Mahomes II.
HIGH FLOOR WR1
- Consider at ADP: Hopkins, Moore
- Pass at ADP: Godwin
- Target at ADP: Thielen
Strategy: This group of WR1s should provide steady weekly targets and receptions and a high baseline in PPR leagues. Hopkins may still require a first-round pick, so the uncertainty of changing offenses may make him too risky at that ADP. Godwin will cost an early second and might have trouble returning that value on a team that could lead more with a new quarterback who brought his favorite tight end along with him. Thielen is screaming value as Kirk Cousins' main man and should be in your third-round draft plans. Moore is going ahead of Thielen but offers similar value at best because Thielen is a much more proven touchdown scorer. Thielen is the only essential target in this tier.
Hopkins was seeking a way out of Houston and got it when the Cardinals were willing to trade David Johnson and a second-round pick to Arizona for the standout receiver. He’ll adjust to a new offense and quarterback and it can’t be seen as an upgrade, but Hopkins is still a safe late first/early second-round pick, although he shouldn’t go ahead of other strong WR1 options that had no change in their situations.
Godwin should flourish as the slot receiver in a Bruce Arians offense, but a more competitive team with fewer wild and wooly game scripts under Tom Brady and the arrival of Rob Gronkowski could take the edge off of his upside. He’s right on the edge of overvalued.
Thielen’s 2019 was blown up by a hamstring injury that he came back too quickly from. First-round pick Justin Jefferson will replace Stefon Diggs after the Vikings traded Diggs to the Bills for a package including the pick they used to take Jefferson, which should be a net gain in target share for Thielen. He’s a value who could easily be in the top five in the league in targets.
Moore broke out in 2019 and he will be in a situation with play from behind game scripts once again. His quarterback has been upgraded with the arrival of Teddy Bridgewater and the offense could be more imaginative under new offensive coordinator Joe Brady. The team also picked up a strong third receiver when they signed Robby Anderson and Moore wasn’t much of a factor in the red zone, so 2019 might be his upside for 2020. He’s valued correctly in PPR leagues.
HIGH CEILING WR1
- Target at ADP: Beckham, Lockett, Hilton, Parker
- Consider at ADP: Robinson
- Pass at ADP: Evans, Golladay, Cooper
Strategy: Now we start to get to the part of our program where the unprecedented depth at wide receiver will be apparent. Beckham and Robinson are third-round picks. Lockett is available in the fourth or later. Hilton the fifth. Parker sometimes even in the sixth. This tier is full of #1 targets (with the exception of Evans) who are available at a discount from previous peak years and at least 2-3 of these names should be targets in your draft.
Enjoy the opportunity to get Beckham in the third round. If the hernia he played with all year was the main reason he fell off of a cliff statistically, you’ll be happy if you snag him at ADP. He should be the top target on downfield passes off of play-action in an offense that forces teams to overplay the run.
The best hope for Evans is that Tom Brady riffed well with Josh Gordon before Gordon’s career fell apart (again). Evans, like Chris Godwin, could have a lower weekly and season-long ceiling on a better team with a more conservative quarterback, and like Godwin he might be slightly overvalued.
Robinson played some of the best football of his career last year, but it wasn’t reflected in his numbers as much as it should have been because of quarterback play. The hope is that Nick Foles improves that, but even if he doesn’t, Robinson is worth his ADP.
Tyler Lockett was a strong WR1 before his Week 10 injury. While we shouldn’t downplay injury risk as part of Lockett’s outlook, he showed the hoped-for statistical growth last year before that injury and DK Metcalf’s emergence should only help Lockett by distracting safeties, offsetting any potential loss in target to Metcalf. Russell Wilson has also been lobbying the team to be more aggressive in the passing game, which would only help Lockett. He should be a target in the fourth round.
Hilton suffered through injuries and Jacoby Brissett last year, but make no mistake, he is still one of the best wide receivers in the game and now he gets to catch passes from Philip Rivers. While the injury risk from 2019 looms, Hilton shouldn’t be falling in the fifth round of drafts.
Golladay was on track to put up better numbers before Matthew Stafford went out last year, but he was still productive with the ragtag quarterbacks the Lions threw out there in the second half of the year. A full season of Stafford could vault him into the top 10, but his ADP is assuming this leap, so he’s not a must-draft at cost.
Michael Gallup was basically Cooper’s equal in fantasy leagues in the second half of the season, and now Ceedee Lamb has come to the Cowboys passing game to share in the wealth. ADP seems to assume that Cooper will win the largest share of wide receiver targets by a good margin, but trends and matchups dictate otherwise. He’s a pass at ADP.
Parker finally shrugged off the underachiever label and came into his own in 2019, earning a four-year, $40 million dollar extension during the season. He dominated Stephon Gilmore in the game set up the Patriots for their Wild Card round knockout at the hands of the Titans. Parker will be a returning #1 receiver in an offense that should be piloted by Ryan Fitzpatrick for at least part of the year.
HIGH CEILING WR2
- Target at ADP: McLaurin, Green, Chark
- Consider at ADP: Ridley, Brown, Smith-Schuster, Metcalf
- Pass at ADP: Sutton
Strategy: This group might not look that different to you than the high ceiling WR1 group. The depth at wide receiver continues to come into focus. Ridley, Brown, and Smith-Schuster all have the potential to outperform ADP that puts them around the fourth round of typical drafts, but they don’t scream value like McLaurin, Chark and Green, who might be there in the fifth or sixth. Sutton’s upside is a little tougher sell with the infusion of speed and talent into the Broncos offense and Metcalf’s arrow is pointing up, but he shouldn’t go before his teammate Lockett, so they might not be preferred targets. Just know that if you want until the fourth round to take your WR2 (or WR1), there will be plenty of options, including the one you love.
Ridley’s first two years promise bigger things ahead, and he was on a roll last year before an abdominal injury ended his season. He has some extra upside if Hayden Hurst can’t fill Austin Hooper’s shoes and he could be even better this year. He’s worth his ADP.
Brown was one of the sensations of the 2019 season. The rookie came alive with Ryan Tannehill and showed the rare ability to be in the WR1 mix despite low target volume playing in a run-first offense. The design of the Titans offense will give him a smaller margin of error each week, but Brown could also take another step forward and defy any structural limitations to his fantasy growth. He’s worth his ADP.
Smith-Schuster will be one of the toughest players to take a strong stand on this year. He was obviously dragged down by quarterback play and injuries, although in his absence two young wide receivers grew and the team decided to draft another in the second round this year. Ben Roethlisberger’s return could vault Smith-Schuster back into the WR1 mix, or he could blend in more with a deeper supporting cast than years past. He’s worth his ADP.
McLaurin’s year-end numbers hide an outstanding season by a rookie or any other standards. He about as good vs. Stephon Gilmore as anyone this side of DeVante Parker and overcame poor quarterback play to be a fantasy-relevant receiver. At least two or three more long touchdowns were there for him with a better passer, and Washington didn’t add any significant competition for touches this offseason.
Chark was on his way to WR1 level scoring before the Jaguars offense got bogged down last year, and he finished the year injured. If he and Gardner Minshew can find their first-half form under new offensive coordinator Jay Gruden, Chark will be one of the best picks of your draft. Jay Gruden's recent positive comments on Chark nudged me to push him up into the WR2 tier from WR3/Flex
Sutton posted solid WR2 numbers last year but played more like a true WR1. The good news for him is that the team brought in a ton of help to stress defenses in the passing game, but the bad news is that he is unlikely to see his target share grow with a legit WR2 and WR3 on board. He could still benefit from more efficient targets, but Sutton doesn’t have much of a chance to greatly eclipse his ADP value.
Metcalf showed he was way ahead of the curve last year with his strengths creating more plays than his shortcomings kept him from making. In fact, it looked like he was on a best-case scenario trajectory, being able to hang right away in the NFL at age 21. If Russell Wilson convinces the coaches to open up the pass offense, Metcalf’s numbers could take a big step forward. He deserves consideration in the fifth even if you took Lockett in the fourth.
Is AJ Green broken? Perhaps, but taking him in drafts is much cheaper than it was in any other year that he came into the season healthy (fingers crossed) and he’ll have maybe the best quarterback play of his career this year. He’s an easy yes at ADP.
HIGH FLOOR WR2
- Target at ADP: Boyd
- Consider at ADP: Landry
- Pass at ADP: Allen, Woods, Kupp
Strategy: Boyd is the clear value here. He gets an upgrade at quarterback and wasn’t hurt at all by playing with AJ Green in the past. Allen is overvalued because of the change at quarterback and likely run-first game plan, and Kupp is overvalued because of his diminishing role in the offense as the year went on. Woods is a solid fifth-round target after he finished the year with the best football of his career in the second half. Landry isn’t a preferred target because of offseason hip surgery, but there is an injury discount as he’s the cheapest in this tier.
Boyd had some ups and downs along with the Bengals offense last year, but his year-end stats easily put him in the WR2 ranks in PPR and he’ll get an upgrade at quarterback this year. There’s an argument that the return of AJ Green actually helps Boyd, and it certainly won’t hurt him.
Allen is still one of the best route runners in the league, but how big will his opportunity be with Tyrod Taylor or Justin Herbert at quarterback. If we knew Hunter Henry was going to miss a lot of time, then Allen’s ADP might be justified, but it’s difficult to see him outperforming ADP in his current situation.
Woods should be the highest-drafted Rams receiver after he had a torrid second half of the season. He should also be on the field more than any other Rams receiver. His ADP means there’s a chance you can get him in the fifth round, which is a fair price.
The Rams might be moving to more of a two-tight end offense if the trajectory of 2019 is any indication and that’s not good for Kupp. The Rams also drafted a receiver with a similar skillset in the second round when they took Van Jefferson out of Florida. Kupp’s red hot start to the season hides his downward pointing arrow when we look at year-end stats.
Landry has been very consistent and a high quality “real life” receiver through differing roles and supporting casts, and he could be well-suited for the more structured Stefanski offense. There’s some hidden upside there as he played through a painful hip injury, but he also had labral repair surgery in February with a 6-9 month recovery time that will threaten his status for Week 1.
HIGH CEILING WR3/FLEX
- Target at ADP: MBrown, Watkins, Anderson, JBrown
- Consider at ADP: Fuller, Cooks
- Pass at ADP: Diggs
Strategy: The line between WR2 and WR3/FLEX is somewhat arbitrary this year. The main dividing factor here is risk, either because of injury history or a crowded passing game. Marquise Brown stands out as a top draft target with his WR3/WR4 price and WR1 upside. John Brown and Robby Anderson will also be a lot cheaper than they should be in drafts with their track record and momentum heading into 2020. Fuller is priced right with a lot of risk to go with his ceiling. Cooks has his own injury risk but has promise if Fuller can not stay healthy for yet another year. Diggs is the most expensive in this tier, which makes him the easiest fade. It’s not even clear that he’ll be the most valuable Bills receiver in this tier. Watkins lasts as long as anyone in this tier except Anderson, which might make him one the steals of your draft, or might be a sign that healthy skepticism is called for. Getting him as a WR4/WR5 again underscores the depth at the position this year.
Brown should be circled and underlined on your cheatsheet. He wasn’t 100% at any point last year and plays in one of the most efficient and best big-play passing games in the league. Seven touchdowns on only 71 targets should get your attention.
Fuller has a chance to be the alpha dog for Deshaun Watson with the departure of DeAndre Hopkins, but he wasn’t exactly lighting it up last year other than a three-touchdown outburst in one game and a false positive return to health 7-140 game. He carries as much injury risk as any receiver in the league, and a higher ceiling/lower floor than previous years with the changes in his passing game.
Cooks' next concussion could sideline him for a long time, but he could also stay healthy and become one of Deshaun Watson’s favorite targets. He seems like a better bet than Will Fuller V to stay on the field and fantasy players could benefit from Fuller injury upside when they take Cooks. He’s priced correctly and can vastly outproduce his draft cost.
Diggs’ change of teams in the offseason might not have been a big hit to his value, but it’s certainly not an improvement. The Bills might pass slightly more than the Vikings did, but they also have a deeper wide receiver group. Unless Diggs leaves John Brown in the dust, it will be very difficult for him to outproduce ADP, even at a two-round discount from his 2019 price.
Watkins started off and ended 2019 with a bang, but for the rest of the season he was almost a waste of a roster spot. The Chiefs chose to bring him back and he is still getting paid like a cornerstone of the offense, but everyone playing fantasy has been scarred by him at one point or another. It’s still hard to pass on him in the double-digit rounds when you think about his quarterback.
Anderson could be the latest player to get the post-Gase bump. He rejoins his college coach and should be in a pass-heavy offense. If you like Teddy Bridgewater, you should also like Anderson, who will be available in the second half of many drafts. The Panthers offense could be much more aggressive in the passing game than past incarnations with Joe Brady calling the shots.
Brown remains underrated in fantasy circles, although the hard facts that come with the trade for Stefon Diggs will make it almost impossible for him to reproduce his 2019 success. He can still be a good matchup play and has the potential to score a long touchdown in any given week, especially if defenses make slowing down Diggs the top priority in coverage.
HIGH FLOOR WR3/FLEX
- Target at ADP: Sanders
- Consider at ADP: Gallup
Strategy: Gallup is still on the upslope side of his career arcs and he is priced correctly as a WR3/Flex value. He has the ability to take a big step forward this year. Sanders is the value here. He is falling as far as the 10th round even though he could easily be an every-week start with Drew Brees
Not everyone noticed when Gallup was targeted and produced at the same level as Amari Cooper in the second half of the season. The addition of Ceedee Lamb complicates the target tree and lowers the ceiling of both Gallup and Cooper, but Gallup is going three or more rounds later and has the best combination of fantasy ceiling and floor with room to grow among the Cowboys receivers.
Sanders landed in a prime spot as the Saints #2 receiver. He had big games in two different offenses last year and should be able to transition quickly in a long-established offense with a Hall of Fame quarterback. Defenses will often give Sanders a matchup he can win and that won’t be lost on Brees. Consider him an essential bench pick if his ADP stays in the bench pick rounds.
#1 BENCH RECEIVER/FLEX ON THE RISE
- Target at ADP: Samuel
- Consider at ADP: Kirk, Johnson, Miller
Strategy: All of these receivers have the potential to greatly exceed ADP and any of all of them should be targets in the second half of your draft. Kirk and Johnson are the most expensive and might require a 9th/10th round pick to land. Samuel and Miller are going later, but both could benefit from quarterback changes this year.
Fantasy players went into 2019 with high hopes for Kirk because of his new quarterback and offense, but save for one massive game against Tampa and some volume-based outbursts against the tough Pittsburgh, Baltimore, and New Orleans defenses, there wasn’t much to cheer about in an injury-marred season. The Cardinals offense and Kirk should both take a step forward this year and it’s not difficult to see him leveling off as an every-week start.
Johnson made it through some turbulence last year to put up solid WR2 numbers in December. What can he do with Ben Roethlisberger at quarterback? The Steelers' target tree is getting crowded with the addition of Eric Ebron and Chase Claypool, but Johnson looked like a player with an arrow pointing up last year who could assert his right to a spot in the center of the pass offense along with Juju Smith-Schuster.
Samuel was hurt by bad quarterback play as much as any receiver in the league last year. New offensive coordinator Joe Brady should make a more efficient and dangerous pass offense piloted by Teddy Bridgewater, and the Panthers should be playing from behind a lot. Samuel will still be behind McCaffrey and Moore in the pecking order, but with creativity his speed and ability to get open downfield could be harvested more often this year.
Miller was a top 10 receiver for a stretch last year with Mitchell Tribusky, so the prospect of Nick Foles winning a quarterback battle to improve play at the position is a potential growth factor for him. Miller might start slow because of yet another offseason shoulder surgery, but that and any other downward-pushing factors on his outlook are more than baked into his very cheap ADP.
HIGH FLOOR #1 BENCH RECEIVER/FLEX
- Consider at ADP: Crowder, Tate
- Pass at ADP: Edelman, Shepard
Strategy: Of this tier, we can eliminate Edelman as a target immediately because he’s not playing with Brady and being overvalued on reputation. Shepard and Tate have similar outlooks and both played well with Daniel Jones last year, but Shepard is going two rounds earlier, which makes the Tate the easy pick out of this tier if you want a Giant. Crowder is the best target from the tier in the 10th round or later with the potential to lead the Jets in targets by a huge margin.
Crowder came on as a red-zone target in the second half of the year and he’s the only wide receiver from the Jets roster last year with more than 31 targets still on the team. If he can be a more consistent part of the game plan, he could be one of the biggest steals of PPR drafts.
Tate played very well with a rookie quarterback after a four-game suspension to open the season last year and mixed in big plays with his usual dependable route running and toughness after the catch. The Giants passing game is crowded and going through a transition, but Tate will be cheap bye/injury depth at worst.
How much of Edelman’s value came from his chemistry with Tom Brady? It’s better to find out the answer to that question with Edelman on another team’s roster this year. Edelman will only be volume-based depth unless Jarrett Stidham is way ahead of where we think he is entering his second year.
Shepard’s 2019 looked to be done after his second concussion but he ended up returning in November and put up solid WR3/Flex numbers. Evan Engram wasn’t on the field for those games and the Giants are installing a new offense, so Shepard will be fantasy bench depth to open the season and might be inconsistent all year if everyone stays healthy.
HIGH CEILING #1 BENCH RECEIVER/FLEX
- Target at ADP: Jackson
- Pass at ADP: Jones, Slayton
Strategy: Jones is still good for a big outburst in any given week, but durability concerns and the possibility of being traded mid-season add risk to his profile. Jackson was a week-winner to open the season last year and then never got over a core muscle injury. He’s by far the cheapest in this tier and an easy target in the 12th or later. Slayton is probably a bit overvalued as the Giant receiver most likely to be inconsistent in the box score if everyone stays healthy.
Jones had a four-touchdown game last year to buoy his numbers and three other games with at least 20 PPR points. His down games were tolerable to get those peaks, and he should be a WR3/Flex when healthy. The “when healthy” is the issue as he has only played 22 games in the last two years, and if the Lions season goes south, he’s likely going to be traded like Golden Tate was in 2018.
Jackson started off the year with an 8-154-2 outburst in his first game with Carson Wentz and then barely played for the rest of the year because of a core muscle injury. His cheap price and season opener against the same Washington secondary he lit up last year is more than enough reason to include him in your draft plan.
Slayton made some of the best deep ball plays of the year in 2019, but both of his massive games came with Evan Engram sidelined and he is more prone to low target games than teammates Golden Tate and Sterling Shepard. He could still be a big hit at ADP if he takes a step forward in year two and the Giants continue to have trouble keeping all of their weapons healthy.
CeeDee Lamb, DAL
- Target at ADP: Reagor, Mims, Shenault, Aiyuk, Lamb
- Consider at ADP: Pittman
- Pass at ADP: Jeudy, Ruggs, Jefferson
Strategy: 2019 was a banner year for rookie wide receivers and it did not have nearly the hype that came with the 2020 class. It seems likely that at least a few of the rookies will hit the ground running this year. Lamb should be the first or second rookie receiver taken in every redraft league and he is priced correctly, but Reagor and Mims have the potential to be their team’s #1 receiver and they are available long after Lamb will be gone. Ruggs, Jefferson, and especially Jeudy appear to be a bit overdrafted, while Pittman, Shenault, and Aiyuk are all much cheaper with all expected to have as large of roles as they can earn in year one.
Lamb may end up turning the Cowboys passing game into the three amigos immediately, where all three of him, Cooper, and Gallup trade off big weeks. Efficiency could be off of the charts with defenses contorted to account for these targets and a strong running game. Since Lamb is the cheapest of the Cowboys receivers by a good margin, he’s the best value pick.
Reagor was a clear target of the Eagles and he should get a chance to show his stuff on short catches and deep routes. If Desean Jackson can’t stay healthy (and maybe even if he can), the door should be open to a strong rookie year for Reagor if he can take advantage of his opportunity.
Robby Anderson is far more accomplished than Denzel Mims and he wasn’t a consistent producer in Adam Gase’s offense last year. Mims still shouldn’t be counted out due to his build-up speed and strong game at the catch point, although Breshad Perriman is probably the more valuable (and expensive) receiver in redraft this year
The Raiders should force the ball to Ruggs on plays designed to get him the ball in space like screens and jet sweeps, although he doesn’t have ideal quarterbacks to get him the ball in the deep passing game. He could still have some big weeks in good matchups.
Jefferson will step into a starting role opposite Adam Thielen, but he doesn’t have the deep game of Stefon Diggs and will probably make a smallish fantasy impact this year unless Thielen goes down again this year.
Jeudy is a polished route runner but the Broncos cup runneth over with speedy targets and Drew Lock isn’t an established distributor of the ball to the extent to make this a high octane passing game full of overachievers. He’s being overdrafted in redraft leagues.
Shenault is intriguing after the Jaguars expressed a desire to use him all over the formation. As a raw talent he is the equal of any wide receiver in this class, but he has a less than ideal quarterback and a deep if underwhelming group of receivers to share targets with. He could come out of the gate hot and demand targets.
Pittman will almost certainly start outside and get some good matchups against AFC South corners while defenses worry more about TY Hilton and the running game. His chances of making a big year impact are being undervalued.
Aiyuk was obviously coveted by the 49ers after they moved up in the first round to get him, but his game has overlap with Deebo Samuel and the San Francisco passing game will be crowded with the potential to have low volume in any given game, so he was the least attractive redraft target of the big rookie names until we heard that Deebo Samuel suffered a Jones fracture in mid-June and might not be ready for Week 1.
UPSIDE BENCH STASHES
Mecole Hardman, KC
- Target at ADP: Hardman, Lazard, Stills, Sims
- Consider at ADP: P. Williams, TWilliams, Renfrow, Samuel
- Pass at ADP: M. Williams, Perriman
Strategy: Now we are filling our bench in the late rounds and the options are still attractive with a story you can tell yourself where any of them can hit. Mike Williams is the most overvalued as the downward drag of the Chargers new quarterback isn’t being priced in correctly. Preston Williams and Breshad Perriman are valued correctly, but both could get off to slow starts. Tyrell Williams and Hunter Renfrow are undervalued because Williams' hot start and Renfrow's hot finish have been forgotten, but they will have company in the Raiders passing game this year. Hardman, Lazard, and Stills are all undervalued simply because of the quarterbacks they play with, and Hardman could take a big leap in year two. Sims had a torrid end to the season and Washington didn’t add anyone in the passing game. He’s free at the end of drafts.
Hardman will need a Sammy Watkins injury or a big enough explosion in ability in Year 2 to force Andy Reid’s hand into a bigger role to be relevant in fantasy leagues, but neither one is a stretch. It’s always exciting to take players attached to a quarterback like Patrick Mahomes II, so break ties in favor of Hardman.
Samuel had a monster second half with numbers that approach WR1 level production when rushing contributions are added. He could become more entrenched as the top wide receiver target, but an offseason foot fracture could threaten his Week 1 availability, so he's a deeper bench pick for now until we get more encouraging news.
Lazard is an Aaron Rodgers favorite and he should be able to hold off Devin Funchess to become the #2 receiver. If Lazard can show improvement in year three in the league and this pass offense can create more than one fantasy-relevant target, he could be a late-round steal.
Stills may not even be with the Texans to open the season if they can find a taker, but he probably has the smallest durability worry of the Texans receivers and he’s the cheapest in drafts.
Williams broke out in the game that he tore his ACL. If he can get back on the field for Week 1, he’ll be a decent end of the bench sleeper to stash in hopes that the Dolphins get consistent quarterback play and better production under Chan Gailey after Chad O’Shea was panned and ended up being fired last year, his first as an offensive coordinator.
Williams took a big step back in touchdown production last year with lots of near misses from eroding starter Philip Rivers, and sadly the outlook doesn’t look much better with Tyrod Taylor. He is overvalued.
It’s easy to forget that Williams started off strong in 2019 with touchdowns in four straight games to open the season before hurting his foot, which limited his production once he returned. He’s worth a very late pick to see what happens when he’s healthy and has Henry Ruggs III to keep safeties occupied in the deep passing game.
Perriman looked as good as ever once he got a chance late in the season after the Bucs lost both of their starting receivers. He will replace Robby Anderson and might have similar ability in the deep passing game, but Anderson was frustratingly inconsistent in the box score, so Perriman is only worth a late wait-and-see pick playing with a new quarterback under a finicky head coach.
Go back and look at Sims production in December, it will surprise you. He was a solid WR2 in the last four games of the year and Washington did nothing to upgrade the players around him in the passing game. He could pick up right where he left off and be one of the steals of the late rounds.
Renfrow got going in a big way in the last two weeks once he was healthy even though no one was watching. He showed some explosiveness to add value to his dependable slot receiver game and may end up being Derek Carr’s favorite target.
WHAT THE HECK BENCH STASHES
Strategy: All of these picks are ones you’ll likely kick yourself for making, but you never know. Jeffery might not even be healthy to start the seasons and he’s the most overdrafted. Brown is the most undervalued, you can take him late and release him after Week 1 in the most valuable waiver wire run of the year if he doesn’t sign anywhere. Davis is a perennial disappointment, but hope springs eternal if defenses focus more on AJ Brown this year. Cobb is a fun late-round bet on him being the healthiest Texans wide receiver. He played better last year than you remember.
Jeffery’s foot injury is going to endanger his Week 1 status and starting the year on the PUP list isn’t out of the range of possibilities. He’ll be the #1 receiver for the Eagles if he can get healthy, but if they hadn’t guaranteed his 2020 salary in a restructure last year, he wouldn’t be on the team.
Brown worked out with Lamar Jackson in the offseason, which is enough reason to spend a late-round pick on him to see if he signs in Baltimore or really anywhere before the season. If he doesn’t that just gives you an extra bullet in the first and most important waiver wire run of the regular season.
Davis could be a hit if the Titans decide to use him in the slot more or if defenses decide to make someone other than AJ Brown beat them in the passing game. Chances are, he’ll just be a disappointment again this year after the Titans didn’t pick up his fifth-year option.
Cobb played better than you think in the slot for the Cowboys last year and Bill O’Brien obviously saw him as a potential solution to the team’s need at wide receiver after he traded away DeAndre Hopkins (and before he traded for Brandin Cooks). Anyone who could become the main target for Deshaun Watson is worth a late pick, and Cobb was the only of the top four Texans receivers to play 16 games last year.
DECENT TALENTS LOOKING FOR TARGETS
Strategy: Washington and Westbrook are still on the upslope side of their career arcs and both have shown promise, but they are more likely to blend into their pass offenses than stand out. They are both still worthy picks to fill out your roster.
UNKNOWN TALENTS LOOKING FOR TARGETS
Strategy: This group is full of question marks but oozing with ability. Boykin could be a hit if Marquise Brown can’t stay healthy, or if he takes a step forward in year two. Higgins could emerge ahead of John Ross and Auden Tate or could be eased in as a rookie. Duvernay could be an even bigger hit than Boykin if Brown can’t stay healthy. Campbell had a great offseason and preseason before injuries derailed his rookie year, but the Colts seem more smitten with Michael Pittman Jr now. None of them are worth drafting except in deep/long bench leagues, but any could become one of the hottest waiver wire pickups of the year.
Strategy: This tier is much more valuable in deep leagues than typical leagues. It’s basically a slot receiver tier. All of this group is too peripheral in the likely target trees to be an every-week start, but injuries or matchups could create startable windows in PPR leagues and they might save your bacon when your options are thin.
WAIVER WIRE WATCH LIST
John Ross, Auden Tate, CIN
K.J. Hamler, DEN
Andy Isabella, Hakeem Butler, KeeSean Johnson, ARI
N'Keal Harry, NE
Jalen Hurd, Trent Taylor, Dante Pettis, Kendrick Bourne, SF
Keelan Cole, Chris Conley, JAX
Devin Funchess, Marquez Valdes-Scantling, GB
Chase Claypool, PIT
Josh Reynolds, Van Jefferson, LAR
J.J. Arcega-Whiteside, Marquise Goodwin, PHI
Demarcus Robinson, KC
Zach Pascal, IND
Nelson Agholor, LV
Phillip Dorsett, David Moore, SEA
Olabisi Johnson, Tajae Sharpe, MIN
Kelvin Harmon, WAS
Equanimeous St. Brown, Jake Kumerow, GB
Laquon Treadwell, ATL
Tre'Quan Smith, NO
Strategy: The path to value is unclear is this tier, but there are young rising talents, players who could move into larger roles with good quarterbacks if injuries strike above them on the depth chart, and a few players who have previously reached fantasy relevance, so we need to keep tabs on them. Training camp and preseason buzz should help us sort out this group into priority targets and players we will stay away from. My favorite speculative picks to watch at the open of camp are Ross, St. Brown, Harmon, Pettis, Butler, Isabella, and Cole.