It’s now the beginning of July. Off-season workouts and Mini-camps have concluded for all 32 NFL teams and we are about a month away from training camp. The 2017 preseason will kick off August 3 in Canton, Ohio, when the Dallas Cowboys take on the Arizona Cardinals in the annual Hall of Fame Game.
It’s time to start getting into the fantasy football mode. It can be hard for those of us who are immersed in MLB fantasy this summer but being proactive is always best. With that being said let’s look at my 2017 season-long standard WR rankings as of Early July 2017.
#1 – Antonio Brown
For me, Brown is the fantasy king of receivers. I know he will be 29 this month, but until somebody knocks the king of the mountain off of his peak, Brown will continue to look down upon his kingdom.
If you have had Brown the last four season’s you have most likely done very well in your league. Brown has scored 10 or more standard fantasy points in 70.2 percent of his games over the past four seasons, and as we know he is Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger’s favorite target.
He caught 106 passes for 1,284 yards and 12 touchdowns last season and is more than likely going to eclipse 100 catches again this season. If you are playing PPR then there is no debate on who the top option is, and even if you aren’t, Brown is the safest bet to take you to the promise land of any fantasy WR.
#2 – Julio Jones
Julio Jones is the most complete WR in the NFL right now and plays for probably the most explosive offensive team in the league as well. Yes, the Falcons choked away Super Bowl 51 but it wasn’t Jones’ fault and in fact, he may have reeled in one of the greatest catches in Super Bowl history during the fourth quarter.
With that being said, Jones needs to stay healthy for him to pay off and has had a foot injury hamper him throughout the course of his last couple seasons. From 2015 to 2016 his targets dropped by over 30 percent, his receptions dropped by nearly 40 percent and his yards dropped by nearly 25 percent.
No other WR gives you a chance to have a massive game than Jones. Last season he had a 12 catch, 300-yard game against Carolina. When he is healthy, there is absolutely no stopping this freak of nature.
#3 – Jordy Nelson
Jordy Nelson is the lucky human being that gets to catch footballs thrown by the most gifted quarterback to ever play the position. Nelson proved that his ACL injury is in the past and fantasy owners should have no worries about Nelson’s health moving forward.
Don’t forget that the Kansas State product was fantasy’s number one receiver in standard leagues last year. Rodgers targeted Nelson a career-high 152 times and believe it or not, Sportsline has his 2017 projection at 157.
Big play potential is always there with Nelson, who has always had a knack for beating defensive backs deep with his deceptively fast feet. I saved the best part for last, he is a touchdown machine. He led the NFL with last season with 14 touchdown receptions. I expect Nelson to pick up right where he left off last season and put up numbers alongside Jones and Brown.
#4 – Odell Beckham, Jr.
The most popular NFL player comes in at number four on my current list. OBJ, is only 24-years-old and will most likely only get better for the next few years. He now has future Hall of Fame WR Brandon Marshall garnering attention on the opposite side of the field, which bodes well for him.
The reason Beckham isn’t ranked ahead of Jordy Nelson is the fact that he seems to be a guy who can get lost during games and his heart doesn’t seem to be in it on every play. Consistency is not his thing as he had six games under nine standard fantasy points last season. He caught a career-low 59.8 percent of his targets and dropped six passes tied for third most in the league last season. Comparing his catch percentage to other top wide receivers like Jones (64%), Nelson (64%), Brown (69%) gives you an idea of where he should be in that category.
However, you cannot ignore his abilities and the fact that he could be poised to take a giant step (pun-intended) and have a breakout campaign. It remains to be seen, but if Beckham finds his way on your team he will make you as emotional as he is, you take the good, bad, and the ugly with the master of the one-handed grab. Although there is no risk taking with the young star because we know he will produce, you must ask: will he become an every week guy you can count on?
#5 – Mike Evans
The Buccaneers are going to be a “sexy” team for fantasy owners this year during your draft. With good reason, they have added Alabama tight end O.J. Howard and big play threat DeSean Jackson to go along with Evans and their young, up and coming quarterback Jameis Winston.
Evans was a fantasy monster last year but like Beckham, struggles with drops and his catch rate was an awful 55 percent, which was among the worst for top-tier WR’s like Evans. Like Beckham, he too will make you pull your hair out one week and have you jumping for joy the next.
With all of that said, he is in a great position to improve on last year’s success with more weapons around him. Evans and Winston have a really great relationship and both want to continue to ascend to an elite level at their positions. If he’s available, don’t let him slip away.
6. Amari Cooper
7. Michael Thomas
8. A.J. Green
9. Dez Bryant
10. T.Y. Hilton
11. Alshon Jeffery
12. Brandin Cooks
13. DeAndre Hopkins
14. Doug Baldwin
15. Terrell Pryor
16. Demaryius Thomas
17. Keenan Allen
18. Sammy Watkins
19. Davante Adams
20. Golden Tate
21. Michael Crabtree
22. Jarvis Landry
23. Emmanual Sanders
24. Martavius Bryant
25. Tyreek Hill
26. Eric Decker
27. Willie Snead
28. Larry Fitzgerald
29. Julian Edelman
30. Jeremy Maclin
31. Donte Moncrief
32. Jamison Crowder
33. Brandon Marshall
34. Corey Coleman
35. Jordan Matthews
36. Corey Davis
37. Stefon Diggs
Stay tuned for my TE, and IDP rankings coming soon.
Nick Olson — @CoachO37 on Twitter