As NFL teams move to offensive systems that use running backs and tight ends as mismatches in the passing game, wide receivers as a whole are seeing their target share get spread a little thin. It has created a landscape where replacing a wideout who’s hurt or grossly under performing with someone off the waiver wire won’t exactly crush you as it would at running back or tight end. At least 49 wide receivers have averaged at least 10 PPR points per game in four of the past five seasons — and only 11 wide receivers total have averaged 20-plus PPR points.
This doesn’t mean you should wait forever to start taking wide receivers, though.
Your strategy for drafting wideouts should be based on how many you need to start each week and what your scoring system is. The more wide receivers you can start, and the more points you get for receptions, the more likely you’ll want to target them.
And if you’re not the risky type, wide receivers are a safer bet in Fantasy compared to running backs because they don’t get as hurt as frequently. They also have a built-in advantage in leagues where catches count. But there’s depth to the position that’s better than any other. The best ones are impossible to seamlessly replace, but once you get past the first five tiers, it’s not crazy to say that expectations are essentially the same for everyone.
No matter the round, there will always be wideouts worth taking. So the recommendation is to not prioritize any specific strategy for wide receivers and instead bake them into your roster around your approach for taking running backs, quarterbacks and tight ends. Obviously, if you chase wide receivers early, you won’t mind settling on lesser talent at other positions. That works for the best in full PPR, and especially if you can start at least three wideouts each week.
If you really want to feel secure, simply pick enough wide receivers from the first five tiers to cover your starting lineup requirements, then grab another two (maybe three) who have as much upside as possible to break out early on in the year. Many of them are in Tier 7.
It’s common sense that the wide receivers with high target volume will go early, but even the ones who can average 7.5 per game can finish with at least 120 in a season. Once those guys are gone, the pass catchers with 6.3 targets per game upside will go next since that average comes out to 100 per year. Faster wide receivers are always preferred, as are wideouts who play with accurate, strong-armed quarterbacks. That’s why you’ll see No. 2 guys like DK Metcalf and Calvin Ridley ranked ahead of No. 1s such as Julian Edelman or Brandin Cooks.
This is all reflected in the tiers, so consider using them to choose a wide receiver when the talent in the highest remaining tier is dwindling. And don’t sweat it if you whiff on one because you should be able to find someone who can give you decent production off the waiver wire once the season starts.
On Wednesday’s Fantasy Football Today podcast, we discussed the wide receivers in depth. Follow all our podcasts and subscribe here.
Here are the tiers:
PPR: High-potential backups
PPR: Solid Backups
PPR: Bench depth
Non-PPR: Very good
PPR: No. 3 WRs/Less upside
Non-PPR: High-potential backups
Non-PPR: Solid Backups
Non-PPR: Bench depth
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