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Fantasy Football Roundtable: Wide Receivers

USA Today Sports

During the last several seasons, wide receivers have become more and more important in fantasy football.

Five of the top eight scorers at any position last season were wide receivers - Antonio Brown, Julio Jones, Brandon Marshall, DeAndre Hopkins and Odell Beckham. A few other wideouts finished just below the elite echelon, including Allen Robinson, Larry Fitzgerald, A.J. Green, Jarvis Landry, Doug Baldwin, Demaryius Thomas and Brandin Cooks. Dez Bryant, Jordy Nelson, Alshon Jeffery and Kelvin Benjamin will be returning from injury-marred seasons, adding more depth to the position. And another capable rookie class should provide immediate returns.

Chances are your fantasy football team will not be competing for the championship next season without a couple blue-chip wide receivers. Receivers have become so consistent and productive in fantasy football that stockpiling receivers at the expense of other traditionally premium positions has become a winning strategy. Target wide receivers early and often.

Most Overvalued

Demaryius Thomas: Thomas is one of my favorite players in the NFL, and he is undoubtedly one of the best receivers in the league. However, it is really hard to trust the quarterback situation in Denver. Mark Sanchez is not consistent, and there is no way to know what Denver has in Paxton Lynch until he steps on the field. - Matt Cohen

Jordy Nelson: I like him, but there is too much risk where he is being drafted in my opinion. - Yitzi Weiss

Jordy Nelson: Coming off a torn ACL at 31 years old and always was a product of the system. The system isn’t what it used to be with a regressing Randall Cobb, vulnerable OL and no matchup creating TE. - Vasilis Lericos

Jordy Nelson: And you know that one Packers fan in your draft is gonna take him too early. - Nathan Beaucage

Demaryius Thomas: Thomas is a great player, but it's hard to see him making a serious impact week to week when he'll be catching passes from Trevor Siemian and the Sanchize throwing to him. - Jacob Louque

Most Undervalued

Stefon Diggs:  Diggs had an extremely good rookie campaign last year, and he will look to build on it. The addition of first round pick Laquon Treadwell will limit the amount that defenses will double team Diggs. The Vikings have a great OL, and a better quarterback than most give them credit for. Teddy Bridgewater will take advantage of Diggs’s speed on the way to a breakout year for the both the QB and the WR. - Matt Cohen

Stefon Diggs: His production last year should continue with a bigger, more complimentary threat across from him in Laquan Treadwell. - Yitzi Weiss

Allen Hurns: Top 15 WR last season is ranked in the low 30s at the position. Averaged more than ten points per game with double digit TDs in 2015 and will see plenty of single coverage. - Vasilis Lericos

Brandon Marshall: I'm seeing last year's WR #3 going way past his ADP of WR9. With good health and a capable QB, I don't see how he significantly regresses this year. - Nathan Beaucage

Jarvis Landry: Landry's development will continue in Adam Gase's offense this season, and his ability to work the middle of the field could translate to big fantasy numbers, especially in PPR leagues. - Jacob Louque

Safest Pick

Antonio Brown: Brown shreds every defense he faces. Defensive coordinators don’t plan to shut him down, all they can hope to do is slow him down. If Ben Roethlisberger can stay healthy, Brown could realistically average 18+ points per game. - Matt Cohen

Julio Jones: Julio has been a top pick basically every year, and this year should be no different. I considered Antonio Brown with this pick, but with Martavis out and some changes on the offensive line, I think there is a bigger range in his performance than Julio. - Yitzi Weiss

Julio Jones: Still at the top of his game after averaging 15 points per game last year. He is the centerpiece of the team with a bad defense and could benefit from upgrades at #2 WR and OL. - Vasilis Lericos

Antonio Brown: I shouldn't even have to explain this one. He's just the best in the league right now. He can be the best in fantasy as long as Big Ben is upright. - Nathan Beaucage

Antonio Brown: Brown is getting buzz as the probable 1st overall pick and deservedly so, as he'll again be the top option in what will be a highly explosive offense. - Jacob Louque

Biggest Bust Potential

Doug Baldwin: ESPN ranks Baldwin as the 20th best receiver, that seems high. Baldwin had an incredible stretch last season where he reeled in TD after TD. But the production he had for those three games is just not sustainable with a mediocre OL and emerging Tyler Lockett. - Matt Cohen

Allen Robinson: I think he has a succesful season this year, but with a questionable offensive line and a more efficient tandem at RB, there is room for a big slide in production. - Yitzi Weiss

Demaryius Thomas: Did not play well last season, including way too many concentration drops. Opportunities for big plays should be limited since DEN has a shutdown D paired with a porous OL and weak QB situation. The end of the second round is too rich for Demaryius right now. - Vasilis Lericos

Alston Jeffery: I'm a big fan of his talent and the volume he should see, but his sensitive soft tissues and the lack of an offense in Chicago have me very concerned. - Nathan Beaucage

Doug Baldwin: Baldwin had a great second half of last season, but if the Seahawks offense takes even a little bit of a step back, it's likely that he won't be able to justify where he's drafted. - Jacob Louque

Bounce Back Candidate

Jordy Nelson: This one is easy. Nelson missed the entire year last year, but is now healthy and ready to return. Last year showed how important Nelson is to that Green Bay offense, look for Rodgers to target Nelson early and often. - Matt Cohen

Jordan Matthews: Priced as the 30th WR off the board, Matthews had a down year but his production after 2 seasons is almost identical to that of Allen Robinson, who is ranked 23 slots higher. - Yitzi Weiss

Kelvin Benjamin: Unstoppable size in the redzone with vertical route ability. K.B. comes back from an ACL to a team that could be forced into more passing after losing Josh Norman in the secondary. - Kelvin Benjamin

Kelvin Benjamin: He's going to easily outperform his ADP of WR24. - Nathan Beaucage

Jordy Nelson: This might seem like a cop-out, but a lot of people don't love his value this year. I believe he'll have a great year, and be worthy of an early pick. - Jacob Louque

Top Rookie

Josh Doctson: While I believe Corey Coleman is a better player, Doctson is in a better position to succeed in his rookie year. The Redskins are a playoff contender while the Browns are, well, the Browns. Kirk Cousins had a breakout year last season with mediocre receivers, and now he gets one that can be a game-changing playmaker. - Matt Cohen

Michael Thomas: Going out on a limb here and saying Thomas will outproduce the more highly drafted wideouts. Brees has a proven track record of spreading the ball around and getting the most out his receivers. Thomas will have to compete for targets, but I think he will produce beyond expectations and be the best rookie. - Yitzi Weiss

Corey Coleman: Talent meets opportunity. Coleman should see a ton of garbage time touches on a bad team. They are not going to be in many games and don’t have anyone else to throw to. - Vasilis Lericos

Sterling Shepard: The best rookies have the best route trees. Shepard fits that description. He's also going to see lots of opportunities as the WR2/3 for the Giants. - Nathan Beaucage

Corey Coleman:  I'm not sure if the RG3 redemption tour will work out this year, but based on reports out of Berea, Ohio, Coleman is looking every bit the part of a rookie who is ready to star in the NFL. - Jacob Louque

Biggest Sleeper

Chris Conley: Conley showed flashes last year and will likely get an expanded role this year.  The Chiefs passing game hasn’t been very good, and Conley will hope to relieve some pressure from Jeremy Maclin. Conley could be a solid flex play, if not a WR3. His ceiling, at least for this year, is probably a WR2. Draft him in the mid to late rounds. - Matt Cohen

Mike Wallace: His chemistry with Joe Flacco has been impressive, and their strengths complement each other. Still, Wallace has shown more diverse abilities than in past seasons, and he should compliment the Ravens other top WR's Kamar Aiken and Steve Smith. - Yitzi Weiss

Tyler Lockett: Ranked as a low-end WR3, Lockett is a poor man’s Antonio Brown with WR1 potential. Finished his rookie season strong with nearly a ten point average over the final seven games.  Signs from Seattle point to an uptick in passing. - Vasilis Lericos

Tyler Lockett: He is absolutely electric. I think that he and Doug Baldwin will be the WR1 A/B in an efficient Seattle offense that is going to place a little more focus on the pass game than usual. - Nathan Beaucage

Jeremy Maclin: People know about Maclin at this point, but he doesn't get a lot of buzz as a top fantasy receiver. While he maybe shouldn't go in the first two rounds, anyone who is able to pick him up later is getting great value for Kansas City's number one receiver. - Jacob Louque