Hello all of you beautiful people. I am back with another helping of my fantasy football rankings for my early top 10 rookie wide receivers heading into the 2017 season.
My running back rankings were fairly straight-forward and didn’t offer too many surprises. Hopefully my wide receiver rankings offer a bit more to be debated. Some picks are obvious. Others may be higher or lower than expected. I tried really hard to analyze the landing spot/potential offensive role combinations to justify my rankings.
A lot will happen between now and the 2017 season, so these rankings will change as events play out during training camp and the preseason.
Same deal as last time, folks. Who is too high? Too low? Who did I leave off but shouldn’t have? Drop me a line in the comments section or hit me up on Twitter at @ChargersLAtely and let’s talk about it.
Let’s dive in.
— Tennessee Titans (@Titans) May 25, 2017
1.) Corey Davis – Tennessee Titans
Forty, Schmorty. Corey Davis doesn’t need a dang 40 time to take his place atop these rankings. With a guy like him, the film is all you need. Davis possesses incredible acceleration which allows him to take shorter passes to the house. Landing with the Titans, a team devoid of a solid WR1 allows Davis to come in and fight for the lion’s share of targets from Day 1. Current #1 Rishard Matthews showed flashes towards the end of last season but in no way has the top spot under wraps. With Matthews, Delanie Walker, and fellow draftee Taywan Taylor out of WKU, Davis should almost never see a double-team. Demarco Murray and Derrick Henry should keep the defense honest, as well. It’ll be “pick your poison” for anyone who plays the Titans in 2017.
2.) Zay Jones – Buffalo Bills
I am fully aware of the knee injury Jones has sustained recently, but as he is only day-to-day I’m going to write this with the assumption that he will be perfectly healthy for Week 1. Zay Jones was all kinds of productive at ECU. He is about as reliable as it gets and that is exactly the type of receiver Tyrod Taylor needs. Sammy Watkins has been terribly frustrating, Robert Woods went back home to LA, and Charles Clay is a little too up-and-down for my liking. Jones runs crisp routes, has soft hands, and was a standout against top competition during the Reese’s Senior Bowl week. He has a very good chance to take the top spot in Buffalo and with Lesean McCoy as the only proven commodity in the backfield, the running game may not be as prominent as in years past.
3.) John Ross – Cincinnati Bengals
I recently watched a video where some guy got a John Ross card in Madden Ultimate Team and he had a 100 speed. 100 SPEED. He was absolutely unguardable and it was the most unfair thing I have ever seen within a video game. Unfortunately for the Bengals, this is not reality. John Ross is a much more complete receiver than most think. He is an above-average route runner who excels in the redzone which should reward his fantasy owners quite a bit. There are a lot of mouths to feed in a Cincinnati offense that includes A.J. Green, Tyler Boyd, and Tyler Eifert. Add in a backfield that includes able pass-catcher Giovanni Bernard and newcomer Joe Mixon and you have yourself a plethora of players to take the heat off of Ross in any situation.
The best is yet to come… pic.twitter.com/F1ZjoGGQE7
— JuJu Smith-Schuster (@TeamJuJu) May 23, 2017
4.) JuJu Smith-Schuster – Pittsburgh Steelers
In my initial rankings I had JuJu at number 9, barely squeaking into my top ten. Not for a lack of talent, but I saw the Steelers wide receiver room as extremely crowded with the likes of Antonio Bryant, Sammie Coates, Eli Rogers, and the recently reinstated Martavis Bryant. At second glance, Coates was a poor man’s Martavis Bryant and Eli Rogers has exclusively played out of the slot. I would be flabbergasted (great word, Michael) if he doesn’t leapfrog both of them early in camp. Brown is Brown and Bryant will have his role to play, but JuJu is the best bet to play opposite of Brown as their WR2.
In ’16 Tyrell Williams (69) had 38 less receptions than Larry Fitzgerald (107) but 36 more yards. — Justin Lonero (@JustinLonero) May 26, 2017
5.) Mike Williams – Los Angeles Chargers
If I thought Juju landed in a crowded WR room, Williams actually did. This roster already includes Keenan Allen*, Tyrell Williams, Travis Benjamin, and Dontrelle Inman. At least on the depth chart, Williams will probably come in at the #3 spot behind Allen and Williams, but my bet is he will eventually play opposite Allen with Tyrell playing mostly from the slot. Tyrell was in the top 5 for most yards gained from the slot position and I assume the coaches will try and exploit his athleticism from there going forward. Williams has elite jump ball skills and plays a sort of “bully ball” against smaller defenders. He may not have blazing speed, but he knows how to use his size to his advantage and has recently shown a prowess of switching to defender-mode when he needs to break up a likely interception. Watch out for Williams in the redzone as well. He should always find himself 1-on-1 with defenders as defenses must account for a future Hall of Famer in tight end Antonio Gates and budding star Hunter Henry.
6.) Cooper Kupp – Los Angeles Rams
After watching Goff tape from 2016, I’m not sure how confident I am ranking Kupp this high. This is based solely on the competition he will have for targets. Kenny Britt is gone and there isn’t a reliable tight end on the depth chart. Maybe Kendricks? Is Higbee still supposed to be good? I don’t know anymore. What I do know is that Kupp was able to succeed against the best talent during Senior Bowl week. He displays some crafty route-running and has some savvy moves to make up for his lack of straight-line speed and overall athleticism. He will be a reliable target for Goff in an offense that is begging for something to excite the fanbase other than Todd Gurley. The leap Goff makes from year 1 to year 2 will be the deciding factor in just how high or low Kupp should be on this list. The talent is there, but what is a receiver without his QB?
7.) Amara Darboh – Seattle Seahawks
Darboh is a big, physical receiver who could potentially be the bookend opposite of Doug Baldwin. He isn’t a burner. He isn’t exceptionally shifty. He is, however, a smart route-runner who knows how to adjust routes to make passing angles friendlier for his quarterback. He is a willing and able blocker which should earn him some points with coaches and lead to a good amount of snaps in two-receiver sets. His biggest competition for the WR2 spot will be Jermaine Kearse. Tyler Lockett will get his snaps, but he isn’t a true outside receiver so I have no worries there. Overall, Darboh has NFL size and a knack for doing the little things right which should lead to him finding success at the next level. Pete Carroll is going to love this guy and that’s what I’m banking on.
8.) Kenny Golladay – Detroit Lions
Golladay is a name most fans probably hadn’t heard of prior to this year’s NFL draft. An uber productive player for the Huskies over the last several years, Golladay adds some needed height to the Lions receiving corps that fans haven’t seen since their beloved Megatron sailed off into the sunset. Detroit has two established wide receivers in Marvin Jones and Golden Tate, but I’m fairly positive Matthew Stafford won’t argue against a new pair of hands to throw to. We all know the Lions and future president Jim Bob Cooter (s/o Matthew Berry) love to spread the wealth among everyone in his offense, including two very capable backs in Ameer Abdullah and Theo Riddick. If Golladay breaks into some significant playing time, expect it to be in three wide receiver sets which could be seen more often than not.
— Titans 101 (@Titans_101) May 28, 2017
9.) Taywan Taylor – Tennessee Titans
One of the premier deep-threats in college football this past season. Taylor spent most of his time getting behind opposing defenses which helped a ton for his YAC statistic as well. After using their first round selection on Corey Davis, the Titans find themselves with a slightly crowded group all vying for targets. It’s safe to say that Delanie Walker, Davis, and Rishard Matthews will all be in line for looks before Taylor, but I still believe the former Hilltopper will see enough targets to stay fantasy relevant, or at least a solid stash due to the recent allegations against second-year pro Tajae Sharpe. Expect Taylor to see most of his work from the slot as he will be used to open things up underneath for Davis and Walker.
10.) Curtis Samuel – Carolina Panthers
I was skeptical about putting Samuel in my top 10 as he seems like too much of a gadget player for my liking. Still listed by most as a wide receiver and a running back, his situation has me seeing flashes of Percy Harvin and we all know how he turned out. Regardless of what his “real” position is, Samuel is a nightmare in the open field and the Panthers will do their fair share of work to get the ball in his hands. With Samuel’s versatility, the Panthers’ offense can have both McCaffrey and Samuel in the backfield. From there they can motion into an empty formation while still keeping the opponent in a base defense. Mismatches will be the theme for Carolina in 2017.