We saw record- breaking stats from rookie wide receivers in 2014,
including three – Odell
Beckham Jr., Mike
Evans and Kelvin
Benjamin – cracking the top 20 in fantasy points. The pass-happy
trend in the NFL is leading to more points scored by the position,
as 17 receivers averaged double-digit fantasy points last season.
With so many quality options for fantasy owners to choose from,
the position’s arrow is definitely pointing up. Here are my top
15 wide receivers for 2015:
Thomas, DEN – My No. 1 wide receiver heading into 2014
didn’t disappoint and finished way ahead of Calvin Johnson, the
consensus No. 1 pick at the position. Assuming good health and
he stays put in Denver, Thomas will be a no-brainer, top-five
fantasy wideout even if the Broncos become less dependent on the
Antonio Brown (129 catches in 2014) will
remain the focal point of the Steelers passing game in 2015.
Brown, PIT – The most consistent of all fantasy receivers,
Brown has caught at least five passes for 50 yards in 37 straight
games. He has 239 catches the last two years combined. Even a
regression by Ben Roethlisberger won’t keep Brown out of the top
10. He’ll be one of the top three receivers taken in your draft
Bryant, DAL – Bryant has scored double-digit touchdowns
in each of the last three seasons (12, 13, 16). If the Cowboys
let DeMarco Murray walk, expect Bryant to see a few more targets
Jones, ATL – At 26, Jones is coming into the prime
of his career. He’s one of the more physically gifted at his position,
but injuries remain a concern. He’ll remain a highly productive
player in new OC Kyle Shanahan’s offensive scheme.
Beckham Jr., NYG – Speaking of gifted, OBJ proved in
his rookie season he’s capable of being the No. 1 target without
Victor Cruz and will be the No. 1 target if and when Cruz (Patellar
tendon) returns. Beckham posted almost identical numbers to Randall
Cobb last season and did so in four fewer games. Cobb was the
No. 6 fantasy wide receiver in 2014. Beckham is more than capable
of being fantasy’s No. 1 wide receiver in 2015.
Nelson, GB – Nelson is the deep threat in the Packers
offense and is coming of his best statistical season as a pro
(98-1,519-13). Back-to-back 16-game seasons should ease any injury
Johnson, DET – Megatron is the same age as Nelson (29)
but chronic knee injuries are starting to be a concern. He still
has plenty left in the tank, but this will be first season in
a long time the Lions top receiver won’t be the consensus top
receiver in fantasy football.
Maclin, PHI – Maclin’s ADP heading into last season
was the mid-sixth-round for standard 12-team leagues, which returned
huge value as he finished as the ninth-best receiver. He should
be a late second-round or early third-round pick in 2015, but
I suspect his ADP will hover in the fourth-round range.
Green, CIN – Green battled injuries in 2014 (toe, biceps,
concussion) on his way to his worst statistical season as pro
(69-1,041-6) but still finished 21st among wide receivers. Even
in the run-heavy Cincinnati offense, he will be a good bet to
bounce back into the fantasy top 10 in 2015.
Jeffery, CHI – Jeffery’s yards per reception declined
last season (16.0 to 13.3), but he cracked double-digit touchdowns
for the first time in his career. Brandon Marshall may be on the
move, and the lack of confidence from management regarding Jay
Cutler makes Jeffery difficult to project.
Benjamin, CAR – The Panthers don’t throw the ball very
well, but when they do, they throw it to Benjamin. His 145 targets
were tied for sixth-best with Jeffery, but his 73 receptions ranked
him 23rd among wide receivers. Touchdowns saved his value during
his rookie year, but he’ll need better efficiency numbers in order
to crack the top 10 as a sophomore.
Hilton, IND – The lack of redzone usage and his touchdown
upside limited to single digits keeps Hilton outside the top 10,
but I’ll take him as my WR2 any day of the week.
Cobb, GB – Cobb’s free agent status makes him a wildcard,
but if he returns to Green Bay, he’ll easily be in everyone’s
top 15. His 12 touchdowns last season were a career high.
Hopkins, HOU – Hopkins (76-1210-6) bested Andre Johnson
in 2014, and with Johnson turning 34 years old before the start
of the season, Hopkins should continue to be featured as the No.
1 receiving option. The torch has been passed.
Evans, TB – I’d have Evans higher, but the prospect
of a rookie quarterback in Tampa, likely Jameis Winston, may lead
to a more balanced offensive philosophy next season. The Bucs
run-pass ratio was 40-60 last season.