In my experience as a fantasy football player, wide receivers are one of the most vital positions to be able to win your championship. This article is going to take you through my top 5 fantasy wide receivers for the 2019 season. I am not going to lie, deciding my top 5 wide receivers was the hardest part of doing my rankings this year. I can see a path for MANY receivers outside of my top 5 to finish at or near the top by the end of the year; some of those players that I also was considering for this list were Odell Beckham, JuJu Smith-Schuster, Mike Evans and Antonio Brown. I can understand any argument for these players to finish above those listed in this article and find it difficult to predict who is going to finish where. I also believe that wide receiver is very deep position and would be hesitant to take them near the beginning of my fantasy draft. An array of wide receivers that I still think have a chance for great fantasy production are falling all the way down in the 6th-10th round. Regardless, here are my top 5 players at their position and my case for why each of them will finish near the top. I’ll also point out some of the downfalls of these players so that fantasy players who read this will see both the pros and cons of each player and be able to make an educated decision.
Deandre Hopkins #1
For fantasy purposes, Deandre Hopkins, in my opinion, is the safest and most consistent wide receiver in the league. Hopkins’ skills and volume in the Texans’ offense led him to finish as the #1 WR in fantasy last year. The Houston Texans have made it a point to get Hopkins the ball from Deshaun Watson each week. Watson has steadily improved on throwing the ball and used Hopkins as his security blanket all of last year. Watching these two players on the field together made it feel like they could do no wrong. All that Watson had to do was throw the ball in the general vicinity of Hopkins, and his #1 wide receiver would go up and get it. The chemistry and trust that Watson has in Hopkins were put on display last year as Watson would just throw up 50/50 balls down the field for Hopkins to seemingly come down with time after time. Hopkins ended the season with 115 receptions and 1572 receiving yards which were both #2 in the league. The other great part about having Hopkins on your fantasy roster is that he is a major red-zone threat. Hopkins had a 32.9% red zone target share and ended the year with 11 total touchdowns. Touchdowns can be hard to predict year to year, but Hopkins should continue to be used in the red zone because his size and body control is a major advantage against defenders.
To speak to the consistency and volume of Hopkins, we have to take a look at snap share, along with target share, within the offense. Hopkins last year had a 100% snap share which means that he was on the field for every single snap that the offense took. He also had a 32.9% target share last year. What this means is that 32.9% of the teams passing targets were meant for Hopkins. Both of these measurements were #1 in the league. The Texans and Watson know that Hopkins is a physical freak on the field, and they use that to their advantage by getting him as much volume as possible.
The statistics could be skewed in Hopkins’ direction because of Will Fuller’s injury last year, but Coutee was still there to take some targets away from Hopkins. DHop was far and away the Texans’ best weapon for the offense last year, and they will continue to look his way no matter what other skill players are on the offense.
Julio Jones #2
Although Julio Jones is not my first ranked wide receiver in fantasy this year, he is still my favorite pick and will be who I target in most of my drafts. Julio Jones is not going until the back of the first round and has an ADP (average draft position) of 1.10 which is the 10th pick in the first round. If you are in a 12 team league, I believe that this is a great value. Jones is currently going behind both Hopkins and Davante Adams. There is also the possibility of Michael Thomas and Odell Beckham Jr. going ahead of him if your league mates are particularly bullish on these players. Julio is a different kind of talent when it comes to wide receivers in the league. He finished the 2018-19 season with 1677 yards which was #1 in the entire league. This means that Jones was putting up on average 104.8 yards per game. What Jones brings to your fantasy roster is being able to have a week winning performance every game. He will provide a consistent floor for your team at the WR position while having the upside to perform as the #1 wide receiver in fantasy each week. Julio Jones saw only 82.7% of the offenses snap share last year which was #42 in the league. The interesting fact about this statistic is that even though he was only on the field for 82.7% of snaps, he still saw 170 targets last season which was #1 in the league. Matt Ryan is constantly looking in Julio’s directing when he is on the field. The other statistic to take a look at is the total target distance. Total target distance shows the receiver’s yards for all of their targets that they received and is a great way to predict fantasy wide receivers week to week. Julio Jones ended the year with 2417 total air yards last year which was #1 in the league as well. To put this into context of why it is great for fantasy, Deandre Hopkins, who was the #1 fantasy WR last year, only had 2008 yards in total target distance. This means that Julio had roughly 400 more in air yards than the best fantasy wide receiver last season.
The biggest downfall to Julio that I can see is that there are quite a few weapons in the Falcons’ offense. Calvin Ridley is on the rise after his rookie year, and Mohammad Sanu is an above-average WR. The other thing that could stifle Julio’s production is the return of Davonte Freeman which means the Falcons could lean more heavily on the running game this year. Despite these potential downfalls, the Falcons hired Dirk Koetter, who unleashed the passing game in Tampa Bay last year, as their offensive coordinator. There should be no real reasons to worry about Julio’s production this year, and I am expecting a huge season from Julio this year.
Davante Adams #3
After having a rough start to his career, Davante Adams has been a surprisingly great wide receiver for the Green Bay Packers the last couple of years. Although Adams’ biggest attraction for fantasy may seem like Aaron Rodgers, I believe that Adams is one of the most talented wide receivers in the league and would be able to perform even without Rodgers throwing the ball (having Rodgers as your QB does not hurt though). After Jordy Nelson left the Packers a couple of years ago, Davante Adams quickly took his spot as the #1 WR on the team. Adams became his QB’s favorite offensive weapon on the team and is his first option when the team needs a big play. The Packers last year had the #2 highest passing volume offense in the league, averaging 43.3 passing plays per game, which could see a slight decrease now that Mike McCarthy is gone, but there should still be plenty of opportunity in a high powered offense for Adams to be a fantasy contributor. My favorite thing about Davante Adams’ skillset is his ability to score in the red zone. Last season, Adams finished with a 44.3% red zone target share which was #1 in the league at the position. He received a total of 31 targets in the red zone last year, and Rodgers constantly was looking his way when down on the goal-line. So although Davante Adams’ receiving yards, which was 1386 yards last year, may seem kind of low in the eyes of fantasy players, he makes up for it by getting the opportunity for a ridiculous amount of touchdowns. I could see a world where everything goes Adams’ way next season and he finishes with 1300-1500 receiving yards and 15-18 TDs; this would easily land him in the top 3 fantasy receivers for the year.
There are unfortunately some issues that could arise with Adams in fantasy this year. First off, the Packers fired Mike McCarthy in the offseason. On the surface, many people were happy with this change as they thought that McCarthy’s philosophy had gotten too stale, but the grass is not always greener on the other side. We know that McCarthy’s offense was great for Adams’ production and having a new head coach could cause some problems early on in the season until everyone is comfortable in the new scheme. While this may be the case, as long as Adams has his quarterback’s confidence, there should be no reason that Adams is drafted outside of the top 3 in any fantasy draft.
Michael Thomas #4
Michael Thomas comes in as my #4 ranked WR in .5 PPR leagues. The New Orleans Saints just paid Michael Thomas a 5 year, 100 million dollar contract which currently makes him the highest-paid wide receiver in the league. Thomas was a potential holdout before they got this contract done. This contract speaks to the skills that Thomas has on the field, and the Saints believe that they can build around him for years to come. Fantasy players may not be excited about drafting Michael Thomas because he is not quite as flashy as some of the players higher up on my list. Thomas is not quite as flashy as Julio Jones, he is extremely consistent when it comes to fantasy production. Last year, Michael Thomas finished the year with a 28.8% target share in one of the best offenses in the league. As long as Thomas continues to dominate in this offense, he will be a top performer for fantasy players. Michael Thomas is great on the field but is made even better by his future Hall of Fame quarterback Drew Brees. Brees counts on Thomas not only as his possession receiver but also his big play and deep ball abilities. Michael Thomas had a tremendously efficient year last year. With Drew Brees throwing him the ball, he had a catchable target rate of 95.2% which equates to 140 out of 147 targets. The catchable targets rate of 95.2% was #1 in the league and speaks to how great the chemistry is between Brees and Thomas. While they may not repeat the efficiency of this stat during the upcoming season, as long as Thomas continues to see great targets in a great offense, there is no reason for him to drop off this year.
The only reason that Thomas concerns me is that after taking a deeper look, his total target distance was only 1175 last year. This means that if he was not so efficient catching the ball, he could have had a low receiving yardage statistic last season. Despite last year’s low total target distance, I am confident taking Michael Thomas as a top 5 fantasy wide receiver as long as Drew Brees is the one throwing him the ball.
Tyreek Hill #5
I will begin this part of the article by saying that I do not associate player’s personal lives and fantasy football. I completely understand if there are fantasy players out there who do not want to take a player that they do not like and would like to keep Tyreek as far away from their top 5 as possible. With that being said, I have chosen to completely ignore Hill’s personal life and troubles and just focus on where he is going to finish in fantasy. Hill was a threat to be suspended from the NFL this year, but recent news came out that said Tyreek is unlikely to be suspended for any length this season which means he will be a valuable fantasy asset. Hill is considered to be one of the fastest players in the league. He will usually get at least a couple of deep targets per game. He also is used in somewhat of a gadget role and is utilized a lot in the screen game as well. Hill is in Andy Reid’s great offense and has my #1 ranked fantasy quarterback this year, Patrick Mahomes. Andy Reid knows how to use offensive weapons and utilizes their strengths as much as possible. Reid uses Hill’s speed to beat the coverage deep which is why Hill finished the year with 17.00 yards per reception which was #8 in the entire NFL. Last year, Hill finished with only 87 receptions which were #10 in the league, but he still managed to accrue 1479 receiving yards which was #4 in the league and equates to roughly 93 yards per game. This shows how dangerous that Hill is both catching the deep ball and also making defenders miss while racking up yards after the catch. Patrick Mahomes is great at throwing the deep ball and connects with Hill down the field constantly. Hill finished last season with 522 yards after the catch which was #2 in the league, and he excels in both the screen and short passing game because of how fast he is. Once he catches the ball and finds an opening, his speed allows him to blow by defenders in the open field and take any reception to the house. The other surprising part of Tyreek is how many touchdowns he scored last year. Because of his small stature at only 5’ 10”, 185 lbs, it would lead fantasy players to not expect a touchdown production out of him. Contrary to this belief, Hill scored 12 touchdowns last year which was #2 last year at his position. Most of these touchdowns came from outside of the red zone, but as long as Patrick Mahomes continues to throw him the deep ball, Hill should be able to keep his touchdown statistic somewhat consistent.
Tyreek Hill is being devalued in many fantasy drafts because of his off the field issues, but as long as you are willing to look past these issues, he could be an absolute steal as he is currently going in the middle of the 2nd round.