DeAndre Hopkins seemed to join Antonio Brown atop some WR rankings sets after his big 2017, but he didn't quite join the tier of fantasy's top wideout. You have to move down to the gap in PPR projection between #10 Mike Evans and #11 Amari Cooper to find a spread as large as the separation between Brown and Hopkins.
Perhaps more interesting is where we split the 2nd-round WRs and the large shelves of options that extend back from Round 6.
We're way past needing to make a case for this guy. You'd need to make a case against him standing alone atop the WR ranks, and we have yet to hear that case.
Odell Beckham Jr.
This level comprises proven target dominators with big TD potential. (Yep, even Julio.)
There's 10+ TD upside to every guy in this range as well. They just fall a bit short of the previous group. Adams, for example, heads into his 1st season as Aaron Rodgers' top target. Thielen gets a new QB and OC and might get a challenge from Stefon Diggs to remain Minnesota's target leader. Evans will miss his starting QB for the 1st 3 weeks. Green is perennially terrific, but the Bengals don't match most of the other offenses up here in scoring strength.
In this tier, we see 3 more players who will almost certainly lead their teams in targets -- and possibly dominate market share. The other guys: Diggs, who is an upward-trending young wideout in a strong offense; and Hill, Mahomes' #1 target in preseason and an electric talent.
Overall, this group doesn't pack quite the TD upside of the crew ahead.
There's more potential volatility to this quartet but also still WR1 upside. Tate and Thomas are the "floor" bets here, with Hill and Robinson likely to vary more widely in their weekly production. Baldwin drops a tier because he'll carry knee questions into the regular season. He called himself 80-85%, so decide how to weigh that risk when deciding whether to draft him.
Smith-Schuster enjoyed a stronger debut than likely even his biggest fans could have realistically predicted, leading all qualifying players in yards per target. The only real question for him is target volume. Similar deal with Jones, who must contend with Kenny Golladay's rise. Though it has been Jones aligning with Golladay more often in 2-WR sets for the Lions so far. Crabtree, Landry and Hogan will all at least start the season as clear lead wideouts for their teams -- and all quite possibly finish that way. A healthy Sanders looks like 1 of the better values in fantasy drafts, with Denver's QB situation at least improved.
Davis wins on upside among this quartet, with a chance to turn into Tennessee's dominant #1 target. He also must stay healthy, though -- the same affliction that has pushed Jeffery down the ranks this summer. Bet on Watkins and Cooks proving volatile week to week, but each also brings a top-15 ceiling.
There's no other wideout like Gordon. We're now 5 years past the monster year that has made fantasy nation his hostage ever since, but the magic of that year remains enticing. Gordon led the league in receiving yards and finished 2nd among fantasy wideouts while playing just 14 games in an offense that ranked 27th in scoring and started Jason Campbell, Brandon Weeden and Brian Hoyer at QB. Gordon's not yet back on the field, but he's back with the team. Whether to take a chance on him where you'll need to make the leap is much more personal decision than statistical evaluation.
Some of the players in this range -- most notably Goodwin and Fuller -- probably won't last to the point where they'll come up as suggested picks on your MVP Board. Others in this tier, however, drag ADPs that lag behind their true values. It's an interesting range that can provide you a solid WR3 or strong upside shots for your 4th or 5th slot.
This group isn't as attractive as the one before. Consider this the "eh, we know he's topping 100 targets, so he MUST deliver value at some point" tier.
Brown, however, looks exciting after a stellar preseason and could even push Michael Crabtree for the Ravens' target lead. Hayden Hurst's foot injury certainly won't hurt the available volume.
You could skip over that boring previous tier and chase the upside in this range if you laid a solid base at WR earlier in your draft. Meredith lands in a great situation. If he can stay on the field, he could deliver consistent PPR production. Every other guy in this range could outperform his draft position as well. Cole jumped into the group when Marqise Lee went down for the season -- though he already carried upside at least to this level.
We remain excited about Taylor, but he drops a tier after disappointing 1st-team snap counts in the 2nd and 3rd preseason games. Rishard Matthews' return further challenges Taylor's role.
Matthews joins this tier now that he's active. His exact role for Week 1 isn't yet clear, though. And we'll see if his repaired knee remains an issue.
Sanu and Jackson don't match up with Gallup in profile. They're veterans who have shown what they are: Sanu is a high-floor reserve wideout in fantasy with a relatively low ceiling. Jackson will be all over the place -- but will have to contend with Chris Godwin's ascension.
Gallup, on the other hand, is a bit of a wild card. He could easily emerge as Dallas' target leader right away and carries upside at least into the top 40. Or he could spend the season inconsistent in a muddled passing game. At ADP, you're not risking much to take a chance. he's much more attractive than Sanu or Jackson down here.
Be sure to check the "ceiling" projections on your MVP Board as you get into the double-digit rounds of your draft to mine for upside. Stacking wideouts from the same team also makes sense at this level: combining Taywan Taylor with Rishard Matthews, for example, or Paul Richardson with Josh Doctson. None of us will be perfect with our projections, so doubling up in a situation that lacks clarity increases your chances of rostering a wideout who does "hit."