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Best Ball Strategy

Updated Best-Ball WR Tiers

by John Daigle
Updated On: July 27, 2020, 4:48 pm ET

Jump to: QB Tiers I RB Tiers I TE Tiers

 

Tier One

 

Michael Thomas (WR1) -- Nine touchdowns in 3-of-4 seasons since joining The Big Easy in 2016. Paced for 197 targets in nine full games with Drew Brees last year, which would have qualified as the second-most targets for any player since 2012. Thomas' 232.9 fantasy points in said contests from Brees were also 55.3 more than the next closest at his position.

Davante Adams (WR2) -- Even in missing four games with a lingering turf toe injury, Adams closed the year with 127 targets, 83 catches, and 997 receiving yards — the second-highest marks of his career — in just his first season under coach Matt LaFleur. Soaked up a team-high 31 percent target share post-injury from Week 9 on.

Tyreek Hill (WR3) -- Hill's fourth year in the league entails context as he averaged an underwhelming 10.7 fantasy points in eight full games with Patrick Mahomes but did spike three top-12 performances. You’re paying up for the week-winning ceiling, his floor be damned.

Julio Jones (WR4) -- Six consecutive campaigns with 120-plus targets leaves little to the imagination when projecting for Julio in his age-31 season.

DeAndre Hopkins (WR5) -- Hopkins' consistent target share over the last three seasons (30.3% < 32.2 < 34.8%) is threatened in his move to Arizona, but the 27-year-old stands to benefit from an uptick in play volume upon being unchained from Bill O'Brien's disastrous reign. The Cardinals' scarcity of perimeter weapons shoulders the blame for Kyler Murray's lacking deep ball rate (11.5%) in year one under coach Kliff Kingsbury.

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Tier Two

 

Kenny Golladay (WR6) -- Golladay arguably remains untapped after ranking as the overall WR11 on 7.8 targets per game with Matthew Stafford under center through Week 9. Let’s agree to never speak of his average receiving line (3.8/68.8/0.5) from Jeff Driskel and David Blough again.

D.J. Moore (WR7) -- Moore's sophomore follow-up was a resounding success as he translated 14 combined starts from Kyle Allen and Will Grier into 8.5 targets per game and a WR13 finish. Questionable fit with Teddy Bridgewater, but Moore possesses the talent to buck any major slide.

JuJu Smith-Schuster (WR8) -- One of just 10 wideouts since 1920 to record 2,300-plus receiving yards in his first two seasons. JuJu's third-year breakout as the team’s alpha ultimately crashed and burned due in part to Ben Roethlisberger's season-ending shoulder injury, but the 23-year-old remains a bet-on-talent superstar as long as Big Ben is cleared for the regular season.

Chris Godwin (WR9) -- The least surprising third-year breakout in his first season under coach Bruce Arians, Godwin — fresh off career-highs in targets (121), catches (86), receiving yards (1,333), and touchdowns (9) from the slot (63.4%) — is pegged to take on Julian Edelman's role as Tom Brady transitions seamlessly into Tampa Bay's offense. Can conveniently swap rankings with Mike Evans if you believe otherwise.

Amari Cooper (WR10) -- A no-brainer extension candidate as fantasy's WR4 through the Cowboys’ first nine games, Cooper's performance (26/341/1) over the team's last seven bouts can be attributed to second-half knee and ankle injuries.

Calvin Ridley (WR11) -- Ridley led the Falcons with 49 targets following Mohamed Sanu's departure before suffering a season-ending core muscle injury in Week 14. With Austin Hooper signed in Cleveland, note that Ridley recorded 8/143/1, 6/85/1, and 8/90/0 in the three games the former was deemed inactive last year.

Allen Robinson (WR12) -- Fully healthy for the first time since initially tearing his ACL in September 2017, Robinson recorded a career-high 98 catches on the league's third-most targets (154) this past year. Hit his stride with 11.3 targets per game over the last six weeks once since-released WR Taylor Gabriel went down. Nick Foles is arguably the best quarterback Robinson will have played with to this point over the latter’s six-year career.

Mike Evans (WR13) -- Evans paced for the second-most receiving yards (1,424) among wideouts before being shut down for the last three games with a strained hamstring. Six consecutive seasons with 1,000-plus yards will have to suffice as evidence that the 26-year-old won't go away gently into the night despite his divisive skillset in the Bucs' new-look O.

Odell Beckham (WR14) -- Whether it was a new playbook, underwhelming play-calling, or his sports hernia injury that went unaddressed throughout the year, the fact is Beckham busted on a mere 13 fantasy points per game as the overall WR25. 28 in November and under contract through 2023, he remains an all-too-obvious regression candidate primed to buoy his 1,801 air yards (third-most), 13 end zone targets (fourth-most), and 133 raw targets (15th-overall) from Baker Mayfield into more than four underwhelming receiving scores.

Adam Thielen (WR15) -- Thielen's 6.4 targets per game in his nine full starts last year can be chucked out the window since he projects for 150-plus without Stefon Diggs. Only one year removed from accruing a team-high 25.2 percent target share in 2018, Thielen suddenly finds himself as a dark horse candidate to lead the league in targets.

A.J. Brown (WR16) -- Per Establish The Run's Evan Silva, Brown became one of only 18 receivers in the last decade to have averaged over 2.0 yards per route run (2.67) in his rookie year. While the 22-year-old impressively turned a median 6.1 targets per game from Ryan Tannehill into 12.5 fantasy points per outing, Tennessee’s ground-and-pound offense ethered its own stud receiver (5/64/0) across three postseason tilts. Concerning floor for season-long formats, but ceiling obviously worth prioritizing in Best-Ball leagues.

Robert Woods (WR17) -- Bound for positive regression after finishing with eight fewer touchdowns than Cooper Kupp (10 to 2) despite leading the Rams in air yards (1,175) and target share (23%).

Cooper Kupp (WR18) -- Kupp bounced back from offseason ACL surgery with a five-game scoring streak to close ‘19, but little explanation was ever given for his sudden dip in snaps (64%) and targets per game (5.9) in Los Angeles' last eight bouts. The team’s perceived increase in 12 personnel would be bad news for the 26-year-old as he averaged merely 1.35 yards per route run from the boundary and a heightened 2.27 YPRR from the slot last year.

D.J. Chark (WR19) -- 8.2 targets per game as the overall WR9 through Week 14 before fighting through the team's last two contests with a lingering ankle injury. Finished as Jacksonville's leader in target share (19.7%) from Gardner Minshew, who strolls into 2020 as the team's unquestioned starter.

Courtland Sutton (WR20) -- Sutton's exceptional second-year breakout came to a halt when just 24-of-39 targets (61.5%) from Drew Lock were charted as 'catchable' in their five starts together, per Pro Football Focus. For reference, 74 percent of Sutton's targets from Joe Flacco were deemed catchable through Denver's first eight games. The 24-year-old averaged a pedestrian 7.0 yards per target in those last five contests, too.

Terry McLaurin (WR21) -- Finished with a 25.9 percent target share in seven starts from Dwayne Haskins, but only averaged 8.3 fantasy points in that stretch. Washington has the seventh-most available targets (134, 28.9%) from last season's production entering the summer months.

DK Metcalf (WR22) -- Metcalf finished as a top-20 wideout in just three games all year, but you’re paying for the fruit of his league-high 18 end zone targets if buying in early. Any prolonged production resembling his two-game postseason sample (11/219/1, 15.6 yards per target) would result in a steal at this range.

Tyler Lockett (WR23) -- Lockett finished with career-highs in targets (110), catches (82), and receiving yards (1,057) despite slogging through a nasty flu-ridden stretch that resulted in a total 23/290/2 across Seattle's last seven games. Paced for 105/1,363/11 through Week 9 before falling ill.

 

Tier Three
 

Keenan Allen (WR24) -- Allen has the resume with 136 targets and 1,100 yards as the WR3 < WR12 < WR6 over the last three seasons, but his monopoly as Los Angeles' leading wideout is in danger with Philip Rivers suddenly out the door.

Stefon Diggs (WR25) -- Diggs finished second among all wideouts in yards per target (12.02) and yards per route run (2.69) last year but joins a crowded receiving tree alongside John Brown and Cole Beasley. The stud 27-year-old's outlook is both an on-field upgrade for the Bills and looming fantasy disaster from Josh Allen, who has completed just 27.4 percent (36-of-131) of his career passes when chunking 20-plus yards downfield.

DeVante Parker (WR26) -- A true fifth-year breakout with Ryan Fitzpatrick under center, Parker's average targets (6.5 to 9.5) and fantasy points (7.8 to 14.7) only skyrocketed once Preston Williams suffered a season-ending knee injury in Week 9.

Will Fuller (WR27) -- Likeliest benefactor of DeAndre Hopkins' vacated 10 targets and 105.3 air yards per game. Injury history aside, Fuller has proven more than capable of scrapping in Tier 1 for the handful of games he’s available annually.

Michael Gallup (WR28) -- Gallup made strides across the board in just his second year with the Cowboys, finishing with an increased 113 targets and 2.16 yards per route run. Quietly led Dallas in targets (98) from Week 5 on.

Marquise Brown (WR29) -- Brown was healthy for only two games all season: his 5/147/2 coming-out party against the Dolphins in Week 1 and his 7/126 sendoff in the team's Divisional Round loss. One year removed from Lisfranc surgery, a clean bill of health is enough reason to bet on the 23-year-old for a full 16 games in his sophomore bounce-back.

Tyler Boyd (WR30) -- Cincinnati's perpetual disappointment has yet to stunt Boyd's development as he's progressively seen an increase in targets (108 < 148) and catches (76 < 90) over the past two seasons. Will be playing the same role that allowed Justin Jefferson to set LSU’s school record for receptions (111) from Joe Burrow last year.

T.Y. Hilton (WR31) -- Healthy for the team's first three contests of the post-Andrew Luck era, Hilton exploded for four touchdowns out the gates then was never heard from again due to multiple muscle re-aggravations. 31 in November and entering the final year of his contract, any faith in Hilton would require his best-case scenario playing out to strike gold.

Jarvis Landry (WR32) -- Landry's unbridled rapport with Baker Mayfield has quietly resulted in 138-plus targets and WR14 < WR16 finishes in back-to-back seasons.

 

 

Tier Four

 

A.J. Green (WR33) -- Has appeared in just 35-of-64 possible games the past four years, including nine in the last two seasons. 32 in July and set to play on an uninvited franchise tag.

Christian Kirk (WR34) -- Kirk's slot rate nosedived from 80.7 percent through Week 8 to 14.1 percent in Arizona's last nine games, but it only resulted in one prime blowup performance against the Bucs (6/138/3). A skirmish for opportunity is expected to ensue following DeAndre Hopkins' arrival, but the third-year wideout inarguably enters 2020 as the team’s No. 2 option.

Diontae Johnson (WR35) -- Johnson's 10.6 fantasy points per game out-produced JuJu Smith-Schuster's (10.3) and James Washington's (6.8) in the 11 bouts the trio played together. His immediate success in leading the Steelers in catches (59) and receiving scores (5) off the bench suggests a potential second-year breakout from Ben Roethlisberger in 2020. For what it’s worth, Johnson also led all wideouts in NFL Next Gen Stats’ average yards of separation (3.6) as a rookie.

Julian Edelman (WR36) -- New England's ad-lib under center could directly impact Edelman in a variety of ways, but hard to argue against nine targets per game for six straight seasons. 34 in May.

Marvin Jones (WR387) -- 7.1 targets per game while Matthew Stafford was under center through Week 9. Swirling rumors of Jones’ release are concerning as his next destination could be an inopportune fit.

CeeDee Lamb (WR38) -- Ostensibly interchangeable with Amari Cooper both on the boundary and from the middle of the field, Lamb (6'1/203) led the nation in yards per target (15.1) all the while averaging an FBS-high 6.11 yards per route run from the slot with the Sooners last year. Arguably no rookie wideout landed in a better spot to succeed in their first year than 21-year-old Lamb.

Darius Slayton (WR39) -- An afterthought in the Giants' pecking order while Evan Engram was healthy for their first nine games, Slayton exploded for 31/467/5 as the overall WR23 in the latter's absence from Week 10 on. The outside chance of New York moving on from Engram's contract prior to the year bodes well for Slayton short-term.

Brandin Cooks (WR40) -- On the eve of playing with his fourth team in the last five seasons, Cooks’ career fantasy points per game (9.9) were nearly cut in half (5.4) in 14 appearances with the Rams last year. We should expect that mark to teeter closer towards his career average given the lack of competition in Houston.

Mecole Hardman (WR41) -- One of the offseason’s biggest fallers after the team restructured Sammy Watkins’ (team-high 55.8% slot rate) contract and re-signed Demarcus Robinson in one fell swoop. For what it’s worth, UDFA Justice Shelton-Mosely was told he “would be the guy to do the things Mecole Hardman does” before being signed, subtly hinting that the second-year speedster could be taken off special teams and handed an increased role on offense in 2020.

Deebo Samuel (WR42) -- Shifted down 10 spots from WR32 to WR42 in latest update after suffering a broken left foot during a workout. Didn't grab a stranglehold of Dante Pettis' role until Week 10, but still closed the year as one of only 20 wideouts to scale 2.0 yards per route run in 2019 (2.04). Samuel's 159 rushing yards (and three scores as a ball carrier) quietly added 2.2 fantasy points per game to his final tally weekly.

Mike Williams (WR43) -- Williams finds himself on the positive side of regression after finishing with the eighth-most air yards (1,626) but 38th-overall in fantasy points among wideouts. Converted just 1-of-12 end zone targets into a touchdown last year.

Jamison Crowder (WR44) -- Crowder's presence at every phase of the team's offseason workouts showed in his first year in New York as he spiked a career-high 78 catches behind a 24.2 percent target share from Sam Darnold. Robby Anderson's departure vacates an additional six targets per game for anyone on offense to soak up.

John Brown (WR45) -- Exploded for career-highs in catches (72) and receiving yards (1,060) in his first year with Josh Allen, but now asked to share the wealth of Buffalo’s limited downfield opportunity with Stefon Diggs.

Jalen Reagor (WR46) -- Labeled a boom-or-bust flier in his final year at TCU (43/611/5) while fighting through true freshman Max Duggan’s erratic arm talent. Reagor’s sterling marks as a 19-year-old sophomore (72/1,061/9) show quite the contrary. The landing spot (and first-round investment) highlights a direct path to leading his class in targets out the gates.

Sterling Shepard (WR47) -- Out-targeted Golden Tate 52 to 39 in the duos six starts together.

Anthony Miller (WR48) -- 25-year-old Miller quietly averaged 7.9 targets per game over Chicago's last seven contests while Taylor Gabriel (since released) bounced in and out of the team's lineup. Reminder Nick Foles is only one year removed from peppering Nelson Agholor in the slot for 26/263/3 and an 18.3 percent target share with the Eagles.