Fantasy football has evolved considerably over the years. Yet one thing has remained constant: Championships won on the rise. This is evident since you play fantasy football whether you realize it or not. If each of your draft picks returned face value, you would consistently make the playoffs, but you would never win. Not because your team would be bad, but because at least one of the other 11 teams in your league would have players who surpassed their ADP.
Since elite receivers are more consistent in staying on top than elite running backs, being able to find those wide receivers is important.
In 2019, Allen Robinson and DJ Moore were two of the best values in fantasy football, drafted at WR3 and finishing in WR1. In 2018, there weren’t any WR3s or less that ended in WR1, but there were WR1s written lower that ended with more fantasy points per game than the 2019 WR1s (since 2019 was a year in decrease for recipients). The examples were Julian Edelman, Robert Woods and Cooper Kupp.
It stands to reason that the wide receivers score will rebound this season and the position is deeper than ever. There are a number of WR3s with realistic shot to end up in WR1. I will discuss it as much as possible.
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TY Hilton (IND)
This is, by far, the most obvious name on the list. With TY Hilton, it’s all about health. I won’t even entertain the idea that Hilton won’t end up like or near a WR1 if he can stay on the field. He already did. He showed no sign of slowing down. And he was on track to do it last season with Jacoby Brissett.
In the first seven weeks of the 2019 season, Hilton recorded an average of 18.1 ppg. He was the general WR5 during this period. The high-end talent is still there. Philip Rivers is nowhere near the quarterback he once was, but he’s still an upgrade on Brissett. He also showed a propensity to pepper his primary target. Hilton can be his new, more dynamic and athletic Keenan Allen. Hilton is currently the WR27 and is garish value for the cost.
AJ Green (CIN)
I won’t waste too much time explaining this one because you already know that. AJ Green has been one of the main receivers for the past decade. He was on course for a 1,200-yard, 10-TD season in his last health in 2018. At 32 and many injuries later, there are legitimate questions about what Green left in the tank. History shows us that wide receivers really start to drop at 33/34 years old. It’s entirely possible that Green has another WR1 or two in the tank. He is currently the WR28 by ADP. He comes with a ton of risk, but while he’s still AJ Green, there’s no doubt WR1 is in his lineup.
Diontae Johnson (PIT)
If you’ve been following me for about a year, you knew this list wouldn’t be complete without Diontae Johnson. Coming from one of the most impressive seasons under the rookie wide receiver’s radar where he led all receivers in target separation and was able to flash despite terrible quarterback play, Johnson is on the verge of fully exit its second season.
The trendy train has left the station completely, but I’m not sure fantasy players really understand Johnson’s perks. We all remember 2018 when Antonio Brown and JuJu Smith-Schuster were both WR1s. With a healthy Ben Roethlisberger performing a heavy attack, it’s not impossible for JuJu and Diontae to be the new JuJu and AB. Notice how I put AB in second – this was to intentionally match him to Johnson – because Johnson is the AB of this duo. That’s not to say he’s definitely going to be the best fantastic receiver, but I think Diontae Johnson is a better and more complete wide receiver than JuJu Smith-Schuster.
We still haven’t seen JuJu produce without AB. 2019 was supposed to be his year, but it went off the rails due to injuries and the duo of Mason Rudolph and Devlin Hodges. JuJu also didn’t play well last season. His true catch rate was 58th in the league. He was 68th at the separation of the targets. He averaged just 7.7 yards per target (although it wasn’t entirely his fault). It’s certainly possible that Johnson will end up being the WR1 on this team.
There’s room for both and it doesn’t matter who plays which role I would expect Johnson to be worth at his WR39 price. There’s just a very plausible world where Johnson is establishing himself as a true alpha WR en route to a WR1 season.
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Jason Katz is a star writer for FantasyPros. For more on Jason, check out his archive or follow it @ jasonkatz13.