Week 1 Rankings (2016): Top 50 Wide Receivers

by Will Overton

Finally, we have arrived at Week 1 of the NFL season. After all the draft talk and analysis, it’s time to shift gears to regular season mode. We’re looking at which guys you should be using week to week now. I’ll be handling Wide Receiver rankings all season and here is the first installment of my top 50, breaking down who you should use and who you should avoid in Week 1:

  1. Antonio Brown – Pittsburgh Steelers @ Washington
  2. Julio Jones – Atlanta Falcons vs. Tampa Bay
  3. Odell Beckham Jr – New York Giants @ Dallas
  4. DeAndre Hopkins – Houston Texans vs. Chicago
  5. Mike Evans – Tampa Bay Buccaneers @ Atlanta
  6. Allen Robinson – Jacksonville Jaguars vs. Green Bay
  7. Amari Cooper – Oakland Raiders @ New Orleans
  8. Jordy Nelson – Green Bay Packers @ Jacksonville
  9. A.J. Green – Cincinnati Bengals @ NY Jets
  10. Brandon Marshall – New York Jets vs. Cincinnati
  11. Dez Bryant – Dallas Cowboys vs. NY Giants
  12. Keenan Allen – San Diego Chargers @ Kansas City
  13. Alshon Jeffrey – Chicago Bears @ Houston
  14. Brandin Cooks – New Orleans Saints vs. Oakland
  15. Sammy Watkins – Buffalo Bills @ Baltimore
  16. TY Hilton – Indianapolis Colts vs. Detroit
  17. Golden Tate – Detroit Lions @ Indianapolis
  18. Jeremy Maclin – Kansas City Chiefs vs. San Diego
  19. Randall Cobb – Green Bay Packers @ Jacksonville
  20. Demaryius Thomas – Denver Broncos vs. Carolina
  21. Donte Moncrief – Indianapolis Colts vs. Detroit
  22. Doug Baldwin – Seattle Seahawks vs. Miami
  23. Eric Decker – New York Jets vs. Cincinnati
  24. Julian Edelman – New England Patriots @ Arizona
  25. DeSean Jackson – Washington Redskins vs. Pittsburgh
  26. Marvin Jones – Detroit Lions @ Indianapolis
  27. Michael Crabtree – Oakland Raiders @ New Orleans
  28. Jordan Matthews – Philadelphia Eagles vs. Cleveland
  29. Michael Floyd – Arizona Cardinals vs. New England
  30. Jarvis Landry – Miami Dolphis @ Seattle
  31. Larry Fitzgerald – Arizona Cardinals vs. New England
  32. Emmanuel Sanders – Denver Broncos vs. Carolina
  33. John Brown – Arizona Cardinals vs. New England
  34. Allen Hurns – Jacksonville Jaguars vs. Green Bay
  35. Willie Snead – New Orleans Saints vs. Oakland
  36. Tyler Lockett – Seattle Seahawks vs. Miami
  37. Kelvin Benjamin – Carolina Panthers @ Denver
  38. Tavon Austin – St. Louis Rams @ San Francisco
  39. Sterling Shepherd – New York Giants @ Dallas
  40. Kamar Aiken – Baltimore Ravens vs. Buffalo
  41. Stefon Diggs – Minnesota Vikings @ Tennessee
  42. Vincent Jackson – Tampa Bay Buccaneers @ Atlanta
  43. DaVante Parker – Miami Dolphins @ Seattle
  44. Markus Wheaton – Pittsburgh Steelers @ Washington
  45. Mohamed Sanu – Atlanta Falcons vs. Tampa Bay
  46. Corey Coleman – Cleveland Browns @ Philadelphia
  47. Steve Smith Sr – Baltimore Ravens vs. Buffalo
  48. Travis Benjamin – San Diego Chargers @ Kansas City
  49. Tajae Sharpe – Tennessee Titans vs. Minnesota
  50. Devin Funchess – Carolina Panthers @ Denver

Thoughts:

  • You may not see Antonio Brown at the top of this list every single week, but I am sure this is the first of many. There isn’t anyone in the game who is as safe of a bet for double digit points, who also has the upside to go off 25+. I have no reason to believe we’ll see any kind of regression from Brown this season and if you were lucky enough to draft him, enjoy it!
  • I’ve seen other rankings and I know I am a little bit higher on Jordy Nelson this week than most, but I can’t imagine not having him in my Top 10. Mike McCarthy has told us that there are no restrictions and he’s 100% ready to go. Nelson didn’t play at all last season after tearing his ACL, but just two years ago he was a Top 5 WR. I might not be so bullish in his first week on the field since the injury if he wasn’t in such a sweet matchup. I think the Packers and Jaguars end up in a shootout and Nelson re-establishes himself as a top end WR real quick.
  • I’m not benching Dez Bryant this week or anything like that, but I have my reservations. We saw what the injury to Tony Romo did to this offense last season, and while Dak Prescott looks serviceabl, there’s still some risk here. Then you add in his concussion and the risk jumps even more. I assume he’ll play, and if he is playing you have to use him. In DFS or something similar, I wouldn’t touch him this week.
  • Another guy you won’t likely find this low on the list very often after this is Kelvin Benjamin. The Carolina receiver is looking to make his return after missing all of last season,and while reports are that he’s healthy, he’s going to be on a snap count of 30–35 snaps. This is about 20–25 fewer than he was getting during his rookie breakout season. Add the limited snap count to the fact that he’s playing arguably the best defense in the league and this isn’t a bad week to just leave him on your bench if you can.
  • I am not playing the matchups quite as much as I normally might this week, since we only know a certain amount about each team. That said, I am down on Jarvis Landry just based on his matchup. With everyone in the league playing, no bye weeks and few injuries, a tough matchup like Seattle can push a fringe Top 20 guy down to 30. The Dolphins could be, or should be, better, but I need to see it happen. In a PPR league I may move Landry up a few spots, as I can see a 5–6 catch game, but only 50 yards and no TD’s which isn’t Top 20 production.
  • You can see the Arizona Cardinals receivers are all lumped together and that will probably be a common theme this season. I have Michael Floyd ranked the highest this week based on upside, but I also think he has the lowest floor of the three so there is more risk in using him than there is with Larry Fitzgerald or John Brown. Ultimately I think we’ll see all three Cardinals receivers have their weeks to shine and they’ll all finish with relatively similar numbers. Hopefully you only own one and won’t have to be picking between them too often.
  •  The reviews for Tajae Sharpe have been big and I’m starting to get sucked in a little bit. I still have my guard up because this is a run heavy offense and a quarterback who has skills, but isn’t the most proficient passer and doesn’t go downfield too often. Still, there’s a real possibility that Sharpe gets the nod as the team’s number one option at wide receiver and that could lead to great value based on where he has been getting drafted. I’m only using him this week in deeper leagues or some three WR formats, but I’ll definitely be watching closely to see what he does.

Make sure to check out all of our Week 1 rankings:

Week 1 Rankings (2016): Top 20 Tight Ends
Week 1 Rankings (2016): Top 25 Quarterbacks

36 comments

  1. Randy says:

    In 12-tm standard (start 2RB/2WR/1TE+flex), I have to drop someone for a kicker. Who would you drop and would you make other moves based on free agents? QB: Luck/Tannehill; RB: McCoy/Ingram/Ware/TColeman/M Gordon/T West; WR: Antonio/Cobb/Gordon/Marvin Jones/Funchess/Boyd; TE: D Allen/J Cook. Free agents: James White, Sproles, Spiller, Stills, Dorsett, Boldin, Hogan, Vance McD, Cliff W, Virgil G, Jesse James, Crockett G.

    Also, to help in a second league, where would you rank T Sharpe vs. Boyd, Funchess, and other free agent WRs noted above?

    Thanks!

  2. Gamer says:

    Flex question; although more of a running back question. 10 team .5 PPR. Pick one: (given the news about starting slower with Rawls and the likely split with Michael, it makes me lean towards Foster, despite the Seahawk defense).
    – Adrian Foster
    – T Rawls
    – C Michael
    – Travis Benjamin

  3. Mark says:

    Pats def vs Arizona,Ravens vs bills or 49ers vs Rams? None are good choices but the only choices I have to choose from

  4. romo says:

    this might be a silly question but a flex between sanders and pryor lol. i just don’t see sanders getting the ball too much. i got laughed at picking up pryor so i hope he’s like the sleeper pick of the year! what do u think?

  5. Andy says:

    Hi Professor, my team set up for this week
    QB: Eli Manning
    WRs: Allen Robinson, Keenan Allen, Golden Tate
    RBs: Ezekiel Elliot, Eddie Lacy
    TE: Delaine Walker
    Flex: Michael Crabtree
    Flex2: John Brown
    Bench: Thomas Rawls, Arian Foster
    BU: Philip River. Julius Thomas, Kelvin Benjamin.
    1. Should I drop Julius Thomas to pick up Christine Mike and set at Flex2?
    2. Start Arian Foster instead of John Brown ?
    What will you do? This is 8 teams non PPR.
    We still have in Waive: James White, D Woodhead
    Thanks,

    • There’s enough TE depth that I would definitely grab Michael and use him as FLEX. I could argue using Foster/Michael over both of your FLEX options (though I’m not a big Crabtree guy)

  6. chucky says:

    hi Professor – thank you for your great work!

    bit of a dilemma:
    standard scoring
    need 2 RB’s 2 WR’s and a flex
    WR I have Julio (in of course) Cobb, Baldwin, and Marvin
    RB I have Shady, DeAngelo, and Ware

    which 2 would you sit?
    thanks!
    thanks!

  7. Chris says:

    Hey Roto
    Need 2rb,2wr,1flex
    Elliot, Jennings, Hyde, D Murray
    Cobb, Dez, A Robinson, Landry, Sanders
    Standard league

    Currently
    Elliot, Jennings
    Cobb, Dez, Robinson

  8. L says:

    In a 0.5PPR League I got some tough decisions this week.

    QB: (streaming option as I have Brady stashed) J.Flacco or B.Osweiler or A.Smith?

    RB1: S.Ware
    RB2: R.Jennings

    WR1: AJ.Green
    WR2: R.Cobb

    My FLEX Options: Need to pick 1

    RB E.Lacy – The Jaguars defense only allowed five running backs to reach 75-yards rushing on the ground last year despite having the 11th most rushing attempts against them; however, the shoot-out potential of this game may lead to Lacy earning several goal-line opportunities. Those potential money shots plus getting 15+ touches in general might make him the most likely selection of this Flex group or maybe he should simply be slotted above R.Jennings for a starting RB spot?

    WR M.Jones – Matt Stafford averaged 23.4 points per game with an average weekly finish of QB7 against teams in the bottom half of passing points allowed in 2015 (Colts ranked 19th). The Colts allowed 40 pass plays of 25 or more yards last season, tied for the most in the league. The Lions scored a touchdown on 69.4% of their red zone trips last season which was second highest in the league. I think Jones is setup well to post valuable stats this game, but will G.Tate be the primary receiving threat on this team and what kind of target share should we expect A.Bolden to get? Ultimately, the question is should I be starting someone who’s got questions of his own over Moncrief or Lacy despite the positive game-script?

    WR M.Moncrief – In 2015 he scored in five of his seven games playing with A.Luck while seeing 18.9% of the team targets; that target percentage should rise this year to somewhere between 20%-25%. In 2015 Detroit’s defense allowed a touchdown on 26.4% of its opponent’s drives, the second highest rate in the league, while also allowing just 3.1 yards per carry on interior runs (F.Gore’s main type of run), so the Colts will likely move the ball through the air. These are all really good positive signs for Moncrief having a fantastic fantasy day, until you realize he’ll likely face-off against the Lion’s new shutdown CB Darius Slay (PFF’s #2 rated CB last year) which could neutralize his role in Colt’s aerial attack.

    RB J.Langford – He’s got the potential to earn 20+ touches, but it’ll be against Houston’s tough defense. Least likely selection of this group.

    • L says:

      Should have added that E.Ebron might be a go for Week 1, so he too might eat into M.Jones’ target share and red-zone potential.

    • I’m definitely going Lacy, despite the matchup. He has the highest upside of the group

      • L says:

        So…

        QB: J.Flacco or B.Osweiler or R.Griffin or A.Smith? Leaning toward Flacco because he’s the most proven of the group and I don’t think the Ravens will be able to run the ball effectively thus causing Flacco to throw a ton.

        RB1: S.Ware
        RB2: E.Lacy

        WR1: AJ.Green
        WR2: R.Cobb

        FLEX: R.Jennings or M.Jones or D.Moncrief? Leaning toward R.Jennings with his solid floor/high ceiling match-up against the Cowboys over the hopefully solid floor/potentially higher upside of M.Jones’ match-up against the Colts or lower floor, but highest ceiling in D.Moncrief’s match-up against the Lions.

        Agree?

  9. T says:

    Hi Professor! Any recommendations to my starting line-up? Thanks!!

    Starters
    QB: Carson Palmer
    RB: David Johnson
    RB: Spencer Ware
    WR: Brandon Marshall
    WR: Keenan Allen
    TE: Gary Barnidge
    Flex: Jeremy Maclin
    K: Adam Vinatieri
    DEF: New York Jets

    Bench
    RB: Jeremy Hill
    RB: Charles Sims
    RB: Christine Michael
    WR: Corey Coleman
    WR: Willie Snead
    WR: Devin Funchess

    • L says:

      I’m not the Professor, but of your bench guys the only one to consider is C.Michael with his workload and match-up against the Dolphins. I’d probably consider starting him over J.Maclin because the Chargers’ defense allowed just three 100-yard receivers on the season last year which was tied for the fewest in the league. The skinny passing tree for Kansas City will keep Maclin in play as a solid Flex option, but I think you might be looking at more of a WR3 this week as the ground floor against a formidable secondary where as you might have a RB1 value on your hands with C.Michael.

  10. Gman says:

    Pick one for Flex in a PPR…

    Dez Bryant
    LeSean McCoy
    Brandin Cooks

    Thanks!

  11. MikeP says:

    Yo Professor, let me know your thoughts on the following options for a flex spot in a standard scoring league:

    kelvin benjamin
    danny woodhead
    victor cruz
    martelus bennet
    tajae sharpe
    rishard mathews

    I’m leaning benjamin, but nowhere near confident on that.

    • Yea, that would be the first thought but he’s a risky play this week. Is it PPR? If it is, I’d lean Woodhead

      • MikeP says:

        standard league, i went woodhead anyway just to see how well Benjamin performed and how he was utilized.

        Looks like a lot of the questions have been answered as he played way past whatever “snap count” he was supposedly being held to and put up a solid line so moving forward I’ll have more confidence.

        Now just need to hope old Woodhead finds the endzone this Sunday 🙂

  12. Eric says:

    Prof- standard scoring league- need help. Have D. Baldwin,Keenan Allen, Desean Jackson and Hopkins. Which three do I roll with. Thanks for last year helping (won it with your help)

  13. dan says:

    Whats up professor? Im doing PPR nd having trouble with my flex:

    I have Odell at WR1, then Brandin Cooks as my WR2.
    But at flex i have to choose between Eric Decker and Desean Jackson… (maybe even start both of them over Cooks)

    This is my bench at the moment though
    Eric Decker, Steve Smith Sr., Danny Woodhead, Jarvis Landry, Jordan Matthews, Chris Ivory, & Isaiah Crowell.

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