2015 Fantasy Football Wide Receiver Rankings- Updated: Thursday, May 14th
Scoring: These rankings are based on standard scoring (one point per 25 passing yards and per 10 rushing/receiving yards and four points per passing touchdown and six points per rushing/receiving touchdown) and are for the 2015 NFL season only.
These rankings are from Kevin Hanson (follow him on Twitter).
Nearly half of those 250-point seasons belong to one player, Jerry Rice (five). Only four of them have occurred since the turn of the century — Randy Moss (2003 and 2007), Calvin Johnson (2011) and Antonio Brown (2014).
Amazingly, Brown never finished as the highest-scoring fantasy wide receiver in any given week throughout the 2014 season. (In fact, that applies to both standard- and PPR-scoring formats.) Yet no wide receiver had more fantasy points over the course of the season -- in either format -- than Brown.
Over the past two seasons, Brown has a combined 239 receptions for 3,197 yards and 21 touchdowns. He also has 17 rushing yards and two return touchdowns. More impressive than his overall level of production, however, is his consistency. Brown had at least five receptions and 70 yards in all 17 games (counting their playoff loss) last season. Going back to the start of 2013, Brown has at least five catches and 50 yards in 33 consecutive games.
One of the things that you'll often hear in fantasy football is that you can't win your league in the first round, but you can lose it. With Brown's production and consistency, there isn't a safer pick among wide receivers.
Here are my fantasy football wide receiver rankings for 2015:
1. Antonio Brown, WR, Pittsburgh Steelers
2. Demaryius Thomas, WR, Denver Broncos
Despite his slow start, Thomas finished the season strong. Going over 100 yards in 10 of his final 13 games, Thomas finished with a full-season stat line of 111 catches and 1,619 yards, both of which were career highs, and 11 touchdowns. With the Broncos using their franchise tag on Thomas (in hopes of finalizing a long-term deal prior to the July 15th deadline) and Peyton Manning returning for at least one more season, a fourth consecutive year of 90-plus receptions, 1,400-plus yards and double-digit touchdowns seems like a strong possibility.
3. Dez Bryant, WR, Dallas Cowboys
Even though he was targeted only 136 times, a three-year low, Bryant finished with 88 receptions for 1,320 yards and a career-high and league-leading 16 touchdowns. Even with the team's new-found commitment to the ground game (although DeMarco Murray signed with the Eagles in free agency), Dez now has at least 88 catches, 1,233 yards and 12 touchdowns in three consecutive seasons. And aside from Marshawn Lynch, Bryant is the only other player with at least 50 total touchdowns over the past four seasons.
Like with Demaryius Thomas, the Cowboys used their franchise tag on Bryant. Compared to Thomas and the Broncos, however, the Cowboys and Bryant appear less likely to find common ground on a long-term deal prior to the July 15th cutoff.
4. Calvin Johnson, WR, Detroit Lions
Including playoff appearances, Megatron has more 200-yard games (six) than any other receiver in league history. And while he still has as much potential as any receiver to take over a given game, he has battled some injuries over the past couple of seasons and missed a total of five games in 2013 and 2014. Johnson also appeared in a few games as a decoy, which can be even worse for fantasy owners than missed games. With five consecutive 1,000-yard seasons, Megatron has averaged a stat line of 90/1,467/11 during that span.
5. Odell Beckham, WR, New York Giants
From Week 9 through the end of the season, Beckham was simply unstoppable. Not only was he consistent (90-plus yards in all nine of those games), but his nine-game stat line of 81/1,199/9 on 115 targets was better than the full-season production of most receivers. There were only 11 receivers not named Odell that had more than 1,199 yards over the full season. And as impressive as that sounds, he was especially dominant over his final four games -- 43/606/7 on 63 targets.
While ODB is far from being the biggest receiver, his combination of hands, route-running ability, speed and elusiveness makes him nearly impossible to cover especially in today's age of offense-friendly rules. If there is any concern, it's the return of Victor Cruz, who missed the final 10 regular-season games, but ODB should be one of the first receivers off the board on draft day.
6. Julio Jones, WR, Atlanta Falcons
On the season, Jones finished with 104 catches for 1,593 yards, both of which shattered his previous career highs, and six touchdowns. After scoring 0.62 TD/G on 74.4 YPG in his first two seasons, Jones has averaged just 0.40/G despite a jump to 1087.7 YPG over the past two seasons. With plus size and speed, Jones should bounce back in terms of red-zone production and could put together a 100/1,500/10 season in 2015 with good health.
7. A.J. Green, WR, Cincinnati Bengals
Injuries kept Green from building upon 2013's numbers (98/1,426/11), but he extended his streak of 1,000-yard seasons to begin his career to four. Only Megatron (6,214), Brown (5,092) and Demaryius (5,034) have more yards during that four-year span than Green (4,874). With good health, Green is a good bet for at least 1,300 yards and double-digit touchdowns in 2015.
8. Jordy Nelson, WR, Green Bay Packers
Not only is wide receiver deep, it's deep with elite wide receivers. The only receiver to score more fantasy points than Nelson last season was Brown. While Nelson is far from a lock to finish as a top-two producer at the position once again, he's certainly one of a group of eight wideouts that has the talent and opportunity to do so.
9. Alshon Jeffery, WR, Chicago Bears
With the Bears trading Brandon Marshall to the Jets and using a top-seven pick on West Virginia's Kevin White, Jeffery now takes over as the team's clear No. 1 wide receiver. That said, he still finished with the 11th-most fantasy points among wide receivers last year. Despite year-over-year dips in both receptions (85) and receiving yards (1,133), Jeffery posted a career high in touchdowns (10) last season.
10. Mike Evans, WR, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Evans started and finished slowly in terms of yardage, but he was one of three rookie receivers to eclipse the 1,000-yard mark last year. From Weeks 9 to 11, he gave us a glimpse of what we can expect when things really click as he posted a massive 21/458/5 line over that three-game stretch. And the 6-foot-5 receiver is already one of the league's best red-zone receivers as he scored 10 touchdowns over his final nine games as a rookie.
11. Randall Cobb, WR, Green Bay Packers
Set to turn 25 in August, Cobb re-signed with the Packers prior to the official start of NFL free agency. Of course, playing in an Aaron Rodgers-led offense helps to maximize his fantasy value this year and going forward. Cobb finished the season with 91 receptions for 1,287 yards and 12 touchdowns, all of which set career highs, but I would be surprised if he scored 12 touchdowns again in 2015.
12. T.Y. Hilton, WR, Indianapolis Colts
Hilton had a breakout 82/1,345/7 season last year. And that breakout year would have been even better if he weren't limited down the stretch by a hamstring injury. With good health, I'd expect Hilton to set new career highs in both receptions and yards this season.
13. DeAndre Hopkins, WR, Houston Texans
Hopkins delivered with a 76/1,210/6 second-year stat line and emerged as the team's most productive wide receiver. In fact, the Texans released Andre Johnson this offseason. If there's any concern when it comes to Hopkins taking another step forward in his third season, it's the team's less-than-inspiring quarterback play, but he's a borderline WR1/WR2 option in fantasy leagues heading into 2015.
14. Kelvin Benjamin, WR, Carolina Panthers
Along with Mike Evans and Odell Beckham, Benjamin was one of three rookie 1,000-yard receivers in 2014. Like Evans, Benjamin is a big-bodied (6-5, 240) receiver that wins in the red zone. As a rookie, Benjamin was the focal point of the passing attack along with tight end Greg Olsen and he should only see his stream of targets increase in his sophomore campaign. That said, Benjamin will need to cut down on the drops as only Mohamed Sanu (14) had more drops than Benjamin (11) last season, according to PFF.
15. Emmanuel Sanders, WR, Denver Broncos
In his first season with the Broncos, Sanders blew his previous career highs out of the water. With previous career highs set in 2013 of 67/740/6, Sanders finished with 101 receptions for 1,404 yards and nine touchdowns. Even though Sanders is a better option in point-per-reception (PPR) formats, he's a solid mid-tier WR2 option in standard-scoring leagues heading into 2015.
16. Brandon Marshall, WR, New York Jets
A lot went wrong for Marshall and the Bears offense last season as he missed multiple games, was limited in others, Jay Cutler struggled and was benched, there was a rift between Marshall and Cutler, etc. Marshall posted his lowest totals for receptions (61) and yards (721) since his rookie season, but he was traded to the Jets in the offseason and gets a fresh start. A return to his 2012 or 2013 numbers may be unlikely, but I expect a bounce-back season with more than 1,000 yards. Before last year, Marshall had seven consecutive 1,000-yard seasons.
17. Brandin Cooks, WR, New Orleans Saints
Playing only 10 games as a rookie before landing on season-ending Injured Reserve, Cooks, like most rookie receivers, was inconsistent on a week-to-week basis. That said, Cooks had three top-12 performances last season including two in his final four games before the injury. Through Week 11, his 86.3 fantasy points ranked 25th among wide receivers.
Going into 2015, I expect better production from Cooks on a per-game basis with a full offseason to get more comfortable with the offense. In addition, the team traded away two of its best weapons -- Jimmy Graham and Kenny Stills -- in the passing game.
18. Jordan Matthews, WR, Philadelphia Eagles
Playing 65.0 percent of the team's offensive snaps as a rookie, that ratio will spike in his second season as the team lost Jeremy Maclin via free agency. Even if the Eagles were able to re-sign Maclin, I would have expected Matthews to play in two-WR sets ahead of Riley Cooper, who played in 81.7 percent of offensive snaps. In his first season in the league, Matthews finished with 67 receptions for 872 yards and eight touchdowns, which placed him in the top five in all three categories among rookies.
19. DeSean Jackson, WR, Washington Redskins
Despite the revolving door at quarterback, Jackson was one of the few bright spots for Washington's offense in 2014. In his first season with Washington, D-Jax finished with 56 catches for 1,169 yards and six touchdowns and he led the NFL in yards per reception (20.9). It was the second time in his career that he posted a Y/R average greater than 20.0.
Even though he finished as the 16th-highest scoring fantasy wide receiver, the big drawback of owning Jackson is the boom-or-bust nature of his production. Jackson finished as a top-17 fantasy wide receiver in eight of 15 games last year; in all of the seven other games, he finished as the WR53 or worse. Stated differently, Jackson had zero games within the range of WR18 and WR52 in a given week last year.
20. Sammy Watkins, WR, Buffalo Bills
The fourth overall pick of the 2014 NFL Draft, Watkins finished his rookie campaign with 65 receptions for 982 yards and six touchdowns. While Watkins had four 100-yard games including a career-high 157 yards against his new head coach's former team, he also had nine games with 35 receiving yards or less. In a run-first offense with a less-than-ideal quarterback situation, there will likely be plenty of weekly inconsistency from Watkins even though I think his overall numbers will improve on a year-over-year basis.
-> Continue to Fantasy WRs 21-40
Check out more of our 2015 fantasy rankings:
- 2015 Fantasy Football Quarterback Rankings
- 2015 Fantasy Football Running Back Rankings
- 2015 Fantasy Football Wide Receiver Rankings
- 2015 Fantasy Football Tight End Rankings
- 2016 NFL Mock Draft
- 2015 NBA Mock Draft
- 2015 Fantasy Football Mock Draft Simulator
- 2015 Fantasy Football Strength of Schedule
- 2015 Fantasy Baseball Rankings
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