Forgot Log-in or  Password? |  Help  Not a member, Register Now!
      
Fantasy Football Today
Fantasy Football Today Blog
Gameday Inactives
2014 Draft Prep Guide
Downloadable Draft Kit
Mock Drafts
Get Your Draft Board
Player News
Stats
Players
Depth Charts
Roster Trends
Columns
Injury Report
Projections
Rankings
Schedules
Scores
Fantasy Games
Playoff Challenge
Commissioner
Prize Leagues
Free
Office Pool Manager
Game Pick'em
Player Challenge
Fantasy Baseball Today
Fantasy Baseball Today Blog
2015 Draft Prep Guide
Mock Drafts
Player News
Stats
Players
Depth Charts
Roster Trends
Columns
Injury Report
Rankings
Projections
Schedules
Probable Pitchers
Scores
Standings
Fantasy Games
Commissioner
Free
Prize Leagues
Player News
Stats
Players
Columns
Injuries
Projections
Rankings
Schedules
Message Boards
Fantasy Games
Commissioner
Free
Player News
Stats
Players
Columns
Injury Report
Projections
Rankings
Schedules
Mock Drafts
Scores
Standings
Fantasy Games
Commissioner
Free
Prize Leagues
Downloadable Draft Kit
Player News
Stats
Players
Columns
Injury Report
Projections
Rankings
Schedules
Mock Drafts
Scores
Standings
Fantasy Games
Commissioner
Free
Prize Leagues
No Fantasy Teams Found
 
 
 

2014 Draft Prep: Wide receiver tiers and strategies

Senior Fantasy Writer
  •  

Quarterback tiers | Running back tiers | Tight end tiers

The first rule to follow when drafting receivers: Don't get caught with your pants down.

That's pretty good life advice right there. Unless you're at a pool, or a beach, or a certain mansion ...

Anyway, point is that if you need two receivers, make it a priority to draft two you'll want to start on a regular basis. If you need three, then draft three. Don't dawdle but don't reach, either.

Like the running back position, receivers are top heavy. There are seven who are absolute no-brainers, then another 14 you should have no problem starting. Another 10 or so are OK for lineups, then it gets really slippery. Not exactly the best outlook but it's still a deeper position than running back, and that goes double if we're talking PPR formats.

So I'd still generally prioritize running backs ahead of receivers ... with two exceptions: Megatron and Optimus (OpThomas?) Prime. Calvin and Demaryius. They're running in a class by themselves and are worthy of first-round selections because of how consistent they are. Johnson has 32 games with 10-plus Fantasy points in his last three seasons (46 games) while Thomas has nailed the 10-plus-point barrier in 21 of 32 contests with Peyton Manning. Other elite receivers come close, but they're not as marvelous as these dudes. Owners will grab them (and throw in tight end Jimmy Graham for good measure) when they don't see a running back they can trust. That's because they can trust those guys for a healthy amount of points each week. That's what you want from a first-round pick.

A WR-WR start?

The remaining members of the 'no-brainer seven' will get swiped between the beginning of Round 2 and the early part of Round 3. They're all grand choices as No. 1 receivers, but what if you wanted to kick off your team by drafting two of them? On the surface it's a solid idea because we know there aren't a slew of amazing receivers that will float into Round 6 and beyond. You're never benching any of these guys because they're just too darn good, which means you don't necessarily have to draft backup receivers, opening your team up to gobble up more blue-chip running backs in the mid-to-late rounds. And, you're removing any lineup headaches you'd otherwise have on a weekly basis when you're debating middling wideouts who may or may not have ideal matchups.

But there's a problem. If you start a draft with two receivers, you're basically punting on the first 14 running backs in our rankings. Now maybe you're cool with Andre Ellington, Bishop Sankey or Toby Gerhart as your top back and Ray Rice, Chris Johnson or Steven Jackson as your second back. Maybe you're the adventurous type. If so, go climb a rock or something because now's not the time to show off. That's because those backs aren't considered strong enough to make up the best of your running back corps. They're second- and third-best guys. If you go with the WR-WR strategy it will mean taking running backs from the fourth tier or later to fill out your roster.

If you want to capitalize on one of these top-shelf receivers, the better way to do it is to go RB-WR (or WR-RB). That way you'll pick up one of the great receivers and have a Top 14 running back to boot. Then in Round 3 you'll have some flexibility with how you want to draft.

Which leads us to ...

Here's why you want to pick first through fourth

If you're in a typical snake draft and you have a pick between first and fourth overall, you're more than likely picking in that same slot in all of the odd-numbered rounds. That means you'll draft three players in the Top 28 because you'll pick early in Round 3. It also means you'll land a stud running back in Round 1 (there's four of them -- five if you count Eddie Lacy) and have a crack at picking up two ravishing receivers with your next two picks.

This is the best of both worlds because you'll get a dependable back and two very dependable receivers you won't think about benching beyond the bye week unless something bad happens. It's three lineup spots you should never have to sweat, plus you get all the other advantages that an owner would have starting their draft going WR-WR.

Now you can also aim for this kind of strategy if you don't have a Top 4 overall pick, but your results won't be quite as good mainly because of the running back you take in Round 1. Instead of getting a trio like LeSean McCoy, A.J. Green and Jordy Nelson, you might end up with Montee Ball, Dez Bryant and Randall Cobb. That doesn't make it bad, just not as juicy.

Of course, if you don't have a Top 4 overall pick you could turn the tables and start with two running backs and then put a receiver in your lap in Round 3. A Montee Ball, Alfred Morris, Jordy Nelson start isn't so bad, is it?

Don't make the Round 6 mistake

By comparison, the receivers you'll find in Rounds 4 and 5 are better than the running backs available, another strike against the WR-WR strategy since those valuable picks could be spent on backs. It doesn't mean they're great, they just seem to have a better shot at hitting more than 1,000 yards and seven touchdowns than most of the backs available. This is because running backs tend to get picked up faster than receivers, though those of you in PPR leagues that start three receivers will argue otherwise.

If it's Round 6 and you don't know who your starting receivers are, you're probably in deep trouble. Go re-read the first line of this story. Nobody wants to see you without your trousers on.

Consistency is the thread that ties together the top 20 or so receivers, and it's a helpful trait in Fantasy Football. Last year there were 112 instances of a receiver posting 10 points in back-to-back weeks (each consecutive game counted as one instance). Of the 112, 79 (or 70.5 percent) were from receivers that finished in the Top 24 and 54 (or 48.2 percent) were from receivers who finished in the Top 12. If you think that's an obvious stat, you're right. But it also means every other receiver either got hurt (Julio Jones, Randall Cobb, Roddy White) or was unpredictable (Mike Wallace, Victor Cruz, Golden Tate).

Here's where it all ties together: Of the receivers who were drafted on average as a No. 1 or No. 2 option (Top 24 overall at the position), 15 of them (or 62.5 percent) finished the year as a Top 24 wideout. That's a good return on investment. That's the group of most consistent, most prolific Fantasy receivers. You want to dip into that group for your starters, and they'll be pretty much history by Round 6.

Mid-to-late round help

Perhaps you're a fool who ignored my advice and pants jokes twice, or perhaps you just picked up steals at other positions in Rounds 1 through 5. Or maybe you're in a deep league that requires a lot of starting receivers. What kinds of receivers should be searched for at this point?

The answer is simple -- good ones! But since that won't fly as analysis we'll define it more as underrated receivers on pass-heavy teams and/or playing with a great quarterback. And supreme athletic ability doesn't hurt, either.

Last year's receiving sensations with mediocre draft averages were Josh Gordon, Alshon Jeffery, Anquan Boldin, Keenan Allen, Julian Edelman, Marvin Jones, Michael Floyd and Riley Cooper. Gordon, Jones, Floyd and Cooper benefitted from quality play-calling and schemes while Boldin and Edelman were the primo targets of very good quarterbacks. Jeffery and Allen worked in aggressive schemes with a very good quarterback, a double bonus.

The big yellow caution flag I'll wave here is that it's difficult to find consistent gems in the middle/later rounds. In fact, you'll more than likely draft a receiver who has a big week when you bench him, then lays an egg the following week when you start him. That's why you shouldn't invest in many of them -- aim for running backs later on if your league allows, particularly ones you can afford to be patient with for the first few weeks of the season.

Using our criteria, here are some receivers that hit the targets of what we're aiming for in the middle and late rounds.

Marques Colston, Julian Edelman, Percy Harvin, Rueben Randle, Tavon Austin, Doug Baldwin and Anquan Boldin. These receivers have a very good quarterback working in their favor, but their offensive scheme could betray them in terms of coaching tendencies or what's expected in terms of targets for the players themselves. Expect some very inconsistent Fantasy production from these guys, but not so bad that they'll be unusable or undraftable.

Kendall Wright and Riley Cooper. These receivers have a great offensive scheme to go with tons of playing time, but their quarterbacks are a little iffy. A case can be made for both of their passers as very good signal-callers but nobody's lumping Jake Locker and Nick Foles in the same class of as Tom Brady, Drew Brees or even Russell Wilson (just remember we're talking about quarterback ability, not quarterback Fantasy production).

Terrance Williams, T.Y. Hilton, Brandin Cooks, Hakeem Nicks, Kenny Stills and Harry Douglas. For these guys it's quarterback and scheme that should help them out the most. They're all catching passes from strong-armed, quality passers who should drop back and throw a lot. These receivers are the ones I'm targeting when looking for depth and/or possible flex choices.

Mike Evans, Sammy Watkins, Marvin Jones, Dwayne Bowe, Kelvin Benjamin and DeAndre Hopkins. Receivers who don't have a great quarterback or a great downfield scheme but have plenty of talent (yes, even Bowe). Even in the blandest of offenses, the most pedestrian quarterbacks can make great things happen with great receivers. Just ask Jake Delhomme or Kerry Collins.

Catch these tiers

The last step you'll make is to sort the receivers by how you think they'll perform this season. This is so you'll be able to plainly see when the talent begins to get thin when your draft gets going. So if you really want a receiver with potential for over 1,100 yards and eight touchdowns and they're going fast, you better make your move. Keep in mind that there are only 16 receivers with that kind of potential from where we sit -- others will get there from the lesser tiers but they'll be harder to find. It compares with the lack of depth at running back. Should make for some interesting drafts.

Top Tier Second Tier Third Tier Fourth Tier
1,500+ yards, 11+ TDs 1,300+ yards, 10+ TDs 1,200+ yards, 9+ TDs 1,100+ yards, 8+ TDs
Calvin Johnson Julio Jones Antonio Brown Vincent Jackson
Demaryius Thomas Brandon Marshall Alshon Jeffery Pierre Garcon
  Dez Bryant Randall Cobb Keenan Allen
  A.J. Green Michael Crabtree  
  Jordy Nelson Larry Fitzgerald  
    Andre Johnson  
Fifth Tier Sixth Tier Upside Tier Sleepers
1,000+ yards, 7+ TDs 900+ yards, 6+ TDs 800+ yards, 6+ TDs  
Emmanuel Sanders Torrey Smith Percy Harvin Hakeem Nicks
Michael Floyd DeSean Jackson Mike Evans Kenny Stills
Cordarrelle Patterson Golden Tate Sammy Watkins Tavon Austin
Wes Welker Mike Wallace Riley Cooper Doug Baldwin
Roddy White Jeremy Maclin T.Y. Hilton Jordan Matthews
Victor Cruz Marques Colston Brandin Cooks Kelvin Benjamin
  Terrance Williams Rueben Randle  
  Eric Decker Marvin Jones  
  Kendall Wright    
  Julian Edelman    

Get player news notifications, manage your team and check scores
- all updated in real time. Download the CBS Fantasy App.

  •  
 
CBSSports Facebook Google Plus
COMMENTS
Conversation powered by Livefyre
 
 
Player News
Giants' Bennett Jackson making transition to safety
by Shawn Krest | CBSSports.com
(5/23/2015) Giants second-year cornerback Bennett Jackson is spending the offseason transitioning to safety. 

"At the end of the day, I’m a DB,’" Jackson said, per the New York Post. "I think my strengths are cover skills, I got good speed and I got good ball skills. The thing it’s gonna take for me to get out there and make an impact is, I just got to learn the defense and really just communicate the calls fluently."

"It is all in front of him," coach Tom Coughlin said. "We think he can cover. He has done a good job of getting us lined up and then we will see how he plays."


O'Brien impressed with Jadeveon Clowney's work ethic
by Shawn Krest | CBSSports.com
(5/23/2015) Texans coach Bill O'Brien has been impressed with the work defensive end Jadeveon Clowney has put in to recover from microfracture surgery in his knee. 

"I've been impressed with the way JD's been working," O'Brien said, per HoustonTexans.com. "He's been out there. He's in early. He's rehabbing. But he's also being able to take part in some of the things that we do in the weight room. He's not able to do all of the things that we do on the field just yet, because of his rehab. But he's on the right track."


AJ McCarron throwing deep for Bengals
by Shawn Krest | CBSSports.com
(5/23/2015) Bengals quarterback AJ McCarron has recovered from the shoulder soreness that bothered him for most of his rookie year. 

McCarron is now throwing deep again. "I feel great," McCarron said, per the Cincinnati Enquirer. "Body feels great and I feel like I'm slinging it better than I ever have, really."


Brooks Reed injured, may miss time at Falcons' OTAs
by Shawn Krest | CBSSports.com
(5/23/2015) Falcons linebacker Brooks Reed suffered a groin injury during the recently-completed voluntary minicamp, per ESPN.

The injury was termed "minor", but it still might keep Reed from full participation in the Falcons' upcoming OTAs, which start Tuesday. 


GM: EJ Manuel on 'equal footing' with Bills' other QBs
by Shawn Krest | CBSSports.com
(5/23/2015) Bills general manager Doug Whaley denied reports that the team is moving on from quarterback EJ Manuel

The team acquired Matt Cassel and Tyrod Taylor in the offseason.

In an interview with Jim Rome, Whaley said, "I look at it this way, in this business controversy sells,. The more controversy that you can drum up then the more intereste people are going to be."

"For us we’re excited about the future of all three of those guys," Whaley said. "It’s going to be a great competition. And we can keep three quarterbacks. So I dismiss that as just someone trying to get something stirred during this down time and lack of media stories for the NFL." 

Whaley said all three quarterbacks have an equal shot of winning the starting job. 

"I look for him to come in and compete and try to take the job," he said. "Everybody has got an equal footing. It’s a clean slate for all four of our quarterbacks. We’re not tied to anybody. We just want the best man to start."


Bengals' Vontaze Burfict may start year on PUP
by Shawn Krest | CBSSports.com
(5/23/2015) Bengals linebacker Vontaze Burfict's rehab may not be progressing as quickly as the team had hoped.

Burfict had microfracture knee surgery and initial post-surgery reports said that he could be recovered by the start of training camp. 

This week, the team's website said that Burfict's status was "up in the air" and that a return by the start of the season would be a "tight call".

If Burfict isn't ready by the opener, the Bengals may choose to put him on the physically unable to perform (PUP) list. 


So far, so good for Texans rookie CB Kevin Johnson
by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com
(5/23/2015) First impressions aren't necessarily important for first-round picks in the NFL. They are far more critical to lower selections and undrafted free agents who desperately need to raise a few eyebrows immediately lest they be back out looking for work.

But whether necessary or not, Texans first-rounder Kevin Johnson is making one heck of a first impression on Bill O'Brien. The clornerback opened some eyes at minicamp.

"This is a guy that's a very quick guy," O'Brien said. "He's a tall guy. He's a guy that has really good transition ability. He's got what I call really good recover transition. If he's getting beat, he can stick his foot in the ground and really make up a lot of ground.

"He's a very bright player. If you ask him questions in the morning meeting, he really has obviously studied the night before. He's working out on his own and doing things to help stay up on material that's being installed."

Johnson believes he needs to do the little things right to make a big impact in his rookie year.

"From the training room to the classroom to the film study, everything is just more detailed," he told the team website. "I'm just trying to take it all in and use everything around here and just get better."


Bears CB Tim Jennings could transition into slot role
by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com
(5/23/2015) Bears cornerback Tim Jennings is "still trying to figure out" where he will fit into the secondary this season, the Chicago Tribune is reporting.

The nine-year veteran, who is entering his sixth season in the Windy City, has 95 career starts and led the league in interceptions in 2012. He is even a two-time Pro Bowler. But he spent significant time as the slot corner in minicamp. That's an unsatisfying role for him that he just might be forced to embrace.

Defensive coordinator Vic Fangio prefers his outside corners tall and physical. Jennings is 5-8, 185 pounds. He might still earn an outside role opposite Kyle Fuller, but do achieve that goal he must at the very least outperform free agent pickup Alan Ball, who better fits the ideal description.

If the words of new coach John Fox are any indication, that's unlikely to happen.

"Dimension-wise, he's built like a nickel corner," Fox said. "He's played it before."

Jennings has started all but three games over the last seven years.


Report: Cardinals' Daryl Washington unsure of NFL standing
by Jason Butt | CBSSports.com
(5/22/2015) Cardinals linebacker Daryl Washington is approaching the one-year mark for his suspension though his NFL status is still in limbo. 

But according to a report from FOX Sports 910 in Phoenix, Washington is unsure about his status with the league. He was suspended a year ago on May 30, 2014 for being a multiple offender of the NFL's substance-abuse policy. 

However, he was expected to apply for reinstatement a month ago but did not do so. 

Assuming Washington is reinstated to the NFL at some point he will likely be subjected to punishment under the NFL's domestic violence policy. On March 24, 2014, he pleaded guilty to assaulting his ex-girlfriend. 


Titans' Massaquoi rehabbing shoulder, to miss OTA's
by Ruben Palacios | Staff Writer
(5/22/2015) Outside linebacker Jonathan Massaquoi will not participate in the Titans' first organized team activities, per ESPN.com.

Massaquoi, who was claimed off waivers from the Falcons earlier this year, is recovering from shoulder surgery. He had a bone spur removed from the area, but the procedure was categorized as a minor cleanup.

Massaquoi recorded 22 tackles in 15 games with Atlanta last season.


 
 
 
Rankings