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Fantasy football wide receiver rankings 2.0: Hill and Boyd rise, Green falls

By Alex Butler
Fantasy football wide receiver rankings 2.0: Hill and Boyd rise, Green falls
Cincinnati Bengals wide receiver Tyler Boyd had a breakout year in 2018 and earned a lucrative new contract this off-season. He is poised for a hot start in 2019 as fellow wide receiver A.J. Green is expected to miss several games due to injury. File Photo by John Sommers II/UPI | License Photo

Aug 9 (UPI) -- Michael Thomas is Drew Brees' most trusted target in the New Orleans Saints passing attack. That typically equates to stellar fantasy football statistics.

The 2018 first-team All-Pro is my No. 1 wide receiver for the 2019 fantasy football season, topping my rankings of the 100 best players at the position.

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Houston Texans star DeAndre Hopkins is my No. 2 overall wide receiver. The Cleveland Browns' Odell Beckham Jr., Green Bay Packers target Davante Adams and Atlanta Falcons veteran Julio Jones also are in my top five for the position.

If you prefer the stability of an elite pass-catcher instead of the risk of an elite running back with your first-round pick, take a look at some of the players I have in my top 10 at the wide receiver position. You always can load up on running backs later in your fantasy football draft and find the next breakout star at a cheaper price.

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If you opt to select running backs early, take a look at some of my sleeper targets who could pay off as high-end WR1s or WR2s, depending on league size.

I have split my top targets into five tiers: Hall of Fame, All-Pro, Pro Bowl, Just Napping (early to mid-round targets) and Deep Sleepers (mid- to late-round sleepers)

Hall of Fame

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1. Michael Thomas, 2. DeAndre Hopkins

You can count on an abundance of targets for Michael Thomas in this Saints offense. The fourth-year wide receiver led the league with 125 receptions last season, while posting a career-high 1,405 yards. He also scored nine touchdowns. I expect the Saints to throw the ball a bit more this season, letting Brees show off his accurate arm. Thomas should get to double-digits in touchdowns and is a safe bet for at least 100 receptions.

DeAndre Hopkins was an All-Pro for the second consecutive season in 2018. He should continue that trend in 2019. The Texans star hauled in a career-high 115 receptions for a career-best 1,572 yards in 16 starts last season. He has averaged an astounding 170 targets in each of his last four seasons. Hopkins is as safe as it gets if you are looking for that trait in the first round of your fantasy football draft.

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All-Pro

3. Odell Beckham Jr., 4. Davante Adams

If safety isn't your thing when it comes to first-round picks, take a look at Odell Beckham Jr. The Browns made waves this off-season with a series of signings, but none were bigger than Beckham. The former Giants superstar has an upgrade at quarterback and a great supporting cast in Cleveland. There is no reason to believe he can't replicate his early career success with the Browns and possibly become an All-Pro for the first time. The Browns might be one of the most fun teams to watch in 2019 and Beckham is at the center of the storm. Expect double-digit touchdown numbers and at least 1,300 receiving yards from the three-time Pro Bowl selection.

Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers said he plans to target Davante Adams even more in 2019 than he did last season. That should put a smile on the face of anyone considering the selection of Adams early in their fantasy football draft. Adams trailed just Hopkins, Zach Ertz and Julio Jones in targets last season, earning a career-high 169 looks in the Packers offense. He turned those targets into 111 catches for 1,386 yards and 13 scores, all career highs. If Rodgers sticks to his word, Adams should lead the league in looks in 2019. That would also likely mean he closes in on 1,500 receiving yards and 15 touchdowns. Adams has potential to finish the year as the top wide receiver in fantasy football.

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Pro Bowl

5. Julio Jones, 6. Mike Evans, 8. Keenan Allen, 9. Adam Thielen

Mike Evans turned in one of his best seasons in 2018, despite the turnstile of Ryan Fitzpatrick and Jameis Winston at quarterback for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. The 6-foot-5, 231-pound pass-catcher had 1,524 yards and eight scores on 86 receptions in his 16 starts last season. He enters his 2019 campaign with more stability at quarterback and a new offensive-minded coach in Bruce Arians. I expect Arians to improve Winston as an overall player. No pass-catcher should benefit from that more than Evans. While the Buccaneers are unlikely to finish the 2019 season with a winning record, they do have a schedule that could be friendly to opposing wide receivers. The Buccaneers have five matchups against teams that ranked inside the top five for most fantasy points allowed to opposing wide receivers in 2018. Evans is another good bet for double-digit scores and at least 1,300 yards in 2019.

Adam Thielen somehow remains underrated from a fantasy football aspect. The Vikings target was used sparingly in his first two seasons after signing with the franchise as an undrafted free agent. Thielen is entering his sixth season following two consecutive trips to the Pro Bowl. I expect Thielen to put up WR1 numbers once again in 2019 while catching passes from Kirk Cousins and running alongside fellow wide receiver Stefon Diggs. You can book the Vikings pass-catcher for at least 100 receptions and 1,200 yards in 2019, with an outside shot at 10 scores.

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Just Napping

10. Amari Cooper, 11. Brandin Cooks, 17. D.J. Moore, 18. Calvin Ridley

Brandin Cooks is one of my favorite wide receiver targets. I view the Rams pass-catcher as a low end WR1 and an elite WR2, dependent on your league size. The Rams have had one of the best offenses in football for several seasons. This year they have four matchups against defenses that ranked in the top five for fantasy points allowed to wide receivers in 2018. The Rams don't face any of the defenses that ranked inside the top five for fewest points allowed to the position last season. Cooks might not be a huge touchdown threat, but he should haul in 80 to 90 catches for at least 1,200 yards this season. He is primed for the best season of his career based on the Rams' schedule.

Amari Cooper had 53 catches for 725 yards and six touchdowns in nine games last season for the Dallas Cowboys after joining the team in an October trade from the Oakland Raiders. File Photo by Ian Halperin/UPI
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D.J. Moore is a great target in your fantasy football draft at the wide receiver position. The second-year Carolina Panthers pass-catcher had 788 yards on 55 receptions during his rookie season, but I expect a breakout year in 2019. The Panthers have an NFL-high six matchups against teams that ranked inside the top five for most fantasy points allowed to wide receivers in 2018. The Panthers let Devin Funchess leave the team in free agency and Moore has had another year to pick up the team's offense and mesh with Cam Newton. He might be a bit of a risk if you jump on him early, but he could pay off in a big way if he slips in your draft. Keep an eye on Moore as a WR2/WR3 target.

Deep Sleepers

21. Tyler Boyd, 23. Chris Godwin, 32. Will Fuller, 42. DeSean Jackson

Cincinnati Bengals wide receiver Tyler Boyd ranks No. 22 in my positional season rankings, but he could be a steal in your fantasy football draft. Boyd ranked as the No. 12 wide receiver in football last season, according to Pro Football Focus. He quietly hauled in 76 receptions for 1,028 yards and seven touchdowns for an underperforming offense. I expect another solid year from the Bengals' No. 2 wide receiver. Boyd should be targeted as a solid WR2 in deep leagues, especially with the training camp injury to A.J. Green, the Bengals' top wide receiver. Green is expected to miss multiple games.

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DeSean Jackson is back with the Philadelphia Eagles in 2019. The NFC East franchise lacked a deep threat in 2018 and I expect Jackson to fill that role nicely, complementing the Eagles' other star pass-catchers. The mere threat of Jackson burning defenders deep will create some extra room in the running game and give quarterback Carson Wentz some more time to make reads. Jackson might be entering his 12th NFL season, but he has plenty of speed remaining. The three-time Pro Bowl selection led the NFL with 18.9 yards per reception in 2018 while with the Buccaneers. He has led the league in that category in three of the last five seasons. While he might not be dependable on a week-to-week basis as a fantasy football option, he will definitely have some huge games in 2019. I like Jackson as a matchup-based WR3 or a season-long depth option.

Top 100 Fantasy Football Wide Receiver Rankings for 2019

1. Michael Thomas, New Orleans Saints, Bye Week 9

2. DeAndre Hopkins, Houston Texans, Bye Week 10

3. Odell Beckham Jr., Cleveland Browns, Bye Week 7

4. Davante Adams, Green Bay Packers, Bye Week 11

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5. Julio Jones, Atlanta Falcons, Bye Week 9

6. Mike Evans, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Bye Week 7

7. Tyreek Hill, Kansas City Chiefs, Bye Week 12

8. Keenan Allen, Los Angeles Chargers, Bye Week 12

9. Adam Thielen, Minnesota Vikings, Bye Week 12

10. Amari Cooper, Dallas Cowboys, Bye Week 8

11. Brandin Cooks, Los Angeles Rams, Bye Week 9

12. JuJu Smith-Schuster, Pittsburgh Steelers, Bye Week 7

13. Stefon Diggs, Minnesota Vikings, Bye Week 12

14. Antonio Brown, Oakland Raiders, Bye Week 6

15. Alshon Jeffery, Philadelphia Eagles, Bye Week 10

16. Tyler Lockett, Seattle Seahawks, Bye Week 11

17. D.J. Moore, Carolina Panthers, Bye Week 7

18. Calvin Ridley, Atlanta Falcons, Bye Week 9

19. Julian Edelman, New England Patriots, Bye Week 10

20. Cooper Kupp, Los Angeles Rams, Bye Week 9

21. Tyler Boyd, Cincinnati Bengals, Bye Week 9

22. Robert Woods, Los Angeles Rams, Bye Week 9

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23. Chris Godwin, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Bye Week 7

24. Kenny Golladay, Detroit Lions, Bye Week 5

25. Allen Robinson, Chicago Bears, Bye Week 6

26. T.Y. Hilton, Indianapolis Colts, Bye Week 6

27. Mike Williams, Los Angeles Chargers, Bye Week 12

28. Sterling Shepard, New York Giants, Bye Week 11

29. Sammy Watkins, Kansas City Chiefs, Bye Week 12

30. Corey Davis, Tennessee Titans, Bye Week 11

31. A.J. Green, Cincinnati Bengals, Bye Week 9

32. Will Fuller, Houston Texans, Bye Week 10

33. Robby Anderson, New York Jets, Bye Week 4

34. Jarvis Landry, Cleveland Browns, Bye Week 7

35. Josh Gordon, New England Patriots, Bye Week 10

36. Courtland Sutton, Denver Broncos, Bye Week 10

37. Larry Fitzgerald, Arizona Cardinals, Bye Week 12

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38. Marvin Jones, Detroit Lions, Bye Week 5

39. Kenny Stills, Miami Dolphins, Bye Week 5

40. Dante Pettis, San Francisco 49ers, Bye Week 4

41. Geronimo Allison, Green Bay Packers, Bye Week 11

42. DeSean Jackson, Philadelphia Eagles, Bye Week 10

43. Christian Kirk, Arizona Cardinals, Bye Week 12

44. Emmanuel Sanders, Denver Broncos, Bye Week 10

45. Dede Westbrook, Jacksonville Jaguars, Bye Week 10

46. Curtis Samuel, Carolina Panthers, Bye Week 7

47. Anthony Miller, Chicago Bears, Bye Week 6

48. John Brown, Buffalo Bills, Bye Week 6

49. N'Keal Harry, New England Patriots, Bye Week 10

50. James Washington, Pittsburgh Steelers, Bye Week 7

51. Tyrell Williams, Oakland Raiders, Bye Week 6

52. Marquez Valdes-Scantling, Green Bay Packers, Bye Week 11

53. D.K. Metcalf, Seattle Seahawks, Bye Week 11

54. Michael Gallup, Dallas Cowboys, Bye Week 8

55. Donte Moncrief, Pittsburgh Steelers, Bye Week 7

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56. Marquise Goodwin, San Francisco 49ers, Bye Week 4

57. Golden Tate, New York Giants, Bye Week 11

58. Jamison Crowder, New York Jets, Bye Week 4

59. Devin Funchess, Indianapolis Colts, Bye Week 6

60. Mohamed Sanu, Atlanta Falcons, Bye Week 9

61. Albert Wilson, Miami Dolphins, Bye Week 5

62. Keke Coutee, Houston Texans, Bye Week 10

63. Robert Foster, Buffalo Bills, Bye Week 6

64. Tre'Quan Smith, New Orleans Saints, Bye Week 9

65. Marqise Lee, Jacksonville Jaguars, Bye Week 10

66. Adam Humphries, Tennessee Titans, Bye Week 11

67. DaeSean Hamilton, Denver Broncos, Bye Week 10

68. Marquise Brown, Baltimore Ravens, Bye Week 8

69. John Ross, Cincinnati Bengals, Bye Week 9

70. Josh Doctson, Washington Redskins, Bye Week 10

71. Quincy Enunwa, New York Jets, Bye Week 4

72. Mecole Hardman, Kansas City Chiefs, Bye Week 12

73. Antonio Callaway, Cleveland Browns, Bye Week 7

74. Danny Amendola, Detroit Lions, Bye Week 5

75. Deebo Samuel, San Francisco 49ers, Bye Week 4

76. Zay Jones, Buffalo Bills, Bye Week 6

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77. A.J. Brown, Tennessee Titans, Bye Week 11

78. Preston Williams, Miami Dolphins, Bye Week 5

79. Randall Cobb, Dallas Cowboys, Bye Week 8

80. David Moore, Seattle Seahawks, Bye Week 11

81. D.J. Chark, Jacksonville Jaguars, Bye Week 10

82. Phillip Dorsett, New England Patriots, Bye Week 10

83. Parris Campbell, Indianapolis Colts, Bye Week 6

84. Taylor Gabriel, Chicago Bears, Bye Week 6

85. Nelson Agholor, Philadelphia Eagles, Bye Week 10

86. Ted Ginn, New Orleans Saints, Bye Week 9

87. Trey Quinn, Washington Redskins, Bye Week 10

88. Andy Isabella, Arizona Cardinals, Bye Week 12

89. Paul Richardson, Washington Redskins, Bye Week 10

90. Josh Reynolds, Los Angeles Rams, Bye Week 9

91. Keelan Cole, Jacksonville Jaguars, Bye Week 10

92. Chris Hogan, Carolina Panthers, Bye Week 7

93. Equanimeous St. Brown, Green Bay Packers, Bye Week 11

94. Cole Beasley, Buffalo Bills, Bye Week 6

95. Willie Snead, Baltimore Ravens, Bye Week 8

96. Taywan Taylor, Tennessee Titans, Bye Week 11

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97. Chris Conley, Jacksonville Jaguars, Bye Week 10

98. Breshad Perriman, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Bye Week 7

99. Jake Kumerow, Green Bay Packers, Bye Week 11

100. Trent Taylor, San Francisco 49ers, Bye Week 4

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