As the wide receiver position moves to the front and center of most fantasy drafts there seem to be three players who have moved to the top of the draft board.  In one way or another Antonio Brown of the Pittsburgh Steelers, Julio Jones of the Atlanta Falcons and Odell Beckham Jr. of the New York Giants are ranked 1, 2 and 3 in most if not all pre-seasons fantasy previews. Let see how this works.

Brown is in an interesting position with Pittsburgh. Martavis Bryant is suspended for the entire season and Le'von Bell will miss the first 4 games of the season because he is also suspended. Don't forget that long time Steelers tight end retired after last season; so Brown is the clear cut #1 option in the Steelers passing game. Will this lead Brown to another 100 plus catch season or will it make him the main target for opposing defenses to stop. 

Jones looks to have a little more help on offense than Brown does, but he should still get his catches. The Falcons let long time receiver Roddy White go after 11 seasons. Mohammed Sanu has been brought in to start opposite Jones. Devonta Freeman is a top fantasy running back and should draw some attention from Jones. I'm not sure if Jones can get back to his 126 catch total from last season, but he'll have a chance.

Beckham Jr. is an interesting case. If you're in a Point Per Reception league (PPR) Brown and Jones may be better choices as they caught about 20 more passes than Beckham Jr. last season.  Beckham Jr. makes up the ground in touchdown catches. He had 13 last season while Jones had 8 and Brown had 10. Ben McAdoo was promoted from offensive coordinator to head coach; so you wouldn't think the offense will change to much and Beckham Jr. should benefit from that.

So if you don't land one of these top three wide receivers who are you looking for in the draft. There still are some quality wide receivers out there.

DeAndre Hopkins of the Houston Texans had a impressive season with 111 catches, 1521 yards and 11 touchdowns and now it looks like he'll have a better quarterback throwing him the football in Brock Osweiler. While the Texans have always been more or less a run first type of offense you have to wonder with the new quarterback and a top wide out in Hopkins if they try and open it up a little. If they do Hopkins could reap the benefits. 

A.J. Green of the Cincinnati Bengals had some health issues last season and still caught 86 passes for 1297 yards and 10 touchdowns. You have to think that if Green is healthy and plays all 16 games he'll end up right around the 100 catch mark.  The Bengals wide receiver corp will be a little different this season as Marvin Jones and Mohammed Sanu are gone. These changes may actual have quarterback Andy Dalton looking Green's way even more.

Dez Bryant of the Dallas Cowboys is another receiver who should easily move up the fantasy draft board just by being healthy. A healthy Tony Romo will also help Bryant's fantasy production. It's hard to believe that Bryant only caught 31 passes last season. This may be a big plus for some fantasy owners if other players in your league stay away from Bryant. While health is the big concern here the upside may be too much to pass up. Is a 10 touchdown catch season out of Bryant's reach.

Where you'd want to go after these 6 wide receivers are off the board is tough to tell. There will be a lot of question on these guys who might fill out a Top 10. Here are some names you can look for to be available.

Are you sold on Allen Robinson of the Jacksonville Jaquars? He did have 14 touchdowns and 1400 yards last season, but when you hear his name do you think top wide out. Brandon Marshall of the New York Jets had a big season 109 catches, 1502 yards and 14 touchdowns in 2015. He got his quarterback (Ryan Fitzpatrick) back, but do you see him putting up the same numbers? Alshon Jeffery of the Chicago Bears is a bigger receiver that's good around the goal line. I'm just not sure Jeffery is the guy you want to go into the season with as your #1 fantasy receiver. Bradin Cooks of the New Orleans Saints could be a good choice as he's the #1 receiver on a team that's going to throw the football. He could be a double digit touchdown guy this season. Could Mike Evans of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers be a top receiver this coming season. Tampa Bay made a change at head coach to try and develop Jameis Winston. Could Evans see more targets as a result of the change and the offensive focus turning to Winston. Can Amari Cooper of the Oakland Raiders continue to grow with quarterback Derek Carr or is a sophomore season regression in the mix. Cooper had the most receiving yards on the Raiders last season, but Michael Crabtree led the team in catches (85) and touchdowns (9). Maybe Cooper's growth is just becoming the top receiver on his team. The Green Bay Packers will be thrilled if Jordy Nelson can return t his 2014 season form. Nelson missed all of last season after tearing up his knee during the pre-season. If you're a believer in Nelson he could slide down the draft board for you. Keenan Allen of the San Diego Chargers  is another guy returning from injury, but could be an under the radar top guy. He only caught 4 touchdowns last season and his yards per catch average was just 10.8. This should allow him to drop to an area in the draft that might make Allen worth the risk. Let round out our list at 15 and go with T.Y. Hilton of the Indianapolis Colts. Right away Hilton's stock should go up with the healthy return of quarterback Andrew Luck. While you'd call it a down year for Hilton he did still get 1124 yards. If he improves on those 5 touchdown catches he'll move back up into the top wide receiver list.

There's 15 wide receivers for you to look at. Now these guys should come off the draft board early in most drafts. As we get closer to draft time we'll start looking deeper into the wide receiver position and see if we kind find a so called sleeper or two for you.  

Published by John Burke