The 2018 fantasy football season is over, so it’s officially time to turn the page and move on to 2019. These ratings are all subject to change, but it’s never too early to begin preparing for your 2019 fantasy draft. At this early point in the season, DeAndre Hopkins and Davante Adams headline the 2019 top 10 fantasy football wide receivers.
DeAndre Hopkins, Davante Adams Headline Early 2019 Top 10 Fantasy Football Wide Receivers
1. DeAndre Hopkins
DeAndre Hopkins is one of the few receivers in the league that can do it all. Boasting the best set of hands in the league, Hopkins finished his 2018 season recording 115 receptions for 1,572 yards and 11 touchdowns, good enough to make him the WR4 in standard scoring.
There’s no pass that Hopkins cannot catch, as his absurd catch radius and soft hands make him a master at winning tight, contested catches. He’s effective in every part of the field and has a case as the best wide receiver in football. Hopkins’ numbers should only continue to improve as Deshaun Watson gains more experience. Davante Adams offers slightly more week-to-week certainty, but Hopkins offers the higher ceiling and an incredibly safe floor in Houston’s passing attack.
2. Davante Adams
There is no wide receiver in football as consistently excellent as the Green Bay Packers’ Davante Adams. The fifth-year receiver had an unbelievable season, finishing the year with 111 receptions for 1,386 yards and 13 touchdowns. This production made him the WR3 in standard formats, but that’s not why he’s projected as the WR2 in 2019.
Consistency is the most important thing in fantasy football, and Adams was the model of consistency in 2018. Adams’ lowest output all season long came in Week Three when he recorded 81 yards and no touchdowns. This was the only time all season long where Adams didn’t record double-digit fantasy points in standard scoring. Adams is obviously better with Aaron Rodgers in the lineup, but he proved in 2017 that he can be a WR1 with a bad quarterback situation. Barring injury, Adams should be a WR1 and offers arguably the safest week-to-week production in the league.
Don’t overthink this one. Yes, Antonio Brown probably won’t be a member of the Pittsburgh Steelers in 2019. Yes, he’s a diva with a flair for the dramatic. However, he’s also Antonio Brown. Despite all the chaos surrounding him, Brown finished 2018 with 104 receptions for 1,297 yards and 15 touchdowns. His production is unmatched since 2013, as he’s won First-Team All-Pro honors in four of the last five seasons.
Wherever Brown lands, he’ll be the unquestioned top receiver on the roster. He’s produced when Landry Jones had to fill in for Ben Roethlisberger, and whoever his new quarterback is will definitely be better than Landry Jones. Despite all the drama surrounding him, Brown’s an all-time talent. Don’t let him pass you by just because of the current noise.
Kansas City Chiefs wide receiver Tyreek Hill is one of the most explosive players in the league, and he should continue his success entering his age-25 season. Paired with the strong-armed Patrick Mahomes, Hill finished his 2018 with 87 receptions for 1,479 yards and 12 touchdowns. Hill’s best in the deep part of the field, but his precise route running and elite speed allow him to be effective in the shallow and intermediate portions of the field.
From the outside looking in, one would expect Hill’s production to take a dip in 2019. However, a deeper look at the numbers suggests Hill should be able to maintain this level of efficiency. Even though The Kansas City offense as a whole was unsustainably efficient, Hill’s numbers are completely repeatable. Hill finished the year with a 63.5% catch rate, which was actually the lowest of his career. Even with a normal catch rate, Hill put up superstar numbers. Look for him to repeat this success in 2019.
Mike Evans, once again, finished 2018 as one of the best wide receivers in the league. Catching passes from Ryan Fitzpatrick and Jameis Winston, Evans finished his season with 86 receptions for 1,524 yards and eight touchdowns. This stat line wasn’t inflated by one big game either, as Evans finished with double-digit fantasy points in nine games (standard scoring).
It looks like the Tampa Bay Buccaneers will give Jameis Winston one last year at the helm. Winston is prone to errors, but he also racks up passing yardage at a high clip. Evans is the unquestioned top target and he’ll have a quarterback capable of getting him the ball. Additionally, new head coach Bruce Arians is notorious for almost exclusively using wide receivers in his passing attack. There aren’t many receivers more talented than Evans, and he should continue to see a high volume of targets.
For the case of Juju Smith-Schuster, let’s assume that the Pittsburgh Steelers trade away Antonio Brown. This would leave Juju as the clear-cut top option in the Steelers passing game. Smith-Schuster finished 2018 as the WR9 in standard scoring, recording 111 receptions for 1,426 yards and seven touchdowns. However, with Brown out of town, defenses will change the way they defend Juju and the Steelers’ passing attack.
Part of the reason Juju was so productive is that Antonio Brown took an opponents’ top cornerback and help over the top from the safety. This led to Juju seeing favorable matchups, which helped boost his final stat line. Juju will see more targets with Brown departed, but will it be enough to cancel out the depleted value from the added defensive attention? Only time can tell for sure, but Juju should be good enough to beat CB1’s and double teams with regularity. He’ll be 22 in 2019 and should only continue to improve as an athlete and a football player.
Atlanta Falcons wide receiver Julio Jones is one of the most talented wide receivers in the league and should be one of the first receivers off the board. Playing in all 16 games for the third time in four years, Jones recorded 113 receptions for 1,677 yards and eight touchdowns, finishing the year as the WR5 in standard scoring. Jones, known for his struggles getting into the endzone, actually managed to haul in seven touchdowns in the final eight games of the season.
Julio would be higher on this list were it not for a revamped coaching change in Atlanta. Former offensive coordinator Steve Sarkisian is gone, and Atlanta is still looking for someone to fill the vacated position. Quarterback Matt Ryan typically struggles during his first year in a new system, and Atlanta has a star-studded receiver room featured players like Mohamed Sanu and second-year wideout Calvin Ridley. Jones will still get the ball early and often, but his production could see a small dive in 2019.
New Orleans Saints wide receiver Michael Thomas is coming off one of the most efficient seasons from a wide receiver in recent memory. The third-year wideout finished the season as the WR8, recording 125 receptions for 1,405 yards and nine touchdowns. What’s truly amazing is that he did all this on just 147 targets, meaning he had an absurd 85.0% catch rate.
This efficiency, while amazing, is wholly unsustainable. This isn’t a shot against Thomas, but just accepting that it’s highly improbable that any player catches that high a percentage of their targets. This catch rate will probably regress in 2019, causing his production to dip a little. He’ll still be a borderline top-10 wideout, but don’t expect the same crazy efficiency you got in 2018.
Odell Beckham Jr.
New York Giants wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. is one of the best receivers in football when he’s actually on the field. Playing in 12 games, Beckham recorded 77 receptions for 1,052 yards and six touchdowns during the 2018 season. He finished the year as the WR16, but that low ranking was highly impacted by the four games he missed. When on the field, Beckham recorded double-digit fantasy points in eight of his 12 games (standard scoring).
Unfortunately, drafting Beckham carries significant risk. For one, injuries have limited him in recent years. Beckham has played in just 16 games over the past two seasons and there is some question as to whether his body can handle a full season. If you draft Beckham, you have to expect him to miss some time. Additionally, it sounds like the Giants are giving Eli Manning another year at the helm. Manning is not a good quarterback and cannot push the ball down the field. He’ll leave a lot of plays on the field, which will dramatically impact Beckham’s overall stat line.
In many ways, the 2018 season was a breakout one for Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Adam Thielen. After putting himself on the map with two solid campaigns, Thielen took his play to another level by catching 113 passes for 1,373 yards, and nine touchdowns. Thielen finished the year as the WR7 and was the WR1 halfway through the season.
However, Thielen had a massive dip in production during the second half of the season. Over the last five games of the season, Thielen recorded just 20 receptions for 235 yards and one touchdown. After a season of dominance, Thielen was mediocrity personified during the fantasy football playoffs. This isn’t the first time he’s done this, as Thielen finished 2017 with just 21 receptions for 271 yards and a touchdown during the month of December. These numbers are inflated by a Week 13 matchup where Theilen recorded six receptions for 105 yards and a touchdown. Drafting Thielen will give you one of the best receivers in the league for the first half of the season, but he could drop off in the second half of the year.
Honorable Mentions (In No Particular Order):
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