As a tool for fantasy drafts, players can be grouped together in tiers of similar projected fantasy production. Tiers can help a drafter decide how to choose between players at different positions; if a given player is the last one left in a higher tier, an owner may choose to select him over another player at a position with several players of comparable value left on the board.
Calvin Johnson, Detroit Lions
Josh Gordon actually led all WRs in points last year, but even if he were guaranteed to play this season (and with a possible year-long suspension, he’s not), Megatron would stand alone here. Johnson finished second to Gordon in 2013, and first in 2011 and 2012. That consistent production — not to mention his size, speed and primary role in a pass-happy, indoor offense — make Johnson the only choice lo lead off his position.
Demaryius Thomas, Denver Broncos
A.J. Green, Cincinnati Bengals
Brandon Marshall, Chicago Bears
Dez Bryant, Dallas Cowboys
Julio Jones, Atlanta Falcons
Jordy Nelson, Green Bay Packers
Six more size/speed freaks set to garner a plurality of targets in their teams’ offenses. Thomas presents the only plausible alternative to Megatron as the No.1 fantasy receiver in drafts. Marshall appeared to gain an equal last season in Alshon Jeffery but Marshall remained the apple of Jay Cutler’s eye. Jones was on his way to a monstrous 2013 campaign before getting injured in Week 5.
Antonio Brown, Pittsburgh Steelers
Alshon Jeffery, Chicago Bears
Randall Cobb, Green Bay Packers
DeSean Jackson, Washington Redskins
Andre Johnson, Houston Texans
Vincent Jackson, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Larry Fitzgerald, Arizona Cardinals
Pierre Garcon, Washington Redskins
Victor Cruz, New York Giants
The rest of the players in the hunt to produce WR1 numbers. Brown racks up catches but doesn’t have the size of the Tier 2 guys and is less likely to hit double digits in touchdowns. Jeffery, as mentioned, emerged alongside Marshall last season; can he keep it up? DeSean Jackson and Garcon need to sort out who is the WR1 on their own team. Johnson, Vincent Jackson and Fitzgerald are all 30-plus-years-old but should have some life left in their legs.
Michael Crabtree, San Francisco 49ers
T.Y. Hilton, Indianapolis Colts
Roddy White, Atlanta Falcons
Julian Edelman, New England Patriots
Keenan Allen, San Diego Chargers
Jeremy Maclin, Philadelphia Eagles
Marques Colston, New Orleans Saints
Wes Welker, Denver Broncos
Percy Harvin, Seattle Seahawks
Michael Floyd, Arizona Cardinals
A large group of solid choices to be a fantasy team’s WR2. Crabtree just needs to stay healthy, as do White, Maclin, Colston and Harvin. Hilton, Edelman and Welker could mix in big weeks with quieter ones, depending on their teams’ game plans. Allen shined as a rookie, and many feel Floyd will overtake Fitzgerald as soon as this season to become the Cardinals’ top WR.
Kendall Wright, Tennessee Titans
Golden Tate, Detroit Lions
Emmanuel Sanders, Denver Broncos
Cordarrelle Patterson, Minnesota Vikings
Terrific WR3s here, who could be defensible WR2s, particularly if owners have stocked up at other spots. Patterson stands out as a tempting dice-roll. He’s a hugely talented, but raw, prospect who could take the next step this season, or who could prove he still has a ways to go.