Wide receivers haven’t quite leapfrogged running backs in conventional fantasy football draft strategy, but they’re getting there. So, if you’re ready to turn the fantasy football world on its head and draft WR, WR and WR in your first three picks, maybe 2020 is your year. It could lead to a lopsided roster, but in a pass-happy NFL, it could also be fun. Don’t consider such a bold strategy without adding our wide receiver rankings tiers to your cheat sheet, though.
Sometimes, there’s a big difference between the 19th and 20th ranked players at a position, and sometimes it’s a toss-up. By using a tiered system, we account for some of that.
DOMINATE YOUR DRAFT: Ultimate 2020 cheat sheet
Below, you’ll find WRs broken into eight tiers. Some of them have sleepers, some of them have studs, and the last few are overall very unexciting unless you’re a remarkably deep league or in a dynasty format. Within each tier, you’ll find draft strategy for how to attack that tier, such as whether players in that grouping should be your WR1, WR2 or a bench player (and when you should target them).
The tier system, whether you like our rankings or not, is one that can be used with any fantasy sport and any position, so this should give you a feel for how to break position groups down further.
2020 STANDARD FANTASY RANKINGS:
Quarterback | Running back | Wide receiver | Tight end | D/ST | Kicker | Superflex | Top 200
2020 WR Rankings Tiers: Who are the best fantasy wide receivers?
1. Michael Thomas, Saints
2. DeAndre Hopkins, Cardinals
3. Tyreek Hill, Chiefs
4. Julio Jones, Falcons
5. Davante Adams, Packers
You absolutely can’t go wrong with any of the five receivers in our first tier. Michael Thomas is a sure thing for another season approaching record-setting target and reception numbers. The presence of Emmanuel Sanders in New Orleans shouldn’t slow him down much, if at all.
The uncertainty that might exist with DeAndre Hopkins joining a new team is more than put to rest by the massive volume that Arizona’s passing offense should bring. A spread out field with multiple other weapons should only help Hopkins do his job. If you want a proven commodity, though, all three of Tyreek Hill, Julio Jones, and Davante Adams remain in the same situations that have made them fantasy weapons for years now.
Most owners remain in the thought process of taking running backs early in fantasy draft and then filling in around them later. If you want to deviate in the first round, or even the early parts of the second round, it should be for one of these five names. Otherwise, running back is the way to go.
In a PPR league, this first tier is still a cut above the rest (and maybe could include Chris Godwin if you’re confident in how Tom Brady will lead the Tampa Bay offense). Hill slides just a notch in PPR formats, but you still can’t go wrong with any of these fantastic five.
2020 PPR RANKINGS:
Running back | Wide receiver | Tight end | Superflex | Top 200
Fantasy WR Tiers: Potential WR1s
6. Chris Godwin, Buccaneers
7. Cooper Kupp, Rams
8. Amari Cooper, Cowboys
9. Odell Beckham Jr., Browns
10. Kenny Golladay, Lions
11. JuJu Smith-Schuster, Steelers
12. Mike Evans, Buccaneers
13. Adam Thielen, Vikings
14. Tyler Lockett, Seahawks
15. Keenan Allen, Chargers
16. Courtland Sutton, Broncos
17. A.J. Brown, Titans
18. DeVante Parker, Dolphins
19. DJ Chark, Jaguars
Two of the most frustrating receivers in 2019, Odell Beckham Jr. and JuJu Smith-Schuster, find themselves near the top of our second tier. They were both in our first tier a year ago before letting us down. And while we’re approaching them with a bit more caution this time around, there’s still plenty to believe in with OBJ and JuJu. Smith-Schuster, for one, will hopefully get a full season’s worth of Ben Roethlisberger and be able to keep Duck Hodges reserved for his nightmares. Cleveland’s offense should be better all around to boost Beckham’s value, too.
If you’re one for the safe picks, maybe Chris Godwin or Amari Cooper are more your speed. Godwin has the new QB factor, but when the new guy is the greatest of all time, it’s probably OK to feel safe about his likely top target (and you can feel good about Mike Evans, too, also in this tier). Cooper will continue to be the top option in a Dallas offense that has seen Dak Prescott continue to improve.
There’s also plenty of believing in youth when it comes to our second tier. While Kenny Golladay is relatively established, fantasy owners will hope he can step up even more. With Matthew Stafford touted across the industry this offseason, Golladay might be ready for that final leap. Courtland Sutton, A.J. Brown, and DJ Chark have all burst onto the scene more recently, but all three have the physical tools to believe in their outputs for years to come.
Then you have the players who, if they can stay healthy for a full season, could be fantasy goldmines: Cooper Kupp, Adam Thielen, Tyler Lockett and Keenan Allen. Any of them would be overqualified WR2s, and they all have WR1 upside.
We wouldn’t want to get past Smith-Schuster or maybe Evans if you decide to wait on your top wideout unless you’re sitting near the Rounds 3-4 or 4-5 turn in your draft and want to pair up something like Sutton and Brown as a high-upside top wideout duo for your team.
2020 FANTASY SLEEPERS:
6 QBs | 16 RBs | 14 WRs | 10 TEs | 5 D/STs | One from each team
2020 Fantasy Draft Strategy: WR2 targets
20. T.Y. Hilton, Colts
21. D.J. Moore, Panthers
22. Robert Woods, Rams
23. Allen Robinson, Bears
24. Stefon Diggs, Bills
25. Calvin Ridley, Falcons
26. DK Metcalf, Seahawks
27. Terry McLaurin, Washington
28. Will Fuller V, Texans
29. Jarvis Landry, Browns
30. Marquise Brown, Ravens
Most of the names in our third tier should be familiar to longtime fantasy owners. Bear in mind, though, that veteran doesn’t always mean safe. T.Y. Hilton and Will Fuller V are very familiar with the weekly injury report.
By the time these names are near the top of your queue, there are a lot of ways you can go. The veterans, like Hilton, Stefon Diggs, and Jarvis Landry, might feel like boring picks, but they all still have upside. Hilton, and Diggs could both benefit from a new quarterback in 2020 (although there’ll be a lot of mouths to feed in Buffalo around Diggs).
This tier also features plenty of fresher faces. D.J. Moore and Allen Robinson feel established, but they still have the upside to rise into the next tier by the start of 2021. Calvin Ridley, DK Metcalf, Terry McLaurin, and Marquise Brown are all either second- or third-year players who’ve made their mark at least once. With them, there’s always a small risk of regression from potentially playing over their head, but there’s probably more upside to jump into the second tier.
Who you pick in this range might depend on the rest of your roster. If you’ve already picked one or two WRs above this, you should target the high-upside youngsters. If your focus in the draft has been on other positions, you might be better off taking the slightly surer things like Hilton and Robert Woods. Regardless, you should have at least two WRs selected by the time you get through these top 31, if not three. That likely means you would take three WRs in the first seven or eight rounds.
DRAFT STRATEGY AND RANKINGS TIERS:
Quarterback | Running Back | Tight End | D/ST
2020 Fantasy Rankings: WR3/Flex tier
31. Emmanuel Sanders, Saints
32. Brandin Cooks, Texans
33. John Brown, Bills
34. Christian Kirk, Cardinals
35. Tyler Boyd, Bengals
36. Julian Edelman, Patriots
37. Deebo Samuel, 49ers
38. A.J. Green, Bengals
39. Marvin Jones, Lions
40. DeSean Jackson, Eagles
41. Michael Gallup, Cowboys
42. Mike Williams, Chargers
43. Jamison Crowder, Jets
44. Diontae Johnson, Steelers
45. Darius Slayton, Giants
46. Golden Tate, Giants
Everyone has their own opinions on players, and rankings take into account most likely outcomes, but here’s the truth: It’s probably wise to take at least three WRs before you get to our fourth tier. It’s hard to get excited about these players even though most are proven or have some legitimate upside.
Don’t take that to mean our rankings are totally wrong. These names will produce, and there are reasons to be excited about Deebo Samuel, Justin Jefferson, and Darius Slayton, for sure. But when you look at your Week 1 lineup, you might feel like your lineup is packing punch if you’re starting any of these players in your WR3 slot.
There are just a lot of question marks here. Can Emmanuel Sanders break into the two-headed monster that is Michael Thomas and Alvin Kamara? Can Brandin Cooks be more consistent on a new team? Can John Brown have a repeat season with Stefon Diggs in town? Can Christian Kirk compete for production alongside DeAndre Hopkins? What can Julian Edelman be without Tom Brady?
If you must draft here, the upside of Samuel, Slayton, or Diontae Johnson is the most appealing. By this point in your draft, you can afford to be wrong, but you should only be wrong by targeting upside. There just isn’t a ton of upside to be had with Sanders, Edelman or Golden Tate, which means that the best-case scenario is predictable and that there is some downside, too. You can probably do better at other positions in the middle rounds.
FANTASY DRAFT STRATEGIES:
Snake draft | Auction | Best ball | Dynasty | IDP
2020 Fantasy WR sleepers
47. Mecole Hardman, Chiefs
48. Henry Ruggs III, Raiders
49. CeeDee Lamb, Cowboys
50. Anthony Miller, Bears
51. Jerry Jeudy, Broncos
52. Sterling Shepard, Giants
53. N’Keal Harry, Patriots
54. Preston Williams, Dolphins
55. Allen Lazard, Packers
56. Justin Jefferson, Vikings
Everyone loves the shiny new thing, of which there is plenty in our fifth tier. However, it’s actually an interesting mix of this year’s shiny new things and hand-me-down shiny new things from years past.
You can start with the rookies: Henry Ruggs III, CeeDee Lamb, and Jerry Jeudy. Rookies have a tendency to be slightly overdrafted in fantasy football. If you want one, go get them, but you might be able to take advantage of that by targeting the other names in this tier.
Mecole Hardman, Anthony Miller, Sterling Shepard, N’Keal Harry, Preston Williams, and Allen Lazard have mostly been sleepers in the past of some sort, but that might make them feel old and less exciting than they really are (OK, maybe Shepard is unexciting).
Miller should see more targets with Taylor Gabriel out of town. Two opt-outs on the Dolphins have Williams looking at a possible increase in targets from 60 to 100. Lazard should benefit from likely being Green Bay’s full-time No. 2 wideout, as well. Let the other owners take the rookies and then take one of Miller, Williams, or Lazard (or two of them, even). It should work out just fine, especially with the rookies coming off difficult offseasons. Skipping tier four and grabbing these guys a little later in your draft is a decent strategy.
MORE FANTASY FOOTBALL:
Auction values | IDP Rankings | Projections | Mock draft simulator | Team names
Fantasy WR Rankings Tiers: Late-round values
57. Michael Pittman Jr., Colts
58. Curtis Samuel, Panthers
59. Van Jefferson, Rams
60. Robby Anderson, Panthers
61. Breshad Perriman, Jets
62. JJ Arcega-Whiteside, Eagles
63. Sammy Watkins, Chiefs
64. Larry Fitzgerald, Cardinals
65. Dede Westbrook, Jaguars
66. Kendrick Bourne, 49ers
67. Alshon Jeffery, Eagles
68. Parris Campbell, Colts
69. Brandon Aiyuk, 49ers
70. Hunter Renfrow, Raiders
71. John Hightower, Eagles
72. Bryan Edwards, Raiders
73. Russell Gage, Falcons
74. James Washington, Steelers
75. Corey Davis, Titans
76. Tee Higgins, Bengals
By the time you’ve reached the sixth tier, you’re looking at filling out your bench with this assortment of names. We have rookies and veterans galore. So, at this point, it’s really more about drafting your favorite touts and from your gut because these 19 players could finish in any order in 2020 fantasy points and it wouldn’t be all that surprising.
If you’re the type to look for upside, even late, both Robby Anderson and Breshad Perriman provide it. They’re the classic hit-or-miss deep threats that can win you an occasional week. Rookies Michael Pittman Jr., Brandon Aiyuk, and Tee Higgins also provide some of that rookie hype at less cost if they slide longer than the rookies in the tier above.
Rather fill your bench with veterans? Take Larry Fitzgerald or the injury-prone duo of Sammy Watkins and Alshon Jeffery. If you want a former National Championship game hero, Hunter Renfrow’s your guy (though he’s better served for the PPR crowd). And there’s a few more post-hype sleepers here, too, in James Washington and Corey Davis. Sadly, they probably don’t have much upside anymore.
Fantasy Football Rankings 2020: Breakout WR candidates
77. Cole Beasley, Bills
78. Denzel Mims, Jets
79. Kenny Stills, Texans
80. Randall Cobb, Texans
81. Scotty Miller, Buccaneers
82. Nelson Agholor, Raiders
83. Devin Duvernay, Ravens
84. Miles Boykin, Ravens
85. Danny Amendola, Lions
86. Olabisi Johnson, Vikings
87. Laviska Shenault Jr., Jaguars
88. KJ Hamler, Broncos
Unless you’re in a deep league, many of these players will end up on the waiver wire. However, one particularly interesting player stands out as having the potential to get a bigger-than-expected role in Week 1 and run with it.
That would be Randall Cobb. We know what the veteran is capable of, and an injury to Keke Coutee leaves the Houston slot job his for the taking. That’ll lead to PPR value for sure.
Fantasy Football 2020: Deep WR Sleepers
89. Jalen Guyton, Chargers
90. Tre’Quan Smith, Saints
91. John Ross III, Bengals
92. Steven Sims, Washington
93. Josh Reynolds, Rams
94. Marquez Valdes-Scantling, Packers
95. Zach Pascal, Colts
96. Trey Quinn, Washington
97. Tajae Sharpe, Vikings
98. Chase Claypool, Steelers
99. Jalen Reagor, Eagles
100. Joe Reed, Chargers
You have to squint really hard to be a 2020 believer in our eighth and final tier. If you’re drafting down this far because you’re in a large league, you might as well take one of the rookies and hope their role is larger than expected. Those would be Van Jefferson and Chase Claypool.
The only way the rest of these guys matter in fantasy would be due to injuries or an unexpected increase in usage. We saw Zach Pascal be a borderline fantasy starter when T.Y. Hilton was out last year, so you can remember his name. And man, oh man, Tre’Quan Smith. He was a popular sleeper a year ago and didn’t come close to delivering. Maybe that means he’ll be great this year (but it’s doubtful).
One last name here: Jalen Reagor. The Eagles rookie was a popular sleeper earlier this offseason, but a shoulder injury will sideline him to start the year. He could be worth a flier but with his uncertain timetable to return, he’s more of a player to watch on the waiver wire once he is confirmed to be fully healthy.