2017 Outlook: How high were expectations for Brown last season? His 106-catch, 1,284-yard, 12-touchdown season was widely regarded as a letdown. Brown missed a game, but still topped wide receivers in fantasy points for the third consecutive season. He finished top-five in targets, receptions and receiving yards for the fourth straight year. Brown turns 29 this year, so he still figures to have a few years of top-end production left in the tank. Ben Roethlisberger's top target and fantasy's most consistently dominant wide receiver should be off the board early in the first round of your draft.
2017 Outlook: Beckham's 2016 season started slowly, but he ended up posting career bests in both targets (167) and receptions (101). Beckham has now managed at least 91 receptions, 1,305 yards and 10 touchdowns during each of his first three pro seasons. He's finished as a top-seven fantasy wide receiver each of those years. Beckham is known more for his highlight reel catches, but he also ranked seventh in the NFL with 15 end zone targets last season (up from 11 in 2015). The 24-year-old superstar is just getting started and should only benefit from New York's offseason addition of Brandon Marshall and first-round pick Evan Engram. Beckham is a low-risk, high-ceiling pick early in the first round of fantasy drafts.
2017 Outlook: Jones missed two games with a toe injury, but still managed to finish sixth among wide receivers in fantasy points last season. Jones' target share dipped a bit, but Matt Ryan's top target thrived in the breakout offense of the year. Despite eclipsing eight touchdowns in a season just once in his career, Jones has finished as a top-11 fantasy receiver during four of the past five seasons. Durability continues to be an issue for Jones, as he's missed at least one game during four of his six NFL seasons. The Atlanta offense will surely come back to earth a bit this season, but 28-year-old Jones is arguably the game's best talent at the position. Select him in the middle of the first round.
2017 Outlook: Considering that he missed his entire age-30 season with a torn ACL, it was fair to wonder just how effective Nelson would be in 2016. It turns out the answer was 'very,' as Nelson caught 97 passes for 1,257 yards and 14 touchdowns en route to finishing second among wide receivers in fantasy points. Nelson's seven top-10 fantasy weeks were second-most at the position and he finished 35th or better during all but two of his 16 outings. Nelson has finished second, third, 13th and fourth during the past four seasons in which he's appeared in all 16 games. He scored 13-plus touchdowns during three of those campaigns. Nelson's age (32) is enough to knock him down a few spots, but he's still a quality target near the first/second-round turn.
2017 Outlook: Evans was terrific during his first two years in the NFL, but he took his game to a new level in 2016. Evans paced the NFL with 170 targets, a league-high 20 of which came in the end zone, and ranked top-six in receptions, receiving yards and touchdowns. A 6-foot-5 downfield weapon, Evans has ranked top-10 at the position in average depth of target each of his first three seasons in the NFL, which justifies his substandard 54 percent catch rate. Fantasy's No. 4-scoring wideout was consistent but not dominant, posting only four top-10 fantasy weeks, which tied for ninth. The additions of DeSean Jackson and O.J. Howard will take some heat off of Evans and won't cost him many targets and scoring opportunities. Evans is a solid WR1.
2017 Outlook: The Bengals' 2016 season was marred by injuries and Green was caught up in the onslaught. After posting at least 1,000 receiving yards during his first six seasons, Green caught 66 passes for 964 yards and four scores in 10 games in 2016. He finished an NFL-best 70 percent of his 10 starts as a top-30 non-PPR fantasy receiver. He's finished top-nine at the position in PPR during three of the past five seasons, but has missed a total of nine games due to injury over the past three seasons. Green turns 29 years old this year and remains one of the best and most heavily targeted wideouts in the league.
2017 Outlook: Thomas was fantasy's No. 7 wide receiver despite missing one game as a rookie. The Ohio State product caught 77 percent of his targets (third best among wideouts) and averaged 9.5 yards per target (ninth). He posted an impressive nine top-30 fantasy weeks during his final 13 games of the season. New Orleans' second-round pick from 2016 is obviously in the WR1 mix, especially with Brandin Cooks gone, but keep in mind that a Saints wide receiver has exceeded a 20 percent target share only once during the Sean Payton/Drew Brees era (Thomas averaged a 20 percent share as a rookie). Nonetheless, Brees will back under center in 2017, so the 24-year-old Thomas is a great bet for a huge second season.
2017 Outlook: Cooks -- a first-round pick back in 2014 -- has three NFL seasons under his belt, but incredibly is only 23 years old. He adds an every-down speed component to a Patriots offense that has relied heavily on short and intermediate passing in recent years. Cooks joins New England having posted back-to-back 1,100-yard receiving seasons, including a total of 17 touchdowns during the two campaigns. He was fantasy's No. 13 wide receiver in 2015 and improved to 10th last season. Cooks needs to be downgraded a bit as he moves from the Superdome to icy New England (he's yet to play in an NFL game at a temperature below 55 degrees), but he's one of the game's top lid-lifters in one of the game's best offenses. He's a fringe WR1 target with big upside.
2017 Outlook: Regression to the mean was an inevitability for Seattle's top wideout last season and, although his touchdown production was cut in half, Baldwin still managed his second consecutive top-10 fantasy campaign. Baldwin posted career highs in receptions and yardage on his way to an eighth-place finish. For the second straight season, he was a bit too boom/bust, posting five top-10 weeks, but only three additional top-30 finishes. Baldwin is in his prime years at age 28 and remains one of the games' most-underrated players. He's a solid WR2 play in a Seattle offense that has relied more on the pass in recent years.
2017 Outlook: Cooper already has a pair of 1,000-yard seasons under his belt, which is pretty incredible when you realize that he achieved that prior to turning 23 years old. Cooper took a step forward in his second season, cutting his drops from 10 to four, improving his yards per target from 8.6 to 8.9 and jumping from 21st to 13th at the position in fantasy points. Cooper will need to find paydirt more often in order to join the fantasy elite -- he has just 11 scores in two seasons -- but the former fourth-overall pick is just scratching the surface of his upside. He's a strong candidate for another big leap in 2017.
2017 Outlook: Following four years as essentially a solid No. 2 fantasy receiver, Hilton took his game to a new level in 2016. The 5-foot-9, 180-pound playmaker caught 91 of 153 targets for 1,448 yards, all of which were career highs. Hilton averaged 9.5 yards per target (10th best) and finished as a top-10 fantasy receiver during 38 percent of his outings (sixth best). Hilton isn't a great source of touchdowns, averaging exactly six per season since entering the league, but he makes up for it with heavy volume and high-end efficiency in the Colts' pass-heavy, Andrew Luck-led offense.
2017 Outlook: Injuries have limited Bryant to 22 games during the past two regular seasons, so it's easy to forget that he finished as a top-seven fantasy receiver during the prior three seasons. He was pretty good during the 13 games he played last season as well, posting a top-20 fantasy week during 54 percent of his outings (seventh best). Bryant scored eight touchdowns in 2016 after averaging 13.7 per season from 2012 to 2014. Bryant is averaging 8.8 targets per game (27 percent target share) during the 53 games he's played at least three-quarters of the pass play snaps since the start of 2013. The 28-year-old's volume will be limited some by Dallas' run-heavy scheme, but he does enough damage to warrant second-round consideration.
2017 Outlook: Thomas finished 16th among wide receivers in fantasy points last season and was 11th in 2015. That's not too bad, but he's trending in the wrong direction after finishing in the top six each of the previous three seasons. Amazingly, Thomas has posted a grand total of two top-10 fantasy weeks over the past two seasons. He caught 90 passes for 1,083 yards and five touchdowns and racked up eight end zone targets last season, all of which were his lowest totals since 2011. Thomas is still in his prime at age 29, but Denver's shaky quarterback situation has dropped him to high-floor WR2 status.
2017 Outlook: Pryor spent the first four years of his pro career as a quarterback, but has made an impressive transition to wide receiver over the past two seasons. Last season marked Pryor's first as an every-down receiver and he wasn't short on volume. Pryor racked up 135 targets (13th most), including 14 while in the end zone (ninth), and was an average of 13.9 yards down field when targeted (11th highest). Despite the fact 26.7 percent of balls thrown his way were off target, Pryor finished as fantasy's No. 20 receiver. Pryor is in his prime at age 27 and, at 6-foot-4 and 223 pounds, he adds some serious size to the perimeter in Washington. Pryor will be heavily targeted and should easily improve in the touchdown department in a better offense.
2017 Outlook: The disaster that was the Brock Osweiler season in Houston had a fairly sizable effect on Hopkins' numbers last season. One year after finishing as fantasy's No. 4 wide receiver, Hopkins' targets fell by 44, his receptions by 33, his receiving yards by 567 and his touchdowns by seven. He managed two top-10 fantasy weeks and 26 receivers scored more fantasy points. Osweiler is gone, but Houston's quarterback situation remains shaky, at best. Nonetheless, Hopkins is a bounce-back candidate on the grounds that he's in his prime at age 25 and one of the game's most talented players.