Utilizing tiers during fantasy football drafts is a great way to get the most value out of each position. It's particularly useful when it comes to wide receivers — outside of the elite players, the difference in fantasy points scored between receivers drafted in the seventh, eighth and ninth rounds versus receivers taken in the double-digits is negligible.
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Because the tiers are bigger for wide receivers, we'll want to try to stay toward the latter half of each tier in order to maximize value.
This article is the second in a series on skill position tiers following the 2020 fantasy football quarterback rankings tiers.
Tier 1 – First Rounders
In most fantasy football drafts, the running backs are going to fly off the board, causing first-round worthy wide receivers to fall to the middle or back-end of the round. Michael Thomas is likely to still warrant the No. 1 selection at wide receiver due in part to his special connection with Drew Brees. Since 2017, Thomas’ PFF receiving grade (93.2) is the highest of any receiver Brees has targeted.
Thomas is going to have a solid weekly fantasy floor but could also have a higher weekly ceiling than one might think — no qualifying wide receiver had a better reception percentage on passes thrown 20 or more yards downfield (87.5%) a season ago. Thomas also earned nine top-five finishes at the wide receiver position in 2019 — no other receiver had more than four.
Julio Jones will see plenty of volume attached to Matt Ryan. The Falcons ranked in the top three in the league in pass percentage during three of Dirk Koetter's four seasons calling the offense in Atlanta from 2012-2014 and 2019 — and they ranked seventh in the other. Jones is also incredibly efficient — he was fifth in yards per route run in 2019 (2.44). Julio has finished first, fifth and second over the past three seasons. Since 2018, he has accumulated 100 receiving yards or more in over half of his games (52%).
Tyreek Hill arguably has the highest ceiling of the group, playing alongside the best quarterback on the planet in Patrick Mahomes. No player has more receiving touchdowns (17) from Mahomes than Hill since 2018. Drafting Hill in the first round offers the upside of a double-digit touchdown season. We are just one season removed from the 2018 campaign when Hill played a full 16 games with Mahomes and was the WR3 overall, ranking third in the NFL in touchdown receptions (12).
He can be inconsistent at times — Hill finished outside the top 20 six times after Week 5 last season (not including Week 11 when he left a game due to injury). But his weekly upside can't be ignored — he also finished inside the top four three times in 2019.
Davante Adams has the best shot to unseat Thomas as the potential NFL leader in targets. Devin Funchess and Allen Lazard are his only competition at the receiver position. Adams missed time due to injury in 2019, but when he returned healthy in the back half of the season, he produced. From Weeks 9-17, he ranked as the WR4 and finished fourth in fantasy points per snap (0.34). Over the final nine weeks of the season, only Thomas averaged more fantasy points per game.
Adams' weekly upside may be limited if the Packers’ offense remains more run focused. He only finished inside the top five once last season. But Adams' floor will be extremely high as Aaron Rodgers’ No. 1 target in the passing game.
Tier 2 Second-Round studs and Rising Stars