2018 fantasy receiver preview: Early look at wideouts set to rise and fall

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Whether you’re basking in glory or wallowing in defeat, the 2017 fantasy season is officially in the books. Because owner minds never rest, the Yahoo Fantasy crew looks ahead to what the New Year may hold. Today’s position under the microscope: Wide Receivers.

Among wide receivers that finished inside the position’s top-24, who do you believe could experience a decline in 2018?

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Andy – It’s no simple trick to produce WR2 stats as a team’s No. 3 receiving option, but NELSON AGHOLOR managed to pull it off. He’s a talented player tied to a stellar offense and a terrific quarterback, so of course it’s possible that he might deliver another eight-touchdown season. But I’m never going to place a big bet on a receiver who figures to see less than 100 targets. (He received 95 in 2017.) Zach Ertz and Alshon Jeffery will clearly remain the top options in Philly.

Dalton – LARRY FITZGERALD turned in yet another productive season, finishing second in the NFL with 109 catches. But it took a whopping 161 targets to get a modest 1,156 yards and six scores, as he managed just 10.6 yards per catch while showing little ability to separate. Fitzgerald is a Hall of Famer, but Arizona’s QB situation remains a huge question mark and most importantly, he’ll be 35 years old next season. Don’t pay for the past.

Liz – MARVIN JONES. After plateauing midseason in 2016, I figured Jones would flop in 2017. Boy, was I wrong. The former Bengal was a legit WR1, averaging over 2 fantasy points per target and smoking stud CBs like Patrick Peterson, Janoris Jenkins, and Xavier Rhodes. However, most of that production came while Kenny Golladay was sidelined. Once the dynamic rookie returned from injury and played upward of 80 percent of the team’s snaps, Jones’ opportunities and – by extension – output decreased. Assuming Golladay continues to ascend in 2018, a regression for Jones seems likely.

[Early position previews for 2018: QBs | RBs | WRs | TEs]

Conversely, what wide receiver outside the 2017 WR1/WR2 ranks do you think jumps in value next season?

Dalton – MARQUISE GOODWIN. The 49ers will get Pierre Garcon back and will likely address the WR position through free agency and/or the draft, but Goodwin has gone from long shot project with track star speed to legitimate NFL receiver quicker than most expected, and he showed terrific rapport with Jimmy Garoppolo. Goodwin got 9.2 YPT this season (tied for 10th among wide receivers minimum 50 targets), which is remarkable given the shaky QBs throwing to him for the first two thirds of the season. As one of the top options in a Kyle Shanahan offense with an emerging star at QB, Goodwin has the upside to finish as a top-10 fantasy wideout in 2018.

Liz – JOSH DOCTSON. After missing his freshman campaign due to injury and being overshadowed by the signing of Terrelle Pryor, Doctson was largely an afterthought heading into 2017. By midseason, however, he had leap-frogged Pryor on the team’s depth chart and assumed the role of Washington’s X receiver.

By the year’s end he was cruising, targeted in the red zone on a weekly basis, on the field for 100 percent of snaps, and scoring in three of his last five outings (Weeks 12-16). With Pryor likely to be released, Doctson will continue as the Redskins’ WR1. Of course, Kirk Cousins could move on, but it would make sense that the front office force reps between any QB and their stud wideout (that cost them a first-round pick). I think Doctson – and his hops – are up for the challenge.

Andy – DEDE WESTBROOK finished his season in impressive fashion, topping 70 receiving yards three times over six games. He was almost uncoverable at the collegiate level, and certainly didn’t appear overmatched as a pro. The quarterback position is clearly a huge variable for Jacksonville, but Westbrook has already demonstrated that he can overcome a sketchy passer. Expect him to make a leap in his second season.

Listomania. Scribble down your initial top-12 wide receiver ranks for next season.

Liz – 1) Antonio Brown, 2) DeAndre Hopkins, 3) Odell Beckham, 4) Julio Jones, 5) Keenan Allen, 6) Michael Thomas, 7) A.J. Green, 8) Mike Evans, 9) Davante Adams, 10) Tyreek Hill, 11) Doug Baldwin, 12) JuJu Smith-Schuster

Andy – AB, Nuk, Odell, Keenan, Julio, Michael Thomas, A.J. Green, Adam Thielen, Davante Adams, Fitz, Tyreek, Baldwin.

Dalton – 1) Antonio Brown, 2) DeAndre Hopkins, 3) Odell Beckham, 4) Julio Jones, 5) Keenan Allen, 6) Michael Thomas, 7) A.J. Green, 8) Mike Evans, 9) Tyreek Hill, 10) Adam Thielen, 11) Brandin Cooks, 12) Davante Adams

Bring the blitz. Follow Andy (@AndyBehrens), Liz (@LizLoza_FF) and Dalton (@DaltonDelDon) on Twitter.

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