Unlike the fantasy tight end position, the wide receiver position is almost bursting at the seams with value. You can find a viable WR1 as far down as the fourth round (depending on your perspective, of course), not to mention the amount of talent available late in drafts. So when a wide receiver completely separates himself from such a large pack, we take notice.
That’s what Michael Thomas did in 2019.
Let’s run down the top five receivers of the past fantasy season, starting with the Saints’ stud:
1) Michael Thomas, New Orleans Saints — 300.10
On average, Michael Thomas was drafted at the very end of Round 1 or the very top of Round 2 back in August of 2019.
His fantasy finish, however, warranted a top-five, maybe even top-three pick.
We know about the shattered single-season reception record. Thomas’ 149 catches were 45 more than the next receiver. His 1,725 receiving yards were 331 more than the next receiver. And his 185 targets were 28 more than the next receiver. Thomas’ season was something to behold, as he continued to produce week in and week out, with Drew Brees and without, en route to his fourth-straight 1,000-yard season.
Take away Thomas’ crazy ceiling of catches and yardage; it was his extremely safe fantasy floor that truly set him apart from the pack. He averaged nearly 12 targets and 9 catches A GAME. Only in Week 13 did he fail to score double-digit fantasy points. His best game came in Week 5 against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers when he torched them with a 13-11-182-2 line.
And to think, he’ll turn just 27 in March. Will you draft him in the top-five in 2020?
2019 Top-5 Series
2) Chris Godwin, Tampa Bay Buccaneers — 233.10
Everyone’s favorite breakout pick of 2019, Chris Godwin did more than just live up to expectations. The talented young receiver turned his third year into one to remember: 86 catches, 1,333 yards, and nine touchdowns. He outplayed his compatriot, Mike Evans, en route to completely shattering his late-fourth-round ADP (on average, Evans was drafted at the end of the second round).
Alongside Jameis Winston’s gunslinger antics, Godwin was no stranger to the blowup performance, scoring over 20 fantasy points in five games last season. His best came in Week 4 against the Los Angeles Rams when he turned a whopping 14 targets into 12 catches, 172 yards, and two TDs in a 55-40 win; a game that’s every fantasy player’s dream.
Unfortunately, a hamstring injury hindered Godwin late in the season and held him out of Championship Week. Nonetheless, you can expect Godwin to cost a lot more than a fourth-round pick at draft tables next season.
3) Julio Jones, Atlanta Falcons — 224.60
The elder statesman of the list, Julio Jones just continues to produce. Whether the Falcons are a good team or a bad team; whether Jones is 100% healthy or dealing with a plethora of injuries, Jones is pretty much as secure as it gets at the wide receiver position. It’s not a stretch to say that he has established himself as one of the greatest receivers of all time.
2019 marked Jones’ sixth-straight 1,000-yard season. It was the fourth 90-plus-catch season of his career. Sure, sometimes fantasy players and fans alike are left scratching their heads as to why such a dominant receiver doesn’t score more touchdowns, but as I said before, Jones delivers regardless.
The veteran saved his best performance of the season for the fantasy semifinals in a tough matchup against the San Francisco 49ers: 20 targets (TWENTY!), 13 catches, 134 yards, and two TDs. 2019 was his third-straight top-five fantasy finish and his highest finish since 2015 (second-place).
Let’s all give thanks that Julio Jones exists.
4) Cooper Kupp, Los Angeles Rams — 223.50
Unlike most other receivers on this list, Cooper Kupp doesn’t primarily play on the outside (he was used in the slot 65.5% of the time he was on the field). Nonetheless, tied to a vibrant Rams play-action passing attack (though the team regressed as a whole in 2019), Kupp truly broke out in his third season (the first time he’s played all 16 games). He completely destroyed his previous career-highs and finished second in the league in WR-touchdowns (10); only Kenny Golladay had more with 11 (Golladay was actually just 2.55 points away from making this list).
Amazingly, Kupp was one of just three receivers who delivered a 200-plus-yard game this past season (Amari Cooper and Will Fuller were the other two). That ridiculous output helped Kupp deliver his best fantasy performance of the season: 10-7-220-1. With his fourth season coming up, is the best yet to come from Kupp? That remains to be seen, but what isn’t is him being drafted way earlier in 2020 than his 2019 seventh-round ADP.
5) DeAndre Hopkins, Houston Texans — 217.54
It’s a bit disappointing that DeAndre Hopkins is last on this list, yet he was, on average, the first wide receiver off the board at draft tables in 2019. With that said, can you really be upset about a 104-1,165-7 season? Nuk was tied with Keenan Allen for second in the league in receptions, and he was also fifth in the league in targets with 150. Unfortunately, his 2019 numbers were in decline across the board from his previous two seasons (except in catches — Nuk had more catches in 2019 than in 2017, but less yardage).
Nuk’s best fantasy game of the season actually came in Week 1, when he scored 27.10 points on the strength of 8 catches, 111 yards, and 2 TDs. Hopkins’ ceiling remains as high as any wide receiver, so I doubt we’ll see a big drop in his 2020 ADP based on his 2019 season output.
Which wide receiver carried your team this fantasy season? Who let you down? Who are you targeting in 2020? Let us know in the comments.