Running back has always been considered the most valuable position in fantasy football. Historically, running backs have been in the best position to rack up points due to the yardage and points that the position racks up. Looking back on the top fantasy scores ever recorded, you’ll see that five of the top-10 belong to running backs. And year in and year out, mock drafts held by experts before the beginning of a new season have been flooded with RB1s in the first round.
In the last year or two, however, this has started to shift. While there’s still clear value to securing a top-notch RB1 if you’re able, elite wide receivers have begun to seem more valuable. Wide receivers are considered usually the safest bet to score a touchdown. Given the way some of the league’s best WRs are racking up yards and points, the position has simply become a higher priority for fantasy teams. This is particularly worth considering for dynasty players. A top WR can enjoy a prime of several years without slowing down, whereas running backs are notoriously fragile, with short-lived primes.
With that in mind, here are my top WR options for dynasty drafts (or transactions within existing dynasty leagues) in 2017. There are so many good ones, it’s hard to choose, but it is most likely one of these five (or several of them), will find their way into a top 3 fantasy season coming up.
Odell Beckham Jr.
He can be a little bit erratic, both personally and in terms of performance, but OBJ still represents the best value for dynasty leagues. He’s the youngest of the league’s best WRs, and it’s conceivable that his best days are still ahead of him. The Giants recently acquired Brandon Marshall in a move that will change their offense—but if anything it should only make it harder for defenses to devote special attention to Beckham for the next two seasons.
Evans is the only other WR as young as Beckham who’s anywhere near his talent level—and on any given week he can be the more productive player. He and young Bucs QB Jameis Winston seem to be growing together nicely, and the entire Tampa offense may be getting deadlier. At the time of this writing, DeSean Jackson is intending to join the Bucs, which would stretch their pass threat down field and give Evans more space to do his thing.
Cooper is not among the top three WRs in the league by any stretch. Still, he could be in the next few years, and that’s one thing you’re looking for in a dynasty lineup. Just 23 years old and paired with a young quarterback who’s still improving, Cooper is an extremely valuable weapon both now and for the foreseeable future.
Jones and Antonio Brown—arguably the two deadliest WRs in the game—are also in the conversation as some of the very best dynasty options. However, both are in their late-20s, which puts them below the top three. We’re giving the nod to Jones because he’s one year younger and appears to have a more stable offensive situation.
Brown is as good a fantasy option as there is in the NFL, but it’s fair to ask at this point if his QB might be wearing down. Ben Roethlisberger is a career iron man, but he’s been inconsistent and banged up lately, and isn’t getting younger. Brown is still a nice dynasty option, but there’s no telling how long (or how often) he’ll have his QB around in the coming seasons.
Beyond this group of elite options, there are a lot of attractive names that have similar value. Allen Robinson, A.J. Green, DeAndre Hopkins, Dez Bryant, and Sammy Watkins are among those ranked in the top-10 for dynasty WR options, but come with a few more question marks than those in the top five.
It’s also worth considering a few WRs who might be new in the league, or moving to new teams. For instance, Alshon Jeffery could be headed to the Eagles or Colts, where he’d have more stability than he’s had in Chicago. There are also new rumors that Brandin Cooks could be traded to the Patriots, which might turn him into a fantasy monster. Furthermore, incoming rookie Mike Williams has drawn some Calvin Johnson comparisons, and should be eyed by any dynasty player.