We broke down the elite quartet, the second wave and third tier of fantasy football wide receiver options. We are now on to the fourth level. These guys are fantasy starters, but they have just WR2 and WR3 ability.
Danny Amendola, New England Patriots
Amendola is a bigger, faster version of Wes Welker, but he lacks Welker’s durability. He has missed 20 games over the past two seasons. If he can stay healthy, he could be in for quite a ride. Amendola gets a major upgrade at quarterback and offensive system by joining Tom Brady and the Pats.
He should easily top his career-high marks of 689 yards and three touchdowns. He should have more touchdowns this year than the seven he scored in four seasons with the St. Louis Rams. The conversation starts and stops with his durability, though.
Miles Austin, Dallas Cowboys
Austin caught 66 passes for 943 yards and six touchdowns last year. He is clearly the third option behind Dez Bryant and Jason Witten. That also means he will be dealing with inferior coverage. Austin has averaged 970.8 yards and 7.8 touchdowns over the past four seasons.
Antonio Brown, Pittsburgh Steelers
Brown missed three games last year and finished with 787 yards and five touchdowns. His high-ankle sprain was an issue. In 2011 Brown had 1,108 yards and two touchdowns. He should be heavily targeted as the Steelers adjust to life without Mike Wallace.
Pierre Garcon, Washington Redskins
Garcon would be a tier higher if you didn’t have to worry about his troublesome foot. One thing you don’t have to worry about is Garcon’s toughness. He played through pain to finish with 633 yards and four touchdowns despite missing six games.
He can easily give you WR2 numbers. It just may come with a little worry from time to time.
DeSean Jackson, Philadelphia Eagles
With Jeremy Maclin out of commission and Riley Cooper in hot water, suddenly Jackson is the only real threat at wide receiver for the Eagles. He has been on the decline the past three years, but he should reverse that trend this year in Chip Kelly’s offense. The Eagles will be run-heavy, but Jackson should see plenty of looks.
Greg Jennings, Minnesota Vikings
Jennings has missed 11 games in the past two years, but the bigger risk comes in his transition from Aaron Rodgers to Christian Ponder. There are fewer capable mouths to feed, which offsets some of the QB disparity. His career high is 80 receptions, which he could top for Minnesota.
I don’t see him reaching his career-highs of 1,292 yards and 12 touchdowns, but he should be a solid starting fantasy WR.
Stevie Johnson, Buffalo Bills
Johnson has averaged 1,043 yards over the past three seasons, but his touchdown total has decreased from 10 to seven to six. He has 70 yards and/or a touchdown in 12 games last year. He will be working out of the slot often this year, which should bolster his reception total, leading to solid totals in both yards and touchdowns.
James Jones, Green Bay Packers
Jones caught a ridiculous 14 touchdown passes last year. Greg Jennings and Jordy Nelson dealt with injuries last year. Jennings is gone, but Jordy will be much more active. There is enough to feed Jones, Nelson and Randall Cobb in Green Bay’s potent offense.
Hakeem Nicks, New York Giants
Nicks has a lengthy injury history, but he had been able to remain productive prior to last year. Nicks finished with 692 yards and three touchdowns, but 199 yards came in Week 2. He was a shell of himself the rest of the year. He has a ton of upside, but the injury risk will always be there.
Cecil Shorts, Jacksonville Jaguars
Shorts had 979 yards and seven touchdowns last year despite being limited to 14 games. He could easily be ranked a tier higher, but a concussion history and quarterbacking deflates his value.
Steve Smith, Carolina Panthers
Smith had 1,174 yards last year, but was held to just four touchdowns. That gives him averages of 1,284 yards and 5.5 touchdowns in two seasons with Cam Newton. Smith is 34, which brings some concern, but his speed and strength continue to make him a quality fantasy option.
Wes Welker, Denver Broncos
It’s unusual to leave Tom Brady and not see a decline at quarterback, but that’s what happened when Welker joined forces with Peyton Manning. Demaryius Thomas and Eric Decker will keep Welker from being the PPR-machine that he was in New England, but he will still be a viable fantasy option.
Mike Williams, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Williams returned to form with 996 yards and nine touchdowns on 63 receptions. In three seasons he has averaged 64.3 catches for 910.3 yards and 7.7 scores. He only topped 70 yards in four games last year, but he is highly effective in the red zone.
Also check out the fifth tier of fantasy football wide receiver options.
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