Fantasy Football Pre-Season Preview: Receivers

John Tuvey, @jtuvey

OTHER POSITIONS:  Quarterbacks  |  Running Backs  |  Receivers

Wide Receiver Totals by Year

Year Targets Comps Receiving Yards Receiving TD Runs Rush Yards Rush TD
2006 9,719 5,349 72,546 431 246 1,463 5
2007 10,231 5,915 77,272 483 208 869 4
2008 9,690 5,563 73,039 416 240 1,642 9
2009 9,846 5,648 74,564 431 317 2,102 7
2010 10,098 5,764 76,403 485 331 2,108 7
2011 10,031 5,681 78,470 473 283 1,775 6
2012 10,481 6,040 80,755 491 265 1,572 2
2013 10,556 6,098 81,395 481 197 1,387 6
2014 10,540 6,309 82,608 483 288 1,806 9
2015 10,581 6,310 82,605 521 259 1,676 10

It’s easy to see why wide receivers are taking over the first round of fantasy drafts: the last three seasons have seen the three biggest numbers with regards to targets, completions and receiving yards for wideouts. Last year alone saw the position establish new high-water marks in targets and completions while obliterating the previous top total of receiving touchdowns by 30. Oh, and receiving yards came within three yards of making it a clean sweep. As an added bonus, while rushes and rushing yards by wideouts were down the position scored 10 rushing touchdowns—most in the past decade. The NFL has become a passing league, and the wide receivers are driving the bus.

Top Ten Wide Receiver Totals

Year Targets Comps Receiving Yards YPC TD FF Pts
2006 1,521 853 12,552 14.7 90 1,795
2007 1,559 938 13,191 14.0 124 2,063
2008 1,420 845 12,778 15.1 93 1,836
2009 1,398 861 12,417 14.4 103 1,860
2010 1,409 835 12,337 14.8 105 1,871
2011 1,355 839 13,592 16.2 97 1,962
2012 1,541 963 14,233 14.7 91 1,975
2013 1,532 922 14,062 15.3 106 2,062
2014 1,487 980 14,408 14.7 109 2,110
2015 1,627 1,046 14,463 13.8 109 2,102

While the high tide of the NFL’s propensity for the passing game is floating all wide receiver boats, the top targets are thoroughly enjoying the wave of success. Last year’s top 10 receivers set new marks at the position in targets, completions, and receiving yards and posted the second-most touchdowns and fantasy football points. It’s worth noting, however, that after peaking at 16.2 yards per catch in 2011 the average yards per catch for top 10 receives hit a 10-year low as it dipped below 14 yards to 13.8. Long live the possession receiver!

Tight End Totals by Year

Year Targets Catches Yards Touchdowns
2006 3,104 1,911 20,282 158
2007 3,257 2,095 22,131 183
2008 3,250 2,085 22,658 139
2009 3,558 2,274 24,960 193
2010 3,554 2,252 24,902 190
2011 3,658 2,310 26,672 197
2012 3,746 2,397 26,122 197
2013 3,713 2,390 27,374 237
2014 3,538 2,310 25,505 216
2015 3,841 2,509 27,450 211

The big fellas continue to be worked into every offense, as the tight end position established 10-year bests in targets, catches, and yardage. While touchdowns declined for the second straight year, they still remain above 200—a mark unknown to the position prior to 2013.

Top Ten Tight End Totals

Year Targets Catches Yards YPC Touchdowns FF Pts
2006 1,027 629 7,483 11.9 58 1,096
2007 1,053 683 8,267 12.1 66 1,223
2008 961 652 7,524 11.5 55 1,082
2009 1,157 779 8,947 11.5 77 1,357
2010 959 628 7,551 12.0 70 1,176
2011 1,106 740 9,327 12.6 78 1,413
2012 1,088 749 8,328 11.1 66 1,088
2013 1,084 723 8,686 12.0 85 1,387
2014 1,030 698 8,476 12.1 80 1,327
2015 1,015 683 8,539 12.5 70 1,277

Unlike the wide receiver position, tight end production is less about the top end and more of an overall increase. The top 10 producers at tight end failed to establish a benchmark in any category; they didn’t even post the second-most of anything, checking in with the eighth-most targets, seventh-most catches, fifth-most touchdowns and fourth-most yards over the past decade. While wide receivers saw their yards per catch decline, however, tight ends were heading in the opposite direction: only once in the past 10 years have the top 10 tight ends averaged more yards per catch than the 12.5 posted by the 2015 class.

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The tables below show the split between all passes thrown to either a tight end or a wide receiver and what their respective percentages are. Their ranks are from their fantasy rank that year for the position against all NFL teams.

Arizona Cardinals

  Tight Ends Wide Receivers
Year % Catch Yards TDs Rank % Catch Yards TDs Rank
2013 27% 73 760 5 24 73% 199 2706 17 10
2014 20% 50 588 1 27 80% 194 2740 15 13
2015 15% 43 567 6 30 85% 249 3515 25 1

Ho-hum, another top-10 fantasy season for Larry Fitzgerald; amazing what a healthy Carson Palmer can do for a guy. Palmer-to-Fitz accounts for an average of six catches and 71 yards per game, so while ADP suggests otherwise Fitz remains the lead dog among perhaps the league’s deepest receiving corps. Both John Brown and Michael Floyd posted starter-worthy fantasy numbers last season, and the only downer to this group is three ladles dipping into the same cooler. JJ Nelson is no slouch himself, but it will take an injury for him to gain fantasy relevancy. Arizona incorporated their tight ends a little more than usual at the stripe last season, but with Darren Fells and Jermaine Gresham sharing the job there’s nowhere near enough production to whet a fantasy whistle. Bottom line: Fitz is boring but the best fantasy value of the bunch, while Floyd and Brown remain solid investments with upside.

Atlanta Falcons

  Tight Ends Wide Receivers
Year % Catch Yards TDs Rank % Catch Yards TDs Rank
2013 30% 94 914 10 10 70% 224 2796 10 17
2014 10% 33 241 3 32 90% 284 3687 19 3
2015 22% 69 759 2 25 78% 244 3068 14 8

On the strength of Julio Jones Atlanta’s wideouts cracked the top six in catches and yardage last season, but it was clear he needed some help. Enter free agent Mohamed Sanu, who moves ahead of Justin Hardy and Eric Weems on the depth chart—and quite possibly into a large fantasy opportunity. The Falcons also added tight end Austin Hooper in the third round in hopes of recapturing a portion of what they lost when Tony Gonzalez retired—after a run of top-10 seasons Atlanta has ranked at or near the bottom of the league in tight end fantasy production the past two seasons—but he’ll have to push aside Jacob Tamme to see the field. Bottom line: Julio is elite, but there’s room for Sanu to shine in his shadow if he can consolidate Matt Ryan’s secondary looks. Hooper has upside, but rookie tight ends rarely make noise so file him away for future use.

Baltimore Ravens

  Tight Ends Wide Receivers
Year % Catch Yards TDs Rank % Catch Yards TDs Rank
2013 29% 78 803 5 22 71% 193 2623 13 16
2014 28% 76 800 5 18 72% 192 2587 21 9
2015 28% 83 833 5 17 72% 216 2737 10 17

Despite everything that transpired last season—Steve Smith missing half the season, Joe Flacco missing the final six games, Maxx Williams fighting through a concussion, Breshad Perriman not even taking the field at all as a rookie—Ravens pass-catchers finished in the top half of the league in catches and yards. Smith and Perriman opened training camp on the PUP list, so Baltimore is hardly out of the woods yet. But the emergence of Kamar Aiken ensures Flacco will have a familiar target during the preseason. If Smith can’t make it back from the Achilles’ tendon injury that prematurely derailed his retirement tour, Aiken becomes the Ravens’ go-to guy. Mike Wallace and rookie Chris Moore will battle to fill the speed receiver role vacated by Torrey Smith’s departure prior to last season. Williams will contend with Crocket Gillmore, Benjamin Watson and Dennis Pitta for targets at tight end. Bottom Line: Lots of bodies, but unless Smith and/or Perriman get healthy it’s tough to find one entity who will house enough targets to be a fantasy factor.

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Buffalo Bills

  Tight Ends Wide Receivers
Year % Catch Yards TDs Rank % Catch Yards TDs Rank
2013 30% 63 786 3 28 70% 144 1924 11 28
2014 28% 69 705 5 19 72% 180 2291 16 18
2015 28% 66 719 3 27 72% 168 2390 16 21

As you might expect when the head coach brings an offense called “Ground ’N’ Pound” to town, the Buffalo passing game—outside of Sammy Watkins, at least—was a fantasy afterthought. Despite missing three games Watkins accounted for twice the yardage and three times the touchdowns of any other Bills receiver, and assuming his surgically repaired foot holds up he’s in line for a similar role this year. Robert Woods heads a nondescript cast of wingmen fighting for table scraps. Charles Clay landed a $38 million contract, then failed to crack the top 15 at his position in receptions, yardage or touchdowns. He’s back after reworking his contract, but there’s no reason to expect an uptick in production. Bottom Line: Watkins is the only member of Ground ’N’ Pound’s aerial attack fantasy owners need pay attention to.

Carolina Panthers

  Tight Ends Wide Receivers
Year % Catch Yards TDs Rank % Catch Yards TDs Rank
2013 32% 74 828 6 16 68% 156 1983 15 26
2014 36% 98 1167 7 6 64% 176 2236 14 22
2015 38% 95 1235 9 5 62% 154 2263 22 20

It was no surprise tight end Greg Olsen paced the Panthers’ passing game, leading the team in targets, receptions and yardage; in fact, only the Titans devoted a larger share of their downfield passing game to the tight end position. The surprise contribution came from Ted Ginn, who put his speed and marginal hands to good use with 10 touchdowns as Carolina scrambled to find outside receivers in the wake of Kelvin Benjamin’s injury. Benjamin returns to the team and his WR1 role, leaving Ginn, Devin Funchess and Corey Brown to battle for table scraps. Olsen’s role is also assured; he was a top-five tight end when Benjamin was healthy and a top-five tight end when Benjamin was out. Bottom Line: Olsen remains an elite tight end option, and Benjamin’s return consolidates most of the wide receiver targets—leaving the rest of the corps fighting for fantasy relevancy.

Chicago Bears

  Tight Ends Wide Receivers
Year % Catch Yards TDs Rank % Catch Yards TDs Rank
2013 23% 66 772 5 23 77% 224 2980 23 4
2014 37% 106 1032 6 12 63% 182 2139 20 17
2015 34% 91 912 8 9 66% 173 2234 8 28

The Bears said goodbye to Brandon Marshall but never got the opportunity to say hello to first-round pick Kevin White as a leg injury scuttled his entire rookie season. Alshon Jeffery battled injuries of his own, getting in a half season of resume-building as his contract expired; the Bears franchised him, but the two sides failed to agree on a long-term deal this summer. Jeffery may wind up going the route of Marshall and Martellus Bennett, who was traded to the Patriots this offseason. Meantime he’ll be the lynchpin of a Chicago passing game adjusting to a new offensive coordinator. Tight end Zach Miller was solid in relief of Bennett and could flourish as the starter, but White is unproven and Eddie Royal the best of what’s left. Bottom Line: Jeffery is playing for a bigger payday and with White unproven expect Jay Cutler to lean on him, with Miller as a security blanket.

Cincinnati Bengals

  Tight Ends Wide Receivers
Year % Catch Yards TDs Rank % Catch Yards TDs Rank
2013 29% 88 918 7 11 71% 215 2859 23 5
2014 33% 80 604 5 24 67% 162 2289 12 24
2015 25% 64 748 14 11 75% 187 2581 15 16

No team took a bigger hit than the Bengals, as 152 targets opened up with the departures of Marvin Jones and Mohamed Sanu—and if Tyler Eifert isn’t ready to start the season following his latest injury there’s an even bigger void. Factor in the departure of run-heavy offensive coordinator Hue Jackson and AJ Green is looking at a monstrous volume of targets. Who’ll play wingman? Brandon LaFell and Brandon Tate are the veterans, but rookie Tyler Boyd could wind up as Green’s optimal running mate. Tyler Kroft stepped in for Eifert last season and would be poised to do the same if Eifert can’t answer the bell Week 1. Bottom Line: Green’s gaudy numbers could actually go up. When healthy Eifert is an elite fantasy tight end. Boyd and Kroft are flying under the radar right now, but keep them in mind when you’re throwing darts in the later rounds of your fantasy draft.

Cleveland Browns

  Tight Ends Wide Receivers
Year % Catch Yards TDs Rank % Catch Yards TDs Rank
2013 34% 95 1052 9 8 66% 188 2675 13 14
2014 22% 54 822 3 20 78% 189 2638 8 21
2015 31% 87 1117 9 8 69% 196 2299 8 24

Josh Gordon’s suspension prior to last season opened the door for a pair of previously unknown pass-catchers to emerge. Travis Benjamin stepped into Gordon’s role as the Browns’ WR1 before leaving for San Diego via free agency. Journeyman tight end Gary Barnidge remains after doubling (or better) his previous career totals with an out-of-nowhere 79-1,043-9 campaign, but he’s 30 and the new administration drafted his eventual replacement in Seth DeValve. The Browns also drafted Benjamin’s replacement and then some, selecting four wideouts in April led by first-rounder Corey Coleman. Gordon’s reinstatement is slated for Week 5, but he hasn’t scored since Week 15 of 2013 and was nowhere near the dominant force of his breakout campaign during his five active games in 2014. Mix in a reclamation project at quarterback and a run-happy head coach and there are so many moving parts to the Cleveland passing game it makes the head spin. Bottom Line: Tough to trust any of the principles—a rookie, a one-hit wonder, a once-rising star waylaid by suspension—in the Browns’ aerial attack. There’s upside if you can acquire them at a value, but paying full price seems a risky proposition.

Dallas Cowboys

  Tight Ends Wide Receivers
Year % Catch Yards TDs Rank % Catch Yards TDs Rank
2013 31% 94 1058 10 6 69% 209 2661 22 6
2014 31% 77 856 9 11 69% 171 2495 28 7
2015 37% 95 856 4 13 63% 160 2165 12 25

With Tony Romo limited to four games and Dez Bryant to nine mostly ineffective outings the Cowboys’ passing game plummeted to the depths of the fantasy rankings. Jason Witten remained solid but is clearly on the downslope of his fine career, while Terrance Williams proved he’s suitable for wingman duty but nothing more. Cole Beasley had his moments, but with Matt Cassel, Brandon Weeden and Kellen Moore all taking significant snaps the pass catchers could only do so much. Now Romo’s healthy, Dez is almost there, and the Cowboys are ready to bounce back to their previous top-10 self—assuming they don’t give Ezekiel Elliott a DeMarco Murray 2014-level of carries at the expense of throwing the football. Bottom Line: If his foot checks out Bryant is among the most dominant receivers in the game, but Witten’s days as anything more than a replacement-level fantasy tight end are behind him. The rest of the supporting cast aspires to be fringe fantasy producers.

Denver Broncos

  Tight Ends Wide Receivers
Year % Catch Yards TDs Rank % Catch Yards TDs Rank
2013 27% 101 1064 14 2 73% 268 3696 38 1
2014 19% 63 672 15 7 81% 268 3557 22 2
2015 25% 78 891 4 20 75% 235 2980 15 10

The Broncos still have as talented a wide receiver tandem as there is in the league; however, substandard quarterback play drove their production from elite levels to the edge of the top 10. Can Demaryius Thomas and Emmanuel Sanders find a way to thrive with Mark Sanchez at the helm? Most likely yes, but unlike vintage Peyton Manning days there’s no reason to dig into depth receivers like Jordan Norwood, Bennie Fowler and Cody Latimer for fantasy help. Tight end production plummeted as well, and neither Virgil Green nor Jeff Heuerman have the same talent to rise above their quarterbacking that Thomas and Sanders do. Bottom Line: Thomas and Sanders are still good, but the drop in quarterback quality removes them from the upper tier. The rest of Denver’s pass catchers are only as good as their quarterbacking—so, not very.

Detroit Lions

  Tight Ends Wide Receivers
Year % Catch Yards TDs Rank % Catch Yards TDs Rank
2013 26% 68 739 9 14 74% 192 2832 17 8
2014 16% 41 392 2 30 84% 210 2959 14 10
2015 22% 63 681 8 22 78% 221 2572 20 13

After nine NFL seasons, most of them elite, Calvin Johnson is walking away from the game—leaving a 150-target void in the Lions’ passing game. Detroit signed Marvin Jones to pick up some of that slack, and between he and Golden Tate the Lions should be able to survive life after Megatron. More will be asked of tight end Eric Ebron as well, especially in the red zone where the Lions like to target their big fellas. As much as Matthew Stafford likes to throw, it’s possible Jeremy Kerley, TJ Jones or undrafted rookie Jay Lee could work their way up to usable fantasy level. Bottom Line: Tate, Jones and Ebron should thrive as they divvy up Megatron’s targets in Detroit’s pass-heavy attack.

Green Bay Packers

  Tight Ends Wide Receivers
Year % Catch Yards TDs Rank % Catch Yards TDs Rank
2013 23% 70 762 6 19 77% 234 3319 18 3
2014 18% 51 551 6 23 82% 233 3295 28 1
2015 26% 73 643 9 19 74% 205 2528 17 15

With a healthy Jordy Nelson, the Green Bay receiving corps was a top-three fantasy entity and Aaron Rodgers an elite fantasy quarterback. With Nelson out of the lineup, the Packers scuffled their way to a middle-of-the-pack finish and Rodgers was—gasp!—ordinary. Nelson’s back, and assuming the ACL injury didn’t cost him any speed the Packers’ passing game should be restored to its original luster. Randall Cobb proved to be a very good WR2 but unable to be a true WR1. Green Bay has no shortage of candidates to replace James Jones and his surprising bounceback season numbers. Davante Adams received numerous opportunities a year ago but consistently let them slip through his fingers; now he’ll have to hold off Jeff Janis, Ty Montgomery and Jared Abbrederis for what can be a lucrative role as the third man in on Green Bay’s aerial attack. Richard Rodgers was big in the red zone but below average everywhere else; his targets will be threatened by Jared Cook. Bottom Line: Barring a setback, the return of Nelson returns Green Bay’s receivers to top-tier status—with intriguing battles between Janis and Adams at WR3 and Cook and Rodgers at TE.

Houston Texans

  Tight Ends Wide Receivers
Year % Catch Yards TDs Rank % Catch Yards TDs Rank
2013 31% 92 1041 9 9 69% 202 2652 9 22
2014 14% 32 316 3 31 86% 199 2585 10 20
2015 15% 41 448 4 31 85% 231 2967 20 7

DeAndre Hopkins didn’t let erratic quarterbacking prevent him from taking over Andre Johnson’s role as the Texans’ go-to receiver; however, Hopkins’ move to the first chair left a void that Nate Washington, Cecil Shorts, and Jaelen Strong were unable to fill. Houston hopes a draft class that includes first-rounder Will Fuller and third-rounder Braxton Miller remedies that situation, lest they pay Brock Osweiler a bunch of money just to hand off. Only the Jets directed a smaller share of their passing game towards their tight ends, and with CJ Fiedorowicz and Ryan Griffin splitting that small pie both are going hungry fantasy-wise. Bottom Line: So long as Lamar Miller doesn’t hoard too much of the offense and Osweiler is at least as competent as Brian Hoyer, Hopkins remains elite. It remains to be seen if Osweiler can support a second fantasy-relevant receiver, and if Fuller can become that guy.

Indianapolis Colts

  Tight Ends Wide Receivers
Year % Catch Yards TDs Rank % Catch Yards TDs Rank
2013 25% 65 731 5 25 75% 200 2509 14 19
2014 31% 98 1287 18 2 69% 219 3004 16 8
2015 28% 82 672 5 21 72% 211 2790 17 14

The Colts loaded up at receiver heading into 2015, but getting just half a season from Andrew Luck made things difficult. TY Hilton established himself as a legitimate WR1, and Donte Moncrief emerged as a viable WR2 while Andre Johnson was a mere shell of his former Houston self and first-round pick Phillip Dorsett never got going. Johnson is gone, opening the door for more from Dorsett, and nine more games of Luck instead of Matt Hasselbeck, Charlie Whitehurst and Josh Freeman should pad those numbers as well. After splitting tight end numbers the past few seasons Duane Allen has the position all to himself—relevant if Luck returns this offense to 2014 levels, when Indy tight ends accounted for 1,287 yards and 18 touchdowns. Bottom Line: The return of Luck—and continued lack of a ground game outside of Frank Gore—bodes well for big numbers from this group.

Jacksonville Jaguars

  Tight Ends Wide Receivers
Year % Catch Yards TDs Rank % Catch Yards TDs Rank
2013 21% 56 754 7 17 79% 210 2436 8 24
2014 19% 47 519 4 26 81% 202 2347 10 25
2015 27% 77 836 6 16 73% 210 3083 28 4

With Blake Bortles living up to his draft position and the Jaguars playing from behind on a regular basis, the Jacksonville receiving corps blew up big-time in 2015. Allen Robinson led the way, but Allen Hurns wasn’t far behind as each topped the 1,000-yard mark and the duo combined for 24 touchdowns. With an improved defense and Chris Ivory claiming a chunk of the offense a repeat might be tricky—though it works to the Allens’ advantage that Marqise Lee and Rashad Greene aren’t exactly eating up targets in their tertiary roles. The same can’t be said for tight end Julius Thomas, who came on strong after missing the first month of the season and will be heavily involved again this year. Bottom Line: The Jacksonville passing game looks legit, though you’ll have to pay full market rates for Robinson, Hurns and Thomas.

Kansas City Chiefs

  Tight Ends Wide Receivers
Year % Catch Yards TDs Rank % Catch Yards TDs Rank
2013 31% 53 541 5 31 69% 120 1544 9 32
2014 43% 96 1111 9 5 57% 129 1588 0 32
2015 33% 86 1042 6 10 67% 171 1997 12 26

On the bright side, Chiefs wideouts found the end zone last year—a dozen times, in fact, led by Jeremy Maclin. The rest of the wideouts took a back seat to tight end Travis Kelce, who flourished without Anthony Fasano stealing his snaps and ranked second to Maclin in targets, catches, yards and touchdowns. Albert Wilson, Chris Conley and Rod Streater will battle for secondary roles, but it’s tough to see any approaching fantasy relevancy. Bottom Line: Maclin and Kelce account for almost half of KC’s passing game targets—and an even larger share of their fantasy production.

Los Angeles Rams

  Tight Ends Wide Receivers
Year % Catch Yards TDs Rank % Catch Yards TDs Rank
2013 40% 97 1047 11 4 60% 147 1914 10 29
2014 35% 84 929 9 9 65% 157 2077 9 29
2015 33% 69 752 2 26 67% 137 1635 9 29

The run-heavy Rams brought nothing to the fantasy table on the receiver side, but they spent a great deal of draft capital to change that. And while it’s unlikely that Jeff Fisher changes his spots and suddenly starts throwing the ball around the yard, from the top on down this passing game will look different. Tavon Austin and Kenny Britt top the depth chart but they’ll be pushed by Brian Quick and rookies Pharoh Cooper and Mike Thomas. Same goes for the tight end position, where Lance Kendricks remains but rookies Tyler Higbee and Temarrick Hemingway will contend for snaps from the outset. Bottom Line: With so much youth—and so much running—in LA there’s no bankable fantasy commodities in the passing game. However, that doesn’t mean there aren’t some long-shot darts worth throwing.

Miami Dolphins

  Tight Ends Wide Receivers
Year % Catch Yards TDs Rank % Catch Yards TDs Rank
2013 27% 82 860 7 13 73% 226 2776 14 12
2014 27% 85 910 5 14 73% 234 2550 20 11
2015 20% 58 560 6 28 80% 225 2961 15 9

Jarvis Landry was a target hog by necessity last year, as first-round pick Devante Parker battled injury and the remainder of the receivers took turns bringing little to the table. Now Adam Gase is calling the shots in South Beach, and the Dolphins added a pair of pass-catchers via the draft to bolster their receiving corps. An improved offensive line could offer Ryan Tannehill more opportunity to look downfield as well. Jordan Cameron ranked second on the team in targets but did remarkably little with them. Bottom Line: Gase has sparked passing games in Denver and Chicago, and with the established Landry and a healthy Parker he could add fantasy fireworks in Miami to his resume as well.

Minnesota Vikings

  Tight Ends Wide Receivers
Year % Catch Yards TDs Rank % Catch Yards TDs Rank
2013 29% 78 851 5 18 71% 192 2466 12 23
2014 28% 67 713 4 22 72% 173 2326 12 23
2015 32% 70 708 6 23 68% 148 1916 6 31

Vikings wideouts ranked 29th or worse in catches, yardage, touchdowns and fantasy production; no wonder they spent their first pick on Laquon Treadwell. The rookie will be tasked with heading up the passing game for the run-heavy Vikings, with help from sophomore Stefon Diggs and tight end Kyle Rudolph. Minnesota throws so infrequently that there will be barely enough in the way of fantasy stats to feed those three players, leaving tertiary targets like Charles Johnson, Jarius Wright and MyCole Pruitt as fantasy afterthoughts. Bottom Line: The volume remains low, but there is some touchdown upside to big targets Treadwell and Rudolph.

New England Patriots

  Tight Ends Wide Receivers
Year % Catch Yards TDs Rank % Catch Yards TDs Rank
2013 18% 53 744 6 21 82% 243 2858 16 9
2014 34% 102 1294 18 1 66% 195 2212 11 28
2015 33% 99 1462 15 2 67% 201 2271 12 22

The Patriots continue to mix and match at wide receiver while Rob Gronkowski anchors the passing game. Expect more of the same this year, as Julian Edelman remains the go-to wideout (once he gets healthy) and New England hopes one or more from rookie Malcolm Mitchell, free agents Chris Hogan and Nate Washington, and holdover Danny Amendola can soften the blow of Tom Brady’s four-game suspension. More likely they’ll all take a one- or two-game spin as a producer before giving way to the next man up. Look for the offense to throw back to the Gronk/Aaron Hernandez twin tight end days with the addition of Martellus Bennett. Bottom Line: As Gronk goes, so goes the Patriots passing game. Edelman can be a PPR fiend when healthy, and there’s some upside to Bennett in the Hernandez role.

New Orleans Saints

  Tight Ends Wide Receivers
Year % Catch Yards TDs Rank % Catch Yards TDs Rank
2013 40% 111 1485 19 1 60% 164 2433 14 21
2014 37% 119 1201 17 3 63% 204 2811 12 15
2015 30% 101 1021 11 6 70% 232 3120 18 6

So much for transitioning to more of a run emphasis in New Orleans: Saints wideouts and tight ends ranked in the top 10 statistically across the board. The cast of characters will change somewhat, with second-round pick Michael Thomas replacing Marques Colston and free agent tight end Coby Fleener stepping in for the departed Benjamin Watson, but with Drew Brees helming the offense there will be plenty of numbers to be spread amongst the many mouths to feed. The only glitch is that despite Brandin Cooks’ success the Saints tend to favor quantity production over the quality of a true WR1. Bottom Line: Cooks, Willie Snead, and Michael Thomas should reap the benefits of a Brees-led attack. And because the tight end position has been a revolving door of productivity in New Orleans, look for Fleener to follow in the fantasy-friendly footsteps of Jimmy Graham and Watson.

New York Giants

  Tight Ends Wide Receivers
Year % Catch Yards TDs Rank % Catch Yards TDs Rank
2013 23% 62 634 4 30 77% 205 2871 13 11
2014 26% 84 861 11 8 74% 237 3140 19 5
2015 29% 88 828 5 15 71% 211 2858 26 5

Odell Beckham Jr. gets all the hype, and rightly so, but the Giants historically get fantasy-relevant contributions from one or two additional wideouts—and more recently the tight end position as well. Rueben Randle fit that bill last year but the Giants have moved on from him, using a first-round pick on Sterling Shepard. Dwayne Harris flashed receiving skills last season as well, and there’s still a chance Victor Cruz finally makes his way back from injury. At tight end the hope is that either Will Tye or Larry Donnell—but not both—consolidates the productivity. Bottom Line: OBJ is king, but the Eli Manning-led passing game has room for a couple of fantasy princes as well.

New York Jets

  Tight Ends Wide Receivers
Year % Catch Yards TDs Rank % Catch Yards TDs Rank
2013 30% 63 856 6 15 70% 149 2023 7 30
2014 29% 66 677 5 21 71% 164 2098 8 30
2015 3% 8 95 1 32 97% 259 3356 29 3

You don’t think of the Jets as a pass-happy team, yet Gang Green wideouts led the league in catches and touchdowns and were top-three in yards and fantasy points as well. Brandon Marshall and Eric Decker return—even if Ryan Fitzpatrick doesn’t—and will once again hoard the targets, with sophomore Devin Smith as a dark horse fantasy contributor. No team got less out of the tight end position last year than the Jets, but Jace Amaro is back from injury and hopes to rectify that situation. Bottom Line: Marshall and Decker should thrive regardless of who’s quarterbacking the Jets, but there’s no reliable fantasy help beyond the Big Apple’s big two.

Oakland Raiders

  Tight Ends Wide Receivers
Year % Catch Yards TDs Rank % Catch Yards TDs Rank
2013 22% 45 504 5 32 78% 156 2248 10 27
2014 26% 66 583 5 25 74% 189 2165 13 26
2015 26% 72 679 5 24 74% 204 2681 24 11

Oakland’s passing game made major strides last season with the twin arrivals of rookie Amari Cooper and free agent Michael Crabtree. That duo dominated David Carr’s targets, though Seth Roberts and Andre Holmes contributed a combined nine touchdowns. The quartet returns intact, with only undrafted free agents on the depth chart behind them. Clive Walford looks to be the tight end of the future, though Mychal Rivera looms and the position remains a secondary option to the wideouts. Bottom Line: All signs are pointing up for the Raiders’ passing game, with Crabtree a solid option and Cooper poised to join the upper tier of fantasy wideouts.

Philadelphia Eagles

  Tight Ends Wide Receivers
Year % Catch Yards TDs Rank % Catch Yards TDs Rank
2013 29% 71 1002 10 7 71% 175 2720 20 7
2014 30% 93 1101 6 10 70% 221 2922 21 6
2015 38% 105 1305 5 7 62% 172 2158 15 23

After a pair of productive seasons, wide receivers tailed off dramatically in Chip Kelly’s final season in Philadelphia. Don’t expect things to change, at least initially, with Doug Pederson bringing back his version of Andy Reid’s offense. Jordan Matthews seems more comfortable in the slot, but first-round pick Nelson Agholor failed to replace what Jeremy Maclin brought to the offense. Rueben Randle is an intriguing addition, though there’s no evidence this offense can support three fantasy wideouts. One similarity Kelly and Pederson share is a fondness for tight ends, which bodes well for Zach Ertz’s continued success. Bottom Line: Matthews has the talent but needs to find his role in Pederson’s offense; Ertz just needs a shot at all of Philly’s tight end snaps. Agholor or Randle—but likely not both—offer value but only at a reduced draft day price.

Pittsburgh Steelers

  Tight Ends Wide Receivers
Year % Catch Yards TDs Rank % Catch Yards TDs Rank
2013 23% 70 784 2 29 77% 231 2925 25 2
2014 23% 70 808 5 17 77% 237 3216 25 4
2015 22% 70 601 3 29 78% 252 3673 23 2

Antonio Brown heads up what has consistently been the most fantasy-friendly receiving corps in football despite a revolving door of secondary parts. The suspension of Martavis Bryant opens the door for Markus Wheaton, who was quietly solid last season, and Sammie Coates, who did little as a rookie, to take their turn. Darrius Heyward-Bey lurks as well. Pittsburgh tight ends have offered little fantasy-wise, but the signing of Ladarius Green suggests they’re at least trying. Bottom Line: The potential absence of Le’Veon Bell means that much more throwing, and not all of it can go to Brown… can it? Sheer volume suggests Wheaton and/or Coates can be fantasy factors, while history tells us there’s a lid on Green’s fantasy upside.

San Diego Chargers

  Tight Ends Wide Receivers
Year % Catch Yards TDs Rank % Catch Yards TDs Rank
2013 37% 98 1278 7 5 63% 168 2362 18 15
2014 30% 90 1052 13 4 70% 207 2620 17 14
2015 34% 104 1132 10 4 66% 204 2576 14 18

With Keenan Allen sidelined for half the season the Chargers threw a bunch of receivers at the wall—and not much stuck. Allen returns, and if he picks up where he left off his numbers will be ginormous. Travis Benjamin joins San Diego as a wingman after being the Browns’ top wideout last season; he’ll battle Steve Johnson for secondary looks in an offense that likes to throw the ball. Even with Antonio Gates limited by injury Chargers tight ends were a top-five fantasy option; with Gates nearing the end of his run and Ladarius Green in Pittsburgh, second-round pick Hunter Henry could make a fantasy splash sooner rather than later. Bottom Line: Allen will get the targets to be a fantasy stud, but the Bolts throw enough to also keep a healthy Gates fantasy-relevant and procure low-end fantasy contributions from Benjamin and Johnson.

San Francisco 49ers

  Tight Ends Wide Receivers
Year % Catch Yards TDs Rank % Catch Yards TDs Rank
2013 32% 62 1007 13 3 68% 133 1746 8 31
2014 16% 39 433 2 29 84% 209 2595 15 16
2015 35% 82 892 6 12 65% 152 2071 10 30

49ers wideouts have been fantasy bottom-feeders two of the past three seasons, peaking at mediocre in 2014. Now, with Chip Kelly calling the shots, things should perk up through sheer volume. Torrey Smith stands to be the primary beneficiary, but there’s buzz about versatile Bruce Ellington as a Kelly-style slot guy. Tight ends Vance McDonald and Garrett Celek flashed at times last year, and Kelly loves to feed his tight ends so there’s potential there—though Chip also loves to use multiple tight ends, so they’ll be sharing the productivity. Bottom Line: Smith presents a fantasy value based on his low ADP and Kelly’s track record of high-volume offenses; other than that you’re throwing darts.

Seattle Seahawks

  Tight Ends Wide Receivers
Year % Catch Yards TDs Rank % Catch Yards TDs Rank
2013 26% 56 691 7 20 74% 157 2352 17 18
2014 21% 48 757 6 16 79% 181 2120 7 31
2015 30% 82 977 4 14 70% 191 2632 26 12

Marshawn Lynch goes down with an injury, and the Seahawks become a passing team? Now Lynch is gone, leaving Russell Wilson to carry this offense—and he has the receivers to do so. Doug Baldwin became the first Seahawk wideout in eight years to rank higher than 29th in fantasy scoring at the position, cracking the top 10 and leading the league with 14 touchdowns. He’s back for more as is electric rookie Tyler Lockett, who is expected to distance himself from Jermaine Kearse statistically even though the latter is still a starter. Jimmy Graham was a shell of his Saints self before his season ended due to injury—but that’s when Seattle’s passing game took off. He’ll need to carve out his niche with Wilson before returning to anything resembling his previous fantasy value. Bottom Line: If you can accept Seattle as a passing team, Baldwin becomes a top fantasy target and the rest of the receiving corps has upside.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

  Tight Ends Wide Receivers
Year % Catch Yards TDs Rank % Catch Yards TDs Rank
2013 29% 61 630 6 27 71% 147 2076 14 25
2014 22% 51 469 2 28 78% 183 2587 18 12
2015 29% 65 814 8 18 71% 158 2367 9 27

While the passing game in general moved forward in Tampa Bay, injuries and drops—and a lack of touchdowns—spoiled Mike Evans’ sophomore season and drove the Bucs’ wideout numbers down. Vincent Jackson is showing his age, and the Buccaneers may look to Kenny Bell and Louis Murphy for contributions. Tight end Austin Seferian-Jenkins is talented and sparked a resurgence of the position in Tampa, but an OTA clash with Bucs coaches could impact his roster spot. Cameron Brate filled in when ASJ was hurt and could do so again, but has little fantasy value if Seferian-Jenkins remains in Tampa. Bottom Line: It’s all laid out for Evans to be a fantasy star in this offense, if only he can hang on to the opportunity—and the ball. Seferian-Jenkins has the talent to be a stud but may have the attitude to be an ex-Buc. The rest of Tampa’s receivers are fantasy afterthoughts, unless you believe they can wring one more season out of V-Jax.

Tennessee Titans

  Tight Ends Wide Receivers
Year % Catch Yards TDs Rank % Catch Yards TDs Rank
2013 25% 67 591 7 26 75% 201 2663 11 20
2014 33% 73 1004 5 13 67% 150 2168 12 27
2015 52% 139 1572 10 1 48% 130 1665 11 32

Despite throwing a steady stream of high draft picks at wide receivers, the Titans have been unable to get their downfield passing game on track; last year they were unable to get a single wideout into the top 50 fantasy scores at the position. Tennessee added free agent Rishard Mathews and fifth-round pick Tajae Sharpe to bolster the group that also includes Kendall Wright and Harry Douglas, but Dorial Green-Beckham is the lone name most fantasy owners need concern themselves with as he has the size and speed to become a premium NFL target. Tennessee’s passing game funnels through tight end Delanie Walker last year and that doesn’t look to change with former TE Mike Mularkey at the helm. Bottom Line: Walker is a solid option with a surprisingly affordable ADP for a difference-maker at his position, but unless you’re willing to take a shot on DGB’s potential there’s nothing else to see here fantasy-wise.

Washington Redskins

  Tight Ends Wide Receivers
Year % Catch Yards TDs Rank % Catch Yards TDs Rank
2013 27% 84 887 7 12 73% 226 2767 12 13
2014 36% 102 1050 2 15 64% 178 2564 11 19
2015 34% 104 1093 12 3 66% 203 2496 15 19

With DeSean Jackson and Pierre Garcon entering contract years, the first-round pick of Josh Doctson isn’t so much a bolstering of the wide receiving corps as it is preparing for 2017. As such expect Jackson and Garcon to see the majority of the looks this year while Doctson understudies. Jamison Crowder could factor into the mix as well as a low-end fantasy option. The receivers are a secondary option in Jay Gruden’s offense, with Jordan Reed the go-to guy as long as he's healthy—and Niles Paul or Vernon Davis viable fantasy options when he’s not. Bottom Line: Kirk Cousins is still playing for a paycheck and the Washington ground game is sketchy, so there should be more than enough passes to make all the Redskins’ passing game principles—Reed, Jackson, Garcon—fantasy helpers.

OTHER POSITIONS:  Quarterbacks  |  Running Backs  |  Receivers

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