In early 2018 fantasy football drafts, only 3 wide receivers are being drafted in the first round. They are Antonio Brown, DeAndre Hopkins, and Odell Beckham Jr. Guys like Julio Jones, AJ Green, and Mike Evans who have all been picked in the first round in multiple past years are now falling into the second round or even to the back of the second/early third. There has been a massive shift to the running back position early fantasy drafts this year, but is this the strategy you should follow too? We are going to look back and see where your best chance at finding value at the wide receiver position in 2018 fantasy football drafts.

Wide Receivers Undervalued in 2018

In 2015 and 2016, 5 WR1 finishers came from the first two rounds of fantasy drafts in PPR (4 in standard). 2017 had 4 WR1 finishers from the first two rounds in both standard and PPR leagues. Rounds 3 thru 7 supplied 4 WR1s in 2015, 5 WR1s in 2016, and 4 WR1s in 2017 in PPR leagues with standard matching that besides 2016 where only 3 WR1s came from those rounds. The first two rounds supply a similar number of WR1s as the next 5 rounds in the draft each of the past 3 years.

The past three years all have similar results when looking for where the WR1 finishers come from yet in 2018 less WRs are being drafted in the first two rounds than any of the 3 previous years.

Early round WRs were also extremely safe in 2017. Only two wide receivers from rounds one and two didn’t finish as at least a WR2 by the end of the year. There was 5 WRs in 2016 and 3 in 2015 that did not accomplish that. It seems like the greatness of 2017 WRs is somewhat being overshadowed by the running backs putting up massive numbers in the same year.

Consistency Week to Week

The later round wide receivers have no problem giving you some spot starts during the season. Each of the past three years there has been about 20 WRs from round 8 or later that finish as a WR2 or better for at least 4 weeks of the season. The problem is knowing when to play those WRs can be difficult. The results get drastically worse when you look for WRs that finish as at least a WR2 for half the weeks of the fantasy season. One WR did it in both 2015 and 2016 and zero did it in 2017 when they were drafted after round 7. In the late rounds, you have a better chance at finding those surprise running backs than stud WRs you can start week to week and feel good about it.

Players that finished as a WR1 half the weeks are even harder to find. For the past three years, exactly one first round WR did this. There have also been two times when non 1st round WRs have done it. In 2017 DeAndre Hopkins did it being drafted in the 3rd round and in 2015 Brandon Marshall did it being drafted in the 5th round when he was still on the Jets. Wide receivers that you can play most weeks and know they are going to be a top 12 performer are worth their weight in gold. It also shows that players that finish as WR2’s regularly are also valuable and shouldn’t be seen as bad picks when drafted high.

Draft Strategy

The wide receiver position can be very volatile from week to week in fantasy football. After looking at the numbers there is a clear advantage to getting a guy that is a locked and loaded starter week in and week out like Antonio Brown. Obviously, a guy like Brown requires you take him in the first round, but in 2018 there seems to be a couple of guys that are falling and becoming values in the draft. Brown, DeAndre Hopkins, and Odell Beckham are all worth their first-round ADP. Julio Jones falling into the second round is an absolute steal and he has been a WR1 finisher half of the weeks of the season in the past.

A.J. Green, Keenan Allen, and Davante Adam are all also being drafted in the 2nd round and have the potential to finish as one of those WR1s. In the middle rounds, there is a lot of WRs that provide safe WR2 finishes on a weekly basis. Larry Fitzgerald, Golden Tate, and Michael Crabtree all have a history of being safe plays with upside. In the late rounds don’t be expecting to get a guy that you will feel good about starting every week of the season. Running backs are known for being drafted late and sometimes becoming every week starters like Alvin Kamara or Alex Collins. Wide receivers don’t have as much of a history of that kind of success. You are much more likely to find a guy that can be worth some big game spot starts, but not one that will be a safe start week to week. Getting consistent WR3 numbers isn’t bad either especially with many leagues requiring 3 WRs in starting lineups these days, but it is important to not bank on a guy filling a starting spot for the entire season.

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