A lot of fantasy football enthusiasts are changing up the way they draft teams this season. In prior years, fantasy football draft strategies often called for team owners to choose their running backs first. A common theme was to gun for two running backs before even considering a look to receivers or anywhere else unless you were trying to pick up one of the most sought-after players.
Fantasy football 2016 is looking a bit different and many have changed their draft strategies to pick up a wide receiver first before taking a look at running backs. The quarterback pool in 2016 has been so deep that many fantasy experts are telling fans not to worry about their quarterbacks until much later, possibly even the fourth and fifth rounds. With that in mind, here are the top 5 wide receivers that will be swept up in the first round and are not going to disappoint.
Antonio Brown – Pittsburgh Steelers
Antonio Brown is the number one pick on pretty much every fantasy football 2016 radar. If the Pittsburgh Steelers star wide receiver doesn’t get snagged up first in your draft, he’ll definitely be second or third. The Cheat Sheet lists Brown as one of the most dominant fantasy football players of recent years and that isn’t looking to change any time soon. If Brown is still available and it’s your turn to draft, pick him. This is a 2016 fantasy football draft pick that will not disappoint.
Many wide receivers show a slow-down in production when their quarterbacks are out. Not Antonio Brown though. When Ben Roethlisberger was out during the 2015-16 season, Brown was able to continue his dominant streak through two other quarterbacks, making him a very reliable and dominant choice for the first round of any fantasy football draft. Brown racked up 136 catches, 1,834 yards, and 10 touchdowns last season and the only issue that team owners have now is hoping that he has as big of a year this season.
Odell Beckham Jr. – New York Giants
It goes without saying that Odell Beckham Jr. is also a force when it comes to fantasy football. This is another wide receiver that should not be left for others to pick up because he is a powerhouse receiver and he will be racking up fantasy points. It helps that his hands are seemingly made of magnets that attract the football no matter where Eli Manning throws it.
Some fantasy football draft rankings have Odell Beckham listed as a popular first pick above Antonio Brown where others have him listed at least in the top three. No matter where he ends up landing after the drafts are done, those who didn’t pick him up will certainly wish they did. With just two seasons played for the New York Giants, Beckham already has 25 touchdowns under his belt and proved the critics wrong last season when he didn’t fall to the dreaded sophomore slump.
Julio Jones – Atlanta Falcons
Julio Jones is back on the starting line for the Atlanta Falcons and hopefully at the top of your list for fantasy football 2016 wide receivers. Last season, in non-PPR leagues Jones picked up at least 10 points in 10 games and more than 20 points in four games. Even though most draft rankings have Julio Jones listed behind both Brown and Beckham, he’s still a very safe wide receiver option and will definitely help boost whichever team has him.
Dez Bryant – Dallas Cowboys
Dez Bryant has been coming in somewhere in the top 10 for fantasy football 2016 rankings but doesn’t often break the top five. That is risky and leaving Dez on the table for others to pick up in later rounds isn’t something that fantasy owners want to do. With Tony Romo healthy and after watching Dez work with the backup quarterbacks during the preseason, it’s safe to say that he’s ready for a huge fantasy season. Even though Bryant is expected to be sharing the ball with rookie running back Ezekiel Elliott, that shouldn’t stop Romo from throwing some long passes to Bryant and giving his fantasy owners huge points.
Kelvin Benjamin – Carolina Panthers
Last but not least on the list of top five wide receivers to target during the fantasy football 2016 drafts is Kelvin Benjamin from the Carolina Panthers. Yes, it’s true that Benjamin had to sit out much of the 2015-16 season after suffering a pretty bad knee injury, but he’s back now and ready for touchdowns.
For anyone who might doubt Benjamin’s abilities on the field, just keep in mind that he is catching balls thrown by Cam Newton. Even without Kelvin Benjamin on the field last season, Newton was named MVP and took the Panthers to the Super Bowl. Benjamin also put up 1,008 yards and nine touchdowns during his rookie year, so fans and fantasy football team owners can only imagine what kind of numbers he’ll put up this year as Cam tries to bring his team back for Super Bowl revenge. Benjamin might seem a bit of a jump from the lists of draft picks that others are putting up, but he’s not going to disappoint and may even become a real force when paired with his own quarterback Cam Newton for that QB-WR combo.
While these are just a few of the best wide receivers for fantasy football 2016 owners to draft, they are bound to put up big numbers and should not be left around for others to pick up for their own teams. This is the season where wide receiver talent is about as deep as that of the quarterbacks. Not to mention that the running backs are few, far between, and not nearly as reliable. As always, choose your draft picks wisely and don’t forget to keep your eye on the bye weeks.
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