DynastyOwner: 2014 Wide Reciever Rankings

Dynasty owner is all about the combination of performance and contract value.  Just like real owners in (most) sports, Dynasty Owner fantasy football requires owners to create their team under the guidelines of a salary cap, or else they are forced to pay luxury tax penalties.  This adds an element of strategy and planning that makes Dynasty Owner the most engaging and addictive fantasy football format around.  

Check out our other posts where we ranked RBs and QBs.  Now we take a look at the Wide Receiver position in Dynasty Owner.  

Pro tip:  A great way to prepare for the season is to try our free mock drafts

Tier 1 WR Rankings:  Elite WRs

WR is slotted differently than RBs and QBs because of the significant difference in production from the Elite and highly paid WRs.  It is the only position where the top tier is also the top paid at the position.   The production is more reliable and consistent year over year and the longevity makes the spend safer than say elite and highly paid RBs.  

1).  Dez Bryant (DAL, Age 25):  $1.8MM / Year (Free Agent in 2015)

Dez barely edges out Green and Megatron strictly based on his contract and age combination, and if Bryant plays out his current contract for this year it will be a gift. He's projecting to get a similar contract that Calvin Johnson got two years ago.  AJ Green could easily slot here as well.

2).  AJ Green (CIN, Age 26):  $5MM / Year (Free Agent in 2016)

Green is a monster and is going to get paid like one after next year so enjoy his top 5 production year in and year out but just know the relative bargain you have been getting at $5MM per ends soon.  

3).  Calvin Johnson (DET, Age 29):  $16MM / Year (Free Agent in 2020)

Some might initially be surprised to see Megatron ranked 3rd in any WR rankings but his contract is huge and he's turning 29 before the season starts.  He's going to be a top performing WR for the next 4-5 years, but it's tough to look at some of the other options in this tier alone and realize you are paying double or triple for Johnson.

4).  Demaryius Thomas (DEN, Age 26):  $2.8MM / Year (Free Agent in 2015)

Demaryius has the luxury of Peyton Manning throwing to him for the next couple of years and at 26 with a ridiculous $2.8MM / year average salary, those Dynasty Owners looking to win right away will want to target Thomas.  However, don't get too excited as the Broncos are already negotiating with his team on a new deal so we fully anticipate him having a yearly salary north of $10MM / year before the season begins.  But watch this situation...if contract talks get tabled until after the year Thomas will be a steal at his current deal for one more season.

5). Josh Gordon (CLE, Age 23): $1.3MM / Year (Free Agent in 2016)

What a shame he can't stay out of trouble.  If not for the looming suspension, Gordon would be the unquestionable number 1 ranked Dynasty Owner WR with his combination of youth, contract, and unbelievable talent.  He led the league in receiving last year while being suspended for the first 2 games of the year.

We fully anticipate Gordon being suspended for most of 2014 if not the entire season, but if you want to gamble on him straightening it out and having a prolonged run, take a flyer on him.  Given his off the field issues, his contract will likely always be less than what he's worth so as long as he's on the field he will always be an unbelievable bargain for Dynasty Owners.  

If you do miss out on him on draft day, wait until an owner gets tired of holding his dead roster spot and offer them a mid-late pick and some cash compensation to get him on the cheap.  It's a risk, but one that can pay off in a huge way for your franchise.

6).  Julio Jones (ATL, Age 25):  $4MM / Year (Free Agent in 2016)

If not for Jones coming off a lost season with a foot injury, he would be ranked even higher in Dynasty Owner redrafts.  Still at just 25 years old and on his rookie deal, he's likely going to be one of the top receivers in the league in terms of production vs contract value for the next two years.  

Tier 2 WR Rankings:  Young and Emerging Stars

Alshon Jeffery is a top target in Dynasty Owner given his $/Pt output

If you miss out on the Tier 1 WRs or are looking for cheaper contracts with upside this is where you should focus.  All of these guys have already shown they can perform at the NFL level and are young with very friendly contracts for the next several years.

5).  Alshon Jeffery (CHI, Age 24):  $1.1 MM / Year (Free Agent in 2016)

The 2012 second-round pick hauled in 89 passes for 1,421 yards and seven scores, while also adding 105 yards on the ground. That was good enough to make him fantasy’s No. 9 wideout in standard scoring systems

7).  Cordarelle Patterson (MIN, Age 23):  $1.8 MM / Year (Free Agent in 2017)

His Rookie season was a little bit of a disappointment but we're slotting him here based on his explosive flashes last season and the new regime's emphatic desire to feature him in the Vikings offense. Couple that with the fact that we expect the QB play to improve significantly and we see Patterson fully breaking out this year with the payoff for Dynasty Owners coming for the next several years.

8).  Keenan Allen (CHI, Age 22):  $700k / Year (Free Agent in 2017)

Already Rivers favorite target, Allen hauled in 71 balls for 1,046 yards and eight scores. Including the playoffs, 6’3” Allen scored seven times over the team’s last six games. It's scary to think he's only 22 years old and will make $700k for the next 2 years unless San Diego does right by him and gives him a new contract.  

9). Randall Cobb (GB, Age 24): $800k / Year (Free Agent in 2015)

While Cobb's breakout last year was hampered by injuries, when he was healthy he showed signs of being a potential star at the WR position.  He was No. 8 in fantasy points per game when active and scored four times in six regular-season games.  And it certainly doesn't hurt that It doesn't hurt that he makes less than $1MM / year and has Aaron Rodgers throwing to him for the next 5-7 years at a minimum.  

10). Michael Floyd (ARI, Age 24): $2.5MM / Year (Free Agent in 2016)

Floyd took longer than anticipated to breakout, In his first year as a full-time starter opposite Larry Fitzgerald, Floyd caught 66 balls for 1,054 yards and five touchdowns. He's projecting as the number 1 WR in Arizona for the next several years and at just 24, his future is bright and his contract is plenty absorbable.  

11).  Ty Hilton (IND, Age 24): $2.5MM / Year (Free Agent in 2016)

A 1,000 yard WR last year, Hilton should make another jump this year as Andrew Luck's primary deep target.  

Tier 3 WR Rankings:  The Solid Value

Andre Johnson doesn't want to play in Houston, but will hold his value anywhere.

Simply put, you'll get strong production and pay appropriately with WRs in this Tier. Remember, slotting the guys in this Tier is more about how we see them performing over the next 5 years in the aggregate, not necessarily in just the upcoming season.  

11). Brandon Marshall (CHI, Age 30): $10MM / Year

Marshall will put up similar if not better production than most of the WRs in the two Tiers above him, but he's already seen his payday and thus slots here.  You simply need to just look at his teammate Jefrey who scored very close to what he scored at a 4th of the contract price to understand why we'd slot Marshall here instead of in Tier 2.

12).  Torrey Smith (BAL, Age 25) :  $800k / Year (Free Agent in 2015)

Enjoy Smith at this level for less than $1MM for one more year.  This is a contract season for Smith and we expect a bounce-back in the new scheme in Baltimore.

13).  Antonio Brown (DAL, Age 26):  $8.3MM / Year (Free Agent in 2018)

14).  Pierre Garçon (WAS, Age 27:  $8.5 MM / Year (Free Agent in 2017)

15). Jordy Nelson (GB, Age 29):  $4.3 MM / Year (Free Agent in 2015)

16). Michael Crabtree (SF, Age 26): $5.3 MM / Year (Free Agent in 2015)

18). Desean Jackson (WAS, Age 27): $8 MM / Year (Free Agent 2017)

Jackson is risky in a new system with an already established WR like Garçon.  He is borderline overpriced.

19). Victor Cruz (NYG, Age 27): $8.6 MM / Year (Free Agent in 2019)

21). Vincent Jackson (TB, Age 31): $11.1 MM / Year (Free Agent in 2017)

22). Roddy White (ATL, Age 32): $7.1 MM / Year (Free Agent in 2015)

Pay close attention to negotiations, as White should be cheaper in his next contract.  If not, bump him down to the overpaid list.

23). Marques Colston (NO, Age 31): $7.1 MM / Year (Free Agent in 2017)

24). Andre Johnson (HOU, Age 33): $9.7 MM / Year (Free Agent in 2017)

Johnson, despite his age, has shown no signs of slowing down even when quarterback play was anemic for most of the last season.

25). Wes Welker (DEN, Age 33): $6 MM / Year (Free Agent in 2015)

What will Welker be in 3 years?  Tough to see a situation where he holds his value but his contract is absorbable enough to justify 3 or 4 more good years of production.

26).  Eric Decker (NYJ, Age 27): $7.25 MM / Year (Free Agent in 2019)

We usually hate WRs coming off big years signing big free agent contracts and switching to teams with a much worse QB/Offense.  See Mike Wallace.   

Tier 4 WR Rankings:  Breaking Out or Bouncing Back

It's time for Austin to live up to his billing as the 8th overall pick

This Tier is filled with guys who have performed below expectations, however lofty those may be, and the rookies entering the league with a lot of promise and a cap friendly contract.  You should target AT LEAST one of the guys on this list in Dynasty drafts.  

13).  Brandon Cooks (NO, Age 20) :  $2.0MM / Year (Free Agent in 2018)

An explosive rookie perfectly suited for one of the top passing offenses in the league - cooks is an early favorite for offensive ROY.  

14). Tavon Austin (STL, Age 23): $3.1MM / Year (Free Agent in 2017)

By all accounts, Austin was a big disappointment last year as the Rams struggled to get him the ball and he struggled adjusting to the speed of the game at this level.  

15).  Jeremy Maclin (PHI, Age 26): $5.2MM / Year (Free Agent in 2015)

You might be surprised to see Maclin on this list as he's been in the league for years, but this is his first opportunity to be the go-to receiver with DeSean Jackson now in Washington.  A contract year should mean he's coming into this year ready to put up monster stats.  

16). Jordan Matthews (PHI, Age 22) : $1.2MM / Year (Free Agent in 2018)

It's early but we think Matthews can quickly emerge as the number 1 option in the Eagles high octane offense. He comes at a fraction of the contract cost of other highly touted rookie WRs in this class and has a much more appealing QB/Offense situation than Evans in Tampa Bay or Watkins in Buffalo.  

17).  Kenny Stills (NO, Age 22): $590k / Year (Free Agent in 2017)

Kenny Stills is already being hyped as a second year breakout candidate, as some advanced metrics from last year point to a big season on the horizon. Stills was 2nd in the entire league in yards / target among RBs, WRs, and TEs, although that's probably a function of him being a strict deep threat in that offense. He never saw more than 6 targets in any game last year.

He's one of our absolute favorite WR targets in Dynasty Owner and one of the lowest paid WRs in the league for the next 3 seasons.  Make sure you get Stills on draft day.

18).  Sammy Watkins (BUF, Age 21): $5MM / Year (Free Agent in 2018)

19).  Mike Evans (TB, Age 20): $3.6MM / Year (Free Agent in 2018)

20). Rueben Randle (NYG, Age 23):  $800k / Year (Free Agent in 2016)

Hicks departure leaves a golden opportunity for Randle and at still just 23 years old, he's one of our favorite sleepers in Dynasty Owner at the WR position.

21).  Kendall Wright (TEN, Age 24): $2MM / Year (Free Agent in 2016)

We wish Wright had a better QB situation and offense in Tenessee but he's still likely to be their number 1 WR and should be a lock for 1,000 yards and a ton of targets.  We also think Titans will get a high pedigree QB in next year's drafts, which will improve Wright's prospects considerably.  

Tier 6 WR Rankings:  You are Probably Overpaying

Larry Fitzgerald is already on the fantasy decline

Dynasty Owner is about drafting for the present and the future.  These are guys who will be on your roster until you decide to cut them, trade them, or they retire.  The WRs in this Tier could be effective for another 1-2 years, but their contracts will be higher than their output very soon if not already.  

Most of these guys are still big names and absolutely should get drafted, however don't spend too high of a pick on them this year.  You'll regret it in years to come.   

26).  Larry Fitzgerald (ARI, Age 31):  $16.1MM / Year (Free Agent in 2019)

It pains us to put him on this list after almost a decade of stellar WR production but father time catches up with everyone and Larry Fitz is no exception.  He has the second highest priced WR contract in the league behind Calvin Johnson and while it's deserved from years past it makes it tough to roster him at that figure for the next 5 years.  While he's still a threat for double-digit touchdowns this upcoming season, last year he was the 26th ranked WR in receiving yards.

27). Mike Wallace (MIA, 27): $12MM / Year (Free Agent in 2018)

A high priced free agent thud in Miami, we expect a mini-bounce back this year but still see no way we can cost justify paying that contract.

29).  Percy Harvin (SF, Age 26) :  $10MM / Year (Free Agent in 2019)

Harvin is an explosive talent but at $10MM / year for the next 5 years his durability makes that an enormous risk.   He would have to be guaranteed to be healthy every year for the risk to be worth that contract and that is very unlikely given his propensity to be hurt thus far in his career.

30).  Greg Jennings (MIN, Age 30) : $9MM / Year (Free Agent in 2018)

Jennings only scored 4 TDs in Minnesota's offense last year, and really only had two games that were noteworthy.  Don't tie up so much cap space on such average WR production.  

28). Dwayne Bowe (KC, Age 29): $11MM / Year (Free Agent in 2018)

You can actually make the case that Bowe shouldn't be rostered in Dynasty Owner. He was the 58th ranked WR last year and at $11MM per year, was one of the most expensive sources of points in the entire league last year.