Thor Nystrom


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Tiered CFB Fantasy WR rankings

Friday, August 11, 2017



Tier I


1. Richie James (Middle Tennessee)

2. Anthony Miller (Memphis)

3. Courtland Sutton (SMU)

4. Cody Thompson (Toledo)

5. James Washington (Oklahoma State)

6. Michael Gallup (Colorado State)

7. Cedrick Wilson (Boise State)

8. Linell Bonner (Houston)

9. Christian Kirk (Texas A&M)

10. Keke Coutee (Texas Tech)

11. Dante Pettis (Washington)




  • Every other receiver in this tier outside of Kirk and Pettis had 1,000-plus yards receiving last year.


  • James is my highest-rated non-quarterback. He’s ridiculously productive as a receiver, and adds value as a runner who takes direct snaps in sub-packages.


  • Washington, who’s surpassed the 1k mark in each of the past two years, and Sutton, who’s an unfair matchup proposition in the AAC at 6-foot-4, 215 pounds, are both Rd. 1 NFL prospects.


  • Washington has been practicing through abdominal pain caused by an old hernia. He believes he can play through it. If he's wrong, surgery could steal a month or so of game action. That's a situation to monitor leading up to your draft. The 6-foot, 204-pounder posted a 71-1,380-10 line last year.


  • Bonner had a 98-1,118-3 line last fall with dual-threat Greg Ward behind center. Now, Bonner has an NFL-caliber pocket quarterback in Kyle Allen to feed him the ball. If Allen plays up to his prep billing, the Cougars will have one of the nation's scariest aerial attacks.


  • Kirk had 83 receptions last year but failed to crack 1,000 receiving yards mostly because Trevor Knight couldn’t throw deep. Nick Starkel is reportedly the heavy front-runner to start at quarterback for the Aggies. Starkel is a pocket-passing redshirt freshman. He has one mandate: Get the ball to Kirk as often as possible. In addition to Kirk's receiving chops, he also has five career punt return touchdowns, always a nice fantasy bonus.


  • Thompson’s yard per reception average dropped from 22.3 in 2015 to 19.8 last year, but his receptions almost doubled in 2016 (64-1,269-11). With RB Kareem Hunt gone, Thompson may see even more targets this fall.


  • Coutee’s emergence in the second half of last season helped convince Jon Giles to transfer to LSU. I expect Texas Tech to be playing from behind most of the season, and that’ll only serve to make one of the NCAA’s most pass-happy outfits even more inclined to air it out. Coutee is the top target in the offense and figures to get a tremendous amount of usage.


Tier II


12. Teddy Veal (Louisiana Tech)

13. N’Keal Harry (Arizona State)

14. Demetris Robertson (Cal)

15. Ervin Philips (Syracuse) 

16. J’Mon Moore (Missouri)

17. Wyatt Demps (Nevada)

18. Scott Miller (Bowling Green)

19. Jimmy Williams (ECU)

20. Justin Hobbs (Tulsa)

21. Calvin Ridley (Alabama)

22. Steve Ishmael (Syracuse)

23. Cam Phillips (Virginia Tech)

24. Deebo Samuel (South Carolina)

25. Deontay Burnett (USC)

26. Lucky Jackson (Western Kentucky)

27. Deon Cain (Clemson)

28. Tavares Martin (Washington State)

29. Allen Lazard (Iowa State)




  • Veal offers tremendous punning potential for your fantasy team name, and he’s also one of this year’s biggest receiving sleepers. The Tulane transfer had a tremendous spring and looks to be LTU’s No. 1 receiver following the departures of Carlos Henderson and Trent Taylor. Tech didn’t sign a receiver in the 2016 class, so you can imagine how hard they intend to lean on Veal this fall.


  • Miller isn’t exactly a sleeper, but casual fans may be reading about him for the first time. The top receiver in Bowling Green’s Air Raid offense, Miller had at least six receptions in eight of the last 10 games last year as the Falcons found their offensive footing under a new coaching staff.


  • Harry and Robertson are both former elite prospects who are go-to options in what could be inconsistent passing offenses.


  • Robertson would be ranked in the top-10 if Sonny Dykes was still running the Air Raid in Berkeley; his outlook is complicated slightly by the coaching change. Fortunately, new HC Justin Wilcox brought in former Eastern Washington HC Beau Baldwin as offensive coordinator. Baldwin is known for high-octane offenses. The past few years, Baldwin fed Cooper Kupp the ball early and often. That’s the dream for Robertson. But until we see the Bears’ new offense, it’s best not to assume the best-case scenario will play out immediately.



  • Samuel worked well with QB Jake Bentley in the latter half of last season. Samuel went off in the bowl game (14 catches, 190 yards) and ended up catching eight balls or more in half of the Gamecocks’ final eight games. He scored six touchdowns in that span. Samuels adds additional value as a “Wildcat” quarterback and a return man.


  •  I remain bullish on Ishmael despite last year's disappointing campaign. I think he’s an NFL talent, and Syracuse has one of the NCAA’s most fantasy-friendly passing attacks. If he fails to reach expectations again, I’ll remain on the sinking fantasy ship as the band plays until we all submerge into cold water. And then Rose will look down at me clinging onto the wood plank and say: “I wish you’d known how to quit Stevey Ish.” And I’ll say: “Wrong movie” and let go. And as I sink into the black abyss, I’ll shout into the water: “Does Ish have any eligibility left?” Rose will only see a few air bubbles float to the surface.


  • Lucky Jackson is going to be the top receiver in an offense that has been one of the NCAA’s best passing outfits in recent seasons. While WKU lost both Taywan Taylor and Nicholas Norris, it also lost HC Jeff Brohm, the architect of those explosive offenses. Will the offense regress as a result?


Tier III


30. Ty Lee (Middle Tennessee)

31. Equanimeous St. Brown (Notre Dame)

32. Steven Sims (Kansas)

33. Jeff Badet (Oklahoma)

34. C.J. Johnson (Wyoming)

35. Darren Carrington (Utah)

36. Tre'Quan Smith (UCF)

37. Corey Willis (Central Michigan)

38. Jon’Vea Johnson (Toledo)  

39. Penny Hart (Georgia State)

40. Ahmmon Richards (Miami)

41. Andy Isabella (UMass)

42. Nyqwan Murray (Florida State)

43. DeAndre McNeal (Florida Atlantic) – WR/TE eligible on Fantrax

44. Shay Fields (Colorado)

45. Sergio Bailey (Eastern Michigan)

46. Emanuel Thompson (Troy)

47. Jeff Mead (Oklahoma)

48. Flynn Nagel (Northwestern)

49. Parris Campbell (Ohio State)

50. Devin Duvernay (Texas)

51. Keenen Johnson (Tulsa)

52. Antonio Callaway (Florida)

53. T.J. Rahming (Duke)

54. Isaiah Johnson-Mack (Washington State)

55. Jonathan Duhart (Old Dominion)

56. KeeSean Johnson (Fresno State)

57. Marquez Valdes-Scantling (South Florida)

58. Allenzae Staggers (Southern Miss)

59. Collin Johnson (Texas)

60. Dez Fitzpatrick (Louisville)

61. Nate Craig-Myers (Auburn)

62. Janarion Grant (Rutgers)




  • This year's receiving sleepers don’t get much more intriguing than Johnson, a talented receiver who flashed in a tertiary role last year as a freshman. Wyoming lost most of its receiving production over the winter, along with NFL draft pick RB Brian Hill. That means that top-five NFL prospect QB Josh Allen should be given clearance to air it out even more, and Johnson seems poised to become his favorite toy.


  • I considered Darren Carrington a top-25 receiver earlier this summer. He plummeted down the rankings after getting kicked out of Oregon, but has now vaulted back up to No. 35 after hooking up with Utah as a grad transfer. Heading into OC Troy Taylor's pass-happy, quick-strike system, I consider Carrington a true boom-or-bust fantasy prospect. Taylor was Baldwin's OC at Eastern Washington, and the hope for Carrington is that he'll be funneled touches ala Cooper Kupp. The nightmare is that trouble isn't done with him yet.


  • Sims has a Power 5 sleeper whiff about him. After a 72-859-7 line as a sophomore, Sims saw his offense add OC Doug Meacham and ex-Washington State QB Peyton Bender over the winter. If he's healthy for all 12 games, 75 receptions and 1,000 receiving yards are realistic expectations. The Jayhawks kicked their No. 2 receiver out of school prior to fall camp, leaving Sims as the only signficiant returning wideout in this Air Raid attack.


  • FAU is reportedly going to kick Kalib Woods out of school and suspend Kamrin Solomon for the alleged assault that has Woods facing multiple felony charges. If that happens, McNeal will become the No. 1 receiver in the wide-open former Baylor offensive system. McNeal comes equipped with dual WR/TE eligibility on Fantrax. He is a former four-star Texas tight end who transitioned to receiver full-time after transferring to FAU. McNeal has drawn rave reviews since camp opened in late July.


  • Northwestern lost breakout star WR Austin Carr to graduation and then suffered a blow when junior WR Solomon Vault was knocked out for the 2017 season after undergoing lower-body surgery in the spring. Nagel has been spoken of by those around the program as a ready-made Carr replacement.


  • Keenen Johnson of Tulsa can be had for great value in your draft. I own him in the majority of leagues I’m in that’ve already drafted. He’s the No. 2 receiver behind Justin Hobbs for the Hurricanes. Tulsa lost their top two receivers, so there’s plenty of touches available.


  • Parris Campbell of Ohio State is a guy I’ve seen overdrafted time and time again this summer. I think that’s because of NFL Draft hype more than 2017 fantasy value. He’s supposed to be stepping into the Curtis Samuel role. I can’t see him being as good out of the gate. I like him fine, but let's not get crazy.


  • Duhart replaces Zach Pascal as the No. 1 target in a receiver-friendly offense one year after posting a nice 48-735-9 line in a secondary role. 


  • Murray gave us a preview of what was to come by starring for the Seminoles at the very end of last season, hauling in five scoring grabs over the final six games. Travis Rudolph is gone (as is touch-vacuum Dalvin Cook), which means Murray is ascending to the WR1 spot as QB Deondre Francois’ game in the pocket is elevating.


  • Thompson is being overlooked after posting a tasty 80-820-6 line last season. Everyone on Troy’s offense is back, and the Trojans are moving into Year 3 of running HC Neal Brown’s Air Raid attack. Thompson could be in line for even more targets this fall.


  • Lee led all FBS freshman with 63 receptions last year. Middle Tennessee’s offense will be as explosive as usual this fall.


  • Mead is a big target who could end up being the Sooners’ No. 1 receiver. Baker Mayfield likes him, and Oklahoma obviously has to replace Dede Westbrook, and Geno Lewis to a lesser extent. I prefer Badet, but not by a lot.


Tier IV


63. DaeSean Hamilton (Penn State)

64. Devonte Boyd (UNLV)

65. Nick Westbrook (Indiana)

66. KaVontae Turpin (TCU)

67. Chico McClatcher (Washington)

68. Nacarius Fant (Western Kentucky)

69. James Gardner (Miami OH)

70. Jazz Peavy (Wisconsin)

71. Austin Proehl (UNC)

72. A.J. Brown (Mississippi)

73. Donald Gray (Mississippi State)

74. Melquise Stovall (California)

75. Jester Weah (Pittsburgh)

76. Charles Nelson (Oregon)

77. Ray-Ray McCloud (Clemson)

78. Chris Platt (Baylor)

79. Ventell Bryant (Temple)

80. Jacob Sannon (Idaho)

81. Simmie Cobbs (Indiana)

82. Juwan Johnson (Penn State)

83. Papi White (Ohio) -- Has dual RB/WR eligibility on Fantrax

84. Dylan Cantrell (Texas Tech)

85. Trishton Jackson (Michigan State)

86. Quadree Henderson (Pittsburgh)

87. Jaylen Smith (Louisville)

88. Gregory Phillips (Purdue)

89. Jamal Custis (Syracuse)

90. John Ursua (Hawaii)

91. Jauan Jennings (Tennessee)




  • Penn State HC James Franklin hyped up redshirt senior WR DaeSean Hamilton early on in fall camp, saying: "I think he’s gonna have a huge year for us." The 6-foot-1, 198-pound Hamilton posted a 36-506-1 receiving line last season as a secondary receiver behind Chris Godwin. Godwin's in the NFL now, leaving Hamilton in a battle for the WR1 role with Juwan Johnson, Saeed Blacknall and DeAndre Thompkins. As you can see above, Johnson's the Nittany Lion receiver I want if Hamilton's off the board. Johnson didn’t play much last year, but he was tremendous in the spring game. 


  • Platt is a talented speed-merchant who’s set to be Baylor’s No. 1 receiver this fall. The Bears may not throw as much as they have in the past, but new HC Matt Rhule says he’ll run an up-tempo spread attack that blends power elements with Chip Kelly concepts. If that offense gets off the ground quickly, Blake Lynch will also hold fantasy appeal.


  • I like the top receiver Rhule left behind at Temple, Ventell Bryant, but am not confident enough about Temple’s passing offense heading into the new season to rank him any higher.


  • Charles Nelson ascended to the No. 1 receiver role for Oregon after Darren Carrington was booted. His fantasy outlook is far more optimistic now than it was heading into the summer.


  • Peavy is a jack-of-all-trades type in the Badgers’ offense. He ran for 318 yards and had another 635 yards receiving last fall. I’m lower on him than others because, 1.) Wisconsin remains a risk-averse, defense-first, run-heavy outfit and, 2.) Alex Hornibrook will have to prove he can throw accurately before I’ll prioritize acquiring a Wisconsin perimeter player.


  • Proehl ascended to the No. 1 receiver role in UNC's pass-happy spread system after the Tar Heels suffered major losses along their receiving two-deep. If QB Brandon Harris breaks out, I've rated Proehl too low.


  • Gregory Phillips makes his debut in the rankings after all but locking up a starting outside receiver spot early in fall camp. Phillips is the leading returning receiver for the Boilermakers, who lost their top four receivers. He’s now playing in HC Jeff Brohm’s offensive system, which churned out monster fantasy receivers at Western Kentucky every year. If Phillips leads Purdue in targets, he could easily wind up as a top-30 fantasy receiver. He's a prime-time sleeper who's only ranked this low because there is so much uncertainty surrounding the Purdue receiving corps as I type this sentence on August 11 in a northern-Minnesota sushi shop.


Tier V


92. Tyre Brady (Marshall)

93. Jalen McCleskey (Oklahoma State)

94. Steven Dunbar (Houston)

95. Andrew Celis (Nevada)

96. Thomas Owens (FIU)

97. James Proche (SMU)

98. Van Jefferson (Mississippi)

99. Taj Williams (TCU)

100. Jalen Guyton (North Texas)

101. Auden Tate (Florida State)

102. Tra’Von Chapman (Akron)

103. Derrick Willies (Texas Tech)

104. Jhamon Ausbon (Texas A&M)

105. D.J. Chark (LSU)

106. Jordan Jones (Arkansas)

107. Byron Pringle (Kansas State)

108. Blake Lynch (Baylor)

109. Collin Lisa (UAB)

110. Stanley Morgan (Nebraska)

111. Dillon Mitchell (Oregon)

112. D.J. Moore (Maryland)

113. Marcus Green (UL-Monroe)

114. Rashad Still (Minnesota)

115. Terry Godwin (Georgia)

116. Corey Holmes (Purdue)

117. Jalen Brown (Northwestern)

118. Olabisi Johnson (Colorado State)

119. D.K. Metcalf (Mississippi)




  • I want to like Ole Miss' receivers more than I do. New Ole Miss OC Phil Longo’s offense is a fun mashup of Air Raid passing concepts blended with a downhill running attack. It’ll facilitate big passing numbers for QB Shea Patterson, and, by extension, his receiving corps. From a fantasy perspective, the issue with the Rebels’ receivers is that Longo said in the spring that he intends to play six-to-eight receivers a game. And he certainly has the numbers to do so with presumed starters A.J. Brown, D.K. Metcalf and Van Jefferson backed up by spring star Markell Pack and lauded redshirt freshmen Tre Nixon and DaMarkus Lodge. But keep in mind that Longo led a Sam Houston State offense that finished as the FCS’ No. 1 total offense in each of the past two seasons and was the No. 1 scoring offense last year. It would be no surprise if two Rebel receivers finish as top-50 fantasy receivers.


  • Guyton is a JUCO import who began his career at Notre Dame. North Texas lost four of its top five receivers to graduation and transfer. The Mean Green have to throw to someone, and Guyton is the odds-on favorite to be the No. 1 receiver.


  • Mitchell skipped up to the WR2 role in the Ducks' offense upon Darren Carrington's dismissal.


  • Jared Cornelius re-aggravated the back injury that hindered him last season when fall camp opened in late-July. He was sent home for the duration of camp, which allowed second-year freshman Jordan Jones to rally to the top of the depth chart. Jones has drawn raves in camp. I now project him as Arkansas' top fantasy receiver.


  • Ausbon drew considerable hype in the spring and that carried over into the summer. He’ll start from Day 1 and should be the Aggies’ No. 1 WR next fall after Christian Kirk leaves. He's one of my favorite dynasty targets.


  • Holmes is a former Notre Dame receiver who transferred to Purdue. As a grad transfer who appeared to be moving near the top of a WR depth chart in an offense transitioning into a high-octane spread, I was smelling some Amba Etta-Tawo wafts coming off him in June. But Holmes has dealt with a hamstring injury in camp, making it awfully difficult for my Hype Plane to get off the ground. I remain intrigued, if less bullish, as I patiently wait the situation out on the tarmac.


  • Still intrigues me as a 6-foot-5 receiver who averaged 18.3 yards per catch on his 19 receptions last year. Corey Davis put up monstrous numbers from the jump under P.J. Fleck (Fleck started in 2013, Davis’ freshman year). Fleck’s offense pounds the ball on early downs and then attempts to burn you deep with play-action passes. Still seems like a perfect fit.


Tier VI


120. Darren Andrews (UCLA)

121. Devin Ross (Colorado)

122. Raelon Singleton (Utah)

123. Jamire Jordan (Fresno State)

124. Devin Gray (Cincinnati)

125. Malik Turner (Illinois)

126. D'Wayne Eskridge (Western Michigan)

127. Austin Wolf (Akron)

128. Jackson Anthrop (Purdue)

129. Jordan Lasley (UCLA)

130. Shun Brown (Arizona)

131. Olamide Zaccheaus (Virginia)

132. Brendan Cope (Ohio)

133. Tyler Vaughns (USC)

134. Jared Cornelius (Arkansas)

135. Alfred Smith (Louisiana Tech)

136. Ka'Raun White (West Virginia)

137. Bryan Edwards (South Carolina)

138. Garrett Johnson (Kentucky)

139. Darius Slayton (Auburn)

140. Kerry Thomas (UTSA)

141. Jordan Villamin (Oregon State)

142. Tarik Black (Michigan)

143. Austin Conway (Wyoming)

144. Trent Bostick (Charlotte)

145. Cameron Batson (Texas Tech)

146. Ron'Quavion Tarver (Utah State)

147. Corey Lacanaria (Ball State)

148. Doni Dowling (Virginia)

149. Travis Fulgham (Old Dominion)

150. Josh Stewart (UTSA)

151. Anthony Mahoungou (Purdue)

152. Daylon Charlot (Kansas)

153. Michael Pittman (USC)

154. Dieuly Aristilde (Eastern Michigan)

155. La'Michael Pettway (Arkansas)

156. Kamrin Solomon (Florida Atlantic)

157. Binijmen Victor (Ohio State)

158. Christian Blake (Northern Illinois)

159. Shaedon Meadors (Appalachian State)

160. Phil Mayhue (Memphis)

161. Matt VandeBerg (Iowa)

162. Marcell Ateman (Oklahoma State)

163. Kelvin Harmon (NC State)

164. Marquise Brown (Oklahoma)

165. Chase Claypool (Notre Dame)


  • I don't consider Carrington's addition to Utah to be a bad thing for Raelon Singleton. Singleton is better suited to play the second-banana role, and the ball should be in the air plenty for Utah this year.


  • As mentioned above, Arkansas' receiving depth chart is a mess. Cornelius was removed from the 105-man roster in late July, which means he isn't even eligible to return to the practice field until classes begin in late-August. I kept him in the rankings mostly because he is easily the Hogs' most experienced returning receiver. If he can play, he'll be on the field. Meanwhile, I removed four-star JUCO transfer Brandon Martin from the top-150. Martin enrolled with plenty of hype and a great opportunity to start immediately. Instead, he showed up out of shape. He drew his coaches' ire by not learning the playbook, and then he began to miss August practices with nagging injuries. No thanks.




  • Kalib Woods (Florida Atlantic) was No. 45 receiver in the first version of these rankings. He was removed from the rankings after reports surfaced that FAU will dismiss him. Woods is facing multiple felony charges following an off-campus brawl.


  • Kamrin Solomon, his FAU teammate, was re-introduced to the rankings after he was reinstated to the team. Solomon was allegedly involved in the fight that has Woods in hot water, but he was never arrested or charged. FAU's new staff gushed about Solomon's play in the spring. Solomon could still theoretically face a game suspension, but FAU coach Lane Kiffin danced around that topic when asked. “He’s back practicing with the team,” Kiffin said. “He’s gone through the university system. They have disciplined him. I fully support that. But with all of our discipline with our players, that’s internal. We don’t make that public.”



  • Sills is a former quarterback who had a nice spring at wideout. Initially expected to develop into one of QB Will Grier’s favorite targets, Grier has fallen behind in fall camp. He now looks poised to begin the season as a backup.


  • Gonzalez was dismissed from Kansas in late July. He’s obviously no longer draftable. Gonzalez’s departure is good news for Steven Sims’ fantasy prognosis, however. It also opens the door for former four-star recruit Daylon Charlot, a sophomore who transferred over from Alabama.

Thor Nystrom is a former associate reporter whose writing has been honored by Rolling Stone magazine and The Best American Essays series. Say hi to Rotoworld's college football writer on Twitter @thorku.
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