Who should be WR1? DeAndre Hopkins, Davante Adams, or Julio Jones?
The two arguably most important positions in fantasy football are running backs and wide receivers. While the first four picks in most standard and PPR scoring leagues are all running backs, the battle for who should be selected as WR1 is an intriguing one. According to fantasyfootballcalculator.com, Antonio Brown has been selected as WR1 for the last four years. With Brown now in Oakland and some superb seasons from other receivers, you could make an argument that many receivers could be WR1. After entering some mock drafts and viewing fantasyfootballcalculator.com, three receivers are battling it out to be WR1. Those receivers are DeAndre Hopkins, Davante Adams, and Julio Jones.
All three are being drafted in the middle to end of round 1. In this ADP Battle-type article, I’ll run through each player and tell you who should be WR1.
Hopkins has been the consensus number one receiver off the board as fantasyfootballcalculator.com has him being selected sixth overall. In 10 mock drafts I participated in, Hopkins was selected WR1 six times. So, with all this hype surrounding Hopkins, let’s take a look at the numbers.
Consistency through bad quarterbacks and multiple receivers
Like I’ve written about in my Amari Cooper vs Keenan Allen vs A.J. Green ADP Battle article, consistency is something I use heavily to judge a player. Hopkins, or Nuk, has been consistent throughout his career, especially in the last two seasons where he finished as WR1. Hopkins has been able to stay consistent through inconsistent quarterback play. In 2014, he played 12 games with Ryan Fitzpatrick as his quarterback. The other four were split between Ryan Mallett and Case Keenum. In 2015, when he finished as WR4 and averaged 20.6 PPR points-per-game, he had four different starting quarterbacks. Brian Hoyer started nine games while Ryan Mallett had four, T.J. Yates had two, and Brandon Weeden added one.
Even with a quarterback carousel, Hopkins has still been able to produce WR1-type numbers. In 2018, We finally had the opportunity to see how Hopkins would do when having a good quarterback like Deshaun Watson for a full season, and he did not disappoint. He was once again able to finish as WR1 and recorded his career-high in fantasy points. It’s clear the two have fantastic chemistry and it will only grow in 2019, which certainly increases his case to be WR1.
While Hopkins has put up great numbers with multiple quarterbacks, he’s also done the same with multiple receivers in the offense. While guys like Will Fuller and Keke Coutee have been in and out of the lineup, Hopkins has kept his WR1-like numbers.
This split shows Hopkins’ numbers with and without Will Fuller. Fuller has a great relationship with Deshaun Watson, and some might think that could take away from Hopkins. The numbers Hopkins has produced shows otherwise.
In the current NFL, teams could easily have two receivers who co-exist and produce excellent fantasy numbers. However, it’s very rare we see it with three receivers. DeAndre Hopkins has been able to do exactly that. With Fuller and rookie wide receiver Keke Coutee in the lineup, Hopkins averaged over 20 PPR PPG. This should eliminate any worry you have in terms of what’s around Hopkins.
Davante Adams enters the WR1 conversation due to an excellent season in 2018. In his first year as the number one receiver in the Packers offense, he thrived. He set career highs in virtually every WR stat (receptions, touchdowns, and yards). He became the clear go-to guy for quarterback Aaron Rodgers, which is one of the best titles you could have in fantasy sports.
Aaron Rodgers go-to target
This chart shows both Rodgers and Jordy Nelson’s yearly finishes. As time went on Nelson became Rodgers’ favorite target. Jordy finished as a top-5 receiver three times.
Adams finished as WR4 last season but was just 9.9 points behind Hopkins for WR1. The fact that Adams did this in his first season as the first option in Green Bay means he will only grow. As Nelson’s career went on with Rodgers, he only improved. His first big year, he was WR4. He then climbed to WR3 and ended things as WR2.
Stats and league praise
With him being the number one target to Rodgers, you might argue that’s why he produces great numbers. That idea is proven wrong through Adams’ past numbers and the praise he’s gotten from top defensive backs in the league.
When Adams was the clear WR2 in Green Bay, he still finished as a top 15 PPR wide receiver. Adams also has put together three straight seasons with back-to-back double-digit touchdowns. When looking at wide receivers, touchdowns are a tough stat to predict. It’s almost like the receiver either has the touchdown trait or they don’t. For example, Julio Jones has only scored 17 touchdowns in the last three years. Adams has 35 in that time span. Other stats like receptions and yards are likely to improve when a receiver has a larger role. Adams’ ability to get into the end zone is incredibly impressive, and only improves his case for WR1.
In addition to his incredible stats, it’s clear Adams has earned the respect of several premier defenders. After someone put together a list of their top-10 route runners, which ranked Adams at number 10, star safety Tyrann Mathieu responded. He said, “
@tae15adams is not #10… dude is top 2 period!!!!”
Stephon Gilmore kept the trend going as he was asked who’s the toughest WR to guard at the LOS. Gilmore said, “Davante Adams has the best release in the game.”
Jones has been in the league the longest compared to the other receivers on this list. Since entering the league in 2011, he’s gone over 1000 yards every year but twice. Those two years were his rookie year, where he had 959 yards, and in 2013 when he only played 5 games.
Every year, he’s always in the conversation for WR1 but has never made that final leap. Based on his numbers last year, Jones still might be just short of that WR1 label.
Checks every box but TD’S
As you can see, Jones has put together some monster fantasy seasons in his NFL career. He’s finished as a top-10 receiver the last 5 seasons and was 11th in 2012. The consistency alone gives Julio an arguable case to be WR1, but as I mentioned above, Jones lacks in one category where Hopkins and Adams thrive, and that’s touchdowns.
While Julio has certainly put up WR1 numbers in receptions and receiving yards, his touchdowns are underwhelming. Guys like Hopkins and Adams have a nose for the endzone, while Julio just doesn’t seem to have it. With that being said, the lack of touchdowns scares me away from Julio as WR1.
Some may argue a new offensive coordinator in Dirk Koetter could solve the issue, but he was only able to help star receiver Mike Evans to one double-digit touchdown season out of three seasons.
Similar to how I ended my case for Zeke 1.01 article, all of these players will produce elite fantasy numbers. Guys like DeAndre Hopkins, Davante Adams, and Julio Jones each provide great cases to be WR1. However, if I had to choose between the three of them, I’d have to say DeAndre Hopkins is the safest and best choice for WR1. Adams will rise to that label one day, but Hopkins’ impressive performances under multiple circumstances push him ahead of both Adams and Julio Jones.
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