I've been hard on wide receivers in the past few years.
It's not that I don't doubt their value to fantasy football. My disdain resides with the constant narrative of how early they should be drafted in fantasy football drafts.
In 2016, the position failed to live up to the hype, being consistently outplayed by running backs. 2017 was the same old story.
The top-five receivers in 2017 were DeAndre Hopkins, Antonio Brown, Keenan Allen, Tyreek Hill and Marvin Jones, but they were all outclassed by the running backs once again.
Of those five receivers, Hopkins, Allen and Hill had ADPs in the third and fourth rounds, while Jones had an ADP of 110 overall, making him one of the biggest steals of the 2017 fantasy football season.
Only Brown was a top two-round pick, and he delivered in a way only he can among wide receivers. Early round picks Julio Jones, A.J. Green, Jordy Nelson, Odell Beckham, Mike Evans, Michael Thomas, Doug Baldwin and Amari Cooper didn't compete with the major fantasy football scorers. And they won't compete in 2018 either.
Wide receivers can be found not only late in fantasy football rounds, but on the waiver wire during the season. The consistency of wide receivers isn't enough to warrant picking a solid WR1 over a solid RB1. Top-tier running backs are generally matchup-proof, and in some cases, game-flow proof.
Not even Brown, the now unquestioned top WR1, is game-flow proof.
With so many of these supposed top-flight wide receivers fizzling out, it creates better value, since 2018 may finally be the year where draftees start piling up on running backs early, and look for rising star wide receivers in the third to sixth rounds.
Look at Allen in 2017. He wasn't great in the early going, but he was a solid pick in the draft based on potential. He's the No. 1 receiver on a team committed to passing the football with a quarterback who is above-average. The only knock against him was his injury history, which at his ADP, shouldn't have been much of a concern.
In 2018, he may not look as appealing, if his ADP is in the low first round/second-round grade. There's a real possibility he has injury problems, so that would be too much of a risk. But piling up on two RB1 running backs in the first two rounds, and then picking up a wide receiver capable of putting up top-five fantasy scoring numbers in the third round offers the best value.
That's why in 2018, attacking those wide receivers from the third to sixth rounds should pay dividends, as we'll see low-valued wide receivers all over the board who have shown the ability to deliver in the past.
In way-too-early fantasy football rankings, I'm already salivating about the possibility of stealing wide receivers late in fantasy football drafts. Cooper, Demaryius Thomas (who was a target monster in 2017, but just couldn't produce), Jones, Nelson and Allen Robinson are being ranked lower than the third round.
Don't take that top-two round bait on wide receivers. Be patient and bring value to your 2018 roster through wide receivers.
Scott Levine is the Associate Editor for the Clinton Herald. During his free time, he blogs about fantasy sports and handicaps games. Check out more at Against The Chalk.
Scott Levine can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @ScottLevineCH