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Top-36 Wide Receivers
1) Calvin Johnson (DET) – Odds are Matt Stafford is going to target Calvin Johnson a ton again this season, and odds are Johnson is going to catch a lot of them. The five-touchdown total from last season was an obvious disappointment but he did have a NFL record 1964 receiving yards. This year it would be wise to assume he drops off in yardage but gets back to double-digit touchdown range.
2) A.J. Green (CIN) – Green was electric for the majority of last year, scoring ten touchdowns over the first ten weeks of the season before finishing with only eleven. Him and Dalton both improved from their impressive rookie seasons and could take another step forward going into their 3rd years.
3) Brandon Marshall (CHI) – Marshall catches almost everything that comes his way and Cutler obviously loves targeting him. 1508 yards and 11 touchdowns were career highs for Marshall, but I think he is capable of an even higher touchdown total. Marshall was also very consistent last year, scoring touchdowns in nine different weeks.
4) Dez Bryant (DAL) – Dez was an absolute monster at times last season. From weeks 11-16 he hauled in 9 of his 12 touchdowns for the season to go with 721 yards; one of the greatest fantasy outputs I have ever seen by a wide receiver. Bryant appears to truly be one of the most gifted players in the league and should see a ton of targets from Tony Romo this season. If he can sustain a full-effort 16-game season he could give Calvin a run for his title as the top wide out in the league.
5) Julio Jones (ATL) – Julio Jones and Roddy White were neck and neck for fantasy points at the end of the season with Jones getting the slight edge due to his ten-touchdown total. In his 3rd season I’m expecting Jones to move ahead of Roddy a bit more.
6) Demaryius Thomas (DEN) – Thomas lived up to every expectation I had for him last season, going off for 1434 yards and ten touchdowns with Peyton Manning slinging him the ball. The Broncos should be just as solid this season and could be an even better one for Demaryius.
7) Andre Johnson (HOU) – Johnson has always had the knock against him that he has never had a double-digit touchdown season. He had a career high in yards last season with 1598 but the 2012 total of four touchdowns was still not enough to live up to expectations. Johnson needs to double his touchdown total once again in 2013 to become a top-5 wide receiver once again.
8) Larry Fitzgerald (ARI) – The obvious reason for the big move from the 21st overall WR spot to the 9th overall WR spot is the Cardinals acquisition of QB CArson Palmer, a veteran gunslinger. Perhaps instantly boosting him to the top-10 is a bit drastic, but I can’t help but think that a gunslinger like Palmer, playing on a bad team, is going to end up throwing the ball a lot, and throw it to Fitzgerald. Everyone knows how much talent Fitzgerald has and that he has simply lacked a decent quarterback of the last few seasons. While Carson may not be elite or as good as he once was, he is much better than Skelton or Kobb and should be a great fantasy boost for Larry.
9) Vincent Jackson (TB) – In his first season with the Buccaneers Jackson did not disappoint having a career year with 1384 yards and eight touchdowns, finishing as the 6th ranked wide receiver in fantasy football. With the Buccaneers possessing a solid offence and weak defense, Jackson could be an even better fantasy performer this coming season as the Tampa continues to struggle to win games.
10) Randall Cobb (GB) – Cobb emerged last season as one of fantasy football’s biggest surprises, going off for an impressive 954 yards and 8 receiving touchdowns. The talented young receiver also was a huge part of the return game, returning over 1100 yards and scoring a punt return touchdown. I only imagine Cobb is going to become even more involved in the Packers offence.
11) Roddy White (ATL) – White has a another solid year with 1351 yards and seven touchdowns, be he did go from a career high 181 targets in 2011 to 143 in 2012. I don’t doubt Roddy will be great fantasy wide receiver again this coming season, but he may fall out of the top-10 for his position.
12) Victor Cruz (NYG) – Cruz too the step back that many people like myself were expecting, going from over 1500 yards as a rookie to less than 1100 in his sophomore season. He was targeted more and caught more passes so his YPC went down drastically which was basically a guarantee, there was no way he was going to keep up his rookie pace. Going into his third year I would think that Cruz is capable of finding some sort of median, perhaps 1200 yards and 9-11 touchdowns.
13) Danny Amendola (NE) – Amendola gets a huge boost from the signing in New England, in a sense replacing the departed Wes Welker as the teams slot receiver Amendola is arguably more athletic than Welker and has the potential to excel inside the PAtriots offence, but he is going to need to stay on the field in order for that to happen. As for now I don’t trust the health o Amendola to make him a top-12 WR, but he does have the potential.
14) Marques Colston (NO) – Colston had the second best season of his entire career in 2012, going for 1154 and ten touchdowns as the Saints struggled without Sean Payton. I don’t know if he is poised to take a step forward with Peyton returning, but I do think Colston is one of the safest WR2’s you can draft.
15) Pierre Garcon (WAS) – It didn’t feel like it but Garcon played in ten games last season, though he was far from healthy in most of them. In what time he did get on the field Garcon was extremely impressive, going for 100 yards and a touchdown in week one. From how he looked when healthy, and how electric RGIII was, I am expecting Garcon to have a career season in a full season.
16) Reggie Wayne (IND) – The five-touchdown total from last year wasn’t the best but his 1355 yards tied for the second best total of his career. With Andre Luck under centre and developing into one of the leagues elite passers, I am expecting Wayne to have similar yardage with a few more scores hopefully.
17) Hakeem Nicks (NYG) – When you look at the stats, it wasn’t a pretty season for Nicks; he missed three games but was still targeted 100 times by Eli Manning, only catching 53 of them (76/133 – 79/128 in two seasons prior). Now, It was no secret that Nicks was attempting to play through injury and should be healthy this time around and should hopefully return to 2010/11 form.
18) Wes Welker (DEN) – Now a Bronco, Welker has the luxury of going from one elite passer to another. I don’t think many people are going to expect the kind of stats and targets that he saw while in New England, but he should still be a solid WR2 option as he learns to play with Manning
19) Dwayne Bowe (KC) – Another wide receiver I love to cheer for but has been stuck with mediocre quarterbacks for awhile now. While Smith is likely to be an upgrade to Matt Cassel, I don’t know that he will be enough to take Bowe to an elite level that most believe he is capable of. This past season was Bowe’s worst since playing only 11 games in 2009. He also just signed a five-year contract and won’t be playing for a contract anymore.
20) Jordy Nelson (GB) – Nelson took a huge step back in 2012; he missed four games, caught eight less touchdowns and 400 less yards. Coming off a 15-touchdown season in 2011, his 2012 totals were very disappointing. Randall Cobb ended up emerging as the Packers top threat, playing an effective roll out of the backfield and as a slot receiver. I am expecting Randall Cobb to be the safer option again this season. Greg Jennings signing with the Vikings should help Nelson reestablish himself.
21) Eric Decker (DEN) – While Thomas is the most athletic wide receiver that the Broncos have, Decker might have the best hands. Decker was a redzone favourite of Manning last season, scoring touchdowns in bunches including five in the final three weeks for a season total of 13.
22) Antonio Brown (PIT) – Brown is one player I have been having trouble trying to establish a rakning for since Mike Wallace signed with Miami. Brown sees a high volume of targets and can be a dynamic player, but has struggled with scoring touchdowns, but was able to grab a career high five in 13 games last season. He is going to need to take a step forward as a starting wide receiver for the Steelers this season and should see a good bump in fantasy value based on usage alone.
23) Cecil Shorts (JAX) – While playing in 14 games, with either Blaine Gabbert or Chad Henne (had his moments) as his quarterback, second year receiver Shorts had a very productive season, hauling in 979 yards and seven touchdowns on the season. With two more games available to him this coming season (provided he can avoid concussions), Cecil could have a 1000-yard season in his third season. If Maurice Jones-Drew returns as a Jaguar, and with the growth of Shorts and Blackmon, they could have a decent offence this season.
24) Steve Smith (CAR) – Easily the wide receiver I over evaluated the most last preseason, ranking him as a top-5 wide receiver, expecting him to have an even better season than he had when Cam was a rookie. Instead Smith had 220 fewer yards in 2012 and four touchdowns compared to seven.
25) DeSean Jackson (PHI) – I have never liked DeSean Jackson as a fantasy wide receiver, he is extremely hit and miss and is not the most motivated player in the world from what I can tell. He missed five games this season and ended up with the worst statistical season of his career. Between all the questions surrounding the Eagles and the inconsistent play of Jackson throughout his career, he is again at WR3 at best in my mind.
26) Mike Wallace (MIA) – Now a member of my Miami Dolphins, I don’t think Wallace is going to have as good of a season as he might have been capable of having in Pittsburgh. Tannehill has a strong enough arm to get Walace the ball deep, but might not have accuracy and trust of the coaching staff to get enough opportunities to do so. As much as a want to like the Wallace signing I currently feel as though he is too dependent on his speed to be effective on a weekly basis with a sophomore quarterback.
27) James Jones (GB) – League leader in touchdowns last year, but with only 784 yards it was quite the anomaly. I don’t see him going for many more yards this season and obviously think the TD total will come down. I would prefer to have Jones as a WR3.
28) Torrey Smith (BAL) – Smith had a very similar sophomore season compared to his first, he saw 110 targets compared to 95 (caught one less pass though), went for 855 yards compared to 841 and had eight touchdowns compared to seven; not a bad season once again. It was however, not a great season for fantasy purposes. Torrey only caught a touchdown pass in six different weeks of the season and only had one touchdown after week ten. Torrey is going to need to become less of a boom or bust player for me to consider him a top-24 fantasy receiver.
29) Kenny Britt (TEN) – I had hoped last season that Britt was slide in drafts, which he did, but would return in the early weeks of the season and start playing like we had seem him do in the past (775/9 in 2010). What ended up happening was Britt played in 14 games and saw a career high in targets at 90, but only caught half of them for 589 yards and four touchdowns. I am expecting to Britt to be healthier and play more consistently in 2013, but I don’t know if I trust him for a 1000-yard, high touchdown total season.
30) Josh Gordon (CLE) – Gordon had a great string of games last season from weeks 5-7, catching 240 yards and four touchdowns in three games. Over the final nine weeks however, Gordon only had one more touchdown catch. I am hoping/expecting him to take a step forward in his 2nd season, but also worry that the Browns offence will continue to struggle and Gordon will won’t have many touchdowns again. Will be out weeks 1&2 due to suspension.
31) Tavon Austin – One of the most talked about and talented skill players of the 2013 draft, Austin is poised to become an immediate playmaker for the Rams in the coming season. With not much to work with at the receiving spots currently, Rams quarterback Sam Bradford will be looking for Austin early and often this year and could be worthwhile fantasy starter from week one. I am looking for Austin to be a quality WR3 this season.
32) Greg Jennings (MIN) – A big downgrade for Greg Jennings potential as he goes from having Aaron Rodgers as his quarterback to having Christian Ponder. The biggest upside for Jennings is that he will be the best option for Ponder by a margin and should see a good number of targets, though we all saw last year how Ponder was capable of sub 100-yard games.
33) TY Hilton (IND) –
34) Mike Williams (TB) –
35) Steve Johnson (BUF) –
36) Lance Moore (NO) –