Sadly, this post will not have pictures in it, because while they add such aesthetic beauty to my writing, they also mess up the format.
These rankings were the toughest yet, but I feel I did a pretty swell job. Let me know what you think.
1. Andre Johnson, HOU
Let’s just say this: I won’t hesitate at all to pick Andre Johnson with the eight overall pick.
2. Randy Moss, NE
Tough call here, but I went with Moss because of sheer TD potential.
3. Brandon Marshall, MIA
A lock for 100 receptions and 1,000 yards and 10 TDs on Miami.
4. Reggie Wayne, IND
You can’t get more safe. Or more boring.
5. Roddy White, ATL
As I’ve said before, this is a breakout year for Matt Ryan, and White will obviously be the main beneficiary. He’s one of the few safe picks at this position.
6. Anquan Boldin, BAL
I also expect a breakout year from Flacco, and Boldin will be the beneficiary in a big way. If Derrick Mason caught over 1,000 yards and 7 TDs at age 35, Boldin can certainly do better.
7. Larry Fitzgerald, ARZ
Wasn’t sure how far to drop Fitz down the board after the retirement of Kurt Warner. I guessed conservatively and left him in the top ten. Apparently the guys at ESPN have never seen Matt Leinart play, because they still have Larry as the third receiver on their board. We’ll see which one of us is right on that. Pretty sure it will be me.
8. Calvin Johnson, DET
Megatron is mega-talented, but you know how much I hate Matthew Stafford …CJ will have some monster games and some total goose eggs.
9. Greg Jennings, GB
With Driver hitting the 35 year old wall and having double knee surgery, it’s a safe bet that Jennings reclaims the spot as Rodgers’ favorite target and that means good things. Very good things. A whole lot more than the measly 4 TDs he had last year.
10. Miles Austin, DAL
Don’t think he’ll repeat last year’s numbers now that he’s the #1 guy, but I do think he’ll prove that he was no fluke. He’s a talented dude. And the Cowboys offense is a well-oiled machine.
11. Sidney Rice, MIN
He’ll be Brett Favre’s favorite target once again and will improve on the 8 TDs.
12. Steve Smith, CAR
The Panthers are definitely a run-first team, but that actually benefits Smith because it opens up the play-action and gives him single coverage on bombs. And that’s where he’s lethal. But keep an eye on his broken arm.
13. DeSean Jackson, PHI
A lot of cheat sheets have him as a top 5 WR. I don’t agree. Losing the strong arm of McNabb will hurt, and Kolb doesn’t have the strength or accuracy of McNabb on the long ball. Jackson will definitely NOT score 7 times from 50 yards out like he did last year.
14. Marques Colston, NO
The Saints spread the ball around so much that even their #1 receiver isn’t a great fantasy option. And I hate to keep bringing up the Madden Curse, but you know …
15. Vincent Jackson, SD
Between the holdout and the three-game suspension resulting from his DUI, he’s an obvious risk. He also might get traded. But if he signs and plays by week 4, it’s worth the risk in a big way.
16. Chad Johnson, CIN
He should score 6-8 times and have about 1,000 yards. Which makes him the third best receiver named Johnson.
17. Hines Ward, PIT
With Santonio gone, Hines will have a bigger responsibility in Pittsburgh to make big plays downfield, and that’s on top of being one of the most trusty possession receiver around.
18. Michael Crabtree, SF
Definite gamble but also huge potential reward. Crabtree was one of the best receivers in NCAA history. An entire summer of training camp should help him and Alex Smith develop a nice rapport.
19. Percy Harvin, MIN
Favre has always liked to spread the ball around and Harvin has speed up the wazoo. He’ll probably run for a good 200-300 yards as well.
20. Wes Welker, NE
Coming off an ACL tear, Welker is an obvious risk. But he seems to be progressing quickly and will be worth a draft pick if you can be patient. He’ll return with a vengeance. He and Brady have the best QB/WR rapport in the NFL.
21. Mike Wallace, PIT
As Ward gets older and slower, Wallace could become a breakout star in Steel City. Wouldn’t shock me if he replicated Holmes’s numbers from last season – 1200 yards and 5 TDs.
22. Steve Smith, NYG
A very consistent possession guy who should catch close to 100 balls, but won’t be a big TD guy at all with Nicks and Boss and Manningham in the mix.
23. T.J. Houshmandzadeh, SEA
Returning from sports hernia surgery, Housh is yet another WR injury risk, but as the consummate possession guy he should be a safe bet for 90+ catches and 6 TDs.
24. Dez Bryant, DAL
Huge potential as the #2 receiver on a great team and a lot more talent than people realize.
25. Santonio Holmes, NYJ
Enters the season on a four-game suspension, but should be his usual productive self after that. I think he’ll easily overtake Braylon as the #1 guy on the Jets.
26. Julian Edelman, NE
Depending on how much time Welker misses, Edelman could be a major sleeper. He’ll have Welker-like numbers until Welker comes back. It wouldn’t be a terrible idea to draft both guys, and drop Edelman when the time comes.
27. Dwayne Bowe, KC
Loads of talent but a complete knucklehead. If he can avoid another suspension he should be worth a spot as your #3 WR.
28. Donald Driver, GB
This is probably too high of a ranking for an old guy with bad knees, and I do think that James Jones will slowly take over Driver’s job, but being the possession receiver for the Packers is a safe gig.
29. Braylon Edwards, NYJ
He’ll be low on catches (maybe 50 or 60) but big on big-plays in the Jets’ effective play-action offense.
30. Eddie Royal, DEN
With Marshall gone, the door is wide open for Royal to emerge. But I don’t think he's a sure bet to do so.
31. Mike Sims-Walker, JAX
The go-to receiver on a rush-first offense with a mediocre QB. Safe pick but very little upside.
32. Laurent Robinson, STL
No guarantee that he’ll be the Rams’ #1 receiver, but I think he will.
33. Anthony Gonzalez, IND
34. Pierre Garcon, IND
I’ve got no idea which will be the #2 and which will be the #3. Technically Dallas Clark is the #2 receiver. But Manning will throw to anyone, as he proved last year.
35. Michael Jenkins, ATL
Should be productive if Ryan is as good as I keep saying he will be.
36. Antonio Bryant, CIN
He’ll be the downfield threat now that Ochostinko is getting a bit slower. A few big plays scattered.
37. Devery Henderson, NO
Speaking of scattered big plays, Henderson is the ultimate in feast or famine.
38. Johnny Knox, CHI
39. Devin Aromashadu, CHI
Either one of these guys have huge breakout potential, but I don’t know which will lead the Bears in receiving. Hopefully by the time of the fantasy draft we’ll know. If not, pick one and hope you get lucky.
40. Malcolm Floyd, SD
With Vincent Jackson missing some time, Floyd stands to gain a lot.
41. Lee Evans, BUF
What a shame.
42. Chaz Schilens, OAK
Here’s a big-time sleeper for you. He’ll be Jason Campbell's top receiver.
43. Demaryius Thomas, DEN
Might overtake Royal for the starting job in Denver.
44. Derrick Mason, BAL
Solid but unspectacular stats as Flacco’s possession guy.
45. Jeremy Maclin, PHI
Big-play speed but lots of options in the Philly passing game.
46. Kevin Walter, HOU
I think he might lose his job to Jacoby Jones but we’ll see.
47. Nate Burleson, DET
Should be better than Bryant Johnson was, but that’s not saying much.
48. Hakeem Nicks, NYG
Probably Eli Manning’s go-to guy in the red zone.
49. James Jones, GB
#3 receiver on a great passing offense.
50. Golden Tate, SEA
If Houshmandzadeh has a hard time recovering, Tate will probably be the go-to guy in Seattle.
The rest ...
51. Kenny Britt, TEN
52. Mario Manningham, NYG
53. Josh Morgan, SF
54. Jacoby Jones, HOU
55. Mohammad Massaquoi, CLE
56. Arrelious Benn, TB
57. Michael Clayton, TB
58. Chris Chambers, KC
59. Santana Moss, WAS
60. Devin Thomas, WAS
61. Jericho Cotchery, NYJ
62. Davonne Bess, MIA
63. Donnie Avery, STL
64. Steve Breaston, ARZ
65. Ted Ginn Jr., SF
66. Roy Williams, DAL
67. Torry Holt, NE
68. Justin Gage, TEN
69. Louis Murphy, OAK
70. Donte Stallworth, BAL
71. Robert Meachem, NO
72. Lance Moore, NO
73. Bernard Berrian, MIN
74. Nate Washington ,TEN
75. Early Doucet, ARZ
Some Final Thoughts
As I compiled this list I was stunned at how much turmoil surrounds the receiver position this season. Injuries, suspensions, contract disputes, and lousy quarterback play. There's really only 11 safe WRs this season in my opinion - Andre and Calvin Johnson, Moss, Wayne, Marshall, Roddy, Boldin, Fitzgerald, Austin, Rice, and Jennings. That's it. And I think the best way to win your fantasy league is to get two guys from this list of 11.
To do that, you've obviously got to be willing to pass on RBs and QBs early, which means you need to know which QBs and RBs to target in the third, fourth and fifth rounds. That's a tough sacrifice to make. When you're drafting Carson Palmer and the guy sitting next to you has Peyton Manning, it's going to make you feel sick. But keep in mind, you'll have two elite receivers, and he'll have Percy Harvin and Devin Aromashadu.
Obviously it all depends on the draft order. If I'm picking 12th (for the third year in a row), I will take two WRs UNLESS one of my top 7 RBs is on the board or one of my top 2 QBs. That's not a strategy set in stone but something like that. Don't make up your mind that you're going RB no matter what and then take Ryan Grant over Randy Moss. Compare the stats straight up: who's going to give you more yards and TDs, Grant or Moss? It's not even a question.
In fact, it's highly likely that Andre Johnson will have a better year in terms of yards + TDs than any running backs except Sonic and AP. My projections are somwhere around 1,500 yards and 10 TDs, though he could easily go for 15 TDs or maybe even more. Do you really trust Jones-Drew to do that, or Gore, or Turner? Can't we just not look at the positions and pick merely based on production? Shouldn't Andre be a concensus top 5 overall pick?
If you're picking in the middle to late first round, it probably makes more sense to take a RB (or maybe a top level QB) and then take an elite WR on the way back. You won't get Andre, but you'll get your choice of either Moss or Wayne. But if you pass on Steven Jackson at pick 7, he's not coming back to you. There are advantages to having a stud running back.
This year is tough, because I don't see a ton of sleeper candidates at either the RB or WR positions. None that I truly trust anyway. I see more sleepers at QB to be honest. So after the first 3 rounds, it's a total crapshoot with the backs and receivers. You might hit it big like Ray Rice last year, or you might grab Earnest Graham. The problem with fantasy football is that no one, not even the 'experts,' knows what they're talking about. You've either got to be lucky, or have a fool-proof strategy.
A few last words of advice about receivers:
-Watch out for divas, drugs, and suspensions.
-Don't draft anyone you hate.
-Don't forget the importance of YouTube.
-And lastly, above all else, do NOT take Terrell Owens.