Saturday, July 21, 2012

Fantasy Football Rankings - Wide Receivers

In my last post, I lamented that there are no totally reliable running backs this year.  But you may have noticed I didn't include any receivers in my top 10.  That's because, unfortunately, I am skeptical of all the receivers as well.  I'm just waaay too cynical after years of getting screwed by first round picks.  Tatum Bell, Julius Jones, Lawrence Maroney ... I hate you all.

After much researching, Youtubing, scribbling, and over-thinking, here are my 2012 wide receiver rankings:

1. Calvin Johnson.  I'm putting Megatron at #1 as a formality. He'll be the 1st receiver taken in every draft, and fairly so.  However, the Madden Curse is a proven reality.  So I won't be taking him.

2. Went back and forth here with Jennings and Fitzgerald ... and finally decided to rank Andre Johnson #2 instead. I think it's a buy-low year for Andre. The awesome Houston running game makes things pretty easy for him. And he doesn't share red-zone targets with anyone.

3. Greg Jennings.  Best receiver on the team with the best QB = safe production. I'm not buying into Jordy Nelson. Jennings is still the man in GB.

4. Larry Fitzgerald.  Put up 1,400 yards and 8 TDs with no quarterback last year. Should do about the same this year.

5. Hakeem Nicks.  Victor Cruz is more sexy, but Nicks still occupies the #1WR spot on the depth chart, and you can count on Eli to rack up yardage and points.

6. AJ Green.  Wouldn't be shocked to see him put up similar numbers to what Calvin did in his second year - 1,300 yards and 12 TDs. Only question mark is Dalton's consistency.

7. Brandon Marshall.  Jay Cutler hasn't had a real receiver since arriving in Chicago. Now he does.  He'll completely forego everyone else and Marshall might lead the NFL in targets.

8. Dez Bryant.  Massive disappointment for me last year in the 3rd round. I may have been a year too early. DeMarco Murray is going to demand a lot of attention and Dez should see lots of single coverage.

9. Roddy White.
10. Julio Jones. 
I'm down on both Falcons receivers; they cancel each other out too much. Julio is going to replace Roddy as the redzone guy, but Roddy still moves the chains and has Matt Ryan's trust.  I think Roddy goes for 1,200 yards, 90 catches, but only 5 or 6 scores ... while Julio puts up 12 TDs and only 800 yards.  Both good picks ... but they are both going too early. 

11. Victor Cruz.  Another guy who's going too early.  He was a fun surprise last year, but reality sets in and now people are ready for him.  Don't expect more 99 yard TDs either.

12. Miles Austin. People are forgetting about Austin after he missed 6 games last year and had only 500 yards. He appears to be a buy-low candidate, should score 10+ TDs.

13. Demaryius Thomas.  Went back and forth on which Bronco I want this year.  Demaryius reminds me too much of Calvin Johnson for me to resist. But Decker suits Peyton Manning's style better, so I like him a lot too. Both guys should produce assuming Peyton is Peyton.

14. Steve Smith.  Left for dead last year, and then totally exploded. Color me skeptical, but I'm willing to roll the dice.

15. Percy Harvin.  With AP out for an unknown amount of time, Percy is the Vikings' only offensive weapon outside of the TE position. He isn't big enough to beat the double team consistently, but by virtue of number of targets he'll make a suitable fantasy option.  Also a good bet to lead all WRs in rushing yardage.

16. Antonio Brown.  Notice you haven't seen Mike Wallace's name yet.  I'm waiting to see what becomes of his contract/ holdout.  He wants Larry Fitzgerald type money, and clearly doesn't deserve that much.  But Pittsburgh doesn't want to lose him. In the meantime, Brown is Pittsburgh's #1 receiver, and should be good for plenty of Roethlisberger's patented "3rd and 25 desperation-miracle-TDs."  Even if Wallace signs, I like Brown a lot as their #2 guy.  I'll bump Wallace up to 8th if and when he signs.  For now, he's in the low 20s.

17. Steve Johnson. I'm pretty unashamed of my love of the Bills this year.  I like Stevie on account of he's their only wide receiver worth anything.

18. Wes Welker.  A little squeamish on Welker this year ... the tight ends have taken over in Foxboro, and now Brandon Lloyd is there with his buddy, Josh McDaniels. Welker is still safe, but no longer a stud.  In PPR leagues, however, feel free to make him a top 5 receiver.

19. Marques Colston.  Classic example of drafting a guy simply based on what team he plays for. By himself, Colston doesn't impress me.  But being Drew Brees's top WR means plenty of chances. Graham is really the #1 option though.

20 Eric Decker.  Peyton Manning has shown an affinity for white receivers in the past. Decker could be the next Stokley/Collie who inexplicably puts up 10 TDs.

21. Brandon Lloyd. Can't decide whether to rank him #1 ahead of Calvin, or drop him out of the top 100. I have no clue what Bill Belichick is ever going to do with his offense. I guess common sense says he'll be better than Ochocinco was last year, but not as good as Moss was in 2009.  Fifth round seems about right.

22. Jeremy Maclin.
23. DeSean Jackson.
I don't like either Philly receiver very much, given Vick's likelihood to get injured, and McCoy's likelihood to lead the team in catches.  These guys are both feast or famine; you're either getting a huge 70-yard TD or you're getting nothing.  Also, Jackson is an off-the-field idiot.

24. Mike Wallace.  Wait and see if he signs.  A holdout is very likely.

25. Malcolm Floyd.  With Vincent Jackson gone and Gates getting old, somebody has to catch Phillip Rivers's deep ball. Floyd appears the top candidate, but I'm not sold that he keeps the #1 WR job over Robert Meachem and/or Vincent Brown.

26. Vincent Jackson.  Speaking of V-Jack, his move to the Bucs pummels his fantasy value, but skyrockets his salary, so at least he's happy. I wouldn't touch the Tampa offense until we see signs of life.

27. Jordy Nelson.  As I mentioned, I'm leaning towards Jordy's 15-TD campaign being a fluke.  I kind of think JerMichael Finley supplants him as the #2 target.  Still a good player to have, but he's going too early.

28. Kenny Britt.
29. Dwayne Bowe.
Nearly identical players - both about the same size, both picked near the end of the first round, both tremendously talented and tremendously stupid. Both have been arrested, suspended, and injured. Now, Bowe is holding out and Britt just got a DUI, his third arrest in 16 months.  I wouldn't touch either guy until you know they're going to play.  If Britt gets a 4-game suspension, you might be able to snag him in the 12th round or something. If Bowe holds out, same thing.  Sad wastes of potential.

30. Denarius Moore. My first official "sleeper" I guess. If Carson Palmer has proven anything over the last few years, besides the fact that he sucks, it's that he can put up monster stats in garbage time.  Denarius could be the benefactor of lots of meaningless 4th quarter bombs when Oakland is trailing by 20.

31. Torrey Smith.  While he'll take over the #1 WR job in Baltimore, I'm not sure he's ready for it.  Ray Rice is their offense, and they want to move to a tight-end heavy system.  Boldin is there too, and Jacoby Jones is a deep threat.  Also Tandon Doss. Not sure how it'll shake out.  But I don't trust Torrey Smith to consistently catch more than 4 or 5 balls a game.

32. Emmanuel Sanders.  If indeed Mike Wallace holds out, Sanders becomes the #2 receiver for Pittsburgh and becomes a bargain.

33. Michael Crabtree.
34. Santonio Holmes.
Two dudes who need to shut up and play like 1st round picks.

35. Reggie Wayne.  Will Andrew Luck be okay with throwing to Peyton's old guy?  Or will he try to re-invent himself throwing to Coby Fleener and T.Y. Hitlon?  Good question.

36. Santana Moss.  You can always count on Santana ranking somewhere in the 30s every year. He doesn't score much, but he might be the benefactor of those famous RG3 bubble screens. But don't get too excited; he's 33 and slowing down.  Washington brought in Pierre Garcon and Josh Morgan.

37. Mike Williams, Tampa.  A dud last year, but now won't have to face double teams.  Josh Freeman likes him.  Maybe he'll bounce back somewhat.

38. Justin Blackmon.  Give him a shot in keeper leagues; maybe Jacksonville will get a new QB in 2013.

39. Greg Little.  Does the #1 WR on Cleveland really count as a #1 WR?

40. Titus Young.  Probably worth taking if you believe the Curse knocks Megatron out early in the year.

41. Darrius Heyward-Bey.  He'll have plenty of garbage yards as well in Oakland.

42. Lestar Jean.  Houston's never-ending quest to find a #2 receiver may finally be solved. This dude can play.

42. Robert Meachem.  Worth a shot. Rivers might take a liking to him.

43. Devery Henderson.
44. Lance Moore.
With Meachem gone, these guys get a little more valuable. Drew Brees always spreads the ball around.  Don't count on them every week, but they're nice guys to have on the bench and play when the matchup is right.

45. Jabar Gaffney. Looks like he'll be the #3 receiver for Tom Brady.  Which really doesn't mean a lot with Gronk and Hernandez.  But in case of an injury ... Gaffney becomes valuable.

46. Kendall Wright.  With Kenny Britt's troubles, Wright has a shot to be the #1 WR in Tennessee. Definitely a good pick in keeper leagues. He'll have some growing pains though.

47. Pierre Garcon.   Washington didn't give him $42 million to sit the bench.

48. Danny Amendola.
49. Davonne Bess.
Both desperation fantasy receivers, but highly valuable in PPR leagues.  Should catch 80+ passes for their lousy offenses.

50. Sidney Rice.  Pete Carroll can't decide who his starting QB is - Flynn, Tavaris, or maybe the 5th round rookie.  At the same time, he has no idea who his #1 receiver is ... Rice, Golden Tate, Doug Baldwin...?  Stay away. 

51. Andre Caldwell.  Might be Peyton's #3 in Denver.
52. Anquan Boldin.  Worth a gamble, though he appears to be finished.
53. Nate Burleson.  Calvin's injury is inevitable, right?
54. Mario Manningham.  Moving to San Fran probably hurts his stats, but maybe Alex Smith will like him?
55. Michael Floyd.  Opposite Larry Fitzgerald is a good place to be.  Obvious keeper pick.
56. Laurent Robinson.  Talent is there, but you don't want anything to do with Jacksonville.
57. James Jones.  The #3 receiver in GB gets a few random TDs now and then.
58. Eddie Royal.  Rivers wants to use him as a slot guy.
59. Jonathan Baldwin.  Lots of people like him as a sleeper. I'm not crazy about him. Matt Cassel stinks.
60. Randall Cobb. Might overtake James Jones in GB.

Other sleepers to consider ...

Brandon LaFell, Carolina.   #2 behind Steve Smith, who has gotten hurt plenty of times.
Chad Ochocinco, Miami.   Whatever.
Reuben Randle, Giants.   Eli's #3. Upside galore.
Stephen Hill, Jets.  Rookie from Georgia Tech makes a decent late round flier.
Brian Quick, Rams.  Another rookie with upside. But on a bad team.
Ryan Broyles, Lions.  Hey, why not?
Nick Toon, Saints.  Anyone on the Saints is worth a look.
T.Y. Hilton, Colts.  Luck's fellow rookie.

Hope you found this helpful, but not too helpful if you're in my league.  GO LIONS!!  

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