This next bit of fantasy football information is looking like the hardest yet. So far I have given you the fantasy football QBs and the fantasy RBs and now here is the 20 top fantasy football wide receivers.
Why so hard, you may ask? Well it is this simple: What players have new QBs? How many are in new systems or in new cities? Who overachieved last season? How are the new hybrid-style TEs going to perform and how much can they take away as far as looks and catches? Well, I am here to try and break it down for you the best I can. Keep in mind this is strictly my opinion, but a pretty good opinion if I may say so. So as I sit here and smoke a cigar and drink a beer, I welcome you all, as always, to sit back, relax and read on.
Top 20 WRs 20-1
20. Devin Aromashodu, Bears: Take the Bears current depth chart and throw it out the window. Forget all about how Devin Hester has improved and get ready for this kid. As far as speed, he is said to be as fast as Hester, faster than Johnny Knox and probably has the best skills out of any WR on the team. The bulk of his work last year came in the last 4 weeks, but he posted a TD per game and looks poised to be a starter. New offensive coordinator Mike Martz loves to spread 3 WRs and this guy has the tools. It may be a stretch for some at 20, but not me!
18. Michael Crabtree, 49ers: Now that contract disputes, and rookie hype is behind him, Crabtree comes in ready to go. He missed 5 games last season, but played well once getting into real action. We all know he is big and strong and has great hands, now it is time to see how he gels with QB Alex Smith. The 49ers have a good deal of weapons on offense now, so he will not be asked to be a one man show, which will actually lead to better numbers. This is one of my favorite all-around teams for fantasy numbers this year, so don’t wait too long on Crabtree.
17. Donald Driver, Packers: It almost seems like he gains a yard for every person who claims he’s done every year. Now at 35 the ageless wonder keeps producing and making fools out of the draftniks who pass him bye. 70 grabs and 6 TDs last season are real good numbers, and as QB Aaron Rodgers continues to become a star, his top target will still get the looks. We know that Greg Jennings is the home run guy, but if he starts slow like he did last year, we will see tons of Driver, and that usually means production.
16. Vincent Jackson, Chargers: Based on talent alone he has to be here. Based on DUIs, a contract holdout and now a possible trade to Seattle, I have to red flag him. Jackson has gotten much better every year and has great size and skill. However, this season he has become a head-case for San Diego. If he could settle his wants and get on the field with Philip Rivers at QB he would be rated even higher, but for now I don’t know what to do with him or what to say about him. Roll the dice gamblers, he could hurt you bad, or help you big. We won’t know until we kickoff.
15. Anquan Boldin, Ravens: Finally got the trade he wanted and will once again be a team’s number 1 option. What Boldin does with this is anybody’s guess, but still a good chance at 15. We know he does have some injury risk, but he won’t be leaned on as heavily with a good running attack and a team that plays small ball a good amount of the time. He still has the skill, but this is a make or break season as far as fantasy owners are concerned.
14. Steve Smith, Giants: Huge break-out season for him last year saw him get 107 catches, 1,220 yards and 7 TDs as he became Eli Manning’s main target. Smith is not super fast, but he runs excellent patterns and makes big time grabs. Some of the other Giant receivers are making progress too, which can hurt his numbers a bit, but he is the clear cut number 1 here for now, and worth a high pick.
13. Marques Colston, Saints: Being healthy again last season worked well for the big target Colston. After going from 7th round pick to 98 catch star in 2007, many were giving up on him in 2008, and were sorry for it. The Saints love to use every single weapon they have, so he will probably never be a 100 catch guy, but he can get the yards and will get the TDs. The big fear in this is QB Drew Brees taking on the dreaded “Madden curse” this season. If Brees and Colston stay healthy, he will score many a TD, count on it.
12. Roddy White, Falcons: Stop with the “maybes” people, Roddy White can play. 85 grabs last year along with 1,153 yards and 11 TDs is enough to prove it to me. The Falcons have arrived as a legit team with good players and you should not turn away from White. If QB Matt Ryan can play all 16 games this year we may see yet another increase in White and his stats.
11. Wes Welker, Patriots: Only after I saw him in uniform and in a game did I feel this way. An amazing recovery from an injury suffered last season is very impressive and no other WR in the league has caught more balls (346) over the last 3 seasons. Yes he does plenty with those tiny screens, as he also went for 1,338 yards. He needs to find the end zone a bit more, but if you are in a point per catch league, a healthy Welker is a late first-round guy for sure.
10. Sidney Rice, Vikings: You have Favre, you have Harvin, and you have Peterson, and the guy who should benefit the most is Rice. He does suffer from as few nagging injuries but last season he exploded on to the scene. 83 catches, 1,312 yards, 8 TDs and an amazing 15.8 yards per catch is awesome, and he is just 24, so he is perfectly capable of getting even better. The Vikings like to run, but hey coach Brad Childress is a former QB coach, so you know he likes to air it out. Rice is creeping up the charts and some are saying he is 2nd round material. I’m starting to believe they may be right.
9. DeSean Jackson, Eagles: Does he have the stuff to do it with a shorter, more patient passing game? Donovan McNabb and his big arm are gone so we should not expect as many bombs to Jackson, but he has shown the ability to take a ball anywhere on the field and work magic with it. He lead the league last year in plays over 40 yards and scored 12 total TDs. Jackson is now talking new contract and big money, so if he wants it, he will have to earn it, which is actually good news for this super talent. New QB Kevin Kolb worked well with him in his 2 starts last year, and in the pre-season Jackson is looking just as good as he did last year. Don’t fall under that new QB spell with this kid, he is legit.
8. Greg Jennings, Packers: Ho-hum, over 1,000 yards for the electric Jennings again last year. Yes he was a slow starter last year and was invisible the first few weeks, but he still has all the tools and the team is totally confident that he will be huge again. QB Aaron Rodgers may be a top 3 fantasy stat QB this year, so why not go with his home run guy early in your draft. I know we all like the big talkers and the prima donna’s, but they don’t have much on this quiet, sleek performer.
7. Brandon Marshall, Dolphins: New team, better attitude and a QB in need of a big time number 1 is all good news for Marshall. Yes we know about his off-field stuff, but with a GM like Bill Parcells, we should not have as much turmoil with Marshall. 3 straight 100+ catch seasons and even double digit TDs last year lets us all rest easy that he has the goods, the only thing we need to find out is, does Chad Henne? Have little fear drafters, even Kyle Orton got this guy over 100 last year, I think you are safe, very safe!
6. Calvin Johnson, Lions: The main reason why he is not my number 2 or 3 is that we still need to see what the Lions are made of. Yes he has all the tools, great size, blazing speed, awesome hands, and a nose for the end zone. 2nd year QB Matthew Stafford is the telling point here. If Stafford progresses well, the sky is the limit for this monster. The Lions also added legitimate help elsewhere on offense to give him more room to operate. By years end we may see a brand new number 1 WR in fantasy football, maybe?
5. Larry Fitzgerald, Cardinals: If the hottest girl married the ugliest guy, you would still find her hot, am I right? So why do a lot of people suddenly not like Fitz? Yes, QB Matt Leinart is a big question mark, but Fitzgerald is the kind of guy who even if you just throw it near him he will make a play. Now that 1B Anquan Boldin is gone this is truly his team here and he should have great numbers still. Also an ace in the hole here is back-up QB Derek Anderson, who was a former 29 TD QB a few seasons ago. It is way too early to give up on Fitz people, but I welcome anyone in my leagues to do so.
4. Miles Austin, Cowboys: Out of nowhere this 4th WR on the Cowboys depth chart has become a top flight fantasy star. 81 catches and 1,320 yards are far more than anyone, even the most brilliant so-called experts could imagine. He is fast, and smooth and he started to make it look easy once taking over as the number 1 guy in Big D last year. Now that he is mixed in with good talent all over and a confident Tony Romo at QB, Austin’s numbers should actually be better this year, which is scary for opponents. Don’t trust him and think it is a fluke? No problem, no one else in your league does.
2. Reggie Wayne, Colts: I give up! I honestly give up! Every year I think Wayne is due to slow down, and every year I look silly. Another 100 catch season last year along with 1,264 yards and 10 TDs is enough to shut my mouth. Peyton Manning loves throwing to this guy, and Manning is easily the best in the game. Wayne is very much what Marvin Harrison always was the only difference here is he has maintained great speed. He is not much of a big talker, but it does not hurt his game. Now he also has 3 other good WRs to help and a good running game. He is dangerous to pass up, even in the early 2nd round.
1. Andre Johnson, Texans: A true beast. If you ask me who the best player in all of football, pound-for-pound and position by position, I will say #80 for the Houston Texans. Awesome body strength, amazing control and hands that appear to be laced with glue by the way he latches on to the football, and the class and workman-like attitude that could land him a spot at dinner next to the Queen of England. Every single person I speak with believes that he is the first non RB taken this year and some have him at 4 overall, ahead of the likes of Maurice Jones-Drew and even Adrian Peterson. Houston had trouble last year with rushing and even so as defenses ganged up on him he was still huge with 101 catches, 1,569 yards and 9 TDs. He also seems well over the label of injury risk as he has played all 32 games over the last 2 seasons. The only thing left for him to do, get to the playoffs, and this should be the year for that too. Man-crush you say? Oh Yeah!
Best of the rest: Here are some later round guys to remember, some are number 2 guys on their teams, but have plenty of value. In no real order here are a few names to remember:
Chad Ochocinco, Bengals: With Terrell Owens in town his numbers can be hurt, and his attitude is becoming a bother, but he still has the juice. He caught 72 balls with 9 TDs last year, but not my top 20 guy this year, no need to let him get away though.
Steve Smith, Panthers: Needs to stay healthy and needs to help inexperienced QBs, but the running attack can be enough to get him some openings.
Mike Sims-Walker, Jaguars: After years of WR flops in Jacksonville, Sims-Walker looked like a legit number 1. He needs some kind of help with a good number 2 to really pan out again this year. David Garrard is far from a gunslinger QB, so he will have to work hard for his numbers.
Mike Wallace, Steelers: It won’t matter who the Steelers start at QB in the early going. Wallace is fast and gets open down field. He is a deep threat wonder and can score TDs. Hines Ward is still here to be the short guy, so Wallace will get his looks.
Santana Moss, Redskins: I will give him an outside chance to be successful this year due to his ability to stretch the field and be the recipient of some of Donovan McNabb’s long ball attempts. He has skill, he just tends to disappear.
Steve Breaston, Cardinals: Once and for all we will all know it is not pronounced Breaston, but Breaston. The trading of Anquan Boldin has him ready to step up. It all depends on how well the QB play is in Arizona this year, but he has the skill to be big.
Proceed with caution: Here are some guys that I will throw warning labels on. Some of these guys may glitter, but they may not be gold:
Braylon Edwards, Jets: I was a huge backer of Edwards for years, but the Jets run it way to much and they use a short field. QB Mark Sanchez is still learning the pro game, and soon enough Santonio Holmes will be suspension free and ready to take looks away from him. He may have a very mediocre year.
Devery Henderson, Saints: He has been a good free agent slot filler the last few years, but now Robert Meacham has emerged and Henderson is hurt way to often to be a guy you think highly of on draft day. He has good tools, but hey a lot of mechanics who can’t fix a flat do too.
Dwayne Bowe, Chiefs: This hurts me very much to say as I have always been a big fan of Bowes, but coach Todd Haley has little faith in him, and I have little faith in Matt Cassel. 2 years ago he caught 86 balls, last year just 47 and was suspended 4 games as well. If he is around late, you give it a shot, but don’t jump too soon.
Sleepers: Some guys in your league may not know, but you will!
Early Doucet, Cardinals: 14 catches and 145 yards in 2 playoff games last year was huge, and we know that Boldin is gone. He will start the season in Steve Breaston’s old role, but may be taking his new role soon enough.
Malcolm Floyd, Chargers: If Vincent Jackson leaves he gets more action, and can do something with it. His numbers almost double every year, he’s big and strong and can be a super steal here.
Chaz Schillens, Raiders: No, I am not crazy. Wonderful speed and a 6 foot 4 inch frame, plus a more experienced QB in Jason Campbell have me feeling he can be Oakland’s top guy, which has to stand for something, even in round 14.
Brian Hartline, Dolphins: I may be the only backer of this guy, but if you read my articles you can thank me later. Ted Ginn Jr. is gone, Davonne Bess is not a big end zone threat and Greg Camarillo is, well Greg Camarillo. Hartline can benefit from all this plus the addition of Brandon Marshall. I won’t say get him anywhere before round 13 or 14, but he is much better then a second kicker for your roster, trust me here.
Alright people, it is getting closer and closer to draft days for many, so keep up with my stuff and get ready for the 4th installment which will be Tight Ends. Thanks again for reading!
If you’d like to hear anything else from me on topics or ideas I can be reached at [email protected]
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