Friday, July 6, 2012

2012 Wide Receiver Rankings

Yeah, that's right. I'm posting my Fantasy Football Wide Receiver rankings before my running back rankings. Didn't see that coming, did you? I like to keep you on your toes. You don't know me.

So, here we go, your receivers. Your true number one guys drop off around number 12. The second tier is rolling about 20 deep though. And after that it is all sleepers with tons of upside.

I marked my sleepers, but you kids know that I will be giving you a separate list of them shortly. Also, since I know my audience so well, I've saved you all that time of scrolling by conveniently placing links to all my rankings on the right column. You're welcome.

Let's do this...

  1. Calvin Johnson – Duh. 1,681 yards last year and no sign of slowing down. Didn't have many receivers to help him out, but I expect Titus Young to step up big. He's going at number six overall, and while I've never drafted a receiver in the first round, I guess there is a first time for everything. Let's just cross our fingers that Stafford can stay healthy again and that curses are just in everyone's imagination.
  2. Greg Jennings – He's the favorite target of the best quarterback in the NFL. There is still no running game to speak of in Green Bay, so expect the same attack as last year. Jennings has others competing for receptions, so you can't really say that there is upside there, but there is also no downside at all really.
  3. Larry Fitzgerald – It is nothing short of phenomenal that he can put up the numbers that he does with the talent around him that he has. Even with crap quarterback play last year, far-from-enviable running back performance and no second receiver to take pressure off him, Fitz still managed 1,411 yards and 8 scores. Doubting that he can do it again would be insulting. And I am a gentleman.
  4. Roddy White – With all the hype surrounding Julio Jones, Green is pretty cheap in the mid-4th round. He's as solid as receivers come, consistent receptions, touchdowns and yardage every season. Those numbers are all likely to fade a bit from his last five seasons, but he is still a top fantasy option. And in the third round he is the safest pick you'll make all year.. I can see the trophy now.
  5. Wes Welker – So under appreciated. He's constantly putting up incredible numbers, and still rarely listed very high on draft boards. This season is different. He is going earlier than I've ever seen him, meaning that everyone finally has some sense. In the last 5 years, he has broken 100 receptions four times, 1,100 yards four times, 9 touchdowns four times. He's PPR gold and nothing to sneeze at in standard leagues either.

  6. Andre Johnson – He's become a question mark. Two straight seasons hampered by injury. While his 2010 campaign didn't suffer as much, last year he left all of his owners very unhappy. He's a high risk pick, but he also has huge reward. He's got a good quarterback, an awesome running attack to support him, and you have to think that someone is going to finally fulfill that WR2 role. Don't expect the 1,500 yard glory days, but having a top 5 season is not out of the question.
  7. Brandon Marshall – Six straight season with more than 80 receptions and 1,000 yards. Even with a terrible quarterback, Marshall makes things happen. Now he is back with his old buddy Jay Cutler and it's hard to imagine that big things won't come of it. He's the sixth receiver going off the boards, so lots of people like the upside. I'm one of them. No reason to think he won't match or exceed last seasons numbers.
  8. Victor Cruz – I was shocked to see him lasting til the 3rd round in most mocks. While he should not be reaching his performance from last season, he will still be fighting with Nicks for New York Giant supremacy, you can double them both. I'd like to pair him with another top receiver if I get him. Hell, I actually think that having both him and Nicks on the same fantasy team might be beneficial. And if you have a late 3rd round pick with an early 4th, you could make that a possiblity. Bye Week strategy, anyone?
  9. A.J. Green – Every single week last year I thought defenses would be able to slow Green and Dalton down. And it never really seemed to happen. He's low-risk, high-upside and hands down the best weapon on the Bengals. His success lies heavily in the hands of Dalton. If Dalton doesn't slump, Green could have one of the best years for any receiver... I'm even talking about you, Megatron.
  10. Dez Bryant – It's high time he breaks out. Two seasons in the NFL, still hasn't broken 1,000 yards or 65 receptions in a season. Broke his leg in his rookie season and suffered with injury all year long in 2011. If he can stay on the field (and his coaches decide that he should not be on special teams), this year will be his breakout. Should be. He's going in the early 4th, and is a bit of a risk, but the reward is there.
  11. Julio Jones – One of the best deep threats in the league, and only in his second year. I think that Roddy still edges him out in overall production, but that doesn't mean Jones can't act as a borderline WR1 on your fantasy team. His yardage, touchdown total and reception numbers should all go up. You have to imagine that Gonzo will lose productivity at some point this year.
  12. Hakeem Nicks – With Manningham out of the picture, that is one less person to compete with. Rookie Reuben could step up, but shouldn't have the same effect. The emergence of Cruz has opened up a lot of opportunities for him. Add the fact that the Giants are a pass-happy team now, and Nicks should break his numbers from last season. Plus, because of the attention around Cruz, Nicks is going cheap in the 4th round. Huge value pick here for a potential top 10 receiver.
  13. Mike Wallace – An elite threat on a passing team. But contract issues make him pretty much a no fly zone for me. If things get sorted out, he should definitely get over the 1,000 yard mark, but I still don't plan on touching him. Currently he is falling in the last 3rd and early 4th. For much less risk I can grab Dez Bryant, Hakeem Nicks, Jordy Nelson or Marques Colston there.
  14. Jordy Nelson – Extremely doubtful that he will close in on last year's numbers, but with Jennings taking most of the heat, and Rodgers throwing the ball, Nelson is going to have success. Don't expect to get him at the same value this year though, he's going in the early 4th round.
  15. Steve Smith – After a numbing 550 yard 2010 season, we all pretty much wrote him off. He was being drafted in the 8th round or later. Not anymore. Smith blew up right along side Cam Newton. His production slowed down late in the season as defenses figured the team out. He'll have awesome games, but those will be balanced with some pretty lack-luster ones. You're going to want another marquee receiver, just in case.
  16. Marques Colston – Still has a lot of competition to get looks, but he is still Drew Brees's favorite target. In only one of his last five seasons has he had less than 1,000 yards and that was because of injury. If his track record means anything, he'll probably be hurt at some point, but still put up the solid numbers that make him one of the best fantasy football WR2s in recent memory.
  17. Miles Austin – Will he be the number one or the number two on the Cowboys? Will he continue to suffer from injuries? Did he get figured out? He's going to have to have some strong showings to get back in fantasy football good graces, but no reason he can't do that. And if Dez Bryant can be the receiver Dallas thought he could be, then Austin could open up even more.
  18. Percy Harvin – Career highs last year and played every game despite being questionable for about.. all of them. He'll do better if one of the new Vikings WRs can step up and take coverage off him. There's a lot on his shoulders this year, but he should near 1,000 yards.
  19. Kenny Britt – Absolutely untouchable in his two games last year before the ACL tear. He says he's good to go and is sure to lead the Titans in every receiving category. With 17 receptions, 289 yards and 3 scores in less than three games last year, its hard to say no. Just hope that the aging Hasselbeck or inexperienced Locker will be able to get it to him.
  20. Demaryius Thomas – In all likelihood, Denver will by moving far far away from a run-first offense. Health is the key with Thomas, but as the number one receiver on a team led by the Peyton Manning, it's a risk worth taking. Tons of upside here. ADP is in round four though as many are listing him as a big time sleeper.
  21. Dwayne Bowe – Likely to break 1,000 yards, and should get more TDs than last year. Not the 15 that made us all excited in 2010 though. He definitely will not hurt your team, but you are going to want at least one higher ranked receiver on your fantasy squad.
  22. Jeremy Maclin – We all saw Philly start clicking at the end of last season. If momentum continues and Maclin can keep up his numbers alongside DeSean Jackson, there could be some big time numbers for the Eagles receiver.

  23. Steve Johnson – Buffalo seems to be healthy again, and we were all shocked by what we saw last season when they were all on the field at the same time. If ol’ Fitzzy can make good decisions, Johnson might turn some heads.

  24. Brandon Lloyd – Lloyd didn’t put up in St. Louis, but we all still remember him from his breakout year with the Broncos. If Lloyd can return close to those numbers, the Patriots offense will be disgusting. They might just abandon the run entirely.

  25. DeSean Jackson – Too much drama for my taste. I like having people on my fantasy team that I can cheer for. I just can’t bring myself to root for this guy. I’d rather have Maclin.

  26. Vincent Jackson – Buccaneers have a very new look. I think as long as Mike Williams can bounce back so Jackson doesn’t have triple coverage every down, Jackson could definitely put up some numbers. Here’s hoping Josh Freeman has matured this year.

  27. Eric Decker – The first of the sleepers. He’s still technically behind Demaryius Thomas, but I think he has more receptions. It’s a toss-up to guess which receiver will be Peyton Manning’s favorite, but I wouldn’t be shocked if Decker comes out on top.

  28. Sidney Rice – I’m excited to see if Matt Flynn amounts to anything as a starter. Will he be what we saw in Week 17 last year, or will he be what we saw from Cassel once he left New England? Either way, Rice benefits. Definitely the best receiver in Seattle.

  29. Torrey Smith – Numbers should rival last season’s as his stats eclipse those of his counterpart, Anquan Boldin. Smith could be a jewel in the mid to late rounds at receiver.

  30. Antonio Brown – Without Mendenhall, the Steelers might go to the air even more than they did last season. And there are no better deep threats in the NFL than the ones in Pittsburgh. Won’t shine every week, but will have a handful of spectacular ones.

  31. Robert Meachum – Likely to become the best wideout in San Diego this year. Depends a lot on chemistry and if Philip Rivers actually completes more passes to players with lightning on their helmets than to the opposing secondary. Unfortunately, that is a pretty big if.

  32. Reggie Wayne – He has to bounce back from last season. I expect to see his name start creeping back up Fantasy Big Boards this year. Just don’t expect yardage to reach four digits.

  33. Santonio Holmes – His only real competition for receptions is the rookie, Stephen Hill. Holmes is always a bit of a question mark, and the QB situation for the Jets doesn’t help.

  34. Anquan Boldin – I doubt there is a receiver that I want to see succeed more than Boldin. Unfortunately, Ray Rice is the star of the show. Torrey Smith is likely the better fantasy option for the Ravens.

  35. Denarius Moore – Probably the most consistent receiver for the Raiders. But that is an awful lot like reaching into a bag of M&Ms and saying that the one you grab is probably the biggest.

  36. Pierre Garcon – Should be the best in Washington. But a lot remains to be seen. That offense will nothing but a migraine for fantasy owners all year. Damn you, Shanahan.

  37. Malcom Floyd – Chargers have a lot of receivers, and a running back that they want to showcase a lot more this season. I’d like to have three better receivers on my squad though.

  38. Titus Young – A player that I want to have higher on the list. I think he beats out Burleson, and I have a theory about him that I will surely get to in another post. Keep an eye out. He is my biggest WR sleeper this year.

  39. Greg Little – The only Brown other than Trent Richardson that should be drafted in a fantasy league this year. But still nothing more than a bye week filler.

  40. Darrius Heyward-Bey – Oakland’s receiving corps is a mess. Heyward-Bey will be pretty much the same as last year, some great weeks, and others where he doesn’t record a catch. Expect a headache.

  41. Michael Floyd – At this point, he is my pick to be the top WR rookie this season. Pretty much a lock for the starting role opposite Larry Fitzgerald. Let’s just see if he has a quarterback that can get it to him. We all know how receivers not named Fitz worked out last year for the Cards.

  42. Lance Moore – Meachem is out. Moore goes up for me. There are a lot of parties fighting for the ball in New Orleans, but Moore showed that he is as deserving as any of them. I’ll pick him up in a late round without thinking twice.

  43. Mike Williams – I think we’ll see the best of him now that he has fallen to a 2nd receiver role. Vincent Jackson will take the pressure leaving Williams to work his magic. These definitely aren’t your 2011 Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

  44. Mario Manningham – My favorite to be the best receiver in San Fran. The 49ers have a few options, but Manningham should be motivated enough to earn the most fantasy points. He’s a risk still though. Gotta see how preseason shakes out.

  45. Justin Blackmon – Should be the best rookie this year, but couldn’t have landed in a worse spot. Even as the only NFL rookie starting as a WR1 on his team, I doubt that he has the best fantasy season of first-year receivers. I’d be all over him in dynasty leagues though.

  46. Brian Hartline – I like him a bit. Even more in PPR leagues. It’s gotta be either him or Bess. Handing off to Reggie Bush every down doesn’t seem like a great strategy.

  47. Nate Washington – Still owns the number two spot on the Titans. Just wish that the QB was more certain. Should have been better once Britt went down last year.

  48. Alshon Jeffery – He’ll take over the number two spot. And when Marshall is getting doubled every down, we could be hearing his name quite a bit. Cutler is a wild card though.

  49. Brian Quick – I like him stepping up into the Rams’ number one spot. No way they can be worse than last year. Right?

  50. Vincent Brown – Chargers suddenly have a lot of weapons at receiver. Whether I want him or not depends on what I see in the preseason.

  51. Doug Baldwin – Yawn. I personally won’t be seeking out any Seahawks receiver besides Rice. But to each his own.

  52. Michael Crabtree – I can’t have him as my highest 49er receiver. I just can’t. It depends on where he lands on the depth chart, I just imagine that Manningham will be more successful. Hell, based on Crabtree’s blah past, even Moss could turn out better.

  53. Reuben Randle – Giants have had three successful receivers in the past. With Manningham gone, no reason that the rookie can’t step up. Giants throw it a ton and if there is an injury at all, his stock jumps way up.

  54. Brandon LaFell – I want to put him higher. Much higher, but this is a list. It’s meant to be a bit safe. A guideline, if you will. I’ve got him pegged as a big time sleeper. Defenses will be playing both Newton and Smith differently this year, and LaFell could benefit hugely. Could.
  55. Laurent Robinson – I’ve got a feeling that someone will jump on him too early. He was great as a starter for the Cowboys. But as a starter for the Jaguars? I wouldn’t bet on it.

  56. Santana Moss – Ugly last year, pretty damn solid in the past though. But this year the Redskins’ receiving lineup is as messy as their running back corps. Gamble.

  57. Nate Burleson – He knows that Titus Young will take over his number two spot. Doesn’t mean he won’t try to prevent it. Definitely a position battle to watch this preseason.

  58. Davone Bess – Doubt Ochocinco pans out. Bess and Hartline are all Miami has to work with. Someone has to catch the ball, right?

  59. Kendall Wright – Fighting with Nate Washington. Gotta see how training camp and preseason pan out. I think he would be a great match opposite Britt.

  60. Jerome Simpson – I predict he starts but loses his number one spot. Vikings have blocking now though, and Peterson is a big question mark. Vikings could be passing a bit more. And if Percy gets more headaches, you get an NFL starting number one receiver on the cheap. Worth a late round look.

  61. Austin Collie – We’ll see what Luck can do. With Garcon out of the picture, Collie could actually be a pretty good option. Bit of a safety net for the rookie.

  62. Randy Moss – Two schools of though. 1) He’ll revive his career one last time. 2) He’ll bust again. I’m on the bust bandwagon.

  63. Stephen Hill – Nothing standing in his way of being the WR2 to Holmes. I’m not a big fan of owning rookie receivers, but in deep leagues I’d be happy to keep him on my bench, just in case.

  64. Jon Baldwin – Let down last year, but has no competition to speak of. All depends on Cassel. He better get more than 250 yards though.

  65. David Nelson – Has competition that might spark a fire under him.

  66. James Jones – Crowded field of wide receivers. Think he might be phased out sooner than later.

  67. Greg Childs – If he heals up from his college injury, I can easily see him at number two behind Harvin. I own him in my crazy deep league. I’ll be rooting for him.

  68. Lestar Jean – Houston got a number of rookie WRs trying to find a WR2 for Andre Johnson. Jean is my pick for top contender for that starting spot. We’ll see if he can do anything with it though. Sleeper alert.

  69. Eddie Royal – I’ve got sleeper status on him. He’s got a lot of competition though with Meachem, Floyd and Brown. Wouldn’t surprise me if he rose to the top though. Keep an eye out.

  70. Danny Amendola – Could return after big injury. Great reception numbers if nothing else.

  71. Josh Morgan – Skins have a lot of middle-of-the-road WRs. Time will tell which ones stand out. I like the other options better though at this point.

  72. Earl Bennett – I think the rookie takes his WR2 spot. But if the offense starts to click, he could be worth it. Rather have him than Hester.

  73. Devery Henderson – Meachem leaving helps him out. Still fighting for catches with Graham, Colston, Moore and Sproles.

  74. Kevin Walter – Nothing more than ordinary in past few years. Likely to be pushed out by an up and comer.

  75. Deion Branch – Time is running out. But he didn’t slow down last year. Lloyd > Ochocinco however.
  76. Randall Cobb – Put on a show in Week 1. Only doable for deep leagues and return yardage though. Packers have too many weapons.

  77. Mohamed Sanu – Depends on who the Bengals announce as their starters. Could see time as A.J. Green is the only lock on that WR roster.

  78. T.J. Graham – I can see him starting. David Nelson, Bills WR2 last year didn’t do much. Another great rookie sleeper here.

  79. Chad Ochocinco – I think he’s about finished. Kind of a wait and see.

  80. Jacoby Ford – Potential to have a couple serious games. Oakland is too crowded and he’s fighting to be WR3.


  1. In a keeper league, got QB covered with Stafford in the 5th round. I'm also locking down Julio Jones in the 6th round. For my final spot do I keep Wes Welker for a 3rd round pick, or Antonio Brown in an 11th round pick? Or should I just go with the two?

  2. I love your write up on A.J. Green. I have him in an auction/keeper league for $3. I agree a lot rests on the arm of Dalton but he was a beast for me last year week in and week out.

  3. This is awesome, you clearly spent a lot of time on this, so thanks for that! Really glad you agree with me on the Mario Manningham situation. I think he'll easily take the #1 spot from Crabtree and in the mocks I've been doing he usually goes about 2 rounds later. Do you think having Manningham, Crabtree, and Moss will make Vernon Davis a dud this year?

  4. This is tough for me. Welker will have the better season I'm sure, but I love the value of Brown there. I'd keep Welker with the number three. Then hope you can grab a couple elite RBs in your first two rounds. I'm not claiming to be the best expert on keeper leagues, but this is just what I'd do.

  5. He's just one of those guys. He'll be consistent every year and will absolutely break out sometime very soon. $3 is ridiculous. Congrats

  6. Thank you. I try to put out content that I would like to read, so that means a lot. Everything that I'm reading out of San Fran is saying that they believe Moss is their number one guy. It'll be one of those two, I don't think Crabtree will get all that much done, personally. I think that it will actually clear up Davis in a way. Last season, and pretty much every year he has been in the league, he has essentially been the 49ers number one target. Now he has far more WR help than he has ever had, meaning less time getting doubled.

  7. I have been running a few mocks and trying to get my rankings in order and I keep coming across picking up Greg Jennings and then seeing Jordy Nelson sitting there waiting for me when my turn comes around again. Other options are there but I feel like Nelson has been the best "overall" choice. My question would be, do you see a problem having two GB WR starting for you? My gut is saying why the hell not because it is Aaron Rodgers after all and he's gonna throw (I realize I'm stating the obvious).

  8. I have absolutely no problem with it. Rodgers throw 300+ per game. His two best WRs have to get 150-200 per game. Not too shabby, and it's essentially guaranteed.

    Teams like the the Packers, Giants, Eagles, even the Patriots that have two great WRs.. if you can have them both, I see no reason to pass it up.

    And you don't have to feel that terrible feeling of owning Nelson and watching Jennings have a brilliant game.