Fantasy Football Early Top Tens: Wide Receiver
We are back at iCon with the early wide receiver rankings for this season. The wide receivers are having a battle between the old guard and the new guard in most people's rankings this year. I am an avid supporter of youth on the wideout market this season and this fantastic article by Frank Dupont today sold me even more. Let's check out my early top ten:
1. Calvin Johnson (DET) - The easy number one choice here in my opinion. If the biggest problem you have with drafting a guy is that he is on the cover of Madden, then you don't have a problem at all. He is capable of producing 100 yards or a TD in every game and that is just not something you encounter often in the realm of wide receivers. If Matt Stafford takes any kind of step forward, things could get scary good, scary fast.
2. Larry Fitzgerald (ARI) - Fitzgerald has been one of the top 2 or 3 real wide receivers in the NFL, but with the exception of the Kurt Warner era in Arizona, his quarterbacks have held him back from his fantasy potential. A guy with glue hands and the ability to get the ball in traffic should benefit greatly from the drafting of Malcolm Floyd to play opposite him out wide.
3. Andre Johnson (HOU) - This is the one old timer that I stuck with. The bad news - Johnson is entering his age 31 season and had to deal with a flurry of injury problems last year. The good news - He is still going to be the focal point of the Houston passing offense and there is no heir apparent on the roster after Jacoby Jones failed to pan out (not for lack of add/drops by us fantasy owners). Johnson has never posted a double-digit touchdown season, but also has generally been a lock for 8 TDs. In my opinion, this pick comes down to the health of Johnson and QB Matt Schaub and not much else.
4. Percy Harvin (MIN) - This is where things get interesting. Harvin was a huge disappointment for the first half of last season as he went criminally underutilized as the third receiver in the Vikings pedestrian offense. In the second half of the season however, Harvin come on strong as he garnered over 11 touches per game resulting in averages of 103.2 yards and 1.1 TDs per game after Week 9. Harvin will have another year of working with QB Christian Ponder and a much less explosive Adrian Peterson to take touches away. Harvin will likely be the guy that explodes out of the gate this season.
5. Julio Jones (ATL) - I have basically flopped Julio Jones and Roddy White in my rankings over the offseason. Jones was highly impressive as a rookie last season, but had problems with injuries. All the while, Roddy White put up numbers due to high target totals in many of the games Jones missed despite struggling with drops for most of the year. He finished 5th in points per game last season among WRs and I expect that to continue as long as he remains on the field.
6. Steve Smith (CAR) - Smith had a major bounce back campaign last year due to the addition of a quarterback, Cam Newton, who could actually get him the ball down the field. Despite his size, Smith has always had a propensity to come down with the ball in traffic and that fits Newton's play style perfectly. If a few of Newton's rushing TDs regress to the more common passing TDs, Smith could be in for another huge season.
7. Dez Bryant (DAL) - Bryant is the kind of talent I love at WR. Big, fast, physical and runs after the catch. He reminds me a ton of Terrell Owens in the fact that he doesn't have the best hands in the world, but he still needs to be force fed the ball due to his run after the catch ability and red zone presence. However, one trait he lacks that TO had is work ethic. As I am writing this I am hearing reports of how overweight Bryant is coming into OTAs. Hopefully, for us and him, he can get this under control before training camp.
8. A.J. Green (CIN) - Green is maybe the most physically gifted and talented receiver in the NFL that is not named Calvin Johnson and he showed that to everyone in his rookie year. He averaged a fantastic 7.7 targets per game last season and the Bengals have the same offensive coordinator and quarterback, while making mostly lateral changes to the receiving core. Look for the Bengals to find new ways to get him the ball this season.
9. Wes Welker (NE) - Welker fell this far due to the combination of age, his contract situation at the moment as well as the additions the Patriots made in the passing game. I still expect him to lead the Patriots in catches this season and is highly likely to get to 100 again, but he won't be flying by it like he has in some recent seasons. The Pats just have too many weapons right now.
10. Jeremy Maclin (PHI) - Maclin is one of many Eagles I am high on this season. Of course their is the injury risk of Michael Vick at quarterback, but when he is healthy, the Eagles are one of, if not the most, explosive offenses in the NFL. Maclin missed most of training camp last season while battling illness and had other injury woes throughout the season that have kept his draft stock low, but he clearly seems to be the preferred option as the go-to wideout of Michael Vick when he is on the field.
Just outside, but looking in anxiously: Brandon Marshall, Hakeem Nicks, Roddy White, Victor Cruz