7 weeks are in the books on the 2011 fantasy season, and still some questions remain pertaining to the Wide Receiver Position. Which Denver WR will break out with Tim Tebow at QB, Thomas or Decker? Can Andre Johnson come back in time to help his fantasy owners? Can any New Orleans Wideout not named Colston be trusted? Are the rookie WR's (A.J. Green, Greg Little, Julio Jones) for real? Hopefully we can put some clarity on these situations and help catapult your squad into the playoffs.
Before we dive into the rankings and answer the above questions, how about a few Facts and Flukes from last week?
Pittsburgh's Antonio Brown leads the Steelers with 7 catches and and a career-high 102 yards in a 32-20 win over Arizona. FACT. I know, I know. You and I can play better defense than the Arizona Cardinals can, but this game was a result of opportunity. Hines Ward suffered an ankle injury, and Mike Wallace was constantly covered (although he had a 95-yard touchdown and 118 yards). This led to Brown leading the team in catches and a chance to wreak havoc on another crappy secondary, the Patriots, in week 8. Brown is a better talent than Emmanuel Sanders, and will score his first touchdown of the season as early as this coming week.
Plaxico Burress of the Jets ties a career-high scoring 3 touchdowns in comeback victory over San Diego. FLUKE. The time is now to trade Burress; his stock won't get any higher than it is right now. Coming into the game, Burress had 14 catches and only 2 touchdowns in a run-heavy offense. At best, Burress is the third target in the passing game behind Santonio Holmes and Dustin Keller. On the other hand, Plax is the clear red-zone target in that offense, but it will be tough to predict which weeks he will score. I'd sell after the bye week.
More after the jump...
In an otherwise ugly game, Oakland's Darrius Heyward-Bey leads the Raiders with 5 catches and 89 yards in 28-0 blowout loss to the Chiefs. FACT. I have to admit I was dead wrong in doubting Heyward-Bey (I wasn't the only one, right? Right?!). A few weeks ago I wrote about his performance and asked him to prove it. 4 games of at least 82 receiving yards later, Heyward-Bey is laughing. He is finally going over the middle to catch balls and is the #1 target in the passing game. Expect Carson Palmer to familiarize himself with the Offense during the bye, and DHB will continue to be a WR2 all season long.
In a lopsided 34-7 win over the Rams, Miles Austin of Dallas is nowhere to be found with 2 catches and 16 yards. FLUKE. The flow of the game allowed the Cowboys to run, run and run some more. Rookie DeMarco Murray went insane with a Cowboys record 253 rushing yards, so Tony Romo simply did not air it out. Romo had 2 red zone tosses to Jason Witten and Dez Bryant, but Austin's rapport with Romo is dynamic. To put it bluntly, Wide Receivers are bound to have duds like this, even #1 WR's. Austin gets a pass and will be back to normal against Philadelphia this week.
Don't Panic On: Vincent Jackson, Miles Austin
Fold: Saints WR's not named "Marques"
Rankings are below, and please let me know if you have any questions or concerns with the list. You can follow me on Twitter or ask any questions there.
A few notes regarding the opening paragraph and the ranks below:
-It appears that Demaryius Thomas, and not leading Denver WR Eric Decker, is the main beneficiary of Tim Tebow taking over for Kyle Orton. I thought Thomas would be eased into action, but Tebow targeted him on a team-high 10 times out of 27 attempts in an ultra-conservative game-plan. Decker was only targeted 3 times, and his style of play does not mesh well with Tebow's game.
-Andre Johnson is still nursing a sore hamstring and did not feel well after practice on Wednesday. If he plays, I'd rank him at 20 right below Boldin in case he re-injures himself as he's clearly not 100%.
-No one in the Saints receiving game can be trusted outside of the running backs, Jimmy Graham and Marques Colston. Since Colston's return from a broken collarbone, Lance Moore, Robert Meachem and Devery Henderson have all but disappeared.
-Surprisingly, rookie wide receivers are making an impact on their respective teams. A.J. Green is a top-10 WR in all formats, Julio Jones was on a roll before his injury, and Greg Little has become the #1 WR in Cleveland. Little will be streaky, but he is uber-talented. Green should continue to be a top-10 guy, and once Jones returns from the bye, he'll be a top-20 wieout each week.
-Ranking #'s 21-40 was an extremely difficult task. You could rank them in any fashion, and I'd be fine with it.
|1. Calvin Johnson||Lions||Broncos|
|2. Steve Smith||Panthers||Vikings|
|3. Wes Welker||Patriots||Steelers|
|4. Hakeem Nicks||Giants||Dolphins|
|5. Mike Wallace||Steelers||Patriots|
|6. Marques Colston||Saints||Rams|
|7. Vincent Jackson||Chargers||Chiefs|
|8. Miles Austin||Cowboys||Eagles|
|9. A.J. Green||Bengals||Seahawks|
|10. Jeremy Maclin||Eagles||Cowboys|
|11. Desean Jackson||Eagles||Cowboys|
|12. Dez Bryant||Cowboys||Eagles|
|13. Dwayne Bowe||Chiefs||Chargers|
|14. Larry Fitzgerald||Cardinals||Ravens|
|15. Steve Johnson||Bills||Redskins|
|16. Brandon Lloyd||Rams||Saints|
|17. Mario Manningham||Giants||Dolphins|
|18. Brandon Marshall||Dolphins||Giants|
|19. Anquan Boldin||Ravens||Cardinals|
|20. Antonio Brown||Steelers||Patriots|
|21. Demaryius Thomas||Broncos||Lions|
|22. Percy Harvin||Vikings||Panthers|
|23. Pierre Garcon||Colts||Titans|
|24. Greg Little||Browns||49ers|
|25. Nate Washington||Titans||Colts|
|26. Sidney Rice||Seahawks||Bengals|
|27. Michael Crabtree||49ers||Browns|
|28. Eric Decker||Broncos||Lions|
|29. Deion Branch||Patriots||Steelers|
|30. Jabar Gaffney||Redskins||Bills|
|31. David Nelson||Bills||Redskins|
|32. Victor Cruz||Giants||Dolphins|
|33. Torrey Smith||Ravens||Cardinals|
|34. Michael Jenkins||Vikings||Panthers|
|35. Malcolm Floyd||Chargers||Chiefs|
|36. Steve Breaston||Chiefs||Chargers|
|37. Reggie Wayne||Colts||Titans|
|38. Mike Thomas||Jaguars||Texans|
|39. Danario Alexander||Rams||Saints|
|40. Jerome Simpson||Bengals||Seahawks|
|41. Lance Moore||Saints||Rams|
|42. Davone Bess||Dolphins||Giants|
|43. Doug Baldwin||Seahawks||Bengals|
|44. Braylon Edwards||49ers||Browns|
|45. Early Doucet||Cardinals||Ravens|
|46. Titus Young||Lions||Broncos|
|47. Kevin Walter||Texans||Jaguars|
|48. Jacoby Jones||Texans||Jaguars|
|49. Damian Williams||Titans||Colts|
|50. Greg Salas||Rams||Saints