PITTSBURGH, PA - AUGUST 27: Roddy White #84 of the Atlanta Falcons runs after the catch against Keenan Lewis #23 of the Pittsburgh Steelers during a pre-season game on August 27, 2011 at Heinz Field in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images)
Look, you don’t have to have Roddy White as your number one receiver but there is no doubt in my mind the top wide receiver is between him, Calvin Johnson, Andre Johnson and Larry Fitzgerald. White has the least concerns between all four, and don’t tell me Julio Jones is a concern as White should see less double coverage in what will be a pass friendly offense.
What’s noticeably different from my rankings from just over a month ago is how much Reggie Wayne and Jeremy Maclin have dropped. Until Peyton Manning is on the field and I see can see that he is healthy I will be scared to draft all of the Colts receivers. With Maclin, it’s about being in game shape, and I just can’t spend a top 40-50 pick with him not being physically there.
Ladies and Gentleman, my rankings are here, tear me apart but please be gentle.
1. Roddy White – Yep, he’s still number one on my board. No receiver is safer for guaranteed numbers at the end of the season without worrying about injuries or quarterback concerns.
2. Calvin Johnson – Megatron is the real deal and it was proved last season with Shaun Hill under center. If Matthew Stafford can stay healthy for 12 game, Johnson should improve on his 1,120 receiving yard and 12 TDs.
3. Andre Johnson – Johnson was an elite receiver in 2010, but with 353 less receiving yards then the year before and three games on the sideline, some fantasy owners are wary of Johnson. Owners who skip over Johnson because of what was considered to be a down year are crazy, and if you see have fall any pick past 12 he should be pounced on immediately.
4. Larry Fitzgerald – Max Hall, John Skelton and Derek Anderson were the quarterbacks for Fitzgerald in a season where he hauled in 6 TDs and just over 1,100 yards. If Kevin Kolb is worth half the hype, Fitzgerald is good for 1,300 and 10.
5. Mike Wallace - In his first season he averaged 19.4 yards per reception and in season two he followed it up with a ridiculous 21 yards per reception. Now with Ben Roethlisberger back for a full season, Wallace in season is primed for a career year.
More Wide Receiver rankings after the jump:
6. Greg Jennings – Safe is better than sorry and that’s exactly what Jennings is. On a game to game basis it’s hard to argue with how consistent Jennings is, in an offense that caters towards big passing plays.
7. Hakeem Nicks – When I looked over my rankings, my initial reaction was that people will believe I have Nix to low. The combination of no Steve Smith (my fear of double teams) and the injuries has him outside my top 5. Saying that, Nix is a beast and I understand all of your criticism.
8. Miles Austin – Austin had a down season in 2010 with the injury to Tony Romo combined with the emergence of Dez Bryant. Austin was on pace for 106 catches and 1,555 yards before Romo got hurt, so at 8 in my rankings Austin has the upside that a lot of guys don’t.
9. DeSean Jackson – Jackson is all about big play potential and for a smaller receiver he is great in traffic. Knowing that Michael Vick is the starter, Jackson should improve on what was a slightly disappointing 2010.
10. Vincent Jackson – Once Jackson came back from his holdout the receiver didn’t miss a beat as he was Philip Rivers number one target. While San Diego is a passing offense, I do believe they will run the ball more with Ryan Mathews and Mike Tolbert. At the same time, you are staring at 1,100 yards and 10 TDs right in the face.
11. Dwayne Bowe – It might be impossible for Bowe to match his numbers from a season ago as he hauled in 15 TDs. But one season after improving on the dropped passes and another season working with Matt Cassel, Bowe could surprise everyone and be a top 5 receiver at the end of the season.
12. Brandon Marshall – No one has seen their stock drop in fantasy circuits like Marshall has going from a top 5 guy to out of the top 20 on most boards. I’m still buying Marshall as one bad season doesn’t define a career. This reminds me of Jennings after 2009 with the lack of TDs which was more bad luck than anything else.
13. Marques Colston – There is nothing sexy to see around here. Colston is a lock to go for over 1,000 yards and score anywhere between 7-9 TDs. If you don’t mind boring and consistent, Colston is your guy.
14. Reggie Wayne – Wayne is low on my list not because I am worried about his skills declining, but because I am worried about Peyton Manning being himself. Even if he starts weeks 1 at Houston, I don’t think Manning finds a groove until week five or six, and that stinks if you are relying on Wayne to be your top wide out. Wayne could be a steal, but the fantasy gem is going too early for me to take at such a high price.
16. Dez Bryant – He’s athletic, fast, and a great route runner. Bryant is the total package from a skills stand point. On any other offense he could be the number one receiving target, but his lower ranking is based on playing with Austin, and Jason Witten who will see plenty of balls thrown their way. Even with all of those weapons at Romo’s disposal, Bryant should have an excellent season and appaorach double digit TDs.
17. Brandon Lloyd - The owner who picked up Lloyd a season ago hit the jackpot as the veteran was the biggest surprise at his position. My head still has a hard time getting around the fact that before last year Lloyd for eight seasons was a disappointing/average receiver over an eight year career. With John Fox in and Josh McDaniels gone there is cause for concern and I am a fantasy owner who will likely be avoiding Lloyd on draft day.
18. Mike Williams (TB) – Williams and Josh Freeman became the darlings of the 2010 fantasy season, as they led teams to the fantasy playoffs. In his second season out of Syracuse, Williams won’t surprise anyone this season, but I’m not sure corner backs are ready for Williams will be bringing to the table. Williams is one of the best route runners in the game and is so physical that he demands double teams. My ranking might me a little low, but the second season always scares me a little bit.
19. Steve Johnson – For the first time in years a Bills receiver will be drafted before the 8th round. One of the best stories in all of football, Johnson emerged last year as a number one wide out in Chan Gaileys offense. The concern for perspective Johnson owners is Lee Evans in Baltimore, but as we can all attest to, owning Evans has gotten you nowhere in recent seasons. If you are basing Johnsons 2011 based on Evans you will surely be missing out.
20. Wes Welker – If you had to own one Patriots receiver Welker is clearly the guy. A favorite in ppr leagues, Welker has averaged 108 receptions over the last four seasons. While the TDs are certainly lacking, Welker is a guarantee to put up numbers at the end of the season that you won’t be disappointed in.
21. Mario Manningham – The opinion on Manningham from many is that this is the season he breaks out into stardom. With three touchdowns for plays that were over 50 yards it’s easy to see why there is so much hype. Now slated as the Giants number two receiver, the expectations are higher but Manning ham should have no problem living up to them.
22. Jeremy Maclin – I originally had Maclin at number 12 tinkering on the top 10, but with all of the missed practice and weight loss it’s hard to be confident in him through the first four weeks. Saying that, if you see Maclin fall past the sixth round you are talking about fantasy gold in an offense that caters to his skill set.
23. Anquan Boldin - No Derrick Mason to go along with an inconsistent Evans makes Boldin the clear number one in Baltimore. While it’s possible Boldin has lost a step between age and injuries he has the potential to be a high number two receiver on your squad. With Joe Flacco improving on an offense that can put up points, Boldin will be the likely beneficiary of red zone looks.
24. Kenny Britt – It doesn’t matter if Britt is injured, suspended or where he shouldn’t be, the guy is super talented. With an upgrade at quarterback in Matt Hasselbeck, Britt should have the best season of his pro career in 2011. Britts a deep threat who can run 10 yard outs and add on another 10 yards after the catch. Britt is your typical low risk high reward player who’s worth a gamble in the later rounds.
25. Percy Harvin – It would not surprise me to see Harvin be a standout in ppr leagues and surpass 100 receptions on the season. Harvin based on talent will become Donovan McNabbs favorite target in what appears to be the most underrated fantasy combination coming into 2011.
26. Steve Smith (CAR) - Maybe I am totally wrong, but Cam Newton has to be better then Matt Moore and Jimmy Clausen from a season ago? Smith is still Carolinas only established receiver and he should be in the top 10 in targets this season. It’s been two years season Smith was truly relevant and if he fails to show up this year this will be my last go around.
27. Plaxico Burress – After missing 2 plus seasons in prison, there is no bigger question mark in the NFL then Burress in the 2011 season. Saying that, what the Jets needed was a big red zone target, and I have a hard time believing Burress won’t score 8 TD’s this season.
28. Austin Collie – The most targeted receiver in the league last season at a whopping 82%, Collie was waiver wire gold in 2010. If it wasn’t for the concussion problem, we would have been looking at the Colts number 1 WR. He’s more talented than a lot of the guys ahead of him, but his ability to stay on the field scares me more than most.
29. Chad Ochocinco – Forget all of the off the field issues, Ochocinco is a real football player. Even at an older age, the difference between Carson Palmer and Brady will show up in the numbers at the end of the season. A new attitude and some humble pie could be what the doctor ordered for Ochocinco to return to fantasy stardom.
30. Julio Jones - The last time there was this much hype over a rookie receiver in camp was when Randy Moss was breaking the record books in 1998. Jones is coming into an offense which has the capabilities to be the best offense in football if Jones can play the Robin role to White’s Batman.
31. Braylon Edwards – Going from perennial Super Bowl contender to a borderline six win team is a big change for Edwards. In terms of fantasy, there is a downgrade a quarterback in Alex Smith who won’t be able to utilize Edwards elite ability to get down field. So why do I have him this high? When his brain is in the game, he’s a top WR in the game, so it’s possible playing in San Fran is the wakeup call he needed?
32. Mike Sims Walker – This was one of the sneakier signings of the off-season for the Rams. Giving the young Sam Bradford a 6’2 red zone target is exactly what he needs for St Louis to put more points on the board. While I don’t believe he’s a 900 yard receiver, we could be looking at 10 TD’s with Josh McDaniels calling the shots.
33. Johhny Knox - The news out of Chicago is that Bears WRs coach Darryl Drake has been impressed by Knox since being demoed early on in training camp. While Roy Williams is the bigger name, Knox is a superior talent with a similar skill set to DeSean Jackson. Let’s just call him ‘’ Diet DeSean’’ with an average of 18.8 YPC.
34. Mike Thomas - A true speedster who can catch up to a poorly thrown ball, Thomas is constantly a threat on an offense that lacks any sort of flair. The Jaguars use Thomas in all sorts of packages as he’s become the team’s best play maker. In an offense that could be down a lot, Thomas should benefit from what could become a passing offense in the second half’s of games.
35. Pierre Garcon – In 2009 Garcon went from fantasy darling to the waiver wire in 2010, even though the numbers outside of ppr leagues were very similar. Garcon finished the season hot, scoring five touchdowns in the team’s final six games. The difference between the first 10 games and the last six was Garcons route running. If Manning is healthy in 2011 and Garcon remembers the playbook he will be a late round steal.
36. A.J. Green – In Cincinnati someone is going to catch the ball, and my bet would be on Green being that guy. Jerome Simpson and Jordan Shipley are nice players, but their talents lack in comparison to the number 4 pick overall. Playing from behind, Green could be the beneficiary of some big 4th quarters.
37. Danny Amendola – Amendola broke onto the scene in 2010 with 85 catches for 689 yards. Amendola has been compared to Welker for many reasons and with McDaniels now calling the plays we could see Amendola with a bigger role in the passing game. With the ability to catch 100 Amendola could be the 2007 version of Welker.
38. Deion Branch – If Branch wasn’t in New England he wouldn’t be in my rankings, but his connection with Tom Brady is legit. Branch is a smooth slot receiver who fits the Patriots offensive attack perfectly. In 11 games with the Patriots after spending over four years in Seattle Branch racked up 706 yards and 5TD’s in 11 games.
39. Lance Moore – I’m higher on Colston then most people, but if the knee continues to act up Moore will clearly be the beneficiary. Targeted 22 times in the red zone in 2010, Moore is the perfect handcuff for a Colston owner worried about his knee acting up.
40. Michael Crabtree – Now entering his third season in the league, it’s not bust or boom in reality, but in fantasy this could be his last chance as someone to take a flier on.