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Fantasy Football: WR Rankings (1-24)

Larry Fitzgerald had a tough year in 2012, but could rebound in a big way with Bruce Arians and Carson Palmer joining him in the desert

Larry Fitzgerald had a tough year in 2012, but could rebound in a big way with Bruce Arians and Carson Palmer joining him in the desert

  1. Calvin Johnson, DET – Megatron nearly topped 2,000 yards last season and is poised for another monster year. The Lions throw the ball a ton and Johnson is the only elite pass catcher on the roster. He will see close to 200 targets and should cash in on many of them due to his immense talent. He’s worth a top 5 pick in fantasy drafts.
  2. A.J. Green, CIN – Green established himself as one of the top receivers in the game in 2012 and Andy Dalton will continue to feed him the ball. He’s far and away the most talented offensive player on Cincinnati’s roster and his combination of opportunity and talent makes him an enticing second round possibility in fantasy drafts.
  3. Brandon Marshall, CHI – Marshall has fantastic chemistry with Jay Cutler and should once again eat up a huge percentage of the Bears’ targets. With offensive guru Marc Trestman in as head coach, Marshall’s fantasy outlook looks very bright. He’s neck-and-neck with A.J. Green as fantasy’s second-best WR.
  4. Dez Bryant, DAL – In his third season in the league, Dez Bryant finally figured out how to maximize his physical gifts. He’s now clearly above Miles Austin on Dallas’ totem pole and has a penchant for getting into the end zone. Bryant’s numbers should dip a bit as Dallas leans more on the running game, but 1,200 yards and double digit TDs are reasonable expectations for #88.
  5. Demaryius Thomas, DEN – Thomas has a lot more competition for catches than the players ahead of him on this list, but he should still have a great season. He will have plenty of chances to score and figures to dominate a lot of single coverage on the outside. 94 catches for 1,434 yards is a bit far-fetched, but Thomas’ size and role on a prolific offense makes him a WR1.
  6. Roddy White, ATL – Despite sharing the ball with Julio Jones and Tony Gonzalez, White topped 1,300 yards last season. He has never missed a game in 8 NFL seasons and his QB play is as steady as it gets. While there are no sure things in fantasy, White is pretty close.
  7. Julio Jones, ATL – Jones has more upside than his teammate Roddy White due to his big-play ability, but has some minor durability concerns. Atlanta has to spread the wealth, so don’t expect more than 75 or 80 catches from Jones, but he makes the most of his touches (15.2 ypc, 10 TD in 2012). He’s a WR1.
  8. Andre Johnson, HOU – Injuries are always a concern with Johnson, but he has survived a 16 game schedule 3 of the last 5 years now. In those 3 seasons, he has logged 100+ catches every time. Houston is a run-first offense, but Johnson will have plenty of opportunities to catch the ball as the clear-cut #1 target for Matt Schaub. The only major drawback is that he has never scored double digit TDs in a season.
  9. Vincent Jackson, TB – Jackson doesn’t have the possession WR qualities that PPR owners covet, but in standard formats, he could repeat as a WR1. In 2012, he posted an absurd 19.2 ypc average and is always a major red zone threat. His ability to stretch the field and score TDs make him a low-end WR1.
  10. Larry Fitzgerald, ARZ – After an absolutely miserable 2012 campaign, it’s a good time to buy low on Fitzgerald. He has a slight QB upgrade in Carson Palmer, but more importantly, he will be playing in Bruce Arians’ system. In 2012, Reggie Wayne bounced back from a tough year in the aggressive, pass-happy attack and posted 106 catches for 1,355 yards. Fitz could definitely approach those numbers.
  11. Jordy Nelson, GB – Nelson was on pace for a second consecutive 1,200 yard season before injuring his hamstring in 2012. With Greg Jennings gone, Nelson will have even more opportunity to produce. He has never been the most consistent or most PPR-friendly player, but he can rack up yardage in bunches and scoring potential is always high in Green Bay. Don’t sleep on Nelson as a borderline WR1.
  12. Marques Colston, NO – Colston is finally shedding his injury prone label after missing only 3 games in the past 4 seasons. He has posted at least 70 catches, 1,000 yards, and 7 TDs in each of the last 4 seasons, so he is clearly a safe pick as a WR2.
  13. Victor Cruz, NYG – After an absurd 2011 season, Cruz’ 2012 numbers are far more repeatable. He’s one of Eli Manning’s favorite targets, but the 18.7 ypc average he posted in 2011 won’t happen again because he was used as more of a possession slot WR instead of a vertical threat last season. TD potential is there, making him a top-end WR2.
  14. Dwayne Bowe, KC – Andy Reid and Alex Smith should give Bowe a chance to post career highs in 2013, and Bowe himself expects to lead the league in receiving. While that’s far-fetched, he’s clearly the Chiefs’ go-to receiver and is a good bet to reach 80 catches. He won’t have as many scoring opportunities as Colston or Cruz, but he has always been a good red zone weapon. He’s a high-end WR2.
  15. Antonio Brown, PIT – With Mike Wallace gone and Heath Miller hurt, Ben Roethlisberger figures to call Brown’s number a lot. Brown has an outside shot at breaking the 100 catch mark, but he doesn’t have a nose for the end zone. He’s undervalued as a high-upside WR2.
  16. Hakeem Nicks, NYG – If it weren’t for his scary injury history, I would list Nicks as a WR1. He’s Eli Manning’s favorite target, especially in the red zone, and could post 10+ TDs. He’s worth the risk as a WR2.
  17. Torrey Smith, BAL – Smith will be counted on to be more of a complete receiver in 2013 after being the lightning to Anquan Boldin’s thunder for the early part of his career. Expect career highs across the board, although Smith has never proven he can produce like a true #1.
  18. Danny Amendola, NE – I love Amendola in PPR leagues, but he’s still a solid WR2 in standard formats. He’s in line to inherit the 240 catches, 2,923 yards, and 15 TDs Wes Welker posted over the past two years and then some. With Aaron Hernandez gone and Rob Gronkowski recovering from back surgery, Amendola will have to help compensate for a lot of lost production. He probably won’t score too many TDs and injuries are always a concern, but he’s well worth a gamble as a WR2.
  19. Steve Smith, CAR – Though he’s 34-years-old, Smith is still playing at a high level and returns as Cam Newton’s favorite target. He doesn’t score very often, but the 75 catches and 1,200 yards I expect of him still make him a legit WR2.
  20. Eric Decker, DEN – Decker can’t be any better than the third WR on Denver’s stacked offense, which really hurts his upside. I don’t like his chances of topping 1,000 yards, but the 13 TDs he scored last year are no fluke. Any big body who catches passes from Peyton Manning has a chance to cross the goal line a lot.
  21. Reggie Wayne, IND – Wayne had a great year in 2012, but don’t expect a repeat. He will turn 35 during the season, and he will start to slow down at some point. With Bruce Arians leaving for Arizona, Wayne will have to adjust to a less WR-friendly system as well. He’s a low-end WR2 who will do better in PPR formats.
  22. Randall Cobb, GB – Cobb is being overrated after bursting onto the fantasy scene in 2012. He’s an explosive slot WR who should catch around 90 balls, but his ypc average won’t be anything special and he probably won’t score 9 times again. After Green Bay drafted Eddie Lacy and Johnathan Franklin, Cobb won’t be lining up in the backfield as much. Bump him up in PPR and return yardage leagues, but he’s a low-end WR2 in standard formats.
  23. Percy Harvin, SEA – Don’t buy the hype that Harvin will get double digit touches every week. Seattle only got Sidney Rice 52 touches through 16 games last year, and while Harvin is more versatile, the notion that he will catch 100 passes borders on ridiculous. Minnesota had nobody better than Harvin to throw the ball to, but Seattle has to spread it around to Sidney Rice, Zach Miller, Golden Tate, and others. Keep in mind that Seattle is a slow-paced, run-first offense. Harvin is nothing more than a borderline WR2.
  24. Mike Wallace, MIA – Wallace has never caught more than 72 passes in a season despite being a #1 target for most of his career, but his receiving average still makes him a productive fantasy player. He should top 1,000 yards for the third time in his career, but after Brian Hartline only scored once in 2012, nobody knows whether or not Wallace will be able to find the end zone.

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