Now we come to my favorite position in Fantasy Football (at least for this week), wide receivers! With the way the game is played today, receiver is clearly the deepest position in FF, but don’t let that fool you into thinking that you shouldn’t draft any until later in the draft!
Look at it this way, the top-15 receivers from last year all broke 150 points for the season in ESPN standard leagues, but only the top four broke 200. What that tells me is that receivers are a lot like quarterbacks: There are some elite ones that, barring injury, will no doubt have great seasons and should be taken early, but after them you have a lot of guys that could end the season ranked anywhere from No. 7 to No. 30.
That being said I am going to spend less time talking and give you more names this week, so enjoy/
1. Calvin Johnson 2. Demaryius Thomas 3. Dez Bryant 4. A.J. Green 5. Julio Jones 6. Brandon Marshall
If these guys finish the season without injury (or their quarterbacks getting injured) I would almost guarantee that they will be top-10 wideouts – but remember in fantasy there is no guarantee. I personally would take Julio over Green because I like Ryan more than Dalton, but coming off of injury there is always a question mark. I would be willing to take these guys in the second and third rounds depending on your league is and where you are picking.
7. Antonio Brown 8. Jordy Nelson 9. Alshon Jeffery 10. Randall Cobb 11. Andre Johnson 12. Pierre Garcon 13. Vincent Jackson
These are all outstanding players with the potential to finish as top-10 scorers this years. Just like last week these guys simply have bigger questions marks, either at quarterback (Johnson and Jackson) or they are not the only receiving threat on their team (Garcon, Jeffery, Cobb, and Nelson). These guys are clearly third and fourth round material.
14. Keenan Allen 15. Roddy White 16. Michael Crabtree 17. Victor Cruz 18. Wes Welker 19. Larry Fitzgerald 20. Desean Jackson 21. Julian Edelman 22. Cordarrelle Patterson
This is the last group that I consider to be sure-fire WR1 or WR2. There are some others who are close — T.Y. Hilton, P. Harvin, K. Wright, and M. Floyd in that order — but those guys all have question marks too big to get my sure-fire stamp of approval. All of these guys should clearly be gone by the sixth round of your draft, unless you are playing by yourself.
The fact that I had to rank more than 20 players as sure-fire, and then had to add another four as “honorable mentions” tells you something about this position, plus I already said it in the intro, it is deep.
But again I stress, decide your draft strategy before you go in and stick to it. If your plan is to get one of the top four running backs, and if they are gone then to take a quarterback, but when your turn comes up and Calvin Johnson is available then leave him there and take the quarterback like you planned beforehand. That leads me to another tip, don’t draft according to who you like in real life. If I was going to own an NFL franchise, I would not want Tony Romo or Matthew Stafford as my quarterback, but in fantasy those guys are great. So pick by the numbers, not by your gut.
There are two very exciting rookie receivers that I would not mind taking a flier on, but again don’t go and draft one of these guys in the third or fourth round.
Mike Evans- This is a guy who happens to be one of three pass-catchers over 6-foot-5 on his team. On top of that he has a quarterback who will throw jump-balls into single coverage all day long. That doesn’t make me want McCown as my QB, but it does make me very interested in Evans as a fill-in WR2/Flex.
Sammy Watkins- I said this in my rookie impact article, but for those that missed it the only thing that keeps Watkins behind Evans is weather (Buffalo vs. TB) and QB (E.J. Manuel is not exactly, “exciting”. But Watkins has speed, hands and can run great routes. He might be a good late-round sleeper.
Zach Kilpatrick is a Fantasy Football columnist for The Meridian Star.