The 2010 fantasy football season is around the corner. How is your research going? Let us speculate for a minute. You started your ranking with running backs. Then you moved onto the quarterbacks. Now you have an idea of what team you ideally hope to build.
After you’ve gotten the two most important positions (arguably) out of the way, you are up to the next glam position: Wide Receiver. There are two schools of thought when it comes to the wide receiver’s role in fantasy football. The first being that if you don’t have a big-name receiver your team will never be good. The second being that the wide receiver’s performance is solely based on the quality of the passer slinging the ball to them.
No matter what your school of thought is, you have to draft wide receivers, and depending on your league scoring, you might even need at least two to start. Below is a list of thirty wide receivers, what team they play for, and a brief explanation of their fantasy ranking. This list can also be used for non-traditional fantasy football games such as weekly pick’em games and salary cap football games.
1. Andre Johnson (Houston Texans)
Andre Johnson has been in the discussion to take at number one at his position for the past three seasons. Fantasy players usually have a shelf life at number one for about five seasons. I expect AJ to continue to be a top fantasy performer this season.
2. Reggie Wayne (Indianapolis Colts)
This will be Reggie Wayne’s sixth season putting up top fantasy numbers at the receiver position. In his career he has never had back-to-back double-digit touchdown seasons. Bad news; he had 10 touchdowns last season. Good news is, he is one of the most reliable wide receivers in the league, averaging 1,259 receiving yards per season over the last six seasons.
3. Larry Fitzgerald (Arizona Cardinals)
Larry Fitzgerald would be my number one ranked receiver, but there is one huge red flag: No Kurt Warner. The five seasons that Kurt Warner was his starting quarterback Fitzgerald averaged at least 1,000 yards and 10 touchdowns.
With Matt Leinart at the helm he totaled 946 yards and six touchdowns, statistics that drop him out of the top two in receiver rankings. Still, despite the change under center, Fitzgerald is a natural at the position, and is always a candidate for 1,000+ yards and 10+ scores.
4. Randy Moss (New England Patriots)
Randy Moss is a borderline first-round wide receiver selection. I love him because out of his 12 seasons in the league, he has gained at least 1,000 yards ten times, and double-digit touchdowns nine times. I hate him because he is 33 and is due for a decline.
His icon and former teammate Chris Carter had eight seasons of at least 1,000 yards and six seasons of double-digit touchdowns. His 13th season he totaled 1,274 yards and 13 touchdowns, the remaining three seasons of his career we saw a steady decline in touchdowns, and average yards per catch. At some point age catches up to a player, and this might be Randy’s last spectacular season.
5. Calvin Johnson (Detroit Lions)
Calvin Johnson is entering his fourth season and this is the magic year that wide receivers reach their true potential. He missed two games last year and might not be on everyone’s radar. Barring any major injuries, Calvin will help out your fantasy quest for a championship this season.
6. Miles Austin (Dallas Cowboys)
Miles Austin has a short resume, only starting nine games in his career, while recording just 99 receptions. There is one stat to take notice of, however: yards per reception. For his career it has been 16.9 yards per catch. That is better than the wide receivers currently ahead of him; C.Johnson (15.9), Moss (15.6), Fitzgerald (13.5), Wayne (13.9), and A. Johnson (13.5). Miles is entering his fifth season and possibly on his way to becoming a top-three wide receiver this season.
7. Brandon Marshall (Miami Dolphins)
Brandon Marshall is in the prime of his career, but one red flag is switching to a new team. Quarterbacks and wide receivers need time to get to work out all the kinks. Let’s take a look at how Terrell Owens fared with his switch from Philladephia to Dallas: yards per reception dropped, receiving yards dropped and yards per game dropped. The only difference is that T.O. was already well into his prime. What affect will this move have on a player who is also moving into his prime?
8. Roddy White (Atlanta Falcons)
Roddy White is a solid pick, if not for only one reason: Matt Ryan is fully healed and ready to go. White is the featured wide receiver in Atlanta and in his prime for fantasy points. Flash forward three years and good luck grabbing this guy, he will be gobbled up early.
9. DeSean Jackson (Philadelphia Eagles)
DeSean Jackson had great success last season, only his second NFL season. The only red flag with D-Jax is the absence of McNabb. Jackson will only go as far as Kevin Kolb will take him.
10. Sidney Rice (Minnesota Vikings)
If Brett Favre is gone, so is his fantasy value. However, it looks like Favre will be back with the Vikings for another season, easily helping keep Rice in the top 10 in these rankings.
11. Steve Smith (Carolina Panthers)
Due to Smith’ recent arm injury you could get him much later, but he’s a well-known name with plenty of juice left, so don’t wait too long.
12. Vincent Jackson (San Diego Chargers)
Jackson has a lot of potential, but an early season suspension and a lack of a contract could scare some fantasy owners away.
13. Marques Colston (New Orleans Saints)
Colston is a big target with good hands, and he’s operating in a pass-happy system with arguably the best quarterback in the NFL. However Drew Brees spreads the ball around the field with the best of them, slightly dropping Colston’s value as a fantasy stud.
14. Greg Jennings (Green Bay Packers)
Jennings had an off year compared to his 2008 numbers, but it’s a safe bet that he’s too talented to not attempt a turn-around. Besides, it’s never horrible to draft the receiver of the best fantasy quarterback.
15. Chad Ochocinco (Cincinnati Bengals)
The addition of Antonio Bryant should help Ochocinco, but I think even he knows he is playing on borrowed time. Have fun watching his two reality shows.
16. Wes Welker (New England Patriots)
Wes Welker is a must-have for PPR fantasy leagues. Last season he averaged nearly eight receptions per game and was a consistent source of yards. Fantasy owners will have to keep in mind that Welker isn’t fully recovered from a late-season ACL tear.
17. Steve Smith (New York Giants)
Smith had a break-out season last year and is entering his prime. The Giants spread the ball too much for him to fulfill his potential, but he still has the talent and role to be a productive fantasy receiver.
18. Anquan Boldin (Baltimore Ravens)
Boldin is moving from a pass-happy team to a ground-a-pound team. He is going from Kurt Warner to Joe Flacco. He is trading Larry Fitzgerald for Derrick Mason and Donte Stallworth. Needless to say, it’d be a bit unrealistic to expect him to not miss a beat, if only slightly.
19. Mike Sims-Walker (Jacksonville Jaguars)
Sims-Walker hasn’t proven anything just yet, but he is the only bright spot in the Jaguars’ receiving core, and should get enough action his way to make him a quality WR2 in 2010.
20. Hakeem Nicks (New York Giants)
Nicks may still have to fend off Mario Manningham for looks in the Giants’ passing game, but his big play-making ability is too good to keep him grounded for long.
21. Donald Driver (Green Bay Packers)
Through 11 seasons Donald has never had double-digit touchdowns. He is entering his twilight but he has gained at least 1,000 yards per season for the past six years. He still has the talent and role to be a solid fantasy contributor, although off-season surgery on both of his knees should raise some concern in the mind’s of fantasy owners.
22. Mike Wallace (Pittsburgh Steelers)
Mike Wallace has been a hot topic since Santonio Holmes was traded to the Jets. Wallace is set to step-up and take over Holmes’ old starting role, although the absence of Ben Roethlisberger for the first 4-6 weeks could stunt his fantasy growth.
23. Percy Harvin (Minnesota Vikings)
Migraines were a huge problem for Harvin near the end of the 2009 season, but everything Harvin did before that led everyone to believe he could become something special. Look for Harvin’s role to increase. Note: Harvin’s value drops if Brett Favre decides not to return.
24. Hines Ward (Pittsburgh Steelers)
Hines is dependable and always a great value. But how long until his tank runs empty?
25. Robert Meachem (New Orleans Saints)
Meachem went to the end-zone nine times last season and has a career yards per reception of 17.7. With all of that said, is he just a flash in the pan? A system wideout? Considering his offense spreads the ball around and he hasn’t shown the consistency to be anything more than a deep-play man, that could very well be the case.
26. Antonio Bryant (Cincinnati Bengals)
Bryant is nowhere near being a number one option, but defenses will have all they can handle with Chad Ochocinco, so the opportunities for success should be there.
27. Julian Edelman (New England Patriots)
He was a good sub when Wes Welker was injured and put up some solid stats in Week 17 and New England’s loss to the Ravens in the playoffs. The only question is, what is his role if Welker is healthy in 2010?
28. Steve Breaston (Arizona Cardinals)
Anquan Boldin’s departure couldn’t have come at a better time for Steve Breaston. Breaston will be entering his fourth year, the magical year I spoke about earlier. The only downside for Breaston is the switch from Kurt Warner to Matt Leinart, which could severely drown his fantasy stock.
29. Santana Moss (Washington Redskins)
Santana Moss is slowly dropping off of my fantasy draft board. In nine seasons he has only gained at least 1,000 yards just three times and double-digit touchdowns only once. The addition of Donovan McNabb and Mike Shanahan’s excellent offensive system just might save him in 2010, however.
30. Pierre Garcon (Indianapolis Colts)
Pierre Garcon was effective last season, but not necessarily a stand-out wideout. Peyton Manning adds value to any wide receiver and if Garcon fends off Anthony Gonzales for the number two spot, his value will rise.
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