1. Larry Fitzgerald: Your local high school’s third string QB could start for the Cardinals and Larry Fitz could still put up top 5 numbers. I expect big things for Beanie Wells and Michael Floyd will keep defenses from being able to focus solely on stoping Fitzgerald. Out of the top 3 WRs, I have faith that Fitzgerald is the only one who unquestionably will stay healthy for the entire year so he’s my number one.
2. Andre Johnson: Andre Johnson hasn’t been healthy for the entire season the past two years but this year I think he breaks the trend. In that explosive offense he can be an unstoppable force as long as Schaub can stay healthy himself. He’s 31 years old and coming off a lack luster season last year so I expect Johnson to have quite possibly a career year.
3. Calvin Johnson: Calvin Johnson is only number 3 on my list solely due to the fact that he was on the cover of Madden 13. I don’t think it will be as severe as it was for Peyton Hillis last year but more of Larry Fitzgerald type of curse (Madden 10 co-cover boy) where he slows down a bit. Calvin has easily the biggest potential of all the WRs but with the Lions being a mess right now with distractions I wouldn’t be surprised if the team and Calvin underachieve.
4. Greg Jennings: With no noticeable running game GB spreads the ball out all over the place, which is why Jordy Nelson ended up having the best year of all GB receivers last year (along with Jennings’s injury). I think Jennings will end up staying healthy and go back to being Rodgers’s favorite target so he’s ahead of Nelson for me.
5. Brandon Marshall: I would not be surprised one bit if Marshall ended up having the most targets among WRs this year. Jay Cutler will want to give his former teammate the ball and other than rookie Alshon Jeffery there is no real threat to take away balls from Marshall. Even if Marshall has one of those years where he’s dropping more balls then he should, the passing game will still be ran through him.
6. Mike Wallace: It’s weird to see Pittsburg as a pass first team but that’s what they’ve become with the maturation of Big Ben and an injury to Mendenhall. Mike Wallace is the big benefactor fantasy wise, becoming a top ten WR last year even with nagging injuries to his starting QB. I expect an even bigger year for Wallace this year, even though I think the rest of his team will underachieve.
7. Julio Jones: You can draft White or Jones and sleep safe knowing that you got yourself a big time WR. Jones was scary good the last 4 games of the season last year and I think that’s how he’ll play the majority of the year this year. I think Matt Ryan will put up big numbers and Jones will be a big reason why. I’m one the few people higher on Jones than other second year wideout A.J. Green but when it’s all said and done I think Jones’s play will back me up.
8. Roddy White: White has been as consistent as they come at WR that past few years and there is no reason to think he won’t be the same this year. I think it’s his last year as a top tier fantasy WR, with Julio Jones starting to emerge as a star and starting to take away targets from White. I’m not high on his long term production but a firm believer in his short term value.
9. Victor Cruz: Being a top 5 fantasy WR is rarely a fluke so I’m selling on the one-year wonder talks. He was consistent all year long and with Mario Manningham gone he becomes even more important to the offense. I think the NYG offense will go back to trying to be a run first team so I think his stats will fall down a little and knock him out of the top 5 but still in the top ten.
10. Wes Welker: If you’re in a PPR league you could easily argue that Welker is a top five guy for this year (Welker was still a top-5 guy in non PPR leagues last year). New England added a couple pretty good weapons in Brandon Lloyd and Visanthe Shiancoe so I do think he has a chance to lose some targets from Tom Brady. He’s still going to be around 100 catches this year (he had 122 last year) so he’s still a valuable receiver.
11. Steve Smith: Good to see Steve Smith back to being a big time receiver. Cam Newton injected some new life into Smith and Smith responded by being a top 8 fantasy WR last year. He is 33 years old but with no real threat to take away targets from Smith he will continue to put up some big numbers. Whenever I draft him he puts up terrible numbers and when I don’t draft him he has a huge year so I’ll let you know what to expect from Smith after my draft later next month.
12. Percy Harvin: I do not understand how a top ten fantasy WR last year is the 20+ best WR on people’s boards this year. Ponder will be better, the offensive line will be better, and an iffy Peterson means Harvin will have a huge role in the offense. He is the WR with the most upside where you will get him so I’m extremely high on Harvin this year.
13. Hakeem Nicks: If I had faith that Nicks would be healthy all year I would have had him and Cruz switch places. I obviously do not believe that to be true so I have him at 13. Other than Cruz there is no one to take away targets so he still is a close number 1 WR for teams in your league.
14. AJ Green: I am not high on Green this year. It’s nothing against his skill as a wide receiver, I’m just not sold on his QB and he plays in a really good defensive division. He’s still probably a little too high on my list but when a rookie puts up numbers like he did last year, I’ll give him some respect and put him near where he was last year.
15. Dez Bryant: As long as Bryant doesn’t go around laying the smack down on Tony Romo or Jerry Jones I think he’ll put up some pretty good numbers this year. He’s had injury problems and has had a tendency to disappear late in games when he isn’t being thrown the ball early and often but I think he has the type of year to put those problems to rest. Expect a career year from Bryant but for him to become an elite WR next year.
16. Jordy Nelson: I don’t think anyone expected the type of year Nelson had last year coming. He had 5 games with 5 points or fewer but still ended up being the number 2 overall WR last year. I think it has more to do with the fact that he plays in an offense with no running game and the teams number 1 WR missed a few games with injuries. I don’t think he will show any type of consistency this year from week to week so that puts him here on my list.
17. Marques Colston: Don’t expect Colston to play all 16 games this year but expect that when he does play he’s good for 7 catches and whatever yardages and TDs that brings. The Saints have A LOT of bad karma going against them this year so every Saints player carries a bit of risk. Even if Brees were to get hurt I’d expect him to finish here because his size makes him appealing to any QB, especially someone inexperienced.
18. Jeremy Maclin: I think Vick likes Maclin more than DeSean Jackson so I have him here. When healthy he’s shown that he can be a really good receiver and I expect Vick and the Eagle will have a good year, so that makes Maclin an attractive option. Someone’s going to have to be the man at wideout for this team and I think Maclin will be that guy.
19. Demaryius Thomas: Peyton’s got to throw the ball to someone and with someone as physically gifted as Thomas I think it’s him. Peyton can make an a below average WR look like a semi-star so as long as Thomas is willing to put in the time and effort Peyton will hold up his end.
20. Vincent Jackson: There was no one as frustrating to have on your fantasy last year at wideout than Vincent Jackson. Ignoring his nagging injuries from week to week the guy would put up 30 points one week, next to nothing the next week, a game with points in the teens the week after that, than 3 straight stinkers. Now add in the fact that inconsistent Vincent Jackson goes to TB to play with inconsistent Josh Freeman and you got yourself a major headache. If you enjoy playing Russian Roulette (fantasy football style), Jackson is your man.