Tuesday, July 17, 2012

2012 WR Rankings - Top 50 Wide Receivers

I've always felt WRs are easy to stock on a team. Compared to the RB or QB positions, for instance, there are more starters. Plus, there is so much volatility at the position that it's easy to grab new success stories each season. For instance, I picked up the likes of Victor Cruz, Eric Decker, and Torrey Smith last year off the waiver wire in addition to my drafted WRs.

So use this list well at your fantasy football draft, but realize that you're more than likely going to have opportunities to "pick up" good WRs during the season too.

Here are the Top 50 WR Rankings heading into the 2012 Draft:

  1. Calvin Johnson, Det. This is a no-brainer. After scoring 16 TDs and gaining 1,600+ yards, Megatron's the only WR I would consider taking before a workhorse RB.
  2. Larry Fitzgerald, Ari. Even without good QBs, Fitz gets the job done. If you want safe and productive, Larry is the guy to grab after Megatron.
  3. Andre Johnson, Hou. Because he's a home run threat, I'll put Andre number three. But this is a risk-reward pick. If he stays healthy, you'll most likely be happy. If he doesn't, it'll be like 3 of the past 5 seasons in which he does good while he's healthy and occupies your bench when he's not.
  4. Steve Smith, Car. Smith had a huge comeback year, and I think it's mostly due to having a competent QB. Since Cam should only improve as a passer in his second season and Steve hasn't lost any speed, I expect Smith will have another great year.
  5. Julio Jones, Atl. Jerry Rice projects Jones to have THE breakout season of 2012, and I'm a believer. Just look at his final four games last season. Go ahead, look.
  6. Greg Jennings, GB. Jordy Nelson exploded last season. After Jennings went down with injury. Nelson was fine before the injury, but don't let those Jennings-less games fool you into who the best Packer wideout continues to be.
  7. Victor Cruz, NYG. Hakeem Nicks is the popular pick of the Giants WRs. Even though Cruz scored more last season. Even though Nicks is coming back from injury that might put the beginning of the season in jeopardy. Go with Nicks if you must, but I don't think Cruz will be a bust.
  8. A.J. Green, Cin. This guy was a difference maker in college and immediately became a Pro Bowler on the professional level. He'll continue to develop in 2012.
  9. Wes Welker, NE. Welker is very good, but he only scored TDs in 6 games last season. Something to keep in mind as he'll continue to fight for looks with the double TEs and Brandon Lloyd.
  10. Vincent Jackson, TB. Personally, I think Josh Freeman is going to love having Doug Martin to block for him and Vincent Jackson to catch TDs from him.
  11. Marques Colston, NO. Colston missed the early part of 2011, which means he put up WR1 numbers on a shortened season.
  12. Percy Harvin, Min. I'm not a huge Harvin fan, especially after his little off-season trade demand [(then okay) then kinda okay if things work out next offseason] thing. But he is productive--if hard to understand.
  13. Roddy White, Atl. See Julio Jones.
  14. Hakeem Nicks, NYG. See Victor Cruz.
  15. Jordy Nelson, GB. See Greg Jennings.
  16. Mike Wallace, Pit. The case could be (and has been) made by some that Antonio Brown will emerge as Pittsburgh's number one WR this year. But I'll believe it when I see it.
  17. Steve Johnson, Buf. He was a little hobbled at times last year, but he worked through it and has the potential to take his game to the next level this year.
  18. Brandon Marshall, Chi. If Marshall finishes the season as a Top 5 WR, I won't be surprised. He's been putting up respectable numbers with lower caliber QBs. Reuniting with Cutler should give his stats a boost.
  19. Dez Bryant, Dal. I think Bryant will likely go earlier than 19th, and there's a good chance he'll perform at a level that justifies a top 10 pick. But for me, I need just a little more supporting evidence before I jump on his bandwagon.
  20. Dwayne Bowe, KC. Bowe is talented, but his numbers are inconsistent--and so are his potential QBs. Plus, there's the whole possibility of sitting out training camp which would hurt his value more.
  21. Brandon Lloyd, NE. If Lloyd goes outside the top 20, he could very well be the steal of the draft. He's got a well-documented chemistry with New England's O-coordinator that could lead to him becoming the number one receiving target.
  22. Kenny Britt, Ten. If it weren't for his injury, Britt might be in the Top 5. During the first two games of 2011, Britt compiled 271 yards and 3 TDs. That's a huge upside if he can play 16 games.
  23. Robert Meachem, SD. Meachem was brought in to be the new Vincent Jackson. Who knows? He might end up playing the part, but it's always tricky figuring out how a new WR will click (or not click) with a new QB.
  24. Torrey Smith, Bal. Torrey got lost in the rookie WR shuffle last year with the huge success of A.J. Green and Julio Jones. But he's the type of homerun hitter who Flacco will gladly hit over top after Ray Rice pounds it all game.
  25. Demaryius Thomas, Den. This is everyone's favorite Peyton Manning "sleeper," but I could see Eric Decker outperforming this talented WR. 
  26. Jeremy Maclin, Phi. I have a whole post in which I pit Jeremy Maclin against Desean Jackson. You can read the post, but I basically conclude that they're both going to give you the same thing. 
  27. Pierre Garcon, Was. Washington invested in WRs this past off-season, but Garcon is the main guy. If Griffin can perform at QB, I think Garcon will hold up his end of the deal.
  28. Miles Austin, Dal. Austin may play like a number 2 WR this year (behind Dez Bryant), or he might be a steal later in the draft.
  29. Desean Jackson, Phi. See Jeremy Maclin and flip a coin.
  30. Randy Moss, SF. Randy is really interesting to me. I'm one of those people who thinks he can probably play another season at a high level. But here's the problem: I'm also one of those people who's not convinced Alex Smith can sling it downfield to him.
  31. Laurent Robinson, Jax. Blaine Gabbert and the Jacksonville Jaguars have been killing the fantasy values of any receiver that crosses their path. Unfortunately for Laurent, he crossed their path after having a breakout season.
  32. Lance Moore, NO. Moore consistently scores TDs and is a major factor in the New Orleans passing game. Plus, Robert Meachem left town, which should equal more looks.
  33. Reggie Wayne, Ind. Wayne did OK last season with non-Peyton Manning types throwing to him. This year, he'll have a rookie QB throwing to him named Luck. Maybe his luck will improve as a result.
  34. Antonio Brown, Pit. See Mike Wallace.
  35. Santonio Holmes, NYJ. Holmes is the top WR for the Jets, which really doesn't mean much, does it?
  36. Eric Decker, Den. Decker is the WR who was working out with Peyton the most. Decker is just as big and fast as Demaryius Thomas. Decker is a more polished route runner. Who's the sleeper in Denver again?
  37. Justin Blackmon, Jax. See Laurent Robinson.
  38. Nate Washington, Ten. If Britt's health doesn't hold out (again), then Washington has proven he can do a passable job as the guy.
  39. Michael Crabtree, SF. This could be the year he lives up to his potential.
  40. Darrius Heyward-Bey, Oak. Darrius or...
  41. Denarius Moore, Oak. ...Denarius? Hmm... Flip a coin, or avoid entirely.
  42. Titus Young, Det. Many expect Young to take advantage of Megatron double teams. He's definitely got the talent to make it happen.
  43. Jon Baldwin, KC. Speaking of talent, Baldwin got behind the 8-ball during his rookie season but showed flashes. He's been performing well this off season and could be poised for a breakout season.
  44. Malcolm Floyd, SD. If Meachem has trouble building chemistry with Rivers, Floyd could benefit.
  45. Brian Quick, StL. St. Louis is hoping a rookie WR (Quick) will save the day. I think wise gamblers will stay away from Sam Bradford this season.
  46. Austin Collie, Ind. In the final game of last season, Collie showed what he's capable of doing. The real question is whether Andrew Luck will be able to hit the ground throwing.
  47. Chad Ochocinco/Johnson, Mia. The Chad has had to answer a lot of questions about his football smarts this offseason. His main problem in New England was learning the playbook. And there have been rumblings that he had the same issues in Cincy.
  48. Greg Little, Cle. In case you haven't noticed, I'm pretty much just touching on each team's number one receiver at this point. Little is Cleveland's guy.
  49. Sidney Rice, Sea. Rice is Seattle's guy.
  50. Randall Cobb, GB. Cobb is the number three guy in Green Bay, which gives him more upside than a lot of number one receivers.
Like I mentioned above, there will be WRs who emerge (or re-emerge) out of nowhere. Players like Jerome Simpson, Anquan Boldin, Santana Moss, Mario Manningham, Nick Toon, and Michael Floyd come to mind. But don't waste a pick on them. That's why the fantasy football "powers that be" invented the waiver wire.

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