This is the list I dread going through. There are just so many mediocre wide receivers vying to be in the top 75. The bottom twenty could easily be switched out for another 20. This is by far the hardest position to predict but that’s why it’s also the easiest to recover from if your star goes down. The well is deep my friend, very deep.
1. DET Calvin Johnson / 2011 Stats: 96 REC, 1681 YDS, 17.5 AVG, 16 TD
Madden cover aside, he is the single most dominant WR on the field today. Double and triple coverage seem to not matter. It’s also helpful to have a quarterback with a big arm and complete trust.
2. ARI Larry Fitzgerald / 2011 Stats: 80 REC, 1411 YDS, 17.6 AVG, 8 TD
What a best Fitz has been throughout his career but 2011 may have been his best yet. Even during a year where the quarterback play was subpar, Fitz turns in a stellar performance. That is the definition of fantasy star. When the situation is at it’s worst, what can you do? Much like MJD, he just keeps producing.
3. ATL Roddy White / 2011 Stats: 100 REC, 1296 YDS, 13.0 AVG, 8 TD
Roddy had an inconsistent season in 2011 but still manage to clip the century mark in catches and snag 8 touchdowns. He is still the leading man in a really good offense.
4. GB Greg Jennings / 2011 Stats: 67 REC, 947 YDS, 14.2 AVG, 9 TD
Extremely consistent wideout on a team that throws more than any other over the past couple years. It’s a good bet that Jennings finishes in the top 10 barring injury.
5. CIN AJ Green / 2011 Stats: 65 REC, 1057 YDS, 16.3 AVG, 7 TD
I saw this kid play in a couple of games last year and loved what he brought to the game. He has Calvin Johnson like ability and should improve on his rookie year.
6. NE Wes Welker / 2011 Stats: 122 REC, 1569 YDS, 12.9 AVG, 9 TD
Although he got into the end zone 9 times last season, I wouldn’t expect that again. His only knock, is that he doesn’t get into the end zone more. He has a total of 31 scores over his past five seasons. In a PPR league though, he jumps up into the top 5.
7. NYG Hakeem Nicks / 2011 Stats: 76 REC, 1192 YDS, 15.7 AVG, 7 TD
Extremely physical receiver for his size and can hang with the best of them. But we are entering his 4th season and he is yet to play 16 games in one year.
8. NYG Victor Cruz / 2011 Stats: 82 REC, 1536 YDS, 18.7 AVG, 9 TD
One of the best rookie seasons in recent memory, Cruz danced his way to fantasy stardom in 2011. He will get snatched up quick in 2012 for good reason.
9. HOU Andre Johnson / 2011 Stats: 33 REC, 492 YDS, 14.9 AVG, 2 TD
Not sure if ranking him here is to high, but he is a great talent. His body just will not hold up all season. At 31, personally, I just can’t justify taking him before these other guys.
10. CAR Steve Smith / 2011 Stats: 79 REC, 1394 YDS, 17.6 AVG, 7 TD
In Cam Newton, Smith trusts. Steve proved he could still play at the highest level, he just needed to motivation and talent.
11. CHI Brandon Marshall / 2011 Stats: 81 REC, 1214 YDS, 15.0 AVG, 6 TD
In Miami, Marshall proved to be an elite talent, but now reunited with Cutler, Brandon should flourish as the first star receiver the Bears have had in quite sometime.
12. PIT Mike Wallace / 2011 Stats: 72 REC, 1193 YDS, 16.6 AVG, 8 TD – MOVED DOWN
Now that the Steelers addressed the need on the offensive line, hopefully Big Ben will have time to let the long plays develop. With Mike Wallace’s speed, I could see him being a top 5 guy. The only question now is if he will show up to training camp… UPDATE: Still has not shown up to camp.
13. ATL Julio Jones / 2011 Stats: 54 REC, 959 YDS, 17.8 AVG, 8 TD
As injuries slowed Jones throughout the rookies season, Julio had some amazing performances. He is a star and could overtake White as Matt Ryan’s favorite target. Conisder Jones a great WR2 with potential WR1 ability.
14. NO Marques Colston / 2011 Stats: 80 REC, 1143 YDS, 14.3 AVG, 8 TD
New Orleans is going to throw, and throw a lot. With Meachem now in San Diego, Colston should benefit but he’s not the number one target. He’s arguably the #3 after Grahm and one of the running backs. But he will end up having some huge games and some duds. Of the 14 games he appeared in last season, only 6 of those accounted for 9 points or more in standard leagues.
15. PIT Antonio Brown / 2011 Stats: 69 REC, 1108 YDS, 16.1 AVG, 2 TD – MOVED UP
If it weren’t for the low touchdown total, Brown would be 10 spots higher. From year to year, we know that touchdowns can vary greatly, so take Brown with confidence. Now that Ward is out, there will be plenty of love for Brown and Wallace.
16. GB Jordy Nelson / 2011 Stats: 68 REC, 1263 YDS, 18.6 AVG, 15 TD
It’s not reasonable to expect another 15 scores, but Jordy proved to be Aaron’s favorite clutch receiver in 2011. With the Packers slinging it all around, it’s not crazy to think two of their receivers make the top 10 in 2012.
17. KC Dwayne Bowe / 2011 Stats: 81 REC, 1159 YDS, 14.3 AVG, 5 TD
Bowe was drafted as a top 10 guy last year and deservedly so after a 15 touchdown performance in 2010, but his catches and yards stayed on par last season. While the Chiefs tried to find an answer after Matt Cassel fell to injury, that position never stabilized enough for Bowe to get back on track. If Cassel is healthy, which appears is the case, Bowe should fair well. Also remember that the Chiefs took a huge blow offensively when Jamaal Charles went on Injured reserve in week 3.
18. DAL Dez Bryant / 2011 Stats: 63 REC, 928 YDS, 14.7 AVG, 9 TD
Dez is heading into the magical third year realm where past wideouts have blossomed. He has increased his overall numbers in all major categories over his rookie year and should continue in 2012. If he can get his personal life straight, the football side of it will come.
19. MIN Percy Harvin / 2011 Stats: 87 REC, 967 YDS, 11.1 AVG, 6 TD – MOVED UP
Percy does so much more than most wide receivers it’s hard to show it in numbers. He finished in the top 10 among WR in points last year mainly to his added value as a runner and returner. He amazingly played in all 16 games, but was probably questionable for 5 of them with his varying ailments. The migraine problems seem to crop up during the season but he has so far been able to play through them.
20. DAL Miles Austin / 2011 Stats: 43 REC, 579 YDS, 13.5 AVG, 7 TD
Now that Laurent is off making the money in Jacksonville, Miles is set to resume his role as the teams co-number one.
21. BUF Steve Johnson / 2011 Stats: 76 REC, 1004 YDS, 13.2 AVG, 7 TD
If Steve improves his catching ability, his numbers should all improve in 2012. He was offered the 8th most targets in the league but only connected on 57 percent of them.
22. TB Vincent Jackson / 2011 Stats: 60 REC, 1106 YDS, 18.4 AVG, 9 TD
Some say that Tampa overpaid for Vincent, and that could be very true. But Freeman has a big arm and Jackson likes to go deep and out muscle the smaller corners and safeties, so I think the move pays off. Now lets hope the Bucs offensive line can give Josh enough time to let those plays develop.
23. PHI DeSean Jackson / 2011 Stats: 58 REC, 961 YDS, 16.6 AVG, 4 TD
Now that he has gotten his payday from the Eagles, we will see what kind of player he can become. Here’s hoping he resembles the DeSean from 2010!
24. DEN Eric Decker / 2011 Stats: 44 REC, 612 YDS, 13.9 AVG, 8 TD – MOVED UP
25. DEN DeMaryius Thomas / 2011 Stats: 32 REC, 551 YDS, 17.2 AVG, 4 TD
DeMaryius will not know what to do with himself once he starts practicing with Peyton. He and Eric Decker will be like kids in a candy store or adults in high quality strip club. The ball will get thrown on time and in a reasonable spot to catch and run. I’m excited to watch what this kid can become in 2012.
26. PHI Jeremy Maclin / 2011 Stats: 63 REC, 859 YDS, 13.6 AVG, 5 TD
27. NE Brandon Lloyd / 2011 Stats: 70 REC, 966 YDS, 13.8 AVG, 5 TD
Joining McDaniels in New England is exactly what Lloyd was hoping for. Not only does he get to stay with the coach that resurrected him, but he gets one of the most accurate deep ball throwing quarterbacks who’s ever played. With all of the weapons Brady has at his disposal, Lloyd won’t be an every week star, but will break out 5 or 6 times for big games. He will make a super WR3 or mid range WR2.
28. IND Reggie Wayne / 2011 Stats: 75 REC, 960 YDS, 12.8 AVG, 4 TD – MOVED UP
I’m still not exactly sure why he ended up so far down the list. This has to be a mistake, so I will check on that after I get through all 75 wide receivers. Sorry Reggie. My bad.
29. BAL Torrey Smith / 2011 Stats: 50 REC, 841 YDS, 16.8 AVG, 7 TD
30. SD Robert Meachem / 2011 Stats: 40 REC, 620 YDS, 15.5 AVG, 6 TD
He’s getting a great shot to succeed in San Diego. In New Orleans, he played second fiddle to Colston and Moore, now he gets to be the guy. And Norv Turner will know how to get him open. Meachem is more of a gamble than some, but his ceiling is high. Especially if he and Rivers have a good connection in camp. Here is a nice article on Meachem’s potential from the Bleacher Report.
31. WAS Pierre Garcon / 2011 Stats: 70 REC, 947 YDS, 13.5 AVG, 6 TD – MOVED UP
Pierre had a nice year in 2011 without Peyton, so he got the big contract going to Washington. I might have had Pierre higher on the list with Rex Grossman at the helm but RGIII scares me a little. I don’t quite know how the rookie will be at reading defensive schemes. Time will tell and I’m not gambling on this pairing.
32. SF Michael Crabtree / 2011 Stats: 72 REC, 874 YDS, 12.1 AVG, 4 TD – MOVED UP
He stepped his game up last season improving on catches and yardage but now that the 49ers went crazy in free agency, we are unsure what that does to Crabtree’s value. Just when we thought he would be the guy going forward, Mario and Randy come strolling into town.
33. SEA Sidney Rice / 2011 Stats: 32 REC, 484 YDS, 15.1 AVG, 2 TD
If Sidney can be healthy coming into 2012, the hope is, he can become what he was in 2009. The talent is evident, but are you willing to gamble. I’m not at the spot he’s probably going to get drafted. For sure though, his ceiling is the Pro Bowl but the floor is absolutely no production.
34. OAK Darrius Heyward-Bey / 2011 Stats: 64 REC, 975 YDS, 15.2 AVG, 4 TD
It is time to take a real chance on Darrius this season. He performed well in his third season and played very nice with Carson toward the end of 2011. So all signs point to a fantasy star in the making.
35. NYJ Santonio Holmes / 2011 Stats: 51 REC, 654 YDS, 12.8 AVG, 8 TD
He still has Mark Sanchez and now could be getting the rock from Tim Tebow…
36. SD Malcolm Floyd / 2011 Stats: 43 REC, 856 YDS, 19.9 AVG, 5 TD
With almost 20 YPC, Floyd can stretch the field. He will probably remain as the WR2 in San Diego opposite Meachem, but should see similar numbers. Floyd’s issues are staying on the field. He has missed 9 games the past two seasons.
37. DET Titus Young / 2011 Stats: 48 REC, 607 YDS, 12.6 AVG, 6 TD
He’s got a year under his belt and he’s in a high powered offense that puts the ball in the air a ton (No team had more pass attempts in 2011 than the Lions). He should have more opportunities this season.
38. BAL Anquan Boldin / 2011 Stats: 57 REC, 887 YDS, 15.6 AVG, 3 TD
39. TEN Nate Washington / 2011 Stats: 74 REC, 1023 YDS, 13.8 AVG, 7 TD
If you can snag Nate as a WR3, you will be doing pretty good. He opened a lot of eyes as the teams #1 option and might continue that role with Britt still hobbled by injury. Even if Britt is unable to take the field early on, he will be sharing targets with first rounder Kendall Wright.
40. SF Mario Manningham / 2011 Stats: 39 REC, 523 YDS, 13.4 AVG, 4 TD
I could be too high on Manningham… there are a lot of mouths to feed in San Fran, with very few attempts.
41. TEN Kenny Britt / 2011 Stats: 17 REC, 289 YDS, 17.0 AVG, 3 TD
Played in only three games in 2011 but he started the season on fire! He’s had a few off-the-field issues since and had arthroscopic surgery on one of the knees a couple months back. I would play close attention to Britt’s status as the preseason gets under way.
42. OAK Denarius Moore / 2011 Stats: 33 REC, 618 YDS, 18.7 AVG, 5 TD
I’m a believer in Moore, if the O’Line can keep Palmer on his feet (which will be a challenge) Moore is poised for a breakout year.
43. CLE Greg Little / 2011 Stats: 61 REC, 709 YDS, 11.6 AVG, 2 TD
He will have to get comfortable with a new quarterback, but everyone generally expects Little to improve on his already respectable rookie numbers.
44. JAC Justin Blackmon / 2011 Stats: Rookie
I think Blackmon is going to be a star. Just probably not with Gabbert as his QB.
45. TB Mike Williams / 2011 Stats: 65 REC, 771 YDS, 11.9 AVG, 3 TD
He will probably benefit from the signing of Vincent Jackson. He won’t see as many double teams and be free to roam underneath while Jackson goes over the top. I could see his catch total going up to 80 this year.
46. JAC Laurent Robinson / 2011 Stats: 54 REC, 858 YDS, 15.9 AVG, 11 TD
Laurent flourished with the Cowboys and Romo to the tune of 11 scores. He then takes the money and moves to Jacksonville where Gabbert threw a total of twelve in his rookie year. YIKES! I don’t think Robinson is a difference maker. I think what he did in Dallas, showed how good Romo is.
47. NO Lance Moore / 2011 Stats: 52 REC, 627 YDS, 12.1 AVG, 8 TD
48. DET Nate Burleson / 2011 Stats: 73 REC, 757 YDS, 10.4 AVG, 3 TD
49. GB James Jones / 2011 Stats: 38 REC, 635 YDS, 16.7 AVG, 7 TD
Didn’t catch a lot of balls in 2011 but did a lot of damage with the ones he did get. If something were to happen to Nelson or Jennings long term, Jones’ value goes way up.
50. GB Randall Cobb / 2011 Stats: 25 REC, 375 YDS, 15.0 AVG, 1 TD
Much like Jones, Cobb’s value goes up when and if an injury occurs to a starter.
51. TEN Kendall Wright / 2011 Stats: Rookie
52. SD Eddie Royal / 2011 Stats: 19 REC, 155 YDS, 8.2 AVG, 1 TD
53. SF Randy Moss / 2011 Stats: Did Not Play
Not sure what Harbaugh is thinking but why not take a chance on one of the best receivers in history. And if it’s not their, drop him.
54. WAS Leonard Hankerson / 2011 Stats: 13 REC, 163 YDS, 12.5 AVG, 0 TD
With Gaffney gone, someone has got to play opposite Santana Moss?
55. STL Brian Quick / 2011 Stats: Rookie
More of a long-shot out of Appalachian State, Quick has ideal size for the red-zone and could turn into a sleeper. He’s much higher on other boards but I don’t know who this guy is!
56. BUF David Nelson / 2011 Stats: 61 REC, 658 YDS, 10.8 AVG, 5 TD
57. SEA Doug Baldwin / 2011 Stats: 51 REC, 788 YDS, 15.5 AVG, 4 TD
58. STL Danny Amendola / 2011 Stats: 5 REC, 45 YDS, 9.0 AVG, 0 TD
This PPR sleeper from 2010 was injured in last seasons opener. Could be a sleeper again, now that people have forgotten him.
59. CAR Brandon LaFell / 2011 Stats: 36 REC, 613 YDS, 17.0 AVG, 3 TD
Coming into his third year, LaFell is quickly becoming a hot sleeper pick. Last year he split time with Legedu Nanee at the WR2 spot, but Nanee has since moved on, and LaFell will have his shot at capitalizing.
60. KC Steve Breaston / 2011 Stats: 61 REC, 785 YDS, 12.9 AVG, 2 TD
Good production and will be a solid WR3, the ceiling has been met though. Nicer option in PPR leagues.
61. KC Jonathan Baldwin / 2011 Stats: 21 REC, 254 YDS, 12.1 AVG, 1 TD – MOVED DOWN
62. TEN Damian Williams / 2011 Stats: 45 REC, 592 YDS, 13.2 AVG, 5 TD – MOVED DOWN
Had a really nice year, but with first round rookie Wright in town, Williams may be relegated to the bench waiting his turn again.
63. NYG Rueben Randle / 2011 Stats: Rookie – MOVED DOWN
Coming onto a good team that likes to throw, Randle could take over the role left by Mario Manningham.
64. NO Devery Henderson / 2011 Stats: 32 REC, 503 YDS, 15.7 AVG, 2 TD
You know what he does. Run long and fast. Will he have more opportunities with Meachem gone? That’s the question.
65. CHI Alshon Jeffrey / 2011 Stats: Rookie – MOVED UP
This rookie has looked impressive after two weeks of preseason work. Still raw, but I think he makes starter opposite Brandon Marshall by week 3 of the regular season.
66. OAK Jacoby Ford / 2011 Stats: 19 REC, 279 YDS, 14.7 AVG, 1 TD
One of the fastest guys in football, Jacoby could be a better Devery Henderson given an entire season.
67. MIA Davone Bess / 2011 Stats: 51 REC, 537 YDS, 10.5 AVG, 3 TD
68. WAS Santana Moss / 2011 Stats: 46 REC, 584 YDS, 12.7 AVG, 0 TD
Can Moss have a resurgent year much like Steve Smith in Carolina. The answer is no. Could he be better… yeah. But he’s no Steve Smith.
69. MIN Jerome Simpson / 2011 Stats: 50 REC, 725 YDS, 14.5 AVG, 4 TD – MOVED UP
Serving a suspension the first 3 games, Simpson just might be the best WR after Harvin. If he and Ponder can hook up down-field, this could be a sneaky pick.
70. FA Jabar Gaffney / 2011 Stats: 68 REC, 947 YDS, 13.9 AVG, 5 TD
Gaffney could end up being your best value in the draft. If he can wrestle away that WR3 spot from Branch in New England, Gaffney will produce on a regular basis. It won’t be much but the catches will be quality opportunities.
71. SEA Braylon Edwards / 2011 Stats: 15 REC, 181 YDS, 12.1 AVG, 0 TD
Now that TO is out of the picture, maybe Edwards can do something in Seattle. If Sidney Rice has any setbacks, that may leave Edwards some room to be the redzone specialist.
72. IND Austin Collie / 2011 Stats: 54 REC, 514 YDS, 9.5 AVG, 1 TD
If Andrew Luck needs to play catchup, which we think he might, Collie could be a great PPR sleeper this season. He’s sure handed and runs excellent routes. His problem has been staying on the field.
73. FA Plaxico Burress / 2011 Stats: 45 REC, 612 YDS, 13.6 AVG, 8 TD – MOVED DOWN
3 years removed from the game, he played pretty darn well. Someone will take a chance on this red-zone specialist. Rams?
74. DEN Andre Caldwell / 2011 Stats: 37 REC, 317 YDS, 8.6 AVG, 3 TD – MOVED DOWN
I like Decker and Thomas more, but Caldwell could be a starter come opening day. Keep an eye on the preseason battle in Denver.
75. MIA Brian Hartline / 2011 Stats: 35 REC, 549 YDS, 15.7 AVG, 1 TD
76. ARI Michael Floyd / 2011 Stats: Rookie – MOVED DOWN
If Floyd can wrestle away the starting gig opposite Fitz during the preseason, I can see him having a very productive year. Possibly a decent WR3 candidate, make sure to watch how he does in camp. He has great speed for his size and was very productive for Notre Dame.
• These predictions are based on standard scoring leagues. I make note of some players that move up in PPR leagues but in general you can tell by the number of catches they received in 2011 to see if they warrant moving up on your board for any PPR league.