Wide Receiver is by and far the deepest position this year. You can leave your wide receiver spots completely unfilled until like the 4th round and still start nothing but guys that were in the preseason top 20 last season. It is because of this wealth of talent that you will only find a very small handful of players inside the first couple of rounds on my draft board.
The First Rounders
There is the list of guy that I think make for a good first round pick. Megatron has proven that he has both the consistency and upside to be worth the risk of a round 1 pick in your fantasy draft this season. You should still be waiting until the second half of the first round because there is no danger of missing the boat and not getting a safe, reliable and elite talent at this position.
The Top 10
|Steve Smith (CAR)|
I didn’t get any hate mail when I deceived you readers and listed just 3 guys in my top 10 RB’s so I thought I would push my luck and include one thru 19 in my top 10 wide receivers. The reason for this is that based on past expectations of wide receivers. This group of guys consists of players with either the upside or consistency to make them a preseason top 10 guy by the standards of 2010.
Many people are saying that they think the Falcons are moving away from the run, due to the presumed decline of Michael Turner. I agree with them about everything but Turner. I think the Falcons are going to step up and win the NFC South on the back of a balanced offensive attack. Turner may not have a shot at the rushing title but he can still be a punishing interior rusher and help open things up for Roddy White and Julio Jones on the outside. This puts White at #2 in my rankings.
Greg Jennings makes #3 because of his QB and the sheer volume of passes to go around in that offense. He is also the last receiver that I would take in the first two rounds. To me, you want to address the QB position in these rounds and then take the player who stands out the most as the highest value, whether it be one of the uber-elite tight ends or a running back that you have a lot of faith in to be a consistent producer.
The 4 through 8 spots in my rankings generally represent a group of guys that are going to go falsely high and as a result, I don’t want to own them. Obviously that would be different for Welker in a PPR format but I do believe that his targets will go down with Brandon Lloyd in town and even if they don’t, he will be hard pressed to repeat last year. Look for this group to go in the second round or early third and expect me to look to the top RB and TE talent available to avoid taking these “risky” guys too early.
Brandon Marshall, though he has a fair amount of risk, has been reconnecting with his old QB since joining the Bears and has also commented on how he feels more a part of a team in Chicago than anywhere else he has played. Also, Marshall is far and away the most talented receiver on the Bears and will not have the issue of rotating guys or Cutler looking to another option very often (apart from Matt Forte as a check down option). The bottom line is that when he is healthy, he will be on the field and his QB’s favorite target. We’ve seen the numbers these two can put together so I am expecting Marshall to bounce back in a big way.
Steve Smith of the Panthers was on the list of “finished” receivers last season and now here he is, inside my top 20. I am not surprised either. Two season’s ago Smith was a top 20-ish guy when the Panthers started a reasonable QB who would get Smith involved (I believe it was Matt Moore) and since Cam Newton proved to be more than reasonable, so did Smith. This guy’s got talent and as we’ve seen in recent years, receivers can have LONG, productive careers. Don’t reach for Smith but don’t be upset if you get him in the late third or early fourth round.
Brandon Lloyd has followed coach Josh McDaniels around the league since the two first hooked up in Denver. Lloyd has had the most productive years of his career under McDaniels and he will follow him back to the place where he will have a career year this season, New England. Lloyd and the talent he has brought to the field the past two years is a much needed commodity for the Patriots. Brady will finally have a deep threat to stretch the field and open the run game. The Pats offense will be as complete as it has been in a few years and Lloyd is a relatively risk-free choice here.
Jeremy Maclin has officially supplanted DeSean Jackson as the top receiving threat on Michael Vick’s offense. Maclin is a much more reliable and consistent producer with DJax providing a spark and some big plays. Maclin is a PHENOMENAL pickup here and I would consider it a huge victory to have him as my WR 2 this season.
Best of the Rest
Look at these names… these are supposed to be guys who sit on your bench… or free agency… The entire top 40 receiver list is welcome to join my team this season and because of that, I can’t imagine I draft a receiver in the first three rounds. The first 9-12 or so of these guys would have been WR2′s a few years ago so it becomes harder and harder to miss on your pick. Once you fill out your starting roster at this position just take people with a high potential who might explode. You will be more than capable of finding a safe and reliable fill-in off of waivers should all of your sleeper picks fall though.
Demaryius Thomas and Eric Decker are both very close in ranking and I think Thomas is the guy you want. He will be a new type of threat that Peyton has never had at his disposal before. Despite the talent Manning has had around him (Wayne and Harrison), neither was the physical specimen that Thomas is. Manning will be just fine at throwing the back shoulder fade in the red zone and Thomas has the size to go and get it. I think the number of TD’s between these two could get nutty and that makes his upside higher than Decker’s. Throw that all out the window and take Decker in a PPR format though.
Carson Palmer is a bit of a sleeper pick for me as a backup QB this year. He had a strong statistical performance in the later part of last season after being thrown in mid-season. Now with a full off-season and training camp to learn the playbook and acclimate to his receivers, he should be more than adequate as a fill-in for a bye week or match up play if your number one guy has a particularly bad match up. Denarius Moore and Darrius Heyward-Bey are the speed-demons on the outside that Palmer is throwing to and Moore has the most chance of success in my book. Hey-Bey has a bit of a track record with inconsistency and I personally am not going to take a chance on him, but Moore is young enough that he has a serious chance to develop into a consistent threat for this Raiders offense that is surprisingly explosive and balanced with run-DMC healthy.
Michael Crabtree is a guy that I had a lot of trouble ranking. He comes in low enough that I ultimately decided that I want the top 10 upside that comes with Randy Moss… but I REALLY think that Crabtree is MORE likely to be a serviceable, weekly option. Crabtree gets targeted plenty by Smith and I would definitely switch these guys in a PPR format but the bottom line is that if I miss out on Crabtree, I can go get a guy like Danny Amendola late who is a very similar receiver for fantasy-owners just on a worse team.