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Wide Receiver Player Rankings – Week 1
Wide Receivers (Updated: Thursday, Sept. 6 - 11:10PM CT)
1. Calvin Johnson (vs. StL) – The things Calvin Johnson can do on a football field are far beyond normal human capabilities and from what I’ve heard, Megatron took the offseason to get both stronger and faster than he was in 2011…if that’s even possible. Calvin may only play three quarters this Sunday, but the reason why will be because the Lions are up by 35 points and they won’t want to risk injuring their star player. Of course, the reason they would be up 35 points is because Megatron went off for 175 yards and 2-3 touchdowns, so…
2. Julio Jones (@ KC) – Was this kid really a rookie last season? It sure didn’t look like it. Jones, though only 23 years old, is probably the second-most physically imposing wide receiver in the league next to Megatron. Like Calvin, he’s an absolute freak of an athlete complete with every possible intangible known to man. What he did during the pre-season this year was downright scary and the fact that he’ll never see a double-team because Roddy White lines up on the other side is simply nuts. The Chiefs were one of the better teams against opposing wide receivers last season, but various suspensions and injuries—especially the one to CB Brandon Flowers—will take its toll this weekend. With the Falcons likely going to the fast-paced, no-huddle offense right off the bat, look for Jones to start dominating immediately for your fantasy team.
3. Jordy Nelson (vs. SF) – When we get down to the nitty-gritty of the underestimated white boy from Manhattan, Kansas, here are the facts: He’s big (6’3”, 217-pounds), he’s fast (4.45 in the 40), he has great hands, he’s tough, he runs great routes, and he’s in a high-powered offense that thrives on passing the ball. So what’s not to like? The Packers won’t be able to run against the ‘Niners this Sunday, so Rodgers should be throwing the ball all day long which should mean a big day for Nelson and probably the rest of the Packers pass-catching crew as well. However, I’m especially high on Jordy this week and expect him to do well as he not only dominated throughout training camp and the pre-season, but he and Aaron look more in tune than anyone else on the team.
4. Wes Welker (@ Ten) – Welker tends to start the year off hot and I believe 2012 will be no different. Each year since joining the Patriots in 2007, Wes has seen double-digit targets in the team’s opening game with his least amount of reception being six. His last two opening day lines have been especially impressive going for eight receptions, 64 yards and two TDs in 2010 and then eight receptions for 160 yards and two TDs last season. His familiarity and consistency is what has led Tom Brady to giving New England a victory on opening day in eight straight seasons, a streak that will continue as long as Brady uses the same formula to make it happen. Look for a good one out of the Slot Machine this Sunday.
5. Larry Fitzgerald (vs. Sea) – The man with the best hands in the entire league is still the most consistent fantasy wide receiver heading into his ninth NFL season. It never really matters who lines up under center, either, which is a good thing considering his starting QB this season will be John Skelton. That being said, Skelton LOVES to throw the ball Fitz’s way and there’s no doubt in my mind he’ll receive a dozen or more targets against the Seahawks this Sunday. Fitz had six 100-yard games last season and Skelton, though only playing in eight games, was in there as his QB for four of them. Fitz was also targeted over 11 times/game with Skelton at the helm as well. Considering the Cards might have a tough time running on Seattle, look for Larry to be heavily involved in the offense this weekend.
6. Roddy White (@ KC) – Roddy will benefit from Julio Jones lining up opposite him almost as much as Julio will benefit from Roddy. Almost. Roddy will assume more of the over-the-middle/possession receiver type of duties with Julio being as big of a stud as he is, so his upside might be a bit capped in some games. However, with the injuries/suspension situation going on in the Chiefs defense this week, White should get just as much love from Matt Ryan this weekend as Julio, so look for a nice opening day from the man with the second-most receptions in the league since 2008 (behind Wes Welker).
7. Andre Johnson (vs. Mia) – At 31 years of age, injuries are really starting to come to the forefront with Johnson as he’s missed 12 games the last two seasons and recently missed time in training camp due to a groin injury. The Texans also STILL didn’t get ‘Dre any protection at the WR2 spot and will again start the season with Kevin Walter as a starter. Ooof! With the Houston offense now pretty much the Arian Foster show, and their defense good enough to allow the Texans to run the clock with Foster all they want, Johnson won’t go off all the time like owners wish he would. That being said, Miami was awfully hard to run against last season, so Andre should see a good amount of targets this Sunday and will likely have a nice start to the season for his fantasy owners.
8. Percy Harvin (vs. Jax) – He was a Jack-of-all-Trades in the first place and now Harvin is being told to handle all the kickoff return duties this weekend as well, so there’s no telling just how good of a fantasy opening weekend he’ll have. In fact, we may see even MORE of Percy Harvin this weekend than normal considering the hampered condition of Adrian Peterson and the lack of firepower surrounding him at wide receiver position with Jerome Simpson suspended. His obvious connection with QB Christian Ponder makes him one of the biggest upside guys in the league this weekend, so don’t be afraid to use him accordingly.
9. Greg Jennings (vs. SF) – Jennings’ latest concussion situation probably has a few fantasy owners worried about how he’ll start off the season but let me be the first to say – don’t be. He is still Aaron Rodgers’ favorite target (Jordy Nelson included) as he had more targets than anyone else on the team while playing in just 13 games last season and runs the routes most likely to get him open the quickest. Besides, with Jordy Nelson exploding onto the scene in 2011, Jennings won’t see as much defensive attention as he used to and with the Packers run game likely to be shut down by the mighty 49ers front seven, I’m expecting at least 10 targets and a good enough start to be in WR1 fantasy territory this Sunday.
10. Torrey Smith (vs. Cin - Monday Night) – All this kid needed to do this past offseason was learn the NFL route tree and it was obvious he was going to blossom into a high-level fantasy wide receiver. Well, he did it, and it showed in the pre-season when he caught 11 of his 14 targets for 146 yards over limited time during two pre-season games. The Ravens moving to an up-tempo, no-huddle offense will only increase his value as a fantasy WR and I expect it to pay dividends in Week 1. Last year, Smith averaged 5.5 catches for 99 yards and 0.5 TDs against the Bengals. I’m betting he out-performs those numbers this Monday night.
11. Brandon Marshall (vs. Ind) – When Denver broke up the Cutler-to-Marshall duo following the 2008 season, I felt a bit cheated that I wouldn’t be able witness one of the best QB/WR combos in the league for the next decade or so, but it seems my disappointment has been rectified. The dynamic duo has been reunited and it looks like the scheme they’ll be playing in under new offensive coordinator, Mike Tice, will bring out the best between both Marshall and Cutler. The only reason I have Marshall out of the top-10 this week is because I believe the Bears will go with a run-heavy offense against a terrible Colts rush D. However, it’s quite possible Marshall takes advantage of the Colts new CB (and former teammate), Vontae Davis, early on in the game enough to vault him into WR1 territory. Either way, he’ll be a fine fantasy starter his first week in a Bears uniform.
12. Pierre Garcon (@ NO) – If the Redskins want to win this game, they’re going to have to pass the ball and in all likelihood, pass the ball a lot. Garcon, as he was in the pre-season, will be targeted a ton by rookie QB Robert Griffin III and should come down with at least 6-7 catches because of it. Pierre’s explosive after-the-catch ability should be enough to make at least ONE of those catches count BIG-time, so don’t be surprised to see his numbers look more like WR1 numbers by the end of the weekend.
Wide Receivers 13-64
13. Antonio Brown (@ Den - Sunday Night)
14. A.J. Green (@ Bal - Monday Night)
15. Brandon Lloyd (@ Ten)
16. Marques Colston (vs.Was)
17. Dwayne Bowe (vs. Atl)
18. Mike Wallace (@ Den - Sunday Night)
19. Nate Washington (vs. NE)
20. Demaryius Thomas (vs. Pit - Sunday Night)
21. Jeremy Maclin (@ Cle)
22. Eric Decker (vs. Pit - Sunday Night)
23. Titus Young (vs. StL)
24. Steve Smith (@ TB)
25. Justin Blackmon (@ Min)
26. Kendall Wright (vs. NE)
27. Malcom Floyd (@ Oak - Monday Night)
28. Darrius Heyward-Bey (vs. SD - Monday Night)
29. Reggie Wayne (@ Chi)
30. Vincent Jackson (vs. Car)
31. Michael Crabtree (@ GB)
32. Lance Moore (vs.Was)
33. Stevie Johnson (@ NYJ)
34. DeSean Jackson (@ Cle)
35. Denarius Moore (vs. SD - Monday Night)
36. Anquan Boldin (vs. Cin - Monday Night)
37. Robert Meachem (@ Oak - Monday Night)
38. Greg Little (vs. Phi)
39. Sidney Rice (@ Ari)
40. Danny Amendola (@ Det)
41. Austin Collie (@ Chi)
42. Santana Moss (@ NO)
43. Steve Smith (@ Det)
44. Mike Williams (vs. Car)
45. Randy Moss (@ GB)
46. Braylon Edwards (@ Ari)
47. Leonard Hankerson (@ NO)
48. Santonio Holmes (vs. Buf)
49. Keshawn Martin (vs. Mia)
50. Brandon LaFell (@ TB)
51. Alshon Jeffery (vs. Ind)
52. Brian Quick (@ Det)
53. Nate Burleson (vs. StL)
54. Damian Williams (vs. NE)
55. Laurent Robinson (@ Min)
56. Lestar Jean (vs. Mia)
57. Randall Cobb (vs. SF)
58. Earl Bennett (vs. Ind)
59. Eddie Royal (@ Oak - Monday Night)
60. Emmanuel Sanders (@ Den - Sunday Night)
61. David Nelson (@ NYJ)
62. Devery Henderson (vs.Was)
63. Doug Baldwin (@ Ari)
64. James Jones (vs. SF)
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