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Wide Receiver Player Rankings – Week 14
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Wide Receivers (Updated: Thursday, Dec. 6 - 7:04PM CT)
1. Calvin Johnson (at GB, Sunday night) – It seems Calvin Johnson’s transformation back into the inhuman, space-wandering Megatron is complete. The minor malfunctions experienced through the first half of the season have long since been repaired, as his otherworldly fantasy numbers can henceforth be counted upon. Calvin is currently on pace for an NFL record 1,904 receiving yards, which would best Jerry Rice’s mark of 1,848 yards set in 1995. He would need 105.3 yards a game over the last quarter of the season to do it, but that number seems rather paltry with the way he’s been playing of late. This Sunday night, the Lions travel to Lambeau to face the NFC North-leading Packers. In 10 career games against Green Bay, Johnson has averaged 94.4 yards per game but what’s more, he’s also grabbed 11 TDs. In fact, he failed to score a touchdown in just two of those matchups, so there’s no reason to believe another prime WR1 performance won’t be coming this weekend.
2. Demaryius Thomas (at Oak, Thursday night) – Thomas has been a fantasy beast this season and is obviously very happy with his new quarterback, Peyton Manning. He has five 100-yard games on the season and though he hasn’t had one in the last three games, he was still able to give his fantasy owners four TD catches in that time. Over the course of the season, Demaryius has become Manning’s favorite target as he now has 69 catches for 1,114 yards and eight TDs on the year. In their first meeting with the Raiders, Thomas had five catches for 103 yards and though he failed to grab a touchdown in that game, he’s on a three-game scoring streak and should be able to extend it to a fourth this Thursday. Thomas is a must-start this week and every week going forward as it seems he can be trusted for the remainder of the season.
3. Vincent Jackson (vs. Phi) – I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again—if there’s one thing Vincent Jackson does really well for his fantasy owners, it’s that he takes full advantage of poor pass defenses. The Philadelphia Eagles defense, though not bad on paper, have already mailed in the season and look about as lethargic as I’ve ever seen a defense in this league. They’ve allowed six touchdowns to wide receivers in the last three weeks alone and 28 or more points in all six games since their Week 7 bye. V-Jax has already reached the 1,000-yard mark for the season on a career-high 20.3 yards per catch and could actually improve on that number with as many big plays as the Eagles have surrendered of late.
4. A.J. Green (vs. Dal) – Two weeks in a row without a touchdown? Absurd! What in the world is wrong with this guy?! Well, since he still leads the league in both touchdowns and fantasy points, then I’m going to go out on a limb and say he’s fine. This week, Green will take on a Dallas Cowboys pass defense that has played very well this season, but also seem to have a bit of trouble with the taller wide receivers of the league. A.J., of course, stands 6’4”, so though he may not go off for a ton of yards, I expect him to grab at least one red-zone touchdown before the final whistle blows.
5. Victor Cruz (vs. NO) – It’s been a tale of two seasons for the Meadowlands Magician in 2012 as his hot start through the Giants first seven games was followed up by a less than stellar last five weeks. His rise back into the elite, however, starts this Sunday with the abysmal New Orleans Saints pass defense coming to town. Cruz has always played better at home, but particularly so this season with averages of 6.2 catches, 86.8 yards and one TD through the team’s first six games in New Jersey. Though the Saints defense has played better of late, they still allow the third-most fantasy points per game to wide receivers, so Cruz should be able to grab top-10 numbers this weekend. If you need a last bit of confidence here, I’ll also tell you that Victor had his best fantasy day of the season against the Saints last year when he grabbed nine balls for 157 yards and two TDs in their matchup.
6. Brandon Marshall (at Min) – Holy crap has Brandon Marshall been on fire this season! I figured on him being dominant at times considering his long-awaited return to play with Jay Cutler, but other than A.J. Green, Marshall might be the most consistent wide receiver in all of fantasy this season. He’s recorded double-digit targets in all but three games and has nine or more catches in six of them. Two weeks ago against this same Minnesota Vikings team, Brandon tied a season-high with 12 receptions on 17 targets, though he was unable to snag one for a touchdown. If he sees even close to that many looks again this time around, he should be able to get into the end zone and put up WR1 stats for the day.
7. Julio Jones (at Car) – Julio Jones’ averages on the road this season pretty much say it all. In six games away from home, Jones has a monstrous weekly output of six catches for 102.3 yards and one touchdown per game. He’s had either 100 yards and/or a TD in five of those six games and should be able to make it a sixth this Sunday against the Carolina Panthers. Last year in Carolina, Jones had 103 yards and two TDs, numbers that could very well be matched in this one as the Panthers have had a tough time covering taller wide receivers all season long.
8. Andre Johnson (at NE, Monday night) – Andre came back down to Earth against the Titans last weekend catching just five passes for 56 yards in the game. However, he wasn’t really needed for a Texans victory with the game well in hand by the middle of the second quarter. This week, however, will be a completely different story with the 11-1 Texans (6-0 on the road) traveling to Foxborough to take on a Patriots team with a six-game winning streak and the best point-differential (plus-170, Houston is second with plus-130) in the league. If the Patriots come out firing as usual, then the Texans will have to turn to the pass to stay within reach so look for ‘Dre to see a whole lot of love from Matt Schaub this Monday night. Considering the Patriots have allowed the fourth-most passing yards per game and seventh-most passing TDs this season, Johnson should be good for top-10 fantasy numbers here.
9. Dez Bryant (at Cin) – Dez Bryant is going pretty ballistic at this point as he’s now caught 29 balls for 475 yards and six touchdowns over the Cowboys last four games. Sick! He’s also catching nearly everything thrown his way, which is a major turn-around from being plagued by drops early on in his career. I’d have him up higher in my rankings this week if not for the strong play in the Bengals secondary this year. They’ve allowed the sixth-fewest fantasy points per game this season and just one WR to go for 100 yards, but I believe Dez Bryant is one of the few wideouts in the NFL right now who can buck that trend. It’ll be tough, but Bryant should be able to put up WR1 numbers by the end of this game.
10. Reggie Wayne (vs. Ten) – Reggie Wayne has now dropped to third in the league in receptions (88) behind Wes Welker (92) and Brandon Marshall (91), but he still leads them all in targets with a whopping 152 on the season (12.7 per game). He’s also third in receiving yards with 1,156, but he’s coming off his lowest total of the season going for just 51 yards against the Lions last weekend. However, this Sunday should be a good one for the old-timer with the Titans bringing their sub-par pass defense into town. Tennessee has given up the second-most passing TDs and seventh-most passing yards per game this year, so Reggie should be just fine there. Wayne also tends to play much better at home, so combined with the way Andrew Luck has been tossing the ball out there lately, I expect to see some of Wayne’s better numbers of 2012 this Sunday.
Wide Receivers 11-80
11. Randall Cobb (vs. Det, Sunday night)
12. Wes Welker (vs. Hou, Monday night)
13. Roddy White (at Car)
14. Torrey Smith (at Was)
15. Greg Jennings (vs. Det, Sunday night)
16. Hakeem Nicks (vs. NO)
17. Chris Givens (at Buf)
18. Pierre Garcon (vs. Bal)
19. Marques Colston (at NYG)
20. Eric Decker (at Oak, Thursday night)
21. T.Y. Hilton (vs. Ten)
22. Steve Smith (vs. Atl)
23. Mike Wallace (vs. SD)
24. Danario Alexander (at Pit)
25. Lance Moore (at NYG)
26. Josh Gordon (vs. KC)
27. Michael Crabtree (vs. Mia)
28. Kenny Britt (at Ind)
29. Mike Williams (vs. Phi)
30. Golden Tate (vs. Ari)
31. Miles Austin (at Cin)
32. Larry Fitzgerald (at Sea)
33. James Jones (vs. Det, Sunday night)
34. Anquan Boldin (at Was)
35. Sidney Rice (vs. Ari)
36. Stevie Johnson (vs. StL)
37. Jeremy Maclin (at TB)
38. Brandon Lloyd (vs. Hou, Monday night)
39. Nate Washington (at Ind)
40. Donnie Avery (vs. Ten)
41. Antonio Brown (vs. SD)
42. Darrius Heyward-Bey (vs. Den, Thursday night)
43. Denarius Moore (vs. Den, Thursday night)
44. Dwayne Bowe (at Cle)
45. Kendall Wright (at Ind)
46. Mike Thomas (at GB, Sunday night)
47. Louis Murphy (vs. Atl)
48. Jeremy Kerley (at Jax)
49. Riley Cooper (at TB)
50. Justin Blackmon (vs. NYJ)
51. Malcom Floyd (at Pit)
52. Davone Bess (at SF)
53. Emmanuel Sanders (vs. SD)
54. Jarius Wright (vs. Chi)
55. Tiquan Underwood (vs. Phi)
56. Donald Jones (vs. StL)
57. Greg Little (vs. KC)
58. Andrew Hawkins (vs. Dal)
59. Kevin Walter (at NE, Monday night)
60. Brandon Stokley (at Oak, Thursday night)
61. Santana Moss (vs. Bal)
62. Rueben Randle (vs. NO)
63. Juron Criner (vs. Den, Thursday night)
64. Brian Hartline (at SF)
65. Jason Avant (at TB)
66. Doug Baldwin (vs. Ari)
67. Alshon Jeffery (at Min)
68. Cole Beasley (at Cin)
69. Rod Streater (vs. Den, Thursday night)
70. LaVon Brazill (vs. Ten)
71. Domenik Hixon (vs. NO)
72. Michael Floyd (at Sea)
73. Austin Pettis (at Buf)
74. Jacoby Jones (at Was)
75. T.J. Graham (vs. StL)
76. Harry Douglas (at Car)
77. Marvin Jones (vs. Dal)
78. Jonathan Baldwin (at Cle)
79. Mohamed Massaquoi (vs. KC)
80. Joseph Morgan (at NYG)
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