WR Player Rankings – Week 4
1. Mike Wallace (@ Hou) – Did you know that since the beginning of the 2010 season, Mike Wallace has the most receiving yards in the league with 1,634 and is tied for sixth in TDs with 12? The numbers may be a bit surprising to you, but it’s clear Wallace and Ben Roethlisberger have one of the best rapports in the league right now as they’ve combined for 72 receptions on 110 targets for 1,423 yards and 10 TDs in their last 15 games together. Wallace also has a string of six straight regular season games with 100-plus yards going, a streak I believe continues in what could end up being a shootout down in the warm air of Texas.
2. Calvin Johnson (@ Dal) – The last time we saw such an impressive touchdown streak from a receiver was from Dwayne Bowe last season when he put up 13 touchdowns in just seven weeks of action. With the way Megatron and QB Matthew Stafford are dominating right now, another such run looks like it could be in the works. Dallas is by no means unbeatable through the air, especially with a banged up secondary, so I expect Calvin to go off once again this Sunday. Even if they were completely healthy, Megatron has become almost impossible to cover (especially in the red-zone) without throwing three defenders at him.
3. Hakeem Nicks (@ Ari) – Nicks has gotten off to somewhat of a slow start for a WR1 this year, but things should start to look up after Sunday. The good news starts with Mario Manningham’s return from a concussion this weekend, but it gets even better with the emergence of Victor Cruz forcing defenses to maybe leave Hakeem in single-coverage on a regular basis from now on. The Cardinals pass D, as it was in 2010, resides near the bottom of the league this year so Nicks should have no trouble putting up some major fantasy points.
4. Wes Welker (@ Oak) – Welker continues to amaze me to the point of near speechlessness. The clinic he put on last week against the Bills was quite a spectacle coming up with 16 catches for 217 yards and two TDs. My goodness! With the way Tom Brady is playing, it doesn’t really matter what kind of pass defense the other team has, but Oakland has allowed the fifth-most receiving yards in the league so far and should take another severe beatdown from Welker and Co. on Sunday.
5. Steve Johnson (@ Cin) – Stevie Johnson is for real, people. He’s not just another exuberant flash in the pan so often seen at the wide receiver position; he actually has the skills to back it all up. The Bengals look like they have a better rush defense than many predicted, but the Bills will catch on to it pretty quick and turn the game over to Ryan Fitzpatrick and his receiving corps. Johnson should receive another 10-plus targets this Sunday, enough to do some serious damage like he normally does with that type of volume.
6. Vincent Jackson (vs. Mia) – V-Jax hasn’t received nearly the amount of attention that he should be from Rivers so far this season, yet he still ranks in the top-10 in fantasy points thus far. IN his last game against the Dolphins, Jackson went for 120 yards on five catches, numbers he should easily be able to reach against a Dolphins team that has given up the most receiving TDs in the league and third most yardage against through three weeks of the season.
7. Roddy White (@ Sea) – Just when you thought his numbers may be on the decline, Roddy turns in his finest game of the season putting up 140 yards on nine catches (on 17 targets!) against the Bucs last week. Matt Ryan knows where his bread is buttered, so look for him to continue getting Roddy the ball a ton in the weeks to come. Seattle has a pretty decent rush D, so Atlanta may throw the ball a good 30-35 times in this game, which is quite enough for White to put up some good fantasy numbers.
8. Larry Fitzgerald (vs. NYG) – Larry needs to see more balls thrown his way after averaging just eight targets per game over the first three weeks. Count on that happening against the Giants this Sunday with New York allowing the seventh most fantasy points to opposing receivers so far this season. The Giants secondary is still hurting a bunch, so if the Cards offensive line can buy Kolb enough time in the pocket to throw the ball, Fitz should be able to capitalize in a big way.
9. Andre Johnson (vs. Pit) – Pittsburgh’s pass D isn’t as good as their number one ranking so far in 2011, but they were one of only three teams in the league last season to record more interceptions than passing TDs allowed. Not that it really matters too much against ‘Dre, as he is one of the most unguardable WRs in the game and currently on pace to set a bunch of career marks. His hot start will need to carry over into this week if the Texans want to beat the Steelers, and I believe it will. Big-time players step up in big-time games. Andre is one of those guys.
10. Greg Jennings (vs. Den) – If Champ Bailey is out another week for the Donkeys, which it looks like he will be, then Jennings should be in line for a huge fantasy day in this one. The Broncos have allowed five TDs without grabbing and interception thus far and have allowed a passer rating of 106.8 to opposing QBs. Greg hasn’t put up less than double-digit fantasy points in any week so far this season, and I don’t expect this to be the game that breaks the streak. I expect top-10 WR fantasy numbers with an upside of being in the top three.
11. DeSean Jackson (vs. SF) – DeSean has been inexistent since his Week One onslaught, but that could change in a big way this weekend. As was the case in that first game, Jeremy Maclin might not be able to suit up for this one thus making D-Jax the clear-cut number one target for Vick to throw to. Jackson has a tendency to disappear for a couple weeks at a time, only to reemerge with a monster game a few weeks later. San Fran’s pass D is average at best and with their rush D being as good as it is, I expect the Eagles to toss the pill around quite a bit.
12. Dez Bryant (vs. Det) – Clearly Bryant wasn’t playing at 100 percent last Monday night against the Redskins, but he should be a lot closer to it with another week of treatment. Miles Austin will be sitting out once again on Sunday so Dez will be the go-to guy for Romo for at least another game. Detroit’s pass defense has been extremely improved this season, but Bryant’s skills should be able to overcome whatever the Lions throw at him. Expect a big day in what might turn out to be a high scoring affair.
13. Brandon Marshall (@ SD) – Marshall was held in check by Joe Haden and the Browns last weekend, but the Chargers depleted secondary won’t be able to repeat their efforts. Baby T.O. is currently tied for fifth in the league in targets with 31 and should see at least double-digit balls thrown his way again on Sunday. San Diego may not have let up a ton of receiving yardage through three weeks, but that doesn’t mean they’ve played well as they’ve already given up six TDs and allow the second highest passer rating to QBs. Marshall should be able to put up some decent yardage and possibly his second touchdown of the year this weekend.
14. Santana Moss (@ StL) – Moss has been as consistent as almost any other receiver in the league this year and should be in lineups as a WR2 or WR3 every week. Indoors against the Rams, Santana will be able to use his quickness to his advantage and should grab at least six balls from Grossman come Sunday. Moss had six catches for 124 yards and a TD against this team last season and I expect close to the same against a defense that has allowed the second most fantasy points to WRs this year.
15. Dwayne Bowe (vs. Min) – With Jamaal Charles done for the season, I expect Bowe to see a large quantity of targets from Matt Cassel on a weekly basis from here on out. He’s easily the most talented player on the team at this point and needs to be used as such if the Chiefs even want a chance to win games. Minnesota’s pass D has allowed an average of 299 yards passing a game so far this year, and though I don’t expect Cassel to hit that mark, he should be able to throw for at least 225 yards with Bowe being on the receiving end for maybe 100 of them.
16. Santonio Holmes (@ Bal) – Santonio can be an extremely frustrating fantasy player to own as you never really know when he’ll bust out for a big game. His 100-yard games are few and far between, but he does seem to catch the big touchdown whenever it’s needed. He didn’t get to face Baltimore last year in Week One due to his suspension, but in the seven times he faced them since 2007 (including playoffs) while playing in Pittsburgh, Holmes actually had a touchdown in every single one of those seven games. I know the Jets are a different team, but sometimes you just have a thing for playing certain squads. Baltimore seems to be Santonio’s “I-Own-You” team. Get him in your lineup.
17. Brandon Lloyd (@ GB) – Despite WR Eric Decker getting a ton of Kyle Orton’s attention lately, Brandon Lloyd is still clearly the most talented guy for him to throw, and he will against the Packers. My guess is that Green Bay will go up on the Donkeys pretty quickly in this one, thus forcing Orton to pass the ball all over the place for a chance to win. The Packers rush D won’t allow McGahee or Moreno to do anything against them anyway, so I expect Lloyd to be looked to quite a bit for yardage against a suddenly beatable Green Bay pass D.
18. Jeremy Maclin (vs. SF) – (If healthy enough to play) – If Maclin and his bum hamstring aren’t able to get out there on Sunday, you obviously have to sit him back down on your bench. However, if Jeremy suits up, this is a prime matchup for him to turn in a nice fantasy performance with the ‘Niners being relatively weak in the secondary and strong along the front line. Watch the news coming out of Philly closely these next few days to see what the story is here.
19. Reggie Wayne (@ TB) – Wayne obviously has no chance to be that dependable number one fantasy receiver we’ve all come to know over the last seven seasons, but that doesn’t mean he’ll be completely useless either. Kerry Collins isn’t a tenth of the QB Peyton Manning is, as plainly shown by Reggie being able to catch just 14 of the 32 targets he’s seen on the season, but at least he’s trying to get him the ball. Tampa doesn’t have the greatest secondary, so even if they stick CB Aqid Talib on him all game, Reggie should still be able to come up with some decent WR2 fantasy numbers by game’s end.
20. Mike Williams – TB (vs. Ind) – Talk about slow starts! Those who expected Williams to come close to being a WR1 in fantasy this season have been disappointed to the utmost degree thus far. Opposing defenses have figured out that the Bucs really don’t have anyone else to throw to, so putting Big Mike in double-coverage is pretty much a no-brainer for them. That said, it looks like Freeman is still trying to get him the ball and will continue to do so until Williams breaks out. Against a very mediocre Colts D, this could be the week.
21. Julio Jones (@ Sea) – Welcome to the NFL Mr. Jones! Last week was Julio Jones’ coming out party where he put up 115 yards on six catches against the inter-division rival Buccaneers with their star CB Aqib Talib covering him. If all the ultra-talented receiver needed to bust out of his shell was a little confidence, he certainly got it last Sunday. In Week 4, Jones will face an underrated Seahawks D that kept Larry Fitzgerald relatively in check last weekend, but I fully expect him to strut his stuff against their number two CB.
22. Lance Moore (@ Jax) – With Colston out of the lineup, Lance was Brees’ go-to guy last weekend as he caught all nine of his targets for 88 yards and a TD against the Texans. Colston should be out again in Week 4, so I expect the result to be the same. Moore will be good for at least six catches, probably more, and maybe a good 75 yards or so with a chance of a TD in this one. Book it.
23. Denarius Moore (vs. NE) – Denarius Moore looks like this year’s Mike Williams (TB) so far, and I doubt he slows down in Week 4. Playing against the Patriots in what should be another high-scoring affair, I expect Moore to be turned to often by Jason Campbell this Sunday. With WR Jacoby Ford back in the lineup, Denarius will find himself in single-coverage whenever he’s out on the field, a game-plan which has so far proven to be useless against Moore’s superior will for the ball. He’ll do it again this Sunday, so make sure you keep him in your lineup until someone slows him down.
24. A.J. Green (vs. Buf) – As it usually is with rookies, no matter the position; A.J. Green has been expectedly inconsistent so far this season. However, with Buffalo becoming a high-scoring team this season, my bet is that Cincinnati will have to pass the ball a bunch to keep up with them. If Green can get a good eight to ten targets from Andy Dalton on Sunday, he’ll be in line for a nice game. If for some reason this turns into a battle in the trenches, obviously Green’s fantasy value will suffer. He’s a high-risk, high-reward WR3/flex play this week.
25. Steve Smith – Car (@ Chi) – Believe me, I know what Steve Smith can do and so far this season, he’s looked outstanding and completely rejuvenated with Cam Newton at the helm. Against this Bears Cover-2 pass D, however, I just don’t see the huge fantasy numbers coming this week. Chicago won’t let Smitty behind them on deep routes while their speed and tackling skills are elite enough to keep Stevie’s yards-after-the-catch ability in check. He might catch a bunch of balls, which is great for PPR leagues, but I’m not expecting 100 yards or a touchdown.
26. Mario Manningham (@ Ari) – If Manningham is as good to go as he said he was after Wednesday’s practice, he should be able to put up some nice fantasy stats against this porous Arizona pass D. You know he’ll be up for this game as he doesn’t want to get “Wally Pipp’ed” out of the starting lineup by New York’s newest fan-favorite, Victor Cruz, so I expect some pretty good fantasy work from him this weekend.
27. Sidney Rice (vs. Atl) – Rice stepped onto the field for the first time last weekend and immediately became Tarvaris Jackson’s go-to guy as he caught eight of his 10 targets for 109 yards against the Cardinals. Obviously Tarvaris isn’t quite an elite QB, but he does have a past with Sidney to refer to so I expect Rice to continue getting a ton of balls thrown his way from here on out. Against a Falcons pass D that ranks near the bottom of the league, Rice is a good WR3 with nice upside.
28. Percy Harvin (@ KC) – The Vikings have to get Harvin the ball more starting this weekend if they ever want to win a game. Against a banged up Kansas City team, I’m betting on it happening this Sunday. Whether he’s running the ball or catching it, Harvin should get at least 10 touches in this one and might even get as many as 15 or so. If he does, the fantasy stats will be there enough to warrant a WR3/flex start on your team.
29. Jordy Nelson (vs. Den) – The Packers offense is pretty unstoppable at this point and Nelson seems to have grabbed a good hold of its WR2 slot. My guess is that Rodgers tries to get his team off to an early lead by passing all over this porous Denver pass D, so Nelson could be in line for a good seven to ten targets from which he’ll be able to put up some real nice fantasy numbers. The downside is if Rodgers happens to use his other multitude of weapons to score early before the Pack turns to the running game to run out the clock. Play him as a WR3 with very nice upside this weekend.
30. Deion Branch (@ Oak) – Last week against the Bills had to have been one of the flukier games in Deion Branch’s career. In a game where Brady threw for four touchdowns and 387 yards on 30 completions, Branch failed to log a single reception on his three targets. Believe me that will not happen again. The Patriots will continue to throw like crazy and Branch will be involved as much as he had been up until last week. I expect at least five or six catches and a good amount of yardage from his this week against a beatable Raiders secondary.
Rounding out the rest of the Top-75 WRs...
31. Nate Washington (@ Cle)
32. David Nelson (@ Cin)
33. Robert Meachem (@ Jax)
34. Anquan Boldin (vs. NYJ)
35. Johnny Knox (vs. Car)
36. Jacoby Ford (vs. NE)
37. Antonio Brown (@ Hou)
38. Eric Decker (@ GB)
39. Nate Burleson (@ Dal)
40. Jabar Gaffney (@ StL)
41. Plaxico Burress (@ Bal)
42. Dexter McCluster (vs. Min)
43. Pierre Garcon (@ TB)
44. Mohamed Massaquoi (vs. Ten)
45. Jerome Simpson (vs. Buf)
46. Mike Thomas (vs. NO)
47. Mike Sims-Walker (vs. Was)
48. Torrey Smith (vs. NYJ)
49. Donald Jones (@ Cin)
50. Greg Little (vs. Ten)
51. Malcom Floyd (vs. Mia)
52. Andre Caldwell – (vs. Buf)
53. Brandon Gibson (vs. Was)
54. Victor Cruz (@ Ari)
55. Dane Sanzenbacher (vs. Car)
56. Hines Ward (@ Hou)
57. Danario Alexander (vs. Was)
58. Davone Bess (@ SD)
59. Anthony Armstrong (@ StL)
60. Michael Crabtree (@ Phi)
61. Steve Breaston (vs. Min)
62. Arrelious Benn (vs. Ind)
63. Jason Hill (vs. NO)
64. Chad Ochocinco (@ Oak)
65. Devery Henderson (@ Jax)
66. Emmanuel Sanders (@ Hou)
67. Devin Hester (vs. Car)
68. Mike Williams – Sea (vs. Atl)
69. Steve Smith - Phi (vs. SF)
70. Early Doucet (vs. NYG)
71. Austin Collie (@ TB)
72. Patrick Crayton (vs. Mia)
73. Jason Avant (vs. SF)
74. Brandon LaFell (@ Chi)
75. Jacoby Jones (vs. Pit)