Once upon a time, wide receivers were as exciting in fantasy circles as a rubber band. But the world just keeps evolving. The realm of rubber bands have been revolutionized by the silly band. Similarly, in fantasy football, receivers have become all the rage.
And rightfully so. With the emergence of running backs by committee, fantasy football has evolved yet again, leaving the rest of us to either adapt or suffer the consequences.
Factoring in a slew of new up-and-coming receiving talents, here are my 2010 wide receiver redraft rankings:
1. Andre Johnson, HOU. His age, size, speed and overall skill set make him a nightmare to cover and the top target in an excessively pass-happy offense that will see plenty of shootouts throughout the season.
2. Randy Moss, NE. Remember, this isn’t a dynasty ranking. Moss always plays better when he has something to prove. When he has a chip on his shoulder. When he’s playing for his next contract. He has all three going for him in 2010, and will see ample targets as the Patriots attempt one last hurrah before a potential changing of the guard. Moss will have an elite 2010. After that is anyone’s guess.
3. Roddy White, ATL. Shocked? Don’t be. Just look at Roddy’s consistency the past three seasons … even last year when Matt Ryan faced some growing pains. Ryan will rise from the ashes of his sophomore disappointment to post solid numbers, with Roddy White benefactor 1A.
4. Reggie Wayne, IND. Only certainties in life are death, taxes and that Reggie Wayne will post elite receiver stats. A bit of a logjam for the Colts passing game with the return of Anthony Gonzalez and a small decrease in stats across the second half of last season leave me ranking Wayne here, but he could easily finish as the top fantasy receiver this season, too.
5. Larry Fitzgerald, ARI. Only uncertainty here begins and ends with the quarterback. Sure, the loss of Kurt Warner will likely affect Fitz’s numbers – slightly. I do think that Matt Leinart will need a big reliable receiver much like an infant relies on a favorite blankey or binky.
6. Calvin Johnson, DET. The Lions will be playing from behind plenty this season. Calvin and Matthew Stafford started showing signs of developed chemistry as the season wore on last year. The addition of Nate Burleson will help keep defenses from gang-covering Johnson. This all means a resurgence for the talented young pass catcher.
7. Miles Austin, DAL. Plenty of people are very high on Austin. I’m totally on the fence. Hard to get uber-excited just yet over a receiver who hasn’t proven his worth for an extended amount of time. Also curious to see how things are divvied out to an offense that gained an elite rookie receiver in Dez Bryant and promoted backfield receiving option Felix Jones to top dog running back.
8. Greg Jennings, GB. Coming off a down season by most people’s standards, Jennings was affected more by a slipshod O-line and Aaron Rodgers’ scramble for his life. Look at his stats later in the season when the O-line solidified a little. This season, Green Bay’s line is much improved. Jennings numbers will follow suit.
9. DeSean Jackson, PHI. If you haven’t read Larry Fitzgerald’s capsule above, do so now. Then insert Donovan McNabb into Kurt Warner’s slot and Kevin Kolb’s name in for Matt Leinart. Except Jackson isn’t as talented as Larry Fitz, hence the lower ranking here.
10. Brandon Marshall, MIA. If Marshall can make Kyle Orton look semi-legitimate, imagine what he can do with a young, talented Chad Henne? Offseason hip surgery may hamper him somewhat this summer and may affect his early season a tad, but Marshall is talented enough to net you plenty a fantasy point. If only he was more stable off the field.
11. Sidney Rice, MIN. Value is tied directly into Brett Favre’s impending return to the Vikings. If Favre somehow zigs when we all expect him to zag, like I suggest he should here, than Rice’s value plummets.
12. Vincent Jackson, SD. A super-talented young receiver with a history, lately, of being a knucklehead. Where have I heard this before? If he stays in San Diego and avoids suspensions or other sanctions, Jackson has the potential to move up this list at will. Question marks keep him here for the time being.
13. Steve Smith, CAR. A flag football injury won’t affect Smith’s 2010 regular season, according to various reports. Smith had a down 2009 due largely to ineffective QB play from Jake Delhomme. His stats saw a nice rebound when Matt Moore took over. Moore should start the season as the Panthers’ starter, and even if Jimmy Clausen or Tony Pike see some reps, Smith is going to see his share of receptions.
14. Marques Colston, NO. I’ve never personally been a fan of Colston in terms of fantasy potential, but it is hard to argue his place in one of the most prolific passing attacks in the league. The emergence of Robert Meachem will open even more routes for Colston, and while you may need to suffer through a down game here and there, Colston should provide some solid outings the rest of the time.
15. Anquan Boldin, BAL. Bringing a whole new dimension to Baltimore, it will be interesting to see how the Ravens incorporate their new top receiver into an offense known for rushing more than anything through the air. Boldin has been questionable at times during the latter half of the season and has seen his share of injuries … however, a more balanced offensive attack will keep the pressure off Boldin’s shoulders and could lead to a nice rebound season.
16. Michael Crabtree, SF. Showed plenty of upside last season despite missing time early in the campaign. With a full preseason to work with Alex Smith and a solid running game keeping defenses honest, Crabtree should continue to climb these standings this season.
17. Mike Sims-Walker, JAX. Separated himself from the rest of the pack as the true WR1 in Jacksonville and benefits from defenses spending so much of their resources trying to stop Maurice Jones-Drew. It would be exciting to see what Sims-Walker could do with a more reliable QB under center.
18. Chad Ochocinco, CIN. How the elite have fallen in places. No. 85 is still flashing his gold teeth in the league, and will still likely sit atop the receptions pile in Cincinnati. The addition of Antonio Bryant should help give Ochocinco some breathing room. A bounce-back 2010 is a good possibility.
19. Hines Ward/Mike Wallace. Breaking the rules on this one, I know. However, as sweet as Mike Wallace looked last season in spells, it is hard for me to envision him as the definite top pass catching option with Hines Ward still playing. Byron Leftwich will be looking for reliability when he wings out a pass in place of the suspended Ben Roethlisberger, and Hines Ward is about as reliable as one could expect. In dynasty leagues, I’d want Mike Wallace hands-down out of the two. In redrafts, I really don’t know. Guess I’d lean on Ward’s side for this season, especially in PPR formats.
20. Steve Smith, NYG. Was a nice surprise for people who chose to grab him and stick with it. His receptions are plenty nice in PPR formats and he is the official No. 1 wideout in Giantsland at the moment.
21. Wes Welker, NE. A lot higher than most sites have Welker, but then again, most of those sites had rankings out before Welker’s near-miraculous recovery (so far) from a torn ACL and MCL. Watch his progress this summer. If he continues to improve at a rapid pace and finds himself starting fairly quickly into the regular season, than you’ve gotten yourself a bargain … especially in PPR formats.
22. Dwayne Bowe, KC. I’m never a fan of knuckleheads on my team, and Bowe is definitely one of those. After a suspension due to drugs last year, he reported that the Chiefs were supplying women to players on road trips. Can’t imagine that will help his stock on Sundays. The Chiefs need a reliable passing game if they want to take the next step forward as a franchise, and Bowe definitely has the skill set to produce. Just tread carefully.
23. Pierre Garcon, IND. Sure the Colts have a logjam of receiving talent, but Garcon has proven to be the official No. 2 WR in a Peyton Manning offense.
24. Hakeem Nicks, NYG. Second Giants receiver in a very short period of ranking? Am I nuts? Yes, but that isn’t the point. Reports from New York state that the battle between Nicks and Mario Manningham will be fast and furious for the No. 2 WR slot. Methinks that Nicks’ battle will be moreso for the top wideout spot by midseason.
25. TJ Houshmanzadeh, SEA. Someone has to catch passes in an offense that will habitually be playing catchup. Golden Tate is a rookie receiver, meaning he’ll likely be a factor moreso next year or the season after. Housh is falling far enough on enough boards to be considered a mild value pick. Just don’t reach for him.
26. Percy Harvin, MIN. Provided Brett Favre comes back to Vikingsland, Harvin should continue to mature in his second season. His skillset allows him to be involved in the offense in various ways, upping his staying power. Lingering headache issues could pose a problem at some point.
27. Robert Meachem, NO. Have to admit that I wasn’t really in-tune with Meachem until I saw him dropped in a dynasty league I’m in. Reports from all angles are super favorable for Meachem, who was a TD beast as the season wore on. There are some who think Meachem will leapfrog Marques Colston in New Orleans at some point this season. However, even as a No. 2 in a Drew Brees offense, Meachem has definite value.
28. Donald Driver, GB. I’m a Packers fan, but I’m not super-high on Driver this season. Notice how the roles shifted last season as the Packers O-line finally solidified. Driver will find himself in a more Wes Welkerian role … which helps him bounce up this list more than I would have liked.
29. Santonio Holmes, NYJ. The early-season suspension doesn’t exactly help his fantasy stock, but Holmes has the talent to help sophomore QB Mark Sanchez take the next step in his pro career. Considering that the Jets are a run-first club, Holmes will have some consistency issues at times … but at least defensive pressure will likely be focused more on Shonn Greene and LaDanian Tomlinson than the passing game.
30. Devin Aromashodu/Johnny Knox/Devin Hester, CHI. Cheating again here a little. Whoever emerges from this mass of receivers as the main option for Jay Cutler in a Mike Martz offense will catapult himself up this list quicker than the Roadrunner zips past Wile E. Coyote. However, reports from Chicago are so back-and-forth, it is nearly impossible at this point to determine who will rise to the top. So, in most leagues that are drafting around this time, you’re stuck drafting all three in hopes you hit the lottery, not that second place will be a bad option, either, in this offense.
Other receivers of note:
Kenny Britt will find himself as the top dog in the Tennessee passing game at some point this season. I’m just not that excited about Vince Young’s style of play in terms of being able to consistently feed the ball to Britt.
Steve Breaston and Early Doucet will play opposite Larry Fitzgerald in Arizona. Questions at QB make things a little muddy, and while Breaston has the early lead in terms of the WR2 job, Doucet’s size and skillset are arguably better than Breaston. Perhaps a late-round sleeper if you need one.
Many will be focused on rookie receivers Damaryius Thomas and Eric Decker, and even Eddie Royal, in Denver to give due credit to Jabar Gaffney. However, when push came to shove the end of last season, Gaffney was the one who did his job the best. If Gaffney holds off the competition for primary replacement to Brandon Marshall, he’ll be a nice sleeper pick in the late rounds.
Whoever winds up the WR2 in Houston could see a nice uptick in value. Kevin Walter’s hold on the spot is tenuous, as Jacoby Jones makes a play for the spot. Stay tuned.
With a possible suspension looming for Santana Moss, and his aging skillset, this is the year that Devin Thomas and Malcolm Kelly need to start earning their paychecks. Either could be a sleeper in a Donovan McNabb offense, just not sure who will emerge.
Julian Edelman was a highly sought value player so far this summer in fantasy circles, but the quick recovery by Wes Welker will directly affect Edelman’s value for this season, since they’re from the same mold. If Welker has a setback, and considering his injuries, that is highly possible, Edelman is a sneaky nice add.
What do your redraft receiver rankings look like? Want to debate mine? We’d love to hear about it in the comments below.