There are some things in life that are just downright unpleasant – things like the sound of a dentist’s drill, stomaching Aunt Bertha’s holiday fruit cake and watching the same Doodlebops episode 10 times in the same week.
Add ranking the 2012 crop of fantasy football receivers to that list. The field is just so stinkin’ deep. After Calvin Johnson and Larry Fitzgerald, I could easily make a case for any of the next 10 receivers to occupy slot No. 3. That depth is a good thing on draft day, allowing you to pull from a much shallower position like running back early. However, it can be downright torture to rank the receivers.
1. Calvin Johnson, DET. No question on this one.
2. Larry Fitzgerald, ARI. No elite QB, no problem for Fitz, who gets solid stats regardless.
3. A.J. Green, CIN. Andy Dalton has tunnel vision for Green, who proved last year as a rookie that he can handle extra defensive attention – so very Calvin Johnson-esque of him!
4. Brandon Marshall, CHI. Was a statistical beast when he last played with Jay Cutler. The Bears lack other stud WRs to compete for receptions.
5. Julio Jones, ATL. Hard to agree with sites that rank Roddy White higher than Julio when even Roddy is admitting numerous times that his role will be reduced in favor of Jones’. It’s time to pass the mantle.
6. Victor Cruz, NYG. Many fantasy pundits expect Cruz to fall back to earth after an unexpected breakout last year. However, Hakeem Nicks’ foot surgery puts Cruz first in line for Eli Manning’s offerings for the time being.
7. Jordy Nelson, GB. I know I’m crazy for putting Jordy above Greg Jennings and I was ready to shout from the rooftops that Nelson’s breakout last year would be followed with him coming back to earth this year. However, I just can’t ignore all the great lines of commentary coming out of Packers camp this offseason on Nelson, who is causing rave reviews. Meanwhile, Jennings is suffering from lingering effects of a concussion suffered earlier this month. I still think Jennings has more yardage than Nelson by year’s end, but Jordy’s TDs will help keep him ahead of Jennings in overall fantasy scoring.
8. Greg Jennings, GB. Refer to Nelson’s commentary.
9. Percy Harvin, MIN. People fail to realize just how potent Harvin was as last season played out. One way to quantify it, as per Matthew Berry’s legwork in his most recent top 10s column: starting in Week 7 after Christian Ponder took over the offense, Harvin led ALL receivers in offensive touches with 100. Wes Welker was second from that point forward, with just 74.
10. Andre Johnson, HOU. Many are thinking about the Andre of old, who could churn out 1,500 yards without breaking a sweat. However, it isn’t 2009 any more. Andre hasn’t completed a season healthy in three years. His offense has morphed into an uber-running scheme and even in his “prime,” he never eclipsed double-digit touchdowns. He’ll still be the primary option in that offense and he still has the skillset to have some big games, just don’t think he’s worth a second round pick anymore.
11. Steve Smith, CAR. Last year with rookie Cam Newton under center, Smith had one of his most productive seasons ever. Now, just imagine what he can do after he and Newton have a full offseason to work on their game.
12. Roddy White, ATL. Roddy has helped me do very well in fantasy leagues in the past. It is hard to ignore his PPR prowess and in PPR leagues, he deserves bumping up this list. However, it is apparent that he will be turning over the top receiver crown in Atlanta to Julio this year. I think Matt Ryan has a big enough year to make both WRs relevant, just not enough for me to rank Roddy higher.
13. Brandon Lloyd, NE. I know … Wes Welker is the uber-great fantasy receiver we typically associate with Tom Brady. But thanks to gut feeling – or was that the Taco Bell I had for supper – I expect Lloyd to outscore Welker in fantasy leagues this season. Even with Welker’s PPR dominance. I just can’t overlook the Josh McDaniels factor, and that Welker will likely not be a Patriot this time next year.
14. Mike Wallace, PIT. It is hard not to rank Antonio Brown higher than Wallace considering how momentum swung last year and Brown became a favorite target for Big Ben. Maybe it is because Wallace is much more talented than ABrown. Maybe it is because Antonio got his big contract and won’t have as much to play for. Or maybe it is because Wallace didn’t get his big payday and will be playing with a chip on his shoulder.
15. Hakeem Nicks, NYG. The talent is unquestionable and Eli Manning proved last year that he can feed more than one receiver. I just get this weird feeling we haven’t heard the last of Nicks’ foot issues.
16. Dwayne Bowe, KC. Somewhere over the Dwayne Bowe, the Chiefs fans are singing in high-pitched Munchkin-like voices: “Ding, dong he finally signed … our under-rated receiver has signed!”
17. Wes Welker, NE. Re-read my rant on Lloyd. It isn’t that I don’t think Welker will still get gobs of receptions, but more that I start to worry that even the seemingly endless vat of peanut butter in Tom Brady’s throwing arm can only cover so many PB&Js. And, I get the feeling the Pats just won’t feel as urgent to feed the ball as much to Welker since they’ll likely lose him during the offseason anyway.
18. Marques Colston, NO. As much as Drew Brees can spread the ball around and as much as Jimmy Graham emerged last year, Colston is still a favorite target for his quarterback. The Saints have a ton to prove this year, and as long as Colston can stay healthy, he’ll get numbers.
19. Jeremy Maclin, PHI. Rotoworld lists Maclin as the Eagles’ No. 1 receiver, and if you look at his numbers for stretches last season, it is hard to overlook just how potent he was. So I don’t know why I just can’t get as excited for Maclin as many others are.
20. Eric Decker, DEN. The “experts” go back and forth on which receiver will benefit the most from Peyton Manning’s presence in Denver. My money is on Decker, who is more durable than Thomas and a more consistent option for Manning. Reports from Denver also suggest that the chemistry is already clicking between the two.
21. Miles Austin, DAL. When healthy, Austin is definitely able to put up some nice stats. The problem is that it can be hard to predict when those moments will come. He’s already dealing with hammy concerns this preseason.
22. Torrey Smith, BAL. Also a little dinged up at the moment, Torrey Smith seems like a different type of commodity to me. His arrow is on the upswing, he can turn one play into a huge game. Rumor has it that the Ravens are trying to turn Torrey into more than a one-trick, DeSean Jackson-like pony. We’ll know more when we get to see Torrey play.
23. Dez Bryant, DAL. Like those notes that Inspector Gadget used to get, prospective Dez Bryant owners should get a warning that their investment will soon self-destruct. He’s uber-talented, but he’s also an injury concern and showing some red flags off the field, too. Word has it that even the higher-ups in Dallas are tiring of his shenanigans.
24. Antonio Brown, PIT. See commentary on Mike Wallace.
25. Demaryius Thomas, DEN. While I like Decker to be the main beneficiary of Peyton Manning’s presence in Denver, I still think Thomas will get more than enough opportunities to blow things open using his speed and abilities – just as long as he doesn’t blow an MCL or hammy or other necessary muscle or ligament in the process.
26. Vincent Jackson, TB. A player that I find intriguing, Jackson has stud potential but continues to find himself falling due to concerns about Josh Freeman’s ability to get it to him regularly. However, Freeman did make a fantasy star out of Mike Williams two seasons ago and with Williams keeping defenses somewhat honest, maybe VJax is starting to become a value option in fantasy drafts.
27. Steve Johnson, BUF. Steve or Stevie or whatever you want to call him can produce solid numbers and I expect QB Ryan Fitzpatrick to have a solid season this fall. However, I can’t find myself jumping on this bandwagon just yet. Maybe if Johnson was a little more durable.
28. Reggie Wayne, IND. Falling much too far in drafts, Wayne may be old, but he isn’t dead. The Colts should be passing enough for Wayne to produce much better than his current ADP suggests. If Peyton Manning felt comfortable relying on Wayne, I have a feeling Luck will find the ability to do the same as he attempts to mature in his first season at the NFL level.
29. DeSean Jackson, PHI. Speed can be exciting. It can turn a simple dump pass into an 80-yard home run down the sideline. However, as the say goes, speed can also kill. In this case, it leaves DeSean a total feast or famine option. I personally like some consistency in my QBs.
30. Robert Meachem, SD. Before the preseason, it seemed inevitable that Meachem was going to fall into the No. 1 receiver role for the Chargers. However, that water is a little more muddy as some suggest Malcolm Floyd and Vincent Brown are showing some signs of life in the passing game. I still expect Meachem to emerge as the best weapon for Philip Rivers outside of tight end Antonio Gates.
31. Denarius Moore, OAK. I totally love Moore’s potential in an offense where Carson Palmer has a full offseason to get comfortable. Moore showed flashes of brilliance. The problem is that he can be an injury magnet – currently nursing a hamstring injury.
32. Pierre Garcon, WAS. I’m warming to Garcon later in drafts after increasing reports suggest that Garcon is a favorite option for rookie Robert Griffin III.
33. Santonio Holmes, NYJ. Starting to get into the nosebleed section of my receiver rankings. Holmes has potential but always seems to whine his way into the doghouse. Currently dinged up, he is still the best receiving option for the Jets. Someone has to catch passes in this offense, regardless of which QB is throwing them.
34. Kendall Wright, TEN. I’d love to put Kenny Britt in this slot, but I just can’t do it. He’s facing a suspension. He’ll likely do other immature, dumb stuff off the field. He’s nursing a knee injury. Meanwhile, Wright is taking advantage of the extra reps with the first-team offense. Nate Washington may see like the safer choice here, but I think Wright’s sheer talent will lift him into the prime role.
35. Steve Smith, STL. Going with a flyer here, but reports from St. Louis suggest that Smith is having a renaissance in camp and is projected at the moment as the team’s top receiver moving forward. There are so many moving pieces there, and rookies Brian Quick and Chris Givens are the future of the team’s receiving corps, but for this season, I’ll buy the hype that Smith could have a one-season rebirth.
Have any comments you’d like to share about my WR rankings? I’d love to hear them in the space below.