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Wide Receivers

1

Dez Bryant

Dallas Cowboys

Dez Bryant

Dez Bryant will morph into Calvin Johnson this year. That is to say, Bryant now gets to dance with Scott Linehan in 2014. If you don't know about Linehan, to say he loves to pass the ball is a gross understatement. The Cowboys will finish in the top-3 in pass attempts and Bryant's number will be called on the majority of those plays. 

2

Antonio Brown

Pittsburgh Steelers

Antonio Brown may not make too many top-10 lists for fantasy football purposes, but that's because people aren't paying attention. The man is a target hound and the Steelers are installing a more attacking offense that will look to go no-huddle more often. Brown will deliver this year just as he did last year. He's a guy who had 110 receptions (not targets) and averaged 93.7 yards per game. The best part is that you can get him in the third round in some drafts.

3

Josh Gordon

Cleveland Browns

4

Demaryius Thomas

Denver Broncos

Demaryius Thomas

Thomas is getting much love from the fantasy football community this offseason. Some are even touting him as the No. 1 wideout this year. While I think Thomas will be a tremendous fantasy asset in 2014, I think most are downplaying Emmanuel Sanders' talent. Sure, Eric Deckers' 87 receptions, 1,288 yards and 11 touchdowns are going to have to go to someone, but Manning will spread that out between all pass-catchers, not just add that to Thomas' stat-line. The lesson here: grab Sanders as a late-round fantasy gem this year.

5

Jordy Nelson

Green Bay Packers

Jordy Nelson

Yes. Jordy Nelson is our No. 1 fantasy wideout this year. Nelson was on pace for over 97 receptions, 1,620 receiving yards and 14-plus touchdowns before Aaron Rodgers went down last season. Nelson scored seven touchdowns in the first seven games and averaged over 100 yards per game while Rodgers was throwing to him. Nelson moves all around the Packers offense, including more work out of the slot. Look for him to lead the league in yards and touchdowns in 2014 and you can get him  at a bargain in the second round of your fantasy draft.

6

Randall Cobb

Green Bay Packers

7

Calvin Johnson

Detroit Lions

Calvin Johnson

Calvin Johnson slid down my rankings this year because of a couple of reasons: 1) I believe he has suffered some significant injuries that will be recurring for seasons to come; 2) Scott Linehan left the team and the Lions won't air it out nearly as much next year. Johnson will still be a top-fantasy producer, but not just the best. 

8

T.Y. Hilton

Indianapolis Colts

9

Julio Jones

Atlanta Falcons

Julio Jones

Julio Jones is one of my favorite wideouts to watch play the game. I just wish he'd stop breaking his foot and stick to breaking defensive back's ankles. As much as I'd like to, I just can't justify having Julio any higher in the rankings based on his injury-risk.

10

Marques Colston

New Orleans Saints

11

Percy Harvin

Minnesota Vikings

Christian Ponder looking better and better each game, Harvin's fantasy value is on the rise. Harvin is utilized in many different ways on the field, which makes his value rise even more. He's your WR2 who can put up WR1 numbers in any given week.

12

Steve Smith

Carolina Panthers

Steve Smith

We're still gun-shy about recommending Smith as a top-10 receiver. Cam Newton made some bone-headed decisions throwing the ball. With Jonathan Stewart likely back from injury (ankle), the Panthers should look to balance out their offense. This could be good for Smith, but we have our expectations low against the Saints.

13

Stevie Johnson

Buffalo Bills

 

The enigmatic receiver followed up his breakout season in 2010 with a solid year in 2011. His numbers came down slightly last season, but were still good enough to keep him in your fantasy line-up. Johnson signed a lucrative deal in the offseason and it'll be interesting to see how he comes out and plays in 2012 with all that money now in the bank. Projected fantasy points: 148

14

Andre Johnson

Houston Texans

Andre Johnson

15

Darrius Heyward-Bey

Oakland Raiders

 

After two miserable seasons to start his career, Heyward-Bey finally emerged as legitimate fantasy option in 2011. Heyward-Bey finished last year with nearly 1,000 receiving yards and four touchdowns. If you're looking for a reason to be excited about Heyward-Bey in 2012, look no further than his final three games of 2011. During that span, he and Carson Palmer connected on 21 passes for 355 yards and two touchdowns. Projected fantasy points: 119

16

Michael Crabtree

San Francisco 49ers

 

After a sluggish start in 2011, Crabtree turned in a solid second half of the season. Crabtree hauled in 72 passes last year, 41 of those catches coming in Weeks 11 through 17. He also had his four best games of the year during that span. Projected fantasy points: 122

17

Sidney Rice

Seattle Seahawks

 

We've seen his potential, but he's only played a full season once in his five-year career. Rice has missed 17 games the past two seasons, including seven last year due to a shoulder injury that has required two surgeries in the offseason. Buyer beware, but he's a steal here if he can stay healthy. Projected fantasy points: 128

18

Titus Young

Detroit Lions

 

A strong finish in 2011 should get fantasy owners excited about Young's potential in 2012. The second-year receiver scored 94 fantasy points in his rookie season, with 79% of those point (75) coming in the final nine games of the season. With so much focus on Calvin Johnson, Young should be able to find plenty of holes in opposing defenses. Projected fantasy points: 110

19

Brandon Lloyd

New England Patriots

Towards the end of last season, the Cardinals looked like they would be a dominant defense. They have yet to face Tom Brady. Look for Brady to expose the young Patrick Peterson in this home game for the Pats.

20

DeSean Jackson

Philadelphia Eagles

Teams have caught on to the go route that Jackson runs. And they've learned to pressure Vick and push him out to his right-side. This doesn't bode well for Jackson this season. Lower expectations—if they weren't this low already.

21

Andrew Hawkins

Cincinnati Bengals

Andrew Hawkins

Andrew Hawkins looks to be the safety-valve for Andy Dalton in Cincinnati. The Bengals needed a receiver who is able to get open and take some pressure off of A.J. Green. Hawkins is that guy and will be a source of steady production each week. He was Dalton's favorite target in Week 1, which should continue as defenses focus on stopping Green.

22

Eric Decker

Denver Broncos

The Broncos only threw the rock 26 times in Week 1. Decker was targeted on seven of those throws. He has Manning's eye. He turned in a mediocre performance in Week 1 (5/54/0), but will bounce back in Week 2 on Monday Night Football.

23

Larry Fitzgerald

Arizona Cardinals

Larry Fitzgerald

24

Robert Meachem

San Diego Chargers

 

The Chargers brought Meachem in to replace Vincent Jackson, who signed with Tampa Bay. Meachem has a great opportunity in San Diego, and has the potential to be a fantasy WR2 this year. During his four seasons with New Orleans, Meachem best year came in 2009 when he caught 45 passes for 722 yards and nine touchdowns. He'll be called on to do more with the Chargers, which will improve his numbers this year. Projected fantasy points: 128

25

Torrey Smith

Baltimore Ravens

 

Towards the end of last season, Smith was one of Joe Flacco's favorite targets. Smith averaged nearly 17 yards per catch as a rookie and has the downfield speed to make big plays on a consistent basis. If he can improve his intermediate route running this offseason, his fantasy value will only go higher. Projected fantasy points: 133

26

Anquan Boldin

Baltimore Ravens

 

Boldin is coming off his worst statistical season in eight years in 2011. He finished the year with 57 receptions for 887 yards and three touchdowns, he also missed two games with a knee injury. Boldin will turn 32 this season and his role in the Ravens offense may begin to shrink. During Weeks 10-15, before Boldin's knee injury, Boldin had 33 targets. During that same span, rookie receiver Torrey Smith had 38 targets. Projected fantasy points: 117

27

David Nelson

Buffalo Bills

28

Denarius Moore

Oakland Raiders

 

29

Devery Henderson

New Orleans Saints

30

Doug Baldwin

Seattle Seahawks

31

Dwayne Bowe

Kansas City Chiefs

Dwayne Bowe

Bowe is often underrated in fantasy circles. He's a No. 1 wideout on a team that will have one of the most intimidating running games. Yes, the Chiefs will focus on the ground game. But that doesn't mean they won't throw the ball at all. And when they do throw, Bowe will be their first choice. He's a solid start in Week 1.

32

Greg Little

Cleveland Browns

33

James Jones

Green Bay Packers

34

Jerome Simpson

Minnesota Vikings

35

Jon Baldwin

Kansas City Chiefs

36

Justin Blackmon

Jacksonville Jaguars

37

Laurent Robinson

Jacksonville Jaguars

 

Robinson picked the perfect time to have a breakout season. He finished 2010 with 54 receptions for 858 yards and 11 touchdowns, which was tops among Cowboys receivers. Robinson, who's entering his sixth NFL season, should be the Jaguars top target this season. Projected fantasy points: 115

38

Malcolm Floyd

San Diego Chargers

 

Floyd's role in the Chargers offense should increase now that Vincent Jackson is gone. During his eight seasons with the Chargers, Floyd's career-high in receptions was 45 in 2009. He'll be asked to do more this year and that should drive up his stats. However, one issue that has plagued Floyd throughout his career is his durability. He has missed nine games the past two seasons and has only played a full season once. Projected fantasy points: 127

39

Mario Manningham

San Francisco 49ers

 

With Hakeem Nicks and Victor Cruz taking over as the starters in New York, Manningham signed with the Niners in hopes of a more prominent offensive role. His numbers should improve this year, but not dramatically with Alex Smith as his quarterback. Projected fantasy points: 114

40

Mike Wallace

Pittsburgh Steelers

Mike Wallace

41

Nate Washington

Tennessee Titans

 

Washington may have had the quietest 1,000-yard receiving season in history in 2011. Washington filled in nicely for the injured Kenny Britt and should play a big role in the Titans offense this year. While Britt, if/when healthy, will get more targets, Washington should see plenty of single coverage from defenses. Projected fantasy points: 113

42

Reggie Wayne

Indianapolis Colts

Reggie Wayne paced all receivers in Week 1 with 18 targets. He is Andrew Luck's safety blanket. Normally, Wayne would be ranked higher, but with news that Austin Collie is a "full-go" this week, Wayne's targets will see a sharp decline. We think Collie ends up being the most targeted wide receiver for the Colts in Week 2.

43

Santana Moss

Washington Redskins

 

Despite his age (32), Moss still has fantasy value. Moss missed time last season with a broken hand and struggled to find any continuity with both Rex Grossman and John Beck. The addition of Robert Griffin III improves Moss' outlook in 2012. I'm not saying RG3 will do the same for Moss as Cam Newton did for Steve Smith, but RG3 is a significant upgrade at quarterback for the Skins. Projected fantasy points: 89

Featured Writer

Cedric Hopkins

Cedric Hopkins runs this sports law/fantasy football blog. If you have issues with it, it's all his fault. Cedric was an athlete-student at the University of New Mexico (Basketball - Go Lobos!). He then morphed into a student-athlete when he attended law school in San Diego. Age replaced athleticism and now he writes appellate briefs for criminals (alleged criminals, of course) in state and federal cases, including writing U.S. Supreme Court briefs.

For years Cedric has researched and written about legal issues but maintained a love for sports. With FieldandCourt.com, he's combining his two passions: researching and writing about sports. When he's not in court arguing a case before a judge (or writing about himself in the third person), he'll be doing the same with his articles on FieldandCourt.com. Follow me, er, him on Twitter (opens in a new window).