Top 20 NFL WR’s-Ryan’s 2013 Fantasy Football Preview Series
1. Calvin Johnson (DET): We all know what kind of year Calvin had in 2012. He broke Jerry Rice’s all-time single season record for recieving yards with 1,964. He also had 122 catches. But I honestly didn’t even realize until now that he only had 5 touchdowns. I guess he left his owners speechless and nobody really talked about his touchdown production. That’s really just a reflection of how bad the Lions were last year. They never spent time in the redzone, so Megatron didn’t get those touchdowns he wanted. Considering the season before he had 96 catches 1,681 yards and 16TD’s, it’s pretty clear to see who the best WR in the NFL is. He’s so good and so productive, I would honestly consider taking him No. 1 overall in a non-PPR league. Yeah, I just said that. Considering rushing yards and touchdowns are worth the same as recieving yards and touchdowns, it’s pretty understandable why I would say that. The only reason I would talk myself out of it is because a solid running back is more valueable than a solid wide reciever.
2. Brandon Marshall (CHI): Marshall is coming off a career season in his first year as a Chicago Bear. He had an impressive 118 receptions, 1,508 yards and 11 touchdowns. Not only did he nearly average 100 yards a game, but he had 75 first down catches and never fumbled. It’s honestly amazing to think how someone could have a year like that with Cutler at QB, and the recent struggles of the offensive line. I hate to say it, but that proves when Cutler’s not being a huge tool, he does actually have a decent arm. I don’t expect the coaching change to impact the passing-based offense the Bears ran last year. And the Bears must expect another year like that out of Marshall because they added nobody in the offseason at the WR position. They did add Martellus Bennett in the offseason to upgrade the TE position though. That shouldn’t effect Marshall’s numbers really.
3. A.J. Green (CIN): When I watched A.J. play at Georgia, I thought he would be a pretty good WR in the NFL. I had no idea he would be this good. Green is the perfect size for an NFL WR, he’s 6″4 207lbs.. Not to mention his 36-inch vertical. Dalton and A.J. run this really complicated pass play. It reminds me of what Joe Flacco ran in last year’s playoff with Boldin and Smith. The play is called, “Run a really deep route and I’m gonna throw the ball as far as I can while you jump in the air above everyone and catch it”. Look I know the pass plays are more complicated than that. But no matter what kind of pass play the Bengals are running, I see even the best defensive backs in the NFL struggle to cover Green. He led the NFL with 7 catches of 40+ yards in 2012 He’s had 162 receptions 2,407 yards and 18 touchdowns in his first 2 seasons in the NFL. And it’s not looking like anything or anyone will slow him down this season. I somewhat predict Green to at least have somewhere around 1,400 yards and 12 TD’s this year. Draft him with confidence.
4. Dez Bryant (DAL): You have to forgive me because I am about to kiss a lot of Dez Bryant ass for the next paragraph. First off, he was snubbed for the NFC Pro Bowl last year. Who cares about the Pro Bowl right? But it’s the principal, he deserved it over Victor Cruz. I mean Dez only had more first downs, catches, yards, touchdowns and he doubled the amount of 40+ yard catches Cruz had. Dez should have never been returning punts in the NFL. He’s to big and to injury prone. Everything started to click for Bryant at the WR position last season after Garrett made the decision to take him off special teams. It’s like punt returns were a distraction for him. I saw him being more agressive after the catch and he stopped dropping balls. Romo still has the arm for Dez to have another big year. But something has changed with Bryant over the offseason. I think he cut ties with some bad influences in his life and replaced them Michael Irvin and others. That’s a scary thought. Irvin as a good influence, but I really think Bryant is a changed man. He should cut down on the dropped passes this year and stay healthy. And boy has he looked good during training camp and preseason. Dez is just honestly a slightly better version of T.O. and he doesn’t even cry during post-game interviews. He had 92 receptions for 1,382 yards and 12 TD’s last year. I think he could have an even bigger year this year.
5. Andre Johnson (HOU): Johnson was really set out to prove he was healthy last season after miss 9 games due to injury in 2011. He proved it in a big way by posting huge numbers. He had 112 receptions, 1598 yards and 4TD’s. Andre did turn 32 this summer. But he just had to good of a season for me to believe he’s slowing down. Obviously a stat that sticks out is his low touchdown total. How did someone with that many yards only have 4 touchdowns? It’s simple. When the Texans open up the drive, Schaub target’s the hell out of Johnson. But once they get down in the redzone. The Texans nearly always give Arian Foster the football via air or ground. If he can get back to getting 8-9 touchdowns like seasons past, I think he definitley deserves this No. 5 spot.
6. Julio Jones (ATL): I think this is the year Julio jumps ahead of Roddy White as the No. 1 WR on the Falcons. It wasn’t really clear who was the better WR of the two last season. Even though many Falcon highlights would consist of deep touchdown bombs to Jones, White had nearly 1,400 yards recieving last year. They were basically even last season with White catching 157 more yards but Jones scoring 3 more touchdowns. I think we see a shift in stats for Falcon WR’s this season. Jones is gonna bring the house down this year. He reminds me of a faster version of A.J. Green. That’s a scary thought that a wide reciever like that could even exist. They are nearly identical in size and weight, they were drafted within 1 pick of each other and they played SEC football. Jones had double digit touchdown’s last season and had 5 catches go for 40+ yards. I also like how he’s guranteed to play indoors for at least half the season. I don’t think a lot of people realize how tough it can be on WR’s to play in places like Chicago and New England at the end of the season. While those guys will be playing in the freezing rain or snow, Jones will be catching footballs in a air conditioned stadium. And when are the most important fantasy games being played? At the end of the season when the bad weather starts up. I’m expecting a really big year out of him in 2013.
7. Demaryius Thomas (DEN): It was basically a Roddy White Julio Jones type situation in Denver last year with Demaryius Thomas and Eric Decker. Both had over 1,000 yards and put up big touchdown totals.Thomas was set out to prove he would be Peyton Manning’s No. 1 WR last season. He came pretty close to doing that. Thomas had 94 receptions 1,434 yards with 10 touchdowns last year. His yards were good for the 4th highest total by any WR. He also averaged an impressive 6 yards after the catch. Considering how well Manning looked in his first season as a Bronco, that is a very good thing for fantasy owners of Thomas. The addition of Welker will eat into a little bit of him and Decker’s numbers but Manning will be putting it in the air all season. Plenty of WR love to go around in Denver in 2013. Expect Thomas to be right in the middle of it.
8. Vincent Jackson (TAM): Jackson finished the 7th ranked WR in the NFL by the end of the 2012 season. He put up huge numbers in a career year, 72 receptions, 1,384 yards and 8TD’s. Jackson is a big physical WR at 6″5 230lbs.. Freeman and him could easily have another outstanding season like last year. I honestly can’t think of a single reason why Jackson would struggle in 2013. He’s had a decent track record of staying healthy, playing a full season in 6 out of 8 year’s in his career. I think turnovers are one of the most annoying things players can do in fantasy. Every year, millions of teams will lose a close matchup by 2 points or less. That Monday morning after they lose, GM’s usually scan over the roster to find out what went wrong. And 9 times out of 10, someone got negative 2 points from coughing up the football. It’s usually the RB because of how many touches they get. But WR’s fumble too. Not Jackson though, he’s only lost a fumble 1 time in his 108 game career! Just to show you even elite WR’s lose the football, Megatron and Demaryius Thomas combined for 6 lost fumbles last season.
9. Victor Cruz (NYG): Raise your hand if you were able to get Cruz off the waiver wire in 2011 (raises hand). Somehow Cruz found a way to improve his reception and touchdown total last season. But he had 444 yards less than he did in 2011. That’s hard to believe considering he had 12 more targets last season. He went from averaging 7.4 YAC (yards after catch) in 2011 to just 3.8 YAC in 2012. So it sounds like defenses really made adjustments on how they covered Cruz. They brought over more safety help because he made so many corners miss in coverage and trying to tackle him. The main value in Cruz is knowing he’s Eli’s No. 1 WR. Look for him to have another great season being the main target on the Giants offense.
10. Marques Colston (NO): Colston is still an underrated No. 1 WR in arguably the NFL’s most premiere passing offense. Marques claim’s that he’s not 100% from experiencing plantar fasciitis dating back to the beginning of last season. Despite his injury, he still finished up the season ranked the 11th among fantasy WR’s. Colston has had more than 1,000 yards in 6 of his 7 NFL season’s. The one season Colston didn’t have 1,000 yards was because he missed 5 games to due an injury. So obviously you will get plenty of value out of Colston as long as he stay’s healthy. With the departure of Devery Henderson, Brees is gonna need more out of Colston now more than ever. Colston’s numbers shouldn’t be that much different than last season. Expect a 1,200 yards 10TD season out of him.
11. Reggie Wayne (IND): Wayne deserves to be in this No. 11 spot more than anyone not listed yet. If you read my QB rankings, I’m expecting Luck to have a great season. Wayne had a huge year last season. He had 106 receptions 1,355 yards and 5TD’s. Reggie is starting to turn into the ageless wonder, turning 35 later this season. I know it’s preseason but Wayne only played 2 quarters vs. the Browns this week and had 7 catches for 79 yards. He looked just as sharp as last year if not better. He’s clearly Andrew Luck’s No. 1 WR. Look for Wayne to largely benefit being the main target on the Colt’s offense again this season.
12. Roddy White (ATL): White had a really solid season last year with 92 receptions, 1,355 yards and 7TD’s. Roddy has come a long way from his performances as a rookie and 2nd year player. He struggled heavily in his first 2 seeasons with dropped passes after the Falcons spent a first round pick on him in 2005. Roddy has been a dominating NFL WR since 2007. If I were to take his lowest totals in any given season sine 2007 it would be 82 receptions, 1,153 yards and 6 TD’s. That’s crazy. He’s had 1,300 yards or more in 3 straight seasons. That’s some serious consistent production from the WR out of UAB. With Matt Ryan as his QB, fantasy managers should have no real reason to not draft White this season. Look for him to have another productive season in 2013.
13. Eric Decker (DEN): With the season Demaryius Thomas had, and the addition of Wes Welker, Decker has still not got the attention he deserves from fantasy owners who have drafted so far. He ended up having a career year last season with 85 receptions, 1,064 yards and 13 touchdowns. That was good enough to rank him the 7th best WR in 2012. His touchdown total (13) was good enough for the second most by any WR last year. The only negative things I can think of about Decker is he won’t be repeating his touchdown total from last year. Unfortunately his number of targets will decrease with Welker being the slot WR this season. Decker looked sharp in the Broncos third preseason game. He only played the first 2 quarters and had 6 catches for 66 yards.
14. Randall Cobb (GB): Cobb had a pretty good season in 2012. He had 80 receptions, 954 yards and 8 TD’s. Those are pretty good numbers considering he only had 20 yards in week 2 and negative 1 yard in week 3. With Greg Jennings gone and Jordy Nelson’s health status in the air, Cobb and Jones are looking to take over the Packers offense again this season. I think it possible Cobb could have 1,300 yards and have double digit touchdown numbers in 2013. Cobb has an even higher value in leagues that count return yards. He served as a kick returner and punt returner for the Packers last season. He had 1,256 return yards and a return touchdown. Look for Cobb to have a great season.
15. Steve Smith (CAR): Smith turned 34 this year. But just like Reggie Wayne, he’s showing no signs of slowing down. How does someone who’s 5″9 185 lbs. have over 11,000 career receiving yards? Because Smith might be pound for pound the quickest, toughest WR the NFL has ever seen. Even though Smith had 1,174 yards last season, he only had 4TD’s. His numbers suffer from the Panthers lack of production getting in the red zone, and being successful in the red zone. Smith still remains the one and only main target on the Panthers WR corp. 1,200 yards and 6-7 touchdowns is a pretty accurate projection for Smith this season.
16. Anquan Boldin (SF): This is a pretty high rank considering Boldin hasn’t had a 1,000 yard season in 3 years. He’s also only had 7 total touchdowns his last 2 seasons combined. All that changes this year. I know Flacco’s arm helped, but Boldin looked amazing in the playoffs last season. That proved to me he still has the athleticism to get open all over the football field. Kaepernick has the arm strength to get Boldin the ball deep down the sidelines. With Crabtree out with an achilles injury, Boldin is gonna be overloaded with targets this season. I would almost describe this QB-WR combo a match made in heaven. It might be a risk taking Boldin in front of guys like Wes Welker and James Jones, but remember those guys aren’t even considered the No. 1 WR on their own team. I think drafting Boldin should pay off this season.
17. Wes Welker (DEN): How does someone who had 240 receptions 2,923 yards and 13 TD’s the past 2 seasons not even be ranked in the top 15? Because I honestly have no idea what kind of year Welker will have this year. I can just tell you it will be highly productive like seasons past. He won’t be getting an NFL high 175 targets like he did last season. Welker will have an awesome year. I just don’t know as far as numbers what to predict between him and Manning. But I’m sure it won’t take long for Welker and Manning to build chemistry. It’s a heavily talented, but packed WR corp in Denver.
18. James Jones (GB): This is a really low rank for someone who lead the NFL in touchdowns last season. I’m not saying he won’t have double digits in touchdowns this year but I don’t think he gets 14 again. Jones only had 64 receptions 784 yards last season. But then again I did speak earlier on how Cobb and him should benefit from Jennings out of the game-plan entirely, and Nelson’s questionable health status. Aaron Rodgers is gonna throw 30-40 touchdowns this season, so he’s gotta throw them to somebody. And Jones proved last year he can be counted on in the redzone.
19. Torrey Smith (BAL): Smith is gonna receive a heavy work-load this year. Not only did Boldin leave, but Dennis Pitta suffered a season-ending hip injury during preseason. Knowing that, the sky is the limit for Smith and Flacco this season. Smith has a lot of speed to get open downfield. He had 5 catches of 40+ yards last season. That’s how you rack up fantasy points quick. Look for Smith to have his first 1,000 yard season.
20. Larry Fitzgerald (ARI): It’s hard to believe Fitzgerald is just one year removed from a 80 catch 1,411 yard 8 touchdown season. Boy did he hit a wall last year. In no fault of his own though. The Cardinals supplied him with a horrid options at quarterback. I wasted an early 3rd round pick on Fitzgerald in my money league and it hurt. He only had 798 yards and 4 touchdowns. I know most people think Palmer won’t be any better then Kolb and Skelton, but he will. Not saying Palmer will have 5,000 yards this season, but I think he will be good enough to get Fitzgerald back on the elite fantasy radar. I wouldn’t be surprised if Fitzgerald finished with around 1,200 yards and 7-8 touchdowns.