Will Brandon Marshall keep smiling with fewer targets? (AP)
The 2014 RotoRob NFL Draft Kit runs a penetrating seam route as we give you another enlightening cheat sheet. So while Johnny Manziel flops in the preseason, let’s review the top 65 wide receivers in Fantasy football.
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Now let’s talk about wide receivers, shall we?
We here at RotoRob.com have spent much of the past offseason heaping praise on the talented class of wide receivers coming into the league. We remain confident in many of these players becoming solid contributors, however in Fantasy football rookie wideouts just don’t usually live up to their ADP. Last year, six receivers were taken in the first two rounds of the NFL Draft: Robert Woods, DeAndre Hopkins, Cordarrelle Patterson, Aaron Dobson, Tavon Austin and Justin Hunter.
None of these players were consistent enough for Fantasy owners to rely on. The fact is that receivers typically take a year or two to develop and seem to have a higher bust rate than other positions. So don’t overdraft any of these guys. Let someone else reach for Brandin Cooks early, then look later on for players who slipped through the cracks. Remember, a draft is all about value, not filling your team with guys with rising stock that may not live up to the hype.
Last year’s rankings are in parentheses.
1. Calvin Johnson, Detroit Lions (1): How could we take anyone but Megatron as our No. 1 receiver? Johnson is still in the prime of his career and is without question the numero uno wideout in Fantasy. On paper the already potent Detroit offense looks even scarier with the additions of Golden Tate and rookie superfreak Eric Ebron. It’s hard to imagine a dude the size of Johnson has the ability to pretty much disappear, but it’s true. Don’t believe us? Check out the video below.
2. A.J. Green, Cincinnati Bengals (2): Some say Green has less value because the Bengals are expected to run the ball more this year. We believe however that new O.C. Hue Jackson is a smart man that will use his most talented weapon early and often. After Johnson, not much separates the rest of the top five players at the position, but a lack of competition for targets is what leans us towards Green here.
3. Demaryius Thomas, Denver Broncos (8): Even without Peyton Manning throwing it up to him Thomas would be a lock as a top 10 receiver. With Manning, Thomas could conceivably wind up the top producer at the position. Thomas has rewarded his owners with over 1,400 yards and double-digit scores in each of the last two seasons.
4. Dez Bryant, Dallas Cowboys (7): The mercurial Bryant is not the safest pick, but we think that playing in a contract year, he is primed for a huge season… to be followed by a big payday and subsequent letdown year in 2015. Dallas likely will be in a number of shootouts because of its inability to slow down opposing offenses, which should help Bryant’s numbers remain among the league’s best.
5. Brandon Marshall, Chicago Bears (3): While the emergence of Alshon Jeffery means Marshall won’t see 15 targets every week as he seemed to in the past, this high powered offense ensures that as long as quarterback Jay Cutler can stay healthy Marshall will likely remain one of the more consistent producers in the game. Just keep Marshall away from Brandon Meriweather.
6. Jordy Nelson, Green Bay Packers (20): Now that Green Bay has a running game teams will be forced to respect, the field could open up for Nelson and the rest of Aaron Rodgers’ crew. Teammate Randall Cobb may be the more explosive of the two but Nelson is still the better and more reliable Green Bay receiver to target in Fantasy drafts.
7. Antonio Brown, Pittsburgh Steelers (21): Brown was one of the most heavily targeted receivers in the league last year, and that was with Emmanuel Sanders and Jericho Cotchery in the mix. While Pittsburgh did draft some talented youngsters, Ben Roethlisberger may rely even more heavily on Brown while the kids learn the pro game.
8. Alshon Jeffery, Chicago Bears (41): They say year three is the main breakout year for wide receivers. Jeffery decided not to wait that long, notching 1,421 yards and seven touchdowns in only his second year. We believe his third year could be even better.
9. Julio Jones, Atlanta Falcons (4): Jones has endless talent, the only question is whether he is fully recovered from the torn ACL he suffered in Week Five last year. Even at, say, 90 per cent, he should put up good numbers. Tony Gonzalez retired, Roddy White appears to be in decline, and Steven Jackson has struggled to stay healthy, meaning Matt Ryan will be likely to lean on Jones the way he did the first few weeks of last season.
10. Keenan Allen, San Diego Chargers (NR): Last year’s top rookie wideout returns in San Diego where he should once again be resurgent Philip Rivers’ leading target. The “Sophomore Slump” term has been tossed about in regards to Allen possibly struggling this year but we believe he will pick up right where he left off, especially since the Chargers felt it unnecessary to add additional pass catchers in the offseason.
11. Pierre Garçon, Washington Redskins (45): It would be shocking if Garçon were to once again lead the NFL in receptions, as the Redskins added a number of weapons to Robert Griffin III’s arsenal. We ranked Garçon ahead of new teammate DeSean Jackson because he should be a more consistent weekly producer.
12. Randall Cobb, Green Bay Packers (14): Rarely does a receiver crack the top 15 when he isn’t an every down player. But very few athletes possess the electric skill set of Cobb, so in this offense he should be one of this year’s top playmakers.
13. Vincent Jackson, Tampa Bay Buccaneers (15): The Bucs may have added two great rookie pass catchers in Mike Evans and tight end Austin Seferian-Jenkins to their stable (and watch out for ultra-fast sixth-round pick Robert Herron), but this year Jackson should remain the go-to guy for whoever is behind centre.
14. Larry Fitzgerald, Arizona Cardinals (9): Last year, teammate Michael Floyd actually had better numbers than former All Pro Fitzgerald. We are hoping Floyd’s emergence helps Fitz see less double teams moving forward, although a return to the 1,400 yards he had in 2011 would be a stretch.
15. Andre Johnson, Houston Texans (10): Another “oldie but goodie,” Johnson somehow managed his second straight 100-catch, 1,400-yard season in 2013 with, let’s put it nicely, somewhat sub par play at the quarterback position. Ryan Fitzpatrick may not set the world on fire with his play, but anything is an improvement over the parade of pick-sixes Matt Schaub handed out last year.
16. DeSean Jackson, Washington Redskins (24): There’s so much hype around Jackson that it may be hard for him to live up to it all. If you’ve followed his career you know he is the epitome of a weekly boom-or-bust candidate. Jackson will win owners a few games virtually single-handedly, but there will continue to be dry spells at times in the stat line.
17. Cordarrelle Patterson, Minnesota Vikings (54): Speaking of overly hyped, Patterson has all the potential to be a top five wideout. We just can’t recommend drafting a guy that only has a month of solid production under his belt over any of the previously mentioned established players.
18. Michael Crabtree, San Francisco 49ers (NR): The 49ers will continue to be a run-heavy team in 2014. Crabtree, when healthy, is the most talented receiver on the team and should produce numbers despite the focus on the run game.
19. T.Y. Hilton, Indianapolis Colts (52): After long-time star Reggie Wayne was lost for the season last year, Hilton proved he should be Andrew Luck’s go-to guy for years to come.
20. Kendall Wright, Tennessee Titans (43): In PPR leagues, Wright should be bumped up a few notches, somewhere in the DeSean Jackson range.
21. Julian Edelman, New England Patriots (NR): Can Rob Gronkowski and Shane Vereen stay healthy? How involved will newcomer Brandon LaFell be in the offense? There are just too many questions surrounding this offense to rank Edelman any higher. Still, he did have over 100 catches in 2013.
22. Victor Cruz, New York Giants (5): Cruz was at his best when former teammate Hakeem Nicks was drawing coverage away. If youngsters Rueben Randle or rookie Odell Beckham Jr. can keep defenses honest, Cruz could once again be mentioned among the elite Fantasy scorers.
23. Emmanuel Sanders, Denver Broncos (47): How does a guy that hasn’t topped 750 yards in any of his four NFL seasons get ranked this high? By having the good fortune of becoming a target for Peyton Manning, of course. Sanders is not the safest pick in this range, but his upside is undeniable and the fact that Wes Welker’s career is in jeopardy after another concussion works in Sanders’ favour.
24. Michael Floyd, Arizona Cardinals (58): Whispers have started that Floyd, and not the venerable Fitzgerald, is now Carson Palmer’s No. 1 option. We aren’t ready to go quite that far yet, but we do love Floyd’s potential and he did have more yards than ol’ Larry in 2013.
25. Marques Colston, New Orleans Saints (13): This is a great pick for those who prefer year-to-year consistency over unproven upside. We think Colston will returning to the 1,000-yard mark this year, as the loss of Darren Sproles means more targets for everyone else.
26. Torrey Smith, Baltimore Ravens (32): Count us as among those unconvinced that the ancient Steve Smith is a threat to Torrey Smith’s targets. The elder Smith’s numbers have drastically declined in recent years, dropping to a measly (by his standards) 745 yards in 2013. Meanwhile, the far younger Torrey broke out last year, totaling over 1,100 yards.
27. Mike Wallace, Miami Dolphins (19): Assuming last season the O-line hit rock bottom, the entire Dolphins offense should be improved. Wallace actually set a career high in receptions amid the debacle that was his first year in Miami and there’s no reason he shouldn’t equal his 73-catch performance with an improving Ryan Tannehill at the helm.
28. Golden Tate, Detroit Lions (62): Like Sanders, Tate’s high ranking is because of a change of scenery. With Johnson drawing double and at times triple coverage, Tate should have every opportunity to achieve his first 1,000-yard season.
29. Roddy White, Atlanta Falcons (6): White has “sleeper” written all over him. Playing through injuries and the loss of his counterpart Jones kept his numbers in check. We think White is young enough at age 32 that he can have at least one more 1,000-yard campaign.
30. Jeremy Maclin, Philadelphia Eagles (27): Another risky pick, Maclin has had a case of the injury bug ever since coming into the league. This Chip Kelly offense is explosive enough to make Maclin worth the risk; if he can play a full 16 games he would likely finish as a top-20 wideout.
31. Sammy Watkins, Buffalo Bills (NR): Our first rookie comes into the pros touted as the best pure receiver to come up since Randy Moss. Some believe Watkins could have a similar rookie season to Moss, but as a freshman Moss had a solid veteran quarterback in Randall Cunningham and two other stud receivers in Cris Carter and Jake Reed. If only Watkins enjoyed a similar supporting cast in Buffalo.
32. Riley Cooper, Philadelphia Eagles (NR): In Coach Kelly’s first year in Philly, Cooper doubled his career high in catches. Cooper can be had later on in some drafts, possibly due to his “incident” last summer, making him a possible draft day steal.
33. Reggie Wayne, Indianapolis Colts (12): Go ahead and doubt Wayne, he’s proved the haters wrong plenty of times before. Unless Hakeem Nicks transforms into his 2011 self, Wayne will be at worst Luck’s second target.
34. Tavon Austin, St. Louis Rams (31): After a somewhat disappointing rookie outing, Austin could be primed to explode now that he’s had time to adjust to the professional game. With the kind of speed most players only dream of he is a big play waiting to happen.
35. Percy Harvin, Seattle Seahawks (11): Are you feeling lucky? Harvin is without question a special talent, but injuries have limited him to only 10 games over the past two seasons. Just make sure if you roll the dice on him you have other options at the position.
36. Eric Decker, New York Jets (30): Had Decker remained in Denver he would be a borderline WR 1 in most leagues. We remain skeptical of him being able to obtain double-digit touchdowns in New York like he did in his two years with Peyton Manning.
37. Brandin Cooks, New Orleans Saints (NR): The RotoRob.com crew has been aboard the Cooks bandwagon since well before the draft and now it appears the rest of the football world has also caught on to what a special talent he is. He is flying up draft boards, so you may need to reach a bit to acquire his services.
38. Anquan Boldin, San Fransisco 49ers (33): Possibly the toughest wideout of his generation (maybe he and Steve Smith should duke it out UFC style sometime for the official title), Boldin will have some big weeks this season. Have fun trying to determine which games in which he will go off though, as many frustrated owners have discovered in the past.
39. Kelvin Benjamin, Carolina Panthers (NR): Benjamin’s touchdown catch in the Panthers first preseason game while falling down is all the more impressive considering the fact that most 6′5″ pass catchers are known more for their jump-ball skills than snaring balls inches from the ground. In his rookie season, Benjamin could conceivably wind up Cam Newton’s best option.
40. Dwayne Bowe, Kansas City Chiefs (16)
41. Terrance Williams, Dallas Cowboys (59)
42. Mike Evans, Tampa Bay Buccaneers (NR)
43. Rueben Randle, New York Giants (NR)
44. Greg Jennings, Minnesota Vikings (35)
45. James Jones, Oakland Raiders (29)
46. Kenny Stills, New Orleans Saints (NR)
47. Danny Amendola, New England Patriots (17)
48. Cecil Shorts, Jacksonville Jaguars (22)
49. Brian Hartline, Miami Dolphins (40)
50. Steve Smith, Baltimore Ravens (42)
51. Odell Beckham, New York Giants (NR)
52. Robert Woods, Buffalo Bills (55)
53. Cody Latimer, Denver Broncos (NR)
54. Jordan Matthews, Philadelphia Eagles (NR)
55. Harry Douglas, Atlanta Falcons (NR)
56. DeAndre Hopkins, Houston Texans (26)
57. Justin Hunter, Tennessee Titans (NR)
58. Nate Washington, Tennessee Titans (64)
59. Jeremy Kerley, New York Jets (NR)
60. Doug Baldwin, Seattle Seahawks (NR)
61. Andrew Hawkins, Cleveland Browns (NR)
62. Kenny Britt, St. Louis Rams (44)
63. Jericho Cotchery, Carolina Panthers (NR)
64. Martavis Bryant, Pittsburgh Steelers (NR)
65. Jarrett Boykin, Green Bay Packers (NR)
Now it’s your turn. Let us know in the comments below whether you agree with our rankings or not.
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