For today’s installment of my world famous and universally accepted fantasy football advice and position rankings (that I may or may not write only for my own enjoyment), we’re taking on my favorite position – wide receiver. This should always be the position that causes us to lose the least sleep in preparing for our fantasy drafts, unlike the tight end spot, which causes people to pretend there’s more than one sure-thing player available in their drafts. Basically, this little jam session of non-expertise and analysis is going to be like Lamaze class, as we learn to take some deep breaths followed by some short, quick bursts, all before we ultimately squeeze a bouncing baby boy of awesomeness out of our fantasy football wombs. Gross, right? Hooray!
The reason that wide receivers are my favorite is because there are always enough to go around, and if you plan your strategy just right, you can grab the two dependable guys that you need to get by each week, while also snagging the two backup guys every fantasy team needs to win, as everyone else in your league is stuck with the Lee Evanses of the world. Short backstory: Lee Evans was once a very-hyped “This is the year” guy for several years, except he never actually had the year. The No. 1 strategy that I employ in drafting wide receivers, then, is asking myself, “Hey bro, does this guy remind you of Lee Evans?” If the answer is “Yeah, dude” then I flick an imaginary booger at him and move on. If the answer is “Nah, bro” then I consider his value where I’m picking and make my selection accordingly.
Simple enough? Haha, no, not at all. This year, I’m actually concerned about WRs a little. I don’t know if it’s maybe because I’m getting more conservative in my fantasy football age, or if it’s because there actually aren’t as many quality WR1 and WR2 options as there have seemingly been in previous years. With that, I took it upon myself to investigate this concern by comparing this year’s best receiving options with the WWE’s best female personalities and Divas throughout the years (as you can tell by the title of this post and the poorly photoshopped banner image that is admittedly backwards in message). Unlike the last two position analyses, I’m not going to guess where these guys might be drafted, because predicting WRs is sometimes so bizarre and there’s always a Giants fan who takes Victor Cruz before someone like Brandon Marshall. Loyalty has no place in fantasy football, people.
You can, however, consider this list to be my personal ranking, in case you are wise and use my advice to find success, both in your fantasy league and life in general.
The Miss Elizabeths
The stuff of legends.
Still the one and only top choice for all owners in fantasy, save for those few liars who kid themselves by saying things like, “I don’t know, bro, this is the year he’s going to lose 80 targets to Golden Tate and that Ebron dude… I think Dez is the man now.” Calvin is still lodged in that LaDainian Tomlinson circa 2002-2007 period of being the most dominant guy in the game. With actual decent receivers on board now, he could find a happy medium between 2012’s 1,964 receiving yards and 2013’s 12 TDs. I suppose the best results, though, would be 2011’s 1,681 yards and 16 TDs. But at that point I’m just being picky.
How many situations can you remember when a team had not one, not two, not three, but four solid receiving options and one of those guys was still good enough to be an elite WR in fantasy? Gotta be the 1999-era Rams with Isaac Bruce, Tory Holt, Marshall Faulk and Ricky Proehl/Az Hakim, right? Did I just make those names up? My brain doesn’t even go back to last year, let alone the Stone Age. Anyway, some people think that Eric Decker leaving is going to help Thomas put up his best numbers yet, but I also think Emmanuel Sanders could be better than Decker, especially if he doesn’t trip over his own dick on YAC.
My favorite receiver for no reason other than he’s really good. Also, he’s going to need to have a spectacular season to make Andy Dalton look as good as I predicted that he’d be, so I’m going to go sacrifice a few goats and chickens to make sure this all happens…
Okay, that’s 2,000 yards and 20 TDs on the way for Green, if my Sunday School teacher taught me anything.
Because I rarely ever make sense, Dez ranks here as my fourth best WR, but I’d take him as the second receiver off the board if Calvin is gone. Basically, if I’ve got the 9-11 pick (in a 12-team league, because anything less or more is stupid) I’ll take Bryant’s all-around talent and potential to drop 100 yards and a TD each week over Thomas, because when in doubt, Romo will chuck every ball at Bryant. Look, I know it makes no sense, but this is my gut calling the shots and my gut loves Taco Bell.
I’ve had Brown for the last three seasons and I feel like we’ve grown together, him as one of the best receivers in the NFL and me as a guy with too much time on my hands. Now that I’ve also watched some preseason action, I have faith that Markus Wheaton and Dri Archer might help make it so that Brown isn’t the only guy out there, running around like a madman to get open. If I end up drafting Brown again, we should become best friends.
Alshon Jeffrey may have arrived as a legitimate fantasy badass last season after a slow start that probably dropped him to waivers, causing plenty of people to laugh hysterically at the guys who dropped him, but B-Marsh and J-Cutty are still BFF. They’ll probably still put up similar numbers, but Marshall is the favorite in PPR settings.
A guy in a mock draft laughed at me for taking AJ Green and Julio Jones with the No. 12/13 combo, to which I didn’t reply, because people who talk in mock drafts are f*cking dorks. But it poses the question of what are we supposed to do with Jones if we think he’s going to bounce back from injury this season and be the badass of all badasses like we expect him to be? Look, even I, one of the most conservative fantasy geniuses in the entire world, can let my hair down and make some ballsy choices now and then. If you have an early second rounder and you like Jones as much as I do, take him. Follow your damn heart.
The Torrie Wilsons
Not quite elite, but basically right on the verge of what should be the best year of their careers if they can stay healthy and don’t blow it all by dating Alex Rodriguez. To be honest, though, these two guys are just sort of in limbo for me, and I had to include Torrie. I like them both, but as WR1 options, they’re concerning but not as concerning as the guys behind them.
There’s no reason in the world to not pick Nelson, Randall Cobb or even Jarret Boykin later in your draft, because as long as Aaron Rodgers is healthy, Packers WRs will reward you. It’s just hard to predict whether or not Nelson will still put up the No. 1 numbers with a healthy Cobb. Unlike Cobb, though, Nelson has done it before and he was just paid, so he should realistically be a monster this season.
I watch more 49ers football than anyone who isn’t a fan of the 49ers and I just keep falling into this trap that makes me think Colin Kaepernick and Michael Crabtree are going to be a really strong connection this season. Crabby is really ranked low on the WR lists of the big experts, and I assume that’s because of his health issues. However, my caveat with Crabtree is that I’m worried that Richard Sherman may be eating his brain from within.
The Stacy Keiblers
I’ll never forget when Stacy Keibler came along and changed the way I thought about female wrestlers forever. Granted, with the exception of George Clooney, she had terrible taste in men, but I don’t think these game-changing up-and-comers have that problem. (And if they do, it’s none of my business.)
I’m pretty sure I wrote last year that I was furious when the Dolphins didn’t draft Jeffrey and I still am. That’s why I make up for it by drafting him myself, so I can pretend that he’s on a team I love. That’s why we do fantasy football, right? Haha, no, it’s because we’re addicted to gambling. Anyway, when it comes to drafting my team this season, if I can’t get one of the Miss Elizabeths, then the goal is to get two WRs from the Torries and Stacys, and Jeffrey is probably the top of this group.
My wonderful waiver wire hero from last season. I can’t sing this guy’s praises enough for saving my ass, and I see no reason why he won’t continue to get better as the No. 1 WR in San Diego. There’s always the potential for the sophomore slump, but Allen seems like the kind of guy who really wants to be a badass and I dig that. He’s also seemingly undervalued in some pre-draft rankings I’ve been reading, and he’s going after several No. 2 WRs. Curious.
Garcon quietly had a monster 2013 season with 113 receptions and 1,346 yards and I didn’t even remember that he was so good, because when you think about the 2013 Redskins, a bubble cloud with injured RG3 appears over your head, and then that image is shoved out of the way by Skip Bayless pandering for Kirk Cousins. Anyway, if Garcon stays healthy, he probably won’t have as good of a season because of DeSean Jackson’s addition to the roster, but he won’t be considerably worse.
Will Cobb stay healthy? I hate asking that question before I draft a guy. Cobb could end up being the most dynamic receiver in Green Bay history this season, but I don’t want to take that chance with him as my WR1, that’s for sure. Even as a WR2, he’s a risk, so you better have some undervalued guys circled for the next few rounds.
Everybody on this planet seems to love Patterson right now, and Greg Jennings even called him the best receiver he’s ever lined up with. Granted, Jennings seems to love taking any opportunity to crap all over his time in Green Bay, so it might be more of a backhand at his old teammates and less praise for his young counterpart. Regardless, Patteron was drafted to be a star and he showed glimpses last season, so my only real concern is who will be throwing the ball to him.
Everybody on this planet also seems to love Michael Floyd right now, and according to the legend of the third-year receiver, he should be poised for a huge year. Realistically, as he crossed the 1,000-yard mark last season, he could be on the verge of Reggie Wayne-ing Larry Fitzgerald, who has plenty of wear on his tires. That doesn’t mean it’ll happen – everything’s a question mark with Carson Palmer, no matter how serviceable of a bye week replacement fantasy QB he has been – but Floyd’s upside >>>>> Fitzy’s downside.
I love Hilton. I want him to be an NFL star more than anything in the world, ever since he torched my beloved UCF Knights for FIU a few years ago. So it’s pretty sad for me to see him being drafted as a WR3 in most situations. At the same time, if you get Hilton as your WR3 or flex option, that’s pretty solid because I expect him to put up his best numbers yet this season.
A little older, still perfectly capable of making a grown man babble endlessly how about awesome they were in their primes, even if their primes aren’t over yet.
I was very surprised to learn while writing this that V-Jax is older than Fitzgerald. He’s still a machine at 31 and more than capable of producing his sixth 1,000-yard season in the last seven seasons. The presence of Mike Evans probably helps him more than Mike Williams ever did.
Before I looked it up to confirm, I would have guessed that Fitzy was 35-years old, but he’s not. He’s only 30, so I’m still willing to believe that he’s capable of being the best WR in the NFL. In fact, I’m getting mad at myself right now for having him so low on this list.
I have Wayne here not because I’d draft him before any of the guys in the next group, but because despite that terrible injury that ended his 2013 season, I don’t ever discount his talents. You could call him washed up and he’ll turn around and put up 110 receptions with 1,200 yards and 8 TD. I’ll gladly take him as a WR3 if I don’t get Hilton.
At 33 and in this talented Broncos offense, Welker’s best days are probably behind him, but even if he misses three games again and still manages to score 10 times, he’s better than a lot of other receivers, including (presumably) Emmanuel Sanders, because he knows the system and he’s the GRITTIEST OF THE GRIT MONSTERS.
It’s hard to ever count Johnson out, and it’s certainly not difficult to understand why he’s so upset about the current state of the Houston Texans. Even at 47 years old, he’s one of the best WRs on the planet, but do you still trust him as much as an up-and-comer? Probably.
These are the guys who could probably be consistently great but just aren’t there yet, because they’re either hurt at the worst time or they’re not getting the chance they deserve (possibly because of injury) or they’re held back by their counterparts. Basically, this is the back end of quality WR2s and front end of WR3s.
From a PPR perspective, Edelman is a quality pick. Someone in New England has to be the leading WR, which isn’t necessarily a good thing if there are four guys putting up 900 yards each. But this dude is 28 and coming off a 105-reception, 1,056-yard season so common sense would indicate that those numbers will go up.
I have no clue what to make of DeSean in Washington. Maybe he’s all that RG3 needs to have a huge rebound season. Or maybe he’ll make a perfect counterpart for Garcon, and we’ll have one of the NFL’s newest awesome WR duos. But predicting the Redskins offense, especially with a new coordinator is impossible.
We’ve almost reached that point when the mere mention of Percy Harvin’s name makes me roll my eyes and groan, because the dude just can’t get healthy. But think back to 2011, the season that he played in all 16 games and started 14, and dream of those 87 receptions and 967 receiving yards combined with 345 rushing yards. How wonderful could those numbers be over a full season in Seattle as the No. 1 WR and most versatile offensive threat? We may never know.
Even if you hate the Giants and want them to lose every game, the fantasy world is a far better place when Cruz is salsa dancing. Unfortunately, his numbers have dropped over the last two seasons since his breakout rookie campaign, and with his QB playing like he touched a magical football at the same time as an awkward high school freshman, Cruz’s best days are being wasted.
Smith exchanged touchdowns for yardage in his stats last season, but he’s generally just a frustrating WR to have, because his reception totals blow. Three receptions in a game is awesome if one of them goes for 80 yards and a score, but how often does that happen?
There’s a theory among my fellow Dolphins fans that once he’s healthy, Wallace is going to be a huge performer with Ryan Tannehill running this latest Miami offense. Of course, as a Dolphins fan, I also have a theory he’ll be traded for a second round pick the next time he complains about something. In either scenario, he makes for a nice WR3.
Wow, has Maclin really been in the NFL for five seasons already? He seems to be a go-to “Watch out for this guy” pick, as I was going to write something along those lines when I started putting this together, but I’m not sure I can get hyped about him anymore. I’d rather take my chances with Jordan Matthews later in the draft.
The Nikki Bellas
These guys are part of WR tandems with other receivers that are significantly more likable.
Obviously, Thomas is better. Welker is probably better, too. But Sanders is a pretty talented guy, and maybe this is just the type of offense that he needed to get into to put up explosive numbers. Hell, this is any receiver’s type of offense, so it’s not hard to expect Sanders to take Eric Decker’s numbers and add to them.
Williams is reportedly making everyone happy at Cowboys practice, which could either mean that he’s catching everything in sight and busting his ass to be the best he can be or he has a really friendly sister who is keeping guys company. Either way, the Cowboys are going to be behind a lot and throwing plenty, so Williams will have to step up and help in times when Bryant can’t catch everything.
I’m afraid that the Texans might have one of the worst offenses in the history of football this season. I could just be overreacting to the fact that Ryan Fitzpatrick is the Kevin Connolly of the NFL, in that I don’t know how he keeps getting starring roles, but I sure don’t trust him to get the best out of Andre Johnson and Hopkins, who should be on the verge of being a great WR2.
Stephen Hill/Eric Decker
I liked Decker in Denver as the No. 2, but I do not like him in New York as the No. 1. At the same time, I think that Hill has the tools to be a star, and Jets players and coaches are apparently raving about his maturation on the field. I don’t really like either of them (and I hate players who have their own terrible scripted reality shows), but there are worse options out there.
I don’t like any of the Cleveland Browns receivers right now, mainly because that offense is a mess and Miles Austin can look fresh and reborn all he wants in the preseason, but he still dated Kim Kardashian and that keeps him on my “Ugh, please, no” list. So I’m ever so slightly giving Hawkins some consideration because he’s not Miles Austin.
These guys are young and exciting, and they’ve given us no real reason to hate them yet. They could and should be stars for a long time.
In an interview with Yahoo! Fantasy Football expert Brad Evans that I’ll be sharing tomorrow, we basically both agree that Cooks is going to be a very pleasant surprise in his rookie season in New Orleans. What am I basing that on? My gut, yo. What are all of the experts basing that on? I don’t know, brains or something, I guess.
The Bills rookie will probably have a great NFL career as long as every catch that he makes doesn’t have to make our eyes pop out of our heads in disbelief. Like, it would be nice if he has a QB that can throw accurate passes to him every now and then.
I have a feeling that Cam Newton is going to be throwing a lot of high passes into the corners of the end zone for Benjamin, but he still has to catch them. He had a pretty great TD in Carolina’s first preseason game, but that doesn’t mean much. He still seems kind of raw, like a clumsy baby giraffe.
I shoehorned Austin in here because I didn’t know where else to put him. He’s supposed to be an awesome offensive weapon for the Rams, but he had it rough with the ongoing injury woes of Sam Bradford last season, and God knows how that’ll turn out this time around.
My gut keeps telling me that Maclin is going to have a great season for once, but my gut also told me that Heroes was going to be an awesome show for a long time. Matthews isn’t being hyped as much as Watkins, Cooks or the next guy, but Philly’s going to have a big offense again and as he learns it, he can become a huge part.
I don’t trust a Bucs QB or offensive line as far as I can throw them across a stage at Mons Venus. One of the criticisms that people tried to use on Johnny Manziel at Texas A&M is that throwing to Mike Evans made him so much better, so let’s see if that becomes the case for whatshisface and whoever.
The Scary Sherris
These guys are no Miss Elizabeth, that’s for sure.
So let’s say for a second that the NFL decides to show some mercy on Gordon for his indiscretions and whatnot, and he ends up only getting a four-, six- or eight-game suspension. Where do you draft him? If you have a shorter bench, can you get by with stashing him away for half the season? Yes, obviously, but after doing it with Justin Blackmon last season, I am so hesitant to try it again. As for when, I’m not taking him until I have a complete roster of starters first.
We have reached the point where I name the guy who I’m not drafting at any point. Everyone else can take White whenever they feel like it, because this is the dude who makes my gut say, “Nah, dude” more than anyone else this season.
Coming up tomorrow: Shooting the fantasy football breeze with Yahoo!’s Brad Evans, who broke down the No. 1 pick, his top value picks at each position, his favorite sleeper, and even who you should take at TE once Jimmy Graham goes in the first round.