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Quarterback – Running Back – Wide Receiver – Tight End
Defense/Special Teams
Kicker Draft Kit Home

By Sammy Crano, Fantasy Football Writer

Over the past few years, we’ve seen quite a shift in how fantasy football owners are drafting. As noted by the Fantasy Geek in his Running Back breakdown, it used to be a no-brainer to go running back with your first and second picks. However, running back by committee has diluted the running back position, which has essentially provided a once scarce commodity with plenty of later-round options. You can’t say that about the wide receiver position. You either have playmakers or you don’t. With many leagues including a point per reception, it’s become quite important to land stud wide receivers sooner than later. In our wide receiver breakdown, I take a look at the importance of rostering this position early.

Tier 1 – To the house

ANDRE THE GIANT: No one puts up bigger numbers at WR

1. Andre Johnson, HOU – Combination of size, speed and pure desire to get it done makes Johnson the undisputed top WR. He broke the 100 catch barrier again last year for the third time in his career and was targeted 172 times, which was tops in the league. I see no reason why he doesn’t do it again in 2010.

2. Randy Moss, NE – You might think Moss had a down year last season, but when you look at his numbers, 83 catches for 1,264 yards and a league-leading 13 house calls, you realize the freak is still straight cash, homie. Combine that with this being a contract year for Moss and I see big things once again.

3. Calvin Johnson, DET – a.k.a. Megatron. Has to be one of the top nicknames around. For some, this ranking may seem high, but we here at aren’t afraid to make bold predictions. Injuries to Johnson and his rookie QB, Matthew Stafford, hurt production last year. I see more of a 2008 performance coming this year in which he had 78 receptions for 1,331 yards and 12 TDs.

4. Reggie Wayne, IND – Wayne is like the Energizer Bunny, he just keeps going and going. His 2009 campaign was arguably one of the best of his illustrious career. With more weapons available to Peyton Manning, this should result in less double coverage on Wayne which should translate into continued production.

5. Brandon Marshall, MIA – Marshall proved last year that it doesn’t matter who’s throwing him the ball, he gets it done. Now partnered with strong-armed Chad Henne firing him passes, Marshall should go for 100+ receptieons for the fourth year in a row.

6. Miles Austin, DAL – Can you say breakout season? Austin went for 81 grabs, 1,320 yards and 11 TDs in 2009, finishing in the top 10 for wide receivers. He hasn’t received the contract extension that he would like, but maybe he can get a loan from his new squeeze Kim Kardashian.

Tier 2 – Playmakers

Roddy White has flipped, but never flopped.

7. Larry Fitzgerald, ARI – Some changes to the Cardinals in the off-season has dropped Fitzgerald just a bit in the rankings but he’s still a superior talent at the position. Who will step up with Anquan Boldin gone to Baltimore? And how will Matt Leinart responds as a starter. Those factors will play a big role in Fitzgerald’s production. Plus, a knee injury is cause for more concern.

8. Roddy White, ATL – You may be surprised to know that White finished second to Andre Johnson in most targeted wide receivers with 165 looks last year. His yardage took a dip in 2009 but he did have a career-high 11 TDs. Rowdy Roddy should be solid again this year.

9. DeSean Jackson, PHI
– Jackson led the league in 2009 with 18.5 yards per reception. His catch total won’t blow you away, but he makes up for it once the ball is in his hands. Plus, he seems to have a nice rapport with the Eagles new starting QB, Kevin Kolb.

10. Marques Colston, NO
– Colston’s a big receiver who simply gets it done. He’s not the quickest guy out there, but he’s a solid red zone target due to his size. Expect another big year for Drew Brees’ #1 wide receiver.

11. Greg Jennings, GB
– Talk about your ultimate home-run threat. I expect Jennings to have a much better year this year compared to last. He has one of the best QBs in Aaron Rodgers throwing him the ball and he should be the top target in Green Bay due to Donald Driver’s age and knee issues.

12. Wes Welker, NE
– He is coming off a serious knee injury, but it was just announced that he won’t start the season on the Physically Unable to Perform list, which would keep Welker out 6 games. With his ahead-of-schedule recovery and his league leading 123 receptions for 1348 yards in 2009, he’s still a Tier 1 talent.

Tier 3 – Border liners

13. Anquan Boldin, BAL – I’d sure like to have Boldin as my #2 wide receiver. But if you don’t draft the wide receiver position with your first two picks you may be able to land Boldin in the third round. New team, new system, nice young QB throwing him the ball. Translation: another 1,000-yard season for one of the toughest receivers in the league.

14. Steve Smith, CAR – After four consecutive 1,000-yard seasons for Carolina, Smith’s production dipped some in 2009. I think this was more the Panthers QB issues then a reflection on Smith. Although breaking his forearm twice over the past year won’t help. Health concerns and Matt Moore as his QB are some big question marks.

15. Steve Smith, NYG – Smith became Eli Manning’s #1 target last year, breaking out with 107 receptions, good for second in the league behind Wes Welker’s 123 grabs. Hakeem Nicks emergence may cut into his production some, but I wouldn’t mind having Smith as a #2 starting wide receiver.

16. Chad Ochocinco, CIN – Finishing in the top 15 last year, Ochocinco showed he still has game. With the additions of Antonio Bryant and Jermaine Gresham, teams won’t be able to key on “The Ocho” as much.

17. Mike Sims-Walker, JAC – Walker had a breakout year in 2009, finally staying healthy and showing his long-ball ability. He will once again be David Garrard’s #1 option.

18. Michael Crabtree, SF – A full offseason and training camp will help Crabtree. He had to learn on the fly after holding out for half of last season.

19. Percy Harvin, MIN – Expect Harvin to follow up a solid rookie campaign with even better numbers this year. He is a legit scoring threat every time he touches the ball, and as he showed last year, he’s not afraid to go over the middle to make the tough grabs.

20. Dwayne Bowe, KC – The talent is there to be a #1 wide receiver. If the desire matches the talent, D-Bowe will have a big year.

21. Hakeem Nicks, NYG – Nicks had an injury plagued rookie season, but he showed flashes of being a superior talent. Heading into his second season, he has a chance to put up some nice stats.

Tier 4 – Breakout or bust

22. Pierre Garcon, IND – Garcon emerged as a solid complement to Reggie Wayne. However, Anthony Gonzalez is back and the Colts have a number of offensive weapons.

23. Hines Ward, PIT – A gamer is how I like to describe Hines Ward. He’s one of the toughest players at the position. Heading into his thirteenth season, you’d think he’d be slowing down but in 2009 he had 95 receptions, which was his best in that category since 2003. Ward should once again be a solid option and would make a superb #2 wideout.

24. Donald Driver, GB – The Donald had a nice season in 2009 eclipsing the 1000 yard total in receiving yards for the 7th year in a row. Injury concerns may be a factor this year, but I wouldn’t mind having Driver as a #3 wide out.

25. Mike Wallace, PIT – This second-year player showed some promise as a rookie. With the departure of Santonio Holmes, now a New York Jet, Wallace will be counted as Pittsburgh’s deep threat.

26. Malcolm Floyd, SD – Floyd should put some nice stats up while Vincent Jackson is suspended.

27. TJ Houshmandzadeh, SEA – Playing through numerous injuries in 2009 Houshmandzadeh had a down year by his standards. I expect a bounce back season and consider him as a low-end #2 wide out.

28. Jeremy Maclin, PHI – J-Mac had 55 receptions in his rookie campaign. Not bad and he should improve on those numbers.

29. Robert Meacham, NO – Proving to be a deep threat in 2009 with a 16 yards-per-reception average, Meacham surprised us all with 9 TDs. He should have a similar season this year in New Orleans’ high-powered passing attack.

30. Terrell Owens, CIN – He ended up in a great situation, so he may still garner some value. The Bengals have a solid ground attack, another top wideout and a decent QB. I’m just excited to see if Owens and Ochocinco try to one-up each other in the end zone.

31. Jabar Gaffney, DEN – With the departure of Brandon Marshall, Gaffney should be in line for the best season of his career.

32. Bernard Berrian, MIN – With Sidney Rice recovering from hip surgery and Percy Harvin dealing migraines, Berrian suddenly gets a bump in value.

33. Steve Breaston, ARI – Breaston had a 1,000 yard season with Anquan Boldin on the roster. Now that Boldin is in Baltimore, I expect Breaston to benefit from teams doubling up on Larry Fitzgerald.

Tier 5 – The WR3 Neighborhood

34. Braylon Edwards, NYJ – Edwards is in a contract year, which should have him motivated. Drops have been a major issue over his career. With Santonio Holmes suspended for the first four games, Edwards will have his chance to become Mark Sanchez’s #1 wide out.

35. Santonio Holmes, NYJ – Holmes is suspended for four games. He may have some value if you can get him in the later rounds and hold him on your bench until he’s ready to go.

36. Dez Bryant, DAL – If Miles Austin can come out of nowhere, why can’t Dez Bryant? I expect Bryant to challenge for offensive rookie of the year. But he’ll have to overcome a high-ankle sprain that limited his preseason action, so don’t expect a fast start.

37. Devin Aromashodu, CHI – Gaining the confidence of his QB Jay Cutler, Aromashodu showed promise towards the end of last season.

38. Lee Evans, BUF – With T.O. gone, Evans is the unquestioned #1 receiving option in Buffalo.39. Sidney Rice, MIN – Rice flourished with hall of famer Brett Favre zipping the ball to him last year. During his breakout season, Rice finished in the top 10 of all wide outs with 83 catches, 1,312 yards and 8 TD’s.  Proving he is related to the greatest receiver of all time, Jerry Rice. His hip will keep him out at least 6 weeks, thus the steep drop in the rankings.

40. Johnny Knox, CHI – The speedy Knox has some value in Mike Martz’s pass-first offense.

41. Josh Cribbs, CLE – The Browns figured out towards the end of last season that Cribbs can be a factor in a number of ways. He should see more touches this year.

42. Eddie Royal, DEN – Royal is going to play the slot position this year. He should improve over last year’s stats, but I’m not sure he’ll ever match the production of his rookie year when he went for 91 receptions.

43. Santana Moss, WAS – Moss will be a favorite of new Redskins QB Donovan McNabb. He still has some gas in the tank and could have a nice year.

44. Kenny Britt, TEN – Solid rookie year for Britt whose 16.7 yards per reception was among the league leaders. But the Titans are (as dubbed by the fantasy geek) “Ele-Chris-ity” Johnson’s team.

45. Julian Edelman, NE – With Wes Welker on the shelf, Edelman had some productive games as a rookie. He will get an opportunity again this year.

46. Devin Hester, CHI – Hester has been working with future hall of famer Isaac Bruce this offseason in hopes of mastering Mike Martz’s offense. He should make for a solid #3 wide out.

47. Austin Collie, IND – Collie gained Peyton Manning’s respect last year and should have a similar season in 2010.

48. Derrick Mason, BAL – It will be interesting to see if Mason is still Joe Flacco’s go to guy with the additions of Anquan Boldin and Donte Stallworth.

49. Legedu Naanee, SD – “Legs” will benefit from Vincent Jackson’s greed. He should be the #2 WR in SD for the first 10 games.

50. Jacoby Jones, HOU – The lanky, athletic special-teams standout may eclipse Kevin Walter as the #2 WR in Houston. He could be a real sleeper.

51. Jerricho Cotchery, NYJ – Once the Jets top target, Cotchery looks to be the third option once Santonio Holmes returns from his suspension.

52. Mike Williams, TB – The rookie down in Tampa is outshining the rest of the wide receiver corps…so much so that it appears as though he is the top receiver on the depth chart. Not to be confused with the other Mike Williams in Seattle, who isn’t worth owning.

53. Mario Manningham, NYG – Manningham showed at times that he could be super and will have some quality stats again this year. He makes for a nice #3 wideout.

Tier 6 – Backups at best

54. Mohamed Massequoi, CLE – A couple of nice games for the rookie last year. Massequoi figures to be Cleveland’s best deep ball threat.

55. Laurent Robinson, STL – With the season-ending injury to Donnie Avery, Robinson has the opportunity to lead St. Louis in receptions. The kid is big and athletic. Two ingredients for a successful pass catcher.

56. Louis Murphy, OAK – Injuries continue to haunt Chaz Schillens. So Lou-Murph will have a shot to be Jason Campbell‘s go-to guy.

57. Early Doucet, ARI Breaston was effective as the #3 WR in Arizona. Doucet can be too. That is, if Matt Leinart proves competent.

58. Dexter McCluster, KC – He’s quick and shifty and Todd Haley is quickly growing very fond of this rookie. He could surprise in ’10.

59. Anthony Gonzalez, IND – Gonzo could prove to be a nice sleeper.

60. Darrius Heyward-Bey, OAK – Heyward-Bey is Oakland’s deep threat. Having Jason Campbell throwing him the rock will help.

61. Davone Bess, MIA – Bess may be a nice sleeper playing the slot position. He figures to have single coverage most of the time, with teams doubling up on Brandon Marshall.

62. Kevin Walter, HOU – Walter is a solid wide out who mainly play a secondary role in Houston’s offense thanks to the best wide receiver in the game, Andre Johnson, lining up on the other side.

63. Demaryius Thomas, DEN – Has the size and speed to be dominant, but it will take the rookie some time to adjust to the pro game.

64. Vincent Jackson, SD – The three-game suspension hurts Jackson’s value some. This could provide to be a good thing for the owner who is able to draft Jackson in round 4 or 5. Jackson finished second last year with 17.2 yards per reception. But also keep an eye on his holdout situation. He has threatened to sit out until Week 10, the latest he can play and still officially get credit for the season.

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