Smug Fantasy Football

Early 2013 Top 10’s: Wide Receiver

After a little hiatus, we’re back in action! Here’s an early look at the Top 10 Fantasy WR for the 2013 NFL season, and you can expect regular content after tomorrow’s NFL draft.  These rankings are not set in stone, rather their purpose is to be a nice baseline to have going into the draft. All of these rankings we post here are fluid and we will keep you updated throughout this off-season.

calvin-johnson1. Calvin Johnson, Detroit Lions

Calvin Johnson is a god. Last season he broke the single season receiving record with 1964, a record previously held by the incredible Jerry Rice. He also owns #8 (2011) on that list. He plays in the NFL’s most pass friendly offense in the Lions, QB Matt Stafford – 727 attempts in 2012. His combination of size (6’5 240 lbs), speed (4.3 40), and hands is unmatched, ever. He’s arguably the most talented player in the entire NFL, and if not for the WR position being so deep, you could consider him the #1 fantasy option.  As it stands, in a standard league you’ll want to nab him after pick 5 (you can make a case for #3 overall if you are confident in your ability to identify RB value later on.)

2. A.J. Green, Cincinnati Bengals

A.J. blew up his second year in the NFL in 2012 for 97 receptions, 1350 yards, 11 TD, giving him 1000+ receiving yards in each of his first two years. He’s obviously an emerging superstar with emerging QB in Andy Dalton.  Offensive Coordinator Jay Gruden has been a godsend, and despite constant double teams, Green will continue to put up huge numbers.

3. Brandon Marshall, Chicago Bears

The 4 time pro bowler came back from a few disappointing seasons in Miami to finish 2012 with 1508 yards and 11 TD. He possesses the size (6’4 230 lbs.) and physicality that keeps defensive coordinators up at night. New HC Mark Trestman’s offense will be decidedly more pass heavy, and even after catching 118 balls last season, could see more targets in 2013.  We wouldn’t call you crazy if you made him the second receiver taken in your draft.

4. Demaryius Thomas, Denver Broncos

Broncos QB Peyton Manning should improve in his second year back from neck surgery.  OC Adam Gase has talked about playing even faster in Manning’s second year.  The addition of Wes Welker isn’t likely to affect Demaryius too much.  He might see a few less targets overall, but the O is going to move the chains more, meaning more red zone looks and likely more TDs. We wouldn’t be surprised to see him improve his 1434 yard 10 TD effort from 2012. #1 receivers on elite passing offenses are hard to come by, so snatch them up in the 2nd round of your draft

5. Julio Jones, Atlanta Falcons

Julio is another freak talent with elite measurables (6’3/220 lbs./4.39 40 at combine on a broken foot) (notice a trend here?), that came into his own in 2012 (1198 receiving yards, 10 TD) after a strong rookie season (959 yards 8 TD) and the trend arrow is pointing upward.  Matt Ryan is one of the games best quarterbacks and with Dirk Koetter calling the offense the Falcons will continue to air it out with regularity.  He’d be higher if not for a somewhat checkered injury history.  Great guy to own.

6. Dez Bryant, Dallas Cowboys

Dez wants to go for 2000 receiving yds and 20 TD in 2013, and while obviously that’s unlikely, heck it’s never been done before, we can’t honestly there is a 0% chance it could happen.  Dez’s last 9 games of 2012 saw him haul in 51 receptions for 892 receiving yards and 10 TD.  He’d need to take large step forward obviously, but 2000 yards isn’t impossible. Tony Romo is as solid as they come and Dallas will feature Bryant as their key playmaker.  Nagging Injuries are present, and much like Julio, if not for those, he’d be higher.  We like Dez, but not as a Top 5 WR.San Francisco 49ers v Arizona Cardinals

7. Larry Fitzgerald, Arizona Cardinals

Fitzy is a future Hall of Famer. No question.  Last season was not strong (798 receiving yards, 4 TD), but you can attribute that to pathetic offensive line and quarterback play, and not necessarily a reflection of his ability. The arrivals of offensive genius Bruce Arians and strong armed QB Carson Palmer will be a game changer in the Arizona.  Still consistently demonstrating incredible route running, hands, and body control, we expect him to have a resurgence like Reggie Wayne did last year when Arians was his offensive coordinator. The offensive line is the only real issue here, but as one of the most talented WR of all time, Fitzgerald should have a strong season regardless. Just 29 years old, and 1 years removed from 1400+ yards and 8 TD, Fitzy has bigtime upside this season.

8. Percy Harvin, Minnesota Vikings

The Seahawks didn’t trade a first rounder and seventh rounder this year and a third rounder in next year’s draft for Percy, so that he could sit around for extended periods of time like the Vikings used to have him do.  Rest assured, Percy won’t be doing much sitting.  While he won’t get the receiving volume of a guy like Marshall, Harvin is talented enough and supported by the right cast to put up big numbers.  Expect Seattle to move him all around the field (out wide, in the slot, in the backfield, etc.) and create many mismatches along the way  He’ll probably return a few punts and kickoffs in key situations as well.  Percy is in line for a very big year.

Divisional Playoffs - Green Bay Packers v San Franciso 49ers9. Michael Crabtree, San Francisco 49ers

The former first rounder finally came into his own in 2012 with 1105 yards receiving and 9 TD on 85 receptions. He excelled post the Alex Smith – Colin Kaepernick swap, averaging 5.9 catches for 88.6 yards and scoring eight touchdowns with Kaep, as opposed to 5.0 catches for 54.0 yards with four touchdowns in 8.5 games with Smith. At age 25, Crabtree is on the precipice of his prime.  Expect improvement over a 16 game slate with Kaepernick at the helm. San Francisco has one of the best offensive lines in the NFL and that means even if they run the ball more than most, WRs will have more time to get open when they pass, but what’s also important to look at is the presence of the team’s superior defense, which will keep them in consistently good field position, meaning continued and consistent red zone opportunities for Crabtree. You want to be invested in this offense and Crabtree is likely to perform more consistently than most.

10. Victor Cruz, New York Giants

Although the TD were nice, 10, Cruz’s 2012 season, much like the Giants, left a lot to be desired. Two years removed from 1500+ receiving yards, he is in a contract year and is one of the best receivers in the game. If he can avoid the drops that plagued him in 2012, he can get back to elite production. Hakeem Nicks has serious issues staying healthy, and the G-Men do have Eli Manning after all. Expect consistent and excellent production.

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