You need to be very aware of any and all situations when it comes to this year’s fantasy wide receivers. This isn’t as easy as picking a solid running back or a decent mid level QB. The top wide receivers this year offer more questions than the Top 5 running backs or Top 5 quarterbacks. Wide receivers will be a roll of a dice when it comes to predicting production. Many owners, including this one, built last year’s squad around Calvin Johnson, only to be left with the stale taste of defeat. This year, make sure you know everything about the wide receivers that you’re thinking of taking with early picks. You want to be aware of everything from quarterback changes, contract disputes, whose at running back, how does the offensive line look, who is the second wide receivers on the team, suspension probability, etc. I decided to run down the Top 6 wide receivers due to the fact that Andre Johnson is the No. 1 wide receiver by a fair margin. But not even Andre the Giant is bulletproof. Here’s the things to know about the elite wide receivers going into next season.
No. 1 – Andre Johnson – Far and away the top wide receiver talent in this year’s fantasy draft. Owners are willing to take Johnson in the first round after the Top 5 running backs are gone. But a there are a couple of things to know ahead of time. First off, Johnson has a history of missing time. A lot of receptions are followed by a lot of hits. He’s not the only one either. Matt Schaub has spent his fair share of time injured. Owen Daniels, who draws coverage away from Johnson, spent a large part of last season on the sidelines. And Steve Slaton is a giant question mark who is being replaced by a rookie question mark. The Texans are also the owners of the hardest schedule in the league, according to nfl.com. Johnson is the premier talent, but the stars don’t seem to be aligning in his favor. Owners need to be skeptical about each wide receiver, including Johnson.
No. 2 – Reggie Wayne – What could be the possible downsides to Peyton Manning’s favorite wide receiver? Well, for starters, it seems like Manning owns a wide receiver factory some place deep in the heart of
No. 3 – Randy Moss – The Patriots’ No. 1 target isn’t as appealing a statement as it was three seasons ago. Moss tied for the league lead in receiving touchdowns, but showed multiple signs of being uninterested and borderline lazy. He ran routes at half speed and didn’t attempt catching several passes to avoid hits. He’s also upset about his contract situation. How long can Moss bite his tongue, and how long will Bill Belichick put up with the antics that follow Moss? Also, the Patriots didn’t reload their passing game. Is Torry Holt the new No. 2 wide receiver? Joey Galloway couldn’t handle that offense, and there is a lot in common with the two wide receivers. How long until Wes Welker isn’t only back, but a weapon again? If Holt flops and Welker needs more time, who is taking pressure off of Moss? Ben Watson packed his bags and was replaced by a rookie. Is a rookie tight end going to draw coverage from Moss? Probably not. Tom Brady will be an improved version of what we saw last year, but Moss will get the Calvin Johnson treatment. He’ll be doubled, if not tripled, on a regular basis. And age is an additional concern. He’s the oldest wide receiver in the arguable the Top 10-15 wide receivers. With age come injuries.
No. 4 – Larry Fitzgerald – Does the loss of Kurt Warner cripple Fitzgerald’s year? No. Does the loss of Anquan Boldin cripple Fitzgerald’s year? No. Do the two mixed together spell trouble for his stats? Yes indeed. He’s never been without Boldin. Fitzgerald will see the most attention from defenses that he’s ever had in his career. And to top it off, the gun-slinging quarterback has retired, and now Fitzgerald is stuck with Matt Leinart. Perhaps Leinart should have taken bodybuilding 101 instead of ballroom dancing at USC. Maybe that way he’d be able to throw a football more than 20 yards. The loss of two Pro Bowl caliber team mates on offense isn’t a value boast for Fitzgerald. And the fact that the Cardinals are leaning towards giving Beanie Wells more touches means less balls for Fitzgerald to catch. He could be seeing less chances, from a less talented quarterback, but with the most competition in his career. That’s a scary thought.
No. 5 – Calvin Johnson – The exact reason as to why this article is being written. He is the premier case of “boom or bust.” What seemed like the worst situation possible for the young wide receiver turned out to be a 12-touchdown campaign. The next season, improvements were made, and Johnson answered with less than half the touchdowns from the prior season. This year, the Lions are said to have improved again. The additions of Jahvid Best and Nate Burleson are drawing rave reviews. And the hopefully healthy returns of Brandon Pettigrew and Kevin Smith mixed with new arrivals like Tony Scheffler should provide both Matthew Stafford and Johnson ample statistical opportunities. But is Burleson the answer to draw coverage from Johnson? He didn’t do it in either
No. 6 – Miles Austin – Is this a one hit wonder like Steve Slaton, Kevin Smith and Matt Forte or is this the start of something big like Chris Johnson? Roy Williams is said to be in shape and motivated. He’s also stated to be in more mental control of the offensive scheme compared to last year. And the Dallas Cowboys didn’t select Dez Bryant to have him on the bench. And Jason Witten is absolutely going to get more than two touchdowns next season. Wade Phillips said that himself. Don’t forget that Sam Hurd and Patrick Crayton are still on the squad. That’s a lot of mouths to feed when you factor in Felix Jones and Marion Barber catching passes out of the backfield too. Will
This isn’t to say, “Don’t draft any of these wide receivers.” Each wide receiver, and each player for that matter, have a certain amount of risk involved. You just need to decide if the players value outweighs the players risk. Will DeSean Jackson get 12 touchdowns on only 70 receptions? Will Vincent Jackson receive a four-game suspension for his DUI, cutting his value by 25 percent? Will Anquan Boldin be a redzone target with the options of Todd Heap, Ray Rice, Willis McGahee, Derrick Mason and Donte’ Stallworth lingering? Are there any Jets wide receivers worth taking with Mark Sanchez at the helm? Each player needs to be weighed out. So break out the scale and good luck. We all are going to need it this year.