Wide receiver is the position that is the hardest to rank, which also makes it the most fun. It’s also the deepest position in the draft, so don’t forget to always get running backs first and then go get your wide receivers. Trust me. Just do it. That’s the greatest piece of advice I can give you in any draft you do, especially this year, where there was so much shifting at the position, which means doors will open all over the league on many different teams.
Oh, and before we get into wide receivers, I wanted to let you guys know I have already ranked my quarterbacks and running backs, so here are the links:
- After Free Agency: 2013 Quarterback Rankings
- After Free Agency: 2013 Running Back Rankings
- After Free Agency: 2013 Tight End Rankings (coming next)
These wide receiver rankings, as well as all rankings I do, are for non-PPR (points per reception) leagues. Enjoy!
1. Calvin Johnson – I don’t think you need any reasoning for this reason. He broke Jerry Rice’s receiving yardage record in 16 games last season. He has 33 receiving touchdowns over the last three seasons. Megatron will be the No. 1 WR on every set of fantasy football rankings this season.
2. A.J. Green - Let me just tell you, Calvin Johnson is in a tier all his own. Johnson should go in the first round of drafts. I wouldn’t take Green (or any WR) until late in the second. Green and the next receiver on this list were tight. I like Green’s quarterback and situation a little bit more than Marshall. His stats improved drastically from his rookie season to 2012 — he had 32 receptions, 293 yards and four touchdowns more in 2012 than he did in his rookie season.
3. Brandon Marshall - Marshall had the third most catchable balls thrown his was last season, according to Pro Football Focus, behind only Calvin Johnson and Wes Welker. He had career highs in receptions (118), yards (1, 508) and touchdowns (11). He’s played all 16 games for two seasons in a row now. He’s 29 years old. There’s really no concern about Marshall, I just like Johnson and Green a lot better. All three will be week-to-week constants if you draft them.
4. Dez Bryant - Bryant is the man in Dallas. He had his best year in 2012. He scored 10 touchdowns in the last 12 games in 2012. Tony Romo clearly trusts him, even if some Cowboys fans don’t Bryant has progressed tremendously as a player in his three years in the league and he showcased that in 2012. He scored the third most fantasy points (.211/snap) in 2012, according to Pro Football Focus, while playing through his finger injury, and I wouldn’t be at all surprised if that if number duplicates in 2012.
5. Randall Cobb - With Greg Jennings gone to Minnesota, Cobb’s door is open even wider. He took advantage of the Packers’ banged up wide receiving corps season and never looked back. Cobb had the second most points per snap (.230/snap) in 2012 behind only Percy Harvin. His catch rate was 78 percent, second only to Brandon Stokley. He’ll become a constant starter for the Packers in 2012, and that’s exciting. He’s another guy you can rely on every week. Also one of the few receivers who isn’t touchdown-dependent.
6. Demaryius Thomas - The only reason Cobb is over Thomas is because of consistency. Thomas had two games last season where he only had one point. Cobb never dropped that low, even early in the season before he was really involved. Thomas can win a week for you, or he can lose a week for you, as he probably did a couple of times last season. You have to decide if you want to draft for consistency or upside, and I draft for consistency — week-to-week consistency. That’s why I like Cobb more.
7. Julio Jones - I love Jones upside and sheer talent, but I need to see more before I can fully trust him as my No. 1 wide receiver. The scary thing about Jones is that, unlike Randall Cobb, he is touchdown dependent. He averaged just 5.6 points in games when he didn’t reach the end zone. It’s worth noting Cobb averaged 8.1 points in the same category. I do think Jones improves on his stats from last year, but I believe both Thomas and Cobb are safer.
8. Percy Harvin - I have confidence in Harvin’s fantasy value wherever he plays. He’s a play maker with great hands. His skill-set is unmatched in the NFL, and now with a nice contract and quality quarterback on a team that will compete for the Super Bowl for years to come, he should be even more productive. The sky is the limit. A quality third-round pick.
9. Roddy White - There’s no complaints here. White is solid year in and year out. You know exactly what you’re getting. Just pull up his career stats. There’s not a safer pick out there. Little upside, but a satisfying pick.
10. Michael Crabtree - This is my first pick that gets me a bit worried, but I truly do like Crabtree. Sure, the 49ers brought Anquan Boldin in via trade, but Crabtree was electric with Colin Kaepernick at QB. I’ll leave you with a comparison of Crabtree’s Weeks 1-8 stats (when Alex Smith started), Week 9-16 stats (when Kaepernick started) and his playoff stats. You’ll see the difference immediately. That’s why Crabtree is here. If you do the math, Crabtree’s stats through 16 weeks would have been something like 92 receptions, 1,330 yards, and 12 receiving touchdowns had Kaepernick been the quarterback all season. That’s 200 fantasy points, which would have made him the fourth highest scoring fantasy receiver in 2012.
11. Andre Johnson - At 31 years old, I’m primarily concerned about Johnson’s health. He had a huge year in 2012, as he totaled a career-high 1,598 receiving yards, but he missed 12 games in the two seasons before 2012. In 2012, Johnson played all 16 games, but at the age of 21, I don’t see him repeating. That’s why he is down here at 11.
12. Victor Cruz - Cruz is ultra-overrated in the fantasy world. He was only the 13th overall receiver in 2012, in a season where Hakeem Nicks missed five games. 61 percent of his points came in five games in 2012, and in seven other games he scored six points or under. He’ll never be drafted by me because of his absurd inconsistency.
13. Dwayne Bowe - Just like Harvin, Bowe is now with a quarterback who can play (Alex Smith), he is getting paid like an elite receiver, and his team quite possibly could contend with a legitimate head coach. There’s no point in me citing stats. We know what Bowe can do, and now he should do it.
14. Antonio Brown - This is probably higher than you’ve seen him elsewhere. I don’t see Roethlisberger to be affected by Mike Wallace leaving, and with Wallace gone, Brown is the clear No. 1 target. He already was targeted 105 times in 13 games in 2012. Expand that over 16 games and he is the 15th most targeted wide receiver in the NFL at 129. I’m not sure how he’ll play without the pressure taken off his shoulders by Mike Wallace, but when he is going to be a focus of the offense and has a solid quarterback under center, it’s hard not to like him.
15. Vincent Jackson - Another year with Josh Freeman should only help Jackson improve in Tampa Bay. Other than improvement and the regular inconsistency, you know what you’re getting here.
16. Jordy Nelson - Randall Cobb will make a bigger impact than Nelson, but that doesn’t mean Nelson won’t be a solid receiver week in and week out. He only averaged 5.92 targets per game in 2012, which really hurts his value in my opinion. However, he still had seven touchdowns and that’s where his value is going to be — in touchdowns.
17. Hakeem Nicks - I believe Nicks is the more reliable and talented receiver playing for Big Blue. However, his young career has been bitten by the injury bug. He;s the prototype play making receiver who can do it all. If he stays healthy for 16 games, he could definitely pop=off and become a top 10 wide receiver. However, I’ve waited for that healthy season, and in his first four seasons in the NFL it hasn’t happened. I’ll only take Nicks if I can get a good deal.
18. Pierre Garcon - The ceiling is top five for Garcon. I truly think he can be huge with Robert Griffin III under center. He’s one of the most underrated play making wide receivers in the league and has a solid catch rate of 70 percent. He ranked fifth in points per snap in 2012, thanks in part to his huge Week 1 before injuring his foot, which would deter the rest of his season. As I said, he’s has major upside.
19. Danny Amendola - As of now, Amendola will be the top target for the Patriots at the wide receiver position and he’s a safe bet for 95 catches if he can stay healthy. However, I do expect the Patriots to bring in other wide receivers via the draft, and I also expect Julian Edelman to eventually return. That could limit Amendola’s targets a big.
20. Greg Jennings - Jennings will be the primary focus of opposing defenses when Christian Ponder drops back, which isn’t all that often on this run-first team. I’m not quite sure what to expect, so I’m erring on the side of caution.
21. Eric Decker - I’m not sure how Decker/Welker are going to work out targets wise, but I think we all assume they won’t be able to sustain their numbers from 2012. That’s almost a given. It’ll be interesting to watch the situation unfold into training camp into preseason. I expect Decker’s snaps to be identical, but I’m not sure about targets.
22. Jeremy Maclin - Some like Maclin, others are on the DeSean Jackson band wagon. I’m a Maclin guy. Maclin is the more complete receiver, but he’s still very quick, and that’s going to be huge in Chip Kelly’s system. We odn’t know much about what Kelly will do at the pro level, but he’s said that he wants the ball out of either Michael Vick or Nick Foles’ hand quickly. Jackson isn’t going to be the one running those quick routes underneath the defense — that will be Maclin and possibly Brent Celek. Maclin is also a much more rounded wide receiver than Jackson, who is more of a one-trick pony.
23. Mike Wallace – Wallace is another guy I’m limiting expectations for. He had a down year in 2012 with just 836 receiving yards in 15 games. His new quarterback, Ryan Tannehill, was solid throwing the ball 20 yards or more down the field in 2012, however. He was 20/51 for 671 yards with three touchdowns as well as an interception. That’s not bad for a guy who didn’t have wide receivers who are known for their down-field presence like Wallace is. I’d expect Wallace to move up a bit before the season.
24. Marques Colston - Colsotn is just about as consistent as they come on a year-to-year basis. He’ll get you about 1,100 yards and eight touchdowns at the end of the day. With Drew Brees under center, you don’t have much to worry about week-to-week either, although Colston can struggle at times.
25. Reggie Wayne - Aging very slowly, but aging nonetheless. Still going to be the top and most consistent target for Andrew Luck. There’s not much else to say about Wayne. You know what you’re getting.
26. Wes Welker - Welker’s stats are going to take a big dip. He might play the same role in the Denver offense (slot), and he might even fit in very well, but there is a very small chance of him seeing 166 targets again in his NFL career if he stays with Denver and this group of wide receivers, no matter how much Peyton Manning throws the ball.
27. James Jones - Very touchdown dependent, and you know how I feel about that. Per Pro Football Focus, he is the fifth ranked wide receiver in points per target. When you take away points from touchdowns, he drops to the 51st ranked wide receiver in points per target. Ouch. That’s what I call touchdown dependent. Not saying Jones won’t find the end zone in 2013, but I’m not optimistic that he will find it 14 times.
28. Steve Johnson - It looks like the Bills will be drafting a quarterback and rolling with him in 2013. That doesn’t bode well with Johnson’s fantasy value.
29. Steve L. Smith - Smith is aging, and his numbers dipped a bit in 2012. He’s a solid flex because he’s the top target for Cam Newton, but not much else.
30. Mike Williams - Although Williams hasn’t broken through for a huge season yet, in his three years in the elague he has over 63 receptions and 750 yards in all of them. That’s quite impressive. A sign of things to come. A solid plug-and-play. Worth mentioning that Williams finished 18th among wide receiver in scoring last season, something that I didn’t even realize before looking at stats.
31. Larry Fitzgerald - Until he gets a quarterback, this is where he will stay. I don’t care how good he is. He can’t block, throw the ball and catch the ball.
32. Torrey Smith - Not a fan of Smith’s inconsistency, as over half of his games resulted in less than six fantasy points in 2012. The positive on Smith is that he might have to become more versatile in 2013 with Anquan Boldin out of the picture, which could mean more targets. On the bright side, Smith did tear up bad secondaries in 2012. His big games can be expected. He’s a good pick if you can get him late enough.
33. DeSean Jackson - See Maclin, Jeremy. I expect Maclin to be a bigger part of the new Eagles offense.
34. Justin Blackmon - Should be the top receiver for the Jaguars. Will the quarterback position — whether it be Blaine Gabbert or Chad Henne or a rookie — be efficient enough to supplement his fantasy value? I hope so. Blackmon has a bright future.
35. Josh Gordon - Gordon is in a similar situation as Blackmon. Will the quarterback play be good enough in Cleveland? Is Weeden the guy? Gordon is the main guy in Cleveland, and they want to continue to make him better. If they can get a quarterback to throw to him consistently, he could be huge.
36. Denarius Moore - Should be a No.1 receiver in 2012, but he really didn’t impress me in 2012 like I thought he would. It was a disappointing campaign to say the least.
37. Kendall Wright - I erpect the Titans to role with Wright as their No. 1 receiver. He posted an average stat line in 2012, but with a constant quarterback in Jake Locker set for the future, Wright could be big.
38. Miles Austin - Austin had a catch rate of only 57 percent in 2012, according to Pro Football Focus. Dez Bryant caught 67 percent and Jason Witten caught 75 percent. Who are you throwing to if you’re Tony Romo? Yep. Not Austin. I love Austin as a person off the field, but ever since he got paid, his play has declined.
40. Chris Givens - Givens and Brian Quick are the biggest beneficiaries of both Danny Amendola and Brandon Gibson leaving for new teams. Expect big things if Sam Bradford can play like he did in his rookie season.
41. Danario Alexander - Chargers should retain Alexander, as they tendered him in the offseason. I’m concerned about Alexander’s value with Vincent Brown returning from a broken ankle, but he was huge in 2012. He’s a versatile wide receiver who brings a lot to the table. His 2012 season was no fluke. Hopefully Philip Rivers can find the way out of his slump with more developed targets around him in 2013.
42. Brian Hartline - Not a fan of Hartline. His stats are very middle of the road, and that’s the type of wide receiver that he is. He’s going to give you middle of the road production and doens’t have a flashy skill-set. No reason for me to draft him.
43. Anquan Boldin - A new landscape doesn’t change my view on Boldin much. I expect the same type of production in San Francisco. He’s been an erratic scorer and hasn’t scored enough on his off weeks to even warrant a look.
44. Rod Streater - Streater is a young gun that made whispers across the league last season. Around NFL circles his talents are very sought after, and he should have himself a starting spot in 2013.
45. Kennt Britt - Who knows with this guy. I truly think he has the athletic ability to be a top 10 fantasy receiver. But injuries and attitude are major problems. I don’t see the Titans giving him a lot to work with, and I’m not sure his body is going to allow him to play this game for much longer.
46. T.Y. Hilton - The best rookie wide receiver in 2012 if we’re talking about performance on the field. He finished with seven touchdowns as a rookie. Donnie Avery is now in Kansas City, so Hilton will probably become more involved in the Colts offense in 2013. A high upside pick.
47. Cecil Shorts - Shorts was one of the biggest pick ups off the waiver wire in 2012. However, Jusitn Blackmon really came on at the end of 2012 and I’d expect to continue in 2013 regardless of the starting quarterback. Shorts should fade into the background, but what he showed in 2012 will attract some owners.
48. Mohamed Sanu - There’s lots of receiver who could make an impact in Cincinnati behind A.J. Green. Sanu is just one of many.
49. Stephen Hill - Hill flashed next year, but not much else. He has upside, but don’t expect much if Mark Sanchez is under center.
50. Rueben Randle - Domenik Hixona nd Ramses Barden are both out of New York (both are free agents as of now). That tells me the Giants have some confidence in Randle, who was the last played left in the green room at the 2012 NFL Draft.
51. Vincent Brown - Brown didn’t get to play in a game in 2012, as he broke his ankle prior to the season. When he comes back, he could make some noise. A tremendous amount of athletic ability. I wouldn’t be surprised if he’s the top receiver for the Chargers in all categories at the end of 2013.
52. Brandon LaFell - I’ve always liked LaFell, and with Steve Smith aging, I keep thinking he is going to take advantage of his chances. to this day, he hasn’t. To me, he is an average receiver. He is on a contract year, so let’s see if he can finally get the job done.
53. Andre Roberts - If Michael Floyd digs is way out of the dog house, Roberts’ value will be trash. However, I don’t see that happened, at least not this season. Roberts can step in and give you a decent week int he flex position as long as he has a decent quarterback throwing him the ball. Product of Larry Fitzgerald receiving so much attention in my opinion.
54. Jeremy Kerley - The only reason Kerley is above Santonio Holmes is because he is younger, more athletic and not coming off of a major injury. That said, he’s purely a situational guy. Only in my rankings because he will get snaps.
55. Santonio Holmes - Will be with the Jets in 2013 after restructuring his deal. As long as Mark Sanchez is quarterback, I don’t see much value in any Jets wide receivers.
56. Brian Quick - I’ll be draft Quick late in every league. There’s a reason the Rams took him early in last year’s draft — because they like him.With Gibson and Amendola gone, Quick should take on a lot more snaps in 2012,
57. Sidney Rice - Too many targets in Seattle for Rice to really make an impact.
58. Emmanuel Sanders - Still is under a RFA tender from Pittsburgh. New England is reportedly interested in his services. We’ll see where that goes.
59. Brandon Gibson - An under-the-radar signing by Miami, Gibson never really came out of his shell in St. Louis. I think he has some potential for sure, and I wouldn’t be surprised if he out-performs Brian Hartline down the line.
60. Alshon Jeffery - Missed six games in 2012, but was a solid target for Jay Cutler. Has no competition for the No. 2 wide receiver spot coming into 2013 as long as he stays healthy.
Other Names to Watch
Cole Beasley or Dwayne Harris - Could make a name for themselves as the Cowboys No. 3 receiver, or even No. 2 if Miles Austin is cut as a cap casualty (which is still a possibility)/
Jairius Wright - The Vikings like Wright and he showed flashes in his rookie season.
Donald Jones - As of now, it looks like Jones is going to start as an outside wide receiver for the Patriots. Now that’s assuming they don’t get a name or two in the draft. I can already see it: “Brady deep to Jones….touchdown!”
Ryan Broyles - Hopefully Broyles can come back from another torn ACL like he did the first time. He has some hoops to jump through, but one he gets back, it shouldn’t take much time for him to find his way right back into the starting lineup.
Michael Floyd - Drafted last season and sat on the bench all season. If he hits the field and has a halfway decent quarterback throwing to him (which as this time is a no-go) he could make an immediate impact. Big play ability.
Top Free Agent Wide Receivers
Julian Edelman - Edelman is the top receiver on the market, but he hasn’t garnered much interest on the free agency market. The Patriots are the only team who still sound interested in signing him.
Brandon Lloyd - Released by the Patriots, they could regret it later. They need outside wide receivers. Badly. Not sure where Lloyd ends up, but I cna tell you that he has not gotten interest from anyone and has not taken any visits, sources told me. He’s reportedly a bad teammate too. Not much to like about Lloyd.
Darrius Heyward-Bey - DHB was headed in the right direction in 2012, he was just too expensive for the Raiders to keep. He could be a nice signing for a team. I could see him being a No. 2 wide receiver somewhere as he continues to improve his game.
Laurent Robinson - Concussions last season made Robinson probably the biggest bust of the 2011 free agency period. If his head is straight, I think he can still make a comeback and really help a team at a discounted price.
David Nelson - Just tore his ACL last season. At least he’s got a good looking girlfriend. Google it.
Domenik Hixon - ACL tears have ripped apart hopes of Hixon becoming a big time wide receiver. He has showed promise, though.
Kevin Walter - Never has impressed me in his years with the Texans. Don’t see him being signed until camps role around.
Ramses Barden - Solid No. 4 wide receiver that can step in and make a few plays here and there.
Austin Collie - Concussions could end Collie’s career, and recently tore his patellar tendon in his right knee. Not sure a team is going to invest in that kind of risk
Titus Young - A mess waiting to happen, again. Who knows where he winds up, but if he does land somewhere and he fixes himself, he has major upside.
Thanks for checking out my wide receivers rankings. Be sure to follow me on Twitter for all the news from around the NFL and check out my other after free agency rankings. Tight ends are coming up next!