Monday, August 18, 2008

Fantasy Football: Wide Receiver Rankings

Here are your Joe & Joe Sports top 40 wide receivers for the 2008 fantasy football season. (These rankings assume 10 rushing/receiving yards per point, 6 points per rushing/receiving TD).
  1. Randy Moss - You're really a fool if you pick anyone else ahead of him. Granted, you don't want to count on another record-setting year with 20+ TDs, but he's got a pass-happy offense and all the talent in the world. He'll be money.
  2. Reggie Wayne - Most lists I've seen have Terrell Owens at #2 and Wayne a spot lower, but Owens is five years older than Wayne, and is likely to drop off from last season. Moreover, the Colts' offense is just a more proven system than the Cowboys.
  3. Terrell Owens - His size and ability match him with anyone in the league, and he's always had a nose for the end zone. As long as Tony Romo doesn't experience a drop-off (which is a possibility), Owens should be good for another 1200 yards and 12 TDs.
  4. Larry Fitzgerald - He's supremely talented and a great red zone target. If Anquan Boldin has trouble staying healthy again, look for more ridiculous numbers from Fitzgerald. If Boldin is healthy, then Fitz will just be a solid top 5 WR. Ho hum.
  5. Andre Johnson - Johnson is my, "If he doesn't get hurt, he'll be a monster" pick. He had at least 74 yards and a touchdown in 7 of his 9 games last year, and figures to build on that with a healthy Matt Schaub this year. I dare say the Texans passing game might be alright.
  6. Chad Johnson - Last year, Chad was in most people's top 3 wideouts. Then, he had a career high 1440 yards and he's been bumped to 10th or later on most lists. Don't make me laugh; I'll take 1400 yards, 8 TDs, and a virtual lock for 16 games (hasn't missed a game since his rookie season) any day. Until the Bengals are worried about this recent shoulder injury, neither am I.
  7. Braylon Edwards - I'm less sold on Edwards than most, but still sold. He's a tremendous home run threat on a team that likes to pass. He'll have to share looks with Kellen Winslow and offseason acquisition Donte Stallworth, but he should be good for big time production again.
  8. Steve Smith - He's still supremely talented, but he relies heavily on Jake Delhomme staying healthy. After Delhomme went down last season, Smith only had 2 100-yard games and only 3 total TDs. It sounds like Delhomme is healthy, but keep an eye on the Panthers in the preseason to be sure.
  9. Marques Colston - Colston followed his great rookie year with an even better sophomore season. Traditionally, wide receivers make a big jump in their third years in the league, which would be scary for the rest of the NFC. All signs point to Colston's continued success.
  10. T.J. Houshmandzadeh - You'll read all over the Internet that you shouldn't pay for career years when you're drafting. Problem is, you'll read that right next to where they tell you to draft Housh. He's a high-level option, and we all know the Bengals like to throw. Keep in mind, however, that over his last six games (when you're trying to win fantasy titles), he averaged 56 yards per game and had just one TD.
  11. Plaxico Burress - Burress played through pain all last season and still put up excellent numbers. Now, armed with a pair of orthotics to alleviate some of his foot pain, he should build upon the rapport he had with Eli Manning last year. He is now unquestionably Manning's favorite target, and a red zone threat. Get used to seeing this line regularly on Monday mornings: 8 catches, 95 yards, 1 TD.
  12. Torry Holt - Holt is one of the most consistent wide receivers I've ever seen, posting at least 90 catches and 1150 yards in each of the past six seasons. He's not getting any younger, but 32 isn't old enough to discount his ability. He won't ever match his 1600-yard seasons of 2000 and 2003, but 1200 yards and 8 TDs should be well within his grasp.
  13. Anquan Boldin - His numbers last year may help you get him a few picks later than you should, because he missed 4 games in the middle of the season. But don't hesitate to jump on him right at his value, because he's the real deal. He had 9 TDs in 12 games, and has put up 1200 yards in each of the three seasons in which he played at least 14 games. Look for Boldin to thrive once again in the potent Arizona offense.
  14. Wes Welker - Has there ever been a wide receiver who was better suited to his team's offense? Welker was a special teams player for Miami for three years, then moved to New England where he caught 112 balls for 1175 yards, scoring 8 times. Oops. Welker should match those numbers this year, which put him among the best #2 fantasy receivers.
  15. Brandon Marshall - Marshall is going to miss the first three games of the season due to a suspension resulting from his offseason debauchery. That's certainly a blow, but if you can stomach the rough couple games at the beginning, you should have a prime time producer come fantasy playoff time. Marshall broke out last year with over 100 catches and 1300 yards, and as he and Jay Cutler become more comfortable together, those numbers figure to swell up a bit. Still, he's shown a propensity for trouble, so don't say I didn't warn you.
  16. Marvin Harrison - I was as ready as anyone to dismiss Harrison, but I just can't do it. Before last year's injury, he had posted 8 straight seasons of 1100 yards and double-digit touchdowns. That's just obscene. Maybe he's 36, but at 34 he was a monster. You have to think he can still scare some children.
  17. Roy Williams - I've probably got Williams a few slots too high, but I can't help thinking that he's still got the talent to be an elite receiver. And I actually think the departure of Martz will help Williams' numbers. With 4 wide, guys like Mike Furrey and Shaun McDonald were getting 5+ looks a game. Under a normal offensive set, Williams should get a greater percentage of the looks.
  18. Roddy White - This guy had 83 catches and 1202 yards and the vast majority of fantasy players were clueless. What's most important, though, is that he was able to put up those numbers without a quarterback to speak of. That's fortunate, since Atlanta's situation under center figures to be similar this season. Expect similar results.
  19. Calvin Johnson - Full disclosure here: somewhere around 50% of my thoughts this season on Calvin Johnson are from ESPN's John Clayton talking him up like crazy on every radio show. The other 50% say he'll be good as well, though, so all of my thoughts are getting along...for now. I think a season that mirrors Brandon Marshall's 2007 is a fair guess.
  20. Dwayne Bowe - Bowe had 70 catches and nearly 1000 yards in his rookie season, and 50 of them were for first downs. He's without a doubt the best WR on a weak Kansas City team, and the Chiefs won't play around about getting him the ball. I expect him to get as many looks as Tony Gonzalez and post numbers similar to Calvin Johnson, hence the back-to-back rankings.
  21. Santonio Holmes - Holmes was a home run threat again in his second season for the Steelers. But this time, he managed to find the end zone 8 times, as opposed to just twice in his rookie season. In this, his third season (as I mentioned the traditional breakout year for WRs), we shouldn't be surprised if he starts to get integrated more into the intermediate passing game. Pittsburgh has become more of a passing team than they've been historically, and Holmes figures to keep that trend going.
  22. Lee Evans - With Evans, the talent is there. He's the best option they've got at receiver in Buffalo. But for whatever reason, he's completely unpredictable from game-to-game and season-to-season. The thinking of putting him this high on the list is that there's finally some stability for the Bills, with a declared starting QB who (hopefully) will stay there all year and a solid running game. I'm comfortable investing in Evans' superior talent and hoping it'll pan out this year.
  23. Greg Jennings - Do we think that Brett Favre benefited from a bevy of talented receivers, or his receivers benefited from Favre's skill? I'm wary of saying Favre was only who he was last year because of Jennings, so I'd lean in the other direction. That's why Jennings falls this far on my list, because I'm uncertain as to how he'll perform without Favre. I personally like Jennings, but I'm holding judgment on his football ability until I see what the Packers look like without #4 under center.
  24. Laveranues Coles - Speaking of Favre's receivers, I love what Coles might be able to do with Favre at the helm in New York. The best quarterbacks Coles has ever had include Patrick Ramsey, Vinny Testaverde, and Chad Pennington. All the talk is about Jerricho Cotchery, and I think Cotchery will be good as well (see #25), but I like Coles just a little bit more.
  25. Jerricho Cotchery - Cotchery posted a career high of 1130 yards in his fourth season, to go along with 82 catches (tied his career high). Word is that he's already clicking very well with Favre, and so he should have plenty of opportunities to succeed. The Jets don't have solid receivers 4 and 5 deep like the Packers did, so Favre will have to focus more on the top two, and that means nice numbers for Coles and Cotchery.
  26. Chris Chambers - Chambers has been a solid player throughout his career, and landing in San Diego didn't hurt his production at all. I expect 1000 yards and 6-8 touchdowns from the veteran.
  27. Donald Driver - I've always felt Driver had a lot of skill, but it seems like it took too long for him to get going, and now all of a sudden he's a grizzled veteran and his window is closing. He picked up 1000 yards last year again, but don't expect him to improve on that with Aaron Rodgers replacing Favre as his quarterback.
  28. Kevin Curtis - A large portion of Curtis' production comes from that drubbing he and the Eagles put on Detroit. Still, he had enough other good games to warrant being drafted as a #3 WR in most leagues. He'll continue to be a wild card, all-or-nothing kind of receiver.
  29. Santana Moss - As a Redskins fan, I've been able to watch Moss' play firsthand, and it's at least as erratic as anyone else I've described as such. He's a burner, but he's really better suited for a #2 role behind a true possession receiver. Still, he's got a 1400-yard season on the books, so you can't discount his ability to put up big time numbers.
  30. Javon Walker - Walker has had a tough few years. He got told by Brett Favre to shut up and play when he asked for a new contract to give him some stability, then tore his ACL. He left for Denver after the season, and had his friend Darrent Williams die in his arms after that awful drive-by shooting. This past offseason, after signing with Oakland, he got mugged in Las Vegas. Hopefully the change of scenery will help Walker simplify his life and concentrate on football. If he can, he's got the talent to scream up this list.
  31. Joey Galloway - The original all-or-nothing wide receiver, Galloway somehow still has the speed and moves to get by #1 corners. He's probably stuck around 55 catches, but he'll still pick up 1000 yards.
  32. Hines Ward - One of the faces of the Steelers' franchise, Ward's best days are behind him. He hasn't had 1000 yards since 2004, and his catches have been holding steady around 70. Still, he remains a red zone threat, and with Pittsburgh leaning on the passing game more and more, Ward should still be a serviceable starter in deeper leagues.
  33. Nate Burleson - Burleson is the main beneficiary of Bobby Engram's injury. He's now guaranteed a starting position, and with a lot of passes coming his way, he should do very well. He's got game-breaker open-field ability, as evidenced by his solid work returning kicks and punts.
  34. Patrick Crayton - With Terry Glenn out, Crayton moves into the starting lineup with Terrell Owens. Crayton has fantastic hands, and figures to flourish with this opportunity. I wouldn't be surprised if he posted top 25 WR numbers.
  35. Anthony Gonzalez - It's always a good call to invest in potent offenses, as they seem to only get stronger. The Colts have such an offense, and with Harrison's health a concern, Gonzalez figures to factor into things more than last year. These very same Colts proved that a #3 receiver on a great offense can be valuable when Brandon Stokely was startable in most leagues a few years back.
  36. Bernard Berrian - Berrian was a big play threat for a bad Bears offense, but I think people are mistaken when they think things will be any better in Minnesota. He'll probably still pick up the occasional long reception, but I don't expect him to be more than a 1000 yard, 6 TD guy unless he gets matched up with a real talent at QB. Tarvaris Jackson isn't it.
  37. Reggie Brown - Philadelphia's #2 option is actually on par with Kevin Curtis when it comes to talent. Curtis and Brown figure to split looks pretty evenly, so it's just a matter of what they each do with them. Brown seems to be more of a possession receiver, which is nice for the Eagles and Donovan McNabb, but makes him substantially less valuable than Curtis in fantasy leagues.
  38. Isaac Bruce - Bruce is reunited with Mike Martz, and I have to think that's only a good thing for both parties. The 49ers still have question marks at the quarterback position, but presumed starting WR Bryant Johnson is hurt, so Bruce is getting all of the exposure in preseason. I like Bruce to bounce back from a down year in 2007 and pick up another 1000 yards in his quest for the hall of fame.
  39. Derrick Mason - Mason has picked up 1000 yards in 6 of the past 7 years, and posted a career-high 103 catches last season. The Ravens still have a crummy passing attack, and the loss of Jonathan Ogden only compounds their difficulties. Mason is a fine guy to pick up as a bye week replacement, as he's sure to be the focal point of Baltimore's air game. Just remember that they stink.
  40. Jerry Porter - Porter's move to Jacksonville helps his value ever so slightly. Reggie Williams is hurt, giving Porter all of the snaps as the #1 WR, and on a team that's as run-heavy as the Jaguars, you really can't afford to be #2. Porter's always had some skill, but it remains to be seen if he can take advantage of an opportunity like this.

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