2013 Fantasy Football Rankings: My Way-Too-Early Wide Receiver Rankings
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Hall-of-Famer Jerry Rice rewrote the record book for wide receivers. In fact, many of those records were thought to be unbreakable.
Meet Calvin Johnson.
In 2011, Megatron became only the second receiver in NFL history to finish with at least 1,600 yards and 16 touchdowns in the same season. The first to do it was Randy Moss (2003).
For his encore performance, Johnson broke Rice's single-season receiving yards record in Week 16. He ended the season with a new-record 1,964 yards.
In his past 20 games counting last season's playoff loss, he has five 200-yard games. Stated differently, he has 200-plus yards in one-quarter of his past 20 games.
No receiver can take over a game like Megatron and if there's anyone that can break more of Rice's (or his own) receiving records in the future, it's Johnson.
Without question, Megatron enters 2013 as the top fantasy wide receiver.
Dez Bryant Breaks Out in a Big Way
Cowboys receiver Dez Bryant has all of the physical tools to tantalize fantasy owners.
Going into last season, however, both his on-field performance and off-the-field distractions had disappointed those same owners waiting for a breakout from the receiver.
Despite a slow start to the year, Bryant was the most dynamic wide receiver in the league not named Calvin for much of the season.
From Weeks 4 to 17, Bryant led the NFL in receiving touchdowns (12) and had 79 receptions for 1,218 yards. He scored a touchdown (or two) every week from Weeks 10 to 16 and delivered for fantasy owners in a big way in Week 16 with 224 yards and two scores.
Now that he's put it all together on the field, let's hope that he stays focused off the field during the next eight months of the offseason.
Andre Johnson Has Career Year
In the past five seasons, Texans receiver Andre Johnson has played 16 games three times. After playing a combined 20 games in 2010 and 2011, Johnson was able to stay healthy for a full season again.
When healthy, he showed us last year that he is still one of the league's elite receivers.
Although he scored only four touchdowns, Johnson finished the season with 112 receptions for a career-high and franchise-record 1,598 yards.
It was the third time that he finished with at least 100 receptions and 1,500 yards in the past five years. There are only two other players in NFL history to have multiple seasons with those numbers: Marvin Harrison (three) and Jerry Rice (two).
There are three main questions for Johnson heading into the 2013 season: (1) Will he be able to stay healthy for a full season again?; (2) Will another receiver step up (or be drafted) to take some defensive attention off him?; and (3) Will Matt Schaub, who struggled down the stretch, hold him back?
The Slot Machine Does It Again
Patriots slot receiver Wes Welker was designated with the franchise tag last offseason and it's certainly possible that he will walk via free agency in 2013.
With only three receptions (on five targets) for 14 yards in the season opener, there was plenty of concern by fantasy owners about Welker, who found himself out of the starting lineup and off the field often in favor of Julian Edelman.
That said, Welker finished tied for second in the NFL with 118 receptions and had 1,354 receiving yards, the second-highest total of his career, when it was all said and done.
With the exception of the season following his ACL injury, Welker has 110-plus receptions in all five of his other seasons in New England. No other player in the history of the NFL has more than two 110-reception seasons in their career.
From a fantasy standpoint, however, his value is maximized within the Patriots offense so hopefully the two sides will be able to work out a mutual agreement.
Stay tuned ...
Super Sophomores: Julio Jones and A.J. Green
Going into the season, there was plenty of debate about which second-year receiver would have the most production: Atlanta's Julio Jones or Cincinnati's A.J. Green.
Both had great seasons in 2012 with the potential to be even better in the future.
Green finished with 97 receptions for 1,350 yards and 11 touchdowns. Only Marques Colston (168) has more receptions than Green (162) over the first two seasons of an NFL career. Green ranks sixth in receiving yards (2,407) over the first two seasons on an NFL career.
Jones, who finished ninth among receivers in fantasy points, had 79 receptions for 1,198 yards and 10 touchdowns. He finished with four more fantasy points than teammate Roddy White.
Both of these guys have enormous ceilings and should continue to get better as scary as that may seem for opposing secondaries.
Here are my way-too-early fantasy wide receiver rankings for 2013 (standard scoring):
1. Calvin Johnson, Detroit Lions
2. Dez Bryant, Dallas Cowboys
3. A.J. Green, Cincinnati Bengals
4. Julio Jones, Atlanta Falcons
5. Brandon Marshall, Chicago Bears
6. Demaryius Thomas, Denver Broncos
7. Andre Johnson, Houston Texans
8. Percy Harvin, Minnesota Vikings
9. Eric Decker, Denver Broncos
10. Roddy White, Atlanta Falcons
11. Vincent Jackson, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
12. Hakeem Nicks, New York Giants
13. Victor Cruz, New York Giants
14. Marques Colston, New Orleans Saints
15. Jordy Nelson, Green Bay Packers
16. Wes Welker, New England Patriots
17. Randall Cobb, Green Bay Packers
18. Michael Crabtree, San Francisco 49ers
19. Reggie Wayne, Indianapolis Colts
20. Larry Fitzgerald, Arizona Cardinals
21. Steve Smith, Carolina Panthers
22. Cecil Shorts, Jacksonville Jaguars
23. Pierre Garcon, Washington Redskins
24. Antonio Brown, Pittsburgh Steelers
25. Steve Johnson, Buffalo Bills
26. Danario Alexander, San Diego Chargers
27. Greg Jennings, Green Bay Packers
28. Torrey Smith, Baltimore Ravens
29. Jeremy Maclin, Philadelphia Eagles
30. Miles Austin, Dallas Cowboys
31. Dwayne Bowe, Kansas City Chiefs
32. James Jones, Green Bay Packers
33. Mike Wallace, Pittsburgh Steelers
34. Justin Blackmon, Jacksonville Jaguars
35. Lance Moore, New Orleans Saints
36. Mike Williams, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
37. T.Y. Hilton, Indianapolis Colts
38. Josh Gordon, Cleveland Browns
39. Brandon Lloyd, New England Patriots
40. Malcom Floyd, San Diego Chargers
41. Kenny Britt, Tennessee Titans
42. DeSean Jackson, Philadelphia Eagles
43. Denarius Moore, Oakland Raiders
44. Danny Amendola, St. Louis Rams
45. Anquan Boldin, Baltimore Ravens
46. Sidney Rice, Seattle Seahawks
47. Alshon Jeffery, Chicago Bears
48. Nate Washington, Tennessee Titans
49. Kendall Wright, Tennessee Titans
50. Santonio Holmes, New York Jets