2014 Fantasy Football Rankings: Pre-Free Agency Wide Receiver Rankings
Despite a two-game suspension to begin the season, the second-year receiver set a franchise-record with a league-leading 1,646 yards, which more than doubled his rookie season total of 805 yards.
With a 87/1,646/9 line, Gordon led all wide receivers in fantasy points despite a less-than-ideal situation at quarterback and missing two games.
Not only did Gordon have 100-plus yards in exactly half of his 14 games last season, he had at least 67 yards in all but two games in 2013. In addition, he became the first player in NFL history to have back-to-back 200-yard receiving games as he broke the team's single-game receiving record (as Buggin' Out once said, "two times").
In addition to the new coaching staff in place in Cleveland, Gordon is also likely to have a new quarterback. With new offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan feeding the ball last year to Pierre Garcon, who led the league in receptions (113), I'm comfortable Gordon will be targeted heavily enough to flourish again. Plus, it would be hard for the team's quarterback situation to get much worse than their three-headed monster last year.
While those changes don't worry me, owners that draft Gordon will hold their collective breath that he keeps his nose clean this year as his next violation of the league's substance-abuse policy would lead to a full-season suspension.
Breakout season for Alshon
Like Gordon, Chicago's Alshon Jeffery was a second-year receiver that broke out in a big way in 2013.
Along with Gordon, Jeffery was one of only two players to record multiple 200-yard receiving games last year and he also set the franchise's single-game record for most receiving yards.
With career highs across the board, Jeffery finished with 89 receptions for 1,421 yards and seven touchdowns and added 105 rushing yards. The only receiver with more yards from scrimmage than Jeffery (1,526) was Gordon (1,734).
Unlike Gordon, Jeffery currently has better pieces around him as the Bears know who will be their everyday starter at quarterback and opposing defenses will focus on slowing down the receiver opposite him, Brandon Marshall, as much as they will focus on Jeffery himself.
Going into the 2014 season, I have Marshall ranked just ahead of Jeffery, but both receivers are stud WR1's in terms of fantasy outlook.
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What can (Antonio) Brown do for you: Consistent production
With 60 Minutes signing a free-agent deal with the Dolphins last offseason, Steelers wide receiver Antonio Brown had a breakout season as the team's No. 1 receiver even though he had a 1,100-yard season a few years ago.
Brown became the second receiver in franchise history to finish with triple-digit receptions (110) and was only two shy of the club record (112). Only Gordon had more receiving yards than Brown (1,499), who also scored a career-high eight touchdowns.
Along with Gordon and Jeffery, Brown was one of three receivers to finish with 1,500-plus yards from scrimmage in 2013.
Perhaps the most amazing part of Brown's huge success in 2013 was his consistency. Brown had a minimum of five receptions and 50 yards in all 16 games last season.
Going back to 2000, no other player has done that in all 16 games of a season. From 2000-2013, only one player had 15 such games and that happened in 2001. Garcon had the second-most games (13) with a minimum line of 5/50 last season.
Allen: Only third 1,000-yard rookie in past nine years
In the previous eight years before the 2013 season, only two other players had done what San Diego's Keenan Allen did in 2013.
Allen led the Chargers in receiving across the board with 71 catches for 1,046 yards and eight touchdowns.
Once the calendar turned October, Allen was especially good. In the 14 games played in October through January including the playoffs, Allen had six 100-yard games and scored 10 touchdowns.
As great as Allen's rookie season was, I expect bigger and better things from him in 2014.
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Edelman: 69/729/5 over his past 8G
In his first four seasons in the NFL, Patriots receiver Julian Edelman had a total of 69 catches for 714 yards and four touchdowns.
Not only did he exceed those numbers in 2013, but he was especially good down the stretch as Tom Brady's most trusted target.
Finishing 10th in the league in targets (151), Edelman's full-year numbers were 105 receptions, which was fourth-most in the NFL, for 1,056 yards and six touchdowns.
Among the top 25 leaders in receptions, the only player with a lower yards-per-reception average than Edelman (10.1) was Saints running back Pierre Thomas (6.7). With his modest YPR and low number of touchdowns, Edelman is more productive in point-per-reception (PPR) formats than standard-scoring leagues.
In Edelman's final eight games counting both playoff games, he had a minimum of six receptions and 64 yards in every game. During that span, he racked up a stat line of 69/729/5. Purely to illustrate how productive he's been over the past half-season, maintaining that pace for a full 16-game season would equate to a stat line of 138/1,458/10!
Scheduled to become an unrestricted free agent tomorrow, Edelman's fantasy outlook for 2014 is tied largely to whether or not he re-signs with the Patriots. Per Mike Giardi of CSNNE.com, there is a "strong push" within the organization to re-sign him.
Before the official start of NFL free agency on Tuesday, here are my updated fantasy football wide receiver rankings for 2014:
1. Calvin Johnson, Detroit Lions
2. A.J. Green, Cincinnati Bengals
3. Dez Bryant, Dallas Cowboys
4. Josh Gordon, Cleveland Browns
5. Demaryius Thomas, Denver Broncos
6. Julio Jones, Atlanta Falcons
7. Brandon Marshall, Chicago Bears
8. Alshon Jeffery, Chicago Bears
9. Jordy Nelson, Green Bay Packers
10. Antonio Brown, Pittsburgh Steelers
11. Pierre Garcon, Washington Redskins
12. Randall Cobb, Green Bay Packers
13. Keenan Allen, San Diego Chargers
14. Andre Johnson, Houston Texans
15. Roddy White, Atlanta Falcons
16. Larry Fitzgerald, Arizona Cardinals
17. Vincent Jackson, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
18. DeSean Jackson, Philadelphia Eagles
19. Michael Crabtree, San Francisco 49ers
20. Victor Cruz, New York Giants
21. Percy Harvin, Seattle Seahawks
22. Wes Welker, Denver Broncos
23. Torrey Smith, Baltimore Ravens
24. Kendall Wright, Tennessee Titans
25. Michael Floyd, Arizona Cardinals
26. Eric Decker, Denver Broncos
27. T.Y. Hilton, Indianapolis Colts
28. Cordarrelle Patterson, Minnesota Vikings
29. Reggie Wayne, Indianapolis Colts
30. Julian Edelman, New England Patriots
31. Marques Colston, New Orleans Saints
32. Cecil Shorts, Jacksonville Jaguars
33. Mike Wallace, Miami Dolphins
34. Justin Blackmon, Jacksonville Jaguars
35. Rueben Randle, New York Giants
36. Hakeem Nicks, New York Giants
37. Anquan Boldin, San Francisco 49ers
38. Dwayne Bowe, Kansas City Chiefs
39. Terrance Williams, Dallas Cowboys
40. DeAndre Hopkins, Houston Texans
41. Jeremy Maclin, Philadelphia Eagles
42. Greg Jennings, Minnesota Vikings
43. Marvin Jones, Cincinnati Bengals
44. Tavon Austin, St. Louis Rams
45. Steve Johnson, Buffalo Bills
46. Brian Hartline, Miami Dolphins
47. Mike Williams, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
48. Danny Amendola, New England Patriots
49. Jarrett Boykin, Green Bay Packers
50. Aaron Dobson, New England Patriots
51. James Jones, Green Bay Packers
52. Rod Streater, Oakland Raiders
53. Golden Tate, Seattle Seahawks
54. Steve Smith, Carolina Panthers
55. Justin Hunter, Tennessee Titans
56. Robert Woods, Buffalo Bills
57. Emmanuel Sanders, Pittsburgh Steelers
58. Denarius Moore, Oakland Raiders
59. Riley Cooper, Philadelphia Eagles
60. Markus Wheaton, Pittsburgh Steelers
61. Da'Rick Rogers, Indianapolis Colts
62. Kenny Stills, New Orleans Saints
63. Harry Douglas, Atlanta Falcons
More early 2014 Fantasy Football rankings:
- 2014 Fantasy Football QB rankings
- 2014 Fantasy Football RB rankings
- 2014 Fantasy Football TE rankings
Also, check out early 2014 Fantasy Football mock drafts:
- Early one-man 2014 fantasy football mock draft
- Our latest (but still early) 2014 fantasy football mock draft