The wide receiver is a position that seems to grow in importance with each season. Many savvy GMs have bypassed the traditional RBs in the first two rounds of their drafts, going with one WR and one QB, or even two WRs. Today we'll look at the top 10 fantasy wide receivers going into the 2009 season.
10. Brandon Marshall. The Broncos WR is at a disadvantage with the loss of quarterback Jay Cutler, but Josh McDaniels should still be effective offensively, and should look at Marshall as his go-to receiver. This is a riskier play, but the fact that Marshall has topped 100 receptions in each of his last two seasons gives him too much upside to pass up. Extra points for Marshall in points per reception leagues.
9. Roddy White. White may very well rank higher than 9 for WRs this coming season, but last year's breakout doesn't have enough consistency to warrant him a higher position on the list. Matt Ryan will continue to improve. The addition of Tony Gonzalez should substantially enhance the Falcons' offense. While Gonzalez may see some end zone action that White previously saw, look for the defensive attention Gonzalez gets to create opportunities for White. Look for White to post his third straight 1200+ yard season in the process.
8. Reggie Wayne. Traditionally one of the safest options at WR, Wayne's numbers were a bit off last year as compared to seasons past. A slow start on Peyton Manning's part factored into this, in addition to a minor injury and a growing chemistry between Peyton Manning and Dallas Clark. Last season can be considered an off year for Wayne, who finished 10th in total yards with 1145 (compared to 1510 the year before), and only pulled in 6 TDs (compared to 10 the year before). For these reasons, Wayne slides down from top 4 to #8, but could easily bounce back this season.
7. Greg Jennings. What's not to like about 1292 yards and 9 TDs? Jennings was the clear #1 option in the Green Bay offense over Donald Driver, and Aaron Rodgers is a more than capable quarterback. Jennings posted 12 TDs in 2007, and seems to find the end zone with ease.
6. Steve Smith. Despite missing two games last season, Smith still managed to finish third in the NFL in receiving yards (1421), and his 6 TDs balance out these numbers very nicely. An extremely talented running back duo in DeAngelo Williams and Jonathan Stewart may keep Smith's TD total down a bit, but at 30 years old, Smith is in his prime and should be as reliable as anyone else at the wide receiver position.
5. Anquan Boldin. Coming off of a huge season in Arizona, there's nothing not to like about Anquan Boldin - when healthy that is. Boldin scored 11 TDs and caught for 1038 yards, all in 12 games. On a per game basis, no one was better than Boldin in terms of TDs, and his yards per game stood at fourth best in the NFL. Boldin's only concern is his health. The wide receiver has missed 4 games in each of the last two seasons. The loss of Boldin come playoff time (this happened last year) could be devastating to any fantasy GM.
4. Calvin Johnson. If talent were a consideration, he'd be top 3. But Johnson plays for the Lions, which will limit his effectiveness one way or another. The loss of Roy Williams to the Cowboys only meant more opportunities for Johnson, who finished with an extraordinary 1331 yards and 12 TDs (tied for the NFL high). Johnson will be just 24 years old this season and may very well improve. Anyone looking for upside may want to set their sights on Johnson. Scary!
3. Andre Johnson. Johnson led the NFL in receiving yards last season, with an incredible 1575. He seems to improve with each year. His 8 TDs were a bit low, but anyone in a PPR league would gladly overlook this, as he led the NFL in receptions with 115. Johnson missed half the 2007 season due to injury, but has otherwise been healthy through his career. When on the field, he's simply one of the best.
2. Randy Moss. Moss could easily carve out his role as #1, but the inconsistency he's displayed in seasons past (2008, 2006) makes him a bit risky. His 2007 performance with Tom Brady has fantasy GMs drooling over his potential, but there's still a bit of risk built in. No one in recent memory has been better than Randy Moss was in 2007. If you believe he'll return to form with Brady back in action, you may want to rank him at #1.
1. Larry Fitzgerald. I'm all about reaching for a wide receiver who I know I can count on week in and week out. And to me, that's what Larry Fitzgerald is all about. Fitzgerald had an NFL-high 12 TDs in 2008, and finished second in receiving yards with 1431. He had an incredible end to the 2008 season, scoring 13 TDs through the end of the regular season and the playoffs. He has a great attitude about the sport, and has only missed four total games through his five year career.
To me, that's what a #1 pick is all about.
Keep an eye on Terrell Owens, Dwayne Bowe, and Wes Welker.