Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Fantasy Football Rankings - Top 10 WR's for 2012

1. Calvin Johnson - aka Megatron led all WR's last year with 1,681 yards and 16 TD's. He is unstoppable and produces despite double and triple teams. What's scary is that 2011 was the first time Mathew Stafford played in all 16 games. What's more? All of Johnson's receiving stats have trended up over the last 3 years (2009, 2010 and 2011).  Receptions - 67, 77 and 96.  Yards - 984, 1,120 and 1681. TD's - 5, 12 and 16. 100 yard games - 3, 4 and 8. Could he possibly hit 2,000 yard and 20 TD's? The numbers, trend and QB suggest it is a possibility.

2. Larry Fitzgerald - Kurt Warner is not walking through those doors and hasn't since 2009 when Larry put up 13 TD's. Considering he only has 14 TD's over the last two years, he hasn't missed any games since 2007. With uninspiring QB play last year Fitz still managed to put up 1,411 yards and averaged 88 YD's per game with 8 total TD's. Hopefully Kolb comes back this year and is the quarterback they paid for.  Fitz's ability alone has him ranked here, because there are WR1's ranked below him with elite level QB's. Hopefully consistent QB play brings his TD total back up while maintaining his trend in yards over the last 3 years (1,092, 1,137 and 1,411). There's a reason other wide receivers travel to train with him in the offseason. Too dominant to calculate a variance for standard or PPR.

3. Roddy White - One of only two WR's to reach 100 or more receptions in 2011, Roddy did it on a league leading 181 targets.  Finished 6th in yards at 1,296, 8 TD's (5th highest total - 8 WR's with more - five of which had one more at 9). The emergence of Julio is only going to help Roddy in the long run. Matt Ryan clearly loves throwing to Roddy and at times he's locked on to him. Matt Ryan has been bulking up to increase his production on the deep ball to Julio which will free up more routes for Roddy. The Falcons are expected to run the no huddle / hurry more in 2012 and even if Roddy's targets take an expected hit, his numbers across the board should still have him finishing inside the top 5.  2011: 1st in targets, 2nd in receptions, 6th in yards and 5th highest TD total. He hasn't missed a game in his seven year career. In PPR he is definitely 3rd or 4th and may fall a couple spots in standard leagues.

4. Brandon Marshall - The last time Brandon Marshall and Jay Cutler played together in Denver, the Broncos were second in the league in total offense and third in passing. With Kyle Orton his quarterback he caught 101 balls for 1,120 yards and 10 TD's. Even in Miami the last two years he averaged 83.5 receptions 1,114 yards and 4.5 TD's. The reunion with Cutler should be welcomed news for folks looking for a WR1 that is dominant in the red zone and after the catch.  Marshall will be gold in PPR this year as well, 100 catches and double digit TD's easily.

5. Andre Johnson - I could go elsewhere here but the upside of Andre Johnson is too high to rank him any lower despite the bizarre following. Andre has only gone over 100 catches three times between 2003 and 2011 and only scored 9 or more TD's, wait for it.... ONCE. He has only had one season with 8 or more 100 yard games and that was in 2008 and only three times in his whole career has he had 6 or more 100 yard games. There is a lot of mystique in this beast known as Andre, but when healthy and on the field, there is not a more dominant force.  Andre's true value probably lies a little lower than 5th, but not further than 7th or 8th.

6. Wes Welker - PPR Gold after Megatron and Fitz, Welker lands here after the monsters are off the board.  Playing for Brady and being his security blanket has afforded Welker with nicely bloated stats. You really want to throw out his 2010 season when looking at his history, because he was coming off major knee surgery. In a down year for him he still had 86 catches and 7 TD's. Sandwiching that season he averaged 122.5 catches 1,459 yds, and a whopping 97.2 per with 7 games over 100 yards and coming off 9 TD's in 2011 despite Gronk’s monster year in the end zone. One has to wonder if there are enough balls to go around in New England, but history suggests there is.  Even in the past with Randy Moss, Gronk/Hernandez and now Lloyd, he should still catch over 100 balls and easily over 1,300 yards and hit about 8 TD's. Welker should find some nice space underneath Lloyd's routes.

7. Hakeem Nicks - Entering 2011, Nicks was coming off a 2010 season in which if he had played all 16 games he would have paced 97 catches, 1,295 yards and 14 TD's. These figures pushed him up draft boards last summer. Despite playing only 15 games in 2011 and limited in some because of injuries, Nicks had 133 targets which was tenth most in the league (9th and 8th had 134 and 135 respectively). Of the 32 players who had 100 targets or more, Nicks sported the tenth highest average yards per reception. Nicks also had 7 TD's in 2011 which was the seventh highest total. Coming off a short offseason in 2011, Nicks suffered various injuries including knee, ankle, hamstring, concussion, ribs and shoulder; all of which played a role in the drop of his numbers. Expecting better health and performance, this year, Nicks had regained his position in the top half of the Top 10 WR class. Then he breaks his foot. Hakeem's physical traits are what's key to him remaining this high, in addition to his stats and role in the Giants’ offense.  With the departure of Manningham and Jacobs, Nicks role figures to increase this year if he fully heals prior to the beginning of the season.

8. Greg Jennings - Jennings only played in 13 games last year, but his numbers over a full season would have come in around 82 catches, 1,168 yards and 11 TD's with 4 games over 100 yards. Those 82 catches would have tied him for 5th most, while 11 TD's would have tied him for 3rd most despite still actually finishing with the 4th highest TD total in 13 games. Greg Jennings benefits greatly from his chemistry with Aaron Rodgers. The two of them have perfected the back shoulder throw and it's virtually unstoppable, especially at the goal line.  With no real improvement in the running game this offseason; look for Rodgers and Jennings to continue to exploit opposing defenses.  Jennings isn't really the home run threat his teammate Jordy Nelson is, but Jennings will get you touchdowns and receptions.

9. Mike Wallace - The best validation for Mike Wallace being a Top 10 WR is the new offensive coordinator for the Pittsburgh Steelers; Todd Haley. Larry Fitzgerald had by far two of his best three seasons in his career under the influence of Haley. When Haley went to Kansas City, Bowe had 15 touchdowns in his second season after buying into Haley's system.  Expect a big jump in Wallace's numbers this year. He also hasn't missed a game in his three year career. Wallace is a big play guy and benefits when Big Ben does what Big Ben does best and that’s extending plays. The best corners in the league can only stay with Wallace for so long. Wallace's stats the last two years are very respectable; but expect his production in 2012 to put him to the 5 or 6 range in 2013 drafts.

10. Victor Cruz - Victor Cruz splashed on the scene in 2011 after playing in only 3 games in 2010 and not registering a single stat. In 2011 Cruz played in all 16 games while finishing 5th in receptions and 3rd in yards. He was 1 of only 3 WR's to go over 1,500 yards. What's scary is that he began the year in a limited role. It took number 3 receiver Hixon's torn ACL and Manningham's concussion to start in week three and he took advantage of the opportunity and that continued to expand due to ongoing injuries to his receiving corps teammates. Benefitting Cruz this year is the departure of Manningham, who was deemed expendable with Cruz's new no. 2 role. This year should be even better for Cruz, because he will start in 2 wide sets and move to the slot in 3 and 4 wide sets. This flexibility offers upside for Cruz in PPR as he should flirt with 100 catches while amassing huge yards and decent TD totals.