NFL Fantasy Preview: 2010 Wide Receiver Rankings

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With the likes of Andre Johnson, Randy Moss and Larry Fitzgerald rising to the ranks of NFL stardom, wide receivers have become an increasingly important commodity in fantasy football.  Before it would have been unimaginable to draft a wide receiver in the first round, but with the passing game playing a bigger role on many teams throughout the league, you would best be advised to get your hands on one or two of the NFL’s top wideouts.  Doing so could give you an advantage at the position over others who have yet to catch on to this trend.

Here is a look at how we rank our top 50 wide receivers, with outlooks and projected stats for the top 15.

Other Positions: Quarterbacks | Running Backs | Tight Ends | Kickers & Defenses

The Cream of the Crop:

1.  Andre Johnson, HOU101 Rec, 1550 yards, 11 TDs

Unlike the quarterback and running back positions, at wide receiver there is a clear cut number one and it is Andre Johnson.  After recording back-to-back seasons of over 100 receptions and over 1500 yards, the 29-year-old playmaker is primed for another big season.  Perhaps the only thing lacking from his resume is a double-digit touchdown season, but we wouldn’t be surprised to see him accomplish that feat in 2010.

2.  Randy Moss, NE 90 Rec, 1350 yards, 14 TDs

It may be unreasonable to expect Randy Moss to put up similar numbers to his historic 2007 campaign.  However, you can expect him to improve upon his ’08 and ’09 numbers as he and Brady will once again be back together without any health questions lingering.  The two did manage to connect at a high rate last season, but at times it appeared as though their timing was a bit off.  Now that Brady and Moss have had the opportunity to work with each other throughout the the offseason, expect them to hit the ground running in 2010.

3.  Larry Fitzgerald, ARI95 Rec, 1200 yards, 13 TDs

I must admit, the quarterback situation in Arizona worries me somewhat, but with Derek Anderson in and Matt Leinart out, the Cards should be able to work the ball down the field.  However, the thing about Larry Fitzgerald is that he is good enough that any quarterback should be able to throw to him.  He can snatch the ball at any point in the air and overcome both double and triple coverages at times (seriously, he has done it before).  His production may take a hit, but if whoever is under center in Arizona wants to succeed, they will learn early on that they will need to go to Fitz in order to do so.

4.  Reggie Wayne, IND100 Rec, 1350 yards, 10 TDs

You may as well call Reggie Wayne ol’ reliable.  Much like his quarterback, you can always count on Wayne to be in the line-up and produce.  Being Manning’s favorite target is a great situation for any fantasy wide receiver and ever since the departure of Marvin Harrison, Wayne has held that title.  He will hold it once again in 2010 and you can expect him to once again produce top level fantasy numbers.

The Other Number Ones:

5.  Miles Austin, DAL95 Rec, 1300 yards, 10 TDs

It wasn’t until the week 5 that the fantasy world got to see Miles Austin in a starting role, but from that point on he was an absolute stud, collecting 76 catches for 1239 yards and 10 touchdowns.  This time Austin will have a full season under his belt, but he will also have to  contend with teams who will be devising game plans just to stop him, and he will also have to compete with Roy Williams, Jason Witten and rookie Dez Bryant for catches.  He may have lost his element of surprise, but he will still be a monster in a strong cowboys offense.  And who knows.  Maybe he can still surprise us with some even greater numbers than last season’s totals.

6. Calvin Johnson, DET85 Rec, 1250 yards, 10 TDs

After a strong sophomore season Calvin Johnson cooled off big time in 2009.  Much of that can be attributed to a rookie quarterback in Matthew Stafford, but with the two having one full year together under their belt, they should be able to improve upon last season’s totals in a big way.

7.  Roddy White, ATL90 Rec, 1200 yards, 10 TDs

Roddy White may have had one of his worst season in terms of yardage in 2009, but he had his best in terms of touchdowns.  Matt Ryan struggled throughout the season and that definitely affected White’s production in some areas, but if Ryan can take a big step forward in 2010 (as we expect him to), the sky is the limit for the Falcons’ top receiver.

8.  Brandon Marshall, MIA103 Rec, 1150 yards, 9 TDs

Brandon Marshall has recorded over 100 receptions in his past three seasons.  Those all came with the Broncos, so some may question whether he can do the same in Miami, but the fact of the matter is that it appears as though he will be stepping into a better situation with his new team.  Chad Henne should be able to throw the ball down field just as effectively as Kyle Orton or Jay Cutler, and the rest of the players around Marshall also appear to be better this time around.  That should allow the 26-year-old to find more room in the opponent’s secondary on route to another 100-plus reception season.

9.  DeSean Jackson, PHI74 Rec, 1100 yards, 9 TDs

When it comes to making the big play, few do it better than DeSean Jackson.  The speedy receiver out of Cal averaged an astounding 52.8 yards on his nine receiving touchdowns in 2009.  Some may fear that he is due for a letdown in 2010 with the departure of Donovan McNabb, but I would have to disagree.  Last season when McNabb was out, D-Jax recorded 10 receptions for 250 yards and two touchdowns in two games with Kolb under center.  It appears as though these two have already built up a rapport with one another, so expect Jackson’s numbers to go up, rather than down.

10.  Marques Colston, NO70 Rec, 1050 yards, 9 TDs

Colston has the luxury of playing on a team where Drew Brees is distributing the ball from under center, but he also has to share much of the load with the many other receivers and running backs around him.  The Saints like to spread the ball around and that has hurt Colston’s numbers, but he is still the number one guy on a pass-happy team and will once again produce some solid fantasy totals.

Can’t Go Wrong With These Guys:

11.  Anquan Boldin, BAL80 Rec, 1100 yards, 8 TDs

After years of playing behind Larry Fitzgerald in Arizona, Anquan Boldin will finally get the opportunity to become the go-to receiver in Baltimore.  He should do just fine in that role and will have plenty of talent around him, which should help ease some of the pressure, but with Ray Rice and Willis McGahee lined up in the backfield, we would still expect the Ravens to lean on their running game.  However, Flacco has proven that he is ready to sling the ball down field, and when he does, expect him to be looking for Boldin more often than not.

12.  Greg Jennings, GB75 Rec, 1080 yards, 7 TDs

Many expected Greg Jennings to break out last season, but the fact of the matter is that Aaron Rodgers has several options in what has become one of the league’s most potent offenses.  While Jennings will see most of the work in the receiving game, his potential will never truly be met as long as Jermichael Finley, Donald Driver and James Jones are around to cut into his workload.

13.  Steve Smith, NYG 90 Rec, 1000 yards, 8 TDs

One stat to keep in mind going into the 2010 season is the fact that although he did not receive much attention, Steve Smith was the fourth most targeted receiver in the league as Eli Manning looked his way a total of 159 times.  Smith was able to haul in 107 of those passes on route to a breakout season for the 4th year man out of USC.  It is tough to pick between this Steve Smith and the one in Carolina, but based on the better quarterback situation, I would go with New York’s.

14. Steve Smith, CAR70 Rec, 1050 yards, 7 TDs

Once known as “THE Steve Smith”, Carolina’s version is quickly becomeing “THE OTHER Steve Smith” as he gets older and the Giants’ receiver enters his prime.  However, I would not be so quick to sell out this Steve Smith just yet.  He suffered through a difficult season in 2009, but much of that can be attributed to the poor play of Jake Delhomme.  During the final four weeks of the season, when Matt Moore took over the starting job, Smith recorded 19 catches for 379 yards and 3 TDs.  With Moore expected to be under center for the full season in 2010, don’t be surprised if this Steve Smith shows he still has a lot left in him.

15.  Wes Welker, NE110 Rec, 1100 yards, 6 TDs

What’s not to like about Wes Welker?  He plays in a dynamic Patriots offense, with one of the best in Tom Brady throwing him the ball, and he is by far the most lethal pass catcher in the entire league.  While playing only 13 full games in 2009, he still managed to haul in 123 receptions.  However, he does enter 2010 with some injury concerns after tearing his ACL and MCL in last year’s season finale, but he has looked good in the preseason and appears ready to go for week one.  If that is the case, you can expect him to once again become Brady’s favorite target, which looks great on the resume of any fantasy receiver.

And The Rest:

16.  Michael Crabtree, SF

17.  Chad Ochocinco, CIN

18. Hines Ward, PIT

19. Hakeem Nicks, NYG

20. Dwayne Bowe, KC

21. Malcolm Floyd, SD

22. Mike Sims-Walker, JAC

23. Percy Harvin, MIN

24. Mike Wallace, PIT

25. Jeremy Maclin, PHI

26. Pierre Garcon, IND

27. Johnny Knox, CHI

28. Donald Driver, GB

29. Derrick Mason, BAL

30. Terrell Owens, CIN

31. Dez Bryant, DAL

32. Mike Williams, TB

33. Santonio Holmes, NYJ

34. Robert Meachem, NO

35. Devin Hester, CHI

36. Jacoby Jones, HOU

37. T.J. Houshmandzadeh, SEA

38. Bernard Berrian, MIN

39. Jabar Gaffney, DEN

40. Santana Moss, WSH

41. Lee Evans, BUF

42. Nate Burleson, DET

43. Steve Breaston, ARI

44. Devin Aromashodu, CHI

45. Kenny Brit- TEN

46. Dexter McCluster, KC

47. Louis Murphy

48. Austin Collie, IND

49. Braylon Edwards, NYJ

50. Mohammed Massaquoi, CLE

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