Many fantasy football drafts are right around the corner, so it’s time for our fantasy guru, James Morris, to continue his 2012 Fantasy Football preview. After breaking down the quarterbacks and running backs in recent weeks, James turns his attention to the wide receiver position. Here are his wide receiver rankings based on standard (non-PPR) scoring formats::
1) Calvin Johnson: Megatron is the best WR in the NFL, and the race isn’t even close. I’ve seen him going as high as #5 right behind Ryan Mathews, and there is nothing wrong with that.
2) Julio Jones: Jones makes the biggest jump at the WR spot this season, and I feel very good about drafting him as the second WR off the board. The Falcons want to limit Michael Turner’s carries, and install a more vertical, pass-first mindset on offense. Jones just turned 23-years-old and is now the #1 WR on the Falcons depth chart, and the kid has the talent to tear up NFL defenses.
3) Larry Fitzgerald: The main problem I have with Fitzgerald is his QB problems, and that is no small problem when you consider Kevin Kolb has to truly compete with John Skelton for the starting job. Fitzgerald has proven that he can produce at a high level regardless who is under center, but the QB problems still knock him down a peg in my rankings.
4) Andre Johnson: Andre Johnson has been hampered by unlucky injuries, but he is Matt Schaub’s go-to guy in the passing attack. I like him to haul in 90 passes with 1,350 yards and 7-8 TDs.
5) Dez Bryant: Speaking of karma, Dez Bryant owners’ better hope I am wrong about the “what goes around comes around” philosophy. Look, the kid has the talent to take over games and dominate defenses, but maturity is a huge problem for him. If he does break out this season, he could very well finish with the most TDs of any WR in the NFL.
6) A.J. Green: Green has the talent to jump into the top-3 for fantasy WR rankings, but Andy Dalton is stuck somewhere between a game manager and a game changer at QB. If Dalton can figure it out and play to the level I think he is capable of, Green could catapult into an elite fantasy WR by season’s end.
7) Hakeem Nicks: Nicks is going to drop a little in fantasy drafts because of the broken foot, but I wouldn’t let that deter you from taking him as a WR1 in your draft. Victor Cruz isn’t going to steal enough targets from him to hurt his fantasy value, and I don’t think 1,200 yards and 9 TDs is out of reach.
8) Brandon Lloyd: Tom Brady can make a star out of anyone, and Lloyd is surely glad to be out of St. Louis after racking up just 70 catches for 966 yards and 5 TDs last season. OC Josh McDaniels likes to feature a more vertical passing attack, and he could see Lloyd as a Randy Moss-like weapon for Brady. I wouldn’t put the horse in front of the cart, but the last time he played a full season for McDaniels he led the NFL in receiving yards.
9) Steve Smith: Any time a QB is ranked in the top-5, his #1 WR should be ranked in the top 10. Enter Steve Smith. Not only is the guy a sure thing for 1,100 yards and 7-8 TDs, but karma is going to bless him after he donated $100,000 to the Aurora, CO shooting victims. Cam Newton is going to make him a top-10 stud.
10) Percy Harvin: Harvin is a versatile WR that can score on offense and special teams. The thing that keeps him off my team is his well-documented injury history. Yes, he played a full season last year, but 5’11” and 184 LBS is fragile at best in the NFL world. Harvin is a borderline WR1 in standard scoring formats, and is worth a little more in leagues that count KR/PR return yards and TDs.
Dolphins WR Situation: With Chad Johnson out of the picture, the younger Dolphins wide receivers such as Julius Pruitt, Marlon Moore, Roberto Wallace, B.J. Cunningham and Rishard Matthews are getting extra looks. Davone Bess has been a star at Dolphins camp, and should be a WR4 in PPR leagues.
Honorable Mentions: WR is a deep position in fantasy football, so guys like Greg Jennings, Demaryius Thomas, Victor Cruz and Wes Welker are still worth high picks. Guys on the borderline for fantasy starter status are Sidney Rice, Justin Blackmon and Reggie Wayne.
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The opinions, analysis and/or speculation expressed by The Finsiders Blog represent those of individual writers, and unless quoted or clearly labeled as such, do not represent the opinions, policies or desires of the Miami Dolphins organization, front office, coaches and executives. Writers' views are formulated independently from any inside information and/or conversation with Dolphins officials, including the coaches and scouts, unless otherwise noted.