Staff Fantasy WR Rankings For 2013
By Zach Law
Last year, it was Calvin Johnson and everyone else when it came to the wide receiver position. Megatron, man who crushed the Madden curse one-handed like a spectacular touchdown catch, remains in that spot. It’s really a deep spot, with the usual potential for fantasy land mines. After the spectacular rookie performances by A.J. Green and Julio Jones, there were no such transcendent stars in the 2012 class, and the 2013 class looks intriguing, but with no instant fantasy difference-makers.
How does the Football.com staff rank the 2013 wide receivers? Take a gander.
Let's have a moment of silence for Michael Crabtree, who was a late bloomer in 2012 and whose 2013 value disappeared when he tore his Achilles tendon during OTAs. The 49ers passing game took a major hit, and at this point it doesn't seem like a winning bet to find any value in that group of receivers.
Most experts, and this crew is no different, think that Julio Jones will outproduce Roddy White this year. Eventually, it's going to happen. There's a dream that Larry Fitzgerald will return to prominance after last year's complete disaster in Arizona. Vincent Jackson had the free-agent year for the ages in Tampa, setting career highs in catches and yards per catch. There are two teams with fascinating trios. The Broncos have Demaryius Thomas, who soared into the elite with the help of a car salesman named Peyton Manning, new free agent Wes Welker and Eric Decker, all Top 20 guys last year. The Packers have Randall Cobb, who broke through in a big way last year, Jordy Nelson, who scored 15 TDs in 2011, and James Jones, who was the league's surprising TD reception leader in 2012 with 14. The two rookies from 2012 earning most excitement are Cleveland's Josh Gordon and Indianapolis's T.Y. Hilton, not the first-rounders.
Everyone on staff put Calvin Johnson at number one, and that makes sense since he was the 2012 scoring leader and finished the season with a paltry five TDs. It's rare that the top scorer has room for growth. Here are some of the big differences in rankings.
Jake Ciely Outliers
Eric Decker (23rd, staff average 27.2): Most think that Decker's fantasy scoring will have to take a hit due to the signing of Wes Welker. Jake's not convinced. Decker was a red-zone beast last year and that should help with the inconsistent weekly performances.
Kendall Wright (48th, staff average 41.2): Wright led the Titans in receptions, but there are more wide receiver mouths to feed this year. Jake thinks that teammate Kenny Britt will be a (slightly) better option.
Nick Raducanu Outliers
Larry Fitzgerald (14th, staff average 10.8): 2012 is not a season that Fitz is going to want to recall when his career is over. His numbers have taken a noticeable dip since the end of Kurt Warner's career. Between 2005 and 2011, he was a Top Five receiver five out of seven years. Last year, he was out of the Top 40. Bruce Arians helped resurrect Reggie Wayne's career and could do the same for the former University of Pittsburgh star. At age 30, it's a legitamate question to wonder if his best football is behind him.
Steve Smith (18th, staff average 23): Smith was a Top 10 wideout in Cam Newton's rookie year and dropped to 19th last year, due mainly to a touchdown drought. Is the 33-year-old criminally underrated in 2013? The Panthers don't have anyone else.
Zach Law Outliers
Cecil Shorts (38th, staff average 29.2): The late-season concussion is a concern, as is the continued QB "battle" between Blaine Gabbert and Chad Henne. If he can stay out of trouble, Justin Blackmon should become the team's top receiver by the end of the year.
Brandon Marshall (sixth, staff average 3.8): The Bears have improved their offensive line and Martellus Bennett should take away some targets. Dez Bryant had a crazy good second half, and Demaryius Thomas is only on the way up, so they went ahead of mister Marshall.
Jeff Brubach Outliers
Torrey Smith (19th, staff average 25.8): After a Super Bowl win, Ravens are not rushing up the rankings. Smith has been a consistent performer with 49 and 50 catches in two years. He's going to be the number one target this year, but is it enough to make him a solid WR2? Bru thinks so.
Tavon Austin (33rd, staff average 40): Rookie wideouts are usually a bad bet, but there are generally a few who contribute at least in a spot role. Austin should get the most targets for the Rams in 2013, but that offense is crowded with receiving talent.
Charles Murphy Outliers
Marques Colston (13th, staff average 17.2): It's hard to believe, but Colston is a boring player. He's the top target on one of the best offenses in the NFL, but people believe that his legs are going to fall off any day now.
Jeremy Maclin (34th, staff average 29.2): Someone has to produce for the new-look Chip Kelly offense, right? Maclin's been a disappointment, with no 1,000-yard seasons in his four NFL campaigns.