Fantasy Football 2012 Rankings: Top 20 3rd-Year Wide Receivers

Eric StashinSenior Writer IAugust 13, 2012

JACKSONVILLE, FL - AUGUST 10:  Wide receiver Victor Cruz #80 of  the New York Giants rushes upfield with a pass against the Jacksonville Jaguars in a pre-season football game August 10, 2011 at EverBank Field in Jacksonville, Florida. (Photo by Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images)
Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images

We all know that a wide receiver's third year is often his breakout year. Of this year’s third-year receivers, who is the best? Who has the biggest chance to make an impact? 

Let’s take a look.

  1. Victor Cruz—New York Giants
  2. Dez Bryant—Dallas Cowboys
  3. Demaryius Thomas—Denver Broncos
  4. Antonio Brown—Pittsburgh Steelers
  5. Mike Williams—Tampa Bay Buccaneers
  6. Eric Decker—Denver Broncos
  7. Emmanuel Sanders—Pittsburgh Steelers
  8. Brandon LaFell—Carolina Panthers
  9. Golden Tate—Seattle Seahawks
  10. Jacoby Ford—Oakland Raiders
  11. Donald Jones—Buffalo Bills
  12. Andre Roberts—Arizona Cardinals
  13. Preston Parker—Tampa Bay Buccaneers
  14. Riley Cooper—Philadelphia Eagles
  15. Arrelious Benn—Tampa Bay Buccaneers
  16. David Nelson—Buffalo Bills
  17. Damian Williams—Tennessee Titans
  18. Jesse Holley—Dallas Cowboys
  19. Anthony Armstrong—Washington Redskins
  20. Danario Alexander—St. Louis Rams



Pittsburgh's WR Situation

With Mike Wallace still holding out in Pittsburgh, both Antonio Brown and Emmanuel Sanders are getting reps with the first team.

Obviously, Brown was already set as a starter, and that would’ve meant Sanders was in the third receiver spot. Considering both were already expected to play significant roles, this extra time is invaluable. 

With the running game questionable thanks to the injury to Rashard Mendenhall, both could hold significant value in 2012.


Golden Tate

We all know that Seattle has never been a place to go for wide receivers, but that was before Matt Flynn came over via free agency.

Is Flynn a lock to produce big numbers? Of course not, but we have to like what he has done coming off the bench in Green Bay and the upside he has compared to the team’s other options. 

With Golden Tate already scheduled to start and Sidney Rice hurting (though he’s expected for Week 1), Tate could finally live up to the hype we have heard about all these years.


Brandon LaFell

Steve Smith is going to take a lot of the attention in the Panthers passing attack, and Cam Newton’s ability to scramble is going to open things up even more. 

That should provide ample opportunity for Brandon LaFell, who is expected to start at receiver. He showed last season that he had potential, and this year he could easily come into his own.


Peyton Manning's Impact on Broncos WRs

How much do you think the presence of Peyton Manning will help Demaryius Thomas and Eric Decker?  We previously looked at the potential of each over at Roto Professor, so make sure to check that out to see why I think Thomas could take a major step forward this season. 

Still, at the end of the day, both will benefit greatly and are viable fantasy options.


Mike Williams

Can Mike Williams rediscover the form he showed in his rookie season? The presence of Vincent Jackson will take some of the pressure off, allowing him to bounce back. 

I wouldn’t shy away from him based on last year’s struggles.


What are your thoughts on these rankings? Which third-year receivers do you like best?

Make sure to check out our 2012 fantasy football rankings:


    Jags Sign Bortles Through 2020

    NFL logo

    Jags Sign Bortles Through 2020

    Alec Nathan
    via Bleacher Report

    NFL Ranked Its Top 10 QB-WR Duos

    NFL logo

    NFL Ranked Its Top 10 QB-WR Duos

    Report: Chiefs Trading CB Peters to Rams

    NFL logo

    Report: Chiefs Trading CB Peters to Rams

    Timothy Rapp
    via Bleacher Report

    Winners & Losers from Marcus Peters Trade

    NFL logo

    Winners & Losers from Marcus Peters Trade

    Brent Sobleski
    via Bleacher Report