5 Wide Receivers You Must Grab in Fantasy Football This Year
In today's pass-wacky National Football League, wide receivers are putting up some pretty ridiculous numbers, with the gaudiest of all in 2011 being the 96 catches for 1,681 yards and 16 touchdowns posted by Calvin Johnson of the Detroit Lions.
However, the wide receiver position is also the deepest in fantasy football, so many fantasy owners eschew the position in the first round of drafts, choosing instead to focus on a bell cow running back, elite signal caller or stud tight end.
That places an added impetus on acquiring values at the wideout position, and whether you're searching for a top-flight pass-catcher to anchor your receiving corps or a late-draft sleeper that's oozing upside, here are a fistful of wide receivers to meet every fantasy need.
Average draft position courtesy of MyFantasyLeague.com.
WR1: Brandon Marshall, Chicago Bears
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Average Draft Position: Third Round (Pick 33, WR11)
Marshall will be reunited with quarterback Jay Cutler in the Windy City. The seventh-year pro enjoyed the two best seasons of his career catching passes from Cutler when the pair were teammates with the Denver Broncos, topping 100 catches and 1,200 yards in both 2007 and 2008.
Given Marshall's productive history with Cutler and the fact that he managed an 11th-place finish at his position in 2011 catching balls from an array of mediocre quarterbacks in Miami, it's somewhat surprising to see Marshall being drafted in that same slot in 2012, bad attitude or no.
That reasonable price tag and top-five upside makes him an excellent WR1 for fantasy owners that choose to wait until the third round before addressing the position.
WR2: Antonio Brown, Pittsburgh Steelers
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Average Draft Position: Fifth Round (Pick 60, WR23)
Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Antonio Brown was one of the biggest surprises at his position in 2011, hauling in 69 passes for over 1,100 yards and finishing as a fantasy WR2 despite only "starting" three games.
The Steelers thought well enough of that performance to award Brown with a $42 million contract extension, but apparently fantasy drafters aren't expecting much improvement this season, as Brown is currently being drafted right about where he finished last year.
However, with the Steelers running game decimated by injuries and wide receiver Mike Wallace still not in camp, Brown is in line for a significant increase in targets, making him a prime target for a "third-year breakout."
WR3: Reggie Wayne, Indianapolis Colts
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Average Draft Position: Seventh Round (Pick 84, WR31)
Even in last year's nightmare of a season, Wayne still managed to reel in 75 passes for 960 yards and four scores, finishing as a top 25 fantasy option at his position in leagues that award points for receptions.
That makes it more than a little curious that Wayne is being drafted this year as a mid-range WR3, especially given that rookie quarterback Andrew Luck will all but certainly lean heavily on the player who is by far the Colts' most proven option in the passing game.
WR2 production at a WR3 price tag? Can I get two of those to go please?
WR4: Nate Washington, Tennessee Titans
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Average Draft Position: 12th Round (Pick 139, WR47)
Tennessee Titans wide receiver Nate Washington had by far the best season of his seven-year NFL career in 2011, topping 1,000 receiving yards for the first time and finishing among the top 20 fantasy wideouts in PPR leagues.
With that said, fantasy owners are apparently expecting the 28-year-old to fade right back into obscurity, as Washington is barely cracking the top 50 players selected at his position.
With Kenny Britt still recovering from his third knee surgery in a year and staring at a suspension, there's just as much reason to believe that Washington won't, which makes him more than worth a late speculative pick as a fantasy WR4.
WR5: Danny Amendola, St. Louis Rams
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Average Draft Position: 14th Round (Pick 157, WR53)
If the St. Louis Rams' second preseason game is any indication, then Danny Amendola has fully recovered from the elbow injury that cost him nearly all of the 2011 season and is ready to reclaim as role as quarterback Sam Bradford's favorite target.
Amendola reeled in three catches for 58 yards and a score and brought back memories of the player who caught 85 passes and cracked the top 30 fantasy wideouts two seasons ago.
Granted, Amendola isn't an incredibly athletic player who stretches defenses, but as a poor man's Wes Welker of sorts, Amendola should see ample opportunities to more than outproduce his paltry fantasy asking price.