Fantasy football owners rejoice—the 2012 WR core is the deepest it's been in years. It's vital, therefore, to steer clear of overrated WRs set to underperform.
Legitimate No. 1 WR options can be drafted as late as the 4th round in 10-man leagues. It's going to be easy to stack your roster with good wideouts, but incredibly difficult to decipher which ones to target and which ones to skip.
Don't overpay. Let the following players fall into the hands of other owners.
But a first round pick? That's nothing short of ridiculous.
Let's do a blind player comparison of 2012 statistics:
Player A: 16 games, 82 Rec, 1536 yards, 9 TD
Player B: 16 games, 80 rec, 1411 yards, 8 TD
The difference? Not much—other than the fact you can get Cruz in the 3rd-4th round and Fitzgerald in the 1st.
There's no question that Fitzgerald is a better and more talented wideout. However, there's a big difference between Kevin Kolb or John Skelton (currently in QB battle) and Eli Manning. Fitzgerald just doesn't play in the right offense to produce 1st round fantasy picks and that won't change this season.
Fitzgerald is likely the 2nd best fantasy WR behind Calvin Johnson. However, he's so statistically similar to many 3rd-4th round picks that a 1st round selection is completely absurd.
Pick: Late 2nd Round
Johnson's biggest issue is health. He missed 9 games in 2011 and 3 in 2010, including an injury and re-injury to his hamstring last season. At 31-years old, he's clearly unable to heal like he used to.
On top of all this, Johnson has never recorded double-digit touchdowns in a single season.
Coming into his 10th season and with all the health problems, there's no reason to stretch for Johnson. There's just too much downside and very little upside.
Pick: 3rd Round
The 6'5", 230-pound Jackson is a superb talent. He's getting picked in the 5th-6th rounds in most drafts, which would appear pretty reasonable for a player of his talent.
However, we know from the past that Jackson is motivated by money. He held out almost the entire 2010 season for a bigger contract. There's not necessarily anything wrong with this — NFL players need to provide for themselves and for their families just like anyone else.
If he couldn't score double digit TDs as the No. 1 target on a high-powered passing offense, how is he going to get close to that in Tampa? QB Josh Freeman is a huge downgrade from Rivers and this undoubtedly drives Jackson's fantasy stock lower.
Pick: 7th-8th Round
To produce in 2012, Bryant needs to figure things out both on and off the field. He was arrested in July for allegedly hitting his mother. Any more personal problems or arrests from Bryant will certainly give him the boot.
Moreover, Bryant's immense talent has not yet translated into fantasy numbers. He has only caught for over 100 yards in a game once in his career, and it came in his rookie season.
Surely, 900 yards and 9 TDs in 2011 was good. But for a No. 1 or 2 fantasy WR, owners should expect more. With on and off the field issues to work on, owners might want to wait until next year to give Bryant a shot.
Pick: Late 5th Round