Here are my top 40 wide receivers for Week 1 (standard-scoring leagues).
To clarify, this countdown doesn't lean on a particular stat—it's merely an educated best guess of which receivers will tally the best combination of total yards (receiving/rushing) and touchdowns for the NFL's opening weekend. And the estimates shall remain fluid through Sunday morning.
When it comes to crafting a weekly listing of elite wide receivers, simply follow the trail of quarterbacks primed for Week 1 glory...or the wideouts with a good track record against middling pass defenses.
Regarding the unique cases of Hakeem Nicks (building strength in his injured foot), Miles Austin (training-camp hamstring woes) and Mike Wallace (zero preseason catches, due to contract holdout), I didn't feel comfortable ranking any of the heralded trio among the top 25.
For their sake, I hope to be wrong with these conservative notions.
Top 40 Receivers For Week 1
1. Calvin Johnson vs. St. Louis
2. Marques Colston vs. Washington
3. Wes Welker @ Tennessee
4. Andre Johnson vs. Miami
5. Victor Cruz vs. Dallas
6. Roddy White @ Kansas City
6a. Brandon Marshall vs. Indianapolis
7. Greg Jennings vs. San Francisco
8. Percy Harvin vs. Jacksonville
9. Larry Fitzgerald vs. Seattle
10. A.J. Green @ Baltimore
11. Julio Jones @ Kansas City
12. Dwayne Bowe vs. Atlanta
13. Jeremy Maclin @ Cleveland
14. Dez Bryant @ N.Y. Giants
15. Antonio Brown @ Denver
16. Steve Smith @ Tampa Bay
17. Nate Washington vs. New England
18. Steve Johnson @ N.Y. Jets
19. Jordy Nelson vs. San Francisco
20. Vincent Jackson vs. Carolina
21. Reggie Wayne @ Chicago
22. Torrey Smith vs. Cincinnati
23. Malcom Floyd @ Oakland
24. Eric Decker vs. Pittsburgh
25. Demaryius Thomas vs. Pittsburgh
26. Miles Austin @ N.Y. Giants
27. DeSean Jackson @ Cleveland
28. Brandon Lloyd @ Tennessee
29. Pierre Garcon @ New Orleans
30. Justin Blackmon @ Minnesota
31. Michael Crabtree @ Green Bay
32. Darrius Heyward-Bey vs. San Diego
33. Titus Young vs. St. Louis
34. Denarius Moore vs. San Diego
35. Mike Wallace @ Denver
36. Hakeem Nicks vs. Dallas
37. Santonio Holmes vs. Buffalo
38. Anquan Boldin vs. Cincinnati
39. Greg Little vs. Philadelphia
40. Kendall Wright vs. New England
1. For those who forgot why Calvin Johnson (96 catches, 1,681 yards, 16 TD) should be the No. 1-ranked receiver every single week, he amassed 200-plus yards in three of his final four games last season—including the playoff loss to New Orleans.
2. In his last four games against the Jets (and all-world corner Darrelle Revis), Bills wideout Steve Johnson has 19 catches, 38 targets, 262 yards and two touchdowns...for per-outing averages of 4.75 catches, 9.5 targets, 65.5 yards and 0.5 touchdowns. He's certainly a flex-start consideration in Week 1.
3. Larry Fitzgerald's pedestrian ranking (No. 9) is a composite of John Skelton's shaky QB prowess and the Seahawks' physical and skillful pass defense. That said, Fitz remains a 60/40 candidate for one Sunday score.
4. As someone who will never take Steve Smith for granted again, this stat bears mentioning: Smith (79 catches, 1,394 yards, 7 TD; 129 targets in 2011) collected seven or more targets in 14 games last season, tops among all NFL receivers. And in his last two Week 1 efforts, Smith has 13 catches, 20 targets, 253 yards and three touchdowns.
5. The over-under for Reggie Wayne targets in Week 1 is 9.5. Hopefully, that'll lead to six receptions, 75 yards and one score against the Bears.
Jay Clemons can be reached on Twitter, day or night, at @ATL_JayClemons.
Like the new article format? Send us feedback!