Figuring out who the best wide receiver plays are from week to week is a little easier than doing so for running backs at this point, but by no means is it simple—especially in Week 4 when a fantasy team can really take shape—and a few teams are forced to replace their starters due to injuries.
That's why those of us in the fantasy industry put together these lists for you—to give the reader a gauge of what to expect from his or her players on any given Sunday.
With that, here are the weekend's top 80 wide receivers, along with some detailed analysis on the ten best plays for the week.
(BYE: Indianapolis Colts, Pittsburgh Steelers)
Not in the Rankings Due to Injury:
Pierre Garcon (@ TB) – QUESTIONABLE – Still highly unlikely to play after a week of limited practices
Hakeem Nicks (@ Phi - Sunday Night) – DOUBTFUL – Nicks’ knee swelled up on Friday after Thursday’s practice so they’ll likely hold him out until Week 5 at the earliest
Kenny Britt (@ Hou) – QUESTIONABLE – Missed practice all week
Julian Edelman (@ Buf) – OUT
Stephen Hill (vs. SF) - DOUBTFUL
Which of these injured WRs would have had the best fantasy week had he played?
Wide Receivers 11-80:
80. Michael Floyd (vs. Mia)
79. Earl Bennett (@ Dal - Monday Night)
78. Randy Moss (@ NYJ)
77. Doug Baldwin (@ StL)
76. Damaris Johnson (vs. NYG - Sunday Night)
75. Keshawn Martin (vs. Ten)
74. Rod Streater (@ Den)
73. Santana Moss (@ TB)
72. Brian Hartline (@ Ari)
71. Kevin Ogletree (vs. Chi - Monday Night)
70. Damian Williams (@ Hou)
69. Laurent Robinson (vs. Cin)
68. Brandon Stokley (vs. Oak)
67. Alshon Jeffery (@ Dal - Monday Night)
66. Devery Henderson (@ GB)
65. Domenik Hixon (@ Phi - Sunday Night)
64. Andre Roberts (vs. Mia)
63. Donald Jones (vs. NE)
62. Cecil Shorts (vs. Cin)
61. Kevin Walter (vs. Ten)
60. Brandon Gibson (vs. Sea)
59. Jacoby Jones (vs. Cle - Thursday Night)
58. Josh Gordon (@ Bal - Thursday Night)
57. James Jones (vs. NO)
56. T.J. Graham (vs. NE)
55. Davone Bess (@ Ari)
54. Greg Little (@ Bal - Thursday Night)
53. Jeremy Kerley (vs. SF)
52. Sidney Rice (@ StL)
51. Jonathan Baldwin (vs. SD)
50. Golden Tate (@ StL)
49. Ramses Barden (@ Phi - Sunday Night)
48. Derek Hagan (@ Den)
47. Travis Benjamin (@ Bal - Thursday Night)
46. Mario Manningham (@ NYJ)
45. Kendall Wright (@ Hou)
44. Armon Binns (@ Jax)
43. Santonio Holmes (vs. SF)
42. Robert Meachem (@ KC)
41. Randall Cobb (vs. NO)
40. Anquan Boldin (vs. Cle - Thursday Night)
39. Nate Burleson (vs. Min)
38. Nate Washington (@ Hou)
37. Justin Blackmon (vs. Cin)
36. Titus Young (vs. Min)
35. Jerome Simpson (@ Det)
34. Danny Amendola (vs. Sea)
33. Andrew Hawkins (@ Jax)
32. Brandon LaFell (@ Atl)
31. Michael Crabtree (@ NYJ)
30. Mike Williams (vs. Was)
29. Leonard Hankerson (@ TB)
28. Lance Moore (@ GB)
27. Dez Bryant (vs. Chi - Monday Night)
26. Malcom Floyd (@ KC)
25. Brandon Marshall (@ Dal - Monday Night)
24. Miles Austin (vs. Chi - Monday Night)
23. DeSean Jackson (vs. NYG - Sunday Night)
22. Denarius Moore (@ Den)
21. Marques Colston (@ GB)
20. Dwayne Bowe (vs. SD)
19. Jeremy Maclin (vs. NYG - Sunday Night)
18. Eric Decker (vs. Oak)
17. Victor Cruz (@ Phi - Sunday Night)
16. Stevie Johnson (vs. NE)
15. Greg Jennings (vs. NO)
14. Jordy Nelson (vs. NO)
13. Steve Smith (@ Atl)
12. Torrey Smith (vs. Cle - Thursday Night)
11. Roddy White (vs. Car)
Top Ten WR Plays for Week 4
10. Brandon Lloyd (@ Buf)
There was a lot of talk during the offseason about how quickly Tom Brady fell in love with Brandon Lloyd’s game, and though he doesn’t have a touchdown as of yet, the love has shown to be true as he’s sixth overall in receptions (22) and tied for sixth in targets (33) thus far.
The TDs are coming, I guarantee it, and I believe they’ll start this weekend against the Bills.
Buffalo has allowed the fourth-most fantasy points to wide receivers this season and are tied for the most TDs allowed, so it’s looking pretty good for the newest Patriot on the block this Sunday.
9. Vincent Jackson (vs. Was)
Like it was while he was in San Diego, Vincent Jackson will put up a real nice fantasy game every three to four weeks yet completely disappear in the others.
Such has been the case thus far in Tampa Bay and will continue to be this weekend, with Jackson ending up on the good side of his fantasy owners in this one.
Washington’s pass defense has been so horrendous this season that it seems nearly impossible for V-Jax to get shut down.
In just three games, the Redskins have allowed six different wide receivers to catch a TD pass with three of those guys adding in 120 or more yards. Two of them actually had 160-plus yards, and as you can imagine, Washington has allowed the most fantasy points to opposing WRs because of it.
8. Percy Harvin (@ Det)
Before the 2011 season began, Donovan McNabb went on record saying there was no reason why Percy Harvin couldn’t catch 100 passes in a season.
He came close with 87 last year, but it looks like 2012 will be the year he does it as he currently leads the league with 27 receptions and doesn’t show signs of slowing down.
In fact, his overall numbers may grow from here on out with WR Jerome Simpson coming back from his suspension this weekend. Simpson’s speed will stretch defenses deep and give Harvin more room to maneuver underneath, a place where the Lions pass D have given up the majority of their yards thus far.
In their last meeting at Detroit, Harvin caught 10 balls for 69 yards and a TD while rushing for 40 more yards on four carries.
7. Larry Fitzgerald (vs. Mia)
Fitz finally got it going on last weekend against the Eagles, catching all nine of his targets for 114 yards and a touchdown.
How many catches will Percy Harvin have at season's end?
I know a lot of people who were getting worried about him, but there was really no way one of the best five receivers in the history of the league was going to be held down for long.
The 3-0 Cardinals go up against a Miami defense this week that’s been so tough against the run; they almost force the other team to pass the ball to beat them. Before Thursday they have the most passing attempts against recorded at 124.
Of course, this can only be good news for Larry Fitz and his fantasy owners.
6. A.J. Green (@ Jax)
Green plays like a man among boys out there, and he’s only been in the league for 18 games (missed one in 2011)!
He’s second in the league in total fantasy points, (only because Torrey Smith already played this week) and in the top-5 in everything else except receptions where he stands at No. 7.
Last year playing in Jacksonville, Green put up 90 yards and a TD—numbers he should at least equal in this one.
5. Andre Johnson (vs. Ten)
Andre made the most of his four targets against the Broncos catching two of them for 72 yards and a 60-yard TD last week.
Though the Texans should have no problem running all over the Titans this weekend, they won’t have a problem throwing the ball either, so I expect Johnson to be heavily involved.
He has six touchdowns in his last six games against this team, and now he won’t even have to face Cortland Finnegan, so I’m going to chalk up his seventh in seven games right now.
He may not get a ton of yards or catches with Houston queuing up the Foster/Tate show for an extended viewing, but then again, he could go ballistic in the first half and win you the week on his own.
4. Wes Welker (@ Buf)
The concerns about Wes Welker and his role in the Patriots offense this season were completely justified, but probably blown a bit out of proportion.
This is still Wes Welker—probably the best, little slot receiver the league has ever seen—and he wasn’t likely to be held back for long.
Over the last two games, the Slot Machine has 13 catches on 21 targets for 237 yards, numbers he’ll be counted on to add to big-time this weekend while Aaron Hernandez and Julian Edelman are both sidelined.
Last year playing at Buffalo, Welker had the game of his life grabbing 16 passes for 217 yards and two TDs.
I’m pretty sure Brady knows this little tidbit as well.
3. Julio Jones (vs. Car)
Julio hasn’t been as spectacular as his Week 1 numbers led people to believe he’d be this season, but he’s still fifth in the league in fantasy points and is one of only four wide receivers to have three TDs on this young season (there are actually SEVEN tight ends with 3-plus TDs).
Jones was active for just one game against the Panthers last season and made it count by grabbing three balls for 104 yards and two TDs. Carolina doesn’t seem to do well against bigger receivers either, as 6’6” Ramses Barden torched them for 138 yards on nine receptions last weekend, so Jones could be in for a big game.
My only concern is that Atlanta goes up big early on and hands the game over to Michael Turner/Jazquizz Rodgers to seal it, but my guess is that it will have been Julio who put them up so much in the first place, so no worries.
2. Calvin Johnson (vs. Min)
Calvin may be a bit behind in his TD-count so far, but he’s actually on pace to have better overall numbers than he had last season.
Sure, it’s unlikely he puts up 128 receptions for 1,968 yards, but my point is that it’s not his level of play that has suffered, just his opportunity for more touchdowns.
This week he goes up against a highly susceptible Vikings pass D that’s actually been playing better but hasn’t really been tested yet this season.
Megatron will certainly do that and more this Sunday en route to his typical, high-end WR1 numbers.
1. Demaryius Thomas (vs. Oak)
Demaryius’ below average scoring output last week is nothing for owners to worry about. Houston’s lock-down cornerback, Johnathan Joseph, is the closest thing the NFL has to Darrelle Revis in that he pretty much shuts down every wide receiver he shadows.
Demaryius won’t have to worry about that when he faces Oakland this Sunday.
In fact, the Raiders top two corners have been out for a while now, and their replacements have been so bad, they’ve been forced to experiment with putting Michael Huff, a career seven-year veteran free safety, at left CB.
Let’s put it this way:
Two weeks ago against Miami, WR Brian Hartline had nine catches for 111 yards… In his 42-game career beforehand, he had never topped 100 yards or made more than FIVE catches in any one game.
Last week Mike Wallace and Antonio Brown combined for 15 catches, 210 yards and two TDs. I see Demaryius coming down with a large chunk of that this Sunday.
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