Figuring out who the best wide receivers will be from week to week is a little easier than doing so for running backs at this point, but by no means is it simple.
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 10 best plays for the week.
(BYE: New England Patriots, New York Jets, San Francisco 49ers, St. Louis Rams)
80. Danario Alexander (vs. KC, Thursday night) – FINAL STATISTICS: 3 recs - 61 yards - 0 TDs
79. Keshawn Martin (vs. Buf)
78. Riley Cooper (at NO, Monday night)
77. Brandon Stokley (at Cin)
76. Jabar Gaffney (at Ind)
75. Jonathan Baldwin (at SD, Thursday night) – FINAL STATISTICS: 1 rec - 13 yards - 0 TDs
74. Armon Binns (vs. Den)
73. Travis Benjamin (vs. Bal)
72. Mohamed Massaquoi (vs. Bal)
71. Tiquan Underwood (at Oak)
70. Devery Henderson (vs. Phi, Monday night)
69. Josh Morgan (vs. Car)
68. Josh Cooper (vs. Bal)
67. T.Y. Hilton (vs. Mia)
66. Jerome Simpson (at Sea)
65. Domenik Hixon (vs. Pit)
64. Dexter McCluster (at SD, Thursday night) – FINAL STATISTICS: 4 carries - 17 yards - 0 TDs // 2 recs - 17 yards - 0 TDs
63. Devin Hester (at Ten)
62. Emmanuel Sanders (at NYG)
61. Rod Streater (vs. TB)
60. Jacoby Jones (at Cle)
59. Aldrick Robinson (vs. Car)
58. Doug Baldwin (vs. Min)
57. Donald Driver (vs. Ari)
56. Leonard Hankerson (vs. Car)
55. Jason Avant (at NO, Monday night)
54. Donnie Avery (vs. Mia)
53. Donald Jones (at Hou)
52. Andrew Hawkins (vs. Den)
51. Justin Blackmon (vs. Det)
50. Earl Bennett (at Ten)
49. Louis Murphy (at Was)
48. Kendall Wright (vs. Chi)
47. Greg Little (vs. Bal)
46. Davone Bess (at Ind)
45. Santana Moss (vs. Car)
44. Kevin Walter (vs. Buf)
43. Kenny Britt (vs. Chi)
42. Ryan Broyles (at Jax)
41. Nate Washington (vs. Chi)
40. Golden Tate (vs. Min)
39. Andre Roberts (at GB)
38. Malcom Floyd (vs. KC, Thursday night) – FINAL STATISTICS: 4 recs - 48 yards - 1 TD
37. Cecil Shorts (vs. Det)
36. Stevie Johnson (at Hou)
35. Mike Williams (at Oak)
34. Torrey Smith (at Cle)
33. Sidney Rice (vs. Min)
32. Brian Hartline (at Ind)
31. Josh Gordon (vs. Bal)
30. Anquan Boldin (at Cle)
29. James Jones (vs. Ari)
28. Lance Moore (vs. Phi, Monday night)
27. Antonio Brown (at NYG)
26. Darrius Heyward-Bey (vs. TB)
25. Titus Young (at Jax)
24. Larry Fitzgerald (at GB)
23. Dez Bryant (at Atl, Sunday night)
22. Hakeem Nicks (vs. Pit)
21. Dwayne Bowe (at SD, Thursday night) – FINAL STATISTICS: 8 recs - 79 yards - 0 TDs
20. Marques Colston (vs. Phi, Monday night)
19. DeSean Jackson (at NO, Monday night)
18. Vincent Jackson (at Oak)
17. Miles Austin (at Atl, Sunday night)
16. Victor Cruz (vs. Pit)
15. Eric Decker (at Cin)
14. Jeremy Maclin (at NO, Monday night)
13. Mike Wallace (at NYG)
12. Percy Harvin (at Sea)
11. Roddy White (vs. Dal, Sunday night)
The Top 10 WR Plays for Week 9
10. Randall Cobb (vs. Ari)
This kid is really something else, isn’t he?
He’s pretty much the same type of player as Percy Harvin at this point, though he might actually have better juke moves than Percy does though he doesn’t NEARLY have the same type of size and power.
With Jordy Nelson unlikely to suit up this Sunday, Cobb has to be considered the top target for Aaron Rodgers which can’t possibly translate to a ranking outside of the top 10.
Arizona hasn’t been bad against the pass this season, but its pass rush has been pretty awesome as the Cardinals are currently tied for first in the league (with Green Bay) with 26 sacks on the season. I mention this because it looks like Rodgers will be under pressure all game long, and if so, he might have to get rid of the ball quickly.
With Cobb being as dynamic as he is and more of an underneath guy than anything else, I have no doubt he’ll see the most targets of all the Packers receivers in this game, and with the ball in his hands, the kid is flat-out lethal.
9. Andre Johnson (vs. Buf)
Andre Johnson has one 100-yard game and two touchdowns through seven games this season, and he has caught three or fewer passes in four of them.
By now, we all know that this isn’t the same Andre Johnson as in years past, but I have no doubt he still has some big games left in him. This week against the Buffalo Bills is going to be one of them.
Strange as it sounds, ‘Dre is actually being targeted FAR more at home than he is on the road (9.5 to 4.7) and has obviously put up way better stats at home because of it.
The Bills defense is bad enough against the run that the Texans would probably never need to pass the ball, but that’s exactly when they WILL pass the ball because it’s the direction the Bills would least expect them to go.
Do I see one of those insane 11-193-2 stat-lines Johnson used to put up coming?
No, but he’ll definitely have himself a quiet low-end WR1 day while Arian Foster steals the show.
8. A.J. Green (vs. Den)
Listen, I love A.J. Green as much as the next guy—maybe even more—but I’m not entirely sure he deserves to be ranked this high in my top 10 this week.
Going up against CB Champ Bailey all game wouldn’t be what you would call an easy contest. Not only that, but I believe that the Broncos will also throw Green into double-coverage for parts of the game with the Bengals running game being as weak as it is.
Despite the potential troubles he could face, Green did put up 124 yards and a touchdown on a career-high 10 catches against the Broncos last year, so anything is possible.
Still, call the guy what you want—whether it be Beast, Monster, Animal or Barbarian—but no matter how good the kid is, there’s no way around this being a tough-as-hell matchup for him.
7. Steve Smith (at Was)
It’s been a while since Stevie Fists found his way into my top 10, but if there was any week of the season for the old-timer, this would be it.
Smitty showed last week against the Chicago Bears that he can still hang with the big fantasy boys when he caught seven passes for 118 yards against arguably the best defense in the league.
Of course, I can’t go without mentioning his colossal F-up when he slipped on an out-route and allowed CB Tim Jennings to take a pick-six for the lead in the fourth quarter. But otherwise, he still had an outstanding game.
This week the Panthers travel to Washington where Smith will be aiming for his FIRST touchdown of the season against possibly the worst pass defense in the league.
Last year he put up 143 yards on seven catches against the Redskins, but he didn’t come away with a TD. This year I can see the touchdown happening, but he might get only around 100 yards as he might be double-covered from time to time with Brandon LaFell likely out due to a concussion.
6. Julio Jones (vs. Dal, Sunday night)
The secondary for the Dallas Cowboys, particularly their cornerbacks, have been awesome at defending the pass this season. However, if they’ve had any sort of pinpointed trouble thus far, it’s been against taller/bigger receivers who can stretch the field.
Julio Jones happens to be one of the best in the game in that exact problem-area for the ‘Boys.
The Atlanta offense has quickly become one of the best in the game and can strike at any time with its new high-tempo offense, part of which is due to the big-play threat of Mr. Julio Jones.
Considering how often Dallas turns the ball over and how good the Falcons are at taking it away, I can easily see a good five-to-seven red-zone drives in which Jones will have a chance to use his size for a TD.
He may not put up awesome yardage in the end, but at least one touchdown should be forthcoming.
5. Denarius Moore (vs. TB)
Yes, Denarius Moore is one of my top five wide receivers for the week.
I mean, have you seen how much Carson Palmer loves him?!?! The kid has been targeted no less than eight times in his six games played this season and has now caught a touchdown in his last three straight.
Denarius is a weekly highlight reel to watch. To be honest, it wouldn’t shock me to hear Palmer say that he throws him the ball simply to see what the kid will do next.
Moore wouldn’t make it this high in my rankings simply on aesthetics, obviously, so there must be some other reason.
Well, there is.
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers' pass defense was pretty bad to begin with, but in this past week, not only have the Bucs traded their best, yet troubled cornerback Aqib Talib to the Patriots, but they also have their second-best CB, Eric Wright, dealing with some Achilles soreness. Further, Wright has to serve a four-game suspension for taking Adderall.
Basically, the fantasy points are ripe for the pickin’ this week.
4. Reggie Wayne (vs. Mia)
Would you believe that even though the Colts have already had their bye week, Reggie Wayne STILL leads the NFL in targets with 92 in seven games (13.1 per game). Crazy!
Even crazier is that his 757 yards is also ranked first in the league despite playing one less game than a bunch of other great receivers.
The only thing missing from this all-world fantasy stat line is his lack of touchdowns as he only has two so far on the year.
I’m pretty sure fantasy owners will have to deal with his touchdown deficiency for the entire season, but on a promising note, seven of his last eight touchdowns (over the course of 27 games) have come at home in Indianapolis, so there’s certainly hope for one this weekend.
If the Dolphins are going to be beat, it will be through the air, so look for Wayne to have yet another great fantasy day for his owners this Sunday.
3. Demaryius Thomas (at Cin)
Whether it’s because of Peyton Manning or whether it was bound to happen anyway, Demaryius Thomas has slowly become one of the best and most trusted fantasy wide receivers in the game.
There’s really no way to know which it is, but I believe it’s likely a combination of both.
His 679 receiving yards is currently third in the league (even though he’s had his bye) while his 17.4 yards per catch ranks sixth. That should really come as no surprise though, seeing that he has the most catches of 20-plus yards in the league (16).
This week he’ll take on a Bengals pass defense that looks good on paper simply because it has faced only one semi-true passing QB, Ben Roethlisberger.
Thomas and Eric Decker should have their way out there on Sunday while Manning picks the Cincy secondary apart, so expect another WR1 type of day out of the big WR.
2. Calvin Johnson (at Jax)
The entire fantasy world is down on Calvin Johnson right now, and to be honest, we all should be.
We’ve all been waiting for weeks upon weeks now to see Megatron bust out of his human shell and become the fantasy machine he was drafted to be.
However, with the clocks turning back this weekend and the season moving into Week 9, Johnson STILL only has one TD after putting up 10 of them at this point last season.
That being said, I believe this will be the week that Megatron turns it all around as he absolutely loves playing against AFC teams.
In his four games against them last season, Calvin had six TDs with at least one in each contest along with three 100-yard games.
This year he’s faced just one AFC team thus far, and do you know what he did? That’s right, he dominated! In fact, it was his best game of the season as he caught 10 passes for 164 yards and caught his lone 2012 TD against the lowly Tennessee Titans.
Jacksonville’s defense is better, though not that much better, so I’m fully expecting to hear a big sigh of relief from Megatron owners when the final whistle blows this Sunday.
1. Brandon Marshall (at Ten)
The last time Brandon Marshall had four touchdowns after seven games was during his last year in Denver when he put up 101 catches for 1,120 yards and 10 TDs.
Basically, the 6’4” 28-year-old out of Central Florida is looking as good as he ever has and is primed for a monster year playing again with Jay Cutler in the Windy City.
He’s also on pace for 114 receptions and 1,543 yards, which would undoubtedly be worthy of top-five overall wide receiver fantasy numbers.
This week the Bears go down to Tennessee to face a Titans defense that not only allows the fourth-most passing yards per game (282.0), but also the third-most total yards (421.3) and second-most points per game (32.1).
With Marshall being targeted the second-most times per game in the league this season (11.4; Reggie Wayne—13.1), you can bet he’ll be lighting up the fantasy board in this one.
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