2012 Fantasy Football Week 16: Wide Receivers (WR) Rankings, Projections

Sean E. DouglasSenior Writer IIIDecember 18, 2012

SAN FRANCISCO, CA - NOVEMBER 19:  Michael Crabtree #15 and Colin Kaepernick #7 of the San Francisco 49ers celebrate Crabtree's third quarter touchdown against the Chicago Bears at Candlestick Park on November 19, 2012 in San Francisco, California.  (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

While many have made the case for Michael Crabtree as a first-round bust, it appears the fourth-year receiver is starting to come into his own.

Early signs in the offseason suggested this could be a breakout year for Crabtree, if for no other reason than he finally overcame his chronic foot issues.

For the first time, Crabtree actually played in a preseason game last August, and thankfully his foot ailments appear to be a thing of the past.

The best thing that ever happened for Crabtree was Alex Smith’s demotion in the middle of the season. It’s not that Crabtree and Smith weren’t having success together, but more that Colin Kaepernick has the physical tools to allow Crabtree to work the full route tree and have a legitimate opportunity to catch a pass on any route.

Over the past three weeks Crabtree is clearly Kaepernick’s favorite receiver, with 34 targets (no fewer than 11 targets in a game during that span) giving the 49ers' No. 1 receiver 23 receptions for 301 yards and two scores.

With Kaepernick under center, Crabtree will likely be valued as a low-end WR2 come draft day next year. He should be viewed as such through the final weeks of his season. Keep a close eye on the availability of Richard Sherman this week as he faces a possible suspension on Friday.

If Sherman is out, the Seahawks will have trouble slowing down Crabtree in this game as backup corners Walter Thurmond and Marcus Trufant are battling hamstring ailments.

What Did We Learn From Week 15?

If there is one thing we can say for sure in Buffalo, it’s that when Fred Jackson is out of the lineup it equals Steve Johnson in the end zone. A Week 1 injury held Jackson out until Week 4, and Johnson had a touchdown in all three games

Last week, Jackson was out of the lineup again and surprise, Johnson scored his sixth touchdown of the season. It’s a shame that Ryan Fitzpatrick is so limited as a passer because Johnson’s play and involvement in the offense suggest his numbers should be better than they are.

Look to Johnson as a low-end WR2 this week as the Bills will continue to lean on Johnson and C.J. Spiller with Jackson out of the lineup.


Hakeem Nicks continues to be hobbled by a knee injury. Who knows if Nicks' knee injury is a result form returning from his foot injury this summer too soon, but what we do know is Nicks clearly has an issue with nagging health problems over his four years in the NFL. Assuming Nicks plays this weekend, he will remain a WR3 play with upside.

Sean’s Week 16 Watch List

If you had Danario Alexander in your lineup, I feel your pain as the second-half breakout receiver was held without a catch against the Panthers. After such a promising six-game run, and coming off his best performance as a pro against the Steelers, it appeared as if Alexander was a shoo-in for WR1 production last week against a banged-up Panthers secondary.

That was not the case and now Alexander will face the Jets and Antonio Cromartie this weekend. If Malcom Floyd is headed to injured reserve, it could be another frustrating performance for Alexander this weekend. View him as a WR3 play with upside.


Same old song and dance for Steve Smith, as he’s only as good as the quarterback play he has to work with. Before Cam Newton came to town, Smith labored through some bad years. With Newton struggling through most of this season, Smith was a disappointing option for fantasy owners.

With Newton back to playing at a Pro Bowl level over the past four weeks, Smith has returned to producing as a steady WR2 play with upside. Playing against a shaky Raiders secondary, I like Smith as a top five option this week.


1 Calvin Johnson Falcons
2 Andre Johnson Vikings
3 Julio Jones @ Lions
4 Steve Smith Raiders
5 Victor Cruz @ Ravens
6 Brandon Marshall @ Cardinals
7 A.J. Green @ Steelers
8 Vincent Jackson Rams
9 Randall Cobb Titans
10 Dez Bryant  (I) Saints
11 Roddy White @ Lions
12 Mike Wallace Bengals
13 Demaryius Thomas Browns
14 Michael Crabtree @ Seahawks
15 Eric Decker Browns
16 Wes Welker @ Jaguars
17 Miles Austin Saints
18 Steve Johnson @ Dolphins
19 Brandon Lloyd @ Jaguars
20 Marques Colston @ Cowboys
21 Pierre Garcon @ Eagles
22 Sidney Rice 49ers
23 Reggie Wayne @ Chiefs
24 Cecil Shorts Patriots
25 Torrey Smith Giants
26 Danario Alexander @ Jets
27 Antonio Brown Bengals
28 Hakeem Nicks (I) @ Ravens
29 T.Y. Hilton @ Chiefs
30 Mike Williams Rams
31 Jeremy Maclin Redskins
32 Anquan Boldin Giants
33 Lance Moore @ Cowboys
34 Justin Blackmon Patriots
35 Josh Gordon @ Broncos
36 Danny Amendola @ Buccaneers
37 James Jones Titans
38 Brandon Gibson @ Buccaneers
39 Jason Avant Redskins
40 Kenny Britt @ Packers
41 Rod Streater @ Panthers
42 Greg Jennings Titans
43 Denarius Moore @ Panthers
44 Chris Givens @ Buccaneers
45 Golden Tate 49ers

Week 16 Standard Rankings – QB | RB |  TE | K | D |