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. However, by no means is it simple, especially in Week 16 with fantasy championships at stake and various NFL teams gunning for a playoff position.
That's why those of us in the fantasy industry put together these lists for you—to give you an idea of what to expect from your 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 starts for the week.
80. Doug Baldwin (vs. SF, Sunday night)
79. Kris Durham (vs. Atl, Saturday night)
78. Harry Douglas (at Det, Saturday night)
77. Jonathan Baldwin (vs. Ind)
76. LaVon Brazill (at KC)
75. Andre Roberts (vs. Chi)
74. Austin Pettis (at TB)
73. Leonard Hankerson (at Phi)
72. Josh Morgan (at Phi)
71. Tiquan Underwood (vs. StL)
70. Brandon Stokley (vs. Cle)
69. Marvin Jones (at Pit)
68. Dexter McCluster (vs. Ind)
67. DeVier Posey (vs. Min)
66. Jacoby Jones (vs. NYG)
65. Andrew Hawkins (at Pit)
64. Emmanuel Sanders (vs. Cin)
63. Greg Little (at Den)
62. Randy Moss (at Sea, Sunday night)
61. Louis Murphy (vs. Oak)
60. Darrius Heyward-Bey (at Car)
59. Jeremy Kerley (vs. SD)
58. T.J. Graham (at Mia)
57. Donnie Avery (at KC)
56. Dwayne Harris (vs. NO)
55. Braylon Edwards (vs. SD)
54. Nate Washington (at GB)
53. Larry Fitzgerald (vs. Chi)
52. Brandon LaFell (vs. Oak)
51. Jason Avant (vs. Was)
50. Joseph (Joe) Morgan (at Dal)
49. Domenik Hixon (at Bal)
48. Golden Tate (vs. SF, Sunday night)
47. Chris Givens (at TB)
46. Alshon Jeffery (at Ari)
45. Danario Alexander (at NYJ)
44. Rod Streater (at Car)
43. Brandon Gibson (at TB)
42. Brian Hartline (vs. Buf)
41. Santana Moss (at Phi)
40. Kenny Britt (at GB)
39. Josh Gordon (at Den)
38. Riley Cooper (vs. Was)
37. Denarius Moore (at Car)
36. Sidney Rice (vs. SF, Sunday night)
35. Mike Williams (vs. StL)
34. Justin Blackmon (vs. NE)
33. Anquan Boldin (vs. NYG)
32. Jeremy Maclin (vs. Was)
31. Greg Jennings (vs. Ten)
30. Lance Moore (at Dal)
29. Marques Colston (at Dal)
28. James Jones (vs. Ten)
27. Antonio Brown (vs. Cin)
26. Stevie Johnson (at Mia)
25. Torrey Smith (vs. NYG)
24. Brandon Lloyd (at Jax)
23. Hakeem Nicks (at Bal)
22. Pierre Garcon (at Phi)
21. Miles Austin (vs. NO)
20. T.Y. Hilton (at KC)
19. Danny Amendola (at TB)
18. Reggie Wayne (at KC)
17. Mike Wallace (vs. Cin)
16. Eric Decker (vs. Cle)
15. Victor Cruz (at Bal)
14. Michael Crabtree (at Sea, Sunday night)
13. Cecil Shorts (vs. NE)
12. Demaryius Thomas (vs. Cle)
11. Roddy White (at Det, Saturday night)
Top 10 WR Plays for Week 16
10. Vincent Jackson (vs. StL)
I’m sure fantasy owners would like to have seen a touchdown added to Vincent Jackson’s totals last Sunday—especially against a weak New Orleans Saints defense—but six catches for 81 yards isn’t too bad.
The positive to focus on here was that V-Jax was once again targeted in the double-digits and will more than likely see the same type of attention from Josh Freeman this week.
The St. Louis Rams have actually had one of the better pass defenses in the league this season, but because their secondary is one of the smallest in the league, they’ve had a bit of trouble with the taller receivers they’ve faced.
Vincent Jackson, of course, is one of the tallest in the game at 6’5”, so there’s no reason to believe he won’t be able to put up top-tier fantasy numbers this championship weekend.
9. Wes Welker (at Jax)
Though Wes Welker only caught five balls for 56 yards in the Patriots loss to the 49ers last Sunday night, his final catch of the game gave him 100 receptions on the season for an NFL record fifth time in his career.
Congratulations, Wes, though I’m sure his fantasy owners would have rather seen the record set with a little more fantasy flair.
This week looks to be a more favorable matchup for the Slot Machine, though, as Welker has performed much better on the road this season than at home.
Of his six double-digit fantasy games this year, five of them came on the road—as have three of his four touchdowns.
The Patriots were obviously in need of a wake-up call last weekend and now that they’ve had it. I expect Tom Brady to come out firing with his team still in the hunt for a first-round playoff bye.
With that in mind, I fully expect Wes Welker to be heavily involved in the game plan against a middling Jags pass defense.
8. A.J. Green (at Pit)
It wasn’t the greatest game of his young career, but A.J. Green was at least able to get back into the end zone against the Eagles last Thursday night after failing to do so the previous three weeks.
It won’t be easy to keep his new streak alive, however, with the Bengals visiting Pittsburgh to take on the Steelers this weekend.
In their last matchup back in Week 7, Green was held to a single catch for a measly eight yards, though that one reception DID happen to go for a touchdown.
The big difference fantasy owners will find in their favor this time around is that the Steelers lockdown cornerback, Ike Taylor, won’t be around to shadow Green all over the field.
With the Bengals fighting desperately for a playoff spot, Andy Dalton will likely target his 6’4” Pro Bowl wide receiver heavily, thus giving him a very good chance to both extend his TD streak and put up top ten fantasy numbers this Sunday.
7. Randall Cobb (vs. Ten)
Randall Cobb put up his second straight game with 100 yards last weekend in a win against the Chicago Bears. In fact, the 115 yards he accumulated was the highest receiving game of his career thus far, though I expect him to break that mark sometime in the very near future.
With Jordy Nelson very unlikely to return this week, Cobb should play the part of Aaron Rodgers’ go-to guy once again as the Packers continue to fight for a first-round playoff bye.
The Titans defense has gotten progressively better throughout the season, but almost every single receiver whose talent is anywhere near Cobb’s has put up double-digit fantasy points against this pass D.
To make you feel even stronger about Randall’s prospects this weekend, Percy Harvin scored 23.6 fantasy points in Tennessee’s matchup with Minnesota and in fact, the top three scoring games against the Titans this year all came from the NFC North (Harvin, Megatron and Marshall).
Not a bad pattern for Cobb to follow, eh?
6. Steve Smith (vs. Oak)
It took awhile for him to get going this year, but now that Cam Newton has re-established his dominance in the league, Steve Smith is back amongst the top ten fantasy receivers to watch for each week.
This Sunday will be no different with Smitty and the Panthers playing at home against a bottom-tier Oakland Raiders defense.
The Raiders have allowed at least one receiver to put up double-digit fantasy points against them in 12 of 14 games this season, so the chances of Stevie Fists coming up with high-end numbers in this one are pretty darn good.
Smith has actually put up the fifth most fantasy points for wide receivers over the last three weeks, a trend I can easily see continuing into your fantasy championship game.
5. Julio Jones (at Det, Saturday night)
Julio Jones’ averages on the road this season pretty much say it all.
In seven games away from home, Jones has a monstrous weekly output of almost six catches for 97.1 yards and exactly one touchdown per game. He’s actually averaged over 101 yards and has 12 TDs in 14 career road games, so what he’s done this year isn’t just an anomaly.
The Lions defense has been decimated by injuries all year long while the entire team has been spiraling downward for quite some time now.
Their pass D has allowed the seventh most fantasy points to wide receivers over the last five weeks, but it could have been even worse had the Arizona Cardinals not been one of those five opponents.
With the Falcons looking to clinch home-field advantage throughout the NFC playoffs, you can bet they’ll be stepping on the pedal all night long which could mean a massive amount of offense throughout the game.
4. Andre Johnson (vs. Min)
After his 11-catch performance for 151 yards and a touchdown last weekend against the Colts, I have to say one more time that Andre Johnson has surprised me a bit this year.
At 31 years old, I simply didn’t see him being able to perform at this high of a level anymore, but quite obviously, I was wrong.
This Sunday, with a chance to sew up a first-round bye in the playoffs, I expect Houston to rely heavily on their two best players—Arian Foster and Andre Johnson—to get the job done.
The Vikings will likely expect a heavy dose of Foster at first, so look for Johnson to grab a couple of big, early passes before the Texans set out to establish the run. Then, once they do, Andre should be able to steadily add to his numbers throughout the rest of the game on both play-action passes and quick third-down conversions.
In the end, fantasy owners should be looking at top-tier WR1 numbers once again.
3. Brandon Marshall (at Ari)
Last week against the Packers, in just the 14th game of the season, Brandon Marshall set career highs in receptions (107) and yards (1,398) while also tying his personal best for touchdowns (10) in a season.
Not too shabby, Mr. Marshall, but the crazy thing about it is that he’s been doing it while fighting off constant double-teams throughout the year.
This week, however, he might see man-to-man coverage for most of the game because the Arizona Cardinals top cornerback, Patrick Peterson, somehow convinced his coaching staff that he can guard anyone in the league without help.
He actually did pretty well against Calvin Johnson last Sunday holding him to 10 catches for 121 yards and no touchdowns, which could be close to what Marshall ends up with in this game.
The one glaring difference here is that Marshall has caught twice as many TDs as Megatron this season, so Brandon could easily come up with one of those where Johnson couldn’t.
2. Calvin Johnson (vs. Atl, Saturday night)
As far as wide receivers go, Calvin is obviously on one of the biggest tears in NFL history going seven straight weeks with 100 or more yards while catching an average of 9.3 passes in each of those games.
Knowing this, it was tough not to slot him as my top receiver for the week, but Atlanta can be pretty darn stingy against the pass as they’ve allowed the fewest touchdown passes in the league as well as the seventh fewest fantasy points to opposing wide receivers.
That being said, I have no doubt Stafford will be targeting him a good 15 times this Saturday night with the Lions likely to be playing from behind for most of the game.
With that many passes thrown his way, there’s simply no chance Megatron puts up less than high-end WR1 numbers.
1. Dez Bryant (vs. NO)
Dez Bryant may have a fractured finger, but he was still able to extend his touchdown streak to six games against the Steelers last weekend, so it obviously isn’t bothering him all that much.
This week, the Cowboys will be back playing at home against the New Orleans Saints in a game that has the looks of a classic shootout.
Not only have the Saints given up the sixth most real points in the league, but they’ve also allowed the second most passing yards, as well as the third most fantasy points to wide receivers this season.
Throughout his short career, Bryant has made it a habit to feast on poor pass defenses. So with seemingly every single factor working in his favor, I’m not sure you could ask for much more during your championship game than what Dez has going for him this weekend.
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