Whether they are deep threats, possession receivers or overpowering runners after the catch, the wide receivers on the upcoming list are the 10 most intimidating wideouts so far in 2013.
A dominant wide receiver can change the game—even if that game is a video game—for an NFL team, spreading the offense and opening up the run game. Secondaries fear these players for their versatility and, oftentimes, speed. Their ability to "go get" balls that are out of reach for normal players is unteachable and invaluable. The game of football itself has been moving to the air, and physical, athletic wide outs are more crucial than ever to a team's success.
On MSNBC's Morning Joe, Vikings legend Chris Carter talked about how numbers tell the story and commented on the way the game is changing for the benefit of wide receivers.
Seeing as two teams (Kansas City Chiefs and Philadelphia Eagles) have already played a third game, we will consider play and statistics only through Week 2 to level the playing field.
For a receiver to qualify, he must have had at least one touchdown heading into Week 3 and have accumulated at least 100 yards on at least 10 catches.
Besides statistics, other criteria for ranking these players include past success, quality of the receiver's quarterback and—since we live in the age of fantasy sports—fantasy rankings.
*All fantasy rankings and statistics from Yahoo! Sports
Without a touchdown on the season, Johnson does not qualify for this list...which is tough because he is leading all wide receivers with 20 receptions (tied with New England Patriots Julian Edelman), and he has racked up 222 receiving yards.
Projected at the start of the season to be the 11th-best fantasy wide receiver, Johnson has fallen to 24th after two games.
Get in the end zone, son!
Jackson is another receiver without a touchdown who would otherwise deserve inclusion onto this list. His 251 yards are fifth in the league, and the chemistry between himself and quarterback Josh Freeman looks as good as ever.
At least the tough-luck Bucs have this duo to look forward to!
Projected to be the 12th-best fantasy wide receiver, Jackson is now 21st. However, look for Jackson to get in the end zone soon and put up similar numbers to his impressive 2012 season.
Boldin is now 32 and that means something in football. Amongst a field of wide receivers still in their 20s, Boldin falls out of the top 10 in my eyes. He looks good so far this year, and his 215 receiving yards indicate no signs of wear, but with the San Francisco 49ers boasting no real second option next to Boldin and receivers Mario Manngingham and Michael Crabtree both sidelined with injuries, it will be a test for Boldin to carry the weight of the passing game himself.
Right now he sits as the 11th-best fantasy wide receiver when he was projected to be 35th.
Nicknamed "Megatron," Johnson has the uncanny ability to make plays in tight corners and come down with some unlikely catches, as evidenced by the video above. The term "Mossing" was coined after legendary wide receiver Randy Moss, but Johnson may be the guy who's perfected it.
Though one of the receivers on this list with perhaps the least impressive stat line (10 catches for 153 yards and 2 TDs), his reputation precedes him. Obviously, two touchdowns in two games is nothing to sneeze at, but his 153 yards are rather meek compared to the numbers of other players on this list.
He was ranked as the best fantasy wide receiver going into the 2013 season and currently sits in 12th.
A.J. Green has evolved in front of our eyes. He became a threat at the University of Georgia and in just two years in the league, he has made himself into one of the best receivers in the game. He has proven his elite talent, as evidenced by Pro Bowl selections in his first two seasons in the NFL.
This season, Green's third, the Cincinnati wideout is off to an impressive start (15 recptions, 203 yards, 2 TDs) and appears to be linking up with quarterback Andy Dalton rather well so far in 2013.
Yahoo! Sports ranked him third going into the season, and Green has done well to validate that rating, staying in the top 10 as the ninth-best wideout so far for fantasy.
Another wide receiver who has pretty faithfully followed Yahoo! Sports' season projection is the Denver Broncos Demaryius Thomas (projected fifth, currently eighth). The video above shows why.
Thomas' biggest asset is perhaps his quarterback, Peyton Manning. With the addition of former New England Patriot Wes Welker, the Denver offense is primed to put up huge numbers in the air this season. Thomas' 10 receptions, 213 yards and 2 touchdowns this season show the potential for a big year.
Entering his second season with Manning will undoubtedly improve their chemistry, and Thomas can look to repeat the success he had last year (94 receptions, 1,434 yards and 10 TDs). Through two games, his average of 21.3 yards per reception ranks first among receivers with at least 10 catches on the year.
Another wideout remaining pretty close to Yahoo! Sports' fantasy projections, Brandon Marshall of the Chicago Bears was ranked fourth to start the season and is now seventh.
Marshall is still Marshall and will remain a threat to secondaries despite quarterback Jay Cutler's inability to rise to elite status. So far in 2013, Marshall has been able to connect with Cutler (15 receptions, 217 yards, 2 TDs), but realistically he is the only playmaker on the Bears offense, and opposing defenses may be able to sacrifice coverage elsewhere and double-team him down the field.
The first of two Green Bay Packers wide receivers to break our top 10, Jordy Nelson is reminding Packer fans of 2011, when the wideout accumulated 1,263 receiving yards and caught 15 touchdown passes.
Nelson underwent knee surgery on a few weeks ago (Aug. 5) but was ready to go for Week 1. He looks to be as healthy as ever, starting the season with 10 receptions, 196 yards and three touchdowns in his first two games. With one of the league's best quarterbacks in Aaron Rodgers, Nelson will have a bevy of opportunities to run past defenses.
Yahoo! Sports had him ranked as the 22nd-best fantasy wide receiver at the beginning of the year, and he has now jumped to the fourth best. Impressive, but not quite the unexpected jump that our next wide receiver made.
Eddie Royal was the 92nd-best available fantasy wide receiver option to start the year. He is now No. 3.
He has already tied his season-high touchdown total with a league-leading five scores—but he has played in just two games. He does not find himself higher in this ranking, because he is not exactly "intimidating." At just 5'10" 185 lbs. Royal does not strike fear in the eyes of the defense, but what he lacks in physical stature he makes up for in speed and red-zone domination.
To boot, former Pro Bowl quarterback Philip Rivers will make the diminutive receiver that much better. As it stands, he is the most efficient receiver because he leads the league in receiving touchdowns on just 10 receptions, scoring half the time he catches the ball.
Randall Cobb is the other Green Bay Packers wide receiver on our list.
He manages to squeak ahead of teammate Jordy Nelson, because although he has one fewer touchdown than Nelson, he has 40 more yards, six more catches and a more "intimidating" skill set.
Starting the season as the projected 10th-best fantasy wide receiver according to Yahoo! Sports, Cobb has jumped to become the fifth best. Like Nelson, Cobb will benefit from quarterback Aaron Rodgers' relentless air attack, not to mention the threat of Nelson at his side.
Look for the duo of Nelson and Cobb to keep putting up impressive numbers as long as Rodgers is still a beast under center.
This season he has 13 receptions, 236 yards and three touchdowns and has jumped from the eighth-best fantasy wide receiver to No. 2. With 1,000-yard seasons in his each of his first two years in the league, Cruz brings a swagger to his game that opposing defenses are well aware of.
The only receiver on our list to make Yahoo! Sports' fantasy team look like absolute geniuses, the Atlanta Falcons' Julio Jones was projected as the sixth-best fantasy wide receiver and is exactly that after two games. With quarterback Matt Ryan throwing him the ball, Jones is set to have another great year in Atlanta, as his 18 receptions, 236 yards, and three touchdowns through two games attest.
At 6' 3" 220 lbs., Jones can overpower smaller cornerbacks and outrun them if need be.
With 297 yards after two games, Philadelphia Eagles wide receiver DeSean Jackson was averaging 148.5 yards, significantly ahead of second place Julio Jones' 129 per game. Projected by Yahoo! Sports to be the 23rd-best fantasy wide receiver, after Week 2 he emerged as the best, beating out Victor Cruz for the No. 1 spot by just 0.2 fantasy points (two yards).
His 14 receptions for first downs were three ahead of the nearest wideout. He looks to be working well with quarterback Michael Vick, and despite the team's struggles over the past two games, Jackson seems to be on pace for the third 1,000-yard season of his career.