Fantasy Football WR Rankings: Hakeem Nicks, Michael Crabtree the Next Big Thing

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Fantasy Football WR Rankings: Hakeem Nicks, Michael Crabtree the Next Big Thing
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Here’s the final installment of this round of my updated fantasy football player rankings. With the quarterbacks , running backs , and tight ends already covered, this time we look at the wide receiver position.

There are some significant movements in the rankings. In the top 20, we see Larry Fitzgerald now cracking the top five, Brandon Marshall dropping out of the top 10, DeSean Jackson barely holding on to his ranking in the top 10, and Hines Ward and Santonio Holmes seeing significant movement due to Holmes’s trade to the Jets.

Lower in the rankings, Wes Welker drops due to injury concerns, Mike Wallace has his fantasy value solidified, Santana Moss moves way up, and Jerricho Cotchery and Roy Williams see their fantasy values plummet.

The biggest developments since my initial rankings , published in early March, were as follows:

  • Brandon Marshall traded to the Miami Dolphins,
  • Santonio Holmes moving to the Jets,
  • Donovan McNabb traded to the Washington Redskins,
  • Ben Roethlisberger ’s four-to-six game suspension, and
  • Jason Campbell traded to the Oakland Raiders.

The only potential major issues to be resolved before training camp are where Terrell Owens lands and if Chargers wide receiver Vincent Jackson is suspended.

Each player’s prior ranking is noted in parentheses after the current ranking.

 

1. (1) Andre Johnson , HOU

Has topped 1,500 yards and eight touchdowns in each of the last two seasons. He’s the consensus No. 1 wide receiver for fantasy purposes and I fully expect every ranking to have him here. If not, find a ranking by a sane person.

 

2. (2) Randy Moss , NE

Wes Welker figures to miss at least a portion of the season, so Moss will get plenty of targets and he’s still a threat in the red zone and on deep plays. Unless he pouts, Moss is pretty much guaranteed production.

 

3. (3) Roddy White , ATL

Matt Ryan and the Falcons offense should improve on a somewhat disappointing 2009 season and White figures to benefit.

 

4. (4) Miles Austin , DAL

You could make the case that the presence of first-round pick Dez Bryant will cut into Austin’s production, but Roy Williams figures to lose out from that more than Austin. Bit of a risk because 2009 was a breakout season but he’s obviously Tony Romo ’s go-to guy in a solid offense.

 

5. (11) Larry Fitzgerald , ARI

Moves up six spots but still a risk with Matt Leinart and Derek Anderson atop the depth chart at quarterback. Fitz benefits from others moving down.

 

6. (8) Calvin Johnson , DET

The Lions offense should be more explosive with the addition of running back Jahvid Best, and Johnson figures to benefit in the touchdown department. In fact, the Lions offense could surprise in 2010 so Johnson should be considered a bit of a buy low option.

 

7. (9) Greg Jennings , GB

Dropped to four touchdowns after scoring 21 during the 2007 and 2008 seasons but expect a rebound in 2010.

 

8. (10) Marques Colston , NO

Mike Bell is gone so maybe the Saints will pass it even more in 2010. Either way, Colston looks like a sure bet to finish in the top 10.

 

9. (7) Vincent Jackson , SD

If healthy, he’s pretty much guaranteed production. However, monitor his situation since he could be suspended for one or two games due to his off-the-field troubles.

 

10. (6) DeSean Jackson , PHI

Plenty of big plays but moves down a bit with the trade of Donovan McNabb. I like Kevin Kolb but expect a slight drop-off from what McNabb would have accomplished this year in Philly.

 

11. (12) Reggie Wayne , IND

Really slumped during the last seven games of 2009 with 385 yards and two touchdowns, which may be a signal that he’s slowing down a bit. The emergence of Pierre Garcon and Austin Collie , coupled with the return of Anthony Gonzalez, figures to impact his production as well.

 

12. (5) Brandon Marshall , DEN

Simply put, the Dolphins offense runs the ball too much and Chad Henne is too green to put a Dolphins receiver, even one as talented as Marshall, in the top 10. Sometimes, it’s that simple.

 

13. (13) Sidney Rice , MIN

Bit of a risk due to his breakout performance in 2009 but one I’m willing to take at this point, especially with expectations of Favre returning in 2010.

 

14. (16) Anquan Boldin , BAL

If he’s healthy, chalk him up for 8-10 touchdowns and over 1,000 yards. Don’t believe the hype that he produced in Arizona only because he had Fitzgerald opposite him.

 

15. (15) Hakeem Nicks , NYG

Younger version of Boldin, he had 115 fantasy points on only 74 targets, ranking him fifth in fantasy points per target in the league last season (minimum 45 targets), showing how explosive he is. The Giants are sure to have him more involved in 2010.

 

16. (17) Chad Ochocinco , CIN

A year older, but Antonio Bryant won’t cut into his production and they didn’t add anything in the draft that would reduce his role.

 

17. (20) Steve Smith , NYG

Two Giants in the top 17. Yikes!

 

18. (18) Michael Crabtree , SF

No change for Crabtree but less risk and more upside potential with the addition of two offensive lineman being taken in the first round.

 

19. (22) Steve Smith , CAR

Up three spots but a bit more risk if rookie Jimmy Clausen takes over for Matt Moore midseason.

 

20. (26) Hines Ward , PIT

Loses with the Roethlisberger suspension but gains targets with Holmes departing for the Jets.

 

21. (21) Percy Harvin , MIN

More convinced than ever that he’s the real deal. Upside at this point but hard to have him higher in the rankings.

 

22. (19) Mike Sims-Walker , JAC

Talented player who lacks consistency. However, little risk given he’s clearly the top wide receiver in Jacksonville.

 

23. (23) Dwayne Bowe , KC

Needs to get it together and stay out of Todd Haley’s doghouse. Next screw up could cost him a 16-game suspension.

 

24. (24) Donald Driver , GB

Only had 185 yards and no touchdowns during the last four regular season games of 2009 so there are some signs he’s slowing down. However, that risk is offset due to his prominence in Green Bay’s solid offense.

 

25. (28) Mike Wallace , PIT

I liked him before the Holmes trade and I love him now, even with the Roethlisberger suspension. Wallace had an explosive rookie year with 756 yards and six touchdowns, and certainly made the Steelers’ decision to turf Holmes much easier.

 

26. (38) Braylon Edwards , NYJ

Why is he up 12 spots even with the Holmes addition? I guess I figure the Jets offense will be more explosive in 2010 and he will benefit in the touchdown department. I still have him projected for under 1,000 yards, however.

 

27. (33) Robert Meachem , NO

Has all the tools and major upside playing in the Saints offense. Look for an increased role for Meachem at the expense of Devery Henderson. Recent toe surgery increases Meachem’s risk.

 

28. (29) Kenny Britt , TEN

Coming off a nice rookie season with over 700 yards and three touchdowns, but with reports that he was so out of shape that the Titans refused to let him practice, apparently it’s gone to his head. Add a risk factor to this second-year player.

 

29. (34) Malcom Floyd , SD

Another case of a player benefiting from an addition on offense, in this case rookie running back Ryan Mathews . The Chargers love tall, physical receivers and that description fits Floyd.

 

30. (25) Jeremy Maclin , PHI

I like Maclin and think he will be a star but he moves down with Kolb taking over at quarterback.

 

31. (32) Devin Aromashodu , CHI

Earl Bennett is a little slow, Johnny Knox is a little small, and new offensive coordinator Mike Martz has said Devin Hester is best suited for the slot. Although head coach Love Smith disputed Martz’s version of where Hester will line up, Martz is nothing if not stubborn. Add it all up and Aromashodu is the guy I’m gambling on to benefit from Martz’s presence in Chicago.

 

32. (31) Steve Breasto , ARI

Moves into the starting lineup with Boldin’s departure but I expect Larry Fitzgerald and Early Doucet to get more red zone looks which limits his upside.

 

33. (27) Wes Welker , NE

It now appears that Welker will miss time in 2010 so he’s moving down, but watch for rehab updates and don’t wait too long to grab him, especially in PPR leagues.

 

34. (36) Mario Manningham , NYG

If Steve Smith is the real deal (more likely than not), then Manningham has limited upside given Hakeem Nicks is all but guaranteed a starting spot. He is definitely worth taking a flier on though.

 

35. (35) Nate Burleson , DET

 

36. (51) Santana Moss , WAS

Moves up a whopping 15 spots courtesy of the Redskins' acquisition of Donovan McNabb and rookie offensive tackle Trent Williams .

 

37. (39) Pierre Garcon , IND

Coming off a solid season, but he and Peyton Manning were clearly not always on the same page, hence his completion rate of 51 percent, as opposed to Manning’s overall rate of 68.8 percent. The Colts prefer reliability and Anthony Gonzalez may bring more of it, which would limit Garcon’s upside unless he hits the playbook hard.

 

38. (41) Derrick Mason , BAL

Up a little but there’s no reason to think he will reprise his role from previous seasons because he and Boldin are similar players, only Boldin is bigger, stronger, and faster.

 

39. (14) Santonio Holmes , PIT

Most significant drop in the rankings due to his trade to the Jets and subsequent four-game suspension. Buy low and hope he contributes heavily over 12 games.

 

40. (43) Anthony Gonzalez , IND

I like his game but Garcon deserves playing time outside and Collie deserves playing time in the slot. However, he’s a solid option for Manning who has caught 71.8 percent of the passes thrown his way during his first three years in the league.

 

41. (40) Lee Evans , BUF

No upgrade at quarterback, so no upgrade for Evans.

 

42. (44) Devery Henderson , NO

What you see is what you get. In six years, the highest fantasy points per game he earned is 8.0. There’s no reason for him to surpass that in 2010.

 

43. (45) Mohamed Massaquoi , CLE

He was productive as a rookie and has some upside but only a little upside given the Browns quarterback situation and anaemic passing attack.

 

44. (37) T.J. Houshmandzadeh , SEA

Down seven spots due to rookie Golden Tate’s presence in the lineup.

 

45. (46) Chris Chambers , KC

 

46. (NR) Golden Tate , SEA

Our first rookie wide receiver, Tate has a solid opportunity to get playing time in Seattle. If only the quarterback situation were more stable.

 

47. (42) Earl Bennett , CHI

Definitely not the prototypical wide receiver for a Martz offense given his lack of speed.

 

48. (49) Chaz Schilens , OAK

On the plus side, the Raiders figure to be better at quarterback with Jason Campbell and he is Oakland’s best receiver. On the minus side, he recently had follow-up surgery on his left foot which he broke last August.

 

49. (50) Early Doucet , ARI

Doucet looks the part but has been inconsistent in Arizona. However, he has ability and could surprise. Doucet represents solid sleeper material.

 

50. (NR) Dez Bryant , DAL

Cowboys rookie has Pro Bowl potential but giving up his lunch during his first OTA was not encouraging. If he can beat out Roy Williams, he moves way up.

 

51. (57) Eddie Royal , DEN

What a fantasy roller coaster of an offseason for Royal. Huge fantasy disappointment in 2009 kept him down in the rankings, the Brandon Marshall trade moved him back into the low 30s, and the acquisitions of Demaryius Thomas and Eric Decker in the draft leave him at 51, up six spots.

 

52. (30) Jerricho Cotchery , NYJ

Solid player but way down due to the Holmes trade.

 

53. (52) Kevin Walter , HOU

Could benefit if Owen Daniels is slow to recover from a torn ACL.

 

54. (47) Antonio Bryant , CIN

Bryant is mercurial, the Bengals don’t throw it a lot, and they have a pile of wide receivers.

 

55. (NR) Demaryius Thomas , DEN

Head coach Josh McDaniels clearly has no use for any player he didn’t bring in so Thomas figures to get plenty of playing time. Unfortunately, he might be catching (or trying to catch) passes from Tim Tebow by midseason.

 

56. (54) Devin Thomas , WAS

It’s nice that Donovan McNabb is in town but not so nice that the Redskins are loading up on journeyman retread wide receivers. Not a sign of confidence in Thomas and fellow third-year wideout Malcolm Kelly.

 

57. (48) Donnie Avery , STL

Avery here is proof that love is not always blind. Hence, this Rams fan puts the first Rams wide receiver in the rankings way down at 57.

 

58. (55) Josh Morgan , SF

Look for Crabtree and tight end Vernon Davis to get most of the targets in 2010.

 

59. (NR) Arrelious Benn , TB

Guaranteed a spot on opening day, but also guaranteed to be average with Josh Freeman at quarterback. Check back in 2011.

 

60. (59) Jacoby Jones , HOU

Texans head coach Gary Kubiak says he loves Jones’s potential. If that’s the case, why did they sign Kevin Walter to a lucrative long-term contract?

 

61. (70) Malcolm Kelly , WAS

Why is he up nine spots? Good question.

 

62. (60) Jason Avant , PHI

Has improved in each of his four years in the league but unlikely to supplant Jackson or Maclin.

 

63. (62) Johnny Knox , CHI

Monitor him to see if he cracks the starting lineup.

 

64. (63) Bernard Berrian , MIN

I don’t like him, never have, and Rice and Harvin are too good not to get the targets.

 

65. (64) Devin Hester , CHI

Upon further reflection, Hester really didn’t show much last year and now he has to learn the Martz offense.

 

66. (NR) Greg Camarillo , MIA

Probably the best option on the outside opposite Marshall.

 

67. (68) Laurent Robinson , STL

Was pretty good for two games last year before getting hurt.

 

68. (65) James Jones , GB

Looks like he’s solidified his spot ahead of Jordy Nelson .

 

69. (56) Roy Williams , DAL

Here’s the thing—when you catch 44.2 percent of the passes thrown your way, your team may use its first-round pick on a wide receiver to replace you and then your fantasy value plummets, even if you were considered top-20 fantasy material a year ago.

 

70. (67) Brandon Gibson , STL

I like his game. Gibson showed some potential as a possession receiver and rookie quarterback Sam Bradford is going to need a security blanket. Maybe he surprises in PPR leagues.

 

The following players dropped off the rankings from last time:

NR (53) Davone Bess , MIA
NR (58) Mike Thomas , JAC
NR (61) Deion Branch , SEA
NR (66) Nate Washington , TEN
NR (69) Patrick Crayton , DAL


Dave Stringer is the head fantasy football contributor at DraftBuddy.com , home of the popular Cheatsheet Compiler & Draft Buddy custom cheatsheet and draft tracking tool.

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