1. Andre Johnson - Definition of an elite fantasy wideout. His stats last year put him head and shoulders above all other wide receivers in the NFL. If there is a "sure thing" in fantasy football, it's this guy.
2. Randy Moss - Reports out of training camp have Moss and Brady clicking like they did back in '07. I doubt we'll see 1500 yards and 23 touchdowns again, but both these guys are out to prove something this year, which means big fantasy production each week.
3. Roddy White - Consistent production of over 1100 yards in each of the last three years. His touchdowns have also increased each season, and with Matt Ryan coming back healthy for his 3rd season, White could explode this year.
4. Miles Austin - He didn't show up until week 5 against Kansas City last year, but even with that abbreviated season of essentially 12 games, he still ranked 3rd overall among fantasy wideouts. Even late in the season, when every team in the NFL knew they had to guard against him like a no. 1, he still put up big numbers, so I'm not buying the idea that defenses are magically going to start covering him this year and cut into his production.
5. Reggie Wayne - Reggie put up big numbers at the start of the season, but his numbers started to taper off towards the end as Pierre Garcon and Austin Collie started to emerge and take away targets. With the return of Anthony Gonzalez, the receiving corps in Indy is more crowded than ever, but, there's also a lot of good to go around. Peyton will throw his way often, and Reggie Wayne should add yet another big season. After all, he's eclipsed 1000 yards in each of his last 6 seasons.
6. Brandon Marshall - The switch to Miami may worry some, but consider this: He's had over 1000 yards in each of the last 3 seasons, and if you're going to try to sell me on Jay Cutler and Kyle Orton (the guys throwing to him in those 3 seasons in Denver) as being elite quarterbacks, I'm not buying. Just like last year, there will be some weeks where he frustrates you, but there will be others where he pays off in a big way.
7. Desean Jackson - Don't let Kevin Kolb's first year starting scare you away - Jackson had over 100 yards receiving and a touchdown in each of the games Kolb started last year (weeks 2 and 3 against the Chiefs and Saints). He's always a threat for the big play, and he should put up big numbers all season.
8. Calvin Johnson - His upside his high, but as last year showed, his downside is also very low. 2008 was big, but 2009 was painful. This year should be better, with he and Stafford both healthier. Stafford's also in his second season, and the Lions added Nate Burleson opposite, which should help divert some attention away. However, it seems like every year we hear that same old line, "the Lions look great on paper this year, but..." We'll just have to see what happens when the season gets under way.
9. Larry Fitzgerald - Like Calvin Johnson last year, Fitzgerald's production will likely take a hit with Matt Leinart now under center in Arizona. Fitz will still put up numbers some weeks, but I expect it'll take a few weeks for Leinart to get comfortable in the starting role. If these two can get in sync, and Leinart can fix the accuracy issues that have plagued him thus far in the NFL, Fitz will put up big numbers. If not, Fitz's yards and touchdowns will suffer.
10. Steve Smith (Car) - He should produce solid numbers this year. There are a lot of questions surrounding him this year, especially at quarterback. Then again, he managed to put up solid numbers with Jake Delhomme throwing to him last year, so whether it's Matt Moore or Jimmy Clausen, Steve Smith will be targeted heavily and catch enough to justify a starting spot on any roster.
11. Steve Smith (NYG) - The "other" Steve Smith established himself as Eli Manning's favorite target last year, putting up big numbers early in the season. However, while the Panthers' Smith lacks players to divert attention from him, the Giants' receiving corps is filled with lots of young, talented wideouts, which will chip away at Smith's targets just like they did last year.
12. Chad Ochocinco - The addition of Terrell Owens helps Ochocinco out by pulling away some of the defensive pressure. However, in the pre-season thus far, it's been Owens who's played like a no. 1 receiver. Of course, it's just the pre-season, and I expect that to change when the regular season starts. Either way, he's eclipsed 1000 yards in every season where he's played all 16 games, and there's good reason to expect the same again this year.
13. Greg Jennings - The good part about last year: over 1000 yards receiving for the second straight season. The bad part about last year: only four touchdowns. Bottom line: Green Bay passes a lot, but they also spread it around. That being said, Greg Jennings should still put up solid numbers.
14. Marques Colston - Just too many weapons in that New Orleans offense for any one to emerge as a guarantee week-in, week-out. That lands Colston in WR2 territory, but as a WR2, you could do a lot worse.
15. Anquan Boldin - Yes, Boldin's move to Baltimore moves him out of Larry Fitzgerald's shadow. No, it doesn't magically make him Larry Fitzgerald. It also doesn't change the fact that in 7 seasons, he's only played all 16 games twice.
16. Wes Welker - His recovery from last year's ACL injury has been astonishing. Welker looks to be back healthy again, and while there are always concerns when a receiver comes back from a knee injury, Welker's work ethic has moved his rehab along nicely. Expect another big season from him this year, provided he stays healthy.
17. Johnny Knox - Knox has emerged in camp as the Bears' clear number 1 receiver. And while he may not have the size of other wideouts, he definitely has the speed. Speedy wideouts do well in Mike Martz's offenses, where the field gets spread out and big plays are likely. Knox has a lot of upside potential this year, and if he capitalizes on that, it'll translate into big numbers in fantasy.
18. Malcolm Floyd - With Vincent Jackson's off-season drama (4-game suspension and a contract holdout), the starting wideout roll in the pass-happy Chargers offense falls to Malcolm Floyd. He's got to prove he can carry the load, but he's looked good in the pre-season, and I expect he'll make his owners very happy this season.
19. Mike Wallace - Two things we've learned about the Steelers thus far in the pre-season: Mike Wallace is the no. 1 wideout now that Santonio Holmes is gone (not Hines Ward), and Byron Leftwich will be able to get the long ball to him just fine while Big Ben starts the season on suspension. Wallace made the most of the limited targets he received last year. This year, more targets will mean more production.
20. Mike Sims-Walker - Sims-Walker emerged as David Garrard's favorite target last year, but it was very hot and cold - specifically, hot at home, cold on the road. He still makes for a solid WR2 option, but be aware that his inconsistent production, combined with injury concerns could give his owners headaches this year.
21. Michael Crabtree - Crabtree's the no. 1 guy on his team... But that team is the San Francisco 49ers, and their quarterback is Alex Smith. With the drama of his rookie season behind him (and a full training camp under his belt), Crabtree should have a much better season than last year - it's really just a question of how high that ceiling goes.
22. Pierre Garcon - This is the first guy on this list who isn't the no. 1 on his team, but of all the no. 2 receivers in the lead, Garcon has the biggest upside. He can stretch the field, and while he won't pass Reggie Wayne on the depth chart, his big play potential makes him a worthy WR2 option every week. Look no further than his stellar post-season performance of 11 receptions, 151 yards, and a TD for an example of how high the ceiling could be on this guy.
23. Hines Ward - As I said above, Mike Wallace is the no. 1 deep threat, but Hines Ward will still see his share of targets, and his sure hands will catch a lot of them. His value increases substantially in PPR leagues, where his high reception totals will make up for his relatively modest touchdowns (6 or 7 in each of the past 4 seasons).
24. Santana Moss - He's finally got a quarterback who can throw it to him! Before you bust out the party balloons and confetti, remember that it's still the Redskins. Yes, Donovan McNabb's presence means that Moss is essentially guaranteed to improve on his disappointing 2009 season. His ceiling's only so high, though, so be realistic about your expectations this year.
25. Bernard Berrian - With Sidney Rice out for a minimum of six weeks and Percy Harvin battling migraines, Berrian's value has taken a huge jump. He'll be either the no. 1 or no. 2 wideout in Minnesota, depending on Harvin's week-to-week status. Don't expect to get the same production out of Berrian that you would out of a healthy Sidney Rice (Berrian's never eclipsed 1,000 yards in a single season), but having a shot at being Brett Favre's number one target definitely gives him some upside.
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