Week 3 WR Fantasy Rankings: Top 30 Analysis Offers Surprises You Should Start

Jeremy Alpert@@pyroman1acSenior Analyst IISeptember 23, 2011

Week 3 WR Player Rankings

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30. Mike Sims-Walker (vs Bal)

 Sims-Walker was targeted a massive 11 times last Monday night which he turned into six catches for 92 yards. Baltimore still has a formidable defense, especially against the rush, so with Steven Jackson still on the mend, I expect Bradford to pass the ball over 40 times again this weekend. If that happens, MSW could be in for another nice fantasy day.


29. Robert Meachem (vs Hou)

 Meachem has actually looked pretty darn good this season. With Marques Colston still on the sidelines nursing an injury, Meach should be able to continue his recent success—especially with this game looking like a possible shootout in the making.

He’s caught a TD in each of the Saints first two games, and there’s nothing that says he can’t do it for a third week in a row. Start him as your WR3 and hope for his upside to grab hold.

28. Nate Burleson (@ Min)

 With all the attention opposing defenses are paying to Megatron, Burleson has emerged as a go-to guy for Stafford through the first two weeks. He may not have a touchdown to show for it yet, but he leads the team in targets, receptions and yards so far and might not slow down all year long.

Indoors against a beatable Vikings pass D, Nate should be able to have himself another nice showing for fantasy owners.


27. Reggie Wayne (vs Pit)

 Even though the Colts offense is looking rather putrid, Reggie Wayne’s talent continues to shine through. It’s tough when you have a weak-armed gray-beard like Kerry Collins throwing to you, but Reggie has found a way to squeeze out some nice fantasy points anyway.

I can’t help but think that Pittsburgh is going to knock Collins out of this game, so let’s hope Reggie finds a little fantasy magic before that happens.


26. Jordy Nelson (@ Chi)

 Nelson is clearly the WR2 on the Packers at this point and should be considered at least a WR3, if not a WR2 going forward. So far this season, Jordy leads the team in receiving yards (161), is tied in TDs (2) and is second in targets from Aaron Rodgers (10).

CHARLOTTE, NC - SEPTEMBER 18:   Jordy Nelson #87 of the Green Bay Packers runs for a touchdown against the Carolina Panthers during their game at Bank of America Stadium on September 18, 2011 in Charlotte, North Carolina.  (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty I
Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

The reason I have him ranked so low this week is because the Bears have kept the Packers passing game in check the last few seasons, but that could change with both their starting safeties out with injuries.

Whatever the case, this is Aaron Rodgers we’re talking about, so start Nelson as your WR3 and hope for the bigtime upside in this one.


25. Deion Branch (@ Buf)

 The older he gets, the better Deion Branch looks. Of course, Tom Brady and the Patriots' offensive machine could have something to do with it, but you can’t ignore the fact that Branch has caught 15 of the 19 passes thrown his way (tied for second in the NFL) and turned them into 222 yards (sixth in the NFL) so far.

If this game turns into a point-scoring free-for-all like it should, Branch will have a good chance at catching his first TD of the season come Sunday.


24. Julio Jones (@ TB)

 If the Buccaneers stick CB Aqid Talib on Roddy White all day long, Julio could be poised for a breakout game this Sunday.

Last season, in their first matchup, the Falcons' WR2 (Michael Jenkins) had more yards than Roddy over the course of the game. In the second one, it was Jenkins who caught a TD pass, not Roddy.

If the trend sticks in their rivalry this season, Jones could very easily out-produce White in this one.


23. A.J. Green (vs SF)

 The A.J. Green everyone was talking about before the season showed up in a big way last weekend against the Donkeys. 10 catches on 14 targets for 124 yards and a TD are awesome numbers for ANY wide receiver—especially a rookie.

The 49ers pass D has taken a beating thus far, giving up five TDs and 291 yards a game through two weeks, so Green looks primed for another nice fantasy game this Sunday.


22. Brandon Marshall (@ Cle)

 Marshall is looking more and more like the beast he is each week that goes in the books. That five-yard stiff-arm he put to Houston CB Jason Allen pushing him into the end zone last weekend was priceless and worth watching again when you get the chance. Not surprisingly, “Baby T.O.” is tied for the league lead in targets once again and will continue to head up the charts all season long.

Cleveland, however, has been lights out against the pass thus far (though it has only played against a 39-year old Kerry Collins and rookie Andy Dalton) with Joe Haden taking care of the opposing team’s top receiver. Marshall could have a bit of trouble with Haden guarding him this weekend, but with what he's shown, you really have to start him regardless.

SAN FRANCISCO - NOVEMBER 21:  Mike Williams #19 of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers celebrates after he scored a touchdown against the San Francisco 49ers at Candlestick Park on November 21, 2010 in San Francisco, California.  (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

21. Hakeem Nicks (@ Phi)

 Nicks is obviously one of the best young receivers in the game today, but can his superior skills and freakishly large hands catch enough passes to make a difference against this Philly secondary?

The Eagles have already stifled Roddy White, Julio Jones and all the Rams' crap receivers, though Roddy did come away with a short TD, so Nicks has a chance. I understand how tough it is to actually sit a guy like Nicks, and I’m not saying you should, but don’t expect much better than borderline WR2/WR3 numbers this week.


20. Anquan Boldin (@ StL)

 Boldin is still an all-world talent out there on the field, but his lack of consistency has become maddening for fantasy owners. Trying to figure out which week he’ll put up numbers for you is akin to flipping a coin at this point.

That said, against a Rams defense that can get to the QB in a hurry, I foresee the Ravens and Joe Flacco going with more three- and five-step drops this Sunday in order to counteract the rush, so Boldin could be looking at a lot of quick slants in this one. ‘Quan is still lethal with the ball in his hands, so I’m cautiously optimistic about his fantasy chances here.


EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - DECEMBER 19: Jeremy Maclin #18 of the Philadelphia Eagles scores a touchdown against Antrel Rolle #26  of the New York Giants during their game on December 19, 2010 at The New Meadowlands Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey.  (Pho
Al Bello/Getty Images

19. Percy Harvin (vs Det)

 Harvin continues to be underused in this Vikings offense; though it seems the coaching staff at least knows it. Minnesota is 0-2 at this point and if it wants to at least stay in the playoff hunt, it’ll have to figure out a way to get Harvin the ball more.

His playmaking ability is off the charts, so if McNabb can somehow find a way to get him the ball at least 10 times this Sunday, Percy should be able to use his indoors talent to get into the end zone against a Lions D he normally does well against.


18. Brandon Lloyd (@ Ten)

 After missing last week’s contest against the Bengals, you can bet the Broncos' WR1 is just itching to get back out there.

Lloyd is still Kyle Orton’s favorite target (he had 11 of them in Week 1), so you know he’ll get the chance to put up big numbers. Last season, Brandon had a career-high 11 receptions against the Titans (for 115 yards) and though I doubt he repeats that number, it’s not outside the realm of possibility.


17. Wes Welker (@ Buf)

 Is this kid ever going to slow down? As long as he’s in a New England uniform with Brady throwing him the ball, the answer is ‘not likely.’

SEATTLE , WA - OCTOBER 18:  Larry Fitzgerald #11 of the Arizona Cardinals runs the ball against the Seattle Seahawks at Qwest Field on October 18, 2009 in Seattle, Washington.  (Photo by Jonathan Ferrey/Getty Images)
Jonathan Ferrey/Getty Images

Welker currently sits at fourth in the league in fantasy points and is tied for the second-most catches with 15. Buffalo has held him in check pretty well the last few years, but I don’t see them doing it again this Sunday with the Patriots passing offense looking unstoppable.


16. Santana Moss (@ Dal)

 32-year-old Santana Moss has become one of the more consistent wide receivers in the game in his old age and should have no problem putting up nice fantasy numbers against a relatively weak Dallas secondary.

Last season against the Cowboys, Santana had a combined 14 catches for 149 yards and two TDs in the two games these inter-division rivals hooked up. An average of those numbers (seven catches, 75 yards and one TD) looks about right for Moss this Monday night.


15. Steve Johnson (vs NE)

 If you haven’t seen this kid play, find a way to do so. He’s a TON of fun to watch and has become one of the best up-and-coming receivers in the game.

Ryan Fitzpatrick absolutely loves tossing him the pill, as evidenced by his 20 targets so far this year after seeing 142 of them in 2010. With Buffalo and New England being two of the top three scoring offenses in the league, this game has a real good probability of becoming a high-scoring affair, so Johnson should be good for at least WR2 numbers with an upside much better than that.

14. DeSean Jackson (vs NYG)

 D-Jax was held in check pretty well by the Giants last season, holding him to zero touchdowns and an average of just four catches for 51 yards in their two meetings. However, the year before, Jackson went off for two TDs and a total of 256 yards on nine receptions.

Which one will show up this time around?

With Jeremy Maclin obviously back at full force and demanding the ball, I’m guessing somewhere in the middle for DeSean—especially with the Giants secondary still in a bit of disarray.


13. Santonio Holmes (@ Oak)

 Oakland has allowed the second most catches to opposing wide receivers so far this year (35 recs), so Santonio should be good for at least five or six. He’s tied for the team lead in targets so far with 14 (Dustin Keller) so you know he’ll at least have the opportunity to do some damage.

For some reason, even though Oakland’s defense can be rushed on, opposing teams have attempted the second fewest rushes against them this season. If the Jets turn to the pass like other teams have, Holmes could end up with WR1 numbers.


12. Mike Williams – TB (vs Atl)

 Mike Williams is looking for his breakout game of 2011 and going up against the inter-division Falcons this Sunday, he just might get it.

Much like last season, the Falcons have been passed on all over the place. In 2010, Williams averaged 74 yards while grabbing a TD in each of the two games against Atlanta—numbers I can see him repeating at home this Sunday.


11. Roddy White (@ TB)

 The writing was on the wall before the season began that Roddy was going to see a drop-off in every statistical category due to the presence of Julio Jones. Little did we know that his numbers would actually be sliced in half!

Last year at this point, Roddy had 20 catches on 35 targets for 189 yards and a TD. This season: 11 catches, 17 targets, 84 yards and one TD.

Granted, the Falcons have played two very tough pass defenses so far, so things will get better, but don’t expect the same gaudy numbers White put up last season. Playing in Tampa this weekend, the Falcons may need to turn to the pass at some point so I expect Roddy will end up being good for fringe WR1 stats on the day.


10. Jeremy Maclin (vs NYG)

 WOW! What a game Maclin put up against the Falcons last weekend! Jeremy set career-highs in every statistical category, getting 15 targets while catching 13 balls for 171 yards. He also tied his career-high with two TDs to boot.  However, it’s a new week, though I’m betting on Maclin shining once again.

Last year, J-Mac averaged 12.5 targets which he turned into an average of eight catches for 89.5 yards and one TD against the Giants. New York still has a battered secondary out there and without Osi Umenyiora back in the lineup just yet, Vick should have enough time to find him in the secondary.

Play him as a fringe WR1 this week.


9. Dez Bryant (vs Was)

 With Miles Austin out for this game and Felix Jones also a bit banged up, guess who will be looked at to produce a big play or two?  Dez Bryant, that’s who. Jason Witten will undoubtedly get a truckload of targets as well, but Bryant will be the one stretching the field against a highly overrated DeAngelo Hall.

Bryant and Tony Romo may be a bit banged up themselves, but the best of the best tend to excel in these situations, which is exactly what these two will do.


8. Steve Smith – Car (vs Jax)

 With Stevie Smith playing like a man possessed out there, I feel like I’ve been jettisoned back into the middle of the last decade watching him play. Not only is he still fast as hell, but it looks like he may even be a bit quicker than he was in his mid-20s!

Jacksonville has a tendency to give up the big play, something Cam Newton and Smitty seem to have real knack for. I’m not totally sold on this combo just yet, but one more big game between the two and I’m in.


7. Greg Jennings (@ Chi)

 Jennings has a touchdown in four of his last six regular season games against the Bears and could very well get another one this weekend. Chicago is a bit banged up in its secondary right now and won’t be able to double Jennings due to Jordy Nelson breaking out of late.

The Packers will want to make a statement in this game, letting the Bears know this is their division to lose despite the final standings last season. I expect Rodgers to use Greg heavily on Sunday.


6. Larry Fitzgerald (@ Sea)

 It was nice to see Fitz have a monster game last weekend when he put up 133 yards on seven catches with a 73-yard TD. This week, Larry gets to play the lowly Seahawks, a team he’s averaged 6.3 receptions and 82.7 yards against in 14 games to go along with nine TDs.

Seattle has let opposing QBs tally a 106.4 QB rating against it so far this year, so Fitz and the Cardinals should be able to do what they want.


5. Mike Wallace (@ Ind)

 Mike Wallace and Ben Roethlisberger might have the best rapport in the league at this point, especially with Wallace becoming more of an all-around receiver instead of just a speedster.

In 14 games since Big Ben came off his suspension last season, Wallace has caught 67 receptions on 103 targets for a measly 1,279 yards and nine TDs. Not too shabby, eh?

I expect big things again this weekend as the Steelers play indoors where Wallace can really show his speed.


4. Kenny Britt (vs Den)

 Britt’s hamstring acted up again in practice on Wednesday, but he came back Thursday and should be fine to play this weekend.

The 6’3”, 23-year-old man-child has been an absolute beast so far this season and has clearly established himself as Matt Hasselbeck’s first look on nearly every passing play. With Broncos star cornerback, Champ Bailey, unlikely to play on Sunday, look for Kenny to go off once again.


3. Calvin Johnson (@ Min)

 Calvin Johnson is tied for the league lead with four touchdowns this season…on just nine catches?!?! Are you kidding me? Megatron is proving each week why he is one of the most feared wide receivers in the game, and he’ll do so again versus the Vikings come Sunday.

Matthew Stafford is on a serious roll right now and with Minnesota ranking in the bottom 10 in the league in passing yards allowed, I can’t see a way how these two fantasy giants don’t hook up for at least one TD and a whole bunch of yards this weekend.


2. Andre Johnson (@ NO)

 It’s tough to keep Andre out of the No. 1 slot this week, but until I see one of those monster games out of him, I’ll sit him at the 2.

On the other hand, in a game against a high-flying Saints team that has a good probability of becoming a free-for-all shootout in the dome, I may end up regretting it. ’Dre could just as easily put up 160 yards and three TDs.


1. Vincent Jackson (vs KC)

 Kansas City’s defense looks atrocious this season, especially without Eric Berry out there running around in the secondary. V-Jax should be able to have his way in this one as the Chiefs have already given up eight passing TDs in just two weeks (four TD passes each to both Ryan Fitzgerald and Matthew Stafford), two more than any other team in the league.

The Chargers will look to make a statement in this one, so I’m betting they don’t slow down after going up by 28 at the half.


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