Perhaps no position in fantasy football has had more attrition in the last couple of years than wide receiver. Other than a couple of names at the top, some of the biggest, Terrell Owens, Torry Holt , are all but gone, while other big names like Randy Moss and Steve Smith (CAR) are more speculative than in years past. Add to that, quarterback changes, schedule variations and ranking the receivers is arguably the most difficult of all positions and the one that has the most room for error.
Last season new names exploded into fantasy relevance like Sidney Rice and Miles Austin . Will they be fluke performers or are they the next generation of top 10 WR studs?
That said the days of drafting running backs with those first two picks have all but vanished. Now not taking a top wide receiver with one of your top two picks can prove to be a fatal fantasy blow.
With all this in mind let’s take an early look at where we see these fantasy studs landing in 2010.
Tier One ~ Best Bets
RANK PLAYER TEAM BYE ONE LINER 1 Andre Johnson HOU 7 171 targets in 2009 and over 1,500 yards. Enough said. 2 Reggie Wayne IND 7 Is he the second best? No. But his consistency makes him the best pick at this spot. 3 Larry Fitzgerald ARI 6 Losing Warner hurts but you simply can’t doubt his skills. 4 Calvin Johnson DET 7 Some will call this high, but Megatron is a monster waiting to explode and 2010 is calling. 5 Randy Moss NEP 5 His second half wasn’t a good sign in 2009, but he should have one good year left.
Tier Two ~ Relatively safe bets
RANK PLAYER TEAM BYE ONE LINER 6 Roddy White ATL 8 In a down year he still had top 6 fantasy numbers. 7 Brandon Marshall MIA 5 Only five WRs had better per game fantasy numbers in 2009. He’ll have a better year in 2010. 8 Miles Austin DAL 4 Others rank him higher but I want to see him for a full season. The upside is there though. 9 DeSean Jackson PHI 8 Some worry about Kolb at QB but I see it as a boon for Jackson. 10 Steve Smith CAR 6 Last year was ugly but he still has top 5 WR skills. 11 Vincent Jackson SDC 10 Finally breaking out, and he has a soft schedule in 2010. 12 Marques Colston NOS 10 A soft schedule can only help his fantasy consistency at WR. 13 Sidney Rice MIN 4 Favre looks to be back which means Rice should be a top WR again in 2010. 14 Greg Jennings GBP 10 He had a down year for TDs but he should have a bounce back campaign. 15 Anquan Boldin BAL 8 He gets to be the go-to-guy with one of the league’s most underrated QBs.
Tier Three ~ Getting speculative
RANK PLAYER TEAM BYE ONE LINER 16 Michael Crabtree SFO 8 Perhaps a few picks high but his upside is worth it. 17 Hakeem Nicks NYG 9 He is the homerun threat. He is the best of NY’s three big receivers. 18 Steve Smith NYG 9 Where Nicks is the deep threat Smith is Mr. Consistent in the slot. 19 Mike Sims- Walker JAX 9 He surprised everyone in 2009 and he’s the #1 guy in 2010 for the Jags. 20 Chad Ocho Cinco CIN 6 Still the man in Tigerland. 21 Percy Harvin MIN 4 He’s a threat every time he’s on the field, especially in return yardage leagues. 22 Donald Driver GBP 10 As reliable as they come for Aaron Rodgers 23 Robert Meachum NOS 10 Started his breakout last year, should complete it this year. 24 Mike Wallace PIT 5 This is his chance to shine. Holmes is gone, Ward is old. 25 Wes Welker + NEP 5 He’d be 10 picks higher if not for his off-season surgery. We'll wait to see how and when he’ll play.
Tier Four ~ Looking for upside and sleepers
RANK PLAYER TEAM BYE ONE LINER 26 Devin Aromashodu CHI 8 This could be high but Martz plans on making this kid a star and that can only be a good thing for fantasy owners. 27 Dwayne Bowe KCC 4 He’d be higher if he used his hands more than his mouth but still capable of top 15 numbers 28 Jeremy Maclin PHI 8 Look for him to expand on his solid rookie campaign. 29 T.J. Houshmandzadeh SEA 5 Last year he fell off the radar. That could be good for you this year. 30 Pierre Garcon IND 7 You could argue Austin Collie is just as good, but so far Garcon has the leg up. 31 Santana Moss WAS 9 He won’t be on any team I own. 32 Lee Evans BUF 6 No QB but he’ll still pull in his share of balls for the Bills. 33 Eddie Royal DEN 9 He could be a real sleeper after last year’s meltdown. 34 Kenny Britt TEN 9 He is a quality fantasy WR if he can stay focused and continue to develop 35 Braylon Edwards NYJ 7 Santonio Holmes arrival helps Edwards…if he can hang onto the damn ball.
Tier Five ~ Last of the Brohicans and the deep sleep
RANK PLAYER TEAM BYE ONE LINER 36 Hines Ward PIT 5 Who doesn’t love that smile? Still a force 37 Chris Chambers KCC 4 He could wind up better than Bowe this year 38 Antonio Bryant CIN 6 Don’t like him, never will 39 Joshua Cribbs CLE 8 This kid has so much upside but he’s on a weak team 40 Malcom Kelly WAS 9 You could argue Devin Thompson here. It’s a coin flip 41 Santonio Holmes NYJ 7 He’ll have a chip on his shoulder when he shows up 42 Devin Hester CHI 8 He’s still trying to prove his value 43 Derrick Mason BAL Boldin should get the old man open. 100 yards? It could happen 44 Nate Burleson DET 7 Megatron will help get this stealth bomber open 45 Dez Bryant DAL 4 He seems to have moved into the #2 role ahead of Roy Williams 46 Johnny Knox CHI 8 The argument can be made for Earl Bennett here as well. 47 Mario Mannigham NYG The third of New Yorks big three 48 Demaryus Thomas DEN 9 Could easily outplay Eddie Royal 49 Bernard Berrian MIN 4 The often forgotten man for the Vikes 50 Dexter McCluster KCC 4 Mini-Welker is my deep sleeper this season.
Other names to keep in mind; Terrell Owens (FA) will jump into this list when he signs somewhere, Golden Tate (SEA), Donnie Avery and Laurent Robinson (STL), Josh Morgan (SFO), Julian Edelman and Torry Holt (NEP), Mohamed Massoquoi and Brian Robiski (CLE), Arrelious Benn and Mike Williams (TBB), Chaz Schilens (OAK) and of course the Colt’s forgotten man, Anthony Gonzalez (IND)– what can we expect from him this season?
+ Welker’s value drops dramatically if he’s still hurting when the season rolls around and Julian Edelman jumps up.