Wide receiver will be extremely deep in 2013. As teams have gone to more of a passing attack and increased their three and four wide receiver sets, more receivers have produced. When it comes to your draft, I strongly suggest waiting on the prima donnas of the NFL. The league has arguably never had a more talented crop of receivers top to bottom. The difference between fourth and sixth round receivers is minimal compared to fourth and sixth running backs. Be sure to take running backs early and wait on receiver. My suggestion is to key in on receivers that could go a few rounds later and produce like top guys. With that being said, here are my top 50 wide receivers in 2013.
1. Calvin Johnson, DET – In 2011, Megatron absolutely dominated fantasy football, setting career highs in receiving yards with 1,681 and touchdowns with 16. What did Johnson do for an encore? Only shatter Jerry Rice’s single-season receiving yards record with 1,964. Johnson is the first receiver since Rice to lead fantasy football receivers in points back-to-back seasons and it looks like nothing short of injury will stand between Johnson making that a three-peat. Even with the ridiculous numbers he has put up over the past couple seasons, Johnson was tackled on the one yard line just short of TD’s five times last season. With that in mind, Megatron could put up even better numbers this upcoming season.
2. A.J. Green, CIN – If anyone were to challenge Megatron for the title of best receiver in fantasy football it would be A.J. Green. Green has the total package. He has the prototypical size, speed, hands and has become an excellent route runner. Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton may hold Green back a bit with his lack of downfield arm strength but I’m not sure that necessarily matters. The Bengals do a great job of putting Green in position to make plays and that shouldn’t change in 2013.
3. Brandon Marshall, CHI
4. Julio Jones, ATL – I believe this will be the year that Jones makes the big jump and becomes the number one receiver in Atlanta. He’s got all the physical gifts, boasting a 6’4 frame with blazing speed and an incredible ability to get vertical and come down with the ball. If you need evidence of that look no further than this clip during warm-ups his rookie year: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uosTUGDIdx0. Jones will not see double teams like the guys will listed above. There are just too many weapons surrounding him in the ATL. Look for Jones to have a monster year for the Falcons and catch around 70 balls for 1,300 yards.
5. Randall Cobb, GB – There’s a reason the Packers were willing to let longtime Packers receiver Greg Jennings join the rival Vikings. Randall Cobb is that good. Drafted out of Kentucky two years ago, Cobb has already solidified his role as a do everything receiver. Although he primarily plays out of the slot, the Packers will find other ways to get Cobb onto the field. Whether that means going with three-wide receiver sets or Cobb even coming out of the backfield, I expect Cobb to be the focal point in the Packers offense. Cobb will have his fair share of Lambeau Leaps this coming year.
6. Pery Harvin, SEA – Like Cobb, Harvin is another non-traditional receiver. Harvin was traded in the offseason to the Seahawks amid a contract dispute with the Vikings. I love this move for Harvin’s fantasy potential. The upgrade at quarterback from Christian Ponder to Russell Wilson should see an immediate benefit for Harvin. There is little to dislike with Harvin. He’s incredibly shifty and didn’t drop a single ball last season. The one concern with Harvin is his struggle to stay on the field. Harvin only played nine games last season because of an ankle sprain and has also missed time due to migraines and concussions. If Harvin is able to stay on the field, the Seahawks will find ways to get him the ball and he will have a monster season in Seattle.
7. Demaryius Thomas, DEN
8. Dez Bryant, DAL
9. Roddy White, ATL
10. Vincent Jackson, TB
11. Andre Johnson, HOU
12. Wes Welker, DEN – After six record-breaking seasons with Tom Brady, Welker signed with Denver in the offseason to play alongside Brady’s longtime rival Peyton Manning. Welker was a sure bet in the Patriots offense for 100 plus catches and around 1,200 yards. There are more questions surrounding Welker in a Broncos offense that already has two prominent receivers in Demaryius Thomas and Eric Decker. That said, I still believe Welker will put up numbers similar to those he produced in New England.
13. Larry Fitzgerald, ARI – If this were a list based on the most talented receivers, Fitzgerald would be at or near the top. He’s not at the top of this list for the simple fact that the Cardinals have lacked any consistency at quarterback. The Cardinals believe they have found their answer in Carson Palmer but I am still skeptical. I still believe that new Cardinals Head Coach Bruce Arians will find ways to give Fitzgerald ample opportunities to make plays. Fitzgerald is simply too talented not to be producing. By drafting Fitzgerald, you are investing in talent to win out.
14.Victor Cruz, NYG
15. Reggie Wayne, IND
16. Danny Amendola, NE – The Patriots brought Amendola in as a viable replacement to Wes Welker. Amendola is slightly bigger and faster than Welker but obviously lacks the chemistry with Brady that made Welker and Brady one of the most tantalizing combos in NFL history. Amendola has little receiver competition, basically guaranteeing he gets ten plus targets every game. Amendola has some injury concerns, only playing `12 games the past two years.
17. Hakeem Nicks, NYG
18. Pierre Garcon, WAS – When Garcon was on the field in 2012, he showed a great rapport with RGIII posting four games of over 80 yards. Garcon had a difficult time staying on the field in 2012 but says that he will be 100% by opening week 2013. Garcon provides RGIII and the Redskins a sufficient deep threat. Expect plenty more TD’s between the RGIII-Garcon connection.
19. Dwayne Bowe, KC
20. Antonio Brown, PIT – With Mike Wallace out of town, Brown will move into the number one receiver duties in the Steel City. He’s smaller than a traditional number one option at 5’10, 186 pounds, but is a phenomenal route runner and has a knack for finding open space in the defense.
21. Marques Colston, NO
22. Jordy Nelson, GB
23. Mike Wallace, MIA
24. Torrey Smith, BAL – I’m higher than most on Smith. Lead dog Anquan Boldin is out of Baltimore making Smith the number one receiver. He has been up and down in his career but I expect Smith to breakout in his 3rd year, the year many receivers make a big leap.
25. Danario Alexander, SD – Since his days at Mizzou, Alexander has always shown talent but has had the worst of luck when it comes to injuries. Having already undergone five knee surgeries, Alexander joined the Chargers midway through last season and immediately became their number one receiver. In his last 9 games, Alexander averaged 11.5 fantasy points per game. If Alexander had put up numbers like that for the entire year, he would have been the sixth highest scoring receiver. If Alexander can stay healthy, and that is a big if, he will continue to produce for the Chargers and could be a later round steal.
26. Steve Smith, CAR
27. James Jones, GB
28. Eric Decker, DEN
29. Greg Jennings, MIN
30. Steve Johnson, BUF
31. Tavon Austin, STL – The Rams traded up to the 8th overall pick in the Draft to select Austin out of West Virginia. Austin boasts a small frame at 5’9, 174 pounds and runs a blazing 4.34 forty-yard dash. The Rams will find ways to get Austin onto the field. Whether at receiver or out of the backfield, the Rams will get the ball in Austin’s hands. One concern with Austin is how his small frame will hold up for a full NFL season.
32. Cecil Shorts, JAC
33. Josh Gordon, CLE – The Browns took Gordon in the second round of the supplemental draft and he produced immediately, leading the team in receiving yards. Recently, Gordon had nothing but praise for new offensive coordinator Norv Turner who will instill more of a downfield passing game in Cleveland. This is good news for Gordon owners as he averaged 16.1 yards per catch last season.
34. TY Hilton, IND.
36. Miles Austin, DAL
37. DeSean Jackson, PHI
38. Jeremy Maclin, PHI
39. Lance Moore, NO
40. Mike Williams, TB
41. Chris Givens, STL
42. Alshon Jeffrey, CHI
43. Sidney Rice, SEA
44.Denarius Moore, OAK
45. Vincent Brown, SD – Brown isn’t a guy you should necessarily draft, but one you should certainly keep tabs on as the season unfolds. In 2011 as a rookie, Brown showed a tremendous combination of speed and athletic ability, but missed all of last season after he broke his ankle in the second preseason game. Brown is back to full health and is a guy that I believe will surprise many and become a productive fantasy receiver in 2013.
46. Aaron Dobson, NE
47. Kenny Britt, TEN
48. Justin Blackmon, JAC – Blackmon’s inability to stay out of trouble has carried over from his college days at Oklahoma State to the NFL. Blackmon is suspended the first four games of the upcoming season for violating the league’s substance abuse policy.
49. Anquan Boldin, SF
50. Brian Hartline, MIA
Come back next week, as I will delve into the top tight ends to draft in your fantasy draft.