As you know, the wide receiver position has been transformed by the movement away from a focus on the running game to a focus on the passing game, as well as the relaxed rules favoring the passing game. Since our last rankings, several players are coming off injury (Hakeem Nicks, Sidney Rice, Torrey Smith) and a couple of others are expected to be back from injury or their off-the-field issues by Week 1 (Dez Bryant, Miles Austin, Kenny Britt, and Mike Wallace). Other players are moving up the ranks, having impressed in the pre-season (Andre Johnson, Pierre Garcon, Anquan Boldin, Justin Blackmon, and Kendall Wright).
If you want to read our more detailed analysis from our last wide receiver rankings, see our previous article. This week, we will only update our analysis to the extent something about the wide receiver ranks has changed, or if something about the wide receiver ranks is worth mentioning. Of course, the rankings could change again, in part due to injuries, and in part due to developments in training camps and pre-season games. However, the fourth game of the pre-season is the game that is for those players fighting for the one of the last few roster spots. Players starting this weekend are likely to be the Week 1 starters for their respective teams.
As a reminder, “SOS” is the relative strength of schedule as noted in our favorable/unfavorable schedules by position (through Week 16). You can view players with favorable schedules by position or view players with unfavorable schedules by position. While strength of schedule does not suggest how a player will play over the course of a season, it may be something to consider when deciding between two players of similar value, in fantasy football drafts.
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|Player, Team||SOS||Player, Team||SOS|
|1||Calvin Johnson, Lions||7||37||*Denarius Moore, Raiders||29|
|2||Julio Jones, Falcons||11||38||Robert Meachum, Chargers||31|
|3||Andre Johnson, Texans||15||39||Danny Amendola, Rams||4|
|4||Victor Cruz, Giants||27||40||Michael Crabtree, 49ers||1|
|5||Mike Wallace, Steelers||28||41||Kendall Wright, Titans (R)||14|
|6||Hakeem Nicks, Giants||27||42||Lance Moore, Saints||9|
|7||Greg Jennings, Packers||10||43||Laurent Robinson, Jaguars||3|
|8||Jordy Nelson, Packers||10||44||Mike Williams, Buccaneers||6|
|9||Larry Fitzgerald, Cardinals||5||45||Steve Smith, Rams||4|
|10||*Steve Smith, Panthers||13||46||Devery Henderson, Saints||9|
|11||Roddy White, Falcons||11||47||Santonio Holmes, Jets||12|
|12||Brandon Marshall, Bears||8||48||Brandon LaFell, Panthers||13|
|13||A.J. Green, Bengals||32||49||Randy Moss, 49ers||1|
|14||*Dez Bryant, Cowboys||24||50||Mario Manningham, 49ers||1|
|15||Demaryius Thomas, Broncos||20||51||Ashlon Jeffrey, Bears (R)||8|
|16||Dwayne Bowe, Chiefs||21||52||Lestar Jean, Texans||15|
|17||Brandon Lloyd, Patriots||26||53||Jerome Simpson, Vikings||18|
|18||Wes Welker, Patriots||26||54||Dexter McCluster, Chiefs||21|
|19||Vincent Jackson, Buccaneers||6||55||Donald Jones, Bills||16|
|20||Antonio Brown, Steelers||32||56||Greg Little, Browns||22|
|21||Marques Colston, Saints||9||57||*Jacoby Ford, Raiders||29|
|22||Pierre Garcon, Redskins||17||58||Nate Washington, Titans||14|
|23||Eric Decker, Broncos||20||59||Josh Gordon, Browns (R)||22|
|24||Steve Johnson, Bills||16||60||Titus Young, Lions||7|
|25||*Kenny Britt, Titans||14||61||Braylon Edwards, Seahawks||2|
|26||*Miles Austin, Cowboys||24||62||Mohamd Massaquoi, WR||22|
|27||Percy Harvin, Vikings||18||63||Emmanuel Sanders, Steelers||28|
|28||Jeremy Maclin, Eagles||25||64||Reuben Randle, Giants (R)||27|
|29||Anquan Boldin, Ravens||30||65||Damian Williams, Titans||14|
|30||Darrius Heyward-Bey, Raiders||29||66||Michael Floyd, Cardinals (R)||5|
|31||Torrey Smith, Ravens||30||67||James Jones, Packers||10|
|32||DeSean Jackson, Eagles||25||68||Randall Cobb, Packers||10|
|33||Reggie Wayne, Colts||23||69||Travis Benjamin, Browns||22|
|34||Justin Blackmon, Jaguars (R)||3||70||Stephen Hill, Jets (R)||12|
|35||Sidney Rice, Seahawks||2||71||Rod Streater, Raiders (R)||29|
|36||Malcolm Floyd, Chargers||31||72||Andre Roberts, Cardinals||5|
“ * ” = notes an injury or off-the-field issue that could affect availability for Week 1 or longer.
With Mike Wallace finally showing up for camp, we like him too as a top-five fantasy football receiving option. Justin Blackmon continues to look sharp in the preseason. He’s big and fast and continues to gel with Blaine Gabbert, who looks improved himself. It’s not hard to see Blackmon as a player that should be on the fantasy football gridiron as a low-end WR3.
Sidney Rice is back and with a new quarterback under center, you have to like Rice as a low WR3, at a minimum. While Kenny Britt will miss Week 1 because of a suspension and may be slowly brought back into the offense because of his knee issues, there’s no doubtring his talent. Consider Britt as one of the first WR3s to be drafted in fantasy football. The talent is tough to deny.
For receivers ranked 37 through 48, these should be wide receivers that should be rostered for by week purposes in fantasy football. In this regard, Kendall Wright has looked every bit the sensational rookie wide receiver he was expected to be in the off-season. For wide receivers ranked 49 to 60, these are some of the players that have some good upside. In that group, The Fantasy Football likes Brandon LaFell, Ashlon Jeffrey, and Lestar Jean. For wide receivers ranked 60 through 72, these are sleepers, or players that could come out of nowhere (like Braylon Edwards) to make a fantasy football impact. Once the top 48 wide receivers are off the board, there is a lot of flexability as to who you should pick as your fifth wide receiver.
2012 Third-Year Receivers: As many experienced fantasy football players know, many wide receivers seem to “break-out” in their third season in the NFL. In 2012, the list of third-year wide receivers includes: Victor Cruz, Giants; Dez Bryant, Cowboys; Antonio Brown, Steelers; Demaryius Thomas, Broncos; Eric Decker, Broncos; Mike Williams, Buccaneers; Donald Jones, Bills; David Nelson, Bills; and, Brandon LaFell.