Mike Clay

Dynasty Rankings

print article archives RSS

Post-Draft Dynasty Ranks: WR

Monday, May 13, 2013


Other positions: Quarterback Running Back

Up next in our dynasty ranking series is the wide receiver position.

With more and more NFL teams leaning on the pass, wide receiver has quickly become the deepest position in fantasy. That goes for dynasty, as well, with the middle tiers full of young talent.

Consider the following trends:

Yr

Plays/G

Pass%

TD/G

%Pass

2008

61.9

57.5%

2.19

57.7%

2009

62.8

58.1%

2.25

62.4%

2010

63.1

59.1%

2.27

65.2%

2011

63.7

59.5%

2.25

65.4%

2012

64.3

59.8%

2.28

65.3%

All

64.0

59.7%

2.26

65.3%


NFL teams are averaging more and more offensive plays over the years, and the percentage of those plays that are of the passing variety is also on the rise. Additionally, offensive touchdowns are increasing, reaching a five-year high in 2012. Note that the percentage of offensive touchdowns that were passes is up to 65.3 percent – a massive uptick from the league’s 57.7 percent mark in 2008.

Why is this important to fantasy owners? Consider that NFL teams scored 118 more passing touchdowns and 74 fewer rushing touchdowns in 2012 than they did in 2008. With that in mind, it’s not hard to understand why the running back position has become shallower, while the quarterback and wide receiver positions are as deep as ever.

Without further ado, let’s get on to the rankings.

Note: Non-PPR scoring is assumed. Each player age listed is as of September 1, 2013, which will be near Week 1 of the upcoming season.

Tier 1

Rk

Name

Team

Age

1

Calvin Johnson

DET

27.9

2

A.J. Green

CIN

25.1

3

Julio Jones

ATL

24.5



We kick off our list with none other than “Megatron” himself. Fresh of a season in which he put up an NFL-record 1,964 receiving yards, Johnson heads into the 2013 season as the centerpiece one of the league’s pass-heaviest offenses. Still only 27-years-old, he figures to have, at least, five or so more years of dominance left in the tank.

Although Johnson is the obvious choice for our top spot, Green isn’t terribly far behind. He’s nearly three full years younger and is 36 receptions, 300 yards, and two touchdowns ahead of Johnson’s pace through two years at the pro level. Andy Dalton’s seemingly low ceiling and the Bengals’ more balanced offense, however, keep Green out of the top spot.

After a relatively quiet start to his NFL career, Jones has been dominant since midway through his rookie season. With Tony Gonzalez closing in on retirement, Roddy White nearing age-32, and Michael Turner sent packing; Jones is locked in as Atlanta’s top offensive weapon. That’s especially the case with Matt Ryan, one of the game’s top, young quarterbacks, under center.

Tier 2

Rk

Name

Team

Age

4

Demaryius Thomas

DEN

25.7

5

Dez Bryant

DAL

24.8

6

Percy Harvin

SEA

25.3

7

Randall Cobb

GB

23.0

8

Brandon Marshall

CHI

29.4



If only because they were both selected in the first round of the 2011 draft, Thomas vs. Bryant has become an interesting debate in both redraft and dynasty formats.

Thomas is certainly one of the game’s most-talented wideouts, but there’s justifiable concern about his long-term value when you consider the uncertainty of Denver’s post-37-year-old Peyton Manning quarterback situation. Still, albeit unconventionally, Thomas was fantasy-relevant with Tim Tebow under center in 2011, which suggests that he’s relatively quarterback-proof. At age-25, he’s locked in as one of dynasty’s top fantasy wideouts.

Bryant is nearly a full year younger and might be a slightly better athlete, but his continual off-the-field issues make him the riskier bet of the two. Of course, he remains one of the game’s top, young talents at the position. Still only 24, and with Tony Romo having landed a long-term extension, Bryant will carry the Dallas offense as long as he keeps his head on straight.

Although Harvin is just 24-years-old, he has not one, but two red flags next to his name. One relates to durability, earned because of his history with migraines, as well as, an ankle injury that ended his 2012 season after nine games. The other is tied to constant squabbles between Harvin and the Vikings, which ended with him getting traded to the Seahawks. He finally landed a long-term extension with Seattle, but it’s fair to wonder if issues could pop up if something doesn’t go his way down the road. Still, Harvin remains one of the league’s most dynamic playmakers, which essentially guarantees him a large number of touches. Additionally, he now has emerging star Russell Wilson throwing him passes. This is a moderate-risk, extremely-high-reward situation.

Another 2012 breakout wide receiver, Cobb is officially locked in as an every-down player for the Packers now that Greg Jennings is on to greener (purple-er?) pastures. A versatile, underneath slot machine for Aaron Rodgers, Cobb should easily approach 100 receptions in one of the league’s top offenses for years to come.

Simple regression, a new coaching staff, the development of Alshon Jeffery, and the addition of standout tight end Martellus Bennett means Marshall won’t ever again see 39 percent of the Bears’ targets. He’s closing in on 30, as well, but Marshall should continue to put up massive numbers as long as Jay Cutler is behind center. A few more 90-plus reception seasons appear to be in the cards.

Tier 3

Rk

Name

Team

Age

9

Victor Cruz

NYG

26.8

10

Hakeem Nicks

NYG

25.6

11

Michael Crabtree

SF

25.9

12

Larry Fitzgerald

ARZ

30.0

13

Jordy Nelson

GB

28.3

14

Roddy White

ATL

31.8

15

Vincent Jackson

TB

30.6

16

Dwayne Bowe

KC

28.9

17

Mike Wallace

MIA

27.1

18

Torrey Smith

BLT

24.6

19

Andre Johnson

HST

32.1



The Cruz vs. Nicks debate is an interesting one, as both are in the prime of their career and closing in on long-term extensions with the Giants. Cruz will turn 27 during the 2013 season and has been a massively-used slot receiver for Eli Manning since his 2011 breakout campaign. Nicks is actually a little over a year younger than Cruz, but there are durability concerns here, as he’s missed at least one game in each of his first four NFL seasons (10 total). Of course, he remains one of the more physically-gifted players in the league, and will be responsible for a high percentage of Manning’s targets over the long-term.

Crabtree’s first four-and-a-half years in the league were a bit underwhelming, but he finally exploded into a major force at the position when the 49ers turned the offense over to Colin Kaepernick this past season. A centerpiece of one of the league’s top offenses, the 25-year-old Crabtree has officially shed any traces of a bust label…Fitzgerald is arguably a top-three talent at the wide receiver position, but his career has been derailed but some awful quarterback play over the past few seasons. After the team’s acquisition of Carson Palmer, the 29-year-old Fitzgerald should be in for quick bounce back. He’s locked up with the Cardinals through the 2018 season.

Injuries limited Nelson to 12 games this past season, but he still finished as fantasy’s No. 30 wide receiver. In his prime at age-28, Nelson will be a major fantasy asset as long as he’s among Aaron Rodgers’ go-to targets in one of the league’s top passing attacks…White has yet to show signs of decline, but he’s nearing 32 and Julio Jones is set to take over as Matt Ryan’s No. 1 option. Of course, that isn’t to say there aren’t plenty of targets to go around, especially with Tony Gonzalez’s retirement closing in. He has a few years left as a borderline WR1.

Off-the-field and contract-related issues have put a bit of a damper on Jackson’s career, but he remains one of the league’s most-talented wideouts. He recently reached 30 years of age, but is only entering year-two of his five-year deal with Tampa Bay. There’s a lot to like here, even if Tampa Bay’s long-term quarterback picture is a bit uncertain…Bowe re-upped with the Chiefs for five more years during the offseason. With Andy Reid in control of the offense and Alex Smith now under center, Bowe figures to see a boost in the quality of his targets during the life of his new contract. Still only 28 and underrated due to the Chiefs’ offensive struggles over the last few years, Bowe makes for a decent WR2 in 12-team formats.

Wallace landed a five-year, $60 million contract from the Dolphins this offseason, which locks him in as their top offensive weapon for the long-term. Nearing 27, and now the centerpiece of a Ryan Tannehill-led Miami passing attack, Wallace has plenty of years left as a strong fantasy asset…With the league’s highest average depth of target mark during each of his first two seasons, it’s easy to label Smith as a one-trick pony. Despite already having racked up 1,696 yards and 15 touchdowns in his career, the 24-year-old has not quite made his way on to the list of elite wideouts. That could change when, with Anquan Boldin now with the 49ers, Smith takes on a larger role in 2013.

Although his touchdown numbers have dropped off dramatically over the last two seasons, Johnson is fresh off a dominant 112-reception, 1,598-yard season. Set to turn 32 in July, age is becoming a factor, but he has another year or three as Houston’s go-to receiver.

Tier 4

Rk

Name

Team

Age

20

Pierre Garcon

WAS

27.0

21

Antonio Brown

PIT

25.1

22

Eric Decker

DEN

26.4

23

Justin Blackmon

JAX

23.6

24

Tavon Austin

SL

22.4

25

Josh Gordon

CLV

22.3

26

Kendall Wright

TEN

23.8

27

Cordarrelle Patterson

MIN

22.4

28

Cecil Shorts

JAX

25.7

29

Michael Floyd

ARZ

23.8

30

DeAndre Hopkins

HST

21.2

31

Jeremy Maclin

PHI

25.3



Following a return from a foot injury that cost him a majority of the first half of the 2012 season, Garcon saw an enormous 31 percent of the Redskins’ targets the rest of the way. Easily Robert Griffin III’s favorite target, the two will be playing a ton of catch over the next few years… With Mike Wallace out the door, Brown is set to take over as Pittsburgh’s No. 1 receiver. Touchdowns have been hard to come by during his first three years in the league, but that figures to change with a much larger role going forward…Decker had a roller coaster 2012 season, but ended up as fantasy’s No. 7 point-scorer at the wide receiver position. Just 26-year-old, Decker has long career in front of him, but he’s only ranked at No. 22 because of Denver’s long-term question mark at the quarterback position, as well as, Wes Welker’s short-term presence in the lineup.

Despite underwhelming quarterback play in Jacksonville, Blackmon finished as the No. 28 fantasy wide receiver as a rookie. The 2012 first-round pick will only get better as he enters his prime over the next few years, but off-the-field issues are a serious concern. Blackmon will miss the first four games of the 2013 season due to suspension. If he gets his act together, Blackmon can be a strong WR2 for the next decade…A top-10 pick in April’s draft, the speedy Austin will immediately step in as a focal point of the Rams’ offense. The continued development of Sam Bradford, coupled with the offensive improvements made by the team over the last two years, figure to make Austin a starting-caliber fantasy wideout at some point during the 2013 season…Gordon is a bit of a wild card, but his arrow is pointing up after he went from a supplemental draft pick to Cleveland’s No. 1 wideout over a span of a few months. He needs some quarterback help, but the 22-year-old appears to have a bright future.

Wright led the Titans in targets as a rookie, but the explosive 23-year-old was used primarily as an underneath option, ranking near the basement in average depth of target among all wideouts. Going forward, expect Tennessee to build the passing game around Wright…In an effort to revamp their receiving corps after trading Percy Harvin to Seattle, the Vikings drafted Patterson to team up with free-agent-signing Greg Jennings. The rookie is a bit raw, having played only one season of Division I football, and he’ll need to overcome a bad quarterback situation, at least in the short term. On the plus side, he has a massive upside that could easily lead to WR1 production over the next decade…Shorts broke out in a big way during the 2012 season, finishing as fantasy’s No. 22 wideout despite missing two games. The Jaguars’ quarterback situation is a concern, but the Shorts-Justin Blackmon duo provides them with one of the league’s top, young one-two punches at the position…Over the last five games of the 2012 season, Floyd was dead even with Larry Fitzgerald in targets. Arizona’s first-round pick one year ago, the former Notre Dame standout figures to become an every-down player during his sophomore campaign.

The Texans finally upgraded on Kevin Walter opposite Andre Johnson when they selected Hopkins in the first round of April’s draft. The rookie could easily be the top wide receiver to come out of this draft class, but he may be limited in the short-term by the Texans’ run-heavy offense, as well as, the presence of Andre Johnson…Maclin enters a contract season with his long-term status with the Eagles in question. He just turned 25, however, and has proven to be a reliable commodity when healthy. Maclin will be one of the most sought-after free agents if he makes it to the open market next offseason.

Tier 5

Rk

Name

Team

Age

32

Greg Jennings

MIN

29.9

33

Marques Colston

NO

30.2

34

Stevie Johnson

BUF

27.1

35

Wes Welker

DEN

32.3

36

Kenny Britt

TEN

24.9

37

DeSean Jackson

PHI

26.8

38

Mike Williams

TB

26.3

39

Danny Amendola

NE

27.8

40

Reggie Wayne

IND

34.8



Jennings signed on with the Vikings this offseason. Although he’ll take over for Percy Harvin as the team’s top wideout, the Minnesota pass offense won’t be nearly as productive as that in Green Bay. The talent level and target volume will be there for the 29-year-old, but his age and a poor quarterback situation limit him to WR3 status…As always seems to be the case, Colston quietly put up another WR1 season in 2012. Fantasy’s No. 11 wideout will turn 30 this year, but doesn’t figure to take a step back as long as Drew Brees is throwing him passes. He remains a solid WR3 dynasty option.

The Bills new coaching staff is going to move Johnson all over the field in order to maximize his offensive production. The quarterback position remains a concern, but it appears Doug Marrone will build his up-tempo passing game around the 26-year-old Johnson…Welker moves on from New England to Denver this offseason. He won’t see the target volume he did with the Patriots, but the Broncos’ offense is good enough that he’ll remain a fantasy commodity. Welker’s age (32) is of slight concern, but he’ll be well worth the pick for a few more seasons of starting-caliber production.

Britt is a poster boy for red flags, constantly struggling with injuries and off-the-field issues. In addition, the expected emergence of Kendall Wright, and presence of rookie Justin Hunter put his future with the team in question. Still only 24, and with no shortage of talent, however, Britt heads into a make-or-break contract year…Jackson’s value is on the rise with Chip Kelly now in control of the Eagles’ offense. Expected to see more carries and, of course, his fair share of the targets, the 26-year-old Jackson’s career appears primed for a rejuvenation. In a best-case scenario, Jackson would touch the ball near 100 times-per-season.

Without the added pressure of working as a No. 1 wide receiver, Williams was rejuvenated this past season, falling just four yards short of 1,000 receiving yards. He’s entering a contract year, but Tampa Bay figures to lock the 26-year-old up for the long-term…Moving from the Rams to the Tom Brady-led Patriots, Amendola might be the biggest short-term dynasty “riser” of the offseason. Although his target volume won’t be quite as enormous as his predecessor, Amendola will slide into Wes Welker’s old role with New England. There, of course, is massive upside here, especially in PPR formats, but it’s important to acknowledge Amendola’s major durability concerns…Wayne will be a strong fantasy asset during the 2013 season, but he’ll turn 35 this season. He’s an ideal target if you need a short-term wideout to get you over the hump, but rebuilding teams should be looking to sell.


continue story »
12
Mike Clay is a football writer for Rotoworld.com and the Founder/Managing Editor of Pro Football Focus Fantasy. He can be found on Twitter @MikeClayNFL.
Email :Mike Clay


Highest Searched Players over the last 7 days



Video Center

  •  
    NFL Draft - Top Need: Saints

    NFL Draft - Top Need: Saints
  •  
    NFL Draft - Top Need: Falcons

    NFL Draft - Top Need: Falcons
  •  
    NFL Draft - Top Need: Bucs

    NFL Draft - Top Need: Bucs
  •  
    NFL Draft - Top Need: Colts

    NFL Draft - Top Need: Colts
  •  
    Draft: Overrated/Underrated

    Draft: Overrated/Underrated
  •  
    NFL Draft - Top Need: Titans

    NFL Draft - Top Need: Titans
  •  
    NFL Draft - Top Need: Jaguars

    NFL Draft - Top Need: Jaguars
  •  
    NFL Draft - Top Need: Texans

    NFL Draft - Top Need: Texans