With the all important running back and quarterback positions listed and aligned, the main compliment position of them all is up next: wide receiver. Of all the positions that will be drafted for, this one is one the trickiest to account for. While there is depth, the true guarantee players here are very few. Unlike running backs, who get the ball easily, or quarterbacks, who have many different options to produce their numbers, receivers are totally dependent on another player to make their impact.

Will a Warner-less Larry Fitzgerald still payoff like top round pick should this year?

Because of that, the vast majority of them do not have the same early round value as many other positions, so where you pick them is usually based on where you are picking from in the draft, and what you have already accumulated. In my estimation, there is only one player in the league worth being your first player taken from the position, and even then getting a suitable running back to offset that pick is going to be a scramble. The best place to grab a premier receiver is on the back end of quick turn picks, such as the 9th pick and down of a 12-team league, where you are guaranteed to get another pick soon in the next round.

However, waiting too long can leave you without a definite week-to-week contributor at the spot, so knowing when and where you are in the place to pull the trigger on one is crucial. Without further delay, last see who’s in place to make the biggest contribution through the air this year.

1. Andre Johnson-Houston Texans

-          2009: 101 receptions, 1569 yards, 9 TD

-          3 year average: 92 receptions, 1331 yards, 8 TD

-          Summary: In a class by himself as a big game receiver. He led the league by more than 200 yards last year and has a scheme which gets him the ball frequently. His quarterback Matt Schaub led the NFL in passing yards as well with him as his most frequent target, so there should be no change in approach.  Had 2 games over 190 yards and three games with 10 or more catches. A solid late first round pick and a must in the early 2nd. Trend: Steady

In A Class Of His Own: Johnson is the unanimous best receiver available and only round one must.

2. Randy Moss-New England Patriots

-          2009: 83 receptions, 1264 yards, 13 TD

-          3 year average: 83 receptions, 1255 yards, 15 TD

-          Summary: Last year proved that when he’s paired with Tom Brady, he will live in the end zone. He led the league in touchdowns for the second time in three years and once again became one of the premier deep threats in football. He shows no signs of age becoming a factor and more of the same should be on deck this year. Early to mid second rounder. Trend: Steady

3. Larry Fitzgerald-Arizona Cardinals

-          2009: 97 receptions, 1092 yards, 13 TD

-          3 year average: 97 receptions, 1310 yards, 11 TD

-          Summary: Maybe the most gifted receiver in the NFL, Fitz also tied for the lead in receiving scores in 2009. However, with Kurt Warner retiring, his impact could be lessened, but only slightly. With Anquan Boldin out of Arizona, his targets should go up and he may have more chances to make an impact. But the impact of Matt Leinart is much less certain, so the guarantee of his big numbers isn’t there yet. Still a mid to late second round snag. Trend: Downwards

4. DeSean Jackson-Philadelphia Eagles

-          2009: 62 receptions, 1156 yards, 9 TD

-          2 year average: 62 receptions, 1034 yards, 5 TD

-          Summary: No player has the ability to score more ways, and from further away, than he does. Each year he has been featured more and more by the Eagles, and if new starter Kevin Kolb leans on him more, he could get more looks than ever before. He turns fewer receptions into more than any other receiver in the league and is a great third round grab. Trend: Upwards

5. Brandon Marshall-Miami Dolphins

-          2009: 101 receptions, 1120 yards, 10 TD

-          3 year average: 102 receptions, 1236 yards, 7 TD

-          Summary: Over the past three years, no receiver has average more catches than Marshall and by moving to Miami’s receiver-less arrangement, his targets will get even better, especially around the goal line. It will take until they actually take the field to see how he makes him mark, but another year amongst the top pass catchers in football should be expected. Trend: Steady

6. Reggie Wayne-Indianapolis Colts

-          2009: 100 receptions, 1264 yards, 10 TD

-          3 year average: 95 catches, 1306 yards, 8 TD

-          Summary: The model of consistency, Wayne is going to keep high marks across the board because Peyton Manning is going to make the majority of his a quality passes to him. And Peyton makes a ton of quality passes. There is no part of the field where he doesn’t make his impact and is an underrated, steady week to week performer. Great middle third round grab. Trend: Steady

7. Calvin Johnson-Detroit Lions

-          2009: 67 receptions, 984 yards, 5 TD

-          3 year average: 64 receptions, 1023 yards, 7 TD

-          Summary: Injuries slowed his total numbers in ’09, but Johnson is among the most gifted receivers in football and as Matthew Stafford enters his second year, his experience should equal even more yards and scoring trips ending with Johnson at the other end. Could be a steal and top value pick in the early fourth round. Trend: Upwards

A second year with Stafford should shoot up Johnson's impact across the board.

8. Roddy White-Atlanta Falcons

-          2009: 85 receptions, 1153 yards, 11 TD

-          3 year average: 85 receptions, 1243 yards, 8 TD

-          Summary: While the Falcons struggled last season to meet expectations, White exceeded his. Despite an injury depleted receiving corps and struggles/injury to second year QB Matt Ryan, he still reached career highs across the board. With Michael Turner back and healthy, his numbers could slide some; the expected improvement from Ryan should help him stay steady. A solid mid fourth round pick. Trend: Downwards

9. Miles Austin-Dallas Cowboys

-          2009: 81 receptions, 1320 yards, 11 TD

-          3 year average: 33 receptions, 558 yards, 4 TD

-          Summary: Austin improved more than any player in football last year and is now the primary threat in a wide open Dallas offense. It is hard to know if he can duplicate his breakout season’s totals, but he will get the looks and shouldn’t be slept on for too long. Pick with confidence in the fourth round. Trend: Downwards

10. Anquan Boldin-Baltimore Ravens

-          2009: 84 receptions, 1024 yards, 4 TD

-          3 year average: 81 receptions, 971 yards, 8 TD

-          Summary: Coming into a Ravens offense that severely lacked a definite go to threat at receiver, Boldin should be often looked to be strong armed Joe Flacco, who has been in need of more help to maximize his considerable skill. Should be amongst the league leaders in touchdowns and become a good middle 5th round pick because of it. Trend: Upwards

11. Marques Colston- New Orleans Saints

-          2009: 70 receptions, 1074 yards, 9 TD

-          3 year average: 71 receptions, 1012 yards, 8 TD

-          Summary: The primary target in the Saints wide open attack, he still finds a way to get the majority of downfield targets and scoring looks. Due to the multitude of options they feature, it’s hard to make him a primary solo threat, but there may not be a better compliment receiver to couple with another similar or higher tier receiver. Solid 5th to early 6th round pick. Trend: Steady

12. Steve Smith-Carolina Panthers

-          2009: 65 receptions, 965 yards, 7 TD

-          3 year average: 76 receptions, 1135 yards, 6 TD

-          Summary: Mixtures of injury, bad quarterback play and being the only thing pass defenses are worried about have decreased his impact. He’s coming back from a broken wrist this year, with an offense that will feature two running backs and break in two young quarterbacks lacking in experience. A good 6th round choice, but not much higher. Trend: Downwards

A lack of experience at QB & lack of decoy receivers contributes to Smith's decline in value.

13. Chad OchoCinco-Cincinnati Bengals

-          2009: 72 receptions, 1047 yards, 9 TD

-          3 year average: 72 receptions, 1009 yards, 7 TD

-          Summary: He hasn’t put up the numbers on the field that have made him a media darling of the field, but he rejoined the 1,000 yard club last year after a horrific 2008. Terrell Owens joining him should loosen defenses focus on him some, but it is difficult to say who will benefit the most from this coupling. Buying into the hype of the two could be a huge wasted pick on him any earlier than the late 6th to early 7th round. Trend: Steady

14. Sidney Rice-Minnesota Vikings

-          2009: 83 receptions, 1312 yards, 8 TD

-          3 year average: 43 receptions, 616 yards, 5 TD

-          Summary: He benefitted from being Favre’s favorite downfield threat in ’09, which led to several big games.  He caught a lot of defenses by surprise, but he will be focused upon move in 2009 and if Percy Harvin is not healthy, he will be focused upon even more. Still a safe 7th round selection. Trend: Downwards

15. Greg Jennings-Green Bay Packers

-          2009: 68 receptions, 1113 yards, 4 TD

-          3 year average: 67 receptions, 1108 yards, 8 TD

-          Summary: Jennings was very inconsistent in ’09, due to the way the ball was spread around to so many targets and how he ran essentially only deep routes. This made him an all or nothing presence. He also had too much trouble with holding on to passes. With more short routes he could regain his past form. Still a good seven or early 8th round pick. Trend: Steady

Less could be more: A few shorter routes could mean a rise in Jennings numbers.

16. Vincent Jackson-San Diego Chargers

-          2009: 68 receptions, 1167 yards, 9 TD

-          3 year average: 56 receptions, 962 yards, 5 TD

-          Summary: He has continually improved each year and has a premier quarterback who will be looking to throw more this year most likely with a rookie running back. However, he is suspended for first two games of the season, so he won’t be an immediate impact, but is still good for the middle of the 8th round. Trend: Steady

17. Steve Smith-New York Giants

-          2009: 107 receptions, 1220 yards, 7 TD

-          3 year average: 57 receptions, 619 yards, 2 TD

-          Summary: Smith became one of the premier possession receivers in the game last year in an increasingly aerial Giants attack and will play the same role this year, but probably not to the same level, as Hakeem Nicks will take a larger role this season. A good second receiver to be picked in the 9th round area. Trend: Downwards

18. Hines Ward-Pittsburgh Steelers

-          2009: 95 receptions, 1167 yards, 6 TD

-          3 year average: 82 receptions, 980 yards, 6 TD

-          Summary: He’s been the toughest receiver in the league for years, and has been good for 1,000 plus yards nearly annually, but a decline is in the cards for Ward. He’ll get more looks with Santonio Holmes out the mix, but Mike Wallace and Heath Miller will take the majority of targets. Still a good snag in the 9th to 10th rounds however. Trend: Downwards

19. Michael Crabtree-San Francisco 49ers

-          2009: 48 receptions, 625 yards, 2 TD

-          Summary: Crabtree’s season got started 5 games late after his prolonged holdout, but he still improved more and more throughout the year and finished the season with a respectable total. Look for far more targets in the redzone and the accompanying yardage increase if QB Alex Smith continues his growth in the new 49ers system. A good 9th round choice. Trend: Upwards

A full year in the fold could make Crabtree one of the top value picks available.

20. Dwayne Bowe-Kansas City Chiefs

-          2009: 47 receptions, 589 yards, 4 TD

-          3 year average: 67 receptions, 868 yards, 5 TD

-          Summary: A suspension for substance violation took away the middle of Bowe’s ’09 campaign, but a full season with QB Matt Cassell and having Chris Chambers across from him to spread out coverage should push him back past 1,000 yards in the steadily growing Chiefs offensive attack. Solid value in the 9th to 10th round. Trend: Upwards

Top Sleeper Options: Wes Welker, Donald Driver, Terrell Owens, Mike Sims-Walker, Malcolm Kelly, Santonio Holmes, TJ Houshmanzadeh

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Comments
  1. [...] bad on recommending him in the same breath as Andre Johnson for your ensured fantasy success. That angry mob with the torches and pitchforks are the folks that [...]

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