2013 Fantasy Football Preview: Wide Receivers

2013 Fantasy Football Preview: Wide Receivers

What a fabulous time of year! The calendar's about to roll over to August, which means basements, living rooms, sports bars and chat rooms are starting to host fantasy football drafts.

So far, we've already posted our 2013 previews for quarterbacks, running backs and tight ends. Today, we'll look at wide receivers.

This is a crazy group to look at after a 2012 season that made many fantasy owners mad, some happy, and plenty confused. Looking back, some of the usual suspects had big seasons, highlighted by Calvin Johnson's dominance in Detroit.

But others, specifically Larry Fitzgerald in Arizona, left fantasy owners hating quarterbacks and NFL general managers for leaving great receivers without a quarterback... and themselves for not paying attention to who would be throwing the ball to their favorite player(s).

fitzgerald

As we head into 2013, there are a few players that have changed jerseys, some that are already injured, and a few others that might take a big step forward. First, let's remember who you shouldn't draft this year.

One player that isn't officially hurt (yet), but who isn't happy with his contract and missed practice reps with groin tightness already is Hakeem Nicks with the NY Giants. Lingering injuries and no contract can hurt a player's fantasy value. Ask Greg Jennings.

Speaking of Jennings, let's look at a few legit fantasy receivers that will be wearing new jerseys this year.

  • Wes Welker - Denver
  • Mike Wallace - Miami
  • Greg Jennings - Minnesota
  • Anquan Boldin - San Francisco
  • Danny Amendola - New England
  • Percy Harvin - Seattle (see injury concerns above)

The move of Welker to Denver is especially intriguing for fantasy owners on a few levels.

Last season, only 20 players in the entire NHL had 1,000 yards (19 receivers, 1 tight end). With Welker, the Broncos now have three of the 19 receivers to hit that mark; Demaryius Thomas and Eric Decker also reached 1,000 yards in 2012 with Peyton Manning under center. How will Welker's presence impact the production of Thomas and Decker?

The other significant question Welker's new address raises is with his former teammates. Who will catch the ball for the Patriots this year? Is Amendola the answer? Can he stay healthy? If he doesn't, what then? We've been pretty frank about our concerns with the Patriots 2013 outlook when talking about tight ends and quarterbacks already, but it's worth repeating: Stevan Ridley is your best bet on that roster this season.

Also, there are a few rookie receivers to keep an eye on this year. Here are our top five rookies to consider:

hopkins

  1. DeAndre Hopkins, Houston
  2. Tavon Austin, St. Louis
  3. Aaron Dobson, New England
  4. Keenan Allen, San Diego
  5. Da'Rick Rogers, Buffalo*

Most people have Hopkins and Austin 1-2 on their list of rookie receivers this year, but I'm higher on Hopkins playing opposite Andre Johnson in Houston than Austin with Chris Givens in St. Louis. I think Givens could be set up for a break-out season because of Austin's game-breaking ability, but see the Johnson-Hopkins duo having similar potential to Roddy White and Julio Jones in Atlanta.

Dobson will be interesting for the reasons we just mentioned; he might be Tom Brady's favorite target by Week 4. Allen steps into an offense in San Diego desperate for someone to make a play. And Rogers, who was undrafted in spite of incredible athletic ability, might run past former USC receiver Robert Woods up the Bills' depth chart by the time the season starts.

Now that we've looked at the injuries, free agent moves and rookies, let's put it all together. Here are our top 40 fantasy wide receivers for the 2013 season:

  1. MarshallCalvin Johnson, Detroit
  2. AJ Green, Cincinnati
  3. Brandon Marshall, Chicago
  4. Dez Bryant, Dallas
  5. Julio Jones, Atlanta
  6. Marques Colston, New Orleans
  7. Roddy White, Atlanta
  8. Demaryius Thomas, Denver
  9. Andre Johnson, Houston
  10. Eric Decker, Denver
  11. Victor Cruz, New York Giants
  12. Vincent Jackson, Tampa Bay
  13. Larry Fitzgerald, Arizona
  14. Randall Cobb, Green Bay
  15. Dwayne Bowe, Kansas City
  16. Reggie Wayne, Indianapolis
  17. Wes Welker, Denver
  18. Mike Williams, Tampa Bay
  19. Anquan Boldin, San Francisco
  20. Mike Wallace, Miami
  21. blackmonDeSean Jackson, Philadelphia
  22. Chris Givens, St. Louis
  23. Antonio Brown, Pittsburgh
  24. Danny Amendola, New England
  25. Steve Johnson, Buffalo
  26. Greg Jennings, Minnesota
  27. Steve Smith, Carolina
  28. DeAndre Hopkins, Houston
  29. Tavon Austin, St. Louis
  30. TY Hilton, Indianapolis
  31. Miles Austin, Dallas
  32. Justin Blackmon, Jacksonville
  33. Lance Moore, New Orleans
  34. Torrey Smith, Baltimore
  35. Jordy Nelson, Green Bay
  36. Alshon Jeffery, Chicago
  37. Pierre Garcon, Washington
  38. Cecil Shorts, Jacksonville
  39. James Jones, Green Bay
  40. Sidney Rice, Seattle

Worth A Reach: Chris Givens, St. Louis

As we mentioned earlier, Givens could benefit from the presence of rookie Austin and the improved line in front of Sam Bradford. But looking back at last year, Givens started to show signs of emerging as a legit fantasy receiver late in the season. He had two enormous games in a row - five catches for 115 yards at Arizona and 11 receptions for 92 yards vs. San Francisco - in weeks 12 and 13, respectively . He had nearly 700 yards and three touchdowns without Austin or Jared Cook in the offense. Givens could be the break-out star of 2013.

Avoid Like A Kardashian: Torrey Smith, Baltimore

Smith was a postseason hero, but reality is about to snap fans back to reality with Smith. The loss of Dennis Pitta to a season-ending hip injury puts additional pressure on a group of receivers that is already missing Boldin. A 17.4 yard-per-catch average is impressive, and eight touchdowns in 49 receptions is an equally noteworthy ratio, but a burner like Smith benefits from players like Pitta and Boldin working underneath. They're both gone, which means Smith should fall on your draft board.

Roll The Dice: Alshon Jeffery, Chicago

He showed a few flashes of having big play ability last year, but injuries cost him playing time and penalties hurt his confidence. A new offensive scheme, a full offseason to learn, and the presence of Martellus Bennett at tight end should help Jeffery take some pressure off Brandon Marshall in Chicago. Jeffery isn't likely to be a 1,000 yard player, but he could have a season similar to what James Jones did in Green Bay last year (64 rec, 784 yards, 14 TD).

Comments

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  • Brandon Gibson isnt a Ram anymore, he is a dolphin, which makes him the 3rd reciever and worthless. And Cobb ranked 14th? Child please, get your sh*t together.

  • In reply to KevinMcB:

    You're right, Kevin. Chris Givens, who had a big second half of the season and had nearly 700 yards, is the WR in St. Louis that will have a big season; Brandon Gibson is in Miami.

    And if you doubt Randall Cobb, look back at the Packers' history of making their 3rd WR into a superstar. He's electric and could have a huge season.

    Thanks for the invitation to get my sh*t together. I'll work on that.

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