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2012 Fantasy Football Prep 101: Wide Receivers

Now we proceed on to the wide receiver position. This is typically considered the 3rd most important position on any fantasy football team. I would argue that this is no longer the case. I think in the pass first/running back by committee world in which we now live in wide receivers have taken a much more important role in the world of fantasy football. I think this is especially the case with the top end elite receivers. The argument can be made that  receivers are a dime a dozen and can be gotten cheap in the late rounds. True for your run of the mill average receiver, but not of the elites. In the end it might just depend on how your league is set up. In many leagues the teams start two WR and two

Starks: I’m a starting RB in the NFL that makes me more valuable than any WR in fantasy football.

RB. In this situation it may be that RBs are more important because they are typically more consistent, but in the Pabst and Blatz Fantasy Football League we  start three WRs. Now I think because of this WRs are more important in our league because I could have 3 dynamic top tier receivers in my lineup especially if everyone else is going the tried and true method of running back then quarterback early on in the draft. I would put up three top tier WR against two good RBs and a middle of the road WR any day of the week. In the end it’s the team with the most points that wins. It doesn’t matter what position scored the points.

So as before to properly prep we should look at how the players panned out the year before. Below are the 2011 stats , including scoring totals based on the Pabst and Blatz FFBL scoring system. 1 point for every 25 yards receiving, 1 point

Jennings: Are you going to tell him or should I?
Rodgers: Let the kid have his moment.

for every 25 yards rushing, 6 points for every touchdown rushing, receiving or returning. Other ways receivers can score in our league are catching conversions, running in conversions, and passing touchdowns. As for the large majority these are not significant numbers I have not included them in this analysis. It is important to note that many leagues have now begun awarding points for number of receptions. If this is the case, receivers take an even more important role in the world of fantasy football. Last year’s stats:

Calvin Johnson, aka Megatron, was the class of the field last year. He was joined by, no surprise,  a Packer wideout in the top 2. The surprise was that it was Jordy Nelson and not Greg Jennings. Now we had some players that we have come to expect in the top performers like Larry Fitzgerald, Vincent Jackson and  Wes Welker. There were some surprises like the afore mentioned Jordy Nelson, Victor Cruz, Laurent Robinson and a comeback from Steve Smith. Biggest letdowns were from Dwayne Bowe, Anquan Boldin, Mike Williams and Santonio Holmes. An argument could be made that Reggie Wayne was a big disappointment, but people should have seen that coming with the QB situation in Indy.

Now let’s take a look at some projected stats for the upcoming year. Here are some of my own devising:

The projections show 5 tiers. Tier one players should be drafted early. Now if you are doing your draft strategy old school that means take your first WR in the 3rd or 4th round. If, on the other hand, you heed my advice I would take any of the players in the 1st or 2nd round. Tier two players could be taken as high as the 3rd round, but look to pick them up in the higher mid rounds. Tier three players you could take a flyer on in the high mid rounds otherwise take them in rounds 6, 7 or 8. Tier four players should be taken in the final rounds of a draft. The one good thing about receivers is that there are a lot of them so you may find some value in rounds 13, 14 and 15. Tier 5 guys probably should not be on your roster unless your are playing a gut feeling that this could be the year. These guys can be picked up off the wire IF and when they become relevant.

Brian Hartline: Wait, wait, wait…. you are telling me that I’m not relevant!
Me: Yes
Hartline: Oh, OK

Again Calvin Johnson is projected to be the top fantasy performer at wideout. I firmly believe that there is no way in this world that he can match his yards and/or touchdown totals from the year before. Still he has been a solid performer in the past and if Matt Stafford stays upright he could have another big year. Jordy Nelson and Victor Cruz are #2 and #3 on the list but take caution as both share the roster with another very good receiver that could steal some of their thunder.

Keep and eye on: Brandon Marshall could be looking at a very good year. One reason, he will have a competent QB. The second reason, the QB is the same one that used to huck the ball to him in Denver when he was fantasy relevant. In a chuck and duck offense Jay Cutler finally has some one to chuck to. Robert Meachem  could have a good year in San Diego, as well as, Darrius Heyward-Bay in Oakland.

Rookies:  Justin Blackmon might have a decent year in Jacksonville if they find someone that can throw a pass. Michael Floyd could end up the #2 in Arizona and in that case would have numbers similar to those predicted for Andre Roberts. Kendall Wright, in Tennessee, has Kenny Britt and Nate Washington ahead of him but Britt could be looking at a suspension for a little drinking and driving. In that case Wright could get a chance to establish himself and have a fine year.

Handcuffs: Handcuffing isn’t something usually done at the wideout position but in some cases, especially with pass happy teams, it is good to have the 3rd or 4th WR just in case the starter goes down. That being said who are the pass happy teams? Well they are the Packers, Saints, Lions, Patriots, Giants and Chargers. You could throw in the Falcons and Cowboys also.  The handcuffs would be James Jones and/or Randall Cobb with Jordy Nelson or Greg Jennings; Lance Moore with Marques Colston; Titus Young with Calvin Johnson, Deion Branch with Wes Welker; Domenik Hixon with Victor Cruz or Hakeem Nicks; and Eddie Royal with Malcom Floyd.

Words of Caution: Kenny Britt is looking at a suspension in Tennessee. The “new” offense in Pittsburgh will feature lots of running and high percentage short passes.  Dez Bryant has an outside chance at facing some suspension time. Andre Johnson is coming off an injury. Santonio Holmes may have to deal with Tim Tebow as his QB at least part of the time. Sidney Rice is coming off injury. Brandon Marshall can go crazy from time to time. Last but not least Randy Moss and Chad Johnson are OLD!

TOP 10

#1 Calvin Johnson Calvin got a job! That job is destroying defensive secondaries. He is good at his job. He can only catch what is thrown to him. Matt Stafford is good at throwing to him. Matt Stafford gets hurt….A LOT!

# 2 Jordy NelsonIt must be the visor because last year Jordy had a hell of  season. Ok, ok…so Jordy Nelson does not wear a futuristic eye visor and fly around the galaxy but I am willing to bet that is what most of you thought about this guy. Expect him to be flying around the field and to catch plenty of touchdowns. It helps to have Aaron Rodgers on your team.

# 3 Roddy White Matt Ryan likes to throw the ball and someone needs to catch it. For awhile that only person to catch it was Roddy. Now there is Julio Jones. I don’t think this takes away value but adds chances that White will no longer get 100% of the pass defense game plan focused on him.

#4 Larry Fitzgerald: Even with Kevin Kolb and John Skelton throwing the ball good old Larry had a fine season. If one of these jokers ever puts it together look out. It does not look too good for that happening so expect your typical lunch pail, punch in punch out performance from Larry.

#5 Wes Welker Wes got PAID! What happens when players get paid? Typically they do NOT go out and have a career year. In fact typically they have an off year. Many times this can happen because there was a hold out situation. Wes did not hold out. That being said Tom Brady is still the QB and he loves him some Welker.

Burritos as big as your head!

#6 Victor CruzHe came out of nowhere last year to become a fantasy darling. He won a superbowl. The downside is that teams can prepare better for him now and Hakeem Nicks should be healthy. Still he should have another great season.

Hello? What? Matt Cassel is still the quarterback. Really?!

#7 Dwayne Bowe   He had a moster year in 2010. 15 touchdowns. Matt Cassel really liked to throw his way. Cassel got hurt last year and Bowe suffered. Here is the deal though Cassel is not a good quarterback so he had better be throwing all his passes to Bowe. A rebound is highly likely if the quarterback play is decent. 

#8 Greg Jennings What two players from the same team in the top 10. Why? Because Aaron Rodgers is the QB. Why not 2 from the Patriots or Saints? Rodgers doesn’t spread it around as much. As a result both Jennings and Nelson can have huge years. But as the picture shows Jennings in now in Nelson’s shadow. Whether that will be good or not only time will tell.

  #9 AJ Green Andy Dalton pretty much has one target and that is AJ Green. There is concern about a sophomore slump for both Green and Dalton, still I think Green will have a great season.

#10 Brandon Marshall Really? This guy! I remember way back when he was something but now? Well he now has a quality QB in Cutler. His yardage never went away in Miami even when there was no one else the secondary needed to worry about. He will have a very good year in Chicago.

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