2013 Fantasy Football Outlook: The Wide Receivers

Calvin Johnson continues to be a stud at Wide Receiver in Fantasy Leagues everywhere

Round three of HighPhive’s fantasy focus centers on the explosiveness  of offenses across the league. There is no greater bang for buck than a big time wide receiver, just ask Mike Wallace. As the NFL becomes more pass heavy with every passing season, a successful areal attack can make horrendous teams relevant. Look at the Saints, without Marques Colston, Drew Brees, and Jimmy Graham, the Saints would have been one of the NFL’s worst teams a season ago. From a fantasy perspective, the wide receiver slots are the second most important asset to your fantasy team. Draft experts agree that drafting a running back first followed by two wide receivers is the best way to ensure fantasy dominance. For the upcoming season, there is a wide variety of talent across the board, but maybe not in the places you’re accustomed to seeing those value picks. Take the New England Patriots, just a few short seasons ago, Bellichek’s bullies consisted of Randy Moss, Wes Welker, and Tom Brady; the latter  threw for the most touchdowns in NFL history, and the duo of Welker and Moss galloped into fantasy greatness. This season things are different, as Welker is now a Bronco, and the newer weapons on the Patriots are spending more time in surgery (Rob Gronkowski) and prison (Aaron Hernandez) than on the practice field. Below is a list of pass catching prodigies that will guarantee you a spot in your league’s fantasy Mount Rushmore.

Tier A

Where else to start but with the best receiver in football, the man who broke Jerry Rice‘s single season receiving yardage record, megatron aka: Calvin Johnson. The Detroit Lion’s holy savior is the pinnacle of receiving excellence, and will once again place himself above the rest in the upcoming season. As long as Matt Stafford remains healthy expect Calvin to once again take home the title of the NFL’s best wideout. Second on my list is the man with the second most targets in the NFL last season. If this were Madden, Jay Cutler would be shopping for a new “B” button. Brandon Marshall caught at least 8 passes eight times and recorded career highs in TD’s, receptions, and yards. Cutler to Marshall is a match made in heaven and Marshall owners should benefit greatly from Cutler’s pass-happy tendencies. One of the biggest question marks from Chicago a season ago was the lack of a secondary receiver, not to mention a shoddy offensive line. Second year man Alshon Jeffery  should be able to solve that particular quandary, and bring the Bear’s offense to the next level in the process.  Third of the top five comes out of Cinncinati, AJ Green is one of the most explosive weapons in football, and possesses tremendous size as well. Perhaps the most well-rounded wide out in the business, the third year receiver will only go as far as Andy Dalton will take him. Though Cinncinati is another team without a true second wide receiver, expect Green to continue his reign of terror in a secondary near you. With only two spots left in the top five, Dez Bryant of the Dallas Cowboys must fit here. Bryant is just 24 years old, but recorded 1,382 receiving yards with 12 TD’s a season ago. While character issues are often a concern for the third year receiver, Bryant is a true home run threat, and should continue his ascension as one of the league’s best. People forget that Larry Fitzgerald almost won the Arizona Cardinals a SuperBowl just a few seasons ago, and that’s why he rounds out my top five for 2013. Without a quarterback a season ago, Fitzy struggled recording just under 800 yards with just 4 TD’s. Carson Palmer is Larry Fitzgerald’s prince charming, and should return one of the league’s best to his rightful statistical group in 2013.

Tier B

Dropping from Tier’s A to B is the smallest gap of all positions. Starting with the Atlanta Falcon’s dynamic duo of Roddy White and Julio Jones, this tier is ripe with quality talent. White and Jones need no introduction into the fantasy spectrum, as the Falcons’ offense is poised to once again be one of the best in football. The addition of Steven Jackson should create more room in the secondary for the aforementioned wide outs, and their only negative could be that they are stealing points from one another! Percy Harvin was the best player in football for the 9 weeks he was able to suit up a season ago. Harvin joined fellow ex-Viking Sidney Rice as a member of the Seahawks during the offeseason, and the duo should benefit from their time together, and from playing with one of the best young quarterbacks in football: Russell Wilson. While Seattle will certainly have a rush oriented offense this year, expect Harvin to get his fair share of targets as well. Atlanta is not the only team with two wide outs in tier two; the Denver Broncos will have the best offense in football in 2013. Both Demaryius Thomas and Wes Welker will line up across the hash marks from each other in 2013, and will benefit from Peyton Manning‘s superior gunslinging ability. A year ago, Thomas and counterpart Eric Decker finished 5th and 8th  in receiving a season ago, and with the addition of Welker, expect the Broncos offense to near record highs in the passing game. After recently signing a deal to stay with the New York Giants, Victor Cruz remains one of the league’s true deep threats. Cruz’s lone shortcoming is his ability to remain healthy, yet should he play 16 games the Giants will watch a lot of salsa dancing in the end zone in 2013. The ageless wonder, Andre Johnson has been the best receiver in the NFL for the last decade. The only man since Jerry Rice to lead the league in receiving yardage for three straight seasons, Johnson continues to defy father time and remain as one of the game’s greats. Andre has three detractors going into the upcoming season: age, lack of TD production, and lack of a true number 2 receiver in Houston. Johnson is no longer one of the greatest at the position, but he is far from irrelevant should he remain healthy.

Benjamin Haley

Ben Haley is the Sports Director for 91.3 FM WVUD. Ben also serves as a sports broadcaster for the University of Delaware. . He is the main Philadelphia Eagles contributor for HighPhive.com! You can follow him on Twitter @BenHaley11.