Calvin Johnson is alone at the top as the clear-cut No. 1 fantasy wide receiver heading into the 2012 season. While there’s definitely a lot of depth at this position, it’s not a bad idea to use an early round pick to snag one of the elite wideouts on this list.
1. Calvin Johnson
We finally got to see what Stafford and Johnson could do if they both stayed healthy the entire season, and it was very impressive. Johnson averaged over 100 receiving yards per game, and scored 16 TDs on the season. There is no question heading into 2012 that Megatron should be the first receiver taken in the draft, and he should have another big year.
2. Larry Fitzgerald
Considering how big of a mess the quarterback situation was last year for the Cardinals, it’s really amazing what Larry Fitz was able to do. He has been one of the most durable wide receivers through the years, and hopefully with the addition of a few more offensive weapons the Cardinals can put more points on the board in 2012. It seems like Fitzgerald has been around forever, but he is still under 30 year old, and I think he should still be drafted as an elite fantasy receiver.
3. Wes Welker
At 30 years old and in his 9th year in the league, Welker had his best season ever in 2011. He had a career year in yards and touchdowns, and he once again proved to be the best weapon for the Patriots. The Pats added Brandon Lloyd and they still have to two amazing tight ends, so there will be a lot of mouths to feed. However, I still think Welker will get plenty of targets and should be over 100 catches and 1,000 yards again in 2012.
4. Roddy White
A lot of people were worried about Julio Jones coming to Atlanta, and that potentially hurting the production of White. However, he still had 100 catches on the season, and almost 1,300 yards receiving yards. The Falcons have talked about throwing even more this year, so there should be plenty of passing yards to go around for both White and Jones. White was only able to find the end zone 8 times last year, but I wouldn’t be surprised if he got that back into double digits this season.
5. Victor Cruz
Where did this guy come from? Cruz came out of nowhere last year to have an amazing season, and I am sure we are all excited to see some more salsa dancing by Cruz in 2012. With guys like Cruz that come out no where and have amazing years, there is always the fear of a slump the following year. However, the Giants love to throw the ball and there should be plenty of yards to go around in New York. Cruz certainly has a high ceiling, and while the sophomore slump is certainly a concern I don’t think it should scare people too much.
6. A.J. Green
Green had one of the most impressive rookie years in recent history, and we expect even more out of him this year. You could tell that Green was something special in college at Georgia, and he has carried that straight into the NFL. Dalton showed last year that he has has a lot of trust in his favorite target, and I think those two will combine for double digit touchdowns this year.
7. Greg Jennings
Even though he missed 3 games last year Jennings almost had 1,000 yards and found the end zone 9 times. He has been the favorite target of Rodgers for many years, and they should hook up early and often again this year. Jennings is getting a bit older (29 in Sept) but he should have plenty left in the tank, and we still consider him a top fantasy receiver.
8. Andre Johnson
When healthy Johnson is one of the best receivers in the game, but lately he just can’t seem to stay healthy. He played in less than half the games last year, and during the games he did play he was obviously not himself. Johnson is a prime candidate for a bounce back year, but his days of being the first receiver drafted are over. Since Johnson does still have a big upside we think he is worthy of our top ten, but we moved him down our list due to the injury concerns.
9. Hakeem Nicks
The 24 year old Nicks is entering his forth season in the league, and should be in line for another big year. It’s rare to have two receivers from the same team in the top ten for a position, but the Giants are a special case. They throw the ball a ton, and they don’t throw a lot to the tight ends or the running backs. Nicks as always battled injuries during his career, and while he hasn’t missed a lot of games he has constantly played hurt. If he can stay 100% for an entire season, he could be a top five fantasy receiver.
10. Brandon Marshall
With Marshall being reunited with Cutler there are a lot of people including us, that are hoping for big things. Marshall has been extremely consistent through the years, but his numbers took a hit when he moved to Miami. I am not totally convinced that he will go back to his career high numbers that he had in Denver, but I would be surprised if his numbers don’t go up from his 2011 season.