1 Larry Fitzgerald
Fitzgerald’s 2008 performance has vaulted him into elite WR status. A large part of Fitzgerald’s success was the health of Kurt Warner, which will be a big determining factor again this season. Anquan Boldin and Steve Breaston will again get their fair share of looks, but there will be plenty to go around in Arizona.
2 Andre Johnson
There is not much separation between Fitzgerald and Johnson. Johnson may even have the slight edge if you are in a PPR league. Johnson led the league in receptions and yardage last season and he should have another monster fantasy season if Matt Schaub can stay healthy.
3 Randy Moss
Brady is back. Moss scored an NFL-record 23 TDs with Brady at the helm in 2007 and showed little signs of slowing down last season. There is some risk that Brady may not be the same coming back from knee surgery, but that’s a risk worth taking. Just don’t expect a repeat of 2007.
4 Steve Smith
Smith continues to be a consistent fantasy WR despite Carolina’s commitment to the running game and Jake Delhomme’s mediocre 2008 season. In 2008, Smith topped the 100-yard mark in eight games, which paved the way for his fourth straight 1,000-yard season. A better QB and more passing attempts would certainly increase Smith’s value, but thats not likely to happen this year.
5 Calvin Johnson
Johnson may be the best fantasy WR, on arguably the worst team in the NFL. His talent will still earn him a top-5 WR pick in most drafts, however aging veteran Daunte Culpepper, or rookie Matthew Stafford, will be throwing him the ball. The good news is, Detroit will likely be playing catch-up in a lot of games this season so Johnson will again see plenty of looks.
6 Reggie Wayne
Wayne continues to put up solid fantasy numbers, however he did see a 2008 drop-off in receptions, yards, and touchdowns. Wayne should benefit from Marvin Harrison’s departure and he should see a nice share of red zone looks with Dallas Clark. Wayne is still a very safe WR1 pick and we expect a bounce back year.
7 Greg Jennings
Jennings had nice chemistry with QB Aaron Rodgers last season pulling down 80 receptions for 1,292 yards and nine TDs. As Donald Driver continues to fall into a possession role, Jennings has emerged as the go-to receiver and big-play threat in Green Bay. Jennings makes a great WR1 pick.
8 Roddy White
White still has room to grow along with the maturation of young QB Matt Ryan. Proving that 2007 was not a fluke, White broke the Falcons single-season record with 1,382 receiving yards in 2008. Atlanta should be more aggressive in the passing game and the addition of Tony Gonzalez should draw some coverage away from White.
9 Anquan Boldin
Boldin had 89 receptions and 11 TDs in only 12 games last season. His durability is somewhat of a concern as he has played in all 16 regular-season games only twice in six NFL seasons. Boldin is a big, physical receiver with a high ceiling if he can stay healthy.
10 Brandon Marshall
Marshall has been one of the league’s most productive receivers the past two seasons, with 206 receptions, 2,590 yards and 13 touchdowns. Denver will likely remain a pass-heavy offense, but unfortunately for Marshall, they have downgraded at QB with Kyle Orton. Until it is clear how effective Orton will be in the new offense, Marshall is more of a risk/reward pick this season.
11 Terrell Owens
Owens will get a fresh start in Buffalo and he’ll be playing alongside another elite receiver in Lee Evans. If Trent Edwards can get him the ball, Owens will find the end zone. Owens has the upside to play like a WR1, but he may struggle to top 1,000 yards this season.
12 Dwayne Bowe
Bowe should have another nice fantasy season as the Chiefs are expected to be aggressive in the passing game with the recent addition of QB Matt Cassell. Tony Gonzalez is gone, leaving Bowe as the only real passing threat for the Chiefs. Bowe has breakout potential this season and should provide nice WR2 value.
13 Wes Welker
Welker has caught more than 110 passes in each of his first two seasons in the New England offense. Although he is an elite possession receiver and offers exceptional value in a PPR league, Welker will have to find the endzone more often to be considered a top-10 fantasy receiver.
14 Braylon Edwards
Edwards had a forgettable 2008 season leading the league in drops for a second straight year and only scoring 3 times. Edwards is Cleveland’s biggest scoring threat with Kellen Winslow in Tampa Bay and Donte’ Stallworth facing a league suspension. A top-5 WR pick a year ago, Edwards may drop out of the top-15 this year. Edwards has a nice upside and bounce back potential so don’t let him slip too far.
15 Marques Colston
Colston tore a thumb ligament in the 2008 season opener and he did not play again until Week 8. Colston ended the season on an encouraging note, averaging 85 yards a game and scoring 5 TDs in his last 8 contests. The Saints have plenty of weapons that will cut into Colston’s looks, but he still could provide WR1 numbers as Drew Bress’ No. 1 receiver.
16 T.J. Houshmandzadeh
Houshmandzadeh’s success in Seattle is largely dependent on the health of QB Matt Hasselbeck. Housh has success on shorter underneath routes, which should be a good fit the Seahawk’s West Coast offense, however he will now see No. 1 receiver attention from opposing defenses. Housh is still a viable WR2 option.
17 Vincent Jackson
Jackson is coming off a season that saw him have career-highs in receptions, yards, and touchdowns. Jackson should again benefit from being Philip Rivers’ No. 1 receiver, but keep in mind Jackson does face the possibility of a league suspension stemming from a DUI arrest.
18 Chad Ochocinco
Last year, with QB Carson Palmer out with an elbow injury, Ochocinco caught only 53 passes for 540 yards. If Palmer is healthy we expect a strong rebound year from Ochocinco. With six straight seasons of 1,100-plus yards prior to 2008, he’s worth the risk for a WR2 option.
19 Antonio Bryant
Bryant was one of the biggest surprises last season hauling in 83 receptions for 1,248 yards and seven touchdowns. Bryant will again be the No. 1 receiver in Tampa Bay, but the QB situation remains unclear. Bryant has a lot to prove and should be motivated on a one-year contract, just don’t expect a repeat of 2008.
20 Lee Evans
The arrival of Terrell Owens should help Evans’ fantasy value as he should see more single coverage. Evans does not offer as much value in PPR leagues, but we like his upside this season. Evans makes a nice WR2 option, with breakout potential.
21 Anthony Gonzalez
Reggie Wayne and Dallas Clark will continue to be a big part of the Colt’s passing game, however Gonzalez will have a much larger role with the recent departure of Marvin Harrison. Gonzalez should rack up a nice amount of catches underneath and he makes a great value pick this season.
22 DeSean Jackson
Last season Jackson took full advantage of injuries to Reggie Brown and Kevin Curtis. He ended his rookie campaign with 62 receptions for 912 yards. Jackson does have excellent speed and the improvements to the Eagles offensive line should also improve McNabb and the passing game. Jackson makes a decent WR2/3 option.
23 Roy Williams
Jason Witten will likely be Romo’s most consistent target, but Williams will get every chance to emerge as the top receiver in Dallas with the release of Terrell Owens. The opportunity is certainly there and this could be a big year for Williams, however there is little reason to think that he will provide consistent fantasy value week-to-week.
24 Eddie Royal
Last season Royal recorded the second most catches for a rookie receiver in league history with 91. The departure of Jay Culter does hurt his value but most of his receptions were quick, underneath routes, which is a nice fit for McDaniels offense. We think he will still hold decent WR2 value especially in a PPR league.
25 Jerricho Cotchery
Cotchery was a bit of a disappointment last season after coming off of a 2007 season with 82 receptions for over 1,100 yards. Brett Favre and Laveranues Coles are no longer with the Jets, which should open the door for Cotchery to emerge as the top offensive threat. He’ll certainly see a lot of targets and could have a nice upside this season.
26 Hines Ward
Last season Ward put up his best numbers since 2003, but it was also the first time he played in all 16 regular season games since 2004. Ward is now 33-years old and his intense playing style increases his injury risk. If Ward can stay healthy he’ll continue to be a reliable fantasy option with a nose for the endzone.