UPDATED: September 6, 2010
Perhaps no position in fantasy football has had more attrition in the last couple of years than wide receiver. Other than a couple of names at the top, some of the biggest, Terrell Owens, Torry Holt, are all but gone, while other big names like Randy Moss and Steve Smith (CAR) are more speculative than in years past. Add to that quarterback changes, and schedule variations, and ranking the receivers is arguably the most difficult of all positions and the one that has the most room for error.
Last season new names exploded into fantasy relevance like Sidney Rice and Miles Austin. Will they be fluke performers or are they the next generation of top 10 WR studs?
That said, the days of drafting running backs with those first two picks have all but vanished. Now not taking a top wide receiver with one of your top two picks can prove to be a fatal fantasy blow.
With all this in mind let's take an early look at where we see these fantasy studs landing in 2010.
( ) = previous ranking
= significant climb
= significant drop
Tier One ~ Best Bets
RANK PLAYER TEAM BYE ONE LINER 1 Andre Johnson HOU 7 171 targets in 2009 and over 1500 yards. Nuff said. 2 (4) Brandon Marshall MIA 5 Only 5 WRs had better per game fantasy numbers in 2009. He'll have a better year in 2010. 3 Roddy White ATL 8 Only Andre Johnson was targeted more in 2009. 4 (5) Randy Moss NE 5 His second half wasn't a good sign in 2009, but he should have one good year left. 5 (2) Reggie Wayne IND 7 He is a consistent guy, but team has many receiving threats
Tier Two ~ Relatively safe bets
RANK PLAYER TEAM BYE ONE LINER 6 (4) Calvin Johnson DET 7 Top 5 talent on a bad, bad team 7 (12) Greg Jennings GB 10 The Rodgers/Jennings connection is going to be huge in 2010. 8 Miles Austin DAL 4 Others rank him higher, but I want to see him for a full season. The upside is there though. 9 (10) Larry Fitsgerald ARI 6 Losing Warner is painful, and now he misses the pre-season 10 (9) DeSean Jackson PHI 8 Some worry about Kolb at QB but I see it as a boon for Jackson. 11 Marques Colston NOS 10 A soft schedule can only help his fantasy consistency at WR. 12 (15) Steve Smith NYG 9 The 4th most targeted WR in the NFL in 2009. 13 Anquan Boldin BAL 8 He gets to be the go-to-guy with one of the league's most underrated QBs. 14 Steve Smith CAR 4 A down year in 2009, but still has top 5 receiver skills 15 (18) Wes Welker NE 5 Consistent as they come. Should be ready week 1.
Tier Three ~ Getting speculative
RANK PLAYER TEAM BYE ONE LINER 16 Michael Crabtree SFO 8 Perhaps a few picks high but his upside is worth it. 17 Hakeem Nicks NYG 9 The homerun threat. Could be the best of NY's receivers. 18 Mike Sims-Walker JAX 9 He surprised everyone in 2009 and he's the #1 guy in 2010 for the Jags. 19 Chad OchoCinco CIN 6
Still the man in Tigerland. 20 Dwayne Bowe KC 4 He'd be higher if he used his hands more than his mouth, but still capable of top 15 numbers 21 Jeremy Maclin PHI 8 Look for him to expand on his solid rookie campaign. 22 Mike Wallace PIT
5 This is his chance to shine. Holmes is gone. 23 (26) Hines Ward PIT 5 Ward's about as consistent as they come. Still WR1. 24 Percy Harvin MIN 4 Constant injuries keep him out of top 20, but Rice out helps. 25 SDC 10 He is now the #1 WR in SD with Jackson out.
Tier Four ~ Looking for upside and sleepers
Tier Five ~ Last of the Brohicans and the deep sleep
RANK PLAYER TEAM BYE ONE LINER 36 Devery Henderson NO 10 Henderson, not Meachum is #2 this year 37 Bernard Berrian MIN 4 With Rice out, Berrian has a chance to regain his dominance. 38 Dez Bryant DAL 4 He seems to have moved into the #2 role ahead of Roy Williams 39 Devin Hester CHI 8 He's still trying to prove his value. 40 Laurent Robinson STL 9 Team's #1 with Avery out 41 Mario Manningham NYG 9 Was as productive as Nicks last season 42 Steve Breaston ARI 6 Not a big fan. 43 Derrick Mason BAL 8 Boldin should get the old man open. 1000 yards? It could happen. 44 Nate Burleson DET 7 Megatron will help get this stealth bomber open 45 Santana Moss WAS 9 Don't like him, never will. 46 Braylon Edwards NYJ 7 Once Holmes returns, he's toast for production 47 Nate Washington TEN 9 Is pressing Britt for the #1 WR slot for the Titans 48 Robert Meachum NO 10 Injuries have cost him his WR2 role 49 TJ Houshmandzadeh BAL 8 Gets new life with Ravens 50 Dexter McCluster KCC 4 Mini-Welker is my deep sleeper this season.
Tier Six ~ Throw it against the wall and see what sticks
RANK PLAYER TEAM BYE ONE LINER 51 Eddie Royal DEN 9 Has big upside this year 52 Louis Murphy OAK 10 The Raiders WR1 53 Mohammed Massaquoi CLE 8 The best on a bad team 54 Austin Collie IND 7 Showed sparks of greatness last season 55 Roy Williams DAL 4 Former WR1 now forgotten man in Big D? 56 Devin Thomas WAS 9 He could become McNabb's fave target 57 Jacoby Jones HOU 7 Will be the 2nd best WR in Houston this season 58 Davonne Bess MIA 6 Someone has to take the heat off Marshall 59 Chris Chambers KC 4 Should have quietly viable season 60 James Jones GB
6 Firmly won WR3 for Pack 61 Legedu Naanee SD 8 Team's WR2 62 Brian Robiskie CLE 8 Looking for a breakout 63 Jerricho Cotchery NYJ 7 Great slot receiver 64 Joshua Cribbs CLE 8 Browns all purpose threat 65 (14) Sidney Rice MIN 4 Out at least 8 weeks. Best to pass on him. 66 (11) Vincent Jackson SDC 10 Out until at least week 11 67 Jordan Shipley CIN 6 Should be a great slot receiver for Palmer 68 Mike Thomas JAX 9 This kid has huge upside 69 Deon Butler SEA 5 You could put Deion Branch but I like Butler's upside 70 Julian Edelman NEP 5 With Welker not 100% he could be a great late pick