It’s the one position that can be the most expendable, while still being the one position that can make the biggest difference.
Receivers can catch four passes, for four touchdowns and be more productive than a running back that carried the ball over thirty times that game.
If you had Brandon Marshall last season, like I told you to, then you enjoyed a similar scenario.
There was one game between the Bears and Titans where Jay Cutler threw three red zone touchdowns to Marshall, who finished the day with 9 catches, 122 yards, and 3 scores.
Six of those catches were for average gains, while the three scores were merely five yard yard passes.
Get your fantasy calculator out.
Marshall had three scores, all towards the end of the blowout victory, just for kicks.
Before that, he was putting up a typical day of six catches for under 100 yards.
Those three late scores probably put your weekly matchup way out of reach for your opponent.
I’m just asking you, what’s more likely to happen: a running back scoring three touchdowns in a game or a receiver?
Makes you rethink your strategy of having to draft a top running back in the first round huh?
Why not get two or even three of the best receivers in the league to start your team?
Well, there’s a couple of factors.
The first being that there are more receiving targets on the field at once that could take away opportunities from your player.
That doesn’t mean that your receiver can’t be dominant, it just means that you can’t expect everyone to be a Jay Cutler-Brandon Marshall combo that try to just throw to each other 15 times a game.
The second factor is most NFL offenses use the run to set up the pass, leaving the receivers as more of blockers or distractions to stretch the field.
Once again, you have to think about what type of offense they’re playing in and how dominant the receiver can be.
Believe it or not, slot receivers have become the most dominant fantasy options ever since Wes Welker first showed up in New England.
They act more as safety nets for quarterbacks than tight ends or running backs do.
There are about five dominant receivers that you want to go after early, but after that it can vary based on your available options.
Like some of our previous player qualities, there are some key factors to look for: how much does this receiver mean to his offense? Is there a strong no.2 option or is he a one-man show? and what type of receiver are they?
The first two qualities go hand-in-hand.
If they play in a spread offense, then they probably aren’t going to be the only target that gets a lot of looks.
Teams like the Falcons have two dominant receivers, so you don’t want to reach for them in the first two rounds.
The type of receiver is the main factor.
They can either be a player that is all about catching a lot of short passes, a bomber, a red zone-only target, or an all-around.
The best way to bypass that step without getting burnt out is by asking yourself: “Is this guy the go-to option when the team is in a 2-minute drill”.
If you can answer that, then you have your no-brainer draft pick.
It can be tricky to pick the right receiver, so let’s take a look at why you need to go after these options…
There’s no argument that could keep Calvin Johnson from being the unanimous choice for the top receiver to draft. No matter what, he continues to be the only passing target in Detroit, despite their developing running game. You would love for him to improve on his career-low five touchdowns from last season, and that will mostly likely happen. Think about it. Where are you going to find another guy that produces 100+ receptions and near 2,000 yards?
Let’s hear it. You people thought I was crazy last season when the receiver rankings started in this order. Granted, Marshall wasn’t exactly a fantasy stud in Miami, but that all changed. Jay Cutler threw to Marshall more than any other QB-WR combo last year. He had eight 8+ reception games, 11 touchdowns, and around 1500 yards. It was quite the turnaround for a former top fantasy selection. The problem is that you won’t be able to get him nearly as cheap as last year.
You just don’t find dominant receivers like this in every round. Last two seasons, you might of snagged him because the rest of your league wasn’t thinking with a sense of urgency, but not anymore. Green had a nine-game touchdown streak last season. That’s the kind of consistency that you can’t overdraft. Now that the Bengals have brought in Tyler Eifert, Green should have more free reign to take his game to another level.
You’re always weary about how a player will perform after getting the big pay day, but I believe that Cruz is actually ready to take his game to the next level. Believe it or not, he actually took a step back last season, in comparison to his breakout in 2011. He had a great start to 2012, but dropped off drastically around the Giant’s BYE week. There’s no doubt that he wasn’t happy about having to play without a real contract, so that’s why I’m saying to invest this year. He’s the only target in New York, because Hakeem Nicks can’t be counted on. They did bring in Brandon Myers from the Raiders in free agency, but Cruz is still Eli’s favorite target in crunch time.
What a tough season it was to be a Larry Fitzgerald owner. Can you believe that he’s been in the league for 10 years? Don’t let the age factor come into play when you have an opportunity to draft one of the best receivers in the league. For the first time in ages, he’ll actually have a real quarterback. I didn’t say Palmer was going to be a superstar, but he’ll at least be able to get the ball to the Cards’ top target. If you watched the Colts last year, you saw the type of impact that Bruce Arians brings to an offense. Larry only caught four touchdowns last year, but he could end up being a great bargain piece in the third or fourth round this year.
If you’re the type of fantasy owner that just goes off of what ESPN pre-ranks for your draft, pump the breaks. Let me explain why Dez goes after Larry. I know that Dez Bryant was one of the best second-half receivers in fantasy last season, but he has more competition for targets that Fitzgerald does. Bryant is competing with Mile Austin and Jason Whitten, while Fitzgerald is a one-man-band. Arizona doesn’t have a running game either. Dallas is a more balanced offense, but Bryant is still a top 5 receiver. Up to this point, any receiver that has been ranked before him is their team’s only source of offense. Green might be an exception, but it’s debatable. Now, let’s get to Bryant. He finished in the top 3 last season for fantasy receivers, had a seven-game touchdown streak in the second half (scoring 10 TDs in the span), and had five 100+ games. He capped it off with his Week 16 performance in the fantasy playoffs, when he had 9 receptions, 224 yards, and 2 touchdowns. Can he do it again? Possibly. Just remember, you’re not building a fantasy team on Madden, you’re building a team of players with the best stats. Believe it or not, you have to consider who the other targets on the team are.
Whoa. Too soon? Don’t kid yourself. Every year, you know you find yourself debating between the productivity of Wes Welker or the upside of Andre Johnson. This is the year that you’re going to get it right. You’d be hard pressed to find a more consistent fantasy option than Welker. Just because he changed teams, doesn’t mean that he’s going to be less productive. If anything, it’ll hurt the stock of his new teammates. Welker didn’t go to Denver just to stick it to New England, he’s going there to win. He’s been a top 10 receiver for a long time and you can expect him to continue being the reliable receiver that you wish you had drafted every year.
Here he is! You were probably wondering why he didn’t crack the top 5. Where do I begin? He’s the most over-drafted option that ends up being one of the biggest headaches for you, as an owner. It gets to the point where you’re almost waiting for him to get injured. It’s sad, but true. This could be an interesting season for Johnson, as the Texans are in win-now mode. For the first time in his career, Houston actually brought in some help. They drafted DeAndre Hopkins, who is a favorite for Rookie of the Year, but only time will tell if he’ll be dominant enough to distract defenders away from Johnson. Don’t get me wrong, Johnson’s a talent, but he’s also a headache. He had six 100+ yard games, ten 7+ reception games, but only scored 4 touchdowns. He had a drought at the beginning of the season, where he went a month without getting more than 3 catches. After that, he became the Pro Bowl stud we’re used to. If he wasn’t so injury prone, he’d be in the discussion for top 3 fantasy receivers.
This is where it starts to get tough. Not only are you looking at the top receivers, you’re also looking at the guys that are part of some of the best tandums in the league. Who do you got: Roddy or Julio? Let me give you something to ponder on: if everyone is hyping up Julio Jones, don’t you think that defenders are doing the same? Bingo. Despite his presence, Tony Gonzalez, or Steven Jackson, White is one of the most consistent producers in fantasy on an annual basis. His second half wasn’t as good as his first, but he made up for it with a big splash in the fantasy playoffs last year. He’s going to get around 7 catches a game, he had seven 100-yard games last year, but his touchdown total is something to be improved upon. Matt Ryan can only get the ball to so many people, but Roddy White remains his favorite target in crunch time.
He’s not a sleeper, but can be a buy-low option. Last year he had an injury that ruined his value in the second half, which is music to fantasy owners’ ears coming in to this year. Think about it. Your pre-draft rankings will have him way lower than his value upholds, Greg Jennings is out of town, and Nelson is a PPR beast. Keep a watchful eye on him and draft accordingly.
Remember when I said that Welker’s teammates’ value would take a hit? I was referring to Eric Decker. Think about it. Wasn’t Reggie Wayne always productive in Indy, despite Brandon Stokley? Same situation here.Thomas had a breakout fantasy campaign last season, and he’ll continue to be productive. He might lose a couple of targets, but he’s still a top option for Peyton. He scored ten touchdowns, had seven 100-yard games, and seven games with at least 7 receptions. Who gets the ball in crunch time, might be the key factor as why Thomas will have a slight drop in production from a year ago.
Julio Jones Falcons
-He continues to be one of the most hyped players to draft, and deservingly. If he was on another team, he’d be a top 10 option. Right now, the Falcons only use him as a deep threat. He’s not the type to catch 10 passes a game (he did that once last year). You’re going to get production out of him, but primarily from the long ball.
Randall Cobb Packers
-This is the next big time receiver that needs to get paid. Randall Cobb had a breakout fantasy season last year and will continue to climb up the rankings as one of the premier receivers to draft.
Reggie Wayne Colts
-Don’t laugh, but Darrius Heyward-Bey is a real threat to take away targets from Wayne this year in Indy. He’ll still be a top option, but he’s not top 10. He only had five touchdowns last year, but excelled in PPR with eight 7-catch games.
Marques Colston Saints
-His fantasy value has dropped off since the arrival of Jimmy Graham, but that doesn’t mean that he can’t be a solid mid-round option. Colston had ten touchdowns last season, but averaged around four catches per outing. He only had four games where he caught 7 or more passes.
Vincent Jackson Bucs
-He’s a great talent, but will keep you holding your breathe on Sundays. It’s not that he’s injury prone, you just don’t know what to expect on a weekly basis. Jackson can rack up around 100 yards in a game, but it mostly comes in crunch or garbage time. There’s no question that he’s the top target in Tampa, but the emergence of Doug Martin and the instability of the quarterback job makes him a mid-round value.
Mike Wallace Dolphins
-Is he ready to be an elite fantasy option? Eh…The move to Miami could do that, just because the offensive scheme demands for more passing, but he’s always just been a deep ball option. A major concern is the fact that he only had four games where he caught more than 5 passes. The Dolphins are expecting a big jump in production out of Ryan Tannehill, in his second year, and Wallace will have plenty of opportunities to catch a deep pass on a weekly basis. View him as a weekly boom or bust.