Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) -
We have ranked quarterbacks, running backs and tight ends so far, today, it's the wide receivers' turn.
1) Andre Johnson, HOU - Over the years, the only thing holding Johnson back from superstardom were injuries. Even last year, he missed three games due to a bad ankle. Despite that, he still managed to amass 1,216 yards receiving and eight scores. That was a bit of a disappointment to fantasy owners who had seen him post 1,575 and 1,569 yards in the preceding two seasons, but it shouldn't keep you from making him the first wide receiver off the board. He's led the league in receiving yards-per-game in three of the past four years and with the threat of Arian Foster running the ball, Johnson should once again be a fantasy superstar.
2) Roddy White, ATL - White led the NFL in targets last season (179) and that total shouldn't change in 2011. The addition of rookie wideout Julio Jones might even force defensive coaches to actually defend against the guy opposite White which wasn't always the case when Michael Jenkins in the No.2 spot. White has four consecutive 1,150+ yard seasons and has posted double-digit touchdowns in each of the last two years. White should be in line for a fourth consecutive trip to the Pro Bowl.
3) Larry Fitzgerald, ARI - Despite catching passes from the likes of Derek Anderson, John Skelton, Max Hall and Richard Bartel, Fitzgerald still managed to amass 90 receptions for 1,137 yards. In the off-season the Cardinals were determined to improve the quarterback position and traded cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie for former Eagles starter Kevin Kolb. While Kolb might not be the second coming of Kurt Warner, he's certainly got more talent than anyone who threw a pass for Arizona last season. Fitzgerald's statistics should return to the land of 100 catches, 1,400 yards and double-digit touchdowns.
4) Hakeem Nicks, NYG - Nicks was the best fantasy receiver in the league for the first half of the 2010 season, posting 51 receptions for 653 yards and nine touchdowns in the first eight games. Injuries slowed his second half production and he finished with 1,052 yards and 11 scores. He'll be Eli Manning's No.1 target in 2011, particularly over the first month of the season which Steve Smith is expected to miss coming of microfracture surgery. Expect a huge season from Nicks.
5) Calvin Johnson, DET - Just imagine the production Calvin Johnson could post if quarterback Matthew Stafford could stay healthy for an entire season. The two players have been on the field together for just 12 games in two seasons. If the Lions can figure out how to protect Stafford, Johnson should have his best season yet, but before making this pick you should watch Detroit in preseason to see if they have an improved offensive line.
6) DeSean Jackson, PHI - Jackson is the most explosive and exciting receiver in the league. In 2010 he averaged a league-leading 22.5 yards-per-reception. The previous season he led the league in yards-per-punt-return (15.2). When he's got the football in his hands, he reminds me of Deion Sanders. There are two concerns with drafting Jackson as a top receiver - his current holdout and his ability to play all 16 games in a season. Jackson has a tendency to get nicked up which happens when you are 5'10" and just 175 lbs and play against 300-pound lineman and 250 lb linebackers. The holdout won't be a problem unless he doesn't report by Tuesday and loses an "accrued year" towards free agency. If that happens he might sit out a long time. He's a top-five receiver in leagues which use punt and kickoff return yardage.
7) Vincent Jackson, SD - Jackson was a top-15 receiver in 2008 and 2009 before sitting out all but five games last season in a contract dispute. With one of the best fantasy quarterbacks throwing the ball and only Antonio Gates and Malcom Floyd to share receptions, Jackson should have a monster season trying to prove he's worth the one-year, $11.9 million contract he just signed.
8) Reggie Wayne, IND - Wayne quietly posted another excellent season while most of the media attention went to receivers Pierre Garcon, Austin Collie and even Blair White. All Wayne did was catch 111 balls for 1,355 yards and six touchdowns. but then he does that, or better, every season. Wayne is unhappy with the last year of his contract which pays him less than $6 million, but it won't effect his production and another top season is in store for those who select him.
9) Miles Austin, DAL - Austin was the breakout star at wide receiver in 2009, posting 1,320 yards and 11 touchdowns in about 12 games of action. He was a high draft choice in 2010, but failed to live up to those lofty expectations. Most of that can be written off as Tony Romo's injury replacement, Jon Kitna, didn't like to throw deep. Romo is back and as long as he stays healthy, Austin should post big yardage. The addition of Dez Bryant, however, may hurt Austin's touchdown total as Bryant is a great red zone target.
10) Greg Jennings, GB - Jennings is one of the league's premier deep threats as evidenced by his 16.6 ypc in 2010 and a career touchdown log which shows 16 of his 40 touchdowns (40%) from 40 yards out or more. With the return from injury of the Packers great pass-catching tight end, Jermichael Finley and the surprise re-signing of James Jones, Jennings may end up with a lower reception total than in 2010 (76).
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