Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Ready to Go

In preparation for the upcoming fall sports season, I chose the song Ready to Go by Panic! At The Disco, because well, I'm ready for it. I love fall sports. Football is my favorite sport to watch and photograph, and volleyball is pretty impressive, when played at a high level.

I don't have any pictures this week, as I was doing a feature, a news story and a couple of previews.

However, I do have part three of four in my fantasy football preview series. It's on wide receivers.

Part three: wide world of wideouts

A wide receiver is the most unique position in fantasy football because NFL teams could have two and even three potential fantasy starters playing at the position. All the other positions mostly have one, or in the case of a running back by committee situation, two.

What this means is that wide receiver is usually a very deep position with 40 to 60 ball snaggers (or more) that could be inserted into a fantasy lineup each week. The best strategy in a draft is to snag three or four of those startable receivers in the first eight or nine rounds and base starting them on match ups. Other receivers will emerge during the season as well, so remember to keep an eye on the waiver wire when a starter goes down, or someone else is on the rise. Waivers can be key on wide receivers as Victor Cruz proved last year, and as I always say, the draft is only 40 percent of the fantasy season.

Without further ado, here is my list of top 10 wide receivers for the 2012 season. As with last week the PPR rank will be in parentheses behind them and the replacement will be stated if that player is outside of the top 10. One note, the top three wide receivers appear to be pretty clear cut to me, but after that there is a bunch of guys who either put up big numbers and might slip, or guys that put up decent numbers and look to improve this year. After three, as a drafter, one must just evaluate the offense or the potential of the receiver.

1. Calvin Johnson (1)
No matter the league settings, Megatron should sit on the top of the heap of wide outs with no question. After the monster season that he had in 2011, one would be a fool not to put him there. It would be hard to believe that he could improve on last season, but I wouldn't be surprised if he went after Moss' touchdown record.
2. Larry Fitzgerald (4)
Despite playing with an inexperienced quarterback (John Skelton) and one that was injury-riddled and didn't know the system well (Kevin Kolb), Fitzgerald put up strong numbers last season. Although he is nearing the waning years of his prime, Fitzgerald should put up even better numbers this year with a healthy Kolb (who now should know the system) slinging balls his way.
3. Roddy White (2)
A target hog (league leading 181 in 2011), White gets a lot of receptions and is often targeted in the red zone. With a great rapport between himself and Matt Ryan, White is in his prime and should be a strong, early draft pick this year.
4. A.J. Green (<10)
A strong deep threat on a team that doesn't have any other great targets now that Jerome Simpson is gone, Green could be poised to have a great year in 2012. Andy Dalton proved to be a reliable arm last season, and often looked the way of Green. Although any of the receivers from four to almost 20 are nearly interchangeable, I think that Green has a real chance to break out.
5. Julio Jones (<10)
Jones is nearly an identical threat as Green, but with more talent. He had a couple nagging injuries last year, which slowed him down, but his biggest drawback is that he has to share the field with Roddy White (and the targets). However, that could be a good thing, since White garners a lot of attention from opposing defenses, and almost always draws the top corner.
6. Greg Jennings (<10)
Jennings again put up great numbers last year, despite missing three games. He should come back strong, and with a throw-first offense and the best quarterback in the league tossing him the ball, should be a lock for 12+touchdowns and more than 1,200 yards. Plus, nobody expects Jordy Nelson to snag 15 touchdowns again, do they?
7. Brandon Marshall (5)
Marshall, though an egotistical head case, is a supremely talented wide receiver. He is reunited with former teammate Jay Cutler this season, and the last time they played together Marshall had a career high 104 receptions. Cutler has evolved as a quarterback since and the two should have a good go of it this season.
8. Victor Cruz (6)
A surprise to everyone last season, Victor Cruz emerged as one of the top wide outs in all of fantasy. Although expecting numbers as good as last season would be unwise, do expect Cruz to again benefit from a confident Eli Manning, coming off the super bowl win.
9. Wes Welker (3)
The second-most targeted receiver in the NFL last season, Welker is another of the guys that gets a lot of catches, and makes a lot of plays. He might not be the most prolific touchdown scorer, and he has to worry about new arrival Brandon Lloyd cutting into those targets, but expect Welker to surpass 100 receptions easy, and get at least eight touchdowns.
10. Marques Colston (7)
One can't expect me to leave the best of Drew Brees' receivers off the top 10 list, right? Brees did break the single season passing record after all, and along with Jimmy Graham, Colston benefited. With little to no running game, expect the Saints to air it out again this season, and expect Colston to reap the benefits.
Rest of the PPR guys: 8. Percy Harvin. 9. Dwayne Bowe. 10. Steve Smith.

Keep reading next week as I close out the fantasy preparedness seminar with a discussion on tight ends, kickers and defenses.

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