For most of the off-season, it appeared there were only four receivers who had risen to the cream of the crop in fantasy drafts, worthy of top-15 picks. After a QB relocation, the group has a fifth member. Larry Fitzgerald didn’t have a quarterback throwing him the ball in 2010 as much as he had a group of extras from the set of the film “The Replacements” under center. Derek Anderson, John Skelton and Max Hall together make up about a fifth of a quality QB, yet Fitzgerald managed to catch 90 balls for 1,137 yards and six TDs. Do the math, and if Fitzgerald would have had a quality option throwing him the ball, he would have finished with 450 receptions for over 5,600 yards and 30 TDs. You can’t argue with that logic. Even if Kevin Kolb is half a quality QB, Fitzgerald is primed for a huge season. Anyone grabbing him or any other top-five WR is a step ahead of the game this season.
More thoughts after the rankings.
Update: The rankings have been updated as of 8/30/11. All updates are mine and mine alone, so I have left the original average rank of each player intact.
Greg Jennings may come in one slot below Fitzgerald, but the fantasy talent gap couldn’t be any wider. Jennings’s fantasy worth is tied inversely to the health of Jermichael Finley; when the electric TE is on the field, Jennings gets lost a little in the offense. Is it possible he could overcome that trend and post a huge line, especially with Donald Driver seemingly heading for fantasy obscurity? Of course, but it’s not worth spending a second-round pick to find out. The 6-12 WRs are packed pretty close, and if you have your heart set on a certain QB in the second, I wouldn’t begrudge you for taking them in the back half of that round and then picking up a receiver in the third.
Until we know what’s wrong with Jeremy Maclin (hopefully, present-you knows much more about the situation than past-me), he’s undraftable as a top-30 option. Last year’s top WR was Brandon Lloyd, and with Kyle Orton back as the starter he looks like a steal outside the top 20. Mario Manningham is my favorite value WR of the draft; I’d certainly much rather have him than Sidney Rice and his bad-QB situation or Kenny Britt and his ever-potential suspension.
Michael Crabtree looks healthy-ish and may be ready by the start of the season, which boosts him back into WR3 territory. I picked him up in a 32-team draft (don’t ask) after Louis Murphy, Deion Branch and Johnny Knox, who finds himself maddeningly out of a starting job and thus deserves to be downgraded to an undrafted talent that bears watching (no pun intended, I swear) in fantasy leagues.
At least one St. Louis receiver is destined to be a fantasy force this year in Josh McDaniels’s offense; considering they’re selected as bench players anyway, I’d try and find a way to snag Danny Amendola, Mike Sims-Walker and Danario Alexander as backup WRs and let the chips fall where they may. Whoever misses out on the fantasy goodness can be kicked to the curb early in the season.
Value players that get boosts from me in my own personal rankings include Lance Moore, Eddie Royal, Jordan Shipley and Bernard Berrian. As for an overdrafted player, Plaxico Burress’s inclusion in most mock drafts I see places too much value on him in my book. He’s likely the third or fourth option in a run-first offense who, by the way, has been stuck in jail for the last couple seasons. Do you really envision him making positive fantasy contributions?
R.J. White is the head editor at the Cafe, writes for FanDuel and Razzball and has previously written for FanHouse. Catch up with him in the forums under the name daullaz. Follow him on Twitter; don't follow him in real life.
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