Top 15 Wide Receivers for 2013 Fantasy Football Season

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Fantasy Football: Top 15 Wideouts

wide
Kirby Lee - USA TODAY Sports

Wide receivers are a difficult group to judge. How much will they be featured in this particular offense? Will their starting quarterback stay healthy? Will a one-year wonder be able to repeat his performance from before?

In Fantasy Football, there are also very different levels of need for this position based on the type of league. In standard scoring, you better be taking a couple of running backs before you take a wideout. In a PPR (point per reception) league, you have much more flexibility as those two positions are evened out a bit.

Take a look at these numbers, in standard scoring, the highest point total for a running back in 2012 was 307.40 by Adrian Peterson. The highest total for a wide receiver was 220.40 by Calvin Johnson. Six running backs ranked ahead of him.

Now, Megatron is clearly the best receiver in the NFL, but is he worth a first round pick in standard leagues? Based on those numbers, probably not. In PPR leagues, however, Johnson posted 332.40 points, and AP had 347.40; a much closer and certainly more reasonable comparison that would easily have No. 81 at a first-round projection.

But I know, even with this undeniable evidence, emotions on draft day run high, and I’d like to help you not do a dumb thing. So, here is a list of the top 15 receivers — pre-preseason anyway — to select in your fantasy football draft. The ranking is based on standard scoring, but I will add a grade based on the player’s value in PPR.

(The last slide has a short list of people that should be considered after the 15th best receiver.)

Brian Neal is an intern at Rant Sports and senior mass communications major at Lewis University. Follow him on Twitter @brianneal23 and “Like” him on Facebook.

2 of 16

15. Jeremy Maclin, Philadelphia Eagles

jeremy
Eric Hartline - USA TODAY Sports

Maclin was the top target for the Eagles last year. Now, I know they have a new scheme in Philly with new head coach Chip Kelly, but the reason Maclin was the top target last season is because he is the best wide receiver, hands down, on that team. That won't change this year; and whoever Kelly puts at QB will get him the ball as often as possible.

Standard Scoring: Late Round 5, Early Round 6

PPR: Round 5

3 of 16

14. Antonio Brown, Pittsburgh Steelers

antonio
Jason Bridge - USA TODAY Sports

Brown will now be the No. 1 in Pittsburgh after the departure of Mike Wallace via free agency. Going into his fourth season as a pro, Brown should be completely ready for this role, and I expect him to do very well as long as Ben Roethlisberger is the one throwing to him.

Standard Scoring: Late Round 5, Early Round 6

PPR: Round 5

4 of 16

13. Torrey Smith, Baltimore Ravens

torrey
Mark J. Rebilas - USA TODAY Sports

Smith is now the unquestioned No. 1 in Baltimore after Anquan Boldin was traded to the 49ers. With that, new responsibilities and expectations arise for the third-year receiver, but I think he'll handle the transition very well. Last year, he only had 855 yards and eight touchdowns. In 2013, I expect more yards, but not necessarily more touchdowns because teams will key on him more in the redzone.

Standard Scoring: Late Round 5, Early Round 6

PPR: Early-to-mid Round 5

5 of 16

12. Reggie Wayne, Indianapolis Colts

reggie
Denny Medley - USA TODAY Sports

Wayne saw a dramatic numbers improvement from 2011's dreadful year without Peyton Manning to 2012 once Andrew Luck took over. With Luck now going into his second year, expect him to be able to improve the quality targets for Wayne, and thus score more than five touchdowns like last year.

Standard Scoring: Late Round 5, Early Round 6

PPR: Late Round 4, Early Round 5

6 of 16

11. Roddy White, Atlanta Falcons

roddy
Daniel Shirey - USA TODAY Sports

It's so tough to gauge how the Falcons individual players will do because they have three, or even four very good targets to throw to now that Steven Jackson has arrived. Last year, Julio Jones and Roddy White ranked five points apart in standard scoring (Jones had five more), but I expect that separation to spread a little bit further in Jones' favor because of the age difference.

Standard Scoring: Round 5

PPR: Round 4

7 of 16

10. Vincent Jackson, Tampa Bay Buccaneers

vincent
Steve Mitchell - USA TODAY Sports

Jackson had career revival last season with Josh Freeman and the Bucs. Over 1,300 yards and eight touchdowns are excellent fantasy numbers. Unfortunately for owners, he kind of bulked up on touchdowns in just a few games. Because of that inconsistency, Jackson ranks at No. 10 and not any higher.

Standard Scoring: Round 5

PPR: Round 4

8 of 16

9. Wes Welker, Denver Broncos

wes
Ron Chenoy - USA TODAY Sports

Welker is going to have a big year with the Broncos in 2013. He's now in a situation comparable to when the New England Patriots had Randy Moss, and we all saw how well he did then. Manning will get the ball to him early and often, as he will be the much more talented version of Brandon Stokley's role from last year. Welker will easily get 100 receptions again this year, but how many touchdowns will he score? Probably around the same number as last year, six. Because of those two likely statistics, his value is much greater in PPR leagues than standard ones.

Standard Scoring: Round 5

PPR: Round 3

9 of 16

8. Andre Johnson, Houston Texans

andre
Brett Davis - USA TODAY Sports

After being oft-injured in 2011, nobody was sure if Johnson was going to be able to bounce back in 2012. He did yardage-wise, with nearly 1,600 yards, but only had four touchdowns. Perhaps that was because there weren't any other targets on the team to deter attention away from Johnson, but the Texans hope they have found that this year with first-round pick DeAndre Hopkins out of Clemson. This season, expect less yards, but more touchdowns from the perennial Pro Bowler.

Standard Scoring: Mid-to-late Round 4

PPR: Late Round 3, Early Round 4

10 of 16

7. Demaryius Thomas - USA TODAY Sports

thomas
Chris Humphreys - USA TODAY Sports

Thomas was fifth in fantasy points for receivers last year in standard scoring, but he will take a slight step back this year because he isn't a secret any longer. Not that they will be able to stop him completely, but there should be more double-teams this year. Consider that with the fact that they picked up Wes Welker, who has the most receptions in the league over the last six seasons, and you have a situation that likely entails less targets to Thomas anyway. However, essentially being "Calvin Johnson Jr." means you're still going to have a very good year.

Standard Scoring: Round 4

PPR: Round 3

11 of 16

6. Julio Jones, Atlanta Falcons

julio
Daniel Shirey - USA TODAY Sports

Jones will be on an offense again with Roddy White and Tony Gonzalez, as well as now Steven Jackson. Make no mistake, Jones will once again be the top target in the passing game for Matt Ryan, but with another guy who will take more touches not only in the run game, but the passing game as well, Jones may find a few less targets in 2013. However, the majority of them will be high-quality, so expect a very strong receptions-to-touchdowns ratio.

Standard Scoring: Late Round 3

PPR: Late Round 2, Early Round 3

12 of 16

5. Percy Harvin, Seattle Seahawks

percy
Joe Nicholson - USA TODAY Sports

I might have even put Harvin higher on this list if he had some sort of history that made me think he'd stay healthy, but the talent is too good to keep him out of the top five. Before his ankle injury that put him on IR in 2012, Harvin led the league in total yards, and that was on a team where he had to compete with Adrian Peterson for touches -- not to mention a quarterback that was average at best. Now with Seattle, Harvin gets to play in perhaps the most ideal location in the league because of the versatility of not only himself, but second-year quarterback Russell Wilson. Expect Harvin to put up huge numbers this year... You know, if he can stay on the field.

Standard Scoring: Round 3

PPR: Round 2

13 of 16

4. Dez Bryant, Dallas Cowboys

dez
Matthew Emmons - USA TODAY Sports

Bryant has recently not made the news for being in some kind of trouble; that's a first. New mentoring from NBA Legend Michael Jordan, as well as current player -- and likely future hall-of-famer -- Chris Paul, is a good sign that Bryant could continue that trend making him an even safer pick in fantasy football. The 24-year-old had a breakout season last year with over 1,300 yards and 12 touchdowns, expect those numbers to improve this year.

Standard Scoring: Round 3

PPR: Round 2

14 of 16

3. A.J. Green, Cincinnati Bengals

green
Rob Leifheit - USA TODAY Sports

It was hard not to put Green at No. 2, but the next guy has him beat because of who his quarterback is. Andy Dalton has proven to be a solid starter at the professional level, but I don't believe his ceiling is much higher than he's shown so far in his first two seasons. Because of that, and added weapons to take some targets away from Green, expect the third-year receiver to put up similar numbers to last year -- but not better because of Dalton -- which are still excellent.

Standard Scoring: Late Round 2, Early Round 3

PPR: Late Round 1, Early Round 2

15 of 16

2. Brandon Marshall, Chicago Bears

brandon
Mark J. Rebilas - USA TODAY Sports

The Bears have a new head coach and new system, but it is tailor-made to the passing game. With weapons at every level of the offense and a rebuilt offensive line, expect quarterback Jay Cutler to have plenty of time to find Marshall. Last season, Marshall had around 200 targets, and even though that is expected to go down a bit, there should be even more quality opportunities this year for the duo.

Standard Scoring: Mid-to-late Round 2, Early Round 3

PPR: Late Round 1, Early Round 2

16 of 16

1. Calvin Johnson, Detroit Lions

calvin
Tim Fuller - USA TODAY Sports

Megatron is, of course, the best wide receiver and one of the top athletes in the entire league. Last year he put up an astronomical amount of yards, but only had five touchdowns. Expect those numbers to even out a bit, especially with a more reliable run game now that Reggie Bush is in the Motor City.

Standard Scoring: Late Round 1, Early Round 2

PPR: Early Round 1

Receivers to Choose After the 15th:

James Jones, Randall Cobb, Steve Smith, Marques Colston, Victor Cruz, Hakeem Nicks, Jordy Nelson, Eric Decker, Miles Austin, Anquan Boldin, Larry Fitzgerald, Dwayne Bowe, Danny Amendola and Pierre Garcon, among others.

Brian Neal is an intern at Rant Sports and senior mass communications major at Lewis University. Follow him on Twitter @brianneal23 and “Like” him on Facebook.

1 of 16

Fantasy Football: Top 15 Wideouts

wide
Kirby Lee - USA TODAY Sports

Wide receivers are a difficult group to judge. How much will they be featured in this particular offense? Will their starting quarterback stay healthy? Will a one-year wonder be able to repeat his performance from before?

In Fantasy Football, there are also very different levels of need for this position based on the type of league. In standard scoring, you better be taking a couple of running backs before you take a wideout. In a PPR (point per reception) league, you have much more flexibility as those two positions are evened out a bit.

Take a look at these numbers, in standard scoring, the highest point total for a running back in 2012 was 307.40 by Adrian Peterson. The highest total for a wide receiver was 220.40 by Calvin Johnson. Six running backs ranked ahead of him.

Now, Megatron is clearly the best receiver in the NFL, but is he worth a first round pick in standard leagues? Based on those numbers, probably not. In PPR leagues, however, Johnson posted 332.40 points, and AP had 347.40; a much closer and certainly more reasonable comparison that would easily have No. 81 at a first-round projection.

But I know, even with this undeniable evidence, emotions on draft day run high, and I’d like to help you not do a dumb thing. So, here is a list of the top 15 receivers — pre-preseason anyway — to select in your fantasy football draft. The ranking is based on standard scoring, but I will add a grade based on the player’s value in PPR.

(The last slide has a short list of people that should be considered after the 15th best receiver.)

Brian Neal is an intern at Rant Sports and senior mass communications major at Lewis University. Follow him on Twitter @brianneal23 and “Like” him on Facebook.

2 of 16

15. Jeremy Maclin, Philadelphia Eagles

jeremy
Eric Hartline - USA TODAY Sports

Maclin was the top target for the Eagles last year. Now, I know they have a new scheme in Philly with new head coach Chip Kelly, but the reason Maclin was the top target last season is because he is the best wide receiver, hands down, on that team. That won't change this year; and whoever Kelly puts at QB will get him the ball as often as possible.

Standard Scoring: Late Round 5, Early Round 6

PPR: Round 5

3 of 16

14. Antonio Brown, Pittsburgh Steelers

antonio
Jason Bridge - USA TODAY Sports

Brown will now be the No. 1 in Pittsburgh after the departure of Mike Wallace via free agency. Going into his fourth season as a pro, Brown should be completely ready for this role, and I expect him to do very well as long as Ben Roethlisberger is the one throwing to him.

Standard Scoring: Late Round 5, Early Round 6

PPR: Round 5

4 of 16

13. Torrey Smith, Baltimore Ravens

torrey
Mark J. Rebilas - USA TODAY Sports

Smith is now the unquestioned No. 1 in Baltimore after Anquan Boldin was traded to the 49ers. With that, new responsibilities and expectations arise for the third-year receiver, but I think he'll handle the transition very well. Last year, he only had 855 yards and eight touchdowns. In 2013, I expect more yards, but not necessarily more touchdowns because teams will key on him more in the redzone.

Standard Scoring: Late Round 5, Early Round 6

PPR: Early-to-mid Round 5

5 of 16

12. Reggie Wayne, Indianapolis Colts

reggie
Denny Medley - USA TODAY Sports

Wayne saw a dramatic numbers improvement from 2011's dreadful year without Peyton Manning to 2012 once Andrew Luck took over. With Luck now going into his second year, expect him to be able to improve the quality targets for Wayne, and thus score more than five touchdowns like last year.

Standard Scoring: Late Round 5, Early Round 6

PPR: Late Round 4, Early Round 5

6 of 16

11. Roddy White, Atlanta Falcons

roddy
Daniel Shirey - USA TODAY Sports

It's so tough to gauge how the Falcons individual players will do because they have three, or even four very good targets to throw to now that Steven Jackson has arrived. Last year, Julio Jones and Roddy White ranked five points apart in standard scoring (Jones had five more), but I expect that separation to spread a little bit further in Jones' favor because of the age difference.

Standard Scoring: Round 5

PPR: Round 4

7 of 16

10. Vincent Jackson, Tampa Bay Buccaneers

vincent
Steve Mitchell - USA TODAY Sports

Jackson had career revival last season with Josh Freeman and the Bucs. Over 1,300 yards and eight touchdowns are excellent fantasy numbers. Unfortunately for owners, he kind of bulked up on touchdowns in just a few games. Because of that inconsistency, Jackson ranks at No. 10 and not any higher.

Standard Scoring: Round 5

PPR: Round 4

8 of 16

9. Wes Welker, Denver Broncos

wes
Ron Chenoy - USA TODAY Sports

Welker is going to have a big year with the Broncos in 2013. He's now in a situation comparable to when the New England Patriots had Randy Moss, and we all saw how well he did then. Manning will get the ball to him early and often, as he will be the much more talented version of Brandon Stokley's role from last year. Welker will easily get 100 receptions again this year, but how many touchdowns will he score? Probably around the same number as last year, six. Because of those two likely statistics, his value is much greater in PPR leagues than standard ones.

Standard Scoring: Round 5

PPR: Round 3

9 of 16

8. Andre Johnson, Houston Texans

andre
Brett Davis - USA TODAY Sports

After being oft-injured in 2011, nobody was sure if Johnson was going to be able to bounce back in 2012. He did yardage-wise, with nearly 1,600 yards, but only had four touchdowns. Perhaps that was because there weren't any other targets on the team to deter attention away from Johnson, but the Texans hope they have found that this year with first-round pick DeAndre Hopkins out of Clemson. This season, expect less yards, but more touchdowns from the perennial Pro Bowler.

Standard Scoring: Mid-to-late Round 4

PPR: Late Round 3, Early Round 4

10 of 16

7. Demaryius Thomas - USA TODAY Sports

thomas
Chris Humphreys - USA TODAY Sports

Thomas was fifth in fantasy points for receivers last year in standard scoring, but he will take a slight step back this year because he isn't a secret any longer. Not that they will be able to stop him completely, but there should be more double-teams this year. Consider that with the fact that they picked up Wes Welker, who has the most receptions in the league over the last six seasons, and you have a situation that likely entails less targets to Thomas anyway. However, essentially being "Calvin Johnson Jr." means you're still going to have a very good year.

Standard Scoring: Round 4

PPR: Round 3

11 of 16

6. Julio Jones, Atlanta Falcons

julio
Daniel Shirey - USA TODAY Sports

Jones will be on an offense again with Roddy White and Tony Gonzalez, as well as now Steven Jackson. Make no mistake, Jones will once again be the top target in the passing game for Matt Ryan, but with another guy who will take more touches not only in the run game, but the passing game as well, Jones may find a few less targets in 2013. However, the majority of them will be high-quality, so expect a very strong receptions-to-touchdowns ratio.

Standard Scoring: Late Round 3

PPR: Late Round 2, Early Round 3

12 of 16

5. Percy Harvin, Seattle Seahawks

percy
Joe Nicholson - USA TODAY Sports

I might have even put Harvin higher on this list if he had some sort of history that made me think he'd stay healthy, but the talent is too good to keep him out of the top five. Before his ankle injury that put him on IR in 2012, Harvin led the league in total yards, and that was on a team where he had to compete with Adrian Peterson for touches -- not to mention a quarterback that was average at best. Now with Seattle, Harvin gets to play in perhaps the most ideal location in the league because of the versatility of not only himself, but second-year quarterback Russell Wilson. Expect Harvin to put up huge numbers this year... You know, if he can stay on the field.

Standard Scoring: Round 3

PPR: Round 2

13 of 16

4. Dez Bryant, Dallas Cowboys

dez
Matthew Emmons - USA TODAY Sports

Bryant has recently not made the news for being in some kind of trouble; that's a first. New mentoring from NBA Legend Michael Jordan, as well as current player -- and likely future hall-of-famer -- Chris Paul, is a good sign that Bryant could continue that trend making him an even safer pick in fantasy football. The 24-year-old had a breakout season last year with over 1,300 yards and 12 touchdowns, expect those numbers to improve this year.

Standard Scoring: Round 3

PPR: Round 2

14 of 16

3. A.J. Green, Cincinnati Bengals

green
Rob Leifheit - USA TODAY Sports

It was hard not to put Green at No. 2, but the next guy has him beat because of who his quarterback is. Andy Dalton has proven to be a solid starter at the professional level, but I don't believe his ceiling is much higher than he's shown so far in his first two seasons. Because of that, and added weapons to take some targets away from Green, expect the third-year receiver to put up similar numbers to last year -- but not better because of Dalton -- which are still excellent.

Standard Scoring: Late Round 2, Early Round 3

PPR: Late Round 1, Early Round 2

15 of 16

2. Brandon Marshall, Chicago Bears

brandon
Mark J. Rebilas - USA TODAY Sports

The Bears have a new head coach and new system, but it is tailor-made to the passing game. With weapons at every level of the offense and a rebuilt offensive line, expect quarterback Jay Cutler to have plenty of time to find Marshall. Last season, Marshall had around 200 targets, and even though that is expected to go down a bit, there should be even more quality opportunities this year for the duo.

Standard Scoring: Mid-to-late Round 2, Early Round 3

PPR: Late Round 1, Early Round 2

16 of 16

1. Calvin Johnson, Detroit Lions

calvin
Tim Fuller - USA TODAY Sports

Megatron is, of course, the best wide receiver and one of the top athletes in the entire league. Last year he put up an astronomical amount of yards, but only had five touchdowns. Expect those numbers to even out a bit, especially with a more reliable run game now that Reggie Bush is in the Motor City.

Standard Scoring: Late Round 1, Early Round 2

PPR: Early Round 1

Receivers to Choose After the 15th:

James Jones, Randall Cobb, Steve Smith, Marques Colston, Victor Cruz, Hakeem Nicks, Jordy Nelson, Eric Decker, Miles Austin, Anquan Boldin, Larry Fitzgerald, Dwayne Bowe, Danny Amendola and Pierre Garcon, among others.

Brian Neal is an intern at Rant Sports and senior mass communications major at Lewis University. Follow him on Twitter @brianneal23 and “Like” him on Facebook.


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