Calvin Johnson (Photo Credit: Leon Halip/Getty Images)
Last season, it was Calvin Johnson and everyone else. The athletic marvel outpaced his wide receiver counterparts by a healthy margin no matter the scoring system. Megatron figures to be stellar again this season, though he’ll have plenty of challengers for the top spot. Considering the talented players left off this list, it figures to be a good year for wideouts.
Here are your top 10 fantasy options at wide receiver:
1. Calvin Johnson, Detroit Lions
Johnson led all wide receivers last year, and it wasn’t even close. He scored 16 touchdowns; as many as nearly half the league’s quarterbacks. His own quarterback, Matthew Stafford, is only improving. All this, and the guy is only 26. The one downside — and this should not be taken lightly — is that Johnson appears on this year’s Madden video game cover. Beware the jinx.
2. Larry Fitzgerald, Arizona Cardinals
Larry Fitzgerald (Photo Credit: Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
Fitzgerald figures to benefit from first round pick Michael Floyd drawing some attention at the opposite receiver spot. Does Fitz have a reliable quarterback or a sturdy offensive line to protect that quarterback? Maybe not, but those deficiencies haven’t limited his production in the past. And they probably won’t this year either.
3. Andre Johnson, Houston Texans
Injuries cost him much of the 2011 season. But if you think Johnson is 100 percent healthy (and he appears to be), then he’s clearly an elite wide receiver. Believe it or not, Johnson has never had double-digit touchdowns in a season. Even if he doesn’t this year, he should put up big yards and receptions. Much like Fitzgerald, his value increases in a points-per-reception scoring format. But unlike Fitz, Johnson has a reliable quarterback under center.
Greg Jennings (Photo Credit: Matt Ludtke /Getty Images)
4. Greg Jennings, Green Bay Packers
How can you not like the best wide receiver in one of the league’s best passing offenses? The Packers have a lot of weapons, but there are lots of opportunities to go around. The last two seasons Jennings has combined for 21 scores and more than 2,200 yards. Aaron Rodgers should continue to target him at a high rate.
5. A.J. Green, Cincinnati Bengals
A Pro Bowler as a rookie, Green has the size, speed and athleticism to be dominant. With his quarterback, Andy Dalton, expected to make strides in his second year, only a sophomore slump (or injury) will limit Green’s production. Expect good things.
6. Brandon Marshall, Chicago Bears
Brandon Marshall (Photo Credit: Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
Marshall’s reunion with Jay Cutler could prove valuable to his fantasy owners. The talented receiver has often let his behavior affect his play, which makes him a risk. And Cutler can be a little erratic. But Marshall has cracked the 1,000 yard mark each of the past five seasons.
7. Hakeem Nicks, New York Giants
While teammate Victor Cruz salsa danced his way to more headlines last season, Nicks is actually the G-Men’s best wideout. Eli Manning spreads it around, but Nicks has still notched 18 touchdowns the past two seasons. Can he stay on the field? That is the real question. He is currently recovering from a broken bone in his foot.
8. Steve Smith, Carolina Panthers
Like Green, Smith should benefit from having a quarterback who’s no longer a rookie. If Cam Newton plays more games like he did the first half of last season, Smith will be a force, even at 33 years old. And with an unproven receiving corps, you know Smith will be targeted often.
Roddy White (Photo Credit: Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
9. Roddy White, Atlanta Falcons
A top fantasy performer the past four years, White had a case of the dropsies last season. The increased involvement of Julio Jones will limit White’s opportunities compared to past seasons, but not drastically.
10. Wes Welker, New England Patriots
Even with Tom Brady relying more on his star tight ends and the Patriots signing Brandon Lloyd, Welker remains a fantasy stud, especially in points-per-reception leagues. Ever since he came to New England, he has been among the league leaders in receptions and yards (discounting his post-surgery 2010 season).