All this week the Washington Post will be rolling out its fantasy football rankings by position, continuing Wednesday with the top 30 WRs. Gene Wang offers his best bets at the position for 2014, while Neil Greenberg expounds upon the best and worst WR values in the Fancy Stats blog.
Top 30 WRs
1. Calvin Johnson, Detroit Lions: Megatron’s floor is the highest of any WR1, with expectations of 1,700 yards and 12 touchdowns well within reason. Johnson’s 45 touchdowns over last four seasons are the most in the NFL.
2. Demaryius Thomas, Denver Broncos: Peyton Manning’s favorite target is giving Johnson a run as the most dangerous wide receiver to come out of Georgia Tech. Thomas averaged 1,432 yards and 12 touchdowns in the past two seasons.
3. A.J. Green, Cincinnati Bengals: Andy Dalton amassed the fifth most fantasy points for a quarterback last season in large part because of Green, who is averaging 1,278 yards and 10 touchdowns in his three-year career.
4. Brandon Marshall, Chicago Bears: The five-time Pro Bowl selection remains the No. 1 option for QB Jay Cutler in the vertical passing attack. Marshall received more targets (173) than any player over the past two seasons.
5. Dez Bryant, Dallas Cowboys: Bryant would be a top-three WR1 except for his well-documented off-field issues. QB Tony Romo’s most lethal deep threat could increase his stock working in passing coordinator Scott Linehan’s system.
6. Julio Jones, Atlanta Falcons: A broken foot after five games derailed what was becoming one of the finest seasons for a wide receiver yardage-wise in recent memory. More targets are on the way with the retirement of TE Tony Gonzalez.
7. Jordy Nelson, Green Bay Packers: Nelson recently signed a four-year, $39 million contract extension following a season with 1,314 yards and eight touchdowns despite QB Aaron Rodgers missing seven games.
8. Antonio Brown, Pittsburgh Steelers: Pittsburgh’s undisputed No. 1 option in the passing game compiled 1,498 yards and eight touchdowns with 166 targets, which were the fourth most in the league.
9. Alshon Jeffery, Chicago Bears: The emerging superstar amassed 149 targets despite playing opposite Marshall. Jeffery is among a handful of secondary wide receivers capable of being a high-end WR1.
10. Randall Cobb, Green Bay Packers: Cobb is coming off broken leg in Week 6, or else he might be in the discussion among top five WR1s. The slot receiver started last season with 236 receiving yards and three total touchdowns in his first two games.
11. DeSean Jackson, Washington Redskins: Circle Sept. 21 and Dec. 20, both games against the Eagles, to make certain Jackson is in your starting lineup. It’s worth noting the second of those games is also the date of most fantasy Super Bowls.
12. Andre Johnson, Houston Texans: A lengthy holdout finally ended last week for the face of the franchise, who was second in targets (181) last season and had 1,407 yards despite, gulp, Matt Schaub and Case Keenum at quarterback.
13. Vincent Jackson, Tampa Bay Buccaneers: A three-time Pro Bowl pick, Jackson continues to make the best of mediocre quarterback play, amassing an average of 1,238 yards and eight touchdowns in the last two seasons.
14. Larry Fitzgerald, Arizona Cardinals: Although he turned 30 last season, Fitzgerald went to his sixth consecutive Pro Bowl thanks to 954 yards and 10 touchdowns, his highest total since catching 13 in 2009.
15. Pierre Garcon, Washington Redskins: Even with QB Robert Griffin III ailing, Garcon managed league highs of 113 receptions and 182 targets. The PPR (point-per-reception) beast’s production figures to drop slightly with the addition of Jackson.
16. Victor Cruz, New York Giants: There’s no way Eli Manning throws close to 27 interceptions again, right? Working on that assumption, it’s probably safe to count on Cruz for a comeback season after just four touchdowns in 2013.
17. Michael Crabtree, San Francisco 49ers: Throw out Crabtree’s statistics last season as he worked his way back from a torn Achilles’. His numbers in 2012 (85 catches, 1,105 yards, 9 TDs) are a much better indicator of what to expect.
18. T.Y. Hilton, Indianapolis Colts: When Reggie Wayne tore his ACL in Week 7, the Colts’ WR1 torch appeared to be passed to Hilton, who finished with 1,083 yards, five touchdowns and 139 targets, the 14th most last season.
19. Roddy White, Atlanta Falcons: Following five straight seasons of at least 1,153 yards and six touchdowns, White’s numbers fell considerably without Jones on the other side. Jones is back, and White’s production should be too.
20. Julian Edelman, New England Patriots: Much like the fortunes of his quarterback Tom Brady, this PPR stud’s overall value could be on the rise if TE Rob Gronkowski plays a full season and draws coverage away on intermediate routes.
21. Keenan Allen, San Diego Chargers: Allen’s rookie season began rolling in Week 4, when he had the first of his five games with at least 106 yards. His 104 targets were the most on the Chargers and befitting an emerging WR1.
22. Jeremy Maclin, Philadelphia Eagles: Another victim of a torn ACL, Maclin is charged with replacing the production of DeSean Jackson. His upside is as high as any WR1 given the frenetic pace of Coach Chip Kelly’s offense.
23. Marques Colston, New Orleans Saints: Colston closed with a reminder of why he remains a WR1: 11 receptions for 144 yards in a playoff loss to Seattle. Not a bad way to punctuate what was considered a subpar season (934 yards, five touchdowns).
24. Wes Welker, Denver Broncos: Once the king of PPR, Welker ceded that title last season while sharing duties with a host of other game-breakers in Denver. His numbers should get a bump with Eric Decker gone though.
25. Percy Harvin, Seattle Seahawks: Hip surgery kept one of the league’s more explosive wide receivers on the sideline most of the season, but Harvin showed potential WR1 mettle with some dazzling plays in the Super Bowl.
26. Michael Floyd, Arizona Cardinals: The No. 13 overall pick in the 2012 NFL draft flourished as a complement to Fitzgerald, finishing with 1,041 yards and five touchdowns on 65 receptions.
27. Kendall Wright, Tennessee Titans: Wright’s 139 targets were more than Fitzgerald, Nelson or Jackson, and he produced 1,079 yards on 94 receptions with Jake Locker and Ryan Fitzpatrick as his quarterbacks.
28. Golden Tate, Detroit Lions: Detroit is hoping Tate can be to Megatron what Jeffery has been to Marshall in Chicago. One thing’s for certain: Tate won’t see any double-teams opposite the best WR in the business.
29. Emmanuel Sanders, Denver Broncos: Sanders is far from the most sure-handed player in the league, but even a No. 3 WR becomes an intriguing fantasy prospect when catching passes from Peyton Manning.
30. Cordarrelle Patterson, Minnesota Vikings: There’s no question about Patterson’s game-changing speed. The concern is whether or not Minnesota’s starting quarterback — whoever that turns out to be — can deliver the ball consistently.