Fantasy Too Early: Wide Receivers

Sounds like the CBA may be making real progress, the 4th of July is rapidly approaching, and man could I go for Free Agency and training camp. I have a high bit of optimism for our Bears this year, and think this whole 4 year UFA clause in the new CBA is going to happen, opening the gates on a lot of free agents to move, including some that are on or should be on the following wide receivers list. Guys like Steve Smith (NYG), Steve Smith (CAR), Vincent Jackson, Malcolm Floyd, Chad Whateverwecallhimthisyear, Sidney Rice, Santonio Holmes and more could be on the move this off-season...but let's not speculate!

For the sake of some brevity, I will only provide the first 20 rankings from CBS and ESPN this time around, but if you want the full depth look, just click the links attached above. For clarity, remember I use Eisenberg from CBS, not Richard. Final note: This is based on standardized scoring. PPR, IDP and Auction drafts are all on my potential "to do" list, depending on how much we can squeeze in pre-football season. I also assume 12 team leagues so each round of projected players is one of 12.





WCG "Expert"

#1 Andre Johnson (1st) Andre Johnson (1st) Roddy White (1st) Andre Johnson (1st)
#2 Roddy White (1st) Calvin Johnson (2nd) Andre Johnson (1st) Roddy White (2nd)
#3 Greg Jennings (2nd) Roddy White (2nd) Calvin Johnson (1st) Calvin Johnson (2nd)
#4 Hakeem Nicks (2nd) Reggie Wayne (2nd) Greg Jennings (2nd) Greg Jennings (3rd)
#5 Calvin Johnson (2nd) Hakeem Nicks (2nd) Reggie Wayne (2nd) Reggie Wayne (3rd)
#6 Mike Wallace (2nd) Greg Jennings (3rd) Larry Fitzgerald (2nd) Larry Fitzgerald (3rd)
#7 Larry Fitzgerald (2nd) Larry Fitzgerald (3rd) Miles Austin (2nd)
Hakeem Nicks (3rd)
#8 Vincent Jackson (3rd) Mike Wallace (3rd) Vincent Jackson (2nd) Mike Wallace (3rd)
#9 Reggie Wayne (3rd) DeSean Jackson (3rd) Hakeem Nicks (3rd) Miles Austin (3rd)
#10 Miles Austin (3rd) Dwayne Bowe (4th) Mike Wallace (3rd) Vincent Jackson (3rd)
#11 DeSean Jackson (3rd) Mike Williams (4th) Dwayne Bowe (3rd) DeSean Jackson (3rd)
#12 Dez Bryant (3rd) Brandon Marshall (4th) Jeremy Maclin (3rd) Dwayne Bowe (4th)
#13 Dwayne Bowe (4th) Vincent Jackson (5th) DeSean Jackson (3rd) Jeremy Maclin (4th)
#14 TB Mike Williams (4th) Miles Austin (5th) Steve Smith (NYG) (4th) Mike Williams (4th)
#15 Jeremy Maclin (4th) Wes Welker (5th) Mike Williams (4th) Marques Colston (5th)
#16 Marques Colston (4th) Jeremy Maclin (5th) Marques Colston (4th) Brandon Marshall (5th)
#17 Brandon Lloyd (4th) Marques Colston (5th) Steve Johnson (4th) Wes Welker (5th)
#18 Santonio Holmes (5th) Dez Bryant (5th) Wes Welker (5th) Dez Bryant (5th)
#19 Steven Johnson (5th) Santonio Holmes (5th) Santonio Holmes (5th) Santonio Holmes (5th)
#20 Wes Welker (5th) Anquan Boldin (6th) Anquan Boldin (5th) Brandon Lloyd (6th)
#21 Kenny Britt  (5th)
Brandon Lloyd (6th) Brandon Marshall (5th)
Steve Johnson (6th)
#22 Mario Manningham (5th)
Percy Harvin (6th) Malcolm Floyd (5th)
Anquan Boldin (6th)
#23 Brandon Marshall (5th)
Steve Johnson (7th) Brandon Lloyd (6th) Austin Collie (7th)
#24 Austin Collie (6th)
Sidney Rice (7th) Austin Collie (6th) Floyd/Harvin/Britt


You can see how I mentioned CBS overvalues Running Backs here, as they undervalue receivers on the flip side of that. They don't have more than 4 receivers in a round until the 5th, and to be blunt, if you follow their chart you will not end up with a stud at any of your 2-3 starting wide out spots. Even the ones they have in rounds 1-3 tend to be at the bottom of the round on their charts. On the flip side, I think ESPN tends to overvalue 3rd tier wide receivers. Production vs. Potential is always an interesting debate, but there is a reason Kenny Britt & Mario Manningham didn't show up on CBS' or my list, and Dez Bryant in the 3rd means you are trusting him as a #1 or #2 receiver on your fantasy team. Overall I can't argue much, but my perspective on the top 24 is all of them have to be every week starters on a fantasy team and I just don't see that from some of these guys. Maybe I am the blind guy :)

Top Backups and Sleepers: Flex spot players and bye week relievers, 3rd receivers are critical to a successful team...when you to 4th-5th receivers, you should be looking for big time upside, as they won't see the field unless they explode or someone else gets hurt.

3rd: Percy Harvin, Sidney Rice, Malcolm Floyd, Mario Manningham, Hines Ward, Johnny Knox, Santana Moss, Michael Crabtree...These guys should be great relievers in 2011. Sure there will be more, but between the top 24 and those, you can hopefully get 3 onto your roster. After that, swing for the fences!

2011 Sleepers: Deion Branch, Lance Moore, James Jones, Mike Williams (SEA), Mark Clayton (STL, thanks Doshi), Mike Sims-Walker. I think any and all of these guys could be sitting at 1000 yards by the end of 2011, and for a 4th-5th receiver in the 7th-12th round, that is great value. If you want a true "sleeper", from rounds 12-16, look at Titus Young in Detroit, Earl Bennett in Chicago, Louis Murphy in Oakland (really, I mean it.), Mike Thomas in Jacksonville and the so over-rated he will be under-rated Julio Jones.


Final Thoughts: Don't forget that the drop off from Tier 1 & 2 receivers to Tier 3 receivers can be massive. There are some guys you know will hit 1000 yards and 5+ TDs no matter what, and then there players you hope hit 800...and the differentials can be huge. Gamble and gamble big on your 4th-5th receiver, especially if you get a top 24 ranked guy as your can afford to swing for the fences and frankly, in any flex league where you can field 3 receivers, a 3rd receiver of high quality will often outscore a 3rd RB of quality. Receivers are traditionally passed over in favor of RBs because of volatility in scoring, but outside of the top 3-4 RBs, receivers score neck and neck with RBs throughout the year, and that will increase as RB tandems continue to be the way ahead.


Still to Come: Tight Ends, D/ST, PPR and IDP....and maybe a football season

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