The 2013 NFL season is officially underway. Training camp is open for all 32 teams and hope is a tangible quality in every locker room. The preseason seems to fly by under the new CBA schedule. Teams hit the ground running in training camp and before anyone can blink, it’s time for the Hall of Fame Game.
Of course this is a wonderful time of year, but for many people it is also a time of angst. This is understandable since you probably spent all offseason prepping for fantasy football. This is nothing to be ashamed about. It is better to be prepared than to “wing it.” However, as you have no doubt researched your favorite players in anticipation of your fantasy draft, you may have found that as the season gets closer, many players from your positional rankings are lost to injury.
Unfortunately, there is nothing more sobering than the first wave of preseason injuries (my personal apologies Percy Harvin owners). It takes the wind from every fantasy owners’ proverbial sails every season, but the key to fantasy success is adaptability. We all must learn to roll with the punches and adjust our rankings on the fly in time to draft with confidence. After all, who didn’t laugh at the guy who drafted Peyton Manning in 2011?
So with the first week of preseason games upon us, it is time to once again revisit the 2013 fantasy football positional rankings. We start with the wide receivers.
1. Calvin Johnson DET- “Megatron” is simply the best in the game. He should always be the first receiver drafted until further notice. There is no debate. Therefore, to write anything further on the subject is ludicrous.
Previous ranking- SAME
2012 stats- 122 receptions 1964 yards 5 touchdowns
2. A.J. Green CIN- At this point, Green is the only other receiver in the NFL on Calvin Johnson playing field. The only reason he should be the second receiver drafted is because he plays in a more balanced offense. However, his athleticism is other-worldly and he may someday de-throne Johnson and take his place amongst fantasy royalty.
Previous ranking- SAME
2012 stats- 97 receptions 1350 yards 11 touchdowns
3. Brandon Marshall CHI- Marshall clearly enjoyed the reunion with Jay Cutler in Chicago last season as he quickly resumed his status as Cutler’s go-to receiver. That’s good news for fantasy owners as Cutler has a tendency to force-feed the ball when he gets locked onto one guy. This was most evident during Marshall’s record-breaking performance in Denver where he caught 22 passes in one game with Cutler at the helm.
Previous ranking- SAME
2012 stats- 118 receptions 1508 yards 11 touchdowns
4. Dez Bryant DAL- Bryant is only just beginning to realize his vast potential in the NFL. Last season it finally seemed to click for him in Dallas. Quarterback Tony Romo developed incredible chemistry with Bryant down the stretch and really learned to trust the receiver. Bryant’s physical abilities have always been apparent to the Cowboys’ coaching staff as they frequently gush over his offensive prowess. If Tony Romo can stay healthy this season, Bryant should emerge as a top-tier fantasy receiver.
Previous ranking- No. 5
2012 stats- 92 receptions 1382 yards 12 touchdowns
5. Demaryius Thomas DEN- Life must have been tough for Demaryius Thomas prior to Peyton Manning’s arrival in Denver. He went to college at Georgia Tech, where they ran the triple option and rarely passed the ball. However, he played as well as possible and was drafted in the first round by the Denver Broncos.
His quarterback was then Tim Tebow, whose passing struggles are well documented regardless of your opinion on the man. Then Manning arrived in Denver and the world was allowed to see Thomas for the All-Pro receiver he is. Draft Thomas as a legitimate No. 1 receiver for your fantasy lineup.
Previous ranking- No. 7
2012 stats- 94 receptions 1434 yards 10 touchdowns
6. Julio Jones ATL- Jones dropped slightly on this list over the course of the preseason. He did so for no good reason too, just to get that out of the way. Unfortunately, he does play in a high-powered offense with many other viable targets though. However, this only slightly hurts his potential.
Jones may publicly concede that teammate Roddy White is the No. 1 receiver for the Falcons, but Jones is the more explosive of the two. He should be drafted for his extraordinarily high fantasy ceiling this year as he is reliable on every level.
Previous ranking- No. 4
2012 stats- 79 receptions 1198 yards 10 touchdowns
7. Randall Cobb GB- Cobb may be the most dynamic player on this list. Capable of lining up all over the field, he is perhaps most dangerous out of the slot. Many compare him to former division rival Percy Harvin for his ability to line up as a receiver, running back, kick returner, punt returner, and even quarterback. With the offseason departure of Greg Jennings, the Packers only further showed their faith in the young playmaker out of Kentucky.
Previous ranking- No. 8
2012 stats- 80 receptions 954 yards 8 touchdowns
8. Dwayne Bowe KC- Bowe is the first player on this list who is benefitting from a quarterback change. Usually, any type of transition at the league’s most scrutinized position is not a good thing. However, in this case Bowe is clearly upgrading with former San Francisco 49ers’ quarterback Alex Smith.
The Chiefs traded for Smith this past offseason with the hopes of properly utilizing their playmakers on the outside, most notably Bowe. He has the big-body and wide catch-radius that Alex Smith covets in his wide receivers and he should see more quality targets. This makes him a solid No. 1 receiver in fantasy football with tons of upside.
Previous ranking- No. 9
2012 stats- 59 receptions 801 yards 3 touchdowns
9. Larry Fitzgerald ARI- If this list were evaluating talent at the receiver position, Fitzgerald would be in the top three. Unfortunately for him, talent doesn’t always equal production in the NFL. Arizona has struggled to replace Kurt Warner at quarterback and as a result, Fitzgerald has seen a huge drop in production the past few seasons.
In an attempt to remedy this, the Cardinals brought in a new coaching staff as well as a new quarterback. Veteran Carson Palmer arrived from Oakland and was quickly anointed the starter. Now Fitzgerald has an experienced quarterback and other weapons on the outside such as Andre Roberts and Michael Floyd. Consider it a possibility that Fitzgerald returns to All-Pro form this fantasy season and draft him based on that possibility.
Previous ranking- Unranked
2012 stats- 71 receptions 798 yards 4 touchdowns
10. Andre Johnson HOU- It is absolutely absurd to talk about Andre Johnson losing a step. He was dominant at times last season and he didn’t have anyone to draw coverage away from him. His only blemish was a lack of touchdowns.
This season, the Texans spent a 1st round draft pick on wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins from Clemson. Hopkins is a big-bodied receiver capable of matching Johnson’s playmaking abilities. Now, it may be possible that Andre Johnson is not quite as fast in the 40-yard dash as he was ten years ago. However, if you think he is not an elite fantasy receiver then you need to sit down and watch a Texans game from last season. Literally any Texans game will do.
Previous Ranking- Unranked
2012 stats- 112 receptions 1598 yards 4 touchdowns