The most important position in PPR (points per reception) fantasy football is almost always wide receiver, and this year is no different. It is a vital position because in many leagues one must start three wide receivers. If one is lucky enough to have to only start two receivers and instead have a flex spot, receiver isn’t as important, but still can be an asset because receivers can bring in major points.
These are my reasons for wishing to take receiver back-to-back in most situations at the top of the draft in 2014, especially if I’m picking toward the end of the first round. Receivers are not terribly deep, and chances are they will fly off the board, so taking them early is going to be key. Here are my ranks for receivers in PPR leagues this year:
1. Calvin Johnson (Detroit): Clearly No. 1 and has been for some time. He’s the top athlete on a high-volume passing offense, and I don’t expect him to disappoint any owners. I hope that I can get him in the middle to late first round in my drafts, and I expect him to average around 20 points a game this year.
2. Dez Bryant (Dallas): With Dallas’ awful defense, they are going to be in shoot-outs throughout the season in 2014. This bodes well for Bryant, who is an athletic, well-rounded receiver that can rack up lots of fantasy points. He’s also the second option for Tony Romo, and his best deep threat. Pencil in Bryant for between 18 and 19 points per week.
3. Brandon Marshall (Chicago): Jay Cutler loves to pass to Brandon Marshall. Cutler is back and healthy and that only means good things for Marshall, for whom Cutler has great chemistry with. Alshon Jeffrey is on the other side to help take away double teams, and Forte will help keep safeties from dropping back; this all adds up to Marshall blowing up. I expect him to have a really great year, if not a career-year and average more than 18 points per game while he’s at it.
4. Pierre Garcon (Washington): While I don’t think too highly of RGIII this season, I think that Garcon will overcome his quarterback situation to provide a big fantasy year. He catches a lot of balls and gets a ton of targets. DeSean Jackson stretching out the field will open even more room for Garcon underneath. Expect around 18 points per week.
5. Demaryius Thomas (Denver): Thomas has the best quarterback in history passing to him, and he is the best receiver that said quarterback has to throw to. This only means one thing: big numbers. Denver has plenty of other options to keep Thomas from being doubled, and the points will be there. Demaryius will average a shade under 18 points a game.
6. A.J. Green (Cincinnati): Freshly re-inked quarterback Andy Dalton will continue to strengthen his rapport with his top option Green. Green developed away from being only a deep threat to become a top-tier all around receiver last season. Though I think that Dalton will fall back to earth from his top-five quarterback performance in 2013, it won’t be at the expense of Green. Expect almost 18 points per game from Green.
7. Antonio Brown (Pittsburgh): Antonio gets lots of targets and catches, and without Emmanuel Sanders this year, Pittsburgh will rely on him even more. Big Ben zeros in on him all the time, and uses him as a safety net, and if the Steelers are going to be trailing a lot this season again, expect Brown’s numbers to be good. About 17.5 points per week or so would be as projected for Antonio.
8. Randall Cobb (Green Bay): I was very high on Cobb last season, but he broke my heart when he broke his leg early in the year. I think that was a freak accident, and he will be back and better than ever this year. With A-Rod throwing to him, numbers will certainly come. Green Bay still has a sub-par defense, too, so high scoring affairs will likely be the norm for the Packers. Cobb should average around 17.5 points per week.
9. Roddy White (Atlanta): A lot of people might think that White’s career as a No. 1 fantasy receiver are done, and they would be wrong. White had a really strong last quarter of the season last year, which people did not realize because they gave up on him after he tried (and struggled) to play on a sprained ankle most of the first part of last season. He should score a little more than 17 points per week.
10. Kendall Wright (Tennessee): A really strong option that was picked up or drafted late last year, Wright is the top option on a Titans squad that will likely be forced to throw a bunch in 2014. He had 94 catches a year ago, and that total could easily top 100 this year. Touchdowns will probably be low, but I wouldn’t be surprised if he could average around 17 points per week.
11. Cordarelle Patterson
12. Julio Jones
13. Vincent Jackson
14. Alshon Jeffrey
15. Jeremy Maclin
16. Larry Fitzgerald
17. Percy Harvin
18. Jordy Nelson
19. Keenan Allen
20. T.Y. Hilton
21. Wes Welker
22. Emmanuel Sanders
23. Andre Johnson
24. Mike Evans
25. Victor Cruz
There are probably a few surprises in there that will differentiate me from others that try to predict the wacky world of fantasy football, but nobody is ever 100 percent right, so I think that it’s really anybody’s guess as to what happens. Next week I will wrap up my preview with my last column on the rest of the positions, and a list of the top 50 overall. Thanks for reading.