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Welcome to the top 20 that just keeps on giving.  Seriously, folks, we have an embarrassment of riches here so if you don’t get a wide receiver in the first two rounds of your draft, don’t worry.  Even if the passing game comes back to Earth a bit, the WRs you’ll have at your disposal this year won’t leave you feeling empty like you do after eating a fancy dinner where you can’t pronounce what’s on the menu.  Excuse me Monsieur, I thought I ordered a full serving of Pate Chinois?  Why can I still see 95% of my plate?  That’s you at a French restaurant, frustrated and still hungry with a drive thru burger in your future.  PS, they still expect 20% gratuity for that forkful of $30.  Merci!  But back to the subject, you should have an easy time putting together a solid WR corps without trying too hard with plenty of talent going out side the first two rounds.  Now that we’ve covered over 150 words of filler, lets move on in our 2012 fantasy football rankings to the top 20 wide receivers for 2012 fantasy football.

Projections based on receptions, receiving yards, receiving touchdowns, rushing yards, rushing touchdowns

1. Calvin Johnson – See top 10 for 2012 fantasy football for Calvin Johnson projections.

2. Larry Fitzgerald – See top 20 for 2012 fantasy football for Larry Fitzgerald projections.

3. Greg Jennings - This is the start of a new tier and goes from Jennings to Cruz.  I call this tier the ‘#1 with a bullet’ tier as these guys are their team’s number one target and should have numbers that represent it by the end of the season.  Jennings final 2011 line does not give the true story to what was a strong season.  He basically missed the last 4 games of 2011 but was on pace for an 87 rec/1239 yd/12 TD year.  No matter how you look at it, that’s a useful season and a top end one at that.  He stays healthy, you stay happy.  2012 Projections: 75/1200/11/0/0

4. Mike Wallace  - A healthy Big Ben and a more pass heavy offense should lead to big things for Mike in 2012.  If you don’t believe me, look where I ranked him!  2012 Projections: 70/1275/9/50/0

5. Victor Cruz - Now realize I didn’t want to rank him this high but then Hakeem Nicks went down with a case of the owies in OTAs and all of the sudden Victor salsa danced his way into my top 5.  Call him addition by a fracture.  2012 Projections: 90/1260/8/0/0

6. Julio Jones – This is the start of a new tier and goes to Roddy.  I call this the ‘Falcons are a passing team this year’ tier and I ranked their wide receivers accordingly.  I mentioned my love of the Falcons passing game this year in a Matt Ryan article.  Would be silly to think I wouldn’t like his targets, no?  Rhetorical question, no answer needed.  2012 Projections: 70/1100/10/50/0

7. Roddy White - Roddy said he expects a reduced role for the 2012 season.  If by reduced he meant ‘less than 100 receptions but still pretty damn involved overall’ then I strongly agree.  2012 Projections: 85/1175/8/0/0

8. Andre Johnson - This is the start of the next tier and it stretches down to Colston.  I call this tier the ‘I round out your top ten’ tier because they have and they do.  I already went over my Andre projections in the top 20 for 2012 fantasy football.  I went over it like a fine-toothed comb in search of lice.

9. A.J. Green - Ranking him this high, I guess I’m assuming a lot of growth out of Green for 2012.  Well, that and I don’t expect four guys from the top 10 last year to finish ahead of him.  That helps.  2012 Projections: 70/1120/8/40/0

10. Marques Colston - He finished as the 11th best receiver in ESPN’s player rater so I’m not making any major news ranking him 10th.  Though he might think it’s news.  Look, mom, I made the Razzball top 10!  That’s Marques showing his mom the Razzball site over tea and crumpets.  2012 Projections: 80/1120/8/0/0

11. Wes Welker  - This is the start of another tier and it goes to Smith.  This tier is called the ‘we deliver’ tier because they can deliver you a WR1 line without having to pay the price for it.  Wes had quite the year last year but I’m putting him eight spots below where he finished on ESPN’s player rater for 2011 because – repeat after me – he won’t repeat it.  His ranking is an amalgamation of PPR vs Non-PPR leagues.  That last sentence was brought to you by me wanting to use the word ‘amalgamation’ in a sentence.  2012 Projections: 110/1100/6/30/0

12. Brandon Marshall - He’s now back with Cutler with whom he flourished in Denver.  However, the Broncos had what people call ‘an offensive line’ to protect Jay when he threw it to Marshall.  This ‘O-Line’ thingie hasn’t been seen in Chicago in years.  Whatevs, Marshall should get his fair share.  2012 Projections: 85/1020/9/10/0

13. Percy Harvin - Make no bones about it, I like Percy for this year as I expect growth from Christian Ponder and the Vikings passing game as a whole.  It feels silly ranking him 13th after what he did last year but he really did a lot of damage on the ground – career high 345 rushing yards on 52 carries – and I don’t know if he does that again this year.  Eh, minor quibbles, the guy will produce.  2012 Projections: 85/1020/5/190/1

14. Steve Smith - Seriously, my numbers from about Julio down to Antonio are separated by a touchdown or two.  Give one more to Smith and one less to the guys above him and he’s right back in there.  Wide Receiver makes me feel like I get to choose between 500 ice cream flavors, all of which I like.  What a delicious predicament to be faced with.  That said,2012 Projections: 75/1100/6/50/0

15. Miles Austin - This is the start of the next tier and it goes to Brown.  I call this tier ‘This one might be a bit of a stretch’ tier because it relies on some projections others aren’t willing to project.  That’s alright, I’ll own that.  These are my big hunches for 2012 so feel free to say ‘Sky, you so crazy’ and move on.  I wouldn’t blame you since wide receiver is deep this year and taking gambles probably isn’t worth it.  Austin’s 2009 season may go down as his best season for his career but it doesn’t mean he’s chopped liver.  Unless you like chopped liver then you can call him that if you want to but I’m here to tell you, I think that’s gross.  2012 Projections: 75/1125/7/0/0

16. DeSean Jackson - Man, I must be working on my Yoga around here.  Like Austin, I’m making another stretch.  I know this won’t be a popular pick but my spreadsheet says it’s reasonable based on the stats so I’m doing it anyway.  Last year was a down year in Eagles country for pretty much everyone not named LeSean McCoy.  I think 2012 will be different.  I also think I look good in a thong.  My wife doesn’t let me out in public much.  2012 Projections: 65/1135/8/70/1 (and one return touchdown, FWIW)

17. Antonio Brown -  Just call me Dhalsim because at this point I feel extremely limber.  If I believe in Wallace getting ranked as high as he did, I can’t see how Brown can’t do it for you too.  I think I just made a UPS joke that I didn’t want to.  Let’s just ignore that for now, shall we?  2012 Projections: 75/1200/6/0/0

18. Dez Bryant - Bryant is the start of his own tier and it’s called the ‘when I grow up’ tier because when he does, he’s got the potential to be a WR1.  If you can’t tell, I’m not a huge fan of Bryant due to his childish ways.  Part of the problem with being puerile (thanks thesaurus.com!) is you’re going to lack consistency.  He’s also got a spotty health record to date, which might come from lack of conditioning, which in turn might stem from being puerile.  All this to say, he’s got the potential to be more than he is but also the potential to break your mom’s antique vase and blame you for it.  No Mass Effect 3 for you this week, young (wo?)man!  2012 Projections: 65/1050/7/0/0

19. Dwayne Bowe - This is the final tier of the top 20 and stretches into the next tier.  This tier is called the ‘I’m my team’s #1 reciever until proven otherwise’ tier because it’s really what these guys hang their hat on to get ranked where they do.  Maybe someday Dwayne will get paired with a quality QB and put up some gaudy numbers.  He had a great 15 touchdown season in 2010 only to follow it up with a 5 TD clunker in the year of the 4000 yard passing quarterback.  Perhaps he was just ahead of the curve and his 2011 season portends great quarterback doom in 2012?  Nah, he just didn’t catch many touchdowns.  What do you expect, he plays for the Chiefs.  2012 Projections: 75/1050/7/0/0

20. Steve Johnson - He’s been extremely solid over the last two seasons and you can’t really expect much more from a guy who has Ryan Fitzpatrick throwing to him.  He’s about as good as a WR2 comes and there’s no crime in that.  Or at least if there is, he hasn’t been ticketed for it.  2012 Projections: 80/1040/7/0/0

  1. Rags says:
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    I’ve done keepers in fantasy baseball for a while now, but this is my second year in a fantasy football keeper league (first year we’re actually keeping people). In baseball, it’s an auction format and it’s easy to calculate inflation. Is there a method to calculating keeper inflation when you’re in a snake draft?

    • Sky

      Sky says:
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      Couple of ways I can think of. You could choose a set round inflation value for each year you keep them. Let’s say 2 rounds so you draft RGIII in the 10th and when you keep him for 2013, he’s your 8th round pick, 2014 he’s your 6th and so on. Or, like my keeper baseball league, you can go with keeping them for one year where you drafted them and then based on their end of season ranking from there on out as long as their value goes up. For example, let’s use RGIII again. You draft him in the 10th this year and you get to keep him in the 10th for 2013. However, in 2013, he returns 5th round value. So in 2014 you’d have to keep him in round 5 if you’re going to keep him. Then in 2014 he gets hurt and returns a null value, essentially. However, you still need to keep him in the 5th round if you’re going to have him for 2015. Hope the second one wasn’t confusing. Let me know if you need clarification.

      • Rags says:
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        @Sky, Oh yeah, it’s two rounds for each keeper. I meant, is there a way to calculate the increased value of players who *aren’t* kept based on the locked-up value of the keepers. For example, Cam Newton is being kept as a tenth rounder this year (taken in the 12th last year). How much more valuable does that make other QBs, because there are fewer top options and Cam’s owner can use that high pick to get someone else?

        In an auction draft, I could look at the total budget of each team, and compare the total budget left to the total value left and expect that to be the inflation on all remaining players more or less. But with a snake draft, prices aren’t so fine-grained as to make it that easy. I was wondering if there was a technique people had for snake drafts already, instead of me trying to reinvent the wheel.

        • Sky

          Sky says:
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          Hrm, that’s interesting. Honestly, I can’t think of one. Hopefully someone can chime in. Obviously, the round value there doesn’t matter as much as what is being left on the table. If everyone except two teams kept a QB going into 2012, for example, the remaining QBs would get a draft bump up in price based on scarcity to an extent. Overall, though, QB is probably too deep to really change your draft strategy based on a 10 teamer even with keepers involved.

          • Zachary Neugut says:
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            @Sky, for auctions, its quite easy to calculate inflation. However, no clue how to do it for a snake.

            • Sky

              Sky says:
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              I wouldn’t say there’s inflation, per se, with a snake except for at premium positions. Snake just depends on how many are in your league and whether or not you need to reach for someone early to get them if you really want them. For example, you’re worried that Darren Sproles won’t last until the 5th round, you’d reach for him in the fourth. Ya dig?

  2. CK says:
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    Your rankings contradict your predictions. Take a look at D Jackson’s predicted numbers compared to the people ranked higher than him. Brandon Marshall vs welker as well. I am not even for sure if this was intended to be based upon ppr or non ppr, but there are contradictions for either way.

    • Sky

      Sky says:
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      I had to do a bit of a mash up like other sites do with the intention of reviewing for both next year. I took over in early May so my hands were tied in trying to get both out to you guys. I do apologize for that. Overall, the math is a combo of PPR/non-PPR for how I view them for the year. Plus rankings don’t always mean that the math will lead to who gets ranked where. Some guys I like more than others but can’t justify putting them where I’d like to, others I realize I’m stretching, etc…

  3. David_KOA says:
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    @Sky,
    Some surprises especially at the top of the WR rankings for 2012.

    I know Greg Jennings missed the final three games of last year. Yet, when we look at weeks 9-14 and compare it to his counter part Jordy Nelson
    Greg Jennings: 4.1 catches, 45.3 yards & .67 TD’s on 7.1 targets
    Jordy Nelson: 4.5 catches, 82 yards & 1 TD on on 5.8 targets

    Looking at these numbers it is interesting to me that you would have Jennings as a top three WR. The double digit touchdowns I do not doubt it is the 1200 yards that seem not very realistic.

    This leads me to my next question HOW THE HECK IS JORDY NELSON NOT IN YOUR TOP 20? Even if you do not expect the 15 TDs to repeat. The numbers from 2011 indicate a stat line of At least 1100+ yards and 10 TD’s is good expections.

    I would feel more comfortable with Jordy Nelson as my WR1 then I would Greg Jennings in 2012.

    • Sky

      Sky says:
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      Jordy Nelson had 15 TDs and 68 catches in 98 targets last year. That is an absurdly high ratio when you think about it. Considering Jennings was on pace for the numbers I’m suggesting without the injury and was targeted at a higher rate – he had 101 targets in his 13 games which is good for a 124 target pace – I feel he’s the more solid of the two. To be fair, as we talked about, wide receiver is ridiculously deep this year. Except where I say someone is clearly a stretch, it’s going to be hard to go wrong with a pick from the top 30 to 35 WRs this year.

      • David_KOA says:
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        @Sky,
        As fantasy owners we have to be on the look out for trends especially ones that developed in the 2nd half. Being that those could be a sign of what we can expect for the following year.

        Looking at the target breakdown from week 1-9(8 games)
        Greg Jennings: 66 targets(8.2) for 90.3 yards
        Jordy Nelson: 41 targets(5.1) for 570 yards(71.2)

        Then we saw a new trend come about from weeks 10-14
        Greg Jennings: 35 targets(7) for 226 yards(45.2)
        Jordy Nelson: 29(5.8) for 387 yards(77.4)

        We see the Jennings almost drops a full target per game and his yards drop by half. While Nelson saw a increase in both areas of his statistics. Again I think both should hit double digit TDs in 2012. I just think we have to realize that Nelson is a better bet to reach 1200 yards then Jennings. I think good expections for Greg Jennings is in ball park of 1,000+ yards for the new year.

        • Sky

          Sky says:
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          So here’s what I’m looking at in the whole of this. Back in 2010, Green Bay’s top targets were Greg Jennings (125), James Jones (87), Donald Driver (84), and then Jordy Nelson (64). Going into 2011, Jordy wasn’t much more than a blip on the radar of most fantasy owners and James Jones would’ve been considered the sleeper for Green Bay going into the season. Meanwhile, Jennings put up 76rec/1265yards/12TDs and with those target totals. Now after 2011, people are propelling Jordy to heights that I can’t see him reaching again while Jennings was on pace for nearly the exact same line as his 2010 before going down in the 3rd quarter of game 13 of their season. Now I realize trends are important to recognize and I’m not saying Jordy is worthless but Greg has averaged this line per 16 game season since 2008: 76rec/127tar/1211yds/9TDs. When you factor in that age is not an issue (Jordy 27 and Greg will be 29 in September), what I’m seeing is Greg is still the man to own in GB and I see him providing more consistency than Jordy can. Plus, with Jordy’s breakout season, I think defenses will target him a bit more this year and open up the passing game to the others. Again, I don’t hate Jordy but I have a lot of reservations about him going into 2011 whereas Greg has been too consistent to count out.

          Another thing to consider with regards to Jordy are these stats: 404 yards, 6 touchdowns. Those are the total stats for 6 of his receptions last year. Six catches, six different games with a reception that went for 50 yards or more (average of 67 ypr), each scoring a touchdown. Are those stats we really want to count on when we are trying to evaluate a player’s worth going into 2012? For me, it’s a no.

          Oh and happy 4th! Hope wherever you’re at it’s sunny, there are burgers on the grill and you’re relaxing with a cold one in your hand.

          • David_KOA says:
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            @Sky,
            Hey, happy 4th right back at ya! It is sunny(about 90) but the only problem(big) is that I’m stuck inside at work:( lol who would have guessed people like to buy furniture on the red, white & blue day. About 6 hours left till burgers and a cold one for me.

            I see that we are both set in our views at the moment and will have to file this under wait till the end of the year.

            Currently we have three
            Shonn Greene
            BJGE vs Benard Scott
            Greg Jennings vs Jordy Nelson

            • Sky

              Sky says:
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              Oh no, not a red, white and blue sale! How much for an ottoman?

              Well if no injury occurs to Bernard Scott before now and the beginning of the season, I 100% cede Greene vs BJGE to you; I had them close in my rankings until BJGE was RBBC’ed :) The rest shall be interesting for sure.

              • David_KOA says:
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                @Sky,
                If you are in the market for an ottoman you are out of luck. That being said we do have a brand new sofa for $198! Lol

                I do remember a couple of weeks ago, you saying that you were coming around on Mr. Greene. I just did not know if it was to the extreme I had put out there. With/if the extra carries do come a low-end RB1 could be giving in return to fantasy owners.

                To finish up on this whole Jordy vs Greg debate. As of now I would consider both to be WR1(fantasy) options. I just feel a changing of the top dog(fantasy) was already coming about in the 2nd half of last year. I think it will continue over into 2012 season.

                • Sky

                  Sky says:
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                  Ha! Man, sorry you had to work today. Still time for a burger though.

                  Funny you say that about the WR1 comment. You’ll appreciate what I say about Jordy when the top 40 comes out :)

                  Yeah, RBs are all about the touches and BJGE is not being given the lion’s share so Green has to win out. I am still not excited about him but he’s going to be useful this season just like I was hoping BJGE would be this year.

                  Yeah, will be interesting to see how that plays out this season. If he gets 404 yards on 6 receptions again I’m pretty much destined to be wrong of course :)

  4. trevor says:
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    Andre Johnson at 8? I mean I’ve got him behind all the major running backs, but 8? No fucking way. Andre Johnson is going to have his career best year

    • Sky

      Sky says:
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      I’d love to see that as I’m a huge AJ fan. Talent is there to be in the range of Fitzy but has averaged 13 games per season for his career. The rankings are my way of saying you have safer options.

  5. iMP says:
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    Does Nicks’ absence reflect a temporary lack of confidence due to his latest injury or a long term lack of confidence due to his oft-injured status?

    In the absence of Nicks disappearing, you could make a case the Cruz, like Nelson, earned a lot of value from a few big TDs (though his overall usage and targest are much more confidence inspiring…especially if he gets to stay in the slot). His chances for regression are a concern vs. most of the rest of the top 12.

    • Sky

      Sky says:
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      Yeah, I did a little reading on his injury. He had a teammate with the same problem last year and the recovery and ability to get to peak performance before the season starts scares me a bit. Just feel there’s too much good in wide receivers this year to take a higher risk than you need to.

      I did see that stat about Cruz and initially had him lower prior to Nicks going down. The big difference – like you mention – are targets and actual catches by Cruz vs Nelson. Even without those long bombs he was a great WR to have last year.

  6. Reggie says:
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    You should be checked into an insane asylum for having AJ Green ranked 9th.

    Are you serious?

    How do you look at yourself in the mirror every morning and not burst out laughing?

    Unbelievable. Wow.

    • Sky

      Sky says:
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      They don’t allow mirrors in mental hospitals for safety reasons so I haven’t had a chance to laugh at myself

      Sent from my iCrazy.

  7. Fantasy Dictator says:
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    This list is parroted, badly argued, and badly edited nonsense.

    Where is Jordy Nelson? What the H-E-hockey sticks is DeSean Jackson doing on this list?

    Why aren’t guys like you playing in my leagues?

  8. I have Larry Fitzgerald and Victor Cruz on my team. They’re contribute a lot on my fantasy football team. Thanks for this top 20 wide receivers list.

    • Sky

      Sky says:
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      No problem, glad to hear it!

  9. K9 says:
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    I’m in a fantasy league with an evil commissioner who thinks its hilarious to do a spur of the moment draft….before preseason even starts.

    Anyway, the dust has finally settled and I’m looking at a WR core of Megatron, Harvin, Maclin, Antonio Brown, and Titus Young/Reuben Randle on my bench.

    I also have the artist formerly known as Ochocinco. I mean, what’s the worst that can happen right?

    Anyway, I’m certainly feeling better about myself following your write up lol. Thanks for making me feel less than crazy for drafting some of these guys

    • Sky

      Sky says:
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      Ha no worries! That is a solid receiver set. Good luck this year!

  10. LT

    LT says:
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    Jennings at 3? not sure. they really spread it around there. Where is D. Thomas or Decker? are they in top 30? where do i draft them?

    • Sky

      Sky says:
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      He was #4 in 2010 for yahoo. I agree they spread the ball but Jordy comes back to Earth in my book this year, leading to a better year for him (as long as he’s healthy).

      Peyton worries me so I ranked the WRs there accordingly. I like Decker more (better route runner). Both in my top 40.

  11. Nice post, especially your take on Green and Jones. I do a fantasy football podcast that took a little different approach to WR today. We did top #2 (on depth chart) WR from a fantasy perspective. It would be awesome if you gave a listen and let me know what you think. http://bit.ly/FBRpodcast

    • Sky

      Sky says:
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      Hey Thanks! I will do my best though to be fair, this is a hopping time of year. Have a hard enough time keeping up with our own podcast. What site you guys with?

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