2012 Top 10 Fantasy WRs

None of the positional group rankings have as clear-cut, unanimous number one as the wide receivers; enter Calvin Johnson.  MegaTron brought his talents to Mo’Town to the tune of 1600+ yards and 16 TDs (MVP type numbers for a WR) and many, many fantasy championships last year.  After MegaTron however it gets really interesting.  In both the real world and fantasyland, wide receivers are the most volatile skill position in the league.  Their success, as much as any position, is tied to a number of factors: offensive scheme, game-plan, quarterback, offensive line protection, etc.  Not only that, with the increasing number of 4 and 5 WR sets, more and more WRs are contributing (and becoming fantasy relevant).  Fortunately for you, The Machine is here to make sense of it all and tell you who will be the Top 10 WRs for 2012.  Getcha popcorn ready! (Rec/Yards/Rec TDs/Targets)

  1. Calvin Johnson (96/1681/16/157) – The easiest positional player to rank in 2012; Megatron has established himself as the most dominate wide-receiver in football.  You can’t play up on him because he’s so physically strong he’ll run through you.  You can’t play off of him because he’ll run right by you.   He is a deep-threat and an absolute BEAST in the redzone. Your only chance is to roll coverage to his side of the field or assign two DBs to him.  And even then he can out-run, out-muscle, out-jump and outreach (82” wingspan) your coverage.  A signature Calvin Johnson play was Week 4 vs. Dallas. Early in the 4th quarter, with the Lions down by 14, on a 1st-and-10 from the Cowboys 24 yard line, Stafford throws a “jump ball” to the back of the end zone and with a safety draped all over him, ‘Tron out jumps a corner and an underneath linebacker for a TD.  Simply incredible.  Not only that, Megatron saved some of his best work for the playoff push, averaging 26+ fantasy points (non-ppr) from weeks 14-17.  Unless a team shows up with Optimus Prime as the defensive coordinator, there is no stopping Megatron. (Sorry, that will be The Machines only corny Transformers joke when it comes to Calvin, promise).
  1. Andre Johnson (33/492/2/51) – God willing, ‘Dre will be on every single one of The Machines fantasy rosters this year.  He is an absolute match-up nightmare and is coming at somewhat of a discount due to the what-have-you-done-for-me-lately attitude that plaques so many fantasy owners.  AJs injury was a complete fluke last year.  Not only that, he rehabbed to the point where he dropped (13/201/2) in two playoff games last year…and that was with TJ Yates at the helm!  We’re not doctors (even though we proudly own a t-shirt that reads ‘Free Breast Exams’) or physiatrists for that matter, but The Machine has pretty strong intel suggesting AJ is completely healthy and motivated to prove he is still elite.  He’s got the talent, a steady offensive system, an adequate enough QB to translate into a 1300yrd/9TD season.  Get him!
  1. Larry Fitzgerald (80/1411/8/152) – Meet Mr. Reliable.  It doesn’t matter how shitty of a QB Whizz marches out there – Kevin Kolb, John Skelton, Richard Bartel – Fitz continues to put up numbers.  The Machine doesn’t buy into the “he’s the hardest working man in football” routine; listen if somebody paid us $10M a year to catch footballs we’d work our asses off too!  But we can appreciate that Fitz’s conditioning is legendary and he has stayed relatively injury free.  Larry’s fantasy floor is incredibility high; however his QB (or lack there of) prevents his ceiling from reaching the top rank.  Draft Fitz with confidence, just try not to watch the boxscore, or let alone a Cardinals game if you don’t have to.
  1. Greg Jennings (67/949/9/101) – Yes, we will take a piece of that Aaron Rodger pie thank you.  Okay, so that sounded really gay, but the point is that Jennings is tied to the best offense, the best quarterback and the best play-caller in football these days and that more than makes up for his lack of elite talent. Jennings is a smooth route runner and has the full trust of Rodgers.  Plus, the Packers can’t run the ball for a lick.
  1. Hakeem Nicks (75/1183/7/129) – Most people will tell you that ranking Hakeem Nicks at #5 is too high.  Well, most people don’t win fantasy championships either.  Nicks is an absolute monster.  We’ve already confessed our man-crush on Brother Eli; and Nicks is on the receiving end of most of those Manning fire balls.  The Machine isn’t going to second guess Jerry Reese’s eye for talent.  He knew he had a stud in the making when he drafted him, and this will be Nicks “breakout” year.  Barring a setback from his rehab (on track for preseason), The Machine fully expects an 85/1300/10 type of season.  You’re welcome.
  1. Julio Jones (54/959/8/94) – If you’re starting a keeper league this year there are three must-have players: Cam Newton, Trent Richardson and Julio Jones.  Jones is as physically gifted as they come.  Consider this: had Julio returned for his senior season (and had the type of season he is capable of) the Rams probably stay put and take him #2 overall in the 2012 draft.  He is that good.   Admittedly, he is a bit rough as a route runner, but he bursting with raw potential.  The Machine strongly feels he could have a TO-type impact (minus all the baggage) on the football field.
  1. AJ Green (65/1057/7/112) – Speaking of the 2011 draft class, Green was selected two picks before Jones, but he ranks just behind Julio on our list.  We absolutely love the talent, skill set, route-running, catch-radius and potential to put up big time numbers.  Green will be a dominate force for years to come.  At this point in time, however, the Bungals offense isn’t as far along as Atlanta’s, and defenses will be keying on taking away Green.  They won’t have much success.  Plus, he has the ultra-reliable, dependable, cannon-armed, gun-slingin, good-looking Big Red Icon, Andy Dalton slinging him the rock, what’s not to love about that?! (We take care of our own!).
  1. Wes Welker (122/1569/9/173) – This little shit never stops.  It seems like he’s targeted 29 times a game and catches everything (except during Super Bowl defining final drives that is).  He is an integral part of the New England Offensive Machine, and there is no reason to think he won’t catch 100 balls.  The touchdowns may be down a tick with Lloyd in town and their two-headed TE monster doing their thing, but you can always seem to pencil him in for 7 catches a game and solid yardage totals.
  1. Roddy White (100/1296/8/178) – Roddy Roddy Roddy!  It speaks volumes to the depth of the receiver position this year when you have a guy that is coming off back-to-back 100+ catch (and 178 target) seasons as your #9 receiver.  As it sits now, The Machine just can’t get over the potential (and youth/stud factor) of the guys ranked above Roddy.  We would certainly have no qualms with Roddy as a WR1 on our squads this year, as Matty Ice and he have as strong a connection as any QB-WR combo in the league.  But there could be a slight regression in his numbers as the offense (and Julio Jones) evolves.
  1. Percy Harvin (87/967/6/119) – Percy, bro, you’re not going anywhere.  With AP nicked up you are the only juice that offense has left!  The Machine loves versatile players that play angry and have imaginary headaches to get out of practices; and guess who fits that description?  Ding, ding, ding.  Percy is a jack-of-all trades, master of most! To go along with the listed stats, Percy also had 520 return yards, 1 return TD, 345 rushing yards (on 52 attempts) and 2 rushing TDs.  It certainly took offensive coordinator Bill Musgrave long enough to figure out how to utilize Harvin; he only had 43 targets in the first half of the season compared to 76 in the second half.  With AP on the mend, the “migraines” under control and the O-coordinator on board, it could be a monster season for Harvin.

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