Fantasy Football Player Analysis: Wide receiver

by Cory J. Bonini on July 23, 2012 @ 17:42:00 PDT

 

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KFFL's player analysis will be updated and expanded on regularly through the offseason. Be sure to sound off in the comments section below!

1) Calvin Johnson | Detroit Lions | 6-foot-5, 236 pounds | 6th year

2012 Projected NFL/Fantasy Football Statistics

Rec Rec Yds Rec TD Run Att Run Yds Rush TD Tot TD
Lo Hi Lo Hi Lo Hi Lo Hi Lo Hi Lo Hi Lo Hi

Fantasy analysis: Johnson is a safer bet for a huge season than his wide receiver counterparts. The monstrous wideout plays the majority of his games in a dome and works out of a pass-happy offense with a legit quarterback. Johnson plays in the more prolific passing conference on a team with a suspect defense that forces the offense to throw. Detroit's top dog is a physical freak of nature and has competent receivers around him to help take off some of the pressure. Even still, Johnson has the rare skill set that allows him to dominate against double-teams. It will be tough to replicate his numbers from last year, but if anyone can come close, it will be the one they call Megatron. Johnson's ADP is seventh overall, and he is the only receiver worthy of a first-round pick this offseason.

2) Larry Fitzgerald | Arizona Cardinals | 6-foot-3, 218 pounds | 9th year

2012 Projected NFL/Fantasy Football Statistics

Rec Rec Yds Rec TD Run Att Run Yds Rush TD Tot TD
Lo Hi Lo Hi Lo Hi Lo Hi Lo Hi Lo Hi Lo Hi

Fantasy analysis: Fitz is coming off a strong season, despite having little to work with at quarterback. He will be 29 this summer but hasn't missed a game in four straight seasons. Quarterback John Skelton, who favored Fitzgerald heavily last year, will battle Kevin Kolb for the starting job this offseason. Fantasy owners should be rooting for Skelton to win it. He has a big arm and can take advantage of the veteran receiver's downfield abilities, as evidenced by a 17.9 yards-per-reception average during games in which Skelton was heaving the ball. Monitor the QB battle and trust Fitz as the second safest choice for a huge fantasy season at the position. His average draft position is 21st overall.

3) Greg Jennings | Green Bay Packers | 5-foot-11, 198 pounds | 7th year

2012 Projected NFL/Fantasy Football Statistics

Rec Rec Yds Rec TD Run Att Run Yds Rush TD Tot TD
Lo Hi Lo Hi Lo Hi Lo Hi Lo Hi Lo Hi Lo Hi

Greg Jennings, WR, Green Bay Packers

Fantasy analysis: Jennings' 2011 season was cut short by a hamstring injury that cost him the final three games. He racked up 949 yards on 67 catches and scored nine times. His yards-per-reception average came down to 14.2 after being 16.0-plus the prior three seasons. Aaron Rodgers loves Jennings and has full trust in him. The veteran receiver is a deep threat with impressive after-the-catch ability, which enables him to take short routes for big gains. The Packers' O is about as pass-happy as they come, and it never hurts having arguably the best quarterback in the league chucking the ball your direction. Jennings caught at least six passes in seven of his 13 games, scoring in nine of those contests. He is a consistent force and is rarely an all-or-nothing performer. We have confidence in him as one of the top fantasy receivers in 2012. His average draft position is the middle of the third round.

4) A.J. Green | Cincinnati Bengals | 6-foot-4, 211 pounds | 2nd year

2012 Projected NFL/Fantasy Football Statistics

Rec Rec Yds Rec TD Run Att Run Yds Rush TD Tot TD
Lo Hi Lo Hi Lo Hi Lo Hi Lo Hi Lo Hi Lo Hi
06-757503015

Fantasy analysis: We love what Green was able to do as a rookie, and he should be able to capitalize on that performance with a full offseason of learning nuances of the system. Undoubtedly, Andy Dalton and Green are on the same page in an offense that doesn't boast a lot of playmakers. As a rookie, he was able to beat double coverage with regularity and make spectacular grabs in coverage. From an intangible standpoint, Green is extremely dedicated to his craft. He has spent the offseason studying film and refining his mechanics with the coaching staff. He led the league in receptions of 35 yards or more with 11, which was the most in the NFL for a rookie since Randy Moss' 14 in 1998. Green is a focal point in the passing attack at all times; 68 percent of his receptions came when the game was within seven points. The former Georgia star is learning all three receiver spots to allow him to move around for more mismatches. Additionally, he has learned to vary his route speed and show more patience as a route-runner. Green is a second-round selection, on average, as the second receiver off the board. Both figures are just a tad too early for us to be comfortable with.

5) Victor Cruz | New York Giants | 6-foot, 204 pounds | 3rd year

2012 Projected NFL/Fantasy Football Statistics

Rec Rec Yds Rec TD Run Att Run Yds Rush TD Tot TD
Lo Hi Lo Hi Lo Hi Lo Hi Lo Hi Lo Hi Lo Hi

Fantasy analysis: Cruz salsa danced his way into the hearts of fantasy owners across the world last season after seemingly coming from nowhere. Don't write him off as a one-year wonder. He was having an extraordinary preseason in 2010 before falling to injury. His out-of-this-world production last year (82-1,536-9) probably will come back to Earth this season, but a moderate step back still makes him a viable fantasy WR1. Cruz has chemistry with Eli Manning and benefits from Hakeem Nicks seeing consistent double coverage. The caveat with Cruz is Nicks' injury history: Should Nicks (foot) be slow to recover from offseason surgery or fall to a new ailment, Cruz's value takes a significant hit. He averaged at least 16.0 yards per reception in half of his games played. Expect his season-long 18.7 yards-per to come down. A lack of proven talent behind him could mean more receptions, however. Cruz is a somewhat risky No. 1 and goes, on average, in Round 3.

6) Mike Wallace | Pittsburgh Steelers | 6-foot, 199 pounds | 4th year

2012 Projected NFL/Fantasy Football Statistics

Rec Rec Yds Rec TD Run Att Run Yds Rush TD Tot TD
Lo Hi Lo Hi Lo Hi Lo Hi Lo Hi Lo Hi Lo Hi

Fantasy analysis: Pittsburgh will open up the offense after replacing the mundane Bruce Arians with Todd Haley as the chief play-caller. The Steelers don't have a proven running game at the moment, with Rashard Mendenhall (knee) being months away from receiving a clean bill of health. No. 2 receiver Antonio Brown stepped up last year to help take some pressure off Wallace. Pittsburgh's defense is on the decline, which should lead to more situations of necessity passing. A contract dispute lingers between the Steelers and Wallace, but he is expected to suit up in Week 1. The fourth-year receiver made strides in 2011 to become a well-rounded receiver. He is no longer just a speedy big-play option. Fantasy owners are opting for Wallace in the middle of the fifth round, which makes him a phenomenal value as a No. 1 fantasy wideout.

Page 2 rounds out our top 12 wideouts.

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About Cory J. Bonini

Cory is KFFL's General Manager. In late 2002, he joined the KFFL staff as a research analyst and has been involved in fantasy sports since 1996. A member of the Fantasy Sports Trade Association, as well as Fantasy Sports Writers Association, Bonini has been featured in print, on radio and on scores of websites. Bonini co-hosted Big Lead Sports on SiriusXM Fantasy Sports Radio from 2011 to 2012.

Bonini was recognized with the 2010 Best Article in Print Award from the FSWA and was a finalist for the same award in 2011. In '11, he finished first overall in the FSWA NFL experts challenge that featured 60 of the industry's best competitors.

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