By Travis Stahl
As we’ve mention about a hundred times before, the NFL is a passing league. That means running backs have been devalued for fantasy leagues and quarterbacks have seen an increase in value. By simple theory of A + B = C if quarterbacks are now worth more than receivers are too. Not so fast my fantasy friends, don’t get fooled at your annual fantasy drafts. Regardless of what you hear or what you read, don’t draft wide receivers early.
The top 10 ranked wide receivers for fantasy football in order are Calvin Johnson, Larry Fitzgerald, Andre Johnson, Greg Jennings, Mike Wallace, AJ Green, Wes Welker, Hakeem Nicks, Roddy White and Julio Jones. At first glance when that list looks pretty solid and most people would gladly take any receiver on that list. Every one of those players is ranked in the top 31 of all the players in the NFL. Before you decide to take any wide receiver in the first four rounds let’s first talk about some facts.
Since 2007 there have never been more than four wide receivers that were ranked in the top 10 at the beginning of the season end the year ranked in the top 10. That means there at least six people on that list that will not end the 2012 season as top-10 receivers. Do you still like your odds of drafting a receiver early? Every player on that list looks as solid as a rock so you can’t even roll the dice and try to guess which ones will do well.
Here is another tidbit of information for you. Each year since 2007 the top three scoring tight-ends has scored more fantasy points than any receiver drafted lower than No. 15. So if you are faced with drafting the top tight-end or the No. 15 wide receiver, take the tight-end without hesitation.
So what to do about wide receivers you ask? Get a good quarterback, two solid running backs, a top tight-end and then worry about wide receivers. Ah, but which pass catchers too focus on? From the list above the two best possibilities to do well are AJ Green and Julio Jones. The Bengals added so many more weapons on offense that defenses can’t solely focus on Green and Atlanta has already said the plan was to reduce the number of passes to Roddy White and redirect them to Jones.
Some other wide receivers that could have very big years can also be found later in the draft. Dallas’ Dez Bryant played very well last year when he was healthy and somehow Giant Victor Cruz was left off the top-10 list. Eric Decker in Denver is a good bet to catch a lot of Payton Manning passes. If you are looking to swing for the fences later in the draft try to pick up Robert Meachem in San Diego. The Chargers like to throw the ball and Meachem gets to be a featured wide receiver for the first time.
I know it seems crazy to devalue wide receivers but trust me, it works. The players all the experts rank so highly won’t do as well as everybody thinks. Plus most teams play three wide receivers the majority of the game so it is by far the deepest position in the league. Be patient, take your time and wait for wide receivers to fall to you in your draft.