These 2012 Fantasy Football Wide Receivers Rankings will be updated often throughout the summer, so make sure you check back from time to time. Also, be sure to check out my other 2012 Fantasy Football articles, which will include sleepers, busts, tons of 2012 Fantasy Football mock drafts and other material. Follow me @walterfootball for updates.
Calvin Johnson, WR, Lions. Bye: 5.
Draft Megatron at your own risk. Calvin Johnson is the newest cover boy of the Madden franchise. Peyton Hillis' 2011 campaign was derailed by the Madden Curse, and there's a chance that Megatron will suffer some sort of untimely injury. Contrarians will foolishly laugh it off, but the Madden Curse strikes every year, without fail. It's a shame because excluding the top quarterbacks, Johnson appeared to be the safest fantasy player this year. Oh well.
Projected 2012 Fantasy Stats: 88 catches. 1,470 yards. 13 total TDs.
Projected 2012 Fantasy Points: 225.
Projected 2012 PPR Fantasy Points: 313.
Julio Jones, WR, Falcons. Bye: 7. AUG. 26 UPDATE: Julio Jones had another monstrous game. He saw 10 targets at Miami, catching four of them for 90 yards. Those numbers could have been so much better; he nearly made a diving catch in the end zone for what would have been a 31-yard touchdown, but the ball was slightly overthrown. Later on, Ryan barely missed Jones for another long gain, slightly underthrowing him. The two did connect for a 49-yard bomb, however.
AUG. 10 UPDATE: Even with all of the injuries, the greatest take-away in the Baltimore-Atlanta contest is Julio Jones' breakout performance. Jones is a stud. He's big and fast, and he makes unbelievable catches and breaks tackles. He led the team with seven targets, catching six of them for 109 yards and a touchdown. Keep in mind that Jones' numbers were in just one quarter of work. Just for fun, if those stats are expanded over a full game, that's 24 receptions, 436 yards and four scores. Jones could very well be the No. 2 fantasy wideout this season behind only Calvin Johnson.
Julio Jones had a very solid rookie campaign, catching 54 balls for 959 yards and eight touchdowns. Believe it or not, but I'd rather have him over Roddy White in non-PPR leagues. Jones is so much more talented, and if his final six games are any indication (31 catches, 525 yards, 6 touchdowns), he's poised for a breakout second season. If those numbers hold up for 16 games, that would give him an 83-1,400-16 line. Pretty sick.
Projected 2012 Fantasy Stats: 81 catches. 1,370 yards. 11 total TDs.
Projected 2012 Fantasy Points: 203.
Projected 2012 PPR Fantasy Points: 284.
Larry Fitzgerald, WR, Cardinals. Bye: 10.
Larry Fitzgerald would be the top receiver this year with a legitimate starting quarterback. He somehow managed 80 catches for 1,411 yards and eight touchdowns last season with the duo of Kevin Kolb and John Skelton throwing the ball to him. Which one was better? Here's the breakdown:
With Kevin Kolb (8 games): 38 catches, 658 yards, 2 TDs. With John Skelton (8 games): 42 catches, 753 yards, 6 TDs.
I don't want anyone to get injured, but maybe it would be best if Kolb were temporarily abducted by hot aliens chicks so that Skelton could start.
Projected 2012 Fantasy Stats: 86 catches. 1,380 yards. 10 total TDs.
Projected 2012 Fantasy Points: 198.
Projected 2012 PPR Fantasy Points: 284.
Greg Jennings, WR, Packers. Bye: 10.
Greg Jennings missed the final three games of the 2011 season with a minor knee injury, but his health isn't a concern. He's never missed more than three contests in any year, and he's still in his 20s. He still managed to snag nine touchdowns in those 13 starts, so there's no reason to think that he's not a top-five fantasy receiver.
Projected 2012 Fantasy Stats: 77 catches. 1,200 yards. 12 total TDs.
Projected 2012 Fantasy Points: 192.
Projected 2012 PPR Fantasy Points: 269.
Andre Johnson, WR, Texans. Bye: 8. AUG. 20 UPDATE: As mentioned previously, Andre Johnson caught a 43-yarder from Matt Schaub in his preseason debut. It was pretty; the grab was snagged over double coverage. Johnson left the game after that, but only for precautionary reasons. He's fully healthy now, so he'll be a big producer - until he gets hurt again, of course.
JULY 31 UPDATE: Here we go again. Andre Johnson strained his groin at training camp. It's not a serious injury, but it's a reminder of how easily he gets hurt. At 31, Johnson will continue to keep wearing down.
Buy low on Andre Johnson. The perception is that he can't stay healthy, but that's completely false. He's been on the field in fewer than 13 contests only twice in his career. You can get Johnson later than usual in your fantasy draft, so take advantage of this opportunity.
Projected 2012 Fantasy Stats: 94 catches. 1,420 yards. 8 total TDs.
Projected 2012 Fantasy Points: 190.
Projected 2012 PPR Fantasy Points: 284.
Hakeem Nicks, WR, Giants. Bye: 11. MAY 26 UPDATE: Hakeem Nicks fractured his foot in OTAs. It was initially thought to be a 12-week injury, but Adam Schefter reported a few days ago that Nicks will be out only 4-6 weeks. There's no need to downgrade him much.
Hakeem Nicks had a disappointing seven touchdowns during the regular season, but caught four more during his dominant playoff run. The only potential risk here is a possible Super Bowl hangover; otherwise, Nicks is a stud and should be chosen in the second round as a WR1. It's very possible that he could post career-highs with Mario Manningham gone.
Projected 2012 Fantasy Stats: 80 catches. 1,220 yards. 11 total TDs.
Projected 2012 Fantasy Points: 188.
Projected 2012 PPR Fantasy Points: 268.
Brandon Marshall, WR, Bears. Bye: 6.
Think Brandon Marshall was happy to hear about the Miami-to-Chicago trade? In two seasons with Jay Cutler as his quarterback, Marshall has caught 206 passes for 2,590 yards and 13 touchdowns. Compare that to his two years as a Dolphin: 167 receptions, 2,228 yards and nine scores. There's no reason to think that Cutler and Marshall won't be able to rekindle the magic they had in Denver.
Projected 2012 Fantasy Stats: 95 catches. 1,320 yards. 9 total TDs.
Projected 2012 Fantasy Points: 186.
Projected 2012 PPR Fantasy Points: 281.
A.J. Green, WR, Bengals. Bye: 8.
Andy Dalton was much better than expected, so A.J. Green's numbers were also better than expected. He registered 1,057 yards and seven touchdowns as a rookie. His stats figure to improve in 2012. Not only will Dalton have more experience, but Green will greatly benefit from working out with Larry Fitzgerald this offseason. Receivers who train with Fitzgerald usually see a major improvement. Green was already a stud, so it'll be interesting to see how dangerous of a receiver he can become.
Projected 2012 Fantasy Stats: 78 catches. 1,280 yards. 9 total TDs.
Projected 2012 Fantasy Points: 182.
Projected 2012 PPR Fantasy Points: 260.
Victor Cruz, WR, Giants. Bye: 11. AUG. 19 UPDATE: With Hakeem Nicks out, Victor Cruz was targeted a whopping eight times, catching five of those balls for 51 yards. He should have scored a touchdown, but Kyle Wilson got away with an obvious pass interference in the end zone. I've been looking for signs that Cruz could regress after his unbelievable run last year, but I haven't seen any.
Victor Cruz was unstoppable last year, coming out of nowhere to catch 82 passes for 1,536 yards and nine touchdowns. It's unlikely that he'll match that production, but there is some optimism in that he declined an invitation to participate on ABC's Eating Cereal with the Stars - an indication that he's taking his football career very seriously.
Projected 2012 Fantasy Stats: 81 catches. 1,330 yards. 8 total TD.
Projected 2012 Fantasy Points: 181.
Projected 2012 PPR Fantasy Points: 262.
Dez Bryant, WR, Cowboys. Bye: 5. AUG. 21 UPDATE: Dez Bryant will miss the remainder of the preseason with patella tendinitis. He's expected to be ready for Week 1, but it's still a slight concern.
AUG. 5 UPDATE: Dez Bryant has reportedly really stood out in training camp. He's in fantastic shape, which is great news because he often wore down in the second halves of games last year.
JUNE 10 UPDATE: Dez Bryant had issues with conditioning last season, almost always disappearing in the second half of games. Enjoying his first full offseason as a pro, Bryant is in terrific shape and has emerged as a leader for the Cowboys. Bryant's the favorite to have the better fantasy numbers over Miles Austin-Jones, but it'll be close.
Dez Bryant developed a habit of looking great in the first half of games and then wilting away after intermission. He's apparently working to change that. Bryant reportedly is having a great offseason - his first full one since joining the Cowboys via the first round of the 2010 NFL Draft. With Laurent Robinson gone, Bryant could be poised to have a breakout year.
Projected 2012 Fantasy Stats: 78 catches. 1,180 yards. 10 total TDs.
Projected 2012 Fantasy Points: 178.
Projected 2012 PPR Fantasy Points: 256.