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If you wanted to completely disregard preseason fantasy wide receiver rankings, you could probably do pretty well just trying to draft WRs from Green Bay, New England and New Orleans, the teams with the most talented and prolific QBs.
Or, maybe you wouldn't. With one exception, none of these teams has a wideout ranked as a fantasy top 10 WR (and while that exception makes the top 10 on my list, you won't find him that high on many others).
Actually, if you want to make things simple for yourself, you should focus on limiting your WR selection to two other teams - Atlanta and the New York Giants.
My top 20 WRs:
1. Calvin Johnson, DET: The easiest decision on the list. I've heard Megatron is even going fourth overall in some drafts, ahead of Aaron Rodgers. Prediction: 1,700 yards, 15 TDs.
2. Larry Fitzgerald. ARI: If he can be the second-ranked WR with the QB talent he has, maybe he should be first. A good bet for 1,500 yards and 12 TDs if Arizona scores that many via passing.
3. Wes Welker, NE: A gamble this high, but an NFL-leading 122 catches last year shows Tom Brady still loves him. This year, we could see 12-13 TDs if defenders focus on the Pats' talented TEs.
4. A.J. Green, CIN: Surging up everyone's lists based on a 1,000-yard rookie year with a rookie QB. Should step up, though like Fitzgerald, he has little help from other receivers.
5. Percy Harvin, MIN: Another gamble. The Vikings have no other reliable WRs and he's reportedly disgruntled, but most rushing yards among WRs and occasional return TDs raise his value.
6. Roddy White, ATL: Interchangeable with his much more hyped teammate at No. 7, White had a great second half last year, and a new offensive coordinator may use him as the deep threat.
7. Julio Jones, ATL: If you want huge upside rather than reliability, take Jones first. He may run under White, and when he catches the ball across the middle, he's a rocket to the end zone.
8. Brandon Marshall, CHI: I'm drinking the Blue and Orange Kool-Aid. If O-line issues don't slow the passing game, Jay Cutler could make Marshall the best single-season WR in franchise history. It would only take 1,401 yards and 14 TDs, though even 1,200/12 would be just fine.
9. Andre Johnson, HOU: I have been so down on him coming into this season, that I may have hit bottom and started to bounce back. Health is the major challenge - for both him and QB Matt Schaub - but if the injury bug stays away, he could return to 1,000+ yards and double-digit TDs.
10. Victor Cruz, NYG: He was so great last year and so in synch with QB Eli Manning, it's hard to see how he could do better, but going from nine TDs to 10 or 11 would be a start.
11. Hakeem Nicks, NYG: As with the Atlanta duo, Cruz and Nicks are almost interchangeable, and barring recurring injuries, Nicks could benefit from Cruz getting more coverage attention.
12. Greg Jennings, GB: Disappointing 2011 season in which he drew the coverage that resulted in scores for other Packer receivers. But, he's still the most reliable receiver on the field for them.
13. Jeremy Maclin, PHI: High expectations last year, and he did have three 100+-yard games, but he was as inconsistent as the rest of his team. This could finally be his breakout season.
14. Jordy Nelson, GB: He's getting no respect for his 15 TDs last season, which a lot of us see as the result of defenses focusing on Jennings, but he remains a pretty solid deep threat.
15. Brandon Lloyd, NE: Some people say he's No. 1 for the Pats, ahead of Welker. Others fear a reprisal of last year's failed Ochocinco experiment. In any case, he has never had a better QB throwing to him than Brady.
16. Eric Decker, DEN: Last year, he made Tim Tebow look good. This year, he's quickly moving up the ranks, as he seems to be Peyton Manning's favored target. Could break into the top 10 WRs.
17. Steve Smith, CAR: The aged star still has some moves left and a young QB who knows how to find him. 1,200 yards and 10 TDs is not a reach if Cam Newton gets it to him.
18. Mike Wallace, PIT: He was ending his holdout as we went to press, so I might consider pushing him up a few spots, but teammate Antonio Brown took some of his catches and scores last year.
19. Dez Bryant, DAL: He has been up and down my rankings this preseason, but he's the same multitalented type as Harvin. If off-field issues are behind him, he could end up a top 10 WR.
20. Marques Colston, NO: I feel like I have to put one of Drew Brees' receivers in my top 20, though Colston was overshadowed at times last year by fellow WR Lance Moore and TE Jimmy Graham. Still capable of 100+-yard, 2-TD games (three in 2011), if you have patience.
Sleeper Pick: Justin Blackmon, JAC: He's not much of a secret anymore, but despite Laurent Robinson's presence, he's likely the No. 1 WR for gradually-improving QB Blaine Gabbert. He also probably will be targeted more if Maurice Jones-Drew continues to hold out.
Would-Be Rookie Of The Year If Not For Blackmon: Alshon Jeffery, CHI. His preseason overall hasn't been as memorable as his first game, but he's a viable late-round bet as you're looking to fill in your bench. His number could be called often in the second half of the season.
* Yahoo! Roto Arcade tries to build Chargers running back Ryan Mathews, back up after he's been slipping down the draft lists - with good reason.
* Bleacher Report cools the hype on Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson, the hot pick-up for leagues that drafted early (There goes my Matt Flynn sleeper-pick idea).
* SB Nation says Patriots tight end Aaron Hernandez could have more fantasy value after a contract extension.
Dan O'Shea is our man in fantasyland. He welcomes your comments.
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Posted on Feb 20, 2018