Welcome to week one FanDuelers. Here are my top 50 wide receivers for kickoff week for the NFL. Good luck with your teams!
1. Calvin Johnson – Det vs. Min – Tron doesn’t need an explanation!
2. Dez Bryant – Dal vs. NYG – The Giants pass defense was awful last season giving up the fifth most receiving yards in the league. Add to that Bryant’s emergence as an unstoppable force and you have a recipe for fake points.
3. Demaryius Thomas – Den vs. Bal – With the Broncos’ running backs doing their best to not win the job, there’s a good chance we will see plenty of Manning passing the ball. Thomas is the #1 target and an easy start this week.
4. A.J. Green – Cin at Chi – Green and company face a tough matchup in Chicago with Tim Jennings and Peanut Tillman, but Green usually gets his no matter. I’d be more worried about Andy Dalton.
5. Andre Johnson – Hou at SD – The Texans have a pretty easy game plan, run the ball, run the ball, pass to Johnson, run the ball. When they play teams like the Chargers who are depleted of talent they can execute that plan with some ease. You can’t count on AJ getting in the end zone, but he’s an extremely safe play.
6. Julio Jones – Atl at NO – This game will be a shootout so Jones and White get a bump. They also can hurt each others targets a bit, but both are must starts and in my top 10.
7. Brandon Marshall – Chi vs. Cin – The Bengals are an extremely tough matchup for the Bears and Marshall won’t be as force-fed as he was last season. He’ll still get his, but don’t expect 15 targets.
8. Victor Cruz – NYG at Dal – He has yet to miss a game in his career so I doubt he does this week. He’s a top player in the Giants offense and I see this game scoring a lot of points. Hakeem Nicks hasn’t looked very good this preseason so I’m hitching my ride to the Salsa Man.
9. Roddy White – Atl at NO – He’s as steady as they go and should be ready to play after giving his ankle a long rest. He’s never missed a game, so it would be beyond a shock if he missed this one.
10. Larry Fitzgerald – Ari at StL – The Rams have a top 10 defense, but Fitz is Fitz and Palmer won’t be afraid to let him fight for the ball. I don’t see him being out of my top 10 this season.
11. Antonio Brown – Pit at Ten – The Titans pass defense has a ton of holes and Brown will exploit all of them. Without Le’Veon Bell the Steelers will need to throw the ball and Brown will be the main target. I have him in many of my daily leagues for week 1.
12. Dwayne Bowe – KC at Car – He’s the main threat for the Chiefs in the passing game and Reid likes the passing game. The Jaguars defense will be improved under Gus Bradley, but they’ll still have trouble getting to the quarterback. Bowe should be able to get a bunch of targets with his competition in the Chiefs lineup not being much.
13. Torrey Smith – Bal at Den – In the playoffs the Ravens pounded the ball on the ground 35 times for 144 yards, which set up Torrey Smith deep against Champ Bailey. And it worked well with Smith catching two touchdowns, one for 59 yards and the other for 32 yards. And this time around the Broncos will be without Von Miller and Elvis Dumervil, which will give Flacco plenty of time to find Smith deep.
14. Pierre Garcon – Was vs. Phi – There is some worry that Washington will limit Robert Griffin’s work, but the Eagles pass defense is so poor I think Garcon has an easy time of it even if he doesn’t have a ton of targets.
15. Danny Amendola – NE at Buf – His possible groin injury is worrisome, but I truly doubt he’ll play against a Buffalo team the Patriots should have an easy time with if he’s not going to play fully. He is the #1 target for Brady and I should be the top point getter with Gronkowski out.
16. Randall Cobb – GB at SF – Cobb is going to get receptions against any defense, so at the very least he’s not going to put up a goose egg. In his two games against the 49ers last season (including the playoffs) he was targeted 15 times and caught 14 of those and ran the ball twice. He totaled 124 yards and had no touchdowns, but with his ability that kind of usage is worth starting in any format against any team.
17. Marques Colston – NO vs. ATL – Colston caught 9 passes and a touchdown last season against the Falcons and should have trouble being a factor this week. His foot issue seems to be manageable and week one is the time it should be most manageable.
18. Vincent Jackson – TB at NYJ – It’s hard ranking Jackson this low, but if Antonio Cromartie is manned up on him I don’t want him on my team if I can avoid it.
19. Hakeem Nicks – NYG at Dal – He didn’t look good in preseason, but also said he was holding back to stay healthy for the real games. It is his contract year so he’ll be out to put up stats. Look for this to be a shootout.
20. Reggie Wayne – Ind vs. Oak – He’s still the main man in Indianapolis and Oakland’s pass defense is one of the worst in the league. He will get his.
21. DeSean Jackson – Phi at Was – He looked strong in preseason and will be the main component in the Eagles passing game. Washington allowed the third most fantasy points to wide receivers last season. I like Jackson to have a lot of upside in this one.
22. Jordy Nelson – GB at SF – Nelson is back from minor surgery and ready to go. I like all three of the Packers receivers this week because Aaron Rodgers is just that good. Yes, the 49ers are tough, but they aren’t going to shut down Rodgers who threw for 303 yards and two touchdowns against them in week 1 last season. The problem is it can be difficult to predict who will get the most points for the receivers so you just have to start them all.
23. Eric Decker – Den vs. Bal – Decker may lose out on some targets to Welker, but he’s still a monster in the Red Zone. I think Manning will be pass happy Thursday night and Decker has a very good chance to grab a touchdown.
24. James Jones – GB at SF – In two games last season Jones averaged 4 receptions for 84 yards and a touchdown. You can’t beat that with a stick.
25. Kenbrell Thompkins – NE v. Buf – With Rob Gronkowski out, Tom Brady will have to look to someone besides Danny Amendola in the passing game. And in their Week 3 preseason game Brady targeted Thompkins 12 times with him catching 8 of those for over 100 yards. He’s risky, but I like his upside as the “X” receiver.
26. Steve Smith – Car vs. Sea – Richard Sherman and the Seahawks pass defense shut him down last season with Cam Newton targeting Smith 13 times and him only catching 4 of those for 40 yards and no touchdowns. I’ll be shying away from targeting any receiver facing Sherman and Seattle this season.
27. Greg Jennings – Min at Det – Jennings is lining up in the slot quite a bit, which is great for his fantasy prospects because Christian Ponder is awful at giving outside receivers time and accurate, strong throws. In the slot he’ll have a better chance of Ponder being on target. It will limit his upside, but still make him valuable.
28. Cecil Shorts – Jac vs. KC – Brandon Flowers can be a menace to Cecil’s society, but he is the only receiver the Jaguars have worth anything. He’ll get targets.
29. T.Y. Hilton – Ind vs. Oak – I hate that he doesn’t come in on two receiver sets, but when he does come in he gets targets and the Raiders will have a hard time stopping him.
30. Mike Wallace – Mia at Cle – Wallace’s last three games against Joe Haden: 1-9 on 7 targets, 1-11 on 5 targets and 4-57 on 5 targets. I’d stay away from him unless he’s a WR3.
31. Miles Austin – Dal vs. NYG – Austin looks a 100 times better than last preseason and could surprise some this season. During preseason he was productive in the slot and should easily put up respectable numbers in what should be a high scoring affair.
32. Chris Givens – StL vs. Ari – I love Givens’ big play ability and the Cardinals pass rush will be limited which should give Bradford time to target him deep. Last season in two games he averaged 3 receptions for 83 yards and a touchdown against the Cardinals and they have a strong pass defense.
33. Steve Johnson – Buf vs. NE – I’m weary of the Bills passing game with Manuel in his debut, but if Johnson works in the slot he may be able to get enough work to have value.
34. Mike Williams – TB at NYJ – If Cromartie is on Vincent Jackson there’s a decent chance Williams will get the bulk of the productive receiver work. I like him as a stable WR3.
35. Wes Welker – Den vs. Bal – Ladarius Webb may work the slot and cover Welker for a good portion of this game. With Thomas and Decker as other options Manning won’t force the subject.
36. Lance Moore – NO vs. Atl – Moore is a touchdown hawk and Drew Brees trusts him enough that he will see targets in the red zone. It’s tough sitting him with his touchdown prowess in a high scoring game.
37. Alshon Jeffery – Chi vs. Cin – I may be putting too much emphasis on their preseason game against the lowly Raiders, but Jeffery looked like a new player. He was decisive in his routes and used his body to separate while Cutler hit him quickly. He gets a tough matchup, but I thin he can come through.
38. Golden Tate – Sea at Car – The Panthers pass defense is young and untested and probably not that great. They are extremely strong on the defensive line and at linebacker, but Wilson’s ability to escape should give Tate some good openings.
39. Emmanuel Sanders – Pit at Ten – I’d have Sanders even higher if I didn’t like Markus Wheaton to take away a few looks. This game looks great for Steelers receivers, so all of them have upside.
40. Greg Little – Cle vs. Mia – Little is a nice play this week with Josh Gordon out. He’s not going to put up huge numbers, but will get his opportunities. He and Jordan Cameron should be the main targets.
41. Darrius Heyward-Bey – Ind vs. Oak – He’s officially the #2 receiver on the depth chart and gets an easy Raiders defense. I like Hilton more, but you can’t dismiss DHB out of hand if he’ll be on the field that much with Andrew Luck throwing him the ball.
42. Anquan Boldin – SF vs. GB – Boldin is a safe outlet for Kaepernick, but his upside is limited due to his age. He’ll need a touchdown to be relevant and that’s not a given.
43. Michael Floyd – Ari at StL – I need to see a little more of Floyd, but he is in line for a bunch of targets this season. If the Cardinals offensive line can keep Carson Palmer upright he should be able to put up decent numbers, but that’s a big if.
44. Kenny Britt – Ten vs. Pit – Britt’s knee continues to have swelling which is of course worrisome, but more worrisome is the Steelers pass defense which ranked 4th in fantasy points allowed to wide receivers and gets Troy Polamalu back. I’d steer away.
45. Sidney Rice – Sea at Car – I love his matchup, but he didn’t do anything in preseason and can’t stay healthy. I’d choose Tate of the two.
46. Rueben Randle – NYG at Dal – Randle is down in the pecking order, but has ability to put up big numbers if given the chance.
47. Denarius Moore – Oak at Ind – He always has the ability to do something of interest. Of course Terrelle Pryor’s ability to actually get him the ball is the reason he’s this far down the list.
48. Kendall Wright – Ten vs. Pit – Wright could be the main beneficiary of a hurting Kenny Britt. He has a lot of ability and will have better looks out of the slot from Locker. The matchup with the Steelers is a tough one though.
49. Markus Wheaton – Pit at Ten – We may be a few weeks away from Wheaton making an impact, but he has a nice matchup against a putrid Titans’ pass defense.
50. Cordarrelle Patterson – Min at Det – Patterson is one of those guys who can take it to the house on any play so getting him the ball is all he needs. Of course we don’t know if and when and how often he will be getting the ball, so it’s a wait and see approach right now.