One of my favorite columns every year happens after four weeks of the NFL season. It’s always a good time to look at the wide receivers as a whole at this point because sample sizes have become large enough to project future production. Wide receiver is also historically a position where guys make the leap into the Top 5 or come out of nowhere to be productive. Here’s a look at 15 different wide receivers and how I see their market value through the first quarter of the season.
Breaking Bad Division (Fave Five)
1. Calvin Johnson
Megatron’s owners might be slightly disappointed with the way the season’s gone so far. He’s had two games of 44 yards or less. He’s scoring touchdowns this year, which is something his owners should be happy about after he got held up on the one-yard line many times last year. Just wait until he’s playing well.
2. Julio Jones
It’s definitely helped Julio that Roddy White has been banged-up and Tony Gonzalez looked old until last week. The key with Julio this year is the consistency because it wasn’t there the last two years. He’s given you at least seven catches and 76 yards a week. We already know he’s capable of the big games, but now he’s got the underlying pattern of quality.
3. Dez Bryant
The Cowboys love looking to Bryant in the red zone. The four touchdowns in four games are definitely a sustainable pace. There’s also talk about getting him the ball more after last week’s game, so there’s plenty of upside.
4. Demayrius Thomas
This is where things get tough on the list. I’m taking Thomas because his worst game was five grabs for 52 yards and his other three have been pretty good. Thomas definitely has the big-game potential. You want a piece of this Broncos’ offense going forward.
5. Victor Cruz
The No. 1 wide receiver through five weeks of ½ PPR scoring, Cruz definitely has the ability to keep this pace up. What happened in the Carolina game won’t happen again this season. Cruz gets open and he’s the main focal point of the Giants’ passing offense. The way the Giants play defense, they’ll need all the offense they can get and will be trailing in a lot of games this year.
Spikeball Division (Rising Five)
1. Wes Welker
I honestly thought before the season that Welker wouldn’t be able to maintain good fantasy numbers in Denver because there were too many options to go around. I was wrong. While Welker’s touchdown pace may not be sustainable, he’s clearly elevated himself into the top 10 WR debate for the season and there’s no reason to think he can’t keep it up.
2. Jordy Nelson
Last year’s injuries made us forget how good Nelson really is. The guy can ball and he’s showing it through three weeks. Nelson will be on the cusp of top 10 WR potential with Green Bay throwing the ball as much as they do.
3. Desean Jackson
Philadelphia’s receiving options are terrible, which may make you think Jackson will see plenty of double coverage this season. He hasn’t been great the last two games, but look at his first two games and imagine how good that second game could’ve been had it not been for a couple bombs that just missed. Look for Chip Kelly to find ways to get the ball in Jackson’s hands more.
4. Josh Gordon
I’m not sure if Gordon is being highlighted for a trade or because it’s the best way for Cleveland to win, but I’m not going to argue with it. Gordon’s obviously got skills and Jordan Cameron can at least keep defenses honest. Gordon’s definitely a top 20 WR the rest of the way.
5. Kenbrell Thompkins
It looks like Thompkins and Brady are finally on the same page. Brady looked for Thompkins often last week. Even though Thompkins dropped one easy catch, he blew up a couple big ones and has snagged three touchdowns in the last two games. The Patriots don’t have anyone else who can do what Thompkins does, so there’s plenty of value.
Government Shutdown Division (Falling Five)
1. Dwayne Bowe
It’s a good thing Kansas City paid to resign Bowe. We wouldn’t want him to be this useless on another team. The fact that he isn’t being targeted like Terrell Owens was in Andy Reid’s Philadelphia offense is highly disappointing. Four catches a week isn’t going to cut it.
2. Vincent Jackson
Vinny Jax is used to grabbing long touchdowns, but he hasn’t found the end zone in four weeks. There will be a learning curve for his new quarterback in the coming weeks. It hasn’t helped that Jackson’s been banged-up, but Tampa Bay’s a situation fantasy owners want to avoid for the time being.
3. Mike Wallace
The excuses out of Miami are that Wallace’s big plays are being limited by the coverage. I would argue that Wallace isn’t that good and Ryan Tannehill feels more comfortable targeting Brian Hartline when he’s in need.
4. Hakeem Nicks
I had faith that Nicks would return to a top 15 receiver this year. I’ve been cock slapped to the face in the first four weeks of the season. Not only was Nicks bageled in Week 3, but he was was a major disappointment in Week 4. Cruz is the only receiver you can rely on in a Giants uniform.
5. T.Y. Hilton
There was a lot of talk about Hilton’s breakout potential coming into the season. It doesn’t look like Indianapolis’ new offensive coordinator was on the same page. Hilton hasn’t been a factor in three of the team’s four games so far and Trent Richardson was brought in so that the team could run the ball more.