This week is a tough one for wide receivers with Calvin Johnson and the Denver Broncos reliable trio of receivers on a bye this week. In fact, with six teams on a bye this week, eight of our top 20 from last week aren’t available this week.
With all those options off the table, lineup decisions can be even more difficult, but they’re also that much more important. We have to dig a little deeper this week for our top 20 just like you will on your roster. Here are the top 20 WR’s to start this week based on a composite ranking of myself and Pewter Plank editor, Leo Howell. Here’s who we think should be your top two WR’s this week if your in a standard 10-team league.
If you don’t have one of these options available or have a roster specific question, send it to me on twitter @ZT_Sports or drop in tin the comments at the bottom of the page, and I’ll do the best I can to give you my opinion on your specific situation.
1. Dez Bryant-Dallas Cowboys
After a fit on the sidelines (or maybe not), an amazing touchdown catch, and a solid week against Detroit, Bryant and the Cowboys return home to face the Vikings. Dallas will probably blow the doors off Minnesota which may mean less throwing, but Dez will get his targets this week if no other reason than to make a point. With Megatron on the shelf, Bryant is the top receiver for the week.
2. A.J. Green-Cincinnati Bengals
Green was outshone last week by Marvin Jones who caught four touchdowns against the Jets, but Green’s the top choice in Cincinnati’s revitalized passing attack. Green has been over 100 yards for three weeks in a row with a pair of touchdowns over that same span. Green and the Bengals play Thursday Night against Miami who have fared pretty well against opposing WR. The short week and the bad matchup keep Green from the top spot, but they should in no way make you think about sitting Green on the bench.
3. Jordy Nelson-Green Bay Packers
Nelson and the Packers face the Bears on Monday Night Football this week. Chicago has allowed seven receiving touchdowns to opposing wide receivers in their first seven games this season which should lead Nelson to a solid game in the continued absence of Randall Cobb. Aaron Rodgers spreads the ball around well, but Nelson is his #1 option left in the receiving game.
4. Brandon Marshall-Chicago Bears
On the other side of the field Monday Night, the Bears will look to Brandon Marshall to put up a solid game as he works with new QB Josh McCown. Marshall would be higher, but he doesn’t have Jay Cutler, so there’s more risk than their normally would be. He’s still a WR1 especially this week with so many other options out.
5. Josh Gordon-Cleveland Browns
Gordon missed the early part of the season, but has been excellent since returning and showed a quick connection with the Browns new starter Jason Campbell. He caught five passes for 132 yards and a touchdown against a solid Chiefs’ D while leading Cleveland in targets. He should have an easier time this week against the Ravens who have given up 93 yards or more to opposing WR in every game this season.Gordon is a top-5 option this week in our rankings.
6. Andre Johnson-Houston Texans
Johnson and the Texans come off their bye week as they take on Indy. It’ll be Case Keenum under center for Houston who threw it Johnson’s way six times in his first start. Johnson caught four passes for 89 yards, but should be ready for a better game this week after using the bye to get healthy. Johnson destroyed the Colts last season, so look for a big game from him again on Sunday Night Football.
7. T.Y. Hilton-Indianapolis Colts
Hilton jumps all the way into the top ten this week as he and the Colts face the Texans. Hilton will be expected to step up as Indy tries to deal with the loss of Reggie Wayne. Hilton got 11 targets his last game and is a big home run threat who should get plenty of looks making him a WR1 on this shallow week.
8. Antonio Brown-Pittsburgh Steelers
Brown and the Steelers are in New England for what should be a rock fight between these two AFC rivals. I don’t expect a lot of scoring, but Brown is a top option this week especially in PPR leagues. He’s been targeted 13 times in three of his last five games and has at least six catches in every game since week one. He probably won’t go off, but he’ll definitely have solid numbers against a Pats secondary still dealing with some major injuries.
9. Steve Smith-Carolina Panthers
The Panthers are in a nice matchup against their division rivals the Atlanta Falcons. Atlanta allows the fifth-most fantasy points to opposing WR. Carolina’s offense has been efficient lately but hasn’t had a high volume of opportunities. He has found the end zone in two of his last three games which has kept him here as a low range WR1 this week.
10. DeSean Jackson-Philadelphia Eagles
D-Jax was the receiver that Leo and I disagreed on the most. I’m not that worried as he goes to Oakland even without Michael Vick. If Matt Barkley got the start, I’d drop him to the mid-teens where Leo had him, but since it will be Nick Foles under center I think Jackson will be just fine. In his previous game with Foles under center he caught a pair of touchdowns as part of a six-catch, 64 yard performance. He did pick up an ankle injury in practice, so monitor his status throughout the week. As long as he plays, he makes a solid starting option in a decent matchup.
11. Keenan Allen-San Diego Chargers
In an even better matchup, Allen takes on the Redskins who allow the third-most fantasy points to opposing wide receivers. Allen has emerged as the top receiver for SD. He had back-to-back 100+ yard games with a score in each. He had a down week against the Jaguars just before his bye, but still led the team in targets and had 67 yards. He should be a very nice play this week in the Nation’s capital.
12. Torrey Smith-Baltimore Ravens
Smith had a solid game last week catching three passes for 61 yards but is in a tough game against the Browns this week. He did fare pretty well against them in week two finishing with seven catches and 85 yards. Smith is a big-play threat so there is some risk that he doesn’t get a big play, but he’s still a solid WR2 this week.
13. Pierre Garcon-Washington Redskins
Garcon didn’t have a huge game against Denver finishing with just 46 yards and no touchdowns. He was targeted 11 times, though, and did have seven catches which indicates there’s better days ahead for Garcon in RG3′s offense.
14. Vincent Jackson-Tampa Bay Buccaneers
V-Jax gets tons of targets getting 60 passes thrown his way in the last four games. Jackson didn’t convert many of them last week finishing with just five catches for 79 yards. This week, he has the tough task of going to Seattle, so the tough matchup drops him into WR2 territory. I still think he’s a solid start, but don’t expect a huge game based solely on the matchup.
15. Golden Tate-Seattle Seahawks
Tate got hit with a taunting penalty on his 80 yard TD but finished with a pair of touchdowns as part of his five-catch, 93-yard Monday Night performance. He’ll get even more looks going forward as the Seahawks try to move on after losing Sydney Rice for the season. Tate may be the number two option after Percy Harvin returns, but for this week he should get plenty of opportunities against a Tampa team that haven’t held opposing WR’s under 149 yards receiving since week 3. Tate’s a solid WR2 play this week.
16. Harry Douglas-Atlanta Falcons
Douglas has stepped up from the third WR spot to become the primary target for Matt Ryan since Julio Jones and Roddy White have been out injured. In the two games since, he’s caught a total of 19 passes for 270 yards and had an amazing 18 targets last week against Arizona. Ryan will continue to get him plenty of looks this week, but the Panthers defense has been good against the pass. He should have another good game, but he’s a mid-range WR2 because of the matchup and the chance that Roddy White may return.
17. Terrance Williams-Dallas Cowboys
As we get to the bottom of the list, these WR typically aren’t on our list, but because of the shallowness of the pool, they get on as low-end WR2. Williams has found the endzone in four straight weeks and was targeted a team-high ten times last week against Detroit finishing with 64 yards even though he only had two catches. He’s in a nice matchup against the Vikings
18. Kendall Wright-Tennessee Titans
Wright is actually available in many leagues, but he also makes a nice WR2 this week as he gets his QB Jake Locker back and is in a nice matchup against the Rams on a fast track in the Edward Jones dome. Wright has been solid, but hasn’t hit 100 yards yet this season. He has been getting targets, though, and should break 100 yards in one of the next few games as the Titans have a favorable schedule ahead of them.
19. Denarius Moore-Oakland Raiders
Moore is inconsistent because of the ups and downs of Terrelle Pryor, but has been the top Raiders receiver, and has a good matchup against the Eagles who allow more points to opposing WR than any other team except the Bills. Moore is a low-end WR2 this week due to a good matchup and the shallow pool of recievers
20. Alshon Jeffery-Chicago Bears, James Jones-Green Bay Packers
Both these receivers are on Monday night and both make solid low-end WR2 plays or good flex options. Jones will most likely be returning from injury while Jeffery will have his backup QB in. Neither is a lock, but both are very playable.