With this potentially abbreviated season coming up, this is the list of potential fantasy football wide receivers for the upcoming season. However, for now, it should be taken more of a guide, a speculative list for preparation of a draft. Unlike running backs, wide receivers don’t decline much over time, but their value will and vary tremendously from season to season. They may be the primary receiver one season and replaced the next. Ask New York Giants Mario Manningham and Green Bay Packers Donald Driver.
- Philadelphia Eagles DeSean Jackson. He is still in an explosive offense, and with a shortened season, he should be able to do well to be a solid WR1 to high-end WR1 in most games, if Michael Vick stays in the pocket — and healthy.
- Indianapolis Colts Reggie Wayne. If this indeed a shortened season, he should be considered a high-end WR2 wideout. He should have big games occasionally, and his numbers overall should be sufficient enough for you to edge out the competition. And potentially their quarterback Peyton Manning won’t have to throw to a crippled roster like last season.
- Atlanta Falcons Roddy White. If he can keep himself focused, he should be a WR1 going forward. His major issue is his self-discipline on the field, not the talent surrounding him.
- New England Patriots Deion Branch. He’s a solid WR2 in most instances who may have a bigger upswing than Wes Welker perhaps. But the debate on which wide receiver of the Patriots is most useful is still on the books.
- Detroit Lions Calvin Johnson. He still has talent and speed left in his engine. He should remain a mid to high-end WR2 in most games with moments of WR1 brilliance. The return of Javhid Best as a healthy running back should help relieve some pressure mid-field.
- Green Bay Packers Greg Jennings. This is the first season where he exploded as he took primary receiver duties. He should continue exploding into the next couple of seasons at least, pending any serious injury.
- Philadelphia Eagles Jeremy Maclin. A high-end WR2 developing into a low-end WR1. He’ll have his good days and his bad days, but he should pan out as a good addition to any roster.
- New York Giants Hakeem Nicks. Same as Jeremy Maclin but for the New York Giants instead. He’s also a tad more consistent. He puts up excellent numbers despite having a QB2 behind him by name of Eli Manning.
- Kansas City Chiefs Dwayne Bowe. Whereas I am a bit less optimistic about Brandon Lloyd, I am quite optimistic that he should continue his progress from last season. He has a talented quarterback by name of Matt Cassel with a substantive running back in Jamaal Charles.
- Houston Texans Andre Johnson. He and his quarterback do have talent. With their running back Arian Foster behind them, they should have been better offensively than they produced last season. However, Matt Schaub was a bit inconsistent last season, and it costed them. If Texans quarterback Matt Schaub can keep his head in the game, Andre Johnson should easily rise above into the top three wideouts of 2011-12 season.
- Cincinatti Bengals Terrell Owens. With him in limbo still, although he still has some talent left in him, I would potentially avoid him since he may backfire.
- Tennessee Titans Randy Moss. Yeah, him.
- Tennessee Titans Kenny Britt. Yeah, him too.
- Carolina Panthers wide receivers. With such a defensive-minded crew, in terms of coach Ron Rivera and defensive coordinator Sean McDermott, I expect more of a ground-and-pound attack going forward and low-scoring games by the Panthers. Think New York Jets, and you’ll get the picture.
- Minnesota Vikings wide receivers. Until they get their quarterback situation pressed out, they are a high-risk gamble. I won’t deny that Percy Harvin or Sidney Rice aren’t talented, but with no one proficient as a quarterback to throw it to them, each game would be nothing more than wide receiver football drills.
- Washington Redskins wide receivers. I am still not willing to gamble with Rex Grossman as my quarterback with consistent production, even in a short season. Perhaps others might.
- Buffalo Bills Steve Johnson. The Bills have still have a long way to go before they reach elite level, but they are slowly building the elements needed to become competitive at least.
- Denver Broncos Brandon Lloyd. Although he was first in yardage production last year, I won’t hold my breath to do it again with a shortened season, different coach and different quarterback.
- Plaxico Burress. I wouldn’t expect no higher than solid WR2 numbers from him. He doesn’t have the talent of some of the younger receivers out on the field. Minimally, he’s worth a bench seat on the roster and could be trade bait coming into the fantasy football playoffs, wherever Burress may land up.
- Cincinnati Bengals Chad Ochocinco. Before you bash me over the head with this wide receiver, bear in mind that he will have Terrell Owens out of his way this upcoming season. He could potentially put up WR1 numbers and minimally at least solid WR2 numbers.
- Dallas Cowboys Miles Austin. He has sufficient talent and skill himself. Whether head coach Jason Garrett chooses to exploit that talent with Tony Romo potentially returning remains to be seen. I also question whether Tony Romo will actually become a better quarterback when it counts — or otherwise implode again.
- Tampa Bay Buccaneers Mike Williams. I like how Tampa Bay has improved last season. With running back LeGarrette Blount‘s athleticism and quarterback Josh Freeman’s consistency and accuracy, he could have a productive season. Whether it’s WR1 numbers, I still remain skeptical. He should be worth a WR2 with some upside to him.