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Top 10 wideout matchups for Week 1 of the NFL
1. Roddy White (ATL) at New Orleans
2. Calvin Johnson (DET) vs. Minnesota
3. Andre Johnson (HOU) at San Diego
4. Brandon Marshall (CHI) vs. CIN
5. Julio Jones (ATL) at New Orleans
6. Mike Wallace (MIA) at Cleveland
7. Reggie Wayne (IND) vs. Oakland
8. Marques Colston (NO) vs. ATL
9. Dez Bryant (DAL) vs. NY Giants
10. Wes Welker (DEN) vs. Baltimore
11. Demaryius Thomas (DEN) vs. BAL
It’s practically an insult for to place Thomas out of the top 10 in any rankings, it’s the unfortunate truth though. With the addition of Welker to the Broncos, Thomas will see a dip in touches and looks. However, this isn’t necessarily the worst news for him because defenses will be preoccupied with the middle of the field. Thomas, who last year averaged 15.3 yards a catch, will be a great deep threat thanks to his great acceleration (4.38 40 yard dash).
Another reason he dropped to 11 in my ranking is due to his very weak performance last year against the Ravens. If that was the only litmus test, Thomas would be a bench rider opening weekend. However, it must not be forgotten that Baltimore is without two of its most influential players this upcoming season; no Reed or Lewis will leave this defense weaker than it has been in a long time.
In my my opinion, the Ravens will still be trying to find themselves as a unit defensively. Manning being a perfectionist will have his offense prepared. Also, Thomas definitely will be motivated by the 2OT losses to the Ravens last year early in the playoffs.
12. Victor Cruz, NYG at DAL
There has been plenty of written about Cruz and his contract implications, but now, with tender signed, we can start analyzing his value for this season. Last year was a down year from the breakout season of 11-12 Cruz had. An injury to Hakim Nicks means Cruz’s role was different, as he became more relied on as a possession receiver and not the explosive playmaker we’ve seen.
That being said, Cruz still had a productive season (speaking from firsthand experience) a 1000 yard season, even with a limited role, shows that he has plenty of potential once his talents are used appropriately. It is always difficult to begin the season on the road in front of a loud crowd of 87,000 in Dallas. The Cowboy’s defense gave up 230 yards a game and their opponents QB average was 94.7% (as a C+ student most of my life this is a heavenly score). These are divisional opponents and each team wants to bring their best, so I have faith that Manning and Cruz will bring their best efforts to big D.
13. Larry Fitzgerald, ARI at STL
The verdict is still out on Fitzgerald and his fantasy value after that horrific season last year. To be fair to Fitzgerald, three different QB’s were taking snaps last season and none of them seemed capable of the role. Also, 58 sacks were given up; the QB production in Arizona was so bad not even the freakish talents of Fitzgerald could overcome it. To say it was Fitzgerald’s fault for his unproductive season would be wrong.
Fortunately for him there is hope in the desert. There is a new coach, Bruce Arians, and new QB, Carson Palmer; both are talented individuals that will only positively benefit Fitzgerald. Also, the St. Louis defense is penetrable; they were 15th in allowed passing yards. Fitzgerald did not break 100 yards in his two matches against this defense last year, but in those two games, two different QB’s were used and both had bad days.
Fitzgerald, who has always been very professional at his trade, will be personally motivated to perform much better this season. There is also talk that he is learning new wide receiver positions to make him a more versatile and dangerous player.
14. A.J. Green, CIN at CHI
Arguably Green has the potential to be the best wide receiver in football if Megatron wasn’t playing. His game is complete; he can catch first downs, was top 10 in yards after catch, and most importantly, 4th in TD’s. His only limitation is the QB throwing the ball to him. That coupled with the fact that they are playing a tough CHI defense, drops him out of the top 10. Opposing QBs averaged 71.3% passer rating against Da Bears.
Against such a good defense, Green will suffer even more because the scheme will be aimed at stopping him. Just about a quarter of the passing TDs by the Bengals came through Green, 11/28. In 4 matchups against the top 10 passing defenses he passed 100 yards only once (although against DEN he was at 99 yards). Regardless of Green not having a stellar QB throwing to him, he has the capabilities of becoming one of the best fantasy picks of the season. The Bears allowed more yards after catch than they produced offensively, so there is a good chance Green can skip past some defenders and make a big play.
15. Percy Harvin, SEA at CAR
Harvin has to be extremely happy to say goodbye to Minnesota and their collapsing roof issues. He also must be happy to be involved in a very explosive and entertaining offense lead by Russell Wilson. Last year his season was cut short by ankle problem and rumors suggest an unwillingness to play unless the man got paid. He is now paid and ready to perform; even with a short season he was 8th in yards after catch with 509. The man is super athletic and a proven playmaker, as shown by his ridiculous 105 yard kickoff return for a TD. He almost rushed for a 100 yards and had one rushing TD, Harvin is a Swiss army knife and Pete Carroll will be sure to use all his features.
For all his hype he is number 15 because Carolina will puff out their chest and play good defense. The Panthers were 13th defense against the pass, and 7th in total sacks. It’s a disruptive defense and being at home they will be looking to start off well in front of their fans.
16. Dwayne Bowe, KC at JAC
“I’m going to lead the league in touchdowns and receptions,” confident words from Dwayne Bowe and, in my opinion, there is a good chance he could. New QB, Alex Smith, will help that prediction come true. Also new coach, Andy Reid, will of course be looking to implement a pass heavy offense much like the one in Philadelphia. Last season was not as productive as it could have been as it was cut short by a rib injury. That being said, he did rack up 801 yards, with 3 more games it is possible he could have made it to 1,000.
The Jaguars gave up 239.5 yards a game and were ranked 22nd overall in passing defense. Frankly, the Jaguars are in no position to stop a team full of studs like the Chiefs. The Jaguars will also have to worry about Jamaal Charles in the backfield; Dwayne Bowe will have more freedom and less double team coverage. Opposing QB’s last season had an 89.8% rating and with that type of score Bowe will look to have a hot start to make good on his statement.
17. Antonio Brown, PIT vs. TEN
Mike Wallace has left Sixburgh and now it appears Antonio Brown is set to step in as that number one receiver. Last season was sub-par for Brown but he has the ability and personnel around him to produce a season to please his owners. The Steelers start their season at home against the Titans and they are truly happy about it. Tennessee was ranked 25th in passing defense, allowed a staggering 248 yards per game, and gave up the most points through the regular season.
Brown and the Steelers offense is ready to take off the load from their defenses back. It appears that Big Ben is healthy after minor knee surgery which means only winning performances by him that will benefit Brown. Their offensive coordinator, Todd Hailey, has emphasized quick short passes that will get the ball out of Ben’s hand faster. This suits Brown since he is a great route runner and quick enough to make plays after the catch.
18. Anquan Boldin, SF vs. GB
Being clutch is what the 49ers desperately need from Boldin now that start receiver Crabtree is recovering from an injury. After some OTA’s and time together it seems that Kaepernick and Boldin are starting to form something special. For a veteran like Boldin, this new offense should not be as confusing to him like younger players.
Some might question if Boldin has the ability to play out wide and be as dynamic as Crabtree was. Although older Boldin does have the ability to stretch the field, and in fact was looked at for the deep shot more than Crabtree was: Bolding 15 20+yard targets, Crabtree eight 20+yard targets. As well with a formidable running game in Frank Gore and Kaepernicks running ability, Boldin will not be getting double covered.
San Fran played Green Bay twice last season and the latter was in the Divisional round of the playoffs. Kaepernick had Green Bay’s number then and this game shouldn’t be different, even if GB has the 11th ranked passing defense.
19. DeSean Jackson, PHI at WAS
Perhaps 19 is a bit of a stretch for where Jackson usually ranks overall as a receiver. Week one the Eagles are traveling to the nation’s capital to play the 3rd worst passing defense. The Eagles themselves still have plenty to prove and sort out with a new head coach and offensive scheme being developed. Jacksons strongest asset is going down the field blazing and catch the long pass, he will not be running into the middle and because of that gets a lower amount of looks. Chip Kelly at Oregon was great at finding new ways to get his best players the ball during the game. No exception here, Kelly will find a way to get Jackson the ball in stride against a defense that gives up big plays frequently. The Redskins gave up 58 20+receptions. The Redskins running defense is fifth best, so the Eagles will try hard to win this game over the air.
20. Danny Amendola, NE at BUF
Amendola can have the biggest season so far of his career this year. He is lining up in a position that Tom Brady has learned to make into fantasy football gold. Amendola has the ability to line up in the slot and run the necessary routes. Even better is Amendola has a faster straight speed than Welker; so the productivity will be there from Amendola. What is concerning is that last season Amendola only made it through 11 games because of injuries and the season before that just one game.
The Bills defense is also concerning they were 10th in passing yards allowed with 217.1 yards a game. It definitely won’t be easy for Amendola especially without the star TE’s that New England is accustomed to having. Still there is plenty of hope for a big game by Amendola, last season in week 4; Wes Welker tore up the Bills for 129 yards from 9 receptions. Also in week 10 Brady lit up the Bills for over 200 yards passing. There might be worries for Amendolas season long productivity because of his health, but week one looks to be a promising day for him.