Back with some more fantasy football keeper rankings. I recently posted my quarterback and running back rankings.
You'll see basic rankings on a ton of sites, so I decided mix it up and focus on keepers. Basically with the keeper rankings, we're looking at players that would be valuable to keep for 3+ seasons ideally. Therefore, you have to take into consideration other things that you wouldn't in a normal league, such as age, their likely/unlikely development, the likely/unlikely development of players on their team, etc.
Even if you aren't in any keeper leagues, it's still basically an interesting look at who the top wide receivers in the league should be over the next few years. These rankings could easily change quickly, especially with the younger guys that we don't know enough about yet. You could argue pretty much every person on this list should be ranked differently, so feel free to chime in with your take.
I'm doing these rankings based on standard scoring systems. If you're in a PPR(point-per-reception) league, take that into consideration and try to adjust accordingly, or post a question in the comments and I'll do my best to answer it. Obviously if you're in a PPR league, the rankings for wide receivers would change considerably. The Wes Welker, Eddie Royal, T.J. Houshmandzadeh, and Anthony Gonzalez types are going to be more valuable in that format, as they're going to get a ton of catches.
Anyway, here's my top 40 keeper wide receivers...
1. Larry Fitzgerald.
2008 Stats: 96 Receptions, 1431 Yards Receiving, 12 Touchdown Receptions, 155 Targets.
You saw what he did in last year's playoffs(30 catches, 546 yards, 7 TD in 4 games). Fitzgerald is a top-2 wide receiver in the NFL and in a Cardinals offense that relies on the passing game. He's just turning 26 on August 31st and is only going to get better. He shouldn't last past the first round in a keeper league draft.
2. Calvin Johnson.
2008 Stats: 78 Receptions, 1331 Yards Receiving, 12 Touchdown Receptions, 140 Targets.
Unfortunately, not enough people are aware of how good Calvin Johnson is, because he plays for the Lions who of course were winless in 2008. It certainly wasn't due to the play of "Megatron" though. His 12 touchdown receptions shared the league-lead with Larry Fitzgerald, and on just 78 catches, showing his sensational ability to make plays after the catch.
If rookie Matthew Stafford can be the quarterback the Lions think he will be(that's why they used the #1 overall pick on him), Calvin's production will even get better. Get Calvin at the end of the first round, and you should have a top-3 wide receiver for years. It's tempting to even take him over Fitzgerald because of his age. If you think Stafford will live up to the hype, go for it.
3. Andre Johnson.
2008 Stats: 115 Receptions, 1575 Yards Receiving, 8 Touchdown Receptions, 164 Targets.
In my opinion, the best wide receiver in the NFL. He can do it all, and in a 6'3", 230 pound frame. He led the NFL in receptions and receiving yards last season. He's never had more than 8 touchdowns in a season, but I don't look too much into that. There's no reason he can't be a red zone beast with his size and abilities, and he was fifth in the NFL last season in yards per touch(13.7), which is pretty damn impressive considering he had 115 catches.
4. Greg Jennings.
2008 Stats: 80 Receptions, 1292 Yards Receiving, 9 Touchdown Receptions, 121 Targets.
Most keeper rankings you'll see likely won't have him higher than fifth, but I'm a big believer in Greg Jennings now, and an even bigger believer in what he can do in the future. He really broke out last year and put up terrific numbers, even while only having only 11 more passes thrown his way than Donald Driver. Driver is 34 and Jennings is the clear #1 there, and should be for a long time. Plus, he has a terrific young quarterback in Aaron Rodgers that shouldn't be going anywhere for the next decade.
5. Reggie Wayne.
2008 Stats: 82 Receptions, 1145 Yards Receiving, 6 Touchdown Receptions, 129 Targets.
Being Peyton Manning's #1 target is pretty nice. Reggie should see over 140 targets with Marvin Harrison no longer there. At 30, he should still have a few more terrific seasons ahead. As long as Peyton Manning is still playing, Wayne will be very productive.
6. Roddy White.
2008 Stats: 88 Receptions, 1382 Yards Receiving, 7 Touchdown Receptions, 140 Targets.
White is currently holding out and not attending the Falcons' training camp, as he'd like a contract extension. Surely this will be resolved soon and he'll be out there playing every Sunday.
Last season, White had a career year, and did so with a rookie quarterback in Matt Ryan. Ryan is going to be a star and will also be throwing the ball much more than he did last year. Even with the addition of Tony Gonzalez as a premier target, White's still the guy Ryan will go to for the big plays.
7. Brandon Marshall.
2008 Stats: 104 Receptions, 1265 Yards Receiving, 6 Touchdown Receptions, 172 Targets.
He's a mess off the field, as is his relationship right now with the Broncos. But like Roddy White, you know he'll be out there playing every Sunday and producing, so I don't really care. With that said though, he's likely just an arrest away from a big suspension, so that could scare away fantasy owners in a keeper league.
He's also going to miss Jay Cutler at quarterback. Kyle Orton's still going to throw the ball Marshall's way a ton, but usually within 15 yards or so. Orton struggles on the deep ball so it's unlikely we're going to see Marshall reeling in many more deep balls. He's terrific after the catch though, so sometimes you just need to get the ball in his hands like Orton will, and the 6'4", 230 pound freak of nature will do the rest.
8. Randy Moss.
2008 Stats: 69 Receptions, 1008 Yards Receiving, 11 Touchdown Receptions, 127 Targets.
Moss' 2007 season with Tom Brady at quarterback: 98 receptions, 1493 yards, 23 touchdowns. Last year Moss was without Brady as the star quarterback tore his ACL and MCL early in the first game of the season.
We don't know if Brady will be back to himself, but the reports so far on his health are encouraging. Additionally, there's no way Moss is going to put up those '07 numbers again. Still, he can be much better than last season and is in the physical condition, as well as situation to excel for at least a few more years.
9. Dwayne Bowe.
2008 Stats: 86 Receptions, 1022 Yards Receiving, 7 Touchdown Receptions, 142 Targets.
Bowe is going to be new quarterback Matt Cassel's favorite target, and with Tony Gonzalez going to Atlanta, Bowe will also be the best red zone target as well. It takes most wide receivers a few years to really get it going in this league, and Bowe's already been terrific each of his first two seasons. He's going to be an elite fantasy wide receiver for 5+ years and I think there's a good chancen we'll look back on this ranking being too low for him.
10. Steve Smith.
2008 Stats: 78 Receptions, 1421 Yards Receiving, 6 Touchdown Receptions, 127 Targets.
Smith missed the first two games due to suspension, so his numbers could look quite a bit better. Mark him down for 80+ catches, 1100 yards, and 7+ touchdowns each year for at least a few more years. That is of course if Jake Delhomme isn't the quarterback we saw in the playoffs last year.
11. Anquan Boldin.
2008 Stats: 89 Receptions, 1038 Yards Receiving, 11 Touchdown Receptions, 126 Targets.
For months it appeared he could be traded, possibly to the Bears or Eagles. But it looks like he is staying put for now, with the team he's put up huge numbers his entire career. He's one of the safest picks around.
12. Marques Colston.
2008 Stats: 47 Receptions, 760 Yards Receiving, 5 Touchdown Receptions, 79 Targets.
He might be higher on this list if we knew for sure his knee was 100% after having surgery on it. He claims it is though and is fully participating at camp now.
He played just 11 games last year, so don't put too much into those numbers. In 2007 he played a full season and had 98 catches for 1202 yards and 11 touchdowns. He's a fantasy stud and playing for the best fantasy quarterback in Drew Brees. He's only 26 and has a lot left if his knee is in good shape.
13. Roy Williams.
2008 Stats: 36 Receptions, 430 Yards Receiving, 2 Touchdown Receptions, 83 Targets.
Williams was terrible after being acquired during the season by the Cowboys from the Lions. He had just 19 catches in 10 games for the Cowboys. It's tough jumping right into an offense in the middle of the year though, and Williams clearly looked uncomfortable. Expect that to change though. With Terrell Owens in Buffalo now, Williams is the #1 wide receiver and the Cowboys are definitely making sure he's comfortable in the offense. In 2006, he caught 82 passes for 1310 yards and 7 touchdowns. He's a great red zone target at 6'3", 220 pounds, and should put up big numbers in this potent offense.
14. Wes Welker.
2008 Stats: 111 Receptions, 1165 Yards Receiving, 3 Touchdown Receptions, 148 Targets.
Welker was the most difficult guy for me to rank on here. Others will tell you he should be around 20th, but I just love the reliability you have with Welker and he's still young at 28. In a PPR league, he's a gold mine, but he's still very good in standard leagues as well. He had 1175 receiving yards in 2007, and 1165 in 2008. 112 receptions in 2007, 111 in 2008. You know what you're getting with him, and you can't say that about most of the guys after him on this list.
15. Braylon Edwards.
2008 Stats: 55 Receptions, 873 Yards Receiving, 3 Touchdown Receptions, 126 Targets.
I wanted to move him out of the top 20 even, but his talent and 2007 season prevented me from doing so. He led the world in drops last year, and his situation with the Browns is very up in there. He's a free agent after the season, and there's been rumors all offseason about him being traded. However, nobody's lining up to give up an early draft pick for a guy that caught just 55 of 126 passes thrown his way in 2008.
But there's no doubting his talent, which he put on display in 2007 with 80 receptions for 1289 yards and 16 touchdowns. He could be a top 10 wide receiver this year, or be closer to the top 40. Nobody knows what to expect. Since it's his contract year though, I'd lean towards him having a solid season and maybe even go Adrian Beltre on us.
16. Chad Ochocinco.
2008 Stats: 53 Receptions, 540 Yards Receiving, 4 Touchdown Receptions, 98 Targets.
While Ochocinco isn't tweeting this offseason, he's working hard to get himself back to being an elite wide receiver, something he wasn't in 2008. He claims he didn't train as hard last offseason, and has even taken up boxing and other conditioning routines to get himself in the best shape of his career. He continues to tell us that he's going to have an absolutely huge season and prove the doubters wrong, but of course when doesn't he say such things? If he's really in the shape he claims to be, and Carson Palmer is back at 100%, a huge season could indeed be on the way. Maybe a few of them even.
2008 Stats: 92 Receptions, 904 Yards Receiving, 4 Touchdown Receptions, 137 Targets.
Houshmandzadeh signed with the Seahawks in the offseason and figures to be a good fit for that offense. Matt Hasselbeck will throw a lot of quick, short routes, and that's Houshmandzadeh's game. He's a terrific possession receiver, not much more at this stage of his career though. I think he can be solid for another 3-4 years in this offense.
18. Anthony Gonzalez.
2008 Stats: 57 Receptions, 664 Yards Receiving, 4 Touchdown Receptions, 80 Targets.
He's going to greatly benefit from the departure of Marvin Harrison, as he's now the #2 wide receiver in Indianapolis. Peyton will make sure the 24-year-old puts up big numbers.
19. Terrell Owens.
2008 Stats: 69 Receptions, 1052 Yards Receiving, 10 Touchdown Receptions, 130 Targets.
He's 35 already, so it's hard to rank him much higher than this. He's also not an elite wide receiver anymore, and will be in a worse quarterback and weather situation in Buffalo.
20. Vincent Jackson.
2008 Stats: 59 Receptions, 1098 Yards Receiving, 7 Touchdown Receptions, 105 Targets.
The Chargers' wide receiver has the ability to be a star, and has a terrific quarterback throwing to him, Philip Rivers. He's 6'5", 241 pounds and was fourth in the NFL in yards/reception at 18.4 last season.
21. Eddie Royal.
2008 Stats: 91 Receptions, 980 Yards Receiving, 5 Touchdown Receptions, 114 Targets.
I doubt you see anybody else rank Royal this high, but I'm not buying into the major drop-off some are predicting with the loss of Jay Cutler. Kyle Orton's terrific within 20 yards and he's going to love hitting the quick, reliable Royal on short routes. I expect him to be an 80+ catch guy this year and beyond.
22. Santonio Holmes.
2008 Stats: 55 Receptions, 821 Receiving Yards, 5 Touchdown Receptions, 96 Targets.
The Steelers are going to run the football, and that might prevent Holmes from ever putting the numbers he's capable of. We all saw his skills in the Super Bowl, and he of course made the incredible catch to win that game. At worst though, he's a 60 catch, 900 yard, 6+ touchdown guy that is just 25.
23. Michael Crabtree.
2008 Stats: N/A(Rookie).
The most talented wide receiver in the 2009 draft may not be a big factor this season, as few rookie wide receivers are. He has Andre Johnson-like abilities though and everything's there to be a great fantasy receiver.
24. Bernard Berrian.
2008 Stats: 48 Receptions, 964 Receiving Yards, 7 Touchdown Receptions, 97 Targets.
Brett Favre staying retired was horrible news for Berrian's fantasy potential this season. Berrian's one of the best deep threats in the league, and Favre of course is in love with the deep ball. Instead, it's going to be Tarvaris Jackson or Sage Rosenfels, most likely Tarvaris. Berrian's 20.1 yards per reception was second in the league though. He's much more valuable in standard leagues than PPR leagues, as he's never going to rack up a ton of catches.
25. Lee Evans.
2008 Stats: 63 Receptions, 1017 Receiving Yards, 3 Touchdown Receptions, 100 Targets.
Very similar to Berrian, in that he's going to catch some bombs, but will disappoint you on many weeks as well. The addition of Terrell Owens hurts his stock as well, but just for the short term.
26. DeSean Jackson.
2008 Stats: 62 Receptions, 912 Receiving Yards, 2 Touchdown Receptions, 119 Targets.
I didn't know if Jackson would ever be what he was last year as a receiver. He was damn impressive though, and will get stronger to be able to handle the beating of an NFL season. The 22-year-old's numbers will increase across the board and he could shoot up these rankings.
27. Donnie Avery.
2008 Stats: 53 Receptions, 674 Receiving Yards, 3 Touchdown Receptions, 97 Targets.
Another very impressive rookie wide receiver in 2008. He had 16 catches in the final three games to close out the season, and is now the #1 receiver with Torry Holt now in Jacksonville. Sleeper alert.
28. Antonio Bryant.
2008 Stats: 83 Receptions, 1248 Receiving Yards, 7 Touchdown Receptions, 110 Targets.
Who the hell is going to be throwing him the ball? I don't think even anybody in Tampa Bay really knows. Don't expect him to come close to repeating last year's catches and yards.
29. Lance Moore.
2008 Stats: 79 Receptions, 928 Receiving Yards, 10 Touchdown Receptions. 110 Targets.
He benefited from the absence of Colston for much of the season, no question. But Drew Brees likes him, and Drew Brees will throw the ball about 900 times a game. I wouldn't predict he will score 10 touchdowns again, but will get a lot of receptions and yards again.
30. Jerricho Cotchery.
2008 Stats: 71 Receptions, 858 Receiving Yards, 5 Touchdown Receptions, 109 Targets.
He's going to be catching passes from Kellen Clemens or Mark Sanchez this season which isn't a good thing, but he'll be the main target as Laveraneus Coles signed with the Bengals. I think he could tack on 10 more catches to last year's total and get over 1,000 yards. If Mark Sanchez shows he is the real deal, Cotchery's keeper value can really jump.
31. Santana Moss.
2008 Stats: 79 Receptions, 1044 Receiving Yards, 6 Touchdown Receptions, 122 Targets.
You can mark down about 70+ catches, 1000 receiving yards, and 5 touchdowns for Santana. He appears to have a lot left as well. It would help him if Jason Campbell could take that next step at quarterback.
32. Devin Hester.
2008 Stats: 51 Receptions, 665 Receiving Yards, 3 Touchdown Receptions, 90 Targets.
Another guy I'm much higher on than most. Hester is the #1 wide receiver for the Bears, and now has Jay Cutler throwing to him. Kyle Orton was solid for the Bears last year, but he missed Hester on the deep ball many times, usually short on the throws. Cutler won't be.
Hester clearly improved on his route running and just looked more comfortable as the season went along in his first season as a full-time wide receiver. Reports are he looks great running routes as camp as well. Look for Hester to hit some home runs and still bring in 5 catches weekly.
33. Hines Ward.
2008 Stats: 81 Receptions, 1043 Receiving Yards, 7 Touchdown Receptions, 113 Targets.
Steady. Consistent. Reliable. These type of words describe Hines Ward in fantasy football. Lock up another solid season from Hines Ward.
34. Laveranues Coles.
2008 Stats: 70 Receptions, 850 Receiving Yards, 7 Touchdown Receptions, 118 Targets.
T.J. Houshmandzadeh leaves, Laveranues Coles steps in. Expect numbers like last season, but could do better if we see the old Carson Palmer.
35. Kevin Walter.
2008 Stats: 60 Receptions, 899 Receiving Yards, 8 Touchdown Receptions, 90 Targets.
With 899 yards and 8 touchdowns, Kevin Walter made the most out of his 60 receptions. He's not going to see the ball much more anytime soon with Andre Johnson being his teammate, but a nice guy to have on your fantasy roster.
36. Ted Ginn Jr.
2008 Stats: 56 Receptions, 790 Receiving Yards, 2 Touchdown Receptions, 88 Targets.
Ginn can run, but he doesn't have a quarterback that can air it out and let him do so. Instead he has to turn Chad Pennington's lollipop 7-yard routes into big plays. He'll be in on a lot of trick plays and reverses, and even ran for a couple of touchdowns last season. There's more here, but he needs to be in a better situation.
37. Domenik Hixon
2008 Stats: 43 Receptions, 596 Yards Receiving, 2 Touchdown Receptions, 68 Targets.
Hixon was a nice surprise for the Giants last year after losing Plaxico Burress(apparently something's going on with him, not sure if you heard), and will likely be Eli Manning's favorite receiver this year. He's only 24 and has a great chance to keep a starting job for more than just this season.
38. Percy Harvin.
2008 Stats: N/A(Rookie).
Harvin is a terrific athlete that will be getting his hands on the ball frequently in the future, if not this year. The Vikings have been very impressed with him this offseason though and could use any help they can get on offense to take the pressure off Adrian Peterson. Harvin's also going to get a lot of touches on the ground through reverses, the Wildcat formation, etc. There's lots of potential here, and if we see he can be an every down receiver in the NFL, he'll skyrocket up these rankings.
39. Hakeem Nicks.
2008 Stats: N/A(Rookie).
The Giants used a first round pick to take the talented wide receiver out of North Carolina. He's getting a chance to win a starting wide receiver spot and should play a factor in the Giants' offense soon, as they're very thin at wide receiver.
40. Donald Driver.
2008 Stats: 74 Receptions, 1012 Receiving Yards, 5 Touchdown Receptions, 110 Targets.
Once you're getting this deep into the wide receiver pool, might as well draft somebody that you know can help you now, and Driver will do that. He'll probably see the ball a bit less, but still a solid #3 receiver on your fantasy squad.
Update(8/14): A few things that could change my rankings at the moment, or that you should at least take into consideration when looking at these...
Tom Brady looked great last night, especially with Randy Moss. It's just one pre-season game, but it definitely opened my eyes. I wouldn't at all be surprised to see Moss be a top-3 fantasy wide receiver this year, maybe even the best.
Donnie Avery and Antonio Bryant are each out likely a month, maybe more. I'd move them each down a couple spots. It certainly hurts Bryant's keeper status more than the 23-year-old Avery's, who I'm pretty high on long-term.
Update(8/24): Former college(Oregon State) and of course NFL(Cincinnati Bengals) teammates, Chad Ochocinco and T.J. Houshmandzadeh, each look great right now. Ocho appears to have a bounce back year on the way as any of you that have watched Hard Knocks have seen. Houshmandzadeh and his new quarterback in Seattle, Matt Hasselbeck, looked great together Saturday against the Broncos.
With Brandon Marshall still not playing for the Broncos, Eddie Royal's quickly become Kyle Orton's favorite target. Maybe Royal doesn't reel in as many bombs as he did with Jay Cutler, but I still think he gets a ton of catches with Orton throwing his way. Royal will still get the yardage with his incredible ability to make plays after the catch too.
Brett Favre coming back does wonders for Bernard Berrian's short-term fantasy potential. We all know Favre likes to air it out, and if you think he'll change that because of Adrian Peterson, a solid defense(especially against the run), etc... you're kidding yourself. Berrian is as good of a deep threat as there is in the league and Favre should give him plenty of opportunities to show that off.
Domenik Hixon looks like the #1 wide receiver for the Giants. Hakeem Nicks had a 55-yard catch Saturday against the Bears, but with 50 seconds left against fourth stringers. He's still coming along. For this year, it looks like Eli Manning will be throwing the ball in Hixon's direction much more than Nicks, if Nicks is even getting much playing time.
Percy Harvin seems to be impressing anybody that attends Vikings camp and it appears he'll be an instant factor in that offense. Lots and lots of potential there.
Update(8/28): Brandon Marshall's situation is officially a mess. The Broncos suspended the star receiver today, but if all goes well and he stays out of trouble and does as told(both things that he frequently does NOT do), he'll be good to go for the regular season opener. Be careful here, but personally, I wouldn't bump him down more than a spot or two for this year's rankings. His keeper ranking stays the same for me. Who knows where he'll be playing in the coming years, but it will be somewhere, and he'll produce.
Cowboys #1 wide receiver Roy Williams has a shoulder contusion, but should be able to go for the season opener. Very good news for him after it was thought he could have a broken collarbone.
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