2012 Fantasy Tiered Rankings: Top 50 Wide Receivers (Updated 08/24/12)

With Dwayne Bowe signed and Mike Wallace reportedly close to agreeing, there are no real contract disputes among wide receivers.  While there could be some injury concerns (Hakeem Nicks, Mile Austin), there doesn’t appear to be anything too earth shattering at this point.  With that in mind, let’s take a look at how things currently stand:

Tier 1 – Calvin Johnson Stands Alone

  1. Calvin Johnson – Detroit Lions (1)

Tier 2 – WR1 Locks

  1. Larry Fitzgerald – Arizona Cardinals (2)
  2. Andre Johnson – Houston Texans (3)
  3. Roddy White – Atlanta Falcons (4)
  4. Greg Jennings – Green Bay Packers (5)
  5. Hakeem Nicks – New York Giants (7)
  6. A.J. Green – Cincinnati Bengals (8)
  7. Julio Jones – Atlanta Falcons (9)
  8. Wes Welker – New England Patriots (6)

Tier 3 – On The Verge, But Not Quite There

  1. Victor Cruz – New York Giants (10)
  2. Steve Smith – Carolina Panthers (11)
  3. Brandon Marshall – Chicago Bears (12)
  4. Jordy Nelson – Green Bay Packers (13)
  5. Percy Harvin – Minnesota Vikings (17)
  6. Dez Bryant – Dallas Cowboys (14)
  7. Mike Wallace – Pittsburgh Steelers (15)

Tier 4 – Solid WR2

  1. Marques Colston – New Orleans Saints (16)
  2. Demaryius Thomas – Denver Broncos (18)
  3. Dwayne Bowe – Kansas City Chiefs (22)
  4. Vincent Jackson – Tampa Bay Buccaneers (19)
  5. Miles Austin – Dallas Cowbys (20)
  6. DeSean Jackson – Philadelphia Eagles (21)
  7. Stevie Johnson – Buffalo Bills (23)
  8. Antonio Brown – Pittsburgh Steelers (24)

Tier 5 – Draft As A WR3, But Could Easily Be WR2

  1. Torrey Smith – Baltimore Ravens (28)
  2. Brandon Lloyd – New England Patriots (25)
  3. Jeremy Maclin – Philadelphia Eagles (26)
  4. Kenny Britt – Tennessee Titans (27)

Tier 6 – There’s Risk, But Worth A WR3 Spot

  1. Reggie Wayne – Indianapolis Colts (31)
  2. Pierre Garcon – Washington Redskins (29)
  3. Darrius Heyward-Bey – Oakland Raiders (34)
  4. Robert Meachem – San Diego Chargers (30)
  5. Anquan Boldin – Baltimore Ravens (32)
  6. Mike Williams – Tampa Bay Buccaneers (33)

Tier 7 – Potential WR3

  1. Titus Young – Detroit Lions (35)
  2. Justin Blackmon – Jacksonville Jaguars (36)
  3. Eric Decker – Denver Broncos (37)
  4. Michael Crabtree – San Francisco 49ers (38)
  5. Denarius Moore – Oakland Raiders (39)
  6. Greg Little – Cleveland Browns (40)
  7. Sidney Rice – Seattle Seahawks (41)
  8. Santonio Holmes – New York Jets (42)
  9. Laurent Robinson – Jacksonville Jaguars (43)
  10. Malcolm Floyd – San Diego Chargers (44)

Tier 8 – The Rest

  1. Lance Moore – New Orleans Saints (45)
  2. Brian LaFell – Carolina Panthers (NR)
  3. Alshton Jeffrey – Chicago Bears (NR)
  4. Nate Washington – Tennessee Titans (47)
  5. Emmanuel Sanders – Pittsburgh Steelers (48)
  6. Steve Smith – St. Louis Rams (50)

Dropped from rankings – Mario Manningham, Michael Floyd


  • While Dwayne Bowe missed the bulk of training camp, the fact that he’s signed and will get a few weeks to learn the new system gives us less concern entering 2012.  The bigger issue with him is that the Chiefs will likely be a team dominated by the run, which will limit his potential value.  That said, he is the Chiefs top receiver and has surpassed 70 receptions and 995 yards in four of his five professional seasons.  Don’t expect him to match his 15 TD in 2010, but he should be a solid WR2.
  • As Christian Ponder continues to prove himself, including going 10-13 for 136 yards and 1 TD in the team’s second preseason game, the potential for Percy Harvin continues to grow.  As long as Harvin can stay healthy he will be the team’s top receiver and Ponder’s go to guy.  While I wouldn’t trust him as a WR1, he’s definitely going to be a solid WR2 in all formats.
  • Hakeem Nicks is on the practice field and appears on track to be ready for Week 1.  In other words there is nothing to be concerned about and he should be viewed as a solid WR1 in all formats.
  • With Austin Collie suffering a concussion, just where does Andrew Luck realistically have to go besides Reggie Wayne?  Yes, LaVon Brazill is going to be a sleeper but Wayne should be the top option in Indianapolis despite his age and dramatic decline in 2011.  He posted 6 receptions for 74 yards in the team’s second preseason game and should be a solid backend option in all formats.
  • While I continue to be skeptical regarding Brandon Lloyd, as there are only so many balls to go around, can we say the same thing about Wes Welker?  He had 51 yards or less in two of the final three games of the season and he never is going to be a major red zone target.  While I would love to have him, especially in PPR formats, he needs to come down a few spots in general formats.
  • According to Mike Sando of espn.com (click here for the article), “First-round draft choice Michael Floyd hasn’t stood out yet. Fitzgerald will continue to carry the passing game. Rob Housler will emerge as more of a threat at tight end. Andre Roberts and Early Doucet give the team two strong inside options. Getting Floyd going will be one key to unleashing Roberts from the slot.”  Floyd has upside, but is a risk to produce in his rookie year.
  • Joseph Person of the Charlotte Observer (click here for the article) has a quote from Brandon LaFell saying, “I feel like every year I go into is my year, and definitely this year,” LaFell said. “It’s my third year. These guys are giving me a big role. … I feel like Smitty’s going to do his thing. And if I can give our offense another reliable weapon on the other side, that’ll help out this whole team.”  He could prove to be a solid late round option.

Make sure to check out our 2012 fantasy football rankings:

2012 Fantasy Tiered Rankings: Top 15 Defenses (Updated 08/26/12)
2012 Fantasy Tiered Rankings: Top 25 Tight Ends (Updated 08/23/12)


  1. GT says:

    I’ve been wondering all summer – how is AJ Green more valuable than Vic Cruz? Worse QB, double coverage every week, tougher division, less productive 2011.

    • Green was also a rookie and is expected by many (along with Andy Dalton) to take a significant step forward in his development.

      With Cruz, your right that he’s in the better situation but he also is the second receiver on his team. It is really hard to see him outperform what he did last season and it’s much more likely that we see him take a small step back.

      Cruz is going to be a good option, but Green has the potential to be one of the elite.

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