by Eric Stashin (aka The Rotoprofessor)
Last week we took an early look at the Top 10 running backs for 2014 (click here for the article). How about the wide receivers, though? Who looks to be among the top options, base on what we know today? Keep in mind these are going to change dramatically as the offseason progresses, but let’s take a look:
1) Calvin Johnson – Detroit Lions
We all knew that the lack of touchdowns in 2012 were an aberration, and he proved it with 12 TD in 2013 in just 14 games. He was banged up this season, yet still produced like the elite in the game. It’s impossible to place anyone else in the top spot.
2) Demaryius Thomas – Denver Broncos
After Johnson the rankings really could go in a number of different directions with plenty of potentially elite receivers all facing questions. Thomas takes the second spot, at least for now, after posting 92 receptions for 1,430 yards and 14 TD. Obviously they have a lot of weapons, but with Peyton Manning under center there are going to be more than enough opportunities to go around.
3) Dez Bryant – Dallas Cowboys
He has 25 TD over the past two seasons, with at least 92 catches (2012) and 1,233 yards (2013) a season. He was the sixth most targeted receiver and, while there always seems to be some type of controversy, he has the potential to be the best receiver in the game.
4) Josh Gordon – Cleveland Browns
We’d like to get a little bit of clarity on the Browns’ quarterback situation, since we’ve seen elite receivers struggle because of the quarterback (i.e. Larry Fitzgerald). That said, at this point the Browns lack a true running game or another receiver to take away the targets from Gordon. Exactly what is there not to like after he led the NFL in receiving yards in 2013 (1,646).
5) A.J. Green – Cincinnati Bengals
Could you imagine what he could do if Andy Dalton ever found some consistency? He had 11 TD in each of the past two season, and also has been targeted at least 164 times each year. He’s proving to be incredibly consistent and has about as high of a “floor” as anyone at the position.
6) Julio Jones – Atlanta Falcons
We quickly learned just how important he is to the Falcons offense, didn’t we? Let others ignore him due to the injury, he’s as good of a receiver as there is in the game.
7) Alshon Jeffery – Chicago Bears
He gets the nod over Brandon Marshall, since he’s younger and has the higher upside. That said, it wouldn’t be surprising to see Marshall and Jeffery flip flop on the rankings throughout the offseason as both have the upside and rapport with Jay Cutler.
8) Brandon Marshall – Chicago Bears
See Jeffery above. Of course, Marshall had 100 receptions and 12 TD but he will be 30-years old at the start of the season. Don’t be surprised if he starts to take a back seat a bit more in the offense.
9) Antonio Brown – Pittsburgh Steelers
He was second in the NFL in receptions (110) as he took the massive step forward we all have been waiting for. While last season could ultimately prove to be his ceiling (1,499 yards, 8 TD), he’s going to continue to be the go to guy for Ben Roethlisberger.
10) Pierre Garçon – Washington Redskins
His spot on this list is tenuous, as we wait to see how his role will change with the incoming regime. That said, he was the most targeted receiver in the league in 2013 (184) leading to 113 catches for 1,346 yards and 5 TD. As long as he’s healthy, he’s going to be among the best options in the league.
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