They are the divas of the NFL. Personalities that can drive a team to distraction and make head coaches wish they had listened to their mothers and become a doctor. Of course we're talking about NFL wide receivers, as loony a bunch as you'll find in any sport. They come in all shapes and sizes, some are speedsters that love to go deep. Others are big and brawny and aren't afraid of going over the middle. Still others have no discernible physical quality but somehow just manage to get open and produce yards and touchdowns.
When it comes to fantasy football, they can be a tough lot to predict. One year they're up, the next year they're down. They need help from other parts of the team to be successful; they need a quarterback who can throw the ball with accuracy and touch, and they need that QB to trust them. If they don't have an offensive line that can keep the QB upright, they don't stand a chance. They're at the mercy of the offensive coordinator, if they play for a "3 yards and a cloud of dust" guy, they can spend large parts of the game as observers.
Still, there are some that are as dependable as the sun rising; our task is to find those guys and draft them. Here are the Top 5 safe bets in the WR category for the 2010 fantasy football season.
Andre Johnson (Texans) - Simply put, the guy's a stud. With the Houston Texans running game in disarray last year, Johnson was the option for the offense. Luckily, Matt Schaub is a quarterback who can sling it, he and Johnson are a formidable duo. AJ led the league in receiving yards last year (1,569 yards) making it two years in a row for him. He's one of the most targeted receivers in the league and he keeps that distinction in redzone targets. It's hard to imagine him not being the top receiver off the board.
Randy Moss (Patriots) - One minute he's a rookie phenom hooking up with Daunte Culpepper, the next he's the grizzled veteran still getting it done with Tom Brady. Moss has been in the league a long time now, but his production is still top notch. 1,264 yards last season with 13 TDs is nothing to sneeze at, and that was with Brady working his way back into form. With the Pats defense seemingly in decline, the offense will most likely have to win shootouts, and that should mean big numbers for Moss. Plus, it's a contact year, and you know what that means.
Larry Fitzgerald (Cardinals) - Fitzgerald would be a candidate for the #1 fantasy WR if it wasn't for one thing - Matt Leinart. When Kurt Warner was tossing him the rock, Fitzgerald was a no-brainer. We don't doubt his talent, but we do doubt the Cardinals offense minus Warner. Plus, Anquan Boldin has left, and that could mean even more attention paid to Fitzgerald by defenses if that's even possible. Then again, with Boldin gone, Fitzgerald may be targeted more often, leading to more scoring chances. It's hard to say exactly how it will play out, but in the end Fitzgerald's talent wins out. He should be fine for the opener from his knee injury.
Reggie Wayne (Colts) - He plays for the Colts, who have a prolific offense, he catches passes from Peyton Manning, one of the best to ever play the game, and he's ultra-talented. There's not much wrong with Reggie Wayne's prospects for the 2010 season. The only thing that could hold him back is that the Colts have other options and Manning is willing to throw it to anybody. But in the end, he'll turn to his veteran, especially in the redzone. Also benefiting Wayne, the Colts don't run the ball well, so passing is their main option.
Calvin Johnson (Lions) - If Calvin Johnson played for an NFL-worthy offense over the last few years, he'd be near or at the top of this list. Unfortunately for him, he's played for the Lions and has had to struggle for everything he's gotten. Injuries have also been a problem. There's probably not a more physically gifted receiver in the league, and if Matthew Stafford continues to mature, and the Lions continue to get marginally better, Megatron's stats should take a leap after a disappointing 2009. He's the kind of talent that could be at the top of the stats come the end of the year, as long as his team cooperates. We think it's worth the risk, because even if the Lions are bad again, Johnson should at least put up decent stats.
Miles Austin - Dallas
Brandon Marshall - Miami
Roddy White - Atlanta