The ascent of the pass-happy NFL has made wide receivers an increasingly important part of fantasy football as reflected by the ever increasing number being drafted in higher rounds of fantasy football drafts.
Consequently wide receiver is a deep position. I had to narrow down my picks to keep this article from being five pages long.
Sleepers and busts are determined by average draft position, (ADP), in relation to how they will finish the year.
New Orleans has two right at the top of this list. We know Dree Brees is going to throw a lot and that means one, or both of two newcomers will emerge.
I personally like Nick Toon to bust out after being injured all of last season. I like him so much I have drafted him once already. He will be the No. 3 wideout in New Orleans and could supplant Lance Moore out of the No. 2 spot.
Rookie Kenny Stills is also getting rave reviews down in the Big Easy. But Stills is Lance Moore, only faster. So I think Stills will be the No. 4 receiver in New Orleans. Both are available late in drafts or aren't being drafted at all.
Jordy Nelson was plagued by various injuries a season ago and has already had his knee scoped this year. Nelson is clearly the No. 1 receiver in Green Bay. You know that team with Aaron Rodgers that loves to pass. Expect a huge season from Nelson provided he can stay healthy of course. He is a bargain as about the 67th player and 23rd receiver off the board.
Torrey Smith is going to bust out in 2013. Smith will be asked to do more then just streak down the field in 2013 and it will pay off for fantasy owners. He had 110 targets last year.
While I expect a similar number in 2013, I also expect more of them to be of the shorter route variety leading to more catches, more yards, and more opportunity to use that athletic ability and speed to break them big. His potential is much greater than his ADP of 71.
New England is New England even a sentence? Probably not, OK definitely not, but this is; with Tom Brady at the helm they are going to pass a lot. While I like Danny Amendola, the rookies are the ones to draft as sleepers.
Brady has to throw to someone, and Kenbrell Thompkins will be one of those someones. All reports form camp are that Thompkins has been impressive as has fellow rookie Aaron Dobson. Target one or both later in your drafts, rounds 13-16.
Ryan Broyles is the owner of the FBS career receptions record and two torn ACL's in 2012. If he can stay healthy, in pass-happy Detroit, I like him as a sleeper in round 13 or 14.
Vincent Brown/Malcom Floyd has been injured each of his first two years. Loaded with talent, the coaching staff in San Diego is drooling to have him healthy.
When they aren't about his injuries, reports from San Diego always refer to his potential. And ability. He stays healthy in 2013 and becomes a top 15 wideout. I love the efficiency of saying the same thing for two players and it actually being valid.
I mentioned in busts how James Jones had eight single digit fantasy games last season. Well Cecil Shorts only had seven, and one of those he didn't even play.
Shorts is being undervalued as the 30th wide receiver of the board. Despite the putrid play of quarterback Blaine Gabbert, Shorts is worth the selection. Snap him up if he is somehow still there for you in round 8.
All the guys I ran out of room for include, Alshon Jeffery, Austin Collie, Nate Burleson, Nate Washington, Donnie Avery, and Aldrick Robinson.
James Jones caught 14 of his 64 receptions for touchdowns last season with 784 yards to go with them, all career highs.
I cannot imagine those numbers repeating themselves in 2013.
In fact, Jones had never caught more than 7 touchdowns or 50 passes in a season before last year.
It was also the highest percentage of targets he has caught in a season. With an ADP of 60, I am avoiding James Jones.
Randall Cobb is boom or bust each week with his style of play. He scored single digit points in eight games last year. He ranked 19th last year in total fantasy points among wide receivers and is being drafted as the 12th receiver off the board. It may be a breakout year for Cobb, but I am not spending a 3rd round pick to find out.
The track record for rookie wide receivers isn't all that great in the NFL. It is even worse for smaller rookie wide receivers like Tavon Austin. Despite an ADP way down around 80, the 31st receiver off the board, I like a lot of guys being drafted after him a lot better, including T.Y. Hilton, his teammate Chris Givens, Miles Austin, and Kenny Britt to name a few.
Eric Decker finished eighth in points among fantasy receivers last season and is coming in with a 59 ADP thus far in drafts. The addition of Wes Welker pushes Decker out of a starting spot. Is there room for two Wes Welker types? Sure, but there aren't enough passes for three top 20 fantasy wide receivers. That means Decker's ADP, as the 21st receiver off the board, is grossly high.
DeSean Jackson tantalized us in his sophomore season and fantasy ballers have been over-drafting him ever since. His numbers have fallen every year since 2009 bottoming out last season with only 11 games played.
In fact D-Jack has only played 16 games one time, and that was as a rookie. He is frail and not much a route runner. He is a deep threat, cut that off and you cut him off. Scoring around 100 points is his ceiling and that isn't anywhere near worth an ADP of 70 as the 25th wide receiver off the board.
Can Kenny Britt stay healthy? Can Britt avoid suspension? Can Britt stay out of jail? If the answer is yes to all three questions then Britt is an absolute steal in the middle rounds.
He has top five talent at 24 years old. Hopefully he matures and avoids injury because he is a beast waiting to happen. But there is just as good a chance, or better, that the answer to one of those three questions is no and he will be a titanic disaster disappointing Titan and fantasy fans. Why yes, this is the same thing I said about Britt last season.