By all indications, Miles Austin is here to stay. So who is responsible for the fact that it’s taken over four seasons to recognize he’s a weekly big-play threat? The bumbling coaching staff in Dallas, or Austin himself for not living up to his skills? It’s hard to say, but either way the error appears to have been corrected. Austin’s hands still leave something to be desired, but his explosive ability is special. He’s making Tony Romo’s numbers look better than Romo has been, and the quarterback realizes that and will continue to lean on him. 16 receptions, 421 yards and 4TDs over the last two contests make him a must-start and a member of the top ten on this list in a neutral matchup against the Seahawks.
You’re going to want to monitor the status of your stud wideout closely, Andre and Calvin Johnson owners. The Bills secondary has not been kind to WRs this season, but if Andre Johnson’s bruised lung (ouch) allows him to play you simply can’t bench him. Meanwhile, Calvin Johnson is improving but his status for Sunday remains very much up in the air. Calvin currently has to be considered the biggest early-round bust to this point and it would be a real shame to see him miss out on this dream matchup against the Rams at home. If he plays, though, Calvin joins Andre as a must-start option.
I’m convinced that nobody, anywhere, ever, starts Lee Evans when he actually plays well. Seriously, has there been a more frustrating receiver to own in fantasy over the last few seasons? If you have one, vent about it in the comments. All of that said, this week is a perfect situation for the Wisconsin product to post one of his signature, fantasy-season-saving performances. This Houston defense is weak deep and up the seams, meaning they give up massive plays. Fresh off making Vernon Davis look like the best tight end in the league, this secondary could cede huge production to speedster like Lee Evans.
Mario Manningham’s drops are irksome, and you can bet they don’t sit well with Tom Coughlin and Eli Manning. Meanwhile, rookie Hakeem Nicks has been extremely productive with his opportunities. The two can be on the field at the same time, but they really play the same receiver position and I’m projecting this is the week that Nicks overtakes Manningham for good.
I owe you an apology on the Michael Crabtree analysis apparently. I’m as shocked as anybody that he was able to play in 90% of the 49ers offensive snaps last week, and play well, en route to a reasonably productive fantasy line. It’s pretty absurd that he’s picked up the offense and trust of his coaching staff so quickly, but here Crabtree is a recommended start in our rankings just one game into his rookie campaign. Kudos to those of you brave few who kept the faith.
Sidney Rice is real, and he’s spectacular. We’ve been an advocate of the guy for long time (picking him as one of our breakout WRs this offseason) and it’s starting to pay off. As we have repeatedly stressed: he’s big, he’s super athletic, he has great hands and his ball skills in the air are phenomenal. Brett Favre has found his go-to receiver. Welcome to the top 15, Sidney. Here’s hoping you’re here to stay. We also have Rice’s teammate, Percy Harvin, somewhat aggressively ranked. That’s due in part to the assumption that your league rewards special-teams TDs. If not, bump him down a few pegs.
I’ve got a call for you this week: Kenny Britt. The Jags secondary is beat up and Britt can get down the field and make plays. Despite zero receptions against the Patriots last game Britt was still targeted and he remains a high-upside bye-week fill. I hesitate to recommend such a gamble, as is reflected in his low ranking, but I have a gut feeling the rookie puts up some fantasy points this week.
1. Reggie Wayne, Indianapolis Colts vs. SF
2. Marques Colston, New Orleans Saints vs. ATL
3. Vincent Jackson, San Diego Chargers vs. OAK
4. Roddy White, Atlanta Falcons @ NO
5. Brandon Marshall, Denver Broncos @ BAL
6. Andre Johnson, Houston Texans @ BUF (Check Status)
7. Calvin Johnson, Detroit Lions vs. STL (Check Status)
8. Larry Fitzgerald, Arizona Cardinals vs. CAR
9. Mike Sims-Walker, Jacksonville Jaguars @ TEN
10. Miles Austin, Dallas Cowboys vs. SEA
11. DeSean Jackson, Philadelphia Eagles vs. NYG
12. Sidney Rice, Minnesota Vikings @ GB
13. Anquan Boldin, Arizona Cardinals vs. CAR
14. Greg Jennings, Green Bay Packers vs. MIN
15. Donald Driver, Green Bay Packers vs. MIN
16. Steve Smith, New York Giants @ PHI
WR rankings 17 through 42, after the jump…
17. Devin Hester, Chicago Bears vs. CLE
18. Stevonne Smith, Carolina Panthers @ ARZ
19. Derrick Mason, Baltimore Ravens vs. DEN
20. TJ Houshmandzadeh, Seattle Seahawks @ DAL
21. Nate Burleson, Seattle Seahawks @ DAL
22. Hakeem Nicks, New York Giants @ PHI
23. Mario Manningham, New York Giants @ PHI
24. Kevin Walter, Houston Texans @ BUF
25. Michael Crabtree, San Francisco 49ers @ IND
26. Steve Breaston, Arizona Cardinals vs. CAR
27. Lee Evans, Buffalo Bills vs. HOU
28. Mohamed Massaquoi, Cleveland Browns @ CHI
29. Johnny Knox, Chicago Bears vs. CLE
30. Percy Harvin, Minnesota Vikings @ GB
31. Austin Collie, Indianapolis Colts vs. SF
32. Braylon Edwards, New York Jets vs. MIA
33. Torry Holt, Jacksonville Jaguars @ TEN
34. Donnie Avery, St. Louis Rams @ DET
35. Jeremy Maclin, Philadelphia Eagles vs. NYG
36. Lance Moore, New Orleans Saints vs. ATL
37. Eddie Royal, Denver Broncos @ BAL
38. Pierre Garcon, Indianapolis Colts vs. SF
39. Terrell Owens, Buffalo Bills vs. HOU
40. Kenny Britt, Tennessee Titans vs. JAC
41. James Jones, Green Bay Packers vs. MIN
42. Bryant Johnson, Detroit Lions vs. STL