Figuring out who the best wide receivers will be from week to week is a little easier than doing so for running backs at this point, but by no means is it simple.
That's why those of us in the fantasy industry put together these lists for you—to give the reader a gauge of what to expect from his or her players on any given Sunday.
With that, here are the weekend's top 80 wide receivers, along with some detailed analysis on the 10 best plays for the week.
(BYE: Baltimore Ravens, Buffalo Bills, Cincinnati Bengals, Houston Texans)
80. Eddie Royal (@ Cle)
79. Braylon Edwards (@ Det)
78. Jabar Gaffney (@ NYJ)
77. Michael Jenkins (vs. TB - Thursday Night) – 4 catches - 78 yards - 0 TDs
76. Brian Quick (vs. NE)
75. Randy Moss (@ Ari - Monday Night)
74. Damian Williams (vs. Ind)
73. Travis Benjamin (vs. SD)
72. Kevin Ogletree (vs. NYG)
71. Kyle Williams (@ Ari - Monday Night)
70. Austin Pettis (vs. NE)
69. Josh Morgan (@ Pit)
68. Steve Smith – StL (vs. NE)
67. Rod Streater (@ KC)
66. Tiquan Underwood (@ Min - Thursday Night) – 3 catches - 27 yards - 0 TDs
65. Brandon LaFell (@ Chi)
64. Earl Bennett (vs. Car)
63. Robert Meachem (@ Cle)
62. Devery Henderson (@ Den - Sunday Night)
61. Emmanuel Sanders (vs. Was)
60. Domenik Hixon (@ Dal)
59. Josh Cooper (vs. SD)
58. Davone Bess (@ NYJ)
57. Justin Blackmon (@ GB)
56. Devin Hester (vs. Car)
55. Leonard Hankerson (@ Pit)
54. Cecil Shorts (@ GB)
53. Greg Little (vs. SD)
52. Jerome Simpson (vs. TB - Thursday Night) – 2 catches - 37 yards - 0 TDs
51. Brian Hartline (@ NYJ)
50. Mario Manningham (@ Ari - Monday Night)
49. Santana Moss (@ Pit)
48. Brandon Stokley (vs. NO - Sunday Night)
47. Golden Tate (@ Det)
46. Ryan Broyles (vs. Sea)
45. T.Y. Hilton (@ Ten)
44. Titus Young (vs. Sea)
43. Stephen Hill (vs. Mia)
42. Dwayne Bowe (vs. Oak)
41. Kendall Wright (vs. Ind)
40. Darrius Heyward-Bey (@ KC)
39. Chris Givens (vs. NE)
38. Donnie Avery (@ Ten)
37. Malcom Floyd (@ Cle)
36. Sidney Rice (@ Det)
35. Michael Crabtree (@ Ari - Monday Night)
34. Andre Roberts (vs. SF - Monday Night)
33. Josh Gordon (vs. SD)
32. Brandon Gibson (vs. NE)
31. Vincent Jackson (@ Min - Thursday Night) – 2 catches - 40 yards - 0 TDs
30. Mike Williams (@ Min - Thursday Night) – 6 catches - 68 yards - 1 TD
29. Denarius Moore (@ KC)
28. Miles Austin (vs. NYG)
27. Brandon Lloyd (@ StL)
26. Nate Washington (vs. Ind)
25. Lance Moore (@ Den - Sunday Night)
24. Steve Smith (@ Chi)
23. James Jones (vs. Jax)
22. DeSean Jackson (vs. Atl)
21. Jeremy Kerley (vs. Mia)
20. Kenny Britt (vs. Ind)
19. Larry Fitzgerald (vs. SF - Monday Night)
18. Dez Bryant (vs. NYG)
17. Jeremy Maclin (vs. Atl)
16. Antonio Brown (vs. Was)
15. Randall Cobb (vs. Jax)
14. Hakeem Nicks (@ Dal)
13. Calvin Johnson (vs. Sea)
12. Roddy White (@ Phi)
11. Eric Decker (vs. NO - Sunday Night)
The Top 10 WR Plays for Week 8
10. Brandon Marshall (vs. Car)
Brandon Marshall seems to be getting along just fine playing with Jay Cutler again, as he now has four touchdowns and three 100-yard games in six contests on the season.
He also ranks fourth in fantasy points per game and has a three-game touchdown streak going, so he’s obviously riding high for his fantasy owners right now.
This Sunday, Chicago takes on the Carolina Panthers at historic Soldier Field in a rematch of last year’s high-scoring affair, which the Bears ended up winning 34-29. They rode RB Matt Forte to the victory in that one, but they didn’t have a receiver like Marshall to throw to, either.
This time, I expect Cutler and Marshall to exploit Carolina’s so-so defense against the pass as they’ve already allowed a couple of big games to WRs this year.
9. Marques Colston (@ Den - Sunday Night)
After a slow start to the season, Marques Colston has now averaged 8.3 receptions, 119 yards and 1.7 TDs over the last three weeks.
Having the best fantasy QB on the planet (no offense Mr. Rodgers) certainly doesn’t hurt, but I’ve learned that after doubting Colston for the past couple of years, he’s actually become a much better receiver than I originally thought he would.
His size and presence demands targets, of which he’s getting plenty, seeing 10 per game through the first seven weeks of the season.
This week he’ll be facing off against the Denver Broncos in what should turn into a major shootout between Brees and Manning—as you might expect.
Colston should have no problem whatsoever reeling in WR1 fantasy numbers this Sunday night.
8. Mike Wallace (vs. Was)
Though he’s been a bit up and down in terms of yardage and catches this season, Wallace actually has a touchdown in four of the Steelers six games thus far and should be able to make it a fifth this Sunday.
The Washington Redskins have pretty much given up the farm to wide receivers this year allowing at least one WR to put up double-digit fantasy points against them in each of their seven games.
They’ve actually allowed TWO WRs to do it in four games as well, so if you’re scared that Antonio Brown will be the one stealing all the fantasy points here, don’t be.
Wallace should have no problem giving his fantasy owners some top-flight numbers this week.
7. Wes Welker (@ StL)
Welker had his 100-yard game streak stopped at four last weekend against the Jets, but I have no doubt it will be started up again in Week 8.
The St. Louis Rams pass defense has gotten a lot better this year with the offseason signing of CB Cortland Finnegan and drafting of CB Janoris Jenkins, but both those guys play more on the outside and would have a tough time keeping up with Welker if they tried sticking to him in the slot.
The X-factor here for Welker is that Tom Brady absolutely LOVES playing in domes, as he’s averaged 319 yards and 3.0 TDs indoors since 2004.
Welker didn’t join the Patriots until 2007, but in the five games he’s played with Brady under the big top, Welker has averaged 7.8 catches for 75.6 yards and exactly one TD.
(The game is being played in London and not in St. Louis, but Wembley Stadium actually has a retractable roof that closes most of the way, so I'm counting this as an indoor game.)
6. Percy Harvin (vs. TB - Thursday Night)
Harvin actually received the fewest touches he’s seen all year last week against the Cardinals, but was still able to put up double-digit fantasy points thanks to a second quarter, red-zone TD reception.
The coaches had actually been talking about using him more in the red zone, so it wasn’t surprising to see him come away with his three-yard score.
The Vikings didn’t really need Percy all that much last week with Adrian Peterson running around like a man possessed out there, but he figures to be a bigger part of the game plan against the Buccaneers this Thursday with the Tampa defense likely to be focused on Purple Jesus all game.
Look for the Vikings coaching staff to get Harvin’s multi-faceted talents involved a ton tonight as they’ll want to give Peterson a bit of a break playing on such a short week.
I expect him to see double-digit targets and put up a good eight to ten catches as well as receiving at least a few carries out of the backfield. With that kind of action, Percy should be good for some solid WR1-type numbers.
Final Numbers: 12 targets - 7 catches - 90 yards - 1 TD / 1 rush - –1 yard - 0 TDs
5. Julio Jones (@ Phi)
Predicting which of Atlanta’s two receiving monsters will go off each week isn’t easy, but I’m expecting the Falcons want to get Jones a little more involved this Sunday coming out of their bye.
With the Eagles rush D clamping down with the best of them this year, Matt Ryan and his offense are going to have to move the ball through the air if they want to win, so there should be plenty of targets out there for Julio to snag.
Strangely, Jones has been a MUCH better player on the road throughout his 19-game career, putting up over 1,000 yards and nine TDs in 10 away games versus 322 yards and three TDs in nine home games.
Julio is bound to bust out one of these days and though the matchup ain’t easy, it still looks like the type of game he comes up big in.
4. Victor Cruz (@ Dal)
The Meadowlands Magician came through again last weekend taking a 77-yard bomb to the house with time winding down to win the game for the G-Men. Cruz had only made six catches for 54 yards up to that point, so the big play obviously made fantasy owners just as happy as it did real-life Giants fans.
Because of that catch, Victor now has a four-game touchdown streak heading into his showdown with the Cowboys this weekend, but Dallas won’t let it continue easily.
Cruz had a monster game against them at the end of last season putting up 178 yards and a TD, but was bottled up pretty well in Week 1 this season catching six balls for 58 yards.
However, the good news for Cruz this week is that the Cowboys middle linebacker, Sean Lee, was just placed on IR so the Dallas defense should be a bit jumbled across the middle of the field.
With this being Victor’s particular area of expertise, he should be able to put up some real nice numbers.
3. Jordy Nelson (vs. Jax)
Wow! It didn’t take long for Nelson to turn his fantasy season around, did it?!
With 27 catches for 365 yards and five touchdowns over the last four weeks, I’d say Jordy is pretty much back to normal.
For the first time since Week 4, the Packers will be playing at home this Sunday as they take on the 1-5 Jacksonville Jaguars. The known strategy to beat the Jags this year has been to pound them on the ground, but with the Packers lacking a true running game, beating them through the air will work just fine as opponents have been able to do that, too.
Like most pass defenses around the league, the Jags have had trouble with taller receivers so if Rodgers targets Nelson a good 10 times in this game like he should, there’s no reason to think he won’t come away with 100-plus yards and a TD or two.
Should you be concerned about his hamstring? Yeah, a bit, but if he ends up getting the green light to play, it means the Packers have no concern whatsoever about his hammy and neither should you.
2. Reggie Wayne (@ Ten)
Would you believe that even though the Colts have already had their bye, Reggie Wayne STILL leads the NFL in targets with 81 in six games (tied with Victor Cruz in seven games).
His 666 yards also has him ranked second in the league (Wes Welker; 688) while his 14.2 yards per catch is the highest he’s had since his career year in 2007.
This week he takes on a Tennessee Titans defense that has allowed a league-high 34 points scored against them per game.
With nearly five touchdowns to be had here for the Colts, you would think its most dynamic player would be able to secure at least one of them.
Tack on a good seven to eight catches for 100 yards or so and you’ve got yourself a high-end WR1 for the week.
1. Demaryius Thomas (vs. NO - Sunday Night)
Break out the balloons, kazoos and party shoes, fantasy folk; ‘cause there’s gonna be some dancin’ in Denver this Sunday night!
Endzone dancing, that is.
Demaryius Thomas currently has three touchdowns on the season, but I expect that number to rise against a Saints defense that couldn’t keep a Lingerie Football League team from scoring on them.
Not only does the New Orleans defense allow the second-most fantasy points per game to WRs, but they also seem to have particular trouble with bigger/taller receivers like Jordy Nelson, Malcom Floyd and just last week, Vincent Jackson.
With that being the case, I have no doubt Demaryius’ size and speed will be able to get him at least 125 yards and a touchdown or two.
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