1. Calvin Johnson, Detroit Lions
After registering close to 2,000 receiving yards during the 2012 season, Megatron is the clear cut number one wide receiver not only in fantasy football, but in the game. The Lions throw the football more than any other team in the NFL, and Johnson shows no signs of slowing down. Owners may look at the small number of touchdowns (5), and not realize that he was tackled at the one yard line a crazy six times last season. If the Lions could ever get another receiving threat to pull multiple coverage off of Johnson—and newcomer Reggie Bush may help somewhat, Johnson could put up better numbers than he did last year. Not only should he be the first receiver off of the draft board, an argument could be made for him to be the number one player taken overall.
2. A.J. Green, Cincinnati Bengals
How much better can Green get entering his third season in the league? He has a special relationship with quarterback Andy Dalton, and Green has shown both the skills and durability to remain one of the top receivers in all of football. Green is not only a big, strong, deep threat, but he can make the tough catch over the middle, as well as outrun many of the defensive backs in the league. Count on him for 1,300 to 1,400 receiving yards and 12-15 touchdowns.
3. Brandon Marshall, Chicago Bears
Marshall was one of the best fantasy receiving options in 2012. He posted career highs in yardage, targets, touchdowns, and catches. He is heading into his second year being reunited with quarterback Jay Cutler, and his quarterback is heading into a contract season—that only means more of the same for Marshall. There isn't another option, and Cutler feels comfortable with Marshall as his security blanket. He flew under the radar on the fantasy spectrum heading into last season because of a couple very pedestrian seasons in South Beach. Worst case scenario, Marshall finished as a top-eight fantasy wide receiving option.
4. Andre Johnson, Houston Texans
Once considered in the same elite class of receivers as Calvin Johnson, Andre Johnson is still one of the most dangerous receiving threats in all of football. Durability has always been a concern with Johnson, as has been the health of the man throwing him the ball, Matt Schaub, but he proved last year that he can play a full 16-game schedule, posting almost 1,600 yards receiving and was fourth in the NFL in receptions. The Texans drafted DeAndre Hopkins to take some of the pressure off of Johnson, but Johnson will remain the featured receiver. If there is one knock on Johnson, it is his low touchdown totals. That is more of a product of Gary Kubiak's preference to hand the rock to Arian Foster in the redzone than it is a blemish on Johnson.
5. Julio Jones, Atlanta Falcons
The 2013 season will be the breakout year for the third year receiver out of Alabama. Jones is one of the elite deep threats in the league, and isn't afraid to take a hit. Paired with Roddy White along with veteran tight end Tony Gonzalez, the sky is the limit for Jones, who could rival only Megatron for both yards and scores this coming season. Jones suffered a leg injury that hurt his fantasy stock for a few weeks last season, but as long as he's healthy, there aren't many receivers who are the complete package start to finish like Jones.
6. Dez Bryant, Dallas Cowboys
Nobody within the NFL has ever questioned the raw talent and potential that Bryant brings to the table. It's the off-field issues along with attitude and preparation question marks that drop Bryant on the fantasy rankings list. Dallas had a difficult time keeping quarterback Tony Romo upright in 2012, and his receivers paid the price statistically. Assuming that Bryant remains healthy, and that Dallas improves on the offensive line, look for 1,400 yards and 12 touchdowns in 2013. Again, this is if everything goes according to plan. Bryant has the ability to be a top-three receiver at season's end.
7. Demaryius Thomas, Denver Broncos
Arguably the most talented receiver in football, Thomas only began scratching the surface of his potential in 2012. He was successful even with a guy like Tim Tebow throwing him the football two seasons ago, his numbers went through the roof once Peyton Manning took the reigns in the Mile High City. Had the situation remained the same coming into 2013, Thomas is most likely the number-two receiver on this list. Fortunately for Manning, unfortunately for Thomas, the Broncos added a third receiving weapon in Wes Welker. Thomas' numbers can only go down with a third mouth to feed, but look for 1,110 yards and eight to ten scores.
8. Larry Fitzgerald, Arizona Cardinals
Forget about 2012 as if it never existed. Every now and again things start wrong, go wrong, and finish wrong, and that's exactly what happened to Fitz in 2012. He had a merry-go-round at quarterback the entire season, and now has Carson Palmer in town. Fitzgerald has something to prove to everyone who believe he is done as an elite receiver. The upgrade under center immediately improves the passing game, along with the departure of Beanie Wells, and a healthy Ryan Williams, look for Fitzgerald to return to prominence posting 1,300 receiving yards, between 80-90 catches, and 8-10 scores. He could be a darkhorse bounce back candidate to keep an eye on, similar to Brandon Marshall last season in Chicago.
9. Vincent Jackson, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Talk about a big money deal going right. The Bucs rolled the dice and lured away V-Jax from San Diego to give Josh Freeman an elite receiving target. Tampa was rewarded for their faith, as Jackson posted career highs in yards and average yards per catch. After a season together, Jackson's numbers could get better. If Mike Williams-South can continue to develop as a secondary weapon, the skies in over the new sombrero could be lit up with footballs. Projected numbers for Jackson in 2013 should be around 1,400 yards receiving, 10-12 scores, and around 80-85 catches.
10. Victor Cruz, New York Giants
Cruz's 2013 is going to go one of two ways for fantasy owners: he will return to the big play threat that he was in 2011, remains Eli Manning's legitimate number-one target, and has a career year statistically and finishes as a top-two wide receiver, or his contract issues remain at the forefront throughout the season, he becomes a malcontent and has the worst season of his short career and ends up leaving New York after the season a bitter man. The guess here is that he finishes somewhere in between the two ends of the spectrum. Cruz's success will depend on how well fellow receiver Hakeem Nicks returns from a 2012 knee injury. If the G-Men have their 1-2 punch, both receivers are going to have excellent fantasy seasons. Look for Cruz to lock in around 1,100 yards, and close to double-digit touchdowns. He has top-three ability, but contract squabbles do funny things to elite players.
The next five: Roddy White-Atlanta Falcons, Percy Harvin-Seattle Seahawks, Marques Coltson-New Orleans Saints, Mike Wallace-Miami Dolphins, and Reggie Wayne-Indianapolis Colts. Next week we will break down the top-10 pre-season power rankings for running backs!
Be sure to "Like" NFL Draft Insiders on Facebook to keep up with the latest coverage on college football, the NFL and more!