There are all kinds of strategies to assembling a fantasy football team, but an approach I seem to find myself sticking to across all Fantasy Sports is ensuring to balance my high risk picks with what I consider safe and reliable options.
I kicked off my All-Reliable QBs and Running Backs already and for the purpose of this 2013 Fantasy Football All Reliable Team, players who are projected in the top third of required starters at their positions based on FantasyPros consensus rankings and standard league roster formats aren’t included.
For example, we are all loving some Larry Fitzgerald with the Carson Palmer addition, but he is currently ranked 11th, so he isn’t eligible.
2013 Fantasy Football All-Reliable Team: Wide Receivers
Antonio Brown, Pittsburgh
It wasn’t the breakout season many had hoped for in 2012, but that will just drive his draft day price down. With Mike Wallace in Miami, Brown is set to snatch a few more balls and increase his touchdowns again this season. Even better, Brown finished last season strong with a score in each of the Steelers final 4 games.
The Central Michigan product is undersized, but he will be involved as the number one target in Steel City. If the TD trend continues in 2013 you’re looking at exceptional value.
Steve Johnson, Buffalo
Johnson’s three straight seasons of 1000 receiving yards and over 75 receptions are exactly what you’re looking for in your 3rd wideout. Johnson is equally lethal as a deep threat or inside the 20, making him a matchup nightmare.
The concerns are obvious, as a rookie QB will be tossing his way, but that is all the more reason for the Bills to go his way often in 2013. His breakout 2010 season numbers are likely unattainable, but what is wrong with another top 25 Fantasy season? The potential is there for a top 20 finish too.
Steve Smith, Carolina
It isn’t 2005, but the Black Cat is a lot better than his 2012 stat line, which still added up to a top 20 WR fantasy finish. Smith is a feisty receiver who could easily double his 4 TD output from a year ago and settle around 1200 yards with 80 grabs.
Owners perpetually reach for breakout candidates and trendy names, so target Smith in the middle rounds and reap the rewards. The upside is there for a top 15 finish, with a floor of a low-end third Fantasy WR, who is a #1 in real football and that is the security I’m looking for!
T.Y. Hilton, Indianapolis
So there is definitely risk in a guy who is primarily a deep threat, but Hilton was Fantasy Football’s top rookie wideout in 2012 and should only grow alongside fellow rookie Andrew Luck. Hilton did grab two TDs inside the 20s though, so he isn’t strictly a one-trick pony and also helps in formats that reward kick and punt returns.
The addition of Darrius Heyward-Bey, may hurt a little bit, but Hilton will get to start opposite Reggie Wayne and he did finish as a top 25 receiver in 2013. He only started a single game last year, so look for more opportunities and improved numbers in 2013. Remember all those wasted targets that went Donnie Avery’s way last season?
Anquan Boldin, San Francisco
There is no argument here that his best days aren’t long gone, but what you get is a reliable possession receiver who isn’t afraid of the tough areas of the field. He’ll have to fight for opportunities, but he is in line for another respectable season and his new team needs a guy like him.
Boldin isn’t a Fantasy starter by any means, but he will have a solid season and prove to be worth a few spot starts against favorable matchups. The upside is limited, but you know what you’re going to get from Boldin.
Mike Williams, Tampa Bay
If his rookie season was the ceiling and his sophomore season was the floor, last season is what we should come to expect from Williams. He is a beast in the red zone and should continue to be targeted heavily inside the 20. The Bucs offense is improving and starting opposite Vincent Jackson should continue to provide Williams with plenty of opportunities.
Williams isn’t as valuable in PPR leagues and he needs those TDs to add up in order to hold on as a starter in Fantasy leagues, but 1000 yards and 8 TDs is solid fake football.
Early Thoughts on Fantasy Wide Receivers
Fantasy wide receivers are going to make or break a lot of Fantasy teams this season. The position is deep and the runs on wideouts are going to get rolling as early as the late 1st round. I’m partial to RB-RB in rounds 1 and 2 and following up with a pair of receivers in Rounds 3 and 4.
I employed this in a recent mock draft to the tune of: Ray Rice, Steven Jackson, Michael Crabtree and Hakeem Nicks, which is a start I’m happy with. I went with Crabtree over Andre Johnson, Randall Cobb and Victor Cruz, so there is a lot of excellent talent still available in the 3rd round.
I am content with waiting until Round 6 for my third receiver and even later if you select a top TE or QB option early. There are an abundance of high upside receivers hanging on long into the middle rounds: Jeremy Maclin and DeSean Jackson are just two examples from the same team!
With all the talk about depth, the position can’t be ignored either though. Targeting a pair of reliable receivers in the early middle rounds is almost essential, because the runs on the position can quickly eat up the talent and leave you reaching for mediocre options.
I’m a Loyal Leafs, Cubs, and Cowboys fan for decades. I wear the C for The Fake Hockey, in addition to contributing to The Fake Baseball and The Fake Football in more of a Timmy Try Hard role. You can also find my weekly fantasy baseball preview here at davidgonos.com and can reach me on Twitter @naparker77.