The 2014 WR rankings are a great mix of up-and-coming talents and aging veterans, passing each other on the way up and down the rankings. Over the past few seasons, with the inordinate amount of passing yards each week, we’re finding that wide receivers, in some cases, are more valuable than running backs.
That’s the question we’re all asking as we enter the 2014 Fantasy offseason, should we go with a reliable stud wide receiver in the second half of the first round? Or do we go with a running back that has just enough issues to not be considered a top-five pick?
It’s one of those tough decisions every man or woman will have to decide for themselves, like do you want waffle fries or sweet potato fries?
It’s a question for the ages.
Super Sophomores Do It Again
There once was a theory that third-year wide receivers were huge breakout candidates in Fantasy Football. But again, in this age of big contracts and high-flying offenses, young wideouts are being asked to contribute a lot more – and a lot earlier.
Let’s look back 10 years at second-year wide receivers to see what your grandfather was dealing with when he played Fantasy Football:
2002 Top Sophomore WRs
This was actually a pretty good year for sophomore WRs, as four of them caught over 60 balls, five went for over 850 yards, and two had more than six touchdowns.
- Koren Robinson, SEA, 160 Fantasy points
- Rod Gardner, WAS, 149
- Chad Johnson, CIN, 147
2003 Top Sophomore WRs
No sophomore receiver had more than 60 catches, or more than 850 receiving yards, and only Javon Walker had more than six touchdown catches.
- Javon Walker, GB, 126 Fantasy points
- Deion Branch, NE, 99
- Andre Davis, CLE, 90
2004 Top Sophomore WRs
Three sophs had more than 60 catches, two went for over 850 yards, and only Nate Burleson had more than six touchdown catches.
- Nate Burleson, MIN, 160 Fantasy points
- Andre Johnson, HOU, 151
- Ronald Curry, OAK, 104
Now, let’s shoot ahead a decade and see what has happened for sophomore WRs in Fantasy Football over the past three seasons.
2011 Top Sophomore WRsIn this season, five sophomore receivers caught over 60 balls (and three tight ends), three went for over 850 yards, and three caught more than six touchdowns.
- Victor Cruz, NYG, 208 Fantasy points
- Dez Bryant, DAL, 147
- Antonio Brown, PIT, 127
2012 Top Sophomore WRs
Just three second-year wide receivers with over 60 catches, five with more than 850 receiving yards, and six had more than six touchdown catches.
- A.J. Green, CIN, 205 Fantasy points
- Julio Jones, ATL, 183
- Randall Cobb, GB, 157
2013 Top Sophomore WRs
Six sophs caught 60 or more balls, and six went for more than 850 yards, with three over the six-touchdown mark.
- Josh Gordon, CLE, 226 Fantasy points
- Alshon Jeffery, CHI, 192
- T.Y. Hilton, IND, 172
The three top sophomore wide receivers from 2002-04 averaged 131 Fantasy points per sophomore season. But the three top second-year WRs from 2011-13 averaged 179 Fantasy points per sophomore season. That’s an increase of over 36 percent from a decade ago.
That very much makes me want to target some sophomore wide receivers in 2014. Keenan Allen’s an obvious guy to target, but then there are guys like Tavon Austin, Marlon Brown, DeAndre Hopkins, Cordarrelle Patterson, Kenny Stills, Terrance Williams and Robert Woods to think harder about.
Let me start by saying – the wide receiver position was the toughest one to rank so far.
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Early 2014 WR Rankings
My Fantasy rankings for 2014 wide receivers use the scoring standard of six points for a rushing/receiving touchdown and no points for a reception. Rookies have not been inserted because it’s just too difficult to rank them without knowing where they’ll end up.
1. Calvin Johnson, Detroit Lions
2. Josh Gordon, Cleveland Browns
3. Demaryius Thomas, Denver Broncos
4. A.J. Green, Cincinnati Bengals
5. Dez Bryant, Dallas Cowboys
6. Julio Jones, Atlanta Falcons
7. Alshon Jeffery, Chicago Bears
8. Brandon Marshall, Chicago Bears
9. Pierre Garcon, Washington Redskins
10. Randall Cobb, Green Bay Packers
11. Antonio Brown, Pittsburgh Steelers
12. Vincent Jackson, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
13. DeSean Jackson, Philadelphia Eagles
14. Jordy Nelson, Green Bay Packers
15. Keenan Allen, San Diego Chargers
16. Wes Welker, Denver Broncos
17. Andre Johnson, Houston Texans
18. Larry Fitzgerald, Arizona Cardinals
19. Victor Cruz, N.Y. Giants
20. Percy Harvin, Seattle Seahawks21. Michael Crabtree, San Francisco 49ers
22. Torrey Smith, Baltimore Ravens
23. Reggie Wayne, Indianapolis Colts
24. Kendall Wright, Tennessee Titans
25. Roddy White, Atlanta Falcons
26. Michael Floyd, Arizona Cardinals
27. Eric Decker, Denver Broncos
28. Mike Wallace, Miami Dolphins
29. T.Y. Hilton, Indianapolis Colts
30. Marques Colston, New Orleans Saints
31. DeAndre Hopkins, Houston Texans
32. Cordarrelle Patterson, Minnesota Vikings
33. Jeremy Maclin, Philadelphia Eagles
34. Justin Blackmon, Jacksonville Jaguars
35. Cecil Shorts, Jacksonville Jaguars
36. Tavon Austin, St. Louis Rams
37. Rueben Randle, N.Y. Giants
38. Dwayne Bowe, Kansas City Chiefs
39. Julian Edelman, New England Patriots
40. Marvin Jones, Cincinnati Bengals
41. Stevie Johnson, Buffalo Bills
42. Brian Hartline, Miami Dolphins
43. Danny Amendola, New England Patriots
44. James Jones, Green Bay Packers
45. Golden Tate, Seattle Seahawks
46. Aaron Dobson, New England Patriots
47. Marvin Jones, Cincinnati Bengals
48. Steve Smith, Carolina Panthers
49. Denarius Moore, Oakland Raiders
50. Anquan Boldin, San Francisco 49ers
51. Terrance Williams, Dallas Cowboys
52. Emmanuel Sanders, Pittsburgh Steelers
53. Stephen Hill, N.Y. Jets
54. Robert Woods, Buffalo Bills
55. Kenny Stills, New Orleans Saints
56. Mike Williams, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
57. Riley Cooper, Philadelphia Eagles
58. Marlon Brown, Baltimore Ravens
59. Hakeem Nicks, N.Y. Giants
60. Nate Burleson, Detroit Lions
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I’m sure there are a few players we disagree on, and that’s OK, that’s what makes the 2014 WR rankings fun to talk about months before the season! Tweet me @DavidGonos or make a comment below!