As quarterbacks become higher-impact fantasy football commodities, it's natural to see receivers' value grow as well. Wideouts have even crept into the first round of drafts in recent years. That said, they're still third fiddle to QBs and running backs because of their volatility from year to year. Injuries or changing team situations seem to shake up the ranks constantly.
Here are 25 wide receivers I'm betting will help fantasy squads the most this season.
Note stud pass-catcher Vincent Jackson's omission from this list. The guy is almost a lock to hold out until Week 10.
1. Andre Johnson, Texans
He's an absolute yardage machine, topping 1,500 yards in back to back seasons, and he's a great combination of speed and toughness. Matt Schaub locks onto him 100-plus times per season, so we should expect another monster year from Andre Johnson.
2. Miles Austin, Cowboys
Yes we are saying take a risk with Austin at No. 2 overall. But all the other elite wideouts have question marks of their own and Austin may find himself in the NFL's top offense this season. Plus I think Dez Bryant's presence will only help the speedy Austin get open more.
3. Randy Moss, Patriots
Now that Tom Brady is two years removed from tearing his ACL, he theoretically could collaborate with Randy Moss on one more epic season. But Moss' contract ends this year and he has a history of "checking out" when he knows his days are numbered in a given city.
4. Larry Fitzgerald, Cardinals
Yes, Kurt Warner is gone. But so is Anquan Boldin and someone has to catch all the passes he leaves behind in Arizona. Larry Fitzgerald is a freakish physical talent and a man who cares about his own stats.
5. Brandon Marshall, Dolphins
With his leaping ability and tendency to catch dozens of balls in single games, Marshall seems destined to excel wherever he goes. Miami should treat him just fine and I don't see Chad Henne as the slightest downgrade over Kyle Orton.
6. Reggie Wayne, Colts
The guy still tops 1,200 yards and scores 10 times in an "off" year. Hard to complain about that.
7. Roddy White, Falcons
In his prime, good for several long touchdowns per season and his quarterback, Matt Ryan should improve in 2010. That amounts to another elite campaign from White.
8. Calvin Johnson, Lions
He has the talent to top this entire list but NFL betting fans have to factor Megatron's health problems into the equation. We also don't know for sure that Matt Stafford will break out in his second year.
9. DeSean Jackson, Eagles
Yes, Donovan McNabb is gone, but Jackson and Kolb showed plenty of chemistry in Kolb's limited action last year. No one hits home runs like Jackson and he's worth much more in return-yardage leagues. He should regress slightly after scoring on so many long plays last year, however.
10. Greg Jennings, Packers
He's fast ,sure-handed and may have the top fantasy quarterback of all throwing to him in Aaron Rodgers. High floor, high ceiling.
11. Marques Colston, Saints
There are few better leapers in football and that helps make Colston one of the best touchdown guys in fantasy. Has scored eight or more TDs in three of his four seasons.
12. Steve Smith, Panthers
Broken arm be damned, Steve Smith still finds a way to be a fantasy force more often than not. If Matt Moore is remotely legit, Smith can have a big year.
13. Steve Smith, Giants
The other Steve Smith is "boring," as he doesn't rip off as many big plays, but he's a reliable target for Eli Manning and very useful in point-per-reception leagues.
14. Anquan Boldin, Ravens
Will Boldin's numbers regress as he joins a more run-oriented offense? Or will they skyrocket since he won't compete for catches with Larry Fitzgerald anymore? I think the two factors will cancel each other out and Boldin will post his usual numbers.
15. Sidney Rice, Vikings
Rice could climb a few spots if Brett Favre returns or tumble mightily if No. 4 doesn't. For now, he's a high-risk, high-reward guy. Remember that he's battling a hip injury as well.
16. Hakeem Nicks, Giants
Assuming his knee injury suffered in camp doesn't linger, Nicks could really break out in 2010. His ranginess and big-play ability appropriately remind most sports betting sharps of Plaxico Burress.
17. Wes Welker, Patriots
If you believe he's ready to play on that knee of his, take the plunge. Welker is a catches and yardage machine. Too bad he doesn't find the end zone more, though.
18. Chad Ochocinco, Bengals
The formerly explosive Ochocinco is now more of a low-risk, low-reward fantasy play. He'll get his 1,000 yards but not much more.
19. Mike Wallace, Steelers
Really like this guy. He's a major playmaker and could lead teams to fantasy championships once Ben Roethlisberger returns from his suspension. But he may not do much early in 2010.
20. Dwyane Bowe, Chiefs
He flashed lots of ability as a rookie and worked hard to improve his conditioning. Sounds like a recipe for a spike in production to me.
21. Pierre Garcon, Colts
Garcon deserves his rank based on his well-rounded skills – good hands, toughness and satisfactory speed. But he does have to fight for catches since the Colts have so many talented receivers.
22. Michael Crabtree, 49ers
Even if you don't believe much in Alex Smith – Crabtree did plenty in limited action last year, racking up 625 yards in 11 games. He'll be very useful if he can score a few more touchdowns this year.
23. Percy Harvin, Vikings
This exciting playmaker gets a huge bump in receiving-yardage leagues but isn't one of Minnesota's main red zone options.
24. Jeremy Maclin, Eagles
Maclin has big potential as a burner in Andy Reid's wild, pass-heavy offense. But his skills may be too similar to the more established guy lining up opposite him: DeSean Jackson.
25. Johnny Knox, Bears
We have to include one product of the Mike Martz project on this list. NFL futures bettors are excited to see how Mad Mike will unleash Jay Cutler's arm; some wideout has to be the beneficiary and the camp reports say it's Knox all the way.