I have revised my 2009 fantasy football Wide Receiver rankings, as well as expanded it to the top 40.  Click on the names for a more in-depth profile.

1. Larry Fitzgerald
2. Andre Johnson
3. Randy Moss
4. Calvin Johnson
5. Reggie Wayne
6. Greg Jennings
7. Steve Smith
8. Roddy White
9. Marques Colston
10. Terrell Owens
11. Anquan Boldin
12. Dwyane Bowe
13. Brandon Marshall
14. Roy Williams
15. Santonio Holmes
16. Wes Welker 
17. T.J. Houshmandzadeh
18. Chad Ochocinco
19. Anthony Gonzalez
20.  Lee Evans
21. Vincent Jackson
22. DeSean Jackson
23. Laveranues Coles 
24. Braylon Edwards
25. Eddie Royal
26. Antonio Bryant
27. Hines Ward
28. Santana Moss
29. Kevin Walter
30. Donald Driver
31. Ted Ginn, Jr.
32. Donnie Avery
33. Jerricho Cotchery
34. Bernard Berrian
35. Torry Holt
36. Lance Moore
37. Derrick Mason
38. Devin Hester
39. Steve Breaston
40. Muhsin Muhammad

Jeremy Maclin is a talented Rookie WR from Missouri.  It may take an injury for him to make a major impact outside of the return game.  Still, he’s in a high-powered offense with a talented QB and should make some noise at some point in the year.  I think he’ll start off slow, but as he grasps the offense, he will take off.
Prediction:  45 catches for 600 yards and 4 TDs
Michael Crabtree is not endearing himself with NFL fans or fantasy owners.  I think he’s the most delusional person since our last President.  If he believes he can sit out a year and improve his draft status without working out for teams, that’s a whole new version of fantasy football.  I think he’ll eventually cave because you just can’t make the money back you’ll lose.  He’ll start slow, and possibly endure and injury (hamstring most likely).  Eventually he’ll make an impact though.
Prediction:  40 catches for 550 yards, 6 TDs
Brian Robiskie will start out slow because he’s falling behind Mohamed Massaquoi and Josh Cribbs on the depth chart.  I think he’s too talented to stay down long though, and should work his way into the rotation around the middle of the year.  He’ll have some solid games, but be very inconsistent.
Prediction:  36 catches for 450 yards, 4 TDs

Percy Harvin is going to see action all over the place.  In the slot, out wide, as a Running Back, a return man, and a Wildcat QB.  The Vikings will have to go against their standard and get creative to get the ball in his hands.  Once it’s there, look out.  He can score from anywhere on the football field.  He’ll be more exciting to watch than a valuable fantasy player to rely on, but that will come in time.
Prediction:  50 catches for 600 yards, 200 rushing yards, 7 total TDs

Hakeem Nicks was supposed to make one of the biggest splashes from the rookie WRs, but is not having a good preseason.  The Giants have plenty of options at WR (Domenik Hixon, Steve Smith, Mario Manningham, and Sinorice Moss) so if he doesn’t start turning heads, don’t look for much of an impact in 2009.
Prediction:  25 catches for 300 yards, 2 TDs

Justin Gage had 651 yards on just 34 catches (19.1 yards per catch) with 6 TDs.  With the addition of Nate Washington, Gage will have to catch quite a few more passes to match is 2008 yardage output.  Plus, with the addition of Rookie Kenny Britt, he’s going to have to stay healthy.  Gage had 92+ yards in three games and fewer than 50 yards in seven games making it hard to rely on him for anything more than a WR4 or WR5.  Playing for a defensive-minded team with a run-heavy offense leaves my expectations lower for a somewhat unproved player for a team with two more mouths to feed.  Gage is going in the 11th round in fantasy drafts, which is a pretty fair value.  I’m expecting him to catch 50 passes for 700 yards and 5 TDs.

Patrick Crayton is the #2 WR again now that T.O. has moved on toe Buffalo.  Miles Austin will get his catches as the #3 WR, and TE Jason Witten catches more than his share of passes so Crayton’s value is not that of a normal #2 WR in an offense as explosive as Dallas’ should be.  Aside from the weapons in the passing game, the Cowboys also have a formidable ground game with Marion Barber III, Felix Jones, and Tashard Choice.  Crayton is worth a roster spot as a WR4 or WR5, but I think he’s being drafted a little early (12th round).  If last year is an indication, Crayton should have some value in Week 4 (Denver), Week 5 (Kansas City), and Week 12 (Oakland since Nnamdi Asomugha will be matched up with Roy Williams).  He plays the Saints in Week 15, but I would have a hard time gambling on him in the fantasy playoffs.  I think he’s good for a slight bump over last year with 55 catches for 675 yards and 6 TDs.

Domenik Hixon had a decent year for the Giants with 43 catches for 596 yards and 2 TDs.  While he wasn’t a consistent threat, he did have seven games with 57+ yards.  He will enter the season as the #1 WR, though he’ll have to hold off Rookie Hakeem Nicks.  I wouldn’t really trust any Giant WR for more than a spot duty role, Hixon is worth a roster spot as a WR4 or WR 5.  Weeks 4 (Kansas City), 6 (New Orleans) and 12 (Denver) appear to be the best bets.  He’s going in the 10th round of fantasy drafts.  I’m expecting 65 catches for 780 yard and 4 TDs.

Davone Bess has been moving up draft boards as a trendy sleeper pick.  He will have to hold off Greg Camarillo, who is coming off a knee injury.  Bess had 54 catches as a Rookie for 554 yards and a TD.  He really stepped it up the final six weeks of last year with 35 catches for 366 yards (61 yards per games).  Bess is going in the 13th round of fantasy drafts and should get a slight bump in PPR leagues.  I would consider him a decent WR4 and a nice WR5 with a ton of upside.  I’m looking for 70 catches for 700 yards and 3 TDs.

With the Brett Favre saga finally over, Bernard Berrian gets a bump in value.  Berrian had a solid year with 48 catches for 964 yards and 7 TDs despite playing with the likes of Gus Frerotte and Tavaris Jackson.  With Favre he should surpass the 1000 yard mark he’s been hovering around the past two seasons.  Berrian has averaged 6 TDs a year over the past three seasons, a number that could also increase with #4 on board.  Even if Favre did go down, Sage Rosenfels would be an adequate replacement.  Berrian is going in the 7th round in fantasy drafts, though he’ll likely begin to creep up the draft board with his new QB.  I would roll with Berrian as a WR3.  I expect him to catch 65 passes for 1100 yards and 7 TDs.
Devin Hester is another speedy WR that got a shiny, new Quarterback this year.  Even though he annoyed Jay Cutler recently, I think Hester could have a real nice year.  With another year at WR under his belt, he should be more comfortable.  Having a QB with a big arm to take advantage of his speed should also help.  He was spotty at best last year with just three games with over 70 receiving yards.  He had six games with less than 30 yards.  You would think he would have rushing numbers to increase his value, but he ran just six times for 61 yards.  He had 11 return TDs in his first two years, but failed to reach paydirt last year.  He isn’t slated to do any returns this year, so don’t expect any bonus scores.  Having him concentrate full-time on his WR duties should help him stay focused and healthy, but it also takes away what comes naturally for Hester.  I expect him to be more consistent with Cutler, but I still don’t think I would want to rely on him as a WR3.  He’s going in the 7th round in fantasy drafts.  I’m expecting 55 catches for 850 yards and 6 TDs.

Steve Breaston is another speedy WR that is being counted on in 2009.  Only he’s the third WR on his team, which means, barring injury, that I would want him as a WR4 at best.  He had a great year catching 77 passes for 1006 yards and 3 TDs.  He was very inconsistent with eight games with 77+ yards and eight games with fewer 55 yards (five with fewer than 40 yards).  He only added 3 TDs.  The Cardinals are going to balance their offense more this year with the addition of first round pick Beanie Wells.  Unless Boldin or Fitz get hurt or Boldin is miraculously traded, Breaston’s fantasy value takes a hit in 2009.  He is going around the ninth round of fantasy drafts, which is a bit early for my tastes.  I’m expecting around 55 catches for 825 yards and 4 TDs.

Torry Holt is thankful to escape the mess that is the St. Louis Rams.  Not that Jacksonville is a passing mecca, but they are a team that should rebound after a disappointing 2008 season, unlike the rams, who should continue to be bottom feeders.  Because he has been an elite WR for so long it seems that Holt is older than he actually is.  While he’s no spring chicken, he’s still just 33.  He had the worst season of his career last year, but St. Louis as a whole struggled last year.  His string of 1000+ yard seasons ended at eight.  He is easily the best wideout that Jacksonville has had since the days of Jimmy Smith and Keenan McCardell.  His days of 1300 yard seasons are behind him, but he still makes a solid WR3 and a great WR4.  He is going in the 8th round of fantasy drafts, and could end up being a great value.  I think he’ll catch 80 passes for 1000 yards and 4 TDs.
Derrick Mason briefly retired following former teammate Steve McNair’s tragic death.  I think he was just evaluating his life, and clearly he feels he has some football left in his system.  Good news for Ravens fans because it would have left their WRs pretty thin.  Mason had another fine year with 80 catches for 1037 yards and 5 TDs.  You would think a 35 year old WR with 12 years in wouldn’t have much upside, but Joe Flacco should be a little more comfortable with the pace of the league and should get a longer leash in 2009.  Mason is a nice WR4, especially in PPR leagues.  He’s going around the 9th round in fantasy leagues.  I can see a 90 catch, 1000 yard, 5 TD season from Mason.

Muhsin Muhammad is another veteran that continues to produce despite being 36 and entering his 14th season.  Moose had 65 catches for 923 yards and 5 TDs last year.  He was a bit inconsistent with eight games with 50 or fewer yards, but he salvaged two of them with a TD.  He ended the year on a relative high note averaging 76.3 yards in his last three games.  Most of the focus will be on Steve Smith and the running game so Moose should be able to find his spots.  He’ll be challenged by Dwayne Jarrett, but if the Panthers are in contention again they will likely lean on the veteran.  He’s a solid choice to add depth to your bench and spot start, perhaps in Week 8 (Arizona) or Week 9 (New Orleans). I’m expecting 65 catches for 800 yards and 6 TDs.  Not bad value for a guy going in the 13th-
15th round.

Chris Chambers had a disappointing 2008 season with just 33 catches for 462 yards and 5 TDs.  The year before he had 66 catches for 970 yards and 4 TDs in split duty with Miami and San Diego. Clearly he’s not the same guy who caught 82 passes for 1118 yards and 11 TDs for the Dolphins in 2005.  With LT, Gates, Vincent Jackson, Sproles, and Malcom Floyd, it doesn’t appear as if that is going to change anytime soon.  He’s still young enough (31) to bounce back though, especially with a talented QB like Philip Rivers.  His days as a fantasy starter are likely over, but he is still worthy of a roster spot.  He’s being taken in the 10th round of fantasy drafts, but I’d probably wait a little longer.  He should be good for 50 catches for 750 yards and 5 TDs.

Kevin Walter recorded his second straight 800+ yard season.  He doubled his TD output from 4 to 8 though, which gave him significantly more fantasy value.  His is pretty much the choice when defenses are forced to pick a poison.  With Andre Johnson, Steve Slaton, and Owen Daniels attracting so much attention, Walter is able to do his thing.  Consistency is his big issue.  He had nine games with fewer than 50 yards, and only one of those games did he salvage with a TD catch.  He also disappeared down the stretch with just 5 catches for 48 yards in Weeks 15-17.  You hate to see a player end on such a low note, but that could help you land him at a discount.  He’s going around the 8th round of fantasy drafts and is best used as a WR4 for spot starts and bye week fill-ins.  I think he’ll see a slight dip in his production as his TD total goes down, but he should still catch 60 passes for 800 yards and 5 TDs.

Ted Ginn, Jr. made a big leap last year going from 34 catches for 340 yards to 56 catches for 790 yards.  He also ran for 73 yards and two scores.  Even with those two rushing TDs, Ginn, Jr. had just four last year, a number he’ll need to improve on if he is going to rise in the ranks of fantasy WRs.  Consistency was also a problem he had with nine games with less than 50 yards, including a game where he finished with -1 yards.  Not only did he not score any points for those who started him, but he actually took .1 away.  Two games later he caught 7 passes for 175 yards.  Ginn, Jr. is going around the 9th round in fantasy drafts.  He is not a reliable WR3, but makes a decent WR4 or WR5.  I expect him to continue to improve in his third season with 70 catches for 1000 yards and 5 TDs.

Donnie Avery’s stock is slipping a bit because of he’s out the rest of the preseason with a foot injury, and Marc Bulger’s broken pinkie.  Avery had a nice Rookie season with 53 catches for 674 yards and 3 TDs.  It’s tough to pick a second year player without seeing how he’s progressing and with a questionable QB situation at best.  Marc Bulger is not and won’t be the player we once figured him to be.  Kyle Boller, his backup, doesn’t have the best track record.  I would take Avery as a WR5, but would not want to rely on him as my main backup.  Avery has been going around the 8th round of fantasy drafts, but that number is bound to drop with the aforementioned injuries.  I expect 65 catches for 725 yards and 5 TDs for Avery.

Jerricho Cotchery played better without Brett Favre.  He averaged 82 catches for 1045.5 yars and 4TDs in the two years before Favre’s arrival and had 71 catches for 858 yards and 5 TDs without him.  Laveranues Coles moved on to Cincinnati leaving Cotchery as the main weapon for whoever wins the Kellen Clemens/Mark Sanchez battle.  I like him a little more if Sanchez is his starting QB.  Either way he should be targeted early and often.  Cotchery makes a nice WR4, going in the 8th round of fantasy drafts.  I expect 80 receptions for 950 yards and 4 TDs. 

Hines Ward is an ageless wonder.  After failing to record a 1000 yard season since 2004, the 33 year old caught 81 passes for 1043 yards and 7 TDs in his 11th season.  Not only did he go for 1000+ yards, he played a full season for the first time since 2004.  The question is will he continue to roll, or is this the time for the vet to begin to decline.  If you’re thinking he won’t be as motivated after winning another Super Bowl, you couldn’t be more far from the truth.  He is an absolute gamer that can probably tolerate as much pain as anybody in the league.  As long as he can stay off the shelf, he should have another solid year.  Ward is going in the seventh round of fantasy drafts.  He makes a decent WR3.  I’m expecting him to catch 80 passes for 950 yards and 5 TDs. 

Santana Moss pointing
Santana Moss is a guy I hate to own and I hate to play.  He is very inconsistent (seven games with fewer than 50 yards) and he tends to miss or be hampered in a couple of games a year.  His name helps him get selected a bit earlier than he should.  He’s going in the seventh round of fantasy drafts on average.  He’s only had two standout seasons (2006 & 2005) in his eight years.  He’ll finish will solid numbers, but you could get burned a couple of times if you start him.  I’d take him as a WR3, but I’d prefer to have him as a WR4.  He should be good for 70 catches, 950 yards, and 5 TDs.

Donald Driver TD
Donald Driver is another one that continues to turn out solid seasons.  He had 74 catches for 1012 yards and 5 TDs.  It was his fifth consecutive 1000+ yard season.  He hasn’t been the top threat the past couple of years, but Greg Jennings emergence hasn’t left Driver without fantasy relevance.  Don’t expect the huge games from Driver.  He had just two 100+ yard games last year, but he had nine games with 60+ yards.  Aaron Rodgers had a great “rookie” year for the Packers, and he should be even better without the distractions that dominated their camp last year.  He should be a great value as he’s being taken in the 8th round of most fantasy drafts.  He should be able to catch 80 passes for 1000 yards and 6 TDs.

Images courtesy of Icons SMI

Eddie Royal return

Eddie Royal made a smashing debut with 91 catches for 980 yards and 5 TDs.  Pro Bowl QB Jay Cutler has moved on to Chicago, but Eddie’s prospects remain high.  First of all, Kyle Orton doesn’t have the cannon that Cutler had.  The Broncos could rely more on dinks and dunks than the deep ball.  That plays right into Royal’s hand.  Plus, with new Coach Josh McDaniels coming over from New England, he has had plenty of Wes Welker comparisons.  His yardage wasn’t consistent, but he had his share of targets.  He had 11 games with 5+ receptions, including four with 9+ making him especially value in PPR leagues.  His TD total wasn’t great, but he did add an additional 109 rushing yards.  Royal is a real nice WR3 and possibly a WR2 if he can find the end zone more often.  His fantasy draft stock is rising, and he’s currently going in the fifth rounds of fantasy drafts.  He easily could challenge for the league lead in receptions.  I think he’ll have 105 for 1250 yards and 6 TDs.

Lance Moore catch
Lance Moore was one of the biggest fantasy football surprises in 2008 with 79 receptions for 928 yards and 10 TDs.  Moore was very inconsistent last year with eight games with fewer than 40 yards (he salvaged one of those with a TD) and eight games with 76+ yards.  It’s hard to imagine a player with nearly 1000 yards and 10 TDs taking a major step back in just his fourth year, but that’s what I see.  First of all, Marques Colston is healthy and should return to his role of teacher’s pet.  Second, Reggie Bush and Jeremy Shockey should have increased production provided they stay health.  Plus, Robert Meachem has looked good this preseason, and could finally show his potential, which would almost be the beginning of the end for Moore.  Finally, I don’t see Drew Brees throwing for nearly as many yards.  With Pierre Thomas entrenched in the starting tailback job, I expect a more balanced attack in 2009.  Moore is going in around the 7th round of fantasy drafts, which which leads me to believe he won’t live up to the expectations that come with a seventh round pick.  I surely wouldn’t trust him as a WR3.  He could possibly be a decent WR4, but I think consistency will be an issue for him once again.  Plus, I think he takes a step back with 55 catches for 650 yards and 5 TDs.

Images courtesy of Icon SMI

Image courtesy of Icon SMI

Antonio Bryant broke out in a big way last year with 83 catches for 1248 yards and 7 TDs.  He’s had a couple decent years (2005 with Cleveland and 2002 with Dallas), but the 28 year old was never a sure fire #1 WR until the middle of last year when he averaged  95.7 yards and 0.7 TDs the last ten weeks.  He was an absolute beast in the fantasy playoffs (Weeks 14-16) averaging 145 yards with 4 TDs.  That strong finish could propel him to an early selection in fantasy drafts, but I would caution taking him too early.  He has a new coach, a new QB, and had his knee scoped, which will cost him precious time getting accustomed to those changes. 

I don’t love him as a WR3, but he’d be a solid WR4.  He’s going around the sixth or seventh round, which is a little high for my tastes.  I think he takes a big step back with 65 catches for 800 yards and 5 TDs.

Braylon Edwards
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Braylon Edwards had a terrible case of the dropsies last year.  After dominating the league in 2007 with 80 catches for 1289 yards and 16 TDs, he had just 55 catches for 873 yards and 3 TDs.  Talk about a disappearing act.  2009 isn’t exactly getting off to a great start either.  He has dealt with some minor injuries in training camp.  If the Browns are going to claw their way up to mediocrity, they are going to need Edwards to stay healthy and focused.  Edwards will have to be a bigger factor in their passing game as he had more than four receptions four times, and more than five receptions just once. 

Kellen Winslow, Jr. is gone, and the Browns running game is far from formidable.  You don’t know if Brady Quinn or Derek Anderson will be the QB, or if it even matters.  I would take Braylon Edwards as a WR 3, but there are many of wideouts that I would prefer on my team. Braylon is going in the 6th-8th round in fantasy leagues as around the 20th WR.  I’m predicting 65 catches for 950 yards and 6 TDs.

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