We are rolling out our initial Apex player rankings this week, and as each position’s rankings are posted I’ll discuss the players that I’m highest and lowest on. Quarterback and Running Back rankings have already been released, and you can find Mike Braude’s free player projections here.

Apex Wide Receiver Rankings:

My RankPlayerTeamECR
1Calvin JohnsonDET1
2Demaryius ThomasDEN2
3Dez BryantDAL3
4Julio JonesATL5
5A.J. GreenCIN4
6Brandon MarshallCHI6
7Jordy NelsonGB9
8Antonio BrownPIT7
9Alshon JefferyCHI8
10Andre JohnsonHOU10
11Pierre GarconWAS12
12Randall CobbGB11
13Keenan AllenSD14
14Vincent JacksonTB13
15Wes WelkerDEN15
16Victor CruzNYG17
17Michael CrabtreeSF19
18Roddy WhiteATL16
19Larry FitzgeraldARI18
20Kendall WrightTEN23
21DeSean JacksonWAS21
22Michael FloydARI25
23T.Y. HiltonIND27
24Percy HarvinSEA20
25Eric DeckerNYJ30
26Julian EdelmanNE22
27Reggie WayneIND31
28Mike WallaceMIA28
29Marques ColstonNO29
30Torrey SmithBAL26
31Cordarrelle PattersonMIN24
32Golden TateDET35
33Cecil ShortsJAX32
34Sammy WatkinsBUF38
35Terrance WilliamsDAL37
36Jeremy MaclinPHI36
37Anquan BoldinSF40
38Greg JenningsMIN47
39DeAndre HopkinsHOU41
40Brian HartlineMIA48
41Emmanuel SandersDEN33
42Riley CooperPHI39
43Mike EvansTB43
44Jarrett BoykinGB61
45Marvin JonesCIN45
46Tavon AustinSTL44
47Kenny StillsNO55
48Rueben RandleNYG42
49Dwayne BoweKC34
50Harry DouglasATL72

The High

Jordy Nelson (My Rank: 7, ECR: 9)

Any player is going to be better when they have Aaron Rodgers throwing them the ball, but with Jordy and A-Rod it’s a two way street. Through 9 games in 2013, Nelson was on pace to finish as the WR1 in PPR leagues, but had to endure dreadful quarterback play down the stretch after Rodgers broke his collarbone.

Through his career, Rodgers has had his greatest success when he targets Nelson. The rotoViz Adjusted Yards per Attempt App helps us illustrate this. For his career, Rodgers AYA is 8.67, but soars to 11.75 when targeting Nelson. Of all receivers that Rodgers has targeted at least 50 times, his most efficient receiver after Jordy has been Randall Cobb, with an AYA of 10.22. For those unfamiliar with AYA, a 1.5 yard difference is quite significant.

Assuming this match made in heaven stays healthy all season, Jordy is the WR ranked outside the top 5 that has the best chance to finish as fantasy’s top scorer.

Eric Decker (My Rank: 25, ECR: 30)

A lot of Eric Decker’s success has been attributed to Peyton Manning, and while it’s always fair to praise Manning, Eric Decker should get more recognition for being a very good, and physically talented wide receiver. In Manning’s two years in Denver, one could argue that Decker was Peyton’s best receiver.

PlayerCatch RateYds/AttTD Rate (Attempts)
Eric Decker66.41%9.149.38%
Demaryius Thomas65.60%10.148.51%
Wes Welker66.36%7.079.09%

In the three efficiency stats that translate to actual fantasy points, Decker was the best receiver in 2 of the 3 categories, and had a very respectable yards per attempt. Considering the types of routes that Welker typically runs, it’s surprising the Decker comes out on top in catch rate.

Concerns about catching balls from Geno Smith might be overblown, if you buy into the argument that in 2013, Geno’s receivers made him look really bad, which I do. Most of the time in the NFL, talent will prevail over situation, and in Decker’s tier of WRs, he may be the most talented.

Greg Jennings (My Rank: 38, ECR: 47)

In case you haven’t noticed yet, I’m a big believer in using game splits as an indicator of future success, especially when it comes to the QB/WR relationship.

When Greg Jennings didn’t have to try and overcome insufferable quarterback play from Christian Ponder, he was a starting fantasy receiver in 2013.

 GamesReceptions/gYards/gTD/g
With Ponder83.7543.750.12
Without Ponder75.4364.860.43

In 7 games without Christian Ponder last year, Jennings was on pace to finish as WR18 in PPR leagues. Rookie quarterbacks tend to favor reliable veteran targets, so if Teddy Bridgewater wins the starting gig, Jennings could be the most targeted receiver on the team, even with the emergence of Cordarelle Patterson.

The Low

Percy Harvin (My Rank: 24, ECR: 20)

It’s hard to think of a player that has missed as much playing time as Percy Harvin, that still gets so much love from the fantasy community. Over the last two seasons, Harvin has played just 10 games, and has only played a full 16 games once in his five year career.

Even when Harvin is on the field, his lack of volume translates to huge variance from week to week. The Seattle receiver has caught over 70 receptions in a season just twice, and more than 80 catches just once. Harvin will command most of the attention from opposing secondaries in an offense that runs more than any team in the league.

Cordarrelle Patterson (My Rank: 31, ECR: 24)

Cordarrelle Patterson is a unique talent, but he may not see enough touches to be a consistent every week fantasy play. Patterson had over 3 receptions just once in his rookie season, and his 6.09 yards per target ranked 71st out of 77 receivers with at least 50 targets.

A lot of his late season success came via the run game, but only after Adrian Peterson was hobbled by multiple injuries. It’s unlikely that a healthy AP will lose many carries to a wide receiver.

Special plays installed for CPatt have many owners excited about the upcoming season, but that kind of coach speak could mean that Norv Turner is finding it difficult to get Cordarrelle heavily involved in a traditional offensive scheme.

Emmanuel Sanders (My Rank: 41, ECR: 35)

The Peyton Manning effect is real, but expecting an offense to be able to support four relevant fantasy receiving threats is unrealistic, and Emmanuel Sanders is slated to be the 4th option behind the Demaryius Thomas, Julius Thomas, and Wes Welker.

As a smaller wide receiver, Sanders lacks the physical gifts that made Eric Decker one of Manning’s favorite downfield targets. The Broncos moved up to draft Cody Latimer, a receiver with a larger frame, that could ultimately fill the Decker void, so there is a possibilty that Sanders could lose targets to the rookie, as well.