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WR Demaryius Thomas
At wide receiver in the NFL, there's Calvin Johnson and there's everybody else. However, near the top of the "everybody else" category resides Demaryius Thomas. He's worked diligently to become one of the best in the game, and his hard work has payed off with big-time production.
Last year Thomas caught a career-best 14 touchdowns. This helped him secure the 2nd-best fantasy wide receiver title in 2013. Thomas has had similar numbers in both receptions (94 in 2012, 92 in 2013) and receiving yards (1,442 in 2012, 1,430 in 2013) over the last two years. This type of consistency is invaluable for fantasy owners.
On a weekly basis Thomas can be relied on as well. In 2013 there were only four weeks where Thomas didn't score 9.4 or more fantasy points. Getting a starter with tremendous upside to get you around double-digit points each week is incredible.
He's got one of the best size/speed combinations in the league. Thomas is too big for most cornerbacks to handle, and this makes him a real threat in the red zone. He's also fast and agile. Thomas can take the top off the defense with his speed, but he also has the moves to be dangerous on wide receiver screen passes after the catch.
Thomas is the favorite receiver for Peyton Manning in the league's most dangerous offense. Let that soak in when you're considering other top receivers like Dez Bryant, Julio Jones or A.J. Green in the early portions of your fantasy draft. Thomas is consistent and should finish this year as a top-5 fantasy wide receiver.
WR Dez Bryant
Dez Bryant has grown up. It wasn't long ago that Bryant's obvious physical talents were overshadowed by immaturity on and off the field. Luckily for Bryant and Cowboys fans alike, a light switch appears to have gone on and Bryant has found his place as one of the league's most dominant receivers. The 6'2", 225 lbs. dominates at the point of attack, and can make plays in traffic or blow past defensive backs for a deep sideline route. Bryant is coming off a 93-catch, 1,233 yard, 13 TD season and there's nothing to think he can match those goals again in 2014 as long as Tony Romo recovers quickly from back surgery.
WR A.J. Green
A.J. Green has emerged as an elite option at wide receiver. He has 195 catches, 1,350 yards, and 22 touchdowns over the past two seasons. Green is clearly this team's go-to guy, and he's great enough to attract the defensive attention required to free up middling-talent players like Marvin Jones and Mohamed Sanu to make big contributions to the offense. Green's production could drop slightly due to the run-heavy focus of new Offensive Coordinator Hue Jackson, but he'll still be utilized in red zone situations and be the team's clear top option in the passing game. With the broken foot to Marvin Jones, Green could receive evern more red zone looks, as Jones was very efficient in that area last season. Jones could miss the first few weeks of the regular season.
WR Julio Jones
Julio Jones enters the 2014 season as the unquestioned #1 wide receiver in the Falcons' stable of pass catchers. His impact on the team's offense was made clear during 2013 as the Falcons' passing attack struggled in Jones absence - (he was lost after week five, 2013 due to a fractured foot). Jones had over 100 yards in three of the five games he appeared in last season, and 99 yards receiving in a fourth, before going down to the foot injury (the second time he's broken the foot in the same place). During the first five games of the season - with Jones in the lineup - Ryan threw for over 300 yards three times, over 400 yards once, and he connected for two TDs per game (10 over the first five contests) with just three total interceptions during that span of time. Assuming Jones has fully recovered from his foot injury, he should have no problem returning to or surpassing the level we saw from him during 2012 (138 targets for 79/1198/10 receiving over 16 games). He is one of the dominant, young wide receivers in the NFL right now at 25 years of age. With legendary tight end Tony Gonzalez now in retirement, Jones and his compatriots at wide receiver - Roddy White and Harry Douglas - are likely to see even more opportunities to catch the football during the upcoming NFL season as the wide receivers will inherit some of the 120-130 targets and 80-90 receptions that Gonzalez handled annually while with the Falcons..
WR Brandon Marshall
Marshall is Jay Cutler's favorite target and when Cutler's in the game, Marshall is going to get the ball. The emergence of Alshon Jeffery makes Marshall even more dangerous because opposing defenses can't double cover him on every play. He may not see the 192 targets he did back in 2011, but a healthy Jay Cutler could mean more than the 164 that Marshall has last season. Marshall is a competitor and he could easily see another top ten or even top five finish in his third season in Chicago.
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Bob Henry's projections
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Maurile Tremblay's projections