Dez Bryant, Dallas Cowboys
It is not a secret that Bryant has stepped it up recently. He ranks No. 1 among wide receivers in fantasy points over the last five weeks, ahead of both Calvin Johnson and Brandon Marshall. Just let that sink in for a second. Bryant has also scored eight touchdowns during that five game stretch.
Fortunately for anyone that owns this talented young receiver, he goes up against a weak New Orleans Saints pass defense that has yielded over 300 passing yards seven times this season. Expect Tony Romo to find his favorite receiver early and often on Sunday. I am looking for something to the tune of eight receptions for 140 yards and at least one score.
Julio Jones and Roddy White, Atlanta Falcons
Pick one, choose one. It really doesn't matter because both Jones and White are destined to have good games against a Detroit Lions team that really doesn't have a whole heck of a lot to play for. Meanwhile, Atlanta is attempting to wrap up the No. 1 overall seed in the NFC.
They have combined for over 300 fantasy points, both have over 1,000 receiving yards and both rank in the top 11 in fantasy points among wide receivers. I guess you could have figured this out without reading my article, but start them.
Victor Cruz, New York Giants
I guess you could say that Cruz has had somewhat of a quiet fantasy season thus far. He does rank in the top 10 in fantasy points, but isn't making the huge plays we saw last season (12.9 YPC in 2012 compared to 18.7 in 2011). This doesn't mean you should stop relying on the stud receiver. He has tallied the fifth most receiving touchdowns and has put together another 1,000 yard season.
New York takes on a Baltimore Ravens pass defense that has picked it up over the last few games after struggling in the first half of the season. I still don't see them being able to contain Cruz, who is coming off a three catch, 15-yard performance against the Atlanta Falcons last week. Expect him to rebound big time.
Randall Cobb, Green Bay Packers
Cobb has caught over 80 percent of the passes thrown in his direction this season. This has pushed him ahead of Greg Jennings and Jordy Nelson as Aaron Rodgers' favorite receiving threat. Once a player hits that category he immediately becomes a fantasy stud.
Green Bay also has the pleasure of going up against a Tennessee Titans pass defense that ranks 19th and has yielded over 80 receiving yards per game to opposing No. 1 wide receivers. Even in the slot, Cobb should have a huge game here.
Pierre Garcon, Washington Redskins
Garcon has been a stud since returning from injury. He is averaging 85 yards and nearly one score, while compiling over 50 fantasy points in his last four games. Not too shabby for someone you might have picked up on waivers just a month ago. While the Philadelphia Eagles have actually been good against the pass over the last two months, I just envision Robert Griffin III being able to find a player that has quickly become his favorite target.
Steve Smith, Carolina Panthers
This is the first time that Smith has been in one of my articles which is a complete surprise to me. The veteran receiver has another 1,000-yard season under his belt, but ranks just 21st in fantasy points among wide receivers. He is, however, averaging over 14 fantasy points in his last three games. Cam Newton should be able to find Smith early and often against a disastrous and depleted Oakland Raiders secondary. Expect a big game here.
Brandon Marshall, Chicago Bears
Why the heck not? It seems that Marshall is the only Bears' offensive player to be performing at a relatively high level at this point in the season. Marshall ranks No. 1 among receivers in fantasy points, even ahead of Calvin Johnson, which is ridiculous. He should be able to put up over 100 yards and a score against Patrick Peterson and what is a solid Arizona Cardinals pass defense.
Mike Williams, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
No, I am not going with Vincent Jackson here. I don't like his matchup against Cortland Finnegan. Instead, I fully expect Williams to have a huge game against Janoris Jenkins, who has struggled a great deal in man coverage as a rookie. Opposing receivers are averaging six receptions and over 70 yards against him this season. Expect that trend to continue on Sunday.
Brandon Lloyd, New England Patriots
It took 13 weeks, but Lloyd has finally started to live up to high expectations with the Patriots. After averaging just over six fantasy points in his first 12 games, Lloyd has recorded a total of 34 points in the last two weeks. Surprisingly, those performances came against elite defenses in the form of the Houston Texans and San Francisco 49ers. Lloyd has the fortunate task of lining up against a Jacksonville Jaguars defense that ranks 24th against the pass.
Michael Crabtree, San Francisco 49ers
It does appear that Richard Sherman will be a go when the Seattle Seahawks take on San Francisco this week. While that could mean Crabtree will struggle a bit, it just seems that the receiver is coming into his own in 2012. He catches nearly everything thrown in his direction and has been targeted a lot more since Colin Kaepernick took over as San Francisco's starter five weeks back. He is averaging nearly eight receptions for 100 yards and a score in the last three games. Can't do much better than that.