Top 5 Riskiest Fantasy WRs for 2012

Because if my life depended on Pierre Garcon catching a key to unlock my handcuffs, I wouldn't be very confident.

After taking a look at the top 5 riskiest RB selections yesterday, it's time to turn our focus to the glory boys on the outside, the receivers. Often, receivers are some of the biggest boom or bust candidates - remember when Chad Johnson was a seventh round selection on average last year coming into his shiny new contract with the Patriots? While a lot of receivers won't destroy your draft like missing on a top three-round quarterback or running back will, missing with one of your top two receivers instantly leaves you scrambling. If your top receiver gets in trouble, would you feel comfortable starting Laurent Robinson every week? I think that version of Livin' On the Edge is a bit too much for me. There's a few guys you should probably stay away from this draft if you don't want perpetual heartburn. Draft one of these guys, and you should probably feel a bit uncomfortable. Draft two or more of these guys, and you're trying to go into Lincoln Financial Field with a Cowboys jersey on.

(Note: All average draft positions are accurate as of 8/28/12.)

numberFire's Top Five Riskiest Fantasy WR Picks

5. Pierre Garcon - Washington Redskins
numberFire Projected Rank: #86 (#30 WR in our Fantasy Draft Kit)
Average Draft Position: #75 (#28 WR)

I've heard that RGIII is expected to do everything from kick field goals to balance the federal budget in D.C., but how is he supposed to do his actual passing-a-pigskin job with a receiver like Garcon? Despite starting for three years with one of the best quarterbacks in the NFL in 2009 and 2010 and a functioning warm-blooded individual in 2011, Garcon has never been able to top 6 TDs or 134 fantasy points in a single-season. numberFire stats guru Keith Goldner says there's a reason for this: "Garcon had a poor 52.2% catch rate last year and one of the lowest receiving efficiency totals in the league on a per target basis. That 52.2% catch rate is no outlier, though. He has a career 54.0% catch rate and RGIII—a quarterback known for his 72.4% completion percentage in college—is going to need someone better at actually bringing the ball in than Garcon. Expect Santana Moss to hold his place as the consistent No. 1 threat in Washington."

4. Jordy Nelson - Green Bay Packers
numberFire Projected Rank: #26 (#9 WR in our Fantasy Draft Kit)
Average Draft Position: #35 (#11 WR)

Taking a risk doesn't necessarily say, "This is going to be a bad pick, you are the worst GM EVER." It simply says, "Hey, I know this guy seems all good, but at least know what you're getting into." Jordy Nelson is that textbook case. Nelson singlehandedly swung leagues last year, especially in the fantasy playoffs (115 yards and 2 TDs week 16, 162 yards and 3 TDs week 17). His 217 fantasy points last season were so good, in fact, that it was three times his previous greatest fantasy season in his three NFL years prior (70 FP in 2010). All things considered, Nelson didn't have too great of a year yardage wise until those final two weeks - he only had three 100-yard receiving games in the first twelve games of the season. He also didn't get the number of targets that you'd see a guaranteed #1 receiver often get; his season high in catches was six until that week 17 bust out game. And always remember that with Jennings, Finley, and even James Jones on board, Aaron Rodgers isn't exactly hurting for targets either.

3. Kenny Britt - Tennessee Titans
numberFire Projected Rank: #77 (#27 WR in our Fantasy Draft Kit)
Average Draft Position: #84 (#31 WR)

He fought the law and the law won. Again. Kenny Britt was arrested during the offseason for a DUI in July, his eighth run-in with the law since being drafted by the Titans in 2009. As of right now, Britt's in limbo in more than one way: he doesn't know whether he's going to be suspended by the league office for his actions, or whether he'll be able to play at all anyway while attempting to recover from injury. Britt only played in three games last year and only 12 in 2010, sitting out more games the past two years than he's actually participated in. And if those troubles weren't enough, he hasn't been the most effective receiver even when he is in the game: his catch rate hasn't topped the league average of 60% in either of the two NFL seasons where he's played more than 3 games. (To be fair, his catch rate was 65% in his three games last season, but that's a very small sample size to go off of.) If Drew Brees is throwing him the ball, maybe I take a chance. But with Jake "51% Completion Percentage" Locker? Probably not so much.

2. Torrey Smith - Baltimore Ravens
numberFire Projected Rank: #96 (#36 WR in our Fantasy Draft Kit)
Average Draft Position: #67 (#26 WR)

Another boom or bust candidate, Smith showed last year and so far during this preseason that he has some great talent. His catch rate wasn't that great in 2011 (only sitting at 52%), but part of that can be explained by his rookie status. By all accounts, he should be better during his sophomore campaign. But will he get the opportunities? The Ravens haven't had a 1,000 yard receiver since 2009, when Derrick Mason just barely broke the millennium line with his 1,028 yards that year. Since Joe Flacco has been the Ravens' starting QB, Mason's 1,037 yards in 2008 is the most any of his receivers have had. And back in those days, Mason was unequivocally the only target in Poe Bird Land; now with Boldin hanging around and Ray Rice proving to be so adept at catching balls out of the backfield, what little targets Flacco had to go around is now split. And it's not like his TD total is likely to go up much higher either - his 7 TDs last year (of the Ravens' total 21) was tied for the most by a Ravens receiver since Derrick Alexander caught 9 TD passes from Vinny Testaverde during the 1997 Ravens season. Been burned by having to trust a Baltimore receiver in a starting or flex spot before? Quoth the Raven, "Nevermore."

1. Andre Johnson - Houston Texans
numberFire Projected Rank: #16 (#4 WR in our Fantasy Draft Kit)
Average Draft Position: #27 (#6 WR)

And it's starting again. Long one of the most talented players in the league, Andre Johnson is now entering his tenth year in the league and has started to look - dare I say it - old (he's 31). After playing a full 16 game slate in five of his first seven seasons, Johnson only played 13 games in 2010, then dipped to a career-low seven games played in 2011. In those seven games last year, he wasn't particularly effective either: 492 receiving yards and only two receiving touchdowns gave him a grand total of only 62 fantasy points (an average of less than 9 points per game). His catch rate isn't the problem, as that's been above 60% each of the past two seasons (and five of the past six). The problem has been targets: Owen Daniels and Arian Foster turned into legitimate pass-catching options for Matt Schaub last season, and even if Johnson comes back fully healthy this year, there's no guarantee his old number of targets will still be there. There are a number of reasons to be extremely wary of Johnson this year, especially if you're looking at him with a late second or third round selection and expect him to anchor your receiving corps.