By: Ben Johnson
PREVIOUSLY: RUNNING BACKS
Football is a dangerous sport. We don’t fully know how dangerous of a sport it is, but it’s somewhere between “oh man, you could get really hurt and really screw up the quality of the remaining years of your life and maybe even die tragically early” level dangerous and “oh, there is no question, you are absolutely signing on for chronic pain and early onset dementia 100% of the time with this, doing it for any length of time is absolutely a bad idea” dangerous. Riskwise, as a profession, playing football is somewhere between space shuttle astronaut and coal miner.
But it pays pretty good, so people still do it, even though it pays roughly jack shit compared to baseball or basketball. Baseball and basketball don’t (often) have a particular use for 350 pound fat guys who can lift a small car, or 6’3” underwear models who can throw an oblong ball 80 miles per hour while simultaneously running for their lives, or whatever genetic trick of leg-physics allows punters to be good at punting, to name a few highly specialized football player body types.
Two of the top 15 or so wide receivers in football are already not going to be able to play this year because they recently tore their respective knee cartilage. That’s kind of crazy. Not like “it’s an epidemic!” crazy, or even “wow football is brutal” crazy, so much as “these are the guys who would probably get paid just as much money to be professional athletes if we woke up and there was no such thing as football and we all decided to be fans of soccer and ultimate Frisbee, why the hell are they doing this to themselves?” crazy.
They’re doing this to themselves because we do not live in a perfect world. We live in a world which has football in it. The better question, the only question, is why do we do this to ourselves? Why did we make this world the way we made it? Was it just because we enjoy placing bets with rigged dice more than we prefer to thrive as a species of living beings? Or: is this life, the shape and the tone that life, in all its forms, takes? Are we “civilized” humans doomed to elevate these coal mining astronauts to avatar status, burdening their rickety knee cartilage with the collective weight of our utopian aspirations while the whole world turns to flame?
Here are some good fantasy wide receivers this year:
Demaryius Thomas, Denver
Demaryius Thomas’s hands are ten and a half inches long, and I find it strange that I know that.
Antonio Brown, Pittsburgh
Antonio Brown fact: Antonio Brown is currently “open,” as in “throw me the ball, I’m open!” He may be folding laundry, or driving his car, or sleeping. It does not matter. He is open. Like in a football sense.
Dez Bryant, Dallas
One thing to keep in mind about Dez Bryant is that if there’s a football near both of you, he’s probably going to catch it and you probably are not going to catch it. Please remember this at all times.
Julio Jones, Atlanta
Julio Jones can jump more than 38 inches into the air if he wants to. If I could jump 38 inches into the air, I would always want to. You’d be like “where’s Ben?” and the answer would be “38 inches in the air.”
Calvin Johnson, Detroit
What’s fun about watching Calvin Johnson is that he’s so much bigger and better than everybody on the field, you always know where he is. It’s like this internet video I’ve been watching recently of high school football highlights of current gigantic NBA player Glen “Big Baby” Davis, where the poor opposing team of regular-sized teenagers is like “aw man, we gotta try and tackle future NBA player Glen ‘Big Baby’ Davis this week? LIFE SUCKS.” Calvin Johnson is like that except everybody involved is in the current NFL.
Odell Beckham, New York Giants
If Odell Beckham is around, you can finally feel totally comfortable about throwing around some babies. Nothing bad will happen. He will catch them.
Randall Cobb, Green Bay
If, like me, you read a lot of things about sports, you probably have read the one article that people like to write about Randall Cobb, titled “Randall Cobb: He Is Short But He Is Good?” And the article is just like “YES.” Well, what I’m about to say might turn that conventional wisdom on its ear: at 5’10” tall, Randall Cobb is NOT short. In fact, statistically, he’s taller than most living humans!
Alshon Jeffery, Chicago
There’s one picture from his college days that makes it look like Alshon Jeffery used to be a little chubby around the middle. If Alshon Jeffery is or ever was a little chubby around the middle, man oh man did that little chubby around the middle not end up mattering for Alshon Jeffery. If you are a little chubby around the middle, which you probably are, don’t worry. It doesn’t matter for you too much either. It’s not like we’re out here hunting mastodons or anything. We’re also not catching footballs as gracefully and as purposefully as ballerinas working security at a Fabergé egg museum during an earthquake, but that’s what Alshon Jeffery looks like when he plays football, chubby or not.
Mike Evans, Tampa Bay
Mike Evans is 6’5” tall and weighs 230 pounds and is quite strong and plays an extreme body control variety of wide receiver with what I will call “sleepy self-assurance” in a flailing effort to avoid using the word “swagger.” It is such a shame that the NFL doesn’t allow its players to have fun, because I would love it if Mike Evans got to carry a microphone in his pocket so he could pull it out and drop it after every great play.
A.J. Green, Cincinnati
Even the smartest guys don’t really know how to figure out how to split credit for being good whenever good things happen between a quarterback and a receiver, and boy have they tried, because if somebody did figure it out, an NFL team would pay them probably like one million dollars to know that secret. Well, NFL teams, get this: A.J. Green is “quite” good, whereas Andy Dalton is only “somewhat to not very” good. PM me for my routing number.
Emmanuel Sanders, Denver
Emmanuel Sanders will work out of the “slot” in Denver, which means that he’ll line up on the field somewhere between an outside receiver and the offensive line, which means that when he runs to go catch the ball, he’ll be running sort of closer to the middle of the field, which means nothing. “Slot receiver” means nothing. One guy throws the ball and one guy catches the ball. Jeez Louise.
T.Y. Hilton, Indianapolis
T.Y. Hilton is very fast and good at getting open, catching the football, and running very far. In order to prepare this expert analysis, I watched a highlight video, shot from a camera that was positioned on the field at roughly eye level, of T.Y. Hilton scoring a 73 yard touchdown. Said 73 yard touchdown happened very quickly. Like “wow he is running fast, wow he catched it, wow he’s running so fast, wow he scored” and then the announcer goes “73 yards” and you think “wait, if that was 73 yards worth of running, how come it isn’t still happening?” T.Y. Hilton didn’t seem remotely surprised that he was able to score that 73 yard touchdown so quickly. If I scored a 73 yard touchdown in the NFL in any amount of time, I would be the most surprised person in the history of earth.
DeAndre Hopkins, Houston
The funny thing about fantasy football is that unless you’re an obsessive or a media member or something, you hardly ever see most of these guys play, and when you do see them, you hardly ever watch them, like really really watch them, and marvel at the things they do. This is because a lot of them play in some weird place nobody cares about like Houston. But according to this YouTube I just saw, DeAndre Hopkins is really amazing at catching footballs even though those footballs were only kind of notionally thrown in his direction, as if the quarterback walked into the huddle and opened up that little play list thing on his wrist and it just said “PLAY 2: Pass to DeAndre.”
Other Wide Receivers of Note:
Julian Edelman, Jordan Matthews, Brandin Cooks, Golden Tate, Amari Cooper, Sammy Watkins, Jarvis Landry, Keenan Allen, Davante Adams, Andre Johnson, Brandon Marshall, Roddy White, Mike Wallace, DeSean Jackson, Jeremy Maclin, Vincent Jackson, Pierre Garcon, Anquan Boldin, Michael Floyd, John Brown, Steve Smith Sr., and Nelson Agholor are also incredible at football in their own particular way.
Everybody listed individually above should be gone by the second round of your fantasy football draft, and if you are in a PPR league, you should consider at least the top 5 dudes listed above in the first round. The rest are good to pepper in according to your preferences. Remember: nobody knows anything about the future. We could all be dead in a year.
Enjoy these men, for they are the best we have at running and catching things while wearing a helmet and shoulder pads and being pushed around and chased by other large, strong men, and therefore they are the best we have, for this, football, is the most important thing we have gotten around to organizing, for we are deeply, deeply stupid.
UP NEXT: TIGHT ENDS