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Fantasy free agency primer: Top wide receivers

There's little doubt that wide receivers have steadily gained in fantasy football value over the past decade. As the NFL game has changed and the rules have been altered to favor passing attacks, wideouts have taken on greater importance in fantasy leagues.

That means the wide receiver group will be a fascinating one to watch during free agency -- especially with some of the names available. So we've taken a page out of the Around The League playbook to break down some of the top options available.

A cut above

  1. Eric Decker, Denver Broncos

In the past two seasons, Decker has been one of fantasy's most productive pass-catchers. But that was while working with Peyton Manning. There aren't too many other places he could land and see a comparable level of production. One of those places would be Indianapolis.

And good news! The Colts and Decker reportedly have a mutual interest in getting together. If there's a way to make up for leaving one of the NFL's all-time best pure passers, it's by joining up with the league's potential next great passing superstar. Signing with Indy could keep Decker in the range of a low-end WR1. Most anywhere else and he likely slips to WR2 status.

Not far behind

Edelman took over the Wes Welker role that we all believed would belong to Danny Amendola. But with Amendola appearing to be on his way out of New England, the Patriots could be turning their attention to the former Kent State standout. That would cement Edelman's place in the team's pecking order and put him in the running to be a WR2 in many leagues.

Yes ... that Hakeem Nicks. It's hard to defend his fantasy numbers over the past couple of seasons. But some of that undoubtedly coincides with Eli Manning having a couple of down years himself. Nicks is only 26 and entering his sixth season so there should be plenty left in the tank. Depending where he goes, he could compete to be a team's No. 1 receiver. Based on skills alone, he's top three in this group and could be primed for a comeback in 2014.

Worth looking out for

Sanders thrived in his role as the Steelers' No. 2 receiver last season. Wherever he goes, his speed and ability to turn any reception into a long touchdown will make him a playmaker. ... Jones could be on his way out of Green Bay and could find life difficult without Aaron Rodgers throwing him the ball. However, his reliable hands could land him as a trusty complement to anyone's passing game. ... Tate can be a contributor most anywhere, but his inconsistency will be maddening to fantasy owners. It will be hard to draft him as anything other than a third receiver.

More notable names

Jerricho Cotchery, Brandon LaFell, Ted Ginn, Jerome Simpson, Andre Roberts

Marcas Grant is a fantasy editor for You can follow him on Twitter.

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