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ATL power rankings: A.J. Green paces wide receivers

We've rolled out esoteric weekly power rankings for pass rushers, coaches, quarterbacks, fan bases and divisions during the 2012 season.

Now let's try out the wide receivers. We're only basing the list on who we'd want this season, not for past achievement or the future. Players who have barely suited up in 2012 like Greg Jennings or Pierre Garcon were not included. These are not fantasy rankings, so drops and one-dimensional styles count. Let's do it:

Top Shelf: A.J. Green, Calvin Johnson, Andre Johnson, Julio Jones, Roddy White and Reggie Wayne

Deciding the top spot was very difficult. Green already is the best receiver in the NFL with the ball in the air and he's much better after the catch than you think. Megatron is squarely in his prime and dominant, but I give Green the slight edge if all other factors (quarterback, offense, etc.) were equal. Andre Johnson has quieted any talk of being past his prime with his recent run with the Houston Texans.

Jones is so versatile and strong, if not quite as consistent as you'd like yet. Roddy reminds me of Reggie Wayne in how he's changed his game as he gets older. Wayne has to make this shelf for this season considering we see him as an MVP candidate.

Next level: Larry Fitzgerald, Percy Harvin, Vincent Jackson, Brandon Marshall, Victor Cruz, Wes Welker and Steve Smith

Fitzgerald originally was a tier above, but he's produced better in similarly awful situations. There has to be some adjustment for him having the same numbers as Andre Roberts. Harvin would be a tier above if he could stay healthy. Marshall is an absolute monster, but his drops and the number of targets he requires to get his numbers takes him down from the top-shelf.

Jackson might not be the most well-rounded wide receiver in the tier, but he proves that big plays travel. Steve Smith still is a guy who any team would love. Welker is the best at what he does in the slot. Cruz has struggled with extra coverage at times but remains electric.

Knocking on the door: Hakeem Nicks, Demaryius Thomas, Marques Colston, DeSean Jackson, Randall Cobb, Dwayne Bowe, Jordy Nelson, Torrey Smith, Antonio Brown and Mike Wallace

Nicks hasn't been himself this season because of injuries, but he showed signs of being right after the bye week. Demaryius Thomas already produces like a top-10 receiver, even though he's still so raw. He could wind up in the top five. Colston remains the king at contested catches. His decline never arrives like fantasy owners expect. Brown can do anything you ask of a receiver. DeSean Jackson gets this spot for his underrated rebound season before his injury. Nelson is a great player, but his numbers last year were a little misleading. He's a better No. 2 than a No. 1.

Torrey Smith is one of the NFL's best deep threats and should top 1,000 yards. He shows signs of being a more complete player than Mike Wallace, who has struggled in Todd Haley's system. His big plays have vanished. Cobb is the type of player who simply didn't used to exist in the NFL. Bowe is getting dragged down by the players around him, but he's never truly been a top-10 all around receiver.


Not quite there: Dez Bryant, Miles Austin, Jeremy Maclin and Denarius Moore

Bryant is the ultimate player who is better in fantasy football than reality. His immaturity on the field has hurt the Cowboys too much this season to put him higher, but he's obviously talented enough to be top shelf. Austin is a smart receiver who isn't quite as explosive as he used to be. Maclin is a solid starter but can disappear. Moore has all the attributes you'd want out of a No. 1 receiver, but he can lack concentration. He's very talented and rising.

Great pieces to the puzzle: Mike Williams, Michael Crabtree, Danny Amendola, Stevie Johnson, Eric Decker, Golden Tate and Andre Roberts

If you need a tough third-down reception, Crabtree is your man. He might not be a true "No. 1," but he has a valuable skill set and great hands. Williams works beautifully in the Buccaneers' bombs-away offense. Like Vincent Jackson, he's great at jump balls. Amendola's health problems are a concern. Johnson is a crafty receiver that is overpaid as a No. 1. It's tough to remain a "deep threat" without great speed. The same is true for Sidney Rice. Brandon Lloyd is a great example.

Decker is very valuable but fits in better as a No. 2 behind Demariyus Thomas. Tate makes a lot of difficult plays for Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson. Tate has improved more than his numbers indicate. Roberts can make tough catches and plays after the catch.

Solid starters: Davone Bess, Brian Hartline, Sidney Rice, Malcom Floyd, Anquan Boldin, Brandon Lloyd, Lance Moore and Kenny Britt

Bess can kill defenses over the middle. Hartline's fast statistical start to the season was somewhat misleading, as he struggles sometimes against man coverage. Floyd has held up physically as Philip Rivers' top option on the Chargers. Boldin still somehow produces despite his lack of foot speed. Lloyd barely has made any plays over 20 yards. Rice doesn't look as explosive as he used to be. Britt can be great someday, but he's not the same guy this year after all his surgeries. Moore only works with Drew Brees, but he works so well.

Better than you think: Jeremy Kerley, James Jones, Brandon LaFell, T.Y. Hilton, Cecil Shorts, Nate Washington, Emmanuel Sanders and Ryan Broyles

Kerley is one of the few bright spots in the New York Jets' season. Jones stepped into a larger role for the Green Bay Packers, as well. LaFell is better than any No. 2 Steve Smith has had in a while. Hilton looks like a keeper for the Colts. I always think of Washington as slightly above replacement level. Shorts is 16th in the NFL in yards. Broyles should be the Lions' No. 2 next year.

Guys that needed to be listed somewhere: Justin Blackmon, Mario Manningham, Josh Gordon, Donnie Avery, Andrew Hawkins, Chris Givens and Darrius Heyward-Bey

It just felt wrong to ignore these guys.

Follow Gregg Rosenthal on Twitter @greggrosenthal.

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