Here are my top 10 Wide Receivers for the 2011 season.
1)Andre Johnson- The guy missed 3 games and played the majority of the season on a bum ankle and still racked up 86 receptions, 1216 yards and 8 tds. Arian Foster helps take some heat off the passing game giving Matt Schaub more time to look downfield at AJ. He averaged over 10 targets per game this season. Expect a healthy Johnson to post huge numbers once again, double digit touchdowns and a 1,500 yard+ season.
2) Calvin Johnson- In 3 games with Matthew Stafford he had 14 receptions, 169 yards and 3 tds. Extrapolate that over a season and you are looking at 77 receptions, 901 yards and 18 tds and I fully believe that to be on the very low end of the spectrum in terms of yards and receptions. Johnson is a freak of nature and given a little time to build a rapport with Stafford, I wouldn’t be surprised if they become the most feared duo in the NFL. I expect 12+ tds and at least 1,200 receiving yards this year.
3) Hakeem Nicks- I admit that I am a Giants fan and this might seem biased but I have seen the rapport he has with Eli Manning and this guy gets targets…. a lot of them. He had 128 targets on the year in the 13 games that he played. In those 13 games he had 79 receptions for 1052 yards and 11 tds. I’ve spent plenty of time watching Nicks and he is the red zone target in a pretty proficient offense. Manning likes to take chances downfield and Nicks is often the beneficiary, expect big things this season.
4) Roddy White- He had a bit of a dry spell near the end of the season but the targets were still coming. White led the league in targets with 179. With that many targets, the yards and receptions are bound to come. White has really morphed into a possession receiver with big play potential. He was a PPR monster this year with 115 receptions, 1389 yards and 10 tds. The Falcons offense isn’t changing so expect similar numbers for White this season.
5) Greg Jennings- Jennings had a slow first five games of the season (14 receptions, 183 yards, 3 tds). The rest of the season he caught on fire (62 receptions, 1082 yards, 9 tds). He was one of the hottest receivers through that span and he is developing truly elite chemistry with QB Aaron Rodgers. He is a huge downfield threat but has also become a threat in the short game. The Packers may have found a legitimate rushing threat in James Starks which will only help the passing game. I see big numbers for Jennings this season.
6) Brandon Lloyd- I know he was the number one receiver this year but a lot of people are expecting a big drop off for Lloyd with Tebow at the helm and a restructured Broncos team. I like Tebow as a quarterback. The threat of Tebow tucking the ball and running makes defenses dedicated more defenders to the line of scrimmage to keep an eye on him. This opens up the secondary and creates more downfield passing opportunities which happens to be Lloyd’s specialty. In the 3 games that Tebow started, Lloyd had 14 receptions for 263 yards and 2 tds. Stretch that over a season and it turns into 75 receptions for 1403 yards and 11 tds. Those are nearly identical to his total numbers from this year (77 receptions, 1448 yards, 11 tds). This shows that there is no drop off in Lloyd’s production when Tebow is quarterback versus Orton. I hope that Tebow stays the starter. There was a fire in the Broncos when Tebow was starting, a fire that was just never there with Orton. Regardless of the starting QB, Lloyd should be a very good wide receiver again.
7) Dwayne Bowe- He had a historic stretch in the middle of season. In a 6 game stretch Bowe had 43 receptions, 625 yards and 13 tds. Keeping that up for a season would have been impossible and don’t expect that kind of production next season. Then again, don’t expect the 3 games stretch with 3 receptions and 56 yards to be the norm either. Matt Cassel has proven his ability to shred porous defenses and as he becomes more comfortable with the Chiefs he should be able to grow as a quarterback and get rid of the horrific outings that marred his season. Expect Bowe and Cassel to grow as a duo and Bowe is still a fantastic leaper so the touchdowns will come.
8 ) Reggie Wayne- I keep expecting Wayne to show his age but in his 10th season, he still struck fear into opposing defenses and had a very good season (111 receptions, 1355 yards and 6 tds). He was second in the league in targets with 176. He has one of the top quarterbacks in history throwing to him so the targets will come. I’m expecting Wayne to lose a step at some point but until that happens he is a PPR monster who will put up lots of yards and a smattering of touchdowns. Dallas Clark’s return should take some heat away from Wayne and barring a dramatic injury or drop in his production, I expect Wayne to post very similar numbers to this season. Look for about 100 receptions, 1200 yards and 6-8 tds.
9) Larry Fitzgerald- The Cardinals were plagued by awful quarterbacks. Whether it was Derek Anderson, John Skelton or Max Hall, the Cardinals very rarely had any hint of solid quarterback play. Despite all of this, Fitzgerald still had 90 receptions, for 1137 yards and 6 touchdowns. His 173 targets were third in the league and his 26 red zone targets led the league. Fitzgerald is a special talent and is very nearly the only offensive weapon on the Cardinals. The offense flows through him so expect the ball to go to him often even if it is forced. I expect the numbers seen this year to be the worst you will see from Fitzgerald and even the worst was still pretty good.
10) Kenny Britt- Once again this is higher than most people will rank Britt. I really liked what I saw from Britt in the games where he was fully healthy. At 6’ 3” and 215 pounds, Britt is a matchup nightmare for corners and safeties. He has the size to win a vertical battle but is also physical enough to break tackles and turn a short reception into a long gain. Opposing defenses still have to focus on stopping Chris Johnson which is bound to leave plenty of passing opportunities. Regardless of the quarterbacking situation in Tennessee, I still see plenty of passes for Britt. He will score, the questionable part is whether or not he can rack up the yards or receptions (in PPR leagues) to be a true fantasy stud.
Just missed the cut: Mike Wallace, Dez Bryant, DeSean Jackson, Miles Austin, Mike Williams (TB), Vincent Jackson, Deion Branch (yup I really wrote that, I almost put him in the top 10)
Here is a quick rundown of my top 10 fantasy running backs for next year.
All of my top guys are pretty close together though and no one running back stands clearly above the rest for one reason or another. Sure some guys have the talent to be a clear cut number one fantasy back but the situation does not always allow it.
1) Adrian Peterson- Even in an ‘off ‘ year this guy is great. Over 1,600 yards from scrimmage and 13 tds. Plus 1, that’s right, 1 fumble after 16 the previous 2 years. However the quarterback situation in Minnesota is a mess. If, and that’s a big if, the QB can utilize Sidney Rice and Percy Harvin to threaten defenses then All-Day is set for a big year. If their gun-slinger proves incompetent *Ahem, Tavaris Jackson* then AP could be looking at another ‘down ‘ year.
2) Arian Foster- The clear cut breakout running back of the year and the NFL’s leading rusher with 1616 yards and a whopping 16 rushing tds. Foster came out of seemingly nowhere to lead Fantasy in scoring. He is a quick runner who is very capable of the home run play but also can run tough for the shorter yards. He also received the goal line carries and was a huge (66 rec, 604 yards, 2td) receiving threat. The only thing that keeps him from being my number one is the return Ben Tate. Keep an eye on the Texan’s backfield situation but I fully expect Foster to be a monster again.
3) Darren McFadden- Run DMC finally showed what he was made of this year and, when healthy, validated his 4th overall selection in the 2008 draft. The Raiders began to show some major life in the offense. McFadden not only racked up 1157 yards and 7 tds on the ground but also had 507 yards and 3 tds through the air. Keep in mind these numbers are lower due to injury. If McFadden can stay healthy, I like him to have a huge year.
4) Chris Johnson- CJ2K became CJ1.3K this year. This is not so much due to bad play but more because defenses focused solely on him. He still had 1609 total yards and 12 tds. I think that is the lowest you will get from him which is still a very solid number. He has very elite potential but is hindered by the QB play. Having Kenny Britt back will help keep defenses honest but I am not sure if Kerry Collins is scary enough to stop opposing D’s from stacking the box once again making CJ’s life miserable.
5) Maurice Jones-Drew- Man this guy is one fast bowling ball. He is just as capable of running people over as he is of blowing past them with speed. MJD is also a legitimate threat in the passing game. The only thing that scares me about him is that Rashad Jennings proved just annoying enough to steal some touches away from MJD. Jennings proved inept at the starting gig so don’t expect him to steal too much away from the Jag’s most skilled offensive player.
Plus he stuffed Shawne Merriman which is one of my favorite plays ever.
Video courtesy of youtube and vdtech543
6)Michael Turner- The Burner managed to stay healthy for a year which was a very nice reward for owners who took a chance on him. Turner’s YPC were way down but he still received 334 carries and is the crystal clear number one running back in a very prolific Falcons offense. He is not much of a threat in the passing game (12 receptions) but he will get carries and plenty of them. That will lead to a ton of yards and tds. If he can stay healthy, expect him to make fantasy owners very happy once again.
7) Deangelo Williams- I am sure I will catch some heat for this ranking but I still like him a lot. I know he was inefficient this year and had some major injury problems but he was plagued by being on the worst team in the NFL. Remember 2008 when he was totally healthy and had 20 total tds and 1600+ total yards, yeah that guy is still in there. He is certainly limited by his team and the thought of Jonathan Stewart stealing touches but he is also a free agent. If Williams manages to land on a different team (believe me anywhere is better than Carolina) then he could return to his elite status. The guy has number one running back written all over him, he just needs a team that can support him.
8 ) Jamaal Charles- Now I absolutely love Charles and ranking him this low really kills me but Chief’s coach Todd Haley just does not like to use this guy. An incredibly efficient Thomas Jones still receives the majority of the carries (245 carries, 3.7 YPC). Haley looks to take over the offensive play calling with Charlie Weiss on the way out and that scares me. Haley hasn’t seemed to figure out that Charles is the biggest threat on the offense. He was the sole bright spot in the blowout against the Ravens (9 carries, 82 yards, 9.1 YPC, 1 td) but he still only received 9 carries which just boggles my mind. Charles had an amazing 1467 rushing yards on just 230 carries this year…a record setting 6.4 yards per carry. He also picked up 468 yards on 45 catches but his downfall was the tds. Only 8 total due to Jones vulturing them. If Charles was the clear cut number one running back in KC then I would have him as my number one fantasy back, no doubt about it. With Jones and Haley consider Charles a very good fantasy back with elite potential, someone I would certainly take a risk on.
8* )Peyton Hillis- A reader mentioned him and it is very true that I overlooked Hillis and I apologize for the oversight. Hillis is an animal and is the only legitimate running back the up and coming Browns have. I’ve liked Hillis dating back to his Denver Bronco days. I love his punishing running style but also his agility and speed for a big guy. He faltered near the end of the season which scares me a little but I am willing to look past it and see his season as a whole. His workhorse load and punishing running style are why I don’t have him ranked higher. I am worried the injury bug might bite him during the wear and tear of an entire season. The idea of a healthy Montario Hardesty to steal touches scares me too.
9) Lesean McCoy- The Pittsburgh product is a great talent but his value is hurt because of Mike Vick’s presence. Vick’s talent as not only a passer but a runner opens up plenty of lanes for McCoy and makes the shovel pass particularly deadly. He also had 78 receptions making him arguably the most threatening running back in the league through the air. However, from anything 5 yards and in, Vick is more likely to just tuck the ball and run for the td himself which limits McCoy’s td potential. I like McCoy from a skill perspective but I don’t think he will receive enough carries or td opportunities to be a truly elite fantasy running back.
10) BenJarvus Green-Ellis- The Law firm has a very firm hold on the Patriot’s running situation. Sure Danny Woodhead is around as a change of pace back but make no mistake, this BJGE’s show. Tom Brady and the Pat’s passing offense is a machine and defenses are much more concerned with stopping them than BJGE. He should find plenty of lanes and with the Patriot’s most likely playing up a lot of the time, he should get plenty of carries even if most come in the 4th quarter. I predict over 1200 rushing yards this year plus a sprinkling of receiving yards and upwards of 15 tds (he had 13 this year).