Fantasy Football 2011 Preview: Wide Receivers

The start of the 2011 NFL season is only a few weeks away, and that means fantasy football owners everywhere should be preparing themselves for their upcoming drafts if they hope to make a strong run for their league’s title this year.  We here at know that it is important to get an edge on your opponents prior to draft day, and we want to give you that edge with our Fantasy Football position-by-position previews.

Today we take a look at the wide receiver position.

The Top 10:

1. Andre Johnson, HOU -Despite missing three games last season, Johnson still put up 1216 yards and eight touchdowns.  In his two seasons before that he played in all 16 games, recording over 100 receptions, 1500 yards and eight touchdowns in each.  He has yet to reach double-digit touchdowns during his career, but if can stay healthy in 2011, he shouldn’t have any trouble reaching that mark.

2. Calvin Johnson, DET -Despite catching balls from three different quarterbacks throughout the 2010 season, Calvin Johnson still posted 1120 yards and 12 touchdowns.  It was the second time he recorded 12 touchdowns in his four-year career, and if Stafford can stay healthy, he should be able to surpass that mark in 2011.

3. Roddy White, ATL – Roddy White led all receivers with 115 receptions last season, while finishing in third amongst wide receivers in fantasy points.  He will now have to share some of those receptions with rookie Julio Jones, but White should also see less double-coverage with the added help at the wide receiver position, making him a great pick-up for your team once again in 2011.

4. Larry Fitzgerald, ARI – Fitzgerald found a way to record 90 receptions for 1137 yards and six touchdowns during the 2010 season, despite having the likes of John Skelton, Derek Anderson and Ronald Bartel throw him the ball.  Now he has Kevin Kolb playing quarterback for the Cards.  That is definitely an improvement to Arizona’s quarterback situation, and if it is enough of an improvement, it could catapult Fitz back to the top of the wide receiver class in 2011.

5. Hakeem Nicks, NYG – Nicks had an impressive 2010 campaign, finishing seventh among wide receivers in fantasy points, despite missing three games.  Big things are expected out of Nicks in his third year, and with Steve Smith now out of the picture in New York, the former Tar Heel should be able to deliver.

6. Mike Wallace, PIT – Wallace played without quarterback Ben Roethlisberger during the first four games of last season, but he still finished the year with 1257 yards and 10 touchdowns.  Rather than just a deep-ball threat, Roethlisberger has tried to use Wallace more often in short routes as well.  He put up over 100 yards in each of his last three games during the 2010 regular season.  Look for him to pick up where he left off in 2011.

7. Vincent Jackson, SD – After playing in only five games last season due to a holdout, Vincent Jackson returns to the Chargers line-up looking to put in a full season.  Rivers’ numbers last season make it seem as though the Chargers are happy with airing the ball out often throughout the season, and we expect that to translate into big things for their number-one receiver.

8. Reggie Wayne, IND –  Wayne has been a model for consistency, putting up at least 1000 receiving yards in each of his last seven seasons, while putting up over 1200 yards in five of those seasons.  If Manning can stay healthy, he should be in line for more big things in 2011, as the Colts’ quarterback should continue to look his way often.

9. Greg Jennings, GB –  Greg Jennings’ 1265 yards and 12 touchdowns were good enough to place him fourth among wide receivers in fantasy points last season.  With Jermichael Finley back in the mix and James Jones emerging as a reliable option for Aaron Rodgers, Jennings could see a decrease in targets from the Packers’ quarterback, but he should still put up good enough numbers to place him within the top 10 fantasy receivers in 2011.

10. Mike Williams, TB – Williams’ yardage totals weren’t the greatest in his rookie year (964 receiving yards), but his 11 touchdowns did help place him 12th among receivers in fantasy points during the 2010 season.  After taking a full season to get familiar with quarterback Josh Freeman, we expect big things from both players heading into 2011.

Two Sleepers:

Mike Sims-Walker, STL –  Sims-Walker has had a hard time putting up the yardage totals during his days with the Jaguars, but he has recorded seven touchdowns in each of his last two seasons.  Now that he has Sam Bradford throwing him the ball, he should be able to improve upon his career-best 63 receptions and 869 yards from 2009, assuming he can cement himself as the Rams’ number one receiver.

Mario Manningham, NYG -With Steve Smith now in Philadelphia, Manningham has the opportunity to step up and take on the starting wide receiver job opposite Hakeem Nicks.  With teams directing plenty of their attention to Nicks, that could mean big things for the former Wolverine, who put up nine touchdowns in 2010.

Two Busts:

Brandon Lloyd, DEN -Lloyd led all receivers in fantasy points last season, but with John Fox in as head coach of the Broncos, there could be an increased emphasis on the running game, taking away from Lloyd’s opportunities.  It would be unreasonable to expect another 1448 yards and 11 touchdowns from Lloyd in 2011, but we wouldn’t be surprised to see his production decrease by as much as half of those totals.

Marques Colston, NO –  Colston has been struggling to make his way onto the field during training camp thus far, as he deals with a nagging knee injury.  The Saints have always found a way to spread the ball, and with Mark Ingram in the backfield they may even rely on the run more so than ever before.  That could translate into a drop in production for the Saints’ receiver.

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