In this post I highlight some players I believe could have break out years, improve upon already solid seasons or return from injury good to go.
Joseph Addai (IND) — Addai has struggled with injuries of late but comes into this season injury free and was even running well when he played last season. The upcoming Free Agent will almost certainly resign with the colts, where he is fluent in the offense and is described as a difference maker. Addai has a couple younger RB’s behind him but his experience and intelligence will make him the definite starter and could result in some surprising numbers this season.
Ryan Fitzpatrick /Steve Johnson (BUF) — Ryan Fitzpatrick took over as starting QB for the Bills last season and proved it was the right decision, leading the Bills to a few victories and some hard fought losses. Fitzpatrick has the poise and daring to be a leader who can throw the ball with confidence, and the Ball often landed in the hands of young WR Stevie Johnson. Johnson will see more attention from defenses this year but is young and fast with a coach who plans on moving his around as much as possible to keep man to man match ups. The Bills should be improved from last season with a more balanced attack, but the club will still struggle and often find themselves playing from behind, giving Fitz and Stevie chances to rack up some yards.
Ryan Torain / Roy Helu (WAS) — If it wasn’t for his inability to stay healthy RB Ryan Torain ( 2010, 164-742-4) could likely be a solid starter in the NFL, He’s not flashy or fast but hes tough and a grinder. Rookie RB Roy Helu could end up being the starter over Torain, or in the very least will share carries. It’s likely that Mike Shanahan, who knows how to make almost anyone a 1000 yard rusher will likely start whoever is hot on any given week. On a week where you need a RB to fill in, whoever is hot out of these two could be your answer.
Steve Smith / Mario Manningham (NYG) — All the attention this season for Giants WR’s surrounds Hakeem Nicks who was great last year (2010, 79-1052-11). However, Giants QB Eli Manning has thrown for over 4000 yards in each of his last two seasons, so their are lots more receiving yards to go around. Mario Manninghaam is entering his fourth season in the NFL and could also see a boost to his already solid stats (2010, 60-944-9). WR Steve Smith will likely be back with the Giants come September but could find himself missing game time due to surgery. The target machine could end up being a late season surprise though once hes healthy.
Jahvid Best / Mikel Leshoure (DET) — The Lions are looking ahead to a new season that has potential for great things. It has a healthy young QB, skilled WR’s and now has a two-headed RB attack in Best and Leshoure. Best was hampered in his rookie season by turf tow injuries on both feet (ouch) but now claims to be 100% ready for 2011. Best is only 200 pounds and will likely see limited touches but it a force capable of going end zone every time. Mikel Leshoure who is about 230 has been described by new teammates as a “beast” and could grow into 20 carry a game workhorse.
I tend to play in Fantasy leagues that allow 3 starting WR’s, with a flex spot which can be a WR. With the league currently being a little pass happy, I like to stock up on WR’s when I can, you never know who will break out or who will get hurt.
WR’s who could have a improved/good season:
Jordy Nelson (GB) — Declining Donald Driver, James Jones likely leaving for FA. Nelson has looked better each game and caught 9 passes for 140 yards and a TD in super bowl win.
Johnny Knox (CHI) — Knox, Bennett and Hester will be battling for the top WR spot in Chitown and I would not be surprised if it was Knox who came out on top. Knox is extremely fast and saw a lot of targets already last year, only catching 51 of 100. If he can improve his catch-target ratio to somewhere around 100 attempt with 65-75 catches, he could have a great season.
Lance Moore (NO) — WR Lance Moore is always underrated in my opinion. Some people believe he wouldnt play nearly as well on a different club, but Im not to sure of that. Moore is quick, long and has some pretty solid hands, to go with his never give up mind set. Behind Marques Colston, I see Lance Moore as the top option for QB Drew Brees, though he might end up as #3 or #4 behind a lackluster Devery Henderson and a exciting but inconsistent Robert Meachem.
Davone Bess (MIA) — 3rd down specialist, an extremely talented route runner with exceptional concentration. Has drawn comparisons to New England’s WR Wes Welker.
Danny Amendola (STL) — Part of a growing STL franchise with a great young QB in Sam Bradford. Doesn’t get a lot of yards per catch but will likely see a large number of targets this season.
Jerome Simpson (CIN) — Hands the size of catchers mitts. Is expected to be major part of Cinci offense in 2011, could even be #1 receiver if Ochocinco leaves. In 2010 he had stellar numbers in his very limited game time.
Santana Moss/Anthony Armstrong (WAS) — I had Santana Moss last season in one of my leagues as a #3 receiver and it payed dividends. Though nothing highlight reel worthy, I found Moss would regularly bring in 60-80 yard games with a good number of TD’s. My worry for Moss this season is the increased presence of Armstrong, who is skilled at stretching the field and was deep threat for Washington all season having some great games. Moss was targeted almost 150 times in 2010, if that happens again in 2011 he is a great #3 option.
Thank you for reading. Comment if you’d like, I would love to hear from any of you.
Follow me on Twitter. Blackie_Mike