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I still remember September 2007 like it was yesterday. It was Week 2 of the NFL season and I was pumped after lighting up my opponent in the first week. I thought I had the team to beat and was convinced that I would hoist that championship trophy. I started running my mouth a little too much, but that was only because I had Chad Ochocinco leading my trio of receivers. I know, it’s fitting.
Soon though, my mouth would get even louder, as Ochocinco went off on the Cleveland Browns in that classic Ohio shootout, racking up 209 yards and scoring twice. It was a beautiful moment for me and many other fantasy owners. Yep, Ochocinco was all mine for the rest of the season and I was already 2-0. I was like an eagle soaring over a lake full of trout, ready to feast on the next owner to come to the surface.
Week three passed, and No. 85 once again failed to disappoint, catching nine passes for 138 yards against the Seattle Seahawks on the road as I steamrolled my opponent again to go to 3-0. But then the unfortunate and unpredictable came (depending on who you talk to). I like to call it the Milwaukee Brewers September collapse.
After Week 3, Ochocinco recorded just three more 100-yard games, and scored just five touchdowns, which not surprisingly all came in two of those three triple-digit games. In other words, I held on to him like a 5-year-old squeezing a teddy bear, but he failed me and ripped apart my season. Sure, I made the playoffs, but I lost early on when Ochocinco recorded just 60 yards against the St. Louis Rams.
Since then, I have started to place a stronger emphasis on choosing my receivers based on higher levels of consistency instead of overall statistics. This offseason I took my consistent philosophy one step further, and uncovered a lot of receiver filling that isn’t always evident to the regular naked fantasy eye.
As you’ll see in this study, I focused my attention on four crucial categories that are listed at the top of the key. All numbers in these categories were found using the Great White Shark League format. The scoring can be found here .
TS = Total score
I encourage you keep an open mind when it comes to the numbers you’re about to see, and use them purely as reference only when generating your rankings pre-draft. I know they’re not perfect, but they level the playing field and will really give you a good idea of who was consistent, who was getting the ball the most, and who was taking advantage of his opportunities or had really good chemistry with his quarterback.
The team rushing ranking and fantasy strength of schedule ( FFToolbox.com ) were not factored in to the ranking, they’re just there for you to see, and for me to comment on later.
When he wasn’t suffering from migraines, Percy Harvin was like a duffle bag full of Ben Franklins. His numbers were consistent across the board, and he recorded the highest percentage of games over his yearly point’s average. I wouldn’t expect a complete repeat in 2011, but with Sidney Rice potentially out of the purple queen equation Harvin will certainly see his fair share of passes.
Austin Collie lacked consistency at times last season, mostly due to injury, but there was no other wide receiver who had more chemistry with his quarterback than Collie had with Peyton Manning, which is clearly evident with his TCPG percentage. Yes, Collie won’t be the same with frequent concussion problems now haunting him, but his numbers in this study combined with the Indianapolis Colts’ very weak attempt at running the football in 2010 make me feel pretty comfortable reaching for him earlier than most.
If you’re digging for a reason to not draft Andre Johnson in the first round, you’re going to need a backhoe, and a good one too. His 19.2 points per game in Shark League formats was the best among all wide receivers, even though the Houston Texans as a team finished seventh in the NFL in rushing yards. And his 53.8 consistency percentage (=/>PA) was the highest among wide receivers who averaged more than 10 targets per game.
I’m not surprised that Hakeem Nicks is in the Top 12. However, I was caught a little off guard when Mario Manningham’s name creeped up inside the Top 10. If Steve Smith doesn’t return it’s going to be awfully hard to pass up Manningham on draft day, especially knowing you really can’t go wrong with a receiver catching passes from a Manning.
And I can’t remember the last time Santana Moss was seen on any kind of Top 10 list of mine. I have to give credit where credit is due though, as he was an unsung hero for many fantasy owners last season on a very suspect and low-scoring Washington Redskins offense.
Marques Colston’s current fourth-round value has me grinning like the Joker. As much as people want to believe, for the last two years, that Sean Payton is going to try and run an offense that halfway resembles the Wisconsin Badgers, it’s not happening. With a quarterback like Drew Brees, what’s the point anyways?
Jacksonville Jaguars wide receiver Mike Thomas is quietly emerging in to a top target, but with Maurice Jones-Drew still around and Blaine Gabbert saddling in to the starting quarterback spot at some point in 2011, I have to temper my enthusiasm a great deal.
In a study like this, where consistency is so key, I thought Hines Ward would’ve been leaps and bound ahead of fellow Pittsburgh Steeler mate Mike Wallace. Boy, was I wrong! Not only was Wallace just as consistent, but he averaged over five points more per game. Ward may have found his dancing shoes, but I don’t see a lot of endzones in his foreseeable future.
Greg Jennings' numbers in this study are not indicative of him even being a candidate for the most overrated fantasy player heading in to 2011. And I have to wonder how much hatorade fantasy owners will spit up after seeing that Jennings hasn't missed a single game in the past three seasons.
Did you know that I adore Larry Fitzgerald about as much as a plate of spaghetti? I mean, what’s there not to like about a level-headed “Tweeter” who averages 10.8 targets per game, 14.8 points per game, and plays on an offense that runs the football like they’re learning how to ride a bike?
Oh, and by the way, Braylon Edwards will not be making appearances on any of my fantasy teams. Rex Ryan prefers “feet” that run the football, and according to Colin Cowherd, Mark Sanchez is not a fantasy football player. Colin knows best!
As much as I would like to run my mouth and shove these numbers up Roddy White’s tushy, the truth is that if I were to include White’s two 19-point weeks, he would be listed in the Top 12. It is worth pointing out though, White scored just three of his 10 touchdowns in the six games against NFC South division rivals, and recorded two games with multi-touchdowns against AFC opponents. You do the math.
Should I really consider Calvin Johnson as early as the first round when his level of consistency is about as frustrating as watching Matthew Stafford limp off the field every third game?
I can’t say that I’m surprised to see Kenny Britt, Dwayne Bowe or Johnny Knox this low on the list. They’re vertical threats on offenses that are run first.
Please give me a reason to not believe that DeSean Jackson is overrated in points per reception formats, especially if Michael Vick sticks around. His TCPG percentage reeks like raw sewage, and he faces the toughest schedule among any wide receiver heading in to 2011.
I’m extremely disappointed in Anquan Boldin’s results. His average of 11.4 points, to go along with just under seven targets per game, has me thinking that Joe Flacco may not be as in love with the playmaking receiver as some may believe.
It’s kind of odd that Brandon Marshall is as low as he is with a targets per game number of 10.3. That could be because Chad Henne isn’t accurate beyond 10 yards, and Marshall himself isn’t exactly Donald Driver after the catch.
Can you tell that Stevie Johnson was either boom or bust last season? The good news for now is that he hasn’t changed his last name yet, and his quarterback actually has an NFL-level right arm.
I have never been high on Dez Bryant. You just never know when Randy Moss is going to creep in to his pre-game warm-ups and take over the way he plays the game.
Good luck as you generate your rankings.
Thanks for reading!
Eric Huber is a staff writer for Fantasysharks.com.
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