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2011 Value Comparisons

If you are one of the unlucky ones that are stuck on the outside looking in, seek solace in the fact that next season is a clean slate. Whether you made it to the big dance or not, you always need to do your homework and look toward where you could be drafting next season and at whom you could be looking at.

If your league allows keepers you may already know where your glaring weaknesses are and are already preparing for a full-blown attack on draft day to turn them into strengths. But to make any position your strength, you’ll need to weed out potentially weakening players. Even if it’s only by a few points, no one wants to let a more productive player go past them in the draft. Are Miles Austin owners happy with his 2010 production? They should be. But what about those owners who decided to take him ahead of Calvin Johnson? Yeah, they’re still happy. But maybe that difference in production lead to an additional lose or two. You want to have dead-on accuracy and to do so you’ll need to dissect comparisons at each position between top quality players. Who will be the more productive player at each position? Sadly, it takes about five months to find out after all bets are in. But decisions must be made at each position, and I’m happy to help you out.

Adrian Peterson or Chris Johnson?

As a Peterson owner, I can tell you that it is an amazing feeling to have such a consistent, highly productive running back on your roster. However, looking at Minnesota’s current situation sends shivers down my spine. Brett Favre isn’t coming back; we know that much. We also know that Joe Webb and Tarvaris Jackson are not the answer. We’re also unsure as to whether or not Sidney Rice will be back with the Vikings in 2011 since he’s a free agent. All three of those player personnel problems lead me to believe that the Vikings’ passing attack will not be a threat next season. Without the fear of a passing attack, opposing defenses will stack the box and try to take Peterson out of the game plan. We could still see Rice resign or Donovan McNabb move up north, but as of right now the situation is seemingly getting worse by the hour.

Johnson has proven that no matter if it’s Kerry Collins or Vince Young under center that he is able to produce at an extremely high level. It kills me to see these whiny owners who complain about Chris Johnson’s “down season.” Look at his stat line and tell me he had a down year. The biggest issue was when Rusty “what’s his face” (Smith) was on the field. Expectations were obviously unreasonable if owners are complaining about having a Top 10 fantasy producer at the position. More often than not, owners with such high expectations will be let down. Still, Johnson has breakaway speed and is used very often on the goal line. Not many running backs wear both hats for offenses, and Johnson is one of them.

As of right now, given what we know about the situation, I would be taking Johnson over Peterson in 2011. Both could be in for statistical improvements if their respective teams make moves to help them out. But Tennessee may be a solid quarterback away from having a well balanced offense with Kenny Britt and Johnson. Peterson may have already had that pass him by in 2009 with Favre and Rice.

Better value pick in 2011 – Chris Johnson

Calvin Johnson or Andre Johnson or Roddy White?

There is really no denying that these three receivers will be the big names on the board come August. All three have had spectacular seasons. Calvin Johnson is up over 1,000 yards with 12 touchdowns. Andre Johnson is up over 1,200 yards with eight touchdowns though he’s missed a game and has been playing with a high ankle sprain all season. White has been the definition of a consistent stud player with more than 1,200 yards and eight scores. All three are young players in the regards that none of them are on the downside of their career. All three are still in their 20s and have a lot of tread left on their tires.

Calvin Johnson is the most impressive in terms of his physical skills. Though he is the biggest, he also may be the fastest. Johnson’s unique blend of speed and size make him a big play threat, a yards after the catch threat, and perhaps the best red zone target in the NFL. The only downside to Johnson is his situation. How many years are we going to hear that things will be getting better in Detroit?

Every single season owners continue to bite on the Lions’ players and hope for a huge turnaround and it doesn’t happen. Matthew Stafford has one more chance to show everyone that he was worth the first overall selection overall in 2009. He’s very close to joining the ranks of Alex Smith, David Carr, Joey Harrington and Tim Couch in the quarterback bust department.

Johnson will be the hot topic player at the wide receiver position heading into 2011. I can already hear the “If Stafford stays healthy, can you imagine the production out of Johnson?” talks now. And while that is true, can you imagine the production out of Jerry Rice if he had played with Peyton Manning? It would have been amazing, right? But it didn’t happen and neither will Stafford playing an entire season. If Nate Burleson gets hurt, then Calvin Johnson will be double covered. If Jahvid Best gets hurt, the defense will slide coverage because they won’t fear the ground game or check down option. If Stafford gets hurt defenses will take Johnson out of the game and force the backup(s) to beat them with other receiving options. Johnson does offer the most reward for owners, but he is also by far the highest risk.

Situation is not an issue in the least for the other two, however. Though I would like to see Atlanta get some young playmakers in to help the offense out, the connection from Matt Ryan to Roddy White is already one of the best in the league. As Ryan matures as a quarterback in the NFL one should expect White’s contributions to either continue or even to increase. White is used as the big play receiver and as the red zone target. White may be just a little smaller than Calvin Johnson, but his situation is much more beneficial.

White was high on most people’s boards heading into this season and now he’ll be a Top 3 wide receiver no matter where you look for information. White has a very good surrounding cast but his biggest running mate up field is the aging and surprisingly underproductive Tony Gonzalez. Michael Turner provides a huge running game threat but he’s also a very large injury concern each season. If Turner were to get hurt and Gonzalez’s production didn’t see an uptick, teams could give White the “Calvin Johnson Triple Team Coverage Treatment” and force Ryan and Michael Jenkins to win games. But don’t forget, that stats are based on chances. The wide receiver needs the looks to turn into catches to turn into yards and scores. The 22 targets that White saw in the first game of the season shows just how much opportunity there is for him in Atlanta.

In regards to Andre Johnson, I feel as though he has the best situation of all three receivers. Yes, it’s true that Matt Schaub has had a down year, but he’s still got the ability to throw for 300 yards when the Houston Texans put the pedal to the floor. Anyone that watched the final quarter of the Texans and Baltimore Ravens matchup could see that when Schaub is on, that not even the highly regarded Baltimore defense can stop him.

Johnson also has more help on offense starting with 2010’s surprise player, Arian Foster. Foster provides a balance to the Texans’ offense that I think will ultimately benefit Johnson and Schaub. Not only does it take pressure off the passing game, but the presence of such a highly effective runner will sell the play action pass like never before in Houston. If Foster can get a cornerback or safety to bite and Johnson can slip behind the coverage, you could be looking at huge gains.

The Texans also have a solid No. 2 wide receiver in Jacoby Jones. If Owen Daniels can find his way onto the field he’ll also draw coverage away from Johnson. Johnson is in a great situation, like White, and has shown in the past that he is capable of overcoming offensive shortcomings, like Calvin Johnson. To me, Andre Johnson is almost a hybrid of the other two discussed wide receivers. Even in a worst case scenario, Andre Johnson should perform as a high No. 2 receiver.

You don’t want to miss on your first pick of the draft. You want something that you can build on. To me, Andre Johnson offers a very high ceiling and a moderate basement. By moderate basement I mean that even his low won’t be that low, comparatively. Calvin Johnson offers a higher ceiling but a much deeper basement. Roddy White offers relatively the same ceiling and basement as Andre Johnson but with a slightly less helpful supporting cast. I would agree that I’d rather have Ryan over Schaub, but the dropoff isn’t huge. We’re not talking like going from Tom Brady to Chad Henne. To me, I’d go Andre Johnson, then Roddy White and then Calvin Johnson. I think that all three are worthy of a Top 12 pick but that Andre Johnson is almost as consistent as Reggie Wayne in terms of production. Only Johnson is three years younger than Wayne.

Better value picks in 2011 –

1 – Andre Johnson

2 – Roddy White

3 – Calvin Johnson

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