2011 Breakout Players - WRs
By FBG Staff
August 24th, 2011

Every season, there are players that perform above expectations. Some of them far exceed their draft position, and those are the players the propel good fantasy teams into championship seasons. We asked the Footballguys.com staff to pick their 2011 Breakout Players, and here are their wide receivers:

Sigmund Bloom

Jacoby Ford, Oak - If a player breaks out on a mediocre team and no one is watching will fantasy players hear it? If you take Ford's second-half split in 2010, you'll get 1080 total yards and eight touchdowns - on only 54 touches (!). It might seem foolish to project out such explosive numbers, but important thing is to look at the touches, not the yards and touchdowns. The Raiders are sure to feature this force of nature in their passing game and otherwise give him a chance to impact every game he plays in. He'll often move to the slot and get a clean release to torch defenses deep on passing downs. The Raiders head coach, Hue Jackson, has talked about the need to get the ball in Ford's hands as much as possible numerous times this offseason. If Ford is anywhere near the level of play he was at last year, he'll be the steal of the draft at wide receiver.

Jene Bramel

Santonio Holmes, NYJ - Holmes proved himself an able featured receiver in Pittsburgh in 2009 with 80 catches (on 138 targets) and nearly 1250 yards. Mark Sanchez is more than good enough to get Holmes the ball all over the field, including the red zone. There's very reasonable 80-1300-10 potential in Holmes and it's available in the late fourth, early fifth round. He doesn't have Hakeem Nicks' 6'3", 215 lb frame but he is the most likely receiver (followed closely by Dez Bryant) to breakout as Nicks did last year.

Andrew Garda

Derrick Mason, NYJ - Mason is aging to be sure and in a new situation, but that doesn't mean he doesn't have value. While he is still getting accustomed to the Jets' offense and Quarterback Mark Sanchez, Mason has already proven himself a reliable option in the passing game. Most people shy away from him-after all he's behind Santonio Holmes and Plaxico Burress in the pecking order. However, Mason is a move-the-chains guy for the Jets and in his first preseason game with them, he had three catches for 21 yards. While Burress and Holmes rightfully will get a lot of attention, Sanchez will likely see Mason open on shorter routes. Yes, the yardage might be lacking a bit, but especially in a PPR league, Mason's fantasy points will be better than he's being rated right now. As the season progresses, don't be surprised when you look at his totals and find he's been a very reliable WR3 for you, even though you've drafted him as bench depth.

Jeff Haseley

Plaxico Burress, NYJ - I could be wrong here, but I would not be surprised to see Plaxico Burress pick up where he left off. He has the talent, we know this. He may be up there in age, however he doesn't have any nagging injury issues over the last few years. He's relatively fresh and healthy, with the exception of an ankle turn he suffered in camp/practice. The Jets have loaded up their weapons on the receiving end with Burress, Derrick Mason and the re-signing of Santonio Holmes. A strong offense means more scoring chances. More scoring chances equals more plays where Burress excels - the red zone. 50-60 catches and 6-8 TDs is a very real possibility this year. His draft stock will likely climb a little as the season draws near, however he is still very much an afterthought in the first 10 rounds.

Ryan Hester

Andre Roberts, Ari - When looking for great value after the double-digit rounds in drafts, picking talent above all and then hoping it rises to the top of depth chart can be a great strategy. Those who drafted Darren McFadden last season saw this pay off as McFadden was thought to be in a committee with Michael Bush before having his talent win out and receive the majority of carries. Roberts is a young receiver with speed to lift the top off opposing defenses while his competition at the position, Early Doucet, is heading into his 4th year in Arizona without ever fulfilling his full potential and showing the upside of a quality starting wide receiver. Those who draft Roberts will not be disappointed in having a starting receiver of an improving offense - not to mention someone that will never be double-teamed playing opposite Larry Fitzgerald.

Stephen Holloway

Greg Little, Cle - Greg Little (6'2.5", 230) is a powerful receiver who reminds many of Anquan Boldin (6'1", 215), except that he is bigger and possibly stronger. Little should be a perfect fit for the Brown's newly installed West Coast offense. Quite simply, the Browns lack quality receivers and he should be starting quickly. As soon as he has success gaining yards on short patterns, his number of opportunities will rise dramatically. His current ADP of WR 54 and 150 screams value if he gets the chance to start. The lackluster Cleveland receiving options also mirror those that Boldin had in his rookie season for Arizona. Little's expectations are being hindered by his landing spot in Cleveland, his senior year North Carolina suspension, and a prejudice based on his perceived attitude. Cleveland is actually a great spot for him and his attitude could also be viewed as a positive, so draft Little with a late pick and later celebrate his success as yours.

Dave Larkin

Lance Moore, NO - Lance Moore will be the primary beneficiary of Reggie Bush's departure from New Orleans. In the past, Bush would be the checkdown option in the passing game, but the Saints have transitioned to more of a downhill, punishing rush offense with Mark Ingram in the fold. Moore will feature as the primary option in the slot for Brees, where he will run smart routes and settle down in the weaknesses in zones to present a target for his quarterback. He is a very reliable receiving option who, when he had his career year in 2008 posted a 79 catch season and ten touchdowns, caught an impressive 70 per cent of his targets. There is no reason why Moore cannot reach this plateau again, and perhaps exceed it, in 2011.

Jeff Pasquino

Emmanuel Sanders, Pit - The Pittsburgh Steelers are no longer all about the ground game, and that has been the case ever since Ben Roethlisberger matured into a Super Bowl caliber quarterback. Hines Ward has been their go to wide receiver for years, but he is starting to show signs of finally slowing down. Mike Wallace is the clear WR1 for Pittsburgh, but Roethlisberger puts up big numbers - comparable to Drew Brees on a points per game basis - which is enough to keep two wide receivers in the Top 25. As Ward slows down, Sanders will pick up the slack and become the new starter on the other side of Wallace, a role he will be playing by season's end.

Jeff Tefertiller

Terrell Owens, FA - Yes the eccentric wide receiver is past his prime. Gone are the consecutive WR2 finishes. Plus, Owens is coming off an ACL surgery and is not under contract at this time. But, does he not have enough upside to easily surpass his WR62 ADP with a 16th round pick? Owens was WR15 in only fourteen games last year while sharing targets with Chad Ochocinco in Cincinnati. Another Top 20 result could be in the cards. Owens could emerge back to fantasy viability in 2011. Several teams could use his services and he should not have to wait much longer for a contract.

Matt Waldman

Nate Burleson, Det - If Matt Stafford is going to have a high-value season then it stands to reason that he'll have at least two 1000-yard receivers and a tight end capable of 600-800 yards of production. As good as Calvin Johnson is I don't think we're going to see a 2000-yard season from him. Also think Titus Young is still a season or two away from becoming an all-around weapon capable of 1000-plus receiving yards. Nate Burleson is a different story. Injuries have been his fantasy football calling card, but when healthy his route and after catch skills have been a value for quarterbacks. Burleson and Stafford appear to have a strong rapport in the red zone and I think we're going to see a lot opportunities go to the veteran because teams will be preoccupied with Johnson. Burleson is a player you can generally acquire after round 10, but I think he's going to account for 70-80 catches, 1100 yards, and 6-8 touchdowns.

Jason Wood

Mario Manningham, NYG - Few people realize that Mario Manningham was a Top 20 fantasy WR LAST YEAR, yet he was - in spite of only starting 8 games and sharing time with an All World Hakeem Nicks and a possession machine in Steve Smith. With Smith in Philadelphia, and Kevin Boss in Oakland, Eli Manning is going to have to rely on Nicks and Manningham enormously. Manningham has a well-rounded game and flourished last year once he got a chance to start. He attacks the ball and has become a much more precise route runner. I love Manningham's opportunity in 2011, and wouldn't be at all surprised to see him give the Giants a pair of 1,000-yard receivers.

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