Faceoff: WR Most Likely To Rebound
Clayton Gray: Every year, there are players that bounce back after a single poor season. Which normally good wide receiver is most likely to rebound in 2011?
Jason Wood: Is it cheating to say Sidney Rice or the Giants Steve Smith, who were injured last year? If that's not the angle you're looking for, I would look to either Chad Ochocinco or Steve Smith from the Panthers. I think both can get right back to elite productivity, and unlike some of the other veteran WRs on the market (e.g., TO, Moss, Burress), both Smith and Ochocinco are likely to land jobs as clear cut starters on their new teams.
Mark Wimer: Wes Welker (while not faring too poorly during 2010, with 86/848/7 - 18th-ranked WR in PPR leagues) is a guy I can see climbing back into the top ten at his position this year. The Patriots spent draft picks on their offense for running backs, offensive linemen and a developmental QB (Ryan Mallett) during the 2011 draft, but ignored the WR position entirely. With Deion Branch and Brandon Tate the guys currently behind Welker on the depth chart, I think it is very possible for him to get back over 100 receptions and 1,000 yards receiving during 2011. He'll have put more than a year and a half between his catastrophic knee injury and the start of the 2011 season (Welker tore his MCL and ACL in his left knee and was placed on injured reserve on January 6, 2010 after a week 17 injury) - many players have indicated that they really return to top form only after at least one year of rehabilitation from such an injury.
Jeff Pasquino: No one really thought that Larry Fitzgerald had a strong season last year despite finishing as a WR1 in PPR and a WR2 in non-PPR, so count me in as a the first to vote for Fitzgerald to rebound and get back in Top 10 WR status (if not higher). I still believe that Kevin Kolb will be throwing to him for 16 contests this year, a huge improvement at QB for the Cardinals that should get Fitzgerald closer to his Top 5 status from 2007-2009.
Aside from Fitzgerald, the name I like to get back up in the Top 20-24 wideouts is Santonio Holmes. Holmes finished as a solid WR3 last year but he missed the first four games of 2010 due to a suspension. On a per-game basis, he's much higher and he is the top re-sign priority for the Jets. I expect Holmes to be the WR1 for the Jets this year and get back on the Top 20 fantasy wide receiver list.
Sigmund Bloom: How about coming off of two bad seasons? Lee Evans production dropped of a cliff in 2009, although he was still able to muster seven TDs. In 2010, his catches, yards and TD all went down from already paltry levels, at least in part due to the emergence of Steve Johnson and an ankle injury that shortened his season when it landed him on injured reserve. Evans numbers and game could round back into prime form this year. The emergence of Johnson will finally draw attention away from Evans, who is still playing on a level far above what his numbers would indicate. Both head coach Chan Gailey and QB Ryan Fitzpatrick have expressed a desire to get Evans more involved this year: "I'm looking to get (Evans) way more involved in the offense," Fitzpatrick said. "Some of the attention will go off him and he won't see the constant double-team."
Gailey said the team was planning to expand Evans role one-dimensional deep threat to include more short and intermediate routes.
Evans is going to be available in the 12th round or even later in most drafts. With the possible reward he has demonstrated in the past, and the minimal risk of using such a late pick, Evans is a player that will be on all of my rosters this year.
Andrew Garda: I think we should keep an eye on Anquan Boldin - I don't expect monster numbers, but I believe if they can get Torrey Smith involved in an effective manner, it will pull the coverage off Boldin. It wasn't that he played badly last year so much as he was covered heavily.
Nate Burleson could have a big year if Stafford can stay healthy and the offense takes off the way I think it will. It was a 'meh' year for him last season and he should perform much better in 2011.
He fits better as a WR2 and while he's nowhere near the threat Calvin Johnson is, he can be effective in the lighter coverage he will find if CJ gets the ball consistently.
Matt Waldman: What about Austin Collie?
People are really freaked out that his career has one foot in the grave after three concussions last year. I'm not nearly that pessimistic. Collie had 58 catches, 649 yards, and 8 TDs in 9 games last year. At least three of those games he missed a significant portion of time. Collie wasn't an injury risk in college and he was fine as a rookie when he had 60 catches, 676 yards, and 7 TDs in 16 games.
I think Collie can be a more productive player than Wes Welker at the top of his game. Look for 1100-1300 yards, 80-90 receptions, and 10-12 scores this year. He might be my draft at all costs player if his ADP is in the range I bet it will be.