Fantasy Football 2011: Top 10 Super Sophomore Stars

Professor BushCorrespondent IIIJanuary 8, 2012

Fantasy Football 2011: Top 10 Super Sophomore Stars

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    Rob Gronkowski of the New England Patriots tops the list of the 10 most productive second-year players in fantasy football this season.

    Nine of the players on the list are from teams that made the playoffs, which is a very telling piece of data. The New York Giants, Denver Broncos and Patriots each had two players on the list.

    Let's see which players avoided the sophomore jinx and put up great numbers this season.

10. Eric Decker, Denver Broncos

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    In his second year with the Broncos, Eric Decker scored nine touchdowns.

    Eight of those came on receptions and one came on a punt return.

    He started out the season well, but went without a touchdown in the last five games.

    The chemistry with Tim Tebow just wasn't there, and Decker's productivity fell considerably down the stretch.

9. Jason Pierre-Paul, New York Giants

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    The New York Giants' first-round pick in 2010 became a defensive force this year.

    Jason Pierre-Paul recorded 86 total tackles, including 16.5 sacks. 

    The sack total was fourth-best in the league.

8. Tim Tebow, Denver Broncos

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    The Denver Broncos drafted Tim Tebow out of Florida with their first-round pick in 2010.

    Tebow had a roller-coaster season this year.

    His quarterback ratings were dismal in some games, including the last two of the season.

    But his nose for the end zone made him a productive quarterback some weeks.

    He finished the season with 18 touchdowns, 12 passing and six rushing.

7. Aaron Hernandez, New England Patriots

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    The New England Patriots caused a stir when they drafted tight ends in both the second and fourth rounds in 2010.

    Well, they certainly knew what they were doing.

    Aaron Hernandez improved on a strong rookie performance last season.

    This year, he had 79 receptions for 910 yards and seven touchdowns.

6. Dez Bryant, Dallas Cowboys

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    Dez Bryant of the Dallas Cowboys also improved on a good rookie season.

    This year, he recorded 63 receptions for 928 yards and nine touchdowns. 

    Unfortunately for the Cowboys, he was held pretty much in check by the Eagles and the Giants in the last two games, as the team folded in December yet again.

5. Navorro Bowman, San Francisco 49ers

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    If you want to understand why the San Francisco 49ers defense was so good this year, just look at the two middle linebackers in their 3-4 defense.

    Navorro Bowman and Patrick Willis made it hard for any team to run the ball.

    Bowman was a gem of a find for the 49ers in the third round of the 2010 draft.

    This season he recorded 142 total tackles, which made him a very productive individual defensive player.

4. Antonio Brown, Pittsburgh Steelers

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    This one requires a little explanation.

    In the league that I run, we count return yardage.

    Antonio Brown had 1,062 return yards to go with his 1,108 reception yards.

    So while his touchdown total of only three was low, he was a consistent producer because he could rack up fantasy points in multiple ways.

    In my league, Brown was ranked No. 28 for total fantasy points produced.

3. Jimmy Graham, New Orleans Saints

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    In the year of the tight end, it is only appropriate that we have three on this list.

    Jimmy Graham had a great season for the New Orleans Saints.

    He had 99 receptions for 1,310 yards and 11 touchdowns.

    He continued his roll into the playoffs, with seven receptions and one touchdown in the Saints' win against the Detroit Lions.

2. Victor Cruz, New York Giants

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    Players such as Victor Cruz make you question all the time and money teams spend in preparing for the draft.

    Here is a guy who went undrafted and did not play football in a Division I college, yet in his second year he caught 82 passes for 1,536 yards and nine touchdowns.

    His 99-yard touchdown against the Jets turned the game completely around, saved the Giants' season and enabled them to advance to the playoffs.

1. Rob Gronkowski, New England Patriots

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    Rob Gronkowski, the first part of the New England Patriots' dynamic tight end tandem, had a sensational season.

    Gronkowski set two league records for tight ends this year—17 touchdown catches and 1,327 receiving yards.

    I am certainly glad that I am not a defensive back watching Gronkowki's 6'6" and 265-pound frame rumbling toward me in the open field.

    I think I might do one of those Asante Samuel "fake-tackle" moves to avoid getting crushed.