Predicting How 2011 WR Performances Will Translate to 2012 NFL Season

Chet GreshamFeatured ColumnistJune 8, 2012

Antonio Brown, Pittsburgh Steelers
Antonio Brown, Pittsburgh SteelersJared Wickerham/Getty Images

Last week, I evaluated the quarterbacks' stats for the first eight games and second eight games and then made wild statements of prophetic factishness. So today, I'll take a look-see at the wide receivers and do something similar, if it's OK with you. OK, good.

Antonio Brown

After Mike Wallace got off to a hot start, averaging 100 yards a game in the first half, it was Antonio Brown's turn in the second half. He averaged just 53.9 yards a game in the first half and then 84.6 in the second half. That came with similar targets and receptions, so of course his per catch average skyrocketed from 12.7 to 19.3.

With those kind of per catch numbers, it's amazing that he only got into the end zone one time in the second half. That had a lot to do with luck, so I am all on board with Brown this season to up his receiving totals but to really get those touchdowns into a normal realm.

Percy Harvin

OK, I don't think I've written an article this year that didn't have Percy Harvin in it. This guy is primed for a breakout season after breaking out in the second half last season. He went up in every category in the second half and is definitely the second-half player more than the first-half player.

Wes Welker

Dubya Dubya was unstoppable in the first half of the season. His 120 yards receiving per game beat out Calvin Johnson, Mike Wallace's and Steve Smith. He even found the end zone six times, which is not his forte. His second half was great for the normal people (or as I like to call them, normys), but he did drop off to 76.1 yards per game and three touchdowns in the second half, with slighter drops in the other categories.

With the addition of Brandon Lloyd, touchdowns will be tougher for Welker to come by, but it's hard not to give Welker his 100-plus receptions. I'll be happier with him in PPR than redraft, as usual.

WR Splits
WR Splits

Marques Colston

Colston was quickly injured to start off the season but came back like a bat out of Hades. He caught 76.2 percent of all the passes directed at him, which led all receivers with 50 receptions or more. He also went from 70.7 yards to 89.9 yards a game.

Before the season, many, including myself, were worried about his knees. He seemed to be fine, and thankfully, speed isn't his game. His ability to bring in anything near him and Drew Brees' accuracy make for a beautiful combo.

Steve Smith

Smith went from 114.8 yards a game in the first half to a paltry 59.5 yards in the second. Now that is a decline. Actually, it was the biggest decline in the league. Teams seemed to catch on to the fact that Cam Newton was not just a set of legs to gawk at; he had an arm too!

So does his decline spill over into this season? Why are you asking me?! Oh, right. Well, I don't think he will average 59.5 yards a game all of next season. Newton and defenses facing him got all tangled up in the learning curve.

I see Newton learning from how teams adjusted to him in the second half. He won't be able to catch them off guard like last season, but he will know his reads better. So I see Smith plopping down somewhere in the middle of his two halves from last season. 

Michael Crabtree

Mr. Crabs is a tough player to predict this season. We saw a marked improvement as the season went on last year in every category. The main problem is the offense just hasn't been that fantasy friendly to receivers. I still think he has the ability to be a strong No. 2 receiver, and if Alex Smith can take another step forward this season, he could be fantasy relevant.

WR Splits
WR Splits

Greg Little

Little's numbers are so little it's hard to really count them as real numbers. If I was a mathmagician, I would start working in imaginary numbers, and maybe Little would beat Calvin Johnson by a batrillion, but I digress.

Little's targets and receptions stayed consistent throughout the season, but his yardage and yardage per reception increased. Pro Football Focus has him as the league leader in missed tackles with 17, which may have something to do with the increase. But any way you look at it, he did get better at his job as the season progressed, if only by a bit.

So take that slight bit of hope and combine it with a stronger armed quarterback in the name of Brandon Weeden (Joss' brother from another father, but with an "h" replacing the "e"?) and then collect your fake football points in a bucket.

Larry Fitzgerald

Fitzgerald's first- and second-half splits are as follows 80.8 yards/95.6 yards, 8.8 targets/10.5 targets, three TDs/fiveTDs and 9.9 fantasy points/12.8 fantasy points. Those splits aren't huge, but he did improve enough that I want John Skelton throwing him the ball since Big John was the Cardinals' quarterback in the second half.

All stats courtesy of KFFL and ADP courtesy of Fantasy Football Calculator