Top 10 NFL Pass Catchers on The Rise
Every year there are players who jump out of nowhere to become legitimate pass catching threats in the NFL. Guys like Andre Johnson, Larry Fitzgerald and Steve Smith find themselves outside the top 10 in the NFL when it comes to receiving yards.
Here is a look at the top 10 players that no one expected much from through the first three weeks of the 2010 season.
Here's a hint: not all of them are receivers.
While many fantasy gurus expected Mike Wallace to be an asset to teams in deeper leagues, not much was expected from Pittsburgh's passing game. Through the first three games, he is averaging 27 yards per catch and scored twice last week against Tampa Bay.
Wallace has become a major deep threat for Pittsburgh; expect big numbers for the second-year player going forward.
Jabar Gaffney only started seven games in 2009 for the Broncos but still managed 54 receptions. This year, he has amassed 17 receptions through the first three games of the season, which puts him on pace for 90 on the year, though 12 of his receptions came last week against Indianapolis.
With Brandon Marshall gone and Kyle Orton off to a great start, expect Gaffney to remain solid from here on out.
A few years ago, no one would have been surprised if Williams was in the conversation as one of the top receivers in the NFL. But since Jerry Jones traded for Williams, he has yet to live up to his expectations in his home state.
It was only one game, but last week against the Texans (5 rec., 117 yds, 2 TDs) could have been the breakout performance the Cowboys have been looking for.
With a plethora of weapons on the outside, defenses will have a hard time keying on one receiver to stop Dallas' passing game. Don't be surprised if Tony Romo is able to connect with Williams more consistently going forward.
Not many rookie tight ends can be productive right away in the NFL. It could just be the system, but Aaron Hernandez has caught six balls in each of the last two games. With Wes Welker still 100 percent, the Patriots have looked to other receiving options in the middle of the field.
Hernandez has the ability to become the best tight end Tom Brady has ever thrown to. Speaking of young tight ends...
Dustin Keller's last two games have been very productive. In those games, he has caught 13 passes for 213 yards and three touchdowns.
With the "Sanchize" improving every week, expect Keller to get a lot of looks down the middle of field while defenses try to take away the Jets running game.
The Baltimore Ravens decided they didn't need Mark Clayton after coming up on T.J.Houshmandzadeh. But one man's trash was another man's treasure in the case of Clayton.
Clayton has already become a favorite of rookie QB Sam Bradford and already has caught half the number of balls (17) as he did in 2009 . If Bradford continues to develop, Clayton would be the most likely beneficiary.
Louis Murphy has been pretty consistent early on in an offense in flux. In his first three games he managed to snag four, six, and five catches respectively. In his last two games he's averaged he's averaged 105 yards receiving.
If the Raiders continue to be productive on the ground with Darren McFadden, expect solid numbers for Murphy and the rest of the passing game to come.
With Steve Smith and Hakeem Nicks on the same unit, not many would have thought that Mario Manningham would be leading the Giants in receiving yards.
The former Wolverine has been consistent in the first three games of 2010 by posting 85, 75 and 78 yards in each game respectively. His six plays of 20 plus yards is tied for second in the NFL.
Brandon Lloyd being the second Bronco on the list is a testament to what Josh McDaniels and Kyle Orton have been doing on offense so far. After making stops in San Francisco, Washington, and Chicago, Lloyd is off to far and away the best start of his career in his second season as a Bronco.
He's averaging 24 yards per catch and is second in the NFL in receiving yards. If the Broncos offense finds a similar stride under McDaniels as his offense did in New England, Lloyd could have an outstanding season.
He may have gotten lucky and fallen right into the perfect system, but second-year player Austin Collie is leading the NFL in receptions (27), receiving yards (359) and touchdowns (4). He's also tied for second in the NFL with six plays of 20 yards or more.
With Pierre Garcon dealing with injuries, expect Collie to have continued success opposite Reggie Wayne. No one expected Collie to lead the NFL in all major receiving categories which is why he tops this list.