Arian Who? The 50 Biggest Offensive Surprises Of The 2010-2011 NFL Season
Seemingly in every NFL season there's always that handful of players who come out of nowhere and shock the sport with their weekly performances. However, in this 2010-2011 NFL season, there was much more than just a handful. A lot of these players names you probably hadn't heard until maybe Week 2 or Week 3. Others have had incredible, unexpected comebacks from injuries, trouble off the field, and other adversity.
These are the players that probably ended up buried in the waiver wire in your fantasy league, but after several weeks, caused feeding frenzies to be picked up. Here's the top 50 pleasant offensive surprises for this year.
50. Blair White, WR Indianapolis Colts
Season Stats: 36 Rec, 355 Rec Yds, five TD's
Sure, Blair White didn't have an exactly monumental season, but the rookie out of Michigan State came into Indy this year buried in the depth chart. However, thanks to a lot of injuries to receivers like Austin Collie and Anthony Gonzalez, White got a decent amount of targets by the end of the year. Blair White won't win any Offensive Rookie of the Year award for his season stats, but he ended up being a decent start in fantasy towards the end of the season.
49. Santana Moss, WR Washington Redskins
Season Stats: 93 Rec, 1,115 Rec Yds, six TD's
With the addition of Donovan McNabb to the Redskins, Moss was able to double his touchdown count, while also adding 23 receptions and over 200 receiving yards from last year. At the age of 31, a lot of fans didn't anticipate Moss to play very well this year, especially while adjusting to a new QB. Moss served as a great veteran to mix with guys like Anthony Armstrong and Chris Cooley in Washington's offense.
48. Charlie Whitehurst, QB, Seattle Seahawks
Season Stats: 6 GP, 2 GS, 507 Yds, two TD's, three INT's
It's true that Charlie Whitehurst's 2010-2011 performance was quite sub-par in the six games he actually took some snaps. However, he played better than anyone thought he was capable of, and managed to minimize mistakes, which is honestly all you can ask for out of your backup quarterback. To the surprise of many, when the Seahawks put Whitehurst on the field, fans didn't have to constantly hold their breath or close their eyes and turn away.
47. Anthony Armstrong, WR Washington Redskins
Season Stats: 15 G, 11 GS, 44 Rec, 871 Rec Yds, three TD's, 19.8 YPC
Anthony Armstrong is a lot like Blair White on this list. A rookie receiver buried deep in the depth chart, most people didn't really know his name. By the end of the year, Armstrong was picked up by a good amount of fantasy teams.
Armstrong is an explosive, quick player who can change the tempo of football games, as he finished third in the NFL this season in yards per catch with 19.8, only finishing behind DeSean Jackson and Mike Wallace. Pretty good company.
46. Mike Thomas, WR Jacksonville Jaguars
Season Stats: 11 GS, 66 Rec, 820 Rec Yds, four TD's
After Thomas's rookie year last season, his name clearly wasn't fan-household, only starting in four games. This season, he appeared on the fantasy roster of many teams especially after Week 10 when he caught a buzzer-beating Hail Mary pass from David Garrard, after being batted by a defender, to defeat the Texans. Thomas's numbers saw a great increase this year as opposed to last, getting seven more stars and he should complement the Jaguars passing offense even more next season.
45. Jimmy Graham, TE New Orleans Saints
Season Stats: five GS, 31 Rec, 356 Rec Yds, five TD's
Graham, a rookie out of The U, hardly played at all until the Saints bye week in Week 10. In the first nine games, Graham had eight receptions and only one touchdown. After the bye week, however, Graham was implemented much more in the Saints passing attack. In the last three weeks of the season, Graham had 11 catches, four of which were touchdowns.
With Jeremy Shockey's career slowing, Graham could be the future tight end for the Saints, and a very good one at that.
44. Jacoby Ford, WR Oakland Raiders
Season Stats: nine GS, 25 Rec, 470 Rec Yds, 18.8 YPC, two Rec TD's, three Return TD's
When you think of Jacoby Ford one word comes to mind: speed.
The rookie out of Clemson University managed to always spark the young Raiders offense when given the opportunity. Ford was tied with Johnny Knox for fifth in the NFL in yards per catch with 18.8. Also, he was tied for first in the NFL with Leon Washington for most kick return touchdowns. If the Raiders begin to utilize Ford more, he could end up on the radars of many defenses.
43. Colt McCoy, QB Cleveland Browns
Season Stats: eight GS, 1,576 Yds, six TD's, nine INT's, one Rush TD
Okay Cleveland, let's face it. The Jake Delhomme experiment didn't work out so well. Thanks to that crash and burn, Colt McCoy, the rookie and former Longhorn, was starting by Week 6. McCoy's stats aren't exactly dazzling, but, like Charlie Whitehurst, he did what a backup QB is supposed to do: minimize damage. Also, you have to keep in mind, the Browns are a heavy rushing team, and Peyton Hillis gets the ball constantly, especially in the red zone.
42. Jamaal Charles, RB Kansas City Chiefs
Season Stats: six GS, 1,467 Rush Yds, 6.4 YPC, five TD, 45 Rec, 468 Rec Yds, three TD
Jamaal Charles sits in this spot at No. 41 because his immense success this year wasn't exactly shocking. Although coming into the season behind Thomas Jones on the depth chart, Charles managed to notch 1,467 rushing yards and was a fraction of an inch away from breaking Jim Brown's yards per carry NFL record. Charles blazing speed which he earned from being a track-star at the University of Texas makes him the most explosive running back in the NFL. Watch out for Jamaal Charles when he gets the majority of carries for the Chiefs.
41. Deion Branch, WR New England Patriots
Season Stats: 12 GS, 61 Rec, 818 Rec Yds, six TDs, 13.4 YPC
Deion Branch was finally revived when he was reunited with Tom Brady. After a quiet tenure with the Seahawks, Branch arrived back in New England in Week 5, picking up where he had previously left off with Belichick and co. Finally this year Branch managed to stay healthy for the entire season, only missing one game. Although Branch's play with the Pats this year was very inconsistent, when he had big games, they were big games. Deion ended up playing a big role this year in the Patriots' success.
40. Chris Cooley, TE Washington Redskins
Season Stats: 77 Rec, 849 Rec Yds, three TD's
Last season, Chris Cooley missed his first NFL game. As a matter of fact, he missed the last nine games of the season after sustaining an ankle injury in Week 7. Cooley's performance upon returning this year was up in the air, especially after Washington ushered in Donovan McNabb as their new QB. However, Cooley had a career high in receiving yards and managed to supplement the Washington passing attack along with the likes of Anthony Armstrong and Santana Moss.
39. Mario Manningham, WR New York Giants
Season Stats: eight GS, 60 Rec, 944 Rec Yds, nine TD's
Mario started off his third NFL season pretty slowly, only recording 14 catches and one touchdown in the first fivegames. Manningham seemed to be living in the spotlight of his counterpart Hakeem Nicks at first, but once Nicks injured his leg, Mario was ignited. In the last three games of the season, Manningham had 16 catches, 346 rec yds, and four TD's. At only 24, Manningham could be a dangerous receiver in the league for many years to come.
38. Dwayne Bowe, WR Kansas City Chiefs
Season Stats: 72 Rec, 1,162 Rec Yds, 15 TD's
Although he was the league leader in touchdowns and seventh in receiving yards, Bowe sits at 38th on this list because his performance wasn't unpredictable. Nobody assumed Bowe would get into the end zone 15 times this year, especially while playing for Kansas City, but his play in 2007 and 2008 was solid and consistent, adding up to over 2,000 receiving yards. After establishing himself as Matt Cassel's go-to-guy, Dwayne Bowe won't be missing any radars in 2011-2012.
37. Aaron Hernandez, TE New England Patriots
Season Stats: 14 G, 7 GS, 45 Rec, 563 Rec Yds, six TD's
The rookie and former Gator, Hernandez, came into the season splitting time with fellow rookie from Arizona, Rob Gronkowski. Through the first half of the season, Aaron consistently was catching passes and notching a good chunk of yardage, but had no TD's to show for his effort. From Week 9 on, Hernandez really turned it up, catching all six of his touchdowns. Hernandez really found a way to build off of Gronkowski's success, and will be a dangerous tight end, especially when Tom Brady is throwing to him.
36. Jon Kitna, QB Dallas Cowboys
Season Stats: 10 G, nine GS, 65.7 Comp %, 16 TD's, 12 INT's, 2,365 Yds
It's pretty safe to say that nobody thought Jon Kitna would ever start another NFL game after he left the Lions in '08. In Week 7 versus the Giants on Monday Night Football, Tony Romo became the next quarterback to fall victim to the vicious New York defensive line.
After entering the game, Kitna threw for 187 yards, two touchdowns, and no interceptions, but still lost 35-41. Most Cowboys fans thought their season was finished. Jon Kitna didn't. He managed to put up good enough numbers to give the Cowboys a chance to win nearly every game. Kitna's teammates didn't give him a great deal of support, and America's team ended up finishing 4-5 with him starting behind center.
35. Knowshon Moreno, RB Denver Broncos
Season Stats: 13 G, 779 Rush Yds, 4.3 YPC, five Rush TD's, 37 Rec, 372 Rec Yds, three Rec TD's
Knowshon Moreno was an absolute beast at the University of Georgia. The big question was, could Moreno be a solid NFL running back in a Denver offense. Moreno's rookie season was slightly disappointing, only rushing for 3.8 yards per carry. To say the least, Moreno was a much less explosive Bronco than he was a Bulldog.
This year, Moreno only played in 13 games and was in the middle of an enigma situation at QB. However, despite all this, Moreno still rushed for 779 yards, five TD's and had 37 receptions. If Tim Tebow can figure out how to take control of this Denver offense, Moreno could return to his former Bulldog form.
34. Matt Cassel, QB Kansas City Chiefs
Season Stats: 27 TD's, seven INT's, 3,116 Yds, 93.0 QB Rating
Cassel's career as an NFL quarterback truly began when Tom Brady went down in Week 1 of the '08 season and was out for the year. Cassel had to fill in for one of the best QB's in football on one of the best teams in football, with one of the most demanding fan bases. To the surprise of many, Cassel played pretty well throwing 21 TD's and 11 INT's.
Following that season, he was released and then signed by Kansas City. Since then, he's proven to be the guy for the Chiefs. In '09 Cassel wasn't very good. In 15 starts he threw only 16 touchdowns and 2,924 yards with 16 interceptions. this year, Cassel managed to bump up his stats significantly. Some say he was a Pro Bowl snub, but he was surely one of the more surprising players this year.
33. Danny Woodhead, RB/WR New England Patriots
Season Stats: 15 G, three GS, 547 Rush Yds, 5.6 YPC, five Rush TD's, 34 Rec, 379 Rec Yds, one Rec TD
The 5'8" wonder, Woodhead, began the season as a Jet for Week 1, but he didn't see a single carry or a target. He then became a Patriot, and quickly made his presence felt. After, again, getting no carries or targets in Week 2 against his former team, Woodhead got three carries against the Bills in Week 3 and ran for 42 yards and a touchdown. Woodhead is a role player who simply makes offenses more explosive; a perfect fit for Tom Brady and Bill Belichick.
32. Danny Amendola, WR St. Louis Rams
Season Stats: six GS, 85 Rec, 689 Rec Yds, three TD's
Last season, in the Rams putrid offense, Danny Amendola didn't play a large role. He started two games with 43 receptions, one touchdown, and 326 receiving yards. This season, with Sam Bradford, things changed. Amendola finished eight in the NFL with 85 receptions behind guys with names like Reggie Wayne, Roddy White, Larry Fitzgerald, Brandon Marshall, Andre Johnson, etc. As Bradford and Amendola and the rest of the Rams organization matures, Danny will simply get better and better.
31. Johnny Knox, WR Chicago Bears
Season Stats: 51 Rec, 960 Rec Yds, five TD's, 18.8 YPC
Coming into this season, the receiving corps in Chicago was a complete mess. None of their receivers would have been a No. 1, or maybe even a No. 2 receiver on any other depth chart around the league. That is, until, Johnny Knox became the first bear receiver to step up and aid Jay Cutler.
Knox is a crafty wide-out with game-changing speed who upped his amount of receiving yards from last season by nearly 450 yards and also improved his YPC from 11.7 to 18.8 which put him at fifth in the NFL. Johnny doesn't have the hands of a true No. 1 receiver, but he still adds a whole new dimension to the Bears offense.
30. Mike Wallace, WR Pittsburgh Steelers
Season Stats: 60 Rec, 1,257 Rec Yds, 21.0 YPC, 10 TD's
The second-year player out of Ole Miss, Wallace is known for his blazing speed. He's up there in names with guys like Devin Hester and DeSean Jackson in terms of explosiveness and sheer quickness. Last season, Wallace only started four games. This year, he started all 16. Wallace increased his number of receptions this year from 39 to 60 and added over 500 receiving yards and four touchdowns. Wallace has the ability to aid Ben Roethlisberger and the Pittsburgh offense, and turn games upside down in a split second.
29. Josh Freeman, QB Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Season Stats: 3,451 Pass Yds, 25 TD's, six INT's, 61.4 Comp %, 364 Rush Yds
Josh Freeman was one of the most surprising players on the most surprising team in football this year. Due to the phenomenal coaching of Raheem Morris this season and the revitalization of a Tampa Bay offense, the Bucs improved their record of last season, 3-13, to 10-6 and were robbed of a playoff spot. Freeman proved that he's a tough quarterback. He's a big guy, at 6'6", 248 with a lot of poise. He can lead his teams in big games and also he has the ability to put his head down and hit guys and finished second in the NFL for rushing yards for a QB.
28. Jason Witten, TE Dallas Cowboys
Season Stats: 94 Rec, 1,002 Rec Yds, nine TD's
Jason Witten was the best tight end in football this year, plain and simple. Maybe coming into this season, he was predicted by some to be up towards the top at his position, so how could this be a surprise? Well, from Week 7 and on, he had Jon Kitna throwing to him. And shockingly enough, he played much better with Kitna than he did with Romo. In the last six games of the season, Witten had 34 receptions and six touchdowns. Jason Witten proved to the NFL this season that if he gets targets, he'll put up big numbers.
27. Tim Tebow, QB Denver Broncos
Season Stats: three GS, 654 Pass Yds, five Pass TD's, three INT's, 227 Rush Yds, six Rush TD's
At the beginning of this year, all odds were against Tim Tebow. Kyle Orton was looking at a career year and the doubters were all over the rookie out of Florida. At first, Tebow just started out as a wildcat player, taking direct snaps a couple of plays per game and getting decent yardage or possibly a touchdown or two. Then once the Broncos and Kyle Orton started to tank at the end of the year, the staff said "What the heck," and gave Tebow a try. He didn't disappoint. Tebow may not end up being a franchise QB for Denver, but he sure has shown the potential.
26. Ahmad Bradshaw, RB New York Giants
Season Stats: 11 GS, 1,235 Rush Yds, eight Rush TD's, 47 Rec, 314 Rec Yds
For the first three years of Bradshaw's career, he seemed to live in the shadow of Brandon Jacobs. This year, however, Bradshaw proved that he can be a No. 1 running back on any NFL team. For the first time in a while, the Giants proved to be one of the most powerful offenses in all of football, with a heavy dose of contributions from Bradshaw, the fourth year player out of Marshall. Next season, there should be no doubt in Bradshaw and he will likely put up even better numbers than those of this year.
25. Marcedes Lewis, TE Jacksonville Jaguars
Season Stats: 58 Rec, 700 Rec Yds, 10 TD's
With Maurice Jones-Drew in their backfield, the Jaguars aren't exactly known as a passing powerhouse. With nothing more and nothing less than a decent QB, David Garrard, the Jags usually rely heavily on MJD to establish their offense. Marcedes Lewis was able to change that for Jacksonville this year.
While last year Lewis only had 32 catches and two touchdowns, this year he caught 58 passes and averaged 12.1 yards per catch and scored 10 times, which was tied for first in the NFL with Rob Gronkowski and Antonio Gates.
24. Mike Goodson, RB Carolina Panthers
Season Stats: three GS, 452 Rush Yds, three Rush TD's, 40 Rec, 310 Rec Yds
Pure gold off the waivers for some fantasy owners, Mike Goodson got three starts in the middle of the season when Jonathan Stewart and DeAngelo Williams were both hurt. The former fourth-string running back was able to spark a horrid Carolina offense. Not only did Goodson make the most of his rushes, averaging 4.4 yards per carry, he also caught 40 passes for almost eight yards each. No one really knows where Mike Goodson's career is heading, but he showed he has the potential to be a large component in the rushing attack for most NFL offenses.
23. Ryan Fitzpatrick, QB Buffalo Bills
Season Stats: 13 GS, 23 TD's, 15 INT's, 3,000 Pass Yds, 269 Rush Yds
Coming into this season, it looked like another roller coaster ride for the Buffalo Bills, especially at the quarterback position. Trent Edwards proved he doesn't deserve to hold a football, and Brian Brohm? Let's not go there. But for a Bills QB, Fitzpatrick played like a god.
Fitzpatrick led the Bills to four wins when it looked as though they were unable to win any games. With Fitz at QB, the Bills had close losses to New England, Baltimore, Kansas City, Chicago, and Pittsburgh. It's unclear whether or not Fitzpatrick will stay as the Bills QB, but he played well enough to be given that opportunity.
22. Mike Tolbert, RB San Diego Chargers
Season Stats: four GS, 735 Rush Yds, 11 Rush TD's, 25 Rec, 216 Rec Yds
Coming into this season, it looked as though Ryan Mathews was undoubtedly the man in San Diego. He proved just the opposite early on in the season. So then the Chargers, with a deadly passing attack led by Philip Rivers, decided to try Mike Tolbert out. Tolbert had just one rushing touchdown last season, but this year no one could keep him out of the end zone. On just 182 season carries, Tolbert scored 11 times, proving he can be the No. 1 guy on the Chargers' depth chart.
21. Sam Bradford, QB St. Louis Rams
Season Stats: 18 Pass TD's, 15 INT's, 3,512 Pass Yds, 63 Rush Yds, one Rush TD
Coming into the Rams organization as the No. 1 overall draft pick, Sam Bradford and the Rams both seemed to be in a bad position. Bradford hadn't played an organized football game since Week 1 of the past college football season due to shoulder issues. Bradford was banged up and wasn't exactly durable. The Rams were awful. They finished the 2009 season at a putrid 1-15 record. Could Sam Bradford be the next JaMarcus Russell type bust? Nope.
Bradford led the Rams to a 7-9 record and nearly brought them to the playoffs via an NFC West Championship. Looks like the Rams finally found themselves a true QB.
20. Kenny Britt, WR Tennessee Titans
Season Stats: 12 G, seven GS, 42 Rec, 775 Rec Yds, nine Rec TD's, 18.5 YPC
Kenny Britt missed four full games of the season and a fifth, where he was injured during his first target of the game. It's a shame that Britt missed as many games as he did, because he was setting pace for big, big numbers.
Coming into the year, the Titans offense could be described by many in one word: Chris Johnson. Hot off a 2,000 yard rushing season, Johnson was looking to get the load of offensive work, leaving the passing game and receivers like Britt as an afterthought. However, when Kenny Britt had the ball thrown to him, he made the most of it. In Week 7 against the Eagles, Britt had three receiving TD's, seven receptions, and 225 receiving yards. Britt's only 22 and could be a dangerous NFL receiver for a very long time.
19. Mike Williams, WR Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Season Stats: 65 Rec, 964 Rec Yds, 11 TD's, 14.8 YPC
During their 3-13 season in 2009, the Bucs didn't have a lot of decent receivers to come to the aid of rookie QB Josh Freeman. To solve this problem, they drafted Mike Williams out of Syracuse. Williams worked hard in the pre-season to earn his spot on the depth chart at wide-out. The 23-year-old showed on the field that he was well-worth Tampa bay's draft pick.
Williams tied for third in the NFL with 11 touchdown catches, finishing among names like Dwayne Bowe, Calvin Johnson, Greg Jennings, Brandon Lloyd, etc. When the young Bucs mature even more, watch out for their new, deadly offense.
18. Terrell Owens, WR Cincinnati Bengals
Season Stats: 14 G, 11 GS, 72 Rec, 983 Rec Yds, nine Rec TD's, 13.7 YPC
When the Bengals brought in T.O. at the ripe age of 37, most people thought Cincinnati was playing with fire. Putting Owens, one of the biggest trouble-makers in the NFL on and off the field, with an equal counterpart, Chad Ochocinco, seemed like an absolutely horrible idea. While the Bengals didn't nearly live up to their season expectations, Terrell Owens soared beyond his. Starting in only 11 games and playing in only 13 full ones, Owens caught nine touchdown passes out of 72 total receptions, meanwhile notching 983 receiving yards. T.O. proved to the NFL that his career isn't over just yet.
17. Austin Collie, WR Indianapolis Colts
Season Stats: nine G, six GS, 58 Rec, 649 Rec Yds, eight Rec TD's
Unfortunately for the second year player out of BYU, he couldn't avoid enormous, scary hits this season. Collie had several concussions that limited him to only about seven full games this year. Collie's final numbers are only slightly better than those of his rookie year, so how is he a surprise?
Well since he only played around seven or eight entire games you can double his stats to come up with over 100 receptions, 1300 receiving yards and 16 receiving touchdowns. Those numbers would put him in the top five for each category.
Peyton Manning has really helped Collie evolve into an elite receiver, and if he can stay healthy, he could have a humongous year in 2011.
16. Ryan Torain, RB Washington Redskins
Season Stats: 10 G, eight GS, 742 Rush Yds, four Rush TD's, 4.5 YPC, 18 Rec, 125 Rec Yds, two Rec TD's
In the pre-season, the Redskins backfield looked like a mess of washed up running backs between Clinton Portis, Willie Parker, and Larry Johnson. After getting rid of both Parker and Johnson, Clinton Portis was given the No. 1 spot in Washington again. The once explosive back proved that history repeats itself, as he was injured early in the year, again.
Torain was given the rushing responsibilities, and in only eight starts, he ran for 742 yards, averaging four and a half yards per carry. While the Redskins' performance this year was summarized with the poor play of Donovan McNabb, Torain was truly a bright spot in their offense.
15. Jacob Tamme, TE Indianapolis Colts
Season Stats: eight GS, 67 Rec, 631 Rec Yds, four Rec TD's
To all football fans, prior to this season, Dallas Clark was the only known tight end catching passes from Peyton Manning, and Dallas Clark was great at it. When Dallas Clark went down, people assumed the tight end position was as good as gone in the Colts pass attack when Jacob Tamme took Clark's role.
Jacob Tamme was able to prove them wrong by catching 67 passes in eight starts adding a stable receiver in the Colts' offense where Manning loves to spread the ball around. Unfortunately for Tamme, he's still going to be behind Clark in the depth chart next season, but the Colts could start running more two tight end sets in order to get Tamme more involved in the offense.
14. Rob Gronkowski, TE New England Patriots
Season Stats: 11 GS, 42 Rec, 546 Rec Yds, 13.0 YPC, 10 Rec TD's
Gronkowski, the rookie out of Arizona, played as a perfect partner to fellow rookie tight end, Aaron Hernandez. Hernandez is 6'1" and quick on his feet, Gronk is 6'6", 265 and an absolute truck. Hernandez and Gronkowski always seemed to be able to play better off of the other's success. Hernandez would have a big game, then Gronk would have a big game and so on and so forth. Towards the end of the season, Rob proved to be one of Brady's favorite targets, especially in the red zone, catching 10 touchdowns.
With their young, two-headed monster, the Patriots seem to be in one of, if not, the best tight end situation in football.
13. LeSean McCoy, RB Philadelphia Eagles
Season Stats: 15 G, 13 GS, 1,080 Rush Yds, 5.2 YPC, seven Rush TD's, 78 Rec, 592 Rec Yds, two Rec TD's
Once the Brian Westbrook saga ended in Philly, there was a big question mark in the backfield. As a rookie last year, LeSean McCoy started four games and ran for a sub-par 4.1 yards for each carry. Would he really be able to lead the rushing attack for the Eagles on his own?
McCoy answered this question early in the season in Week 2 when he ran for 120 yards on 16 carries and also scored three times. Shady McCoy really pulled his own weight in the Eagles offense this season and was one of the key components to possibly the strongest offensive attack in the NFL.
12. Chris Ivory, RB New Orleans Saints
Season Stats: 12 G, four GS, 716 Rush Yds, 5.2 YPC, five Rush TD's
Before the injury plague struck the defending champion New Orleans Saints' offense, the only real rushing threats were Pierre Thomas and Reggie Bush. Once given the opportunity, Ivory proved that next year he deserves many more carries.
Ivory sparked the Saints' offense with his speed and elusiveness and scored five times in only four starts, while rushing for 716 yards. With Reggie Bush proving to be an enormous bust and Pierre Thomas showing he isn't the most durable back in the NFL, Ivory should be able to show off his talents even more next season.
11. LaDainian Tomlinson, RB New York Jets
Season Stats: 13 GS, 914 Rush Yds, six Rush TD's, 52 Rec, 368 Rec Yds
Entering this season, Shonn Greene had high expectations to carry the Jets entire rushing offense. Once New York found out Greene couldn't exactly live up to such expectations, they brought in the wily vet, LT.
After leaving San Diego, many people assumed Tomlinson's career was finished. Tomlinson proved all the nonbelievers wrong and was the key to the Jets' offensive success in 2010-2011. Tomlinson still has the ability to change an entire game in one play and still needs to be seen as a threat by any defense lining up against him.
10. Darren McFadden, RB Oakland Raiders
Season Stats: 13 G, 1,157 Rush Yds, 5.2 YPC, seven Rush TD's, 47 Rec, 507 Rec Yds, three Rec TD's
In his first two NFL seasons, the rookie from Arkansas worried Raider Nation that he could end up as a draft bust. This year, McFadden was able to rid anyone of any bust thoughts with the insane numbers he put up.
He ran the ball for nearly 1,200 yards in only 13 games. Also, he helped aid the poor passing offense by catching 47 passes and averaging 10.8 yards for every catch. McFadden was the essentially the No. 1 reason that the Raiders contended for an AFC West Championship this year. At the age of 23, McFadden has many more seasons like 2010 in his tank.
9. LeGarrette Blount, RB Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Season Stats: 13 G, seven GS, 1,007 Rush Yds, 5.0 YPC, six Rush TD's
When Blount began his final college season at the University of Oregon by getting suspended for nearly the entire year for punching a Boise St. linebacker in the face, it seemed that his career wasn't headed in a great direction. Although he was extremely talented, it seemed that after his temper display, he was completely forgotten about. But the 6'0", 247 lb running back showcased his abilities this year for the Bucs.
Blount has incredible strength to throw defenders off of him, but also he completely hurdled several tacklers this year. Blount has an uncanny amount of sheer talent and will likely be a centerpiece in Tampa Bay's offense in the near future.
8. Ben-Jarvus Green-Ellis, RB New England Patriots
Season Stats: 11 GS, 1,008 Rush Yds, 13 Rush TD's
Ben-Jarvus Green-Ellis became the first Patriot to revive their rushing offense since Corey Dillon in 2005. Thanks to BJGE, Brady finally wasn't on his own leading his men into battle on offense. Green-Ellis didn't start a single game last season, his second year out of Ole Miss, and didn't reach the end zone. This year, Green-Ellis tied for second in the NFL with Rashard Mendenhall with 13 scores. Green-Ellis helps add a whole new dimension to the New England offense and played a major role in their success this year.
7. Steve Johnson, WR Buffalo Bills
Season Stats: 13 GS, 82 Rec, 1,073 Rec, 13.1 YPC, 13 TD's
No Buffalo Bills players were supposed to do anything special this season. Anything at all. Johnson is a 24-year-old out of the University of Kentucky who played his third NFL season this year. In his first two seasons, Johnson combined for one start, 12 receptions, and 112 receiving yards.
Johnson shattered those numbers finishing 10th in the NFL in receptions, despite only starting 13 games. Despite some bad drops he had this year, Johnson was one of the best young receivers this year and is looking at a very bright future ahead of him.
6. Hakeem Nicks, WR New York Giants
Season Stats: 13 G, 12 GS, 79 Rec, 1,052 Rec Yds, 13.3 YPC, 11 TD's
In his rookie year, fresh out of UNC, Nicks put up some pretty solid numbers. He posted 47 catches, 790 receiving yards, and six touchdowns. This year, he destroyed those numbers while only playing three quarters of the season. Nicks was able to establish himself as the first No. 1 receiver in New York's passing attack since Plaxico Burress. Nicks was the key component in evolving the Giants' offense into one of the best in the NFL. Nicks is only 23 and will only see his success increase as the years go by.
5. Peyton Hillis, RB Cleveland Browns
Season Stats: 14 GS, 1,177 Rush Yds, 4.4 YPC, 11 Rush TD's, 61 Rec, 477 Rec Yds, two Rec TD's
Peyton Hillis, who played fullback at Arkansas alongside Darren McFadden, spent his first two NFL seasons as a Denver Bronco. In two years there he had 81 carries for 397 yards and also caught 18 passes. Then Denver got rid of him, and Hillis became a Brown. Hillis really showed Denver what they missed out on this season.
There was nothing that Hillis didn't do for the Browns offense this year, touching the ball 331 times for Cleveland this season in 14 games started. At only 24, Peyton will be one of the top running backs in the NFL for years to come.
4. Mike Williams, WR Seattle Seahawks
Season Stats: 14 G, 13 GS, 65 Rec, 751 Rec Yds, two Rec TD's
Mike Williams's stats this season weren't incredible, but his story was. Drafted by the Detroit Lions in 2005 out of USC, Williams only caught 29 passes his rookie year. His next year, he only played eight games and caught eight passes.
In '07 he played for both the Raiders and Titans and combined for seven receptions. Williams was seemingly one of the biggest busts at the wide receiver position in NFL history.
This year, at the age of 27, Williams came back to show the NFL that in no way was he a bust. This season, Williams had 21 more catches than he recorded in his first three seasons in the league. Hopefully, Williams will continue posting stats like those of this season, and will only become better and better.
3. Brandon Lloyd, WR Denver Broncos
Season Stats: 11 GS, 77 Rec, 1,448 Rec Yds, 18.8 YPC, 11 TD's
At the start of this season, Brandon Lloyd was nothing more than a seven-year veteran who never was able to live up to his potential. In his first six seasons, he played for the Redskins, 49ers, and Bears. In these six seasons he only combined for 156 receptions and 15 touchdowns.
Last year, he played two games for Denver and that was it, only catching seven passes. Lloyd almost matched his career number of touchdowns in just this season with Denver finishing in the top five in receiving touchdowns among the league. Also, Lloyd was 15th in receptions, fifth in yards per catch, and No. 1 in receiving yards.
When asked what he had to say to his former teams who didn't believe in him, Lloyd used a colorful, statement of just two words, and rightfully so.
2. Michael Vick, QB Philadelphia Eagles
Season Stats: 12 G, 21 Pass TD's, six INT's, 3,018 Pass Yds, 100.2 QB Rt, 676 Rush Yds, nine Rush TD's
Everyone knows Michael Vick's story. Beginning his career in 2001 as an Atlanta Falcon, Vick was a speedy, crafty QB who was great on his feet, but lacked an accurate arm and good a head on his shoulders. After being suspended entirely from the NFL for dogfighting, Vick spent 23 months in prison. Finally, in 2009 he returned, but in the shadow of Donovan McNabb and Kevin Kolb.
This year, when Kolb went down in Week 1, Vick showed the NFL he was back, as a better quarterback and a better person. Vick set a career high in touchdown passes, passing yards, and rushing touchdowns. Michael Vick is 30 and still has a lot of seasons to spend in the NFL, to prove his character as a player and as a person.
1. Arian Foster, RB Houston Texans
Season Stats: 13 GS, 1,616 Rush Yds, 4.9 YPC, 16 Rush TD's, 66 Rec, 604 Rec Yds, two Rec TD's
For nearly their entire tenure as an NFL team, if you heard Houston Texans, you would think of Andre Johnson. Johnson is known as one of the top receivers in the game, and the Houston offense was truly only known for its passing. This year, Arian Foster changed all of that.
When running back Ben Tate went down for the entire year during the pre-season, Foster was given the undisputed No. 1 RB spot on the depth chart. Foster proved worthy. In Week 1 against the Colts, in just his second career start, Arian ran for 231 yards on 31 carries with three touchdowns. By the end of the year, Foster was first in the NFL in rushing yards, rushing touchdowns, and receiving yards for a running back. Foster also finished second in receptions for an RB and proved to be the best running back in the NFL of 2010 at 24 years old.
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