For the third installment of our "Way Too Early" 2011 college fantasy football player rankings, we turn our attention to the wide receiver position.
Remember, we're calling them "Way Too Early" rankings for a reason. It's just a first glance at the 2011 prospects. A gut feel. We haven't fully analyzed returning o-lineman for each school. We haven't yet plugged in the incoming stud recruits (signing day is February 2nd). We didn't account for all of the new coaching changes. And we haven't taken a peek at the upcoming fall schedules. All of that will come with due time.
Here's the schedule of rankings by position:
Friday, January 21 - Quarterbacks
Monday, January 24 - Running Backs
Tuesday, January 27 - Wide Receivers
Wednesday, January 27 - Tight Ends & Kickers
We're going to pass on defensive rankings until later this spring. So, without further adieu, let's dive into the wide receivers!
"Way Too Early" 2011 Wide Receiver Rankings
Wide receivers are typically the most difficult position to analyze at this early stage of the game. Lots of moving parts. We're fortunate that the 2011 fantasy wideout class actually has some pretty big names (surprisingly) returning to campus in Oklahoma's Ryan Broyles, Oklahoma State's Justin Blackmon and Notre Dame's Michael Floyd. Most considered that trio to be pro-bound.
Proven fantasy studs Alshon Jeffrey (South Carolina) and Juron Criner (Arizona) are also back in the fold. And most importantly, their quarterbacks also return.
A new name to add to the Top 5 mix is East Carolina's Lance Lewis. With teammate Dwayne Harris departing, Lewis could improve upon last fall's outstanding 89-1,116-14 stat line as he becomes the go-to guy for QB Dominique Davis.
Like your wideouts to take handoffs and return kicks? Then Tulsa's Damaris Johnson is right up your alley. This multi-faceted playmaker accounted for 112 touches, 1,432 yards from scrimmage, and 13 total touchdowns last fall.
Some WR questions to chew on:
Will Western Michigan's Jordan White get a sixth year of eligibility from the NCAA? If so, he's a sure-fire Top 10 fantasy prospect.
After a dynamite start to the year (11 TDs in his first eight games), Texas A&M's Jeff Fuller fell off the face of the earth (1 TD in his final five outings). Fuller was banged up in early November, and most think this was the reason for his late season swoon.
What is the ceiling for West Virginia's Tavon Austin? New offensive coordinator Dana Holgorsen arrived on campus this winter, and he brings his high-flying passing schemes along with him. If Holgorsen decides to feature Austin in the passing game (he could also opt to play him at RB), look for a huge increase in his already-impressive numbers (900 total yards, 9 TDs in 2010).
Over at SMU, how does Aldrick Robinson's departure factor into Cole Beasley and Darius Johnson's on-the-field production? The two combined for 165 catches, 1,900+ receiving yards and 12 scores with Aldrick in the lineup.
Who's left on the island? Hawaii's Royce Pollard is the leading returning receiver for the Rainbow Warriors (64-901-7). Who else will step up to fill the void left by the departure of Greg Salas and Kealoha Pilares? Redshirt Darius Bright and Billy Ray Stutzmann seem to be in line for possible starting gigs as well.
Will Oregon State's James Rodgers return to pre-injury form in 2011? He injured his left knee early in the 2010 season and was granted a medical hardship by the NCAA.
Can Brady Hoke turn Ray Roundtree into the next Vincent Brown? Roundtree put up nice stats last fall (92-935-7). Hoke had a pair of great wideouts at San Diego State in Vincent Brown and Demarco Sampson. The duo combined for 2,572 receiving yards and 18 TDs last fall.
What the heck are we to make of the Rutgers receiving corps? It's one of the more puzzling situations to monitor this spring. Mohamed Sanu was solid at times last fall, but did not live to the preseason hype. One of the reasons for Sanu's downfall was the emergence of Jeremy Deering (who took over the Wildcat package midway through the year) and Mark Harrison. All three Scarlet Knights return and it's anyone's guess at this point as to how they will be utilized.
Don't sleep on Stanford's Chris Owusu. He slogged through an injury-plagued 2010 campaign that left a bad taste in many-a-fantasy-owner's mouth. But with Andrew Luck back and WRs Ryan Whalen and Doug Baldwin departing, the door is opened for Owusu to have a productive season—if he can stay healthy, of course.
How will Missouri's T.J. Moe and Washington's Jermaine Kearse produce with rookie quarterbacks at the helm?
It's a question we seem to be asking every year at this time: who will emerge as the go-to receivers for Texas Tech? Alexander Torres would seem to be the best bet at this point. Keep a close eye on spring ball to see if anyone else can make a splash.
James Cleveland and Kierre Johnson are gone down in Houston, leaving Patrick Edwards and Tyron Carrier to shoulder the load. Speaking of Carrier, what the devil happened to him in 2010? His statline went from 80-1026-9 in 2008, to 91-1029-7 in 2009, to a measley 53-480-1 last fall.
BYU freshman Cody Hoffman became a bigger factor in the offense once the calendar turned over to November, capping things off with a monster bowl game performance (8-137-1). A sign of things to come? It should be fun watching him grow along with fellow sophomore-to-be QB Jake Heaps.
Mississippi State's Chad Bumphis beat up the lightweights on the 2010 schedule, but completely vanished during SEC play. Can he put together a complete season this fall?
Who will ultimately serve as WR2 in Cincinnati (to D.J. Woods)? Armon Binns and Marcus Barnett are gone.
East Carolina threw the ball 609 times last fall. Who from the receiving corps is going to join Lance Lewis in hauling in all of those passes?
Will the La Tech passing game get its act together? If so, there should be plenty of opportunities to a receiver or two to step into the fantasy limelight.
Who will be on the receiving end of Dana Holgorsen's aerial attack in Morgantown (other than Tavon Austin)? Stedman Bailey and Brad Starks are possibilities.
Spring ball will shed more light on the wide receiver situations around the country. Until then, here's how we rank 'em....
CollegeFootballGeek.com's "Way Too Early" 2011 Wide Receivers Rankings
|1||Ryan Broyles||Oklahoma||131-1622-14 in 2010, QB Landry Jones returns|
|2||Justin Blackmon||Oklahoma State||111-1782-20 in 2010, OC gone, QB Weeden is back|
|3||Lance Lewis||East Carolina||89-1116-14, Dom Davis returns, D.Harris is gone|
|4||Alshon Jeffrey||South Carolina||88-1517-9 in 2010|
|5||Juron Criner||Arizona||82-1233-11 in 2010, QB Nick Foles returns|
|6||Michael Floyd||Notre Dame||79-1025-12 in 2010|
|7||Damaris Johnson||Tulsa||112 touches, 1432 yds from scrimm, 13 total TDs|
|8||Jordan White||Western Michigan||94-1378-10, we're assuming NCAA gives him 6th yr|
|9||Patrick Edwards||Houston||71-1100-13 led team in all categories|
|10||Jeff Fuller||Texas A&M||72-1066-12 but struggled in last 4 reg. season gms|
|11||Tavon Austin||West Virginia||over 900 total yds, 9 TDs, but will he be RB or WR?|
|12||Eric Page||Toledo||99-1105-8 in 2010|
|13||Cody Wilson||Central Michigan||101 touches for 1200+ yds and 6 TDs in 2010|
|14||Cole Beasley||SMU||87-1060-6 in 2010, WR Aldrick Robinson is gone|
|15||Royce Pollard||Hawaii||64-901-7 in 2010, Bradley, Salas & Pilares all depart|
|16||DJ Woods||Cincinnati||985 total yards, 10 TDs, QB returns, Binns is gone|
|17||Kamar Jorden||Bowling Green||96-1109-4 in 2010, needs to get in endzone more|
|18||James Rodgers||Oregon State||granted 6th year after missing most of 2010 injured|
|19||TY Hilton||Florida Int'l||1130 yds from scrimmage, 11 total TDs in 2010|
|20||Roy Roundtree||Michigan||92-935-7 in 2010 as soph, new coaching staff|
|21||Nick Harwell||Miami, OH||64-871-6 in 2010 as frosh, had a big 2nd half to yr|
|22||Jeremy Ebert||Northwestern||62-953-8 in 2010, tailed off when Persa got hurt|
|23||Darius Johnson||SMU||78-845-6 in 2010, WR Aldrick Robinson departs|
|24||Marquess Wilson||Washington State||55-1006-6 in '10 as a frosh, ran out of gas at end|
|25||Greg Childs||Arkansas||46-659-6 in '10 - missed 5 gms, QB Mallett is gone|
|26||Mohamed Sanu||Rutgers||accounted for 900 yards and 9 TDs, still a '10 bust|
|27||Robert Woods||USC||65-792-6 in 2010 as frosh, scored last TD on 10/16|
|28||Kendall Wright||Baylor||78-952-7 in 2010, QB Griffin returns|
|29||TJ Moe||Missouri||104 touches, 1126 total yds, 7 TDs, new QB|
|30||Jermaine Kearse||Washington||63-1005-12 in 2010, QB Jake Locker is gone|
|31||Kenny Stills||Oklahoma||61-786-5 in 2010 as a FR, busted for DUI in Jan.|
|32||Demarlo Belcher||Indiana||78-832-4 in 2010, QB Chappell & WR Doss depart|
|33||Mark Harrison||Rutgers||44-829-9 in '10, skewed by 1 huge game 10-240-4|
|34||Chris Owusu||Stanford||injury-plagued in '10, WRs Baldwin & Whalen gone|
|35||Dwight Jones||North Carolina||62-946-4 in 2010, capable of huge games, new QB|
|36||Derek Moye||Penn State||53-885-8 in 2010, all QBs return|
|37||Josh Gordon||Baylor||42-714-7 in 2010, QB Griffin returns|
|38||Conner Vernon||Duke||73-973-4 in 2010, big games vs. lesser opponents|
|39||Ryan Swope||Texas A&M||72-825-4 in 2010 as sophomore|
|40||Dwayne Frampton||Arkansas State||69-738-6 in 2010, QB Aplin returns|
|41||Alexander Torres||Texas Tech||missed several games in 2010 due to injury|
|42||Keith Smith||Purdue||assuming he gets a 6th year from NCAA|
|43||Tyron Carrier||Houston||huge bust in '10, WRs Cleveland & K.Johnson depart|
|44||Cody Hoffman||BYU||freshman had a monster bowl game (8-137-1)|
|45||Kelvin Bolden||Southern Miss||46-722-6 in 2010, WR DeAndre Brown departs|
|46||Da'Jon McKnight||Minnesota||48-750-10 in 2010, new coach and QB|
|47||Marcus Sales||Syracuse||finished year strong, huge bowl game 5-172-3|
|48||Joe Adams||Arkansas||50-813-6 in 2010, QB Mallett is gone|
|49||Josh Cooper||Oklahoma State||68-736-5 in 2010, OC gone, QB Weeden returns|
|50||Markus Wheaton||Oregon State||accounted for 875 total yards and 6 TDs as soph|
|51||Rishard Matthews||Nevada||56-879-5 in 2010, playmaker, new QB, 8 total TDs|
|52||Marvin McNutt||Iowa||53-861-8 in 2010, QB Stanzi & WR DJK depart|
|53||Darius Bright||Hawaii||redshirted in 2010, expected to start at left wideout|
|54||AJ Jenkins||Illinois||56-746-7 in 2010, QB Scheelhaase returns|
|55||La'Rod King||Kentucky||33-478-5 in '10, top 2 WRs leave (Cobb & Mathews)|
|56||Ansel Ponder||Western Michigan||WR Jordan White and Juan Nunez depart|
|57||DeVonte Christopher||Utah||39-660-6 in 2010, wildly inconsistent soph season|
|58||Tyler Shoemaker||Boise State||will have to step up in absence of Young & Pettis|
|59||Justin Hunter||Tennessee||16-415-7 as a freshman|
|60||Noel Grigsby||San Jose State||56-822-4 in 2010 as a freshman|
|61||Jack Tomlinson||Ball State||frosh broken out with 23-410-6 in final 5 games|
|62||Marvin Jones||Cal||50-765-4 in 2010, QB Brock Mansion returns|
|63||Chad Bumphis||Mississippi State||44-634-4 plus 131 rushing, vanished 2nd half of yr|
|64||BJ Cunningham||Michigan State||50-611-9 in 2010, leading WR Dell is gone|
|65||Mike Shanahan||Pittsburgh||43-589-1, WR Baldin gone, new pass-happy HC|
|66||Jarrett Boykin||Virginia Tech||53-847-6 in 2010, new QB at helm|
|67||Josh Boyce||TCU||34-646-6 in 2010 as a freshman|
|68||DeVier Posey||Ohio State||facing 5 game suspension|
|69||Jarius Wright||Arkansas||42-788-5 in 2010, QB Mallett is gone|
|70||Marcus Rucker||Memphis||41-704-8 in 2010 as sophomore|
|71||Junior Hemingway||Michigan||32-593-4 in 2010, big play specialist|
|72||Cobi Hamilton||Arkansas||32-630-6 in 2010, QB Mallett is gone|
|73||Travis Benjamin||Miami, FL||43-743-3 in 2010, new coaching staff in place|
|74||Luthur Ambrose||La-Monroe||65-752-6 in 2010, rush att. decreased from 35 to 10|
|75||Kris Burd||Virginia||58-799-5 in 2010|
|76||Paul Richardson||Colorado||34-514-6 as a freshman, WR McKnight is gone|
|77||Tavarres King||Georgia||will try to help fill AJ Green's shoes|
|78||Marquis Maze||Alabama||Julio Jones is gone, Maze should be WR1|
|79||Keenan Allen||Cal||46-490-5 in 2010 as a freshman|
|80||Theo Riddick||Notre Dame||strung together 4 nice games before injury|
|81||Robert Arnheim||Western Michigan||WR Jordan White and Juan Nunez depart|
|82||Stedman Bailey||West Virginia||new offense to learn, 24-317-4 in 2010|
|83||Mike Davis||Texas||47-478-2 in 2010 as true freshman|
|84||Chris Harper||Kansas State||only 25-330-4 in 2010 but WR1 Quarles departs|
|85||Austin Zouzalik||Texas Tech||31-432-2 in 2010, can he lock down a starting job?|
|86||Brad Starks||West Virginia||new offense to learn, 19-317-4 in 2010|
|87||Corey Brown||Ohio State||Posey suspended|
|88||Jalen Saunders||Fresno State||30-462-3, plus 166 rush yds, as a freshman|
|89||Devin Street||Pittsburgh||could get boost from new coaching - love to pass|
|90||Jerrel Jackson||Missouri||50-656-3 in 2010, dealt with injury, new QB|
|91||Taulib Ikharo||La Tech||50-530-3, can La Tech get their pass game on track?|
|92||Jeremy Deering||Rutgers||took over Wildcat package from Sanu during year|
|93||Billy Ray Stutzmann||Hawaii||could start at slotback|
|94||Rueben Randle||LSU||33-544-3 in 2010, will he finally live up to the hype?|
|95||Tramain Swindall||Texas Tech||took a step back in 2010 with only 33-271-1|
|96||Quintin McCree||Maryland||deep threat, will try to fill hole left by Torrey Smith|
|97||Duwyce Wilson||Indiana||will try to fill the void left by Tandon Doss|
|98||Aaron Dobson||Marshall||44-689-5 in 2010, will have new QB in 2011|
|99||DeAndre Hopkins||Clemson||51-626-4 as a freshman, new QB at helm|
|100||Rod Streater||Temple||30-481-4 in 2010, plus 83 rushing & 1 rush TD|
|101||Marcus Rivers||Buffalo||after hot start, he tailed off big time down stretch|
|102||Donovan Varner||Duke||big decrease in production 2010 vs. '09 (8 TD to 1)|
|103||Ace Sanders||South Carolina||will try to become No. 2 to Alshon Jeffrey|
|104||Tyler Stradford||North Texas||24-268-2 in 2010, new coach in place|
|105||Willie Clark||Northern Illinois||42-602-7 in 2010, new coach, QB Harnish returns|
|106||Russell Shepard||LSU||65 touches for 500 yards and 3 TDs in 2010|
|107||Nick Toon||Wisconsin||missed half of 2010 season with injury|
|108||Phillip Payne||UNLV||40-689-5 in 2010 despite suspended for 2 games|
|109||Tyshon Goode||Kent State||nearly identical stats last 2 yrs, 59-743-5 in '10|
|110||Deonte Thompson||Florida||38-570-1, new offensive coaches|
|111||Darius Carey||North Texas||38-524-5 in 2010, led team as sophomore|
|112||Bobby Swigert||Boston College||led team with 39-504-4 as a freshman|
|113||Justin Veltung||Idaho||25-495-8, QB Enderle is gone|
|114||McKay Jacobson||BYU||overrated in past years, perhaps Heaps helps|
|115||TJ Jones||Notre Dame||had relatively productive freshman campaign|
|116||Bert Reed||Florida State||58-614-2 in 2010, only 5 recv. TDs over last 3 yrs|
|117||Casey Robottom||Tulane||56-663-4 in 2010, QB Griffin returns|
|118||Brandon Kinnie||Nebraska||44-494-5 in 2010|
Todd DeVries is the founder of CollegeFootballGeek.com, your premier destination for all things college fantasy football.