2011 Fantasy Football: Andre and Calvin Johnson Top Our Wide Receiver Rankings
Only two wide receivers have done it. One receiver is a top 10 fantasy wide receiver for 2011; the other receiver is outside my top 40.
What have those receivers done?
Pittsburgh Steelers receiver Hines Ward and Indianapolis Colts receiver Reggie Wayne are the only two receivers in the NFL to have scored double-digit fantasy points (using standard scoring) in Week 1 of the NFL season in consecutive seasons. In fact, Ward's streak is four games and Wayne's streak is three games.
With the Colts opening the season against the Texans' porous secondary, Wayne seems to be a lock to extend his streak. On the other hand, Ward and the Steelers open the season against the Baltimore Ravens, who have held Ward to 13, 14, 37 and 47 receiving yards and no touchdowns in their past four regular-season matchups.
Of course, the overall season production of receivers and all players matters much more than what they do in Week 1 (or any other game, for that matter). Yet with the NFL lockout reaching more than 100 days, there is increasing optimism that a deal will get done in time for us to see whether Ward and/or Wayne extend their streaks.
Here are our fantasy wide receiver rankings for 2011:
1. Andre Johnson, Houston Texans: Despite missing three games last year, Johnson still finished with 86 receptions and 1,216 yards. Based on his per-game averages, Johnson would have finished with 106 receptions and 1,496 yards if he played a full 16 games. In other words, he would have been just four yards short of a third consecutive 100-reception, 1,500-yard season.
2. Calvin Johnson, Detroit Lions: MegaTron was my second-ranked preseason receiver last year as well, but the gap is narrowing. For the second time in three seasons, Johnson finished with 1,100-plus yards and 12 touchdowns (although he should have had 13 last year). With the addition of rookies Titus Young and Mikel LeShoure, it could help divert a little bit of the extra attention opposing defenses give him.
3. Roddy White, Atlanta Falcons: Last year, White set career highs in receptions (115) and yards (1,389) and has now scored double-digit touchdowns in back-to-back seasons. For four straight seasons, White has had 85-plus receptions and 1,100-plus yards. The addition of Julio Jones should take some targets away from White, but it should also keep opposing defenses more honest in coverage.
4. Hakeem Nicks, New York Giants: Although he missed three games last year, Nicks took a big step forward in his second season. Nicks finished with 79 receptions, 1,052 yards and 11 touchdowns. He was tied for fourth in touchdowns and his 80.9 yards-per-game average ranked fifth in the NFL.
5. Greg Jennings, Green Bay Packers: For the second time in his career, Jennings finished with 1,200-plus yards and 12 touchdowns. It was the first time, however, that he did both of those things in the same season. Provided tight end Jermichael Finley stays healthy and the Packers have more of a running game, Jennings should see a few less targets in 2011 but he's still a top-five option.
6. Reggie Wayne, Colts: Wayne, who will turn 33 in November, has been remarkably consistent (1,000-plus yards for seven straight seasons) and durable (hasn't missed any games in past nine seasons). Last year, Wayne set a career high in receptions (111) and finished with his second-highest yardage total (1,355).
7. Larry Fitzgerald, Arizon Cardinals: If Derek Anderson is still under center for the Cardinals, it won't be "funny" for Fitzgerald's fantasy owners. Fitzgerald ended a three-year streak of double-digit touchdowns by finishing with a career-low six in 2010. And although he saw a slight improvement in receiving yards (1,092 in 2009 to 1,137 in 2010), he had 1,400-plus yards in three of four years from 2005-08.
8. Mike Wallace, Steelers: Although Wallace finished with only 60 receptions (tied for 42nd in the NFL), he finished fifth in receiving yards (1,257). Wallace led the league in 20-yard receptions (26) and has averaged more than 20 yards per reception in his two-year career.
9. Vincent Jackson, San Diego Chargers: Jackson, who was designated with the team's franchise tag, held out for the first 10 games last season, but he isn't expected to hold out this season (provided there is one, knock on wood). In his last full season (2009), Jackson set career highs in receptions (68), yards (1,167) and touchdowns (9).
10. Miles Austin, Dallas Cowboys: Austin's production was much greater with Tony Romo in the lineup. In three of his first four games of the season, Austin had nine-plus receptions and 140-plus yards. After Romo broke his collarbone in the team's sixth game, Austin had only two games with more than four receptions and/or 70-plus receiving yards.
To see our full list of top 40 fantasy wide receivers for 2011, click here.
Over the next two weeks, we will release our point-per-perception (PPR) rankings and keeper rankings in addition to expanding the number of receivers included in our standard-scoring rankings.
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