The NFL season is almost here, and you need to have updated fantasy football rankings for 2011 and an accurate list of fantasy football sleepers. NFL trade rumors are still swirling, but we feel we have determined an accurate listing of this season’s fantasy football stars. In our latest rankings, there has been a bit of a shake-up, but most names are where you would expect. We have scoured the news wires and training camps while creating accurate 2011 NFL predictions and have determined which wide receivers are poised to lead you to a fantasy football championship. Not all of us are in position to draft Andre Johnson or Roddy White, but now you can figure out who is worth reaching on and who isn’t.
1(1) Andre Johnson, Houston Texans
Johnson is much like Adrian Peterson when it comes to consistency, but he also can’t seem to end the year as the league’s best.
The Texans do finally have a stud running back in Arian Foster for the first time since Johnson joined the league in 2003, so the opposing secondary will be forced to play the run and not just Johnson.
Before missing the last two weeks of the season, Johnson was on fire. The added attention on the running game and a healthy Owen Daniels should give Johnson his best opportunity to be fantasy’s best this season.
2(2) Roddy White, Atlanta Falcons
White is a PPR killer, and should be again this season. There are some concerns that the addition of Julio Jones will cut White’s value.
However, while we do expect Jones to have a good season, we think the addition of a legitimate No. 2 receiver will alleviate some of the double teams that White has grown accustomed to in the past four seasons.
The Falcons are going to focus on passing the ball this season, and the main beneficiary for that will be White.
3(7) Larry Fitzgerald, Arizona Cardinals
Fitzgerald is being drafted as the fourth receiver in most leagues, but he could easily be fantasy football’s best by the end of the season.
Even with the incredible inconsistency at the quarterback position last year, Fitzgerald still caught 90 passes for over 1,100 yards.
This year, Fitz will actually have a decent quarterback at the helm, and it will be the same guy all year. There is no reason to think Fitz won’t have another double digit touchdown campaign.
4(4) Hakeem Nicks, New York Giants
Last year, Nicks was entering the season while recovering from offseason surgery and still made a giant leap in his sophomore campaign. The Giants were expecting to have Steve Smith as their main possession guy last year, but instead had to rely on rookie Mario Manningham.
This year, both of the young receivers will be more mature and have a better understanding of the offense. The added time and practice for the two means the Giants will increase their number of pass plays, and Nicks will improve on his 1,052 receiving yards.
5(3) Calvin Johnson, Detroit Lions
No, Megatron’s drop has nothing to do with the shoulder bruise he sustained in practice. We are knocking Johnson to the bottom of the top-five because the Lions will again have no running game to help keep the opposing secondary honest.
Johnson has never been a PPR stud and has only recorded more than 1,150 yards once. Still, he is good to record at least 10 touchdowns and be the primary touchdown scorer for the Lions, no matter who is quarterback.
6(5) Greg Jennings, Green Bay Packers
Jennings is one of the most underrated players in football, but the Packers have too many weapons for him to be considered a top-five fantasy receiver.
Jermichael Finley is healthy, and the Packers will surely try and get the most out of Jordy Nelson and James Jones.
Jennings likely will peak around 10 touchdowns this season, but he is a lock for at least 70 catches and close to 1,200 yards.
7(6) Mike Wallace, Pittsburgh Steelers
Wallace has said a few times during this offseason that he is going to break 2,000 yards receiving this year. His plan is to record 100 catches at a 20-yard average.
Although we totally buy the 20 yard average, we’re not sure he will be able to reach 100 catches. Big Ben likes to spread the ball around, but there is some uncertainty at the wide receiver position. Hines Ward is aging, Emmanuel Sanders is ailing and the Steelers will likely look to Antonio Brown and newly acquired Jericho Cotchery to pick up the slack. Wallace will certainly see an increase from 60 catches, but we're thinking it tops out at 85.
8(9) Vincent Jackson, San Diego Chargers
Jackson and quarterback Philip Rivers have looked extremely good together, perhaps displaying their best chemistry in the short time they’ve spent together.
Jackson will fit in as the deep threat in the Chargers’ offense and, in the likely case that Antonio Gates misses time this year, Jackson could also be the red zone target. Jackson has never broken 10 touchdowns, 70 catches or 1,200 yards, but there’s a first time for everything, and we think that time is 2011.
9(11) Dwayne Bowe, Kansas City Chiefs
Bowe came to camp in the best shape of his four-year career and has been shining so far in practices. There are some concerns that his production will slip now that the Chiefs have added Steve Breaston and rookie Jon Baldwin, but we disagree.
So far, in camp, Bowe has been the only reliable option for Cassel. His fellow receivers just don’t seem caught up. Bowe will benefit from the reduced defensive attention, and should still come close to 80 catches this year.
10(10) DeSean Jackson, Philadelphia Eagles
Jackson is a home run threat on every play, but at times he can make a fantasy owner pull his hair out. If Jackson isn’t pulling in 100 receiving yards and a touchdown, he isn’t doing much of anything.
Last year, there were nine games that—even if in a PPR league—Jackson would have certainly let his owners down. This year, he has the added benefit of having an entire offseason, albeit a shortened one, to work and game-plan with Vick as the starter.
Jackson will no doubt be the main target for the Eagles in the beginning month with Steve Smith and Jeremy Maclin ailing, but he has little red zone value. Jackson should be paired with a more consistent fantasy receiver to give you the most chance for success.
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