Oh boy, oh boy, oh boy…can you feel it? The 2011 NFL Draft is close at hand, and many of us are champing at the bit to sit back, relax and find out where the best of the best will wind up playing this year.
And for fantasy owners, draft articles are sometimes the insider’s way of finding that potential ‘X’-factor that will make their team that much better.
At this point in the draft, the rankings don’t necessarily mean anything at all, since the rankings have been changed more times than that steamer sitting inside a newborn baby's diaper.
Titus Young, for example, was one of the top three ranked receivers just a few weeks ago, but has now fallen to number 8 with fellow Boise State teammate Austin Pettis surprisingly right behind him now at 17…and rightfully so, but we’ll get to Pettis in a moment.
Let’s take a sneak peak who the WR Guru thinks you should be focusing on this year and why, and maybe I’ll throw in a little Easter egg at the end.
Julio Jones – Alabama
The 6’3”, 220 pounder is as good as it gets in the draft despite being ranked second among WRs behind Georgia’s A.J. Green. But I am not a fan of Green’s absence over the past two years, and I AM a fan of Jones’ presence in the combines in lieu of that hair-line fracture.
- Top notch ability to release at the line of scrimmage, paired with his speedy long stride makes Jones an immediate down field threat, which will bode well for fantasy owners, especially down the stretch of the 2011 season.
- Consistent route runner who should easily pick up most offensive sets around the league. The more vertical oriented team he goes to, the better projected fantasy value.
- Has enough size and speed to potentially post great YAC stats, as well as, show himself to eventually become a great red-zone threat.
Potential teams in order of potential fantasy value: St. Louis, Tennessee, Washington
A.J. Green – Georgia:
Again, I don’t really like Green’s absence from the past two years (injury and suspension) but it is really hard to ignore a freshman…yeah, that’s right a freshman, who dominated the SEC the way Green did. Despite leaving Georgia after his Junior year to head to the NFL, Green left an indelible mark on Bulldog history as the second All-Time WR in school history with 23 touchdown catches and third with 2,542 receiving yards.
- Green is being compared to the likes of Randy Moss and/or Keyshawn Johnson (more so like Johnson) with his bevy of skill sets, but don’t get too caught up in the comparisons—afterall, Johnson and Moss were two completely different receivers to begin with, and it’s way too early for that.Green has exceptional size and speed, and has even better hands, which helps out a ton against bump and run coverage and press. Green can easily slip through the cracks of various defensive sets, and has a rare ability as a college player to stay on his feet and give the slip; even against the elite SEC corners.
- Has an above average ability to separate himself from cover men, without the need of that size and speed (although it obviously comes in handy). What makes Green comparable to Randy Moss is his jump-ball skills, and his natural capacity to haul in even the tougher catches…a true outside threat.
- Green’s fantasy value will be determined by who exactly picks him up ( I believe the Rams get him at 14, and if so, you better grab him in your 2011 fantasy football draft IMMEDIATELY). Two other teams in Cincinnati and Arizona could be on the hook here as well, but that would only hurt his initial value.
Potential teams in order of potential fantasy value: St. Louis, Cincinnati, Arizona
Leonard Hankerson – Miami:
One could easily argue that Hankerson was the best receiver in Miami history, registering a1,000-yard receiving season in 2010. He was the first to have 2,000 yards for a career and 1,000 in a season…but that’s not all.
Hankerson also registered 22 receiving touchdowns— third all-time behind Miami receivers Michael Irvin (26) and Lamar Thomas (23). Nope, it doesn’t stop there either as Hankerson was also one of only three players in school history with back-to-back 800-yard receiving seasons (Michael Irvin and Andre Johnson). In other words, the trend is already there. But just in case you need more convincing:
- Miami has a proven track record with their tall lanky receivers in recent years and Hankerson fits that mold to a tee. At 6’2” 209 pounds, the speedy glue-like hands receiver should be one of the more underrated receivers in the draft who should have an immediate impact in the pros, and in fantasy.
- Has moderate release speed off-the-line, but can quickly accelerate behind defenders, making him a perfect fade-route receiver. The beauty of fade-route, is they often produce yards after catches, tons of touchdowns, and oft euphoric feeling inside the owners of such receivers.
- Hands were a concern in the early goings of his collegiate career, but he has steadily improved since 2009. Has the sort of deceptiveness that shows great potential as a pro receiver and excellent “sleeper” candidacy in most fantasy drafts…would excel in West Coast style offenses.
Potential teams in order of potential fantasy value: Second Round – St. Louis, New England, Cleveland.
The Rest of 2011 Wide Receiver Class. Listed as I see them in potential fantasy value.
|4. Austin Pettis – Boise State: Great future slot receiver, don’t forget about him.|
|5. Torrey Smith – Maryland: Has big play potential, but is not yet considered an elite receiver. nice mid-round scoop.|
|6. Randall Cobb – Kentucky: Smalli-ish receiver (5’ 10”) with good hands. Reminds me of what Todd Pinkston and Bernard Berrian could have been.|
|7. Jon Baldwin – Pittsburgh: Quite possibly the most underrated receiver in the draft. Could be worth a heavy look if the “Big 3” are gone in your draft.|
|8. Jerrel Jernigan – Troy: Another small receiver who will likely make a big impact at the slot position. Look for the Falcons to grab him in the second or third. Rapidly moving up the draft board.|
|9. Titus Young – Boise State: A little too much hype surrounding Young in the early goings which is evident in Young coming back down to earth a bit. Still, he is an impact receiver with borderline elite hands, and is worthy of your attention.|
|10. Greg Little – North Carolina: Those Carolina receivers have a way of making an impact in the pros, and Little is another fine example of what could be. Suspensions and inconsistency have hurt his overall draft rank, but that means nothing in fantasy. Keep an eye on him after draft day.|