The Wes Welker I'd like to remember from 2011 isn't the one who made a disastrous drop in the next-to-last drive against the New York Giants in Super Bowl 46, but the one who had a career-high 1569 receiving yards (122 catches) and a career-high 9 touchdowns in the regular season. Welker took the blame for the loss, but it was more than just that one tipped pass that cost the Patriots the win.
Now that the Super Bowl is over, we can finally look to the future and what Welker's fantasy value will hold in 2012. If you happened to catch my first Fantasy Football Mock Draft, Welker didn't make the first-round cut amongst guys like Calvin Johnson and Larry Fitzgerald, but should he be included? In one of my full-point PPR leagues, Welker averaged a lofty 19.8 (decimal scoring) per week. If you consider the team became more tight end oriented after drafting Aaron Hernandez and Rob Gronkowski, Welker's numbers were better than expected after we evaluated him in the preseason.
The big thing that Welker has going for him is the re-signing of Josh McDaniels, who takes the reigns as the offensive coordinator after serving the same role from 2006-2008. In those 3 years under McDaniels, Welker's play improved greatly after he was traded from Miami:
Some fans will be skiddish about taking Welker now that he is set to hit free agency. But don't worry. The team has every intention of either signing him to a long-term deal, or will give themselves a little bit more time in contract talks by slapping the franchise tag on him. And with Deion Branch a free agent and Chad Ochocinco expected to be let go, Welker is the only option the team has right now until free agency opens. Wide receiver is definitely one of the team's biggest Offseason Needs.
Once free agency hits and most-to-all of the big-name players are either re-signed or signed elsewhere, I will do another mock fantasy draft. With 122 receptions staring me in the face, it's going to be pretty hard for me to not squeeze Welker in there somehow. His PPR value is just too high to ignore. And after racking up so many receiving yards in 2011, there is a strong case for Welker to be a WR1 in non-PPR leagues as well.