There are a few interesting aspect to the 2011 fantasy football season that perhaps many of you have not yet taken notice to.
One of those aspects is the transition back to a passing league. Now this is to be expected every few years, but the interesting portion of this trend is the increased value it has brought to the pass-catching runningbacks of the league (Mike Tolbert for example).
Another interesting aspect has been the emergence of a few players who fantasy owners are now being forced to either keep an eye on, or add them altogether, even if it is for a spot fill.
Three WRs standout in my mind—many more exist, some of them veterans—that I think deserve to be highlighted today.
David Nelson – BUF:
Week 3 matchup against New England
Last week: 10 catches for 83 yards, 1 TD
Nelson has emerged as the new and true slot receiver for a Buffalo passing offense that is led by the red-hot Ryan Fitzpatrick. At 6’5, 220 pounds, Nelson is the perfect target for any quarterback over the middle, but what separates him from the chaff is his athleticism and speed—uncommon aspects found in players of his size.
New England has shown that they have significant issues dealing with sizable receivers, and even if New England tries to jump all over Buffalo early—a given, to be honest—Fitzpatrick will still be playing from behind, making this a win-win for those of you willing to gamble on Nelson this week.
My only concern is if Steve Johnson gets sidelined with that groin injury, which could allow New England to have a much easier time keying up on the rookie receiver,which could limit his potential.
Titus Young – DET:
Week 3 matchup against Minnesota
Last week: 5 passes for 89 yards
Conversely to Buffalo, who now has a 6’5 SLOT receiver, the Lions have finally got their rookie sensation Titus Young up to speed, and Matthew Stafford is now enjoying a brand new 5’11, 172 pound WIDE-OUT, who has already been compared to Eagles receiver DeSean Jackson.
The point to notice here is that the Lions have been craving for years to feature a viable three-wide set, and with the addition of Young, they felt as if they were going to be able to do so by “at least” Week 6 or 7.
Well, it’s only Week 3 and the Lions have finally go their wish. But the addition of the speedy and athletic Young has a few other fantasy effects you should consider:
- The longer Young shows himself to be a down-field threat, the more defenses have to respect his presence which will take away coverage from Calvin Johnson—jumping Jesus on a pogo-tick can you imagine that?
- With so much focus on Johnson and Young on the outside, Nate Burleson’s fantasy value significantly increases, and we’ve already begun to see it with his 12 catches and 153 yards receiving through two games.
- Owners of Matthew Stafford now have all the reason in the world to consider him a QB1 for the remainder of the season.
If you don’t yet own Young, grab him if he is available. If he isn’t available, try your hand at acquiring Nate Burleson, if you are in the market for a WR 3 who has borderline WR 1/2 potential.
Eric Decker – DEN:
Week 3 matchup against Tennessee
Last week: 5 catches for 113 yards and 2 TDs
Another team that has begun to reap the benefits of a young rising star is the Denver Broncos, thanks to their new interim wide-out Eric Decker.
Decker is a guy who is believed to posses enough skills to usurp the job of injured receiver Eddie Royal, and through two games, he has the performance to back it up (8 catches for 166 yard and two scores).
The Broncos will run the ball more when they are indeed healthy, and that has put a small dent into the value of the Broncos receivers. But aside from Brandon Lloyd—and prior to the emergence of Decker—there wasn’t much for the passing game to get excited about anyway.
Now with Decker in the mix, and a banged up backfield, coach Fox will inevitably allow the passing game to air things out a little more moving forward.
Decker is worth the waiver wire add, but his matchup this week against the Titans’ third ranked passing defense may hamper his output a bit. The good news is who he faces afterwards:
- @ Green Bay – ranked 32 against the pass
- Home versus the Chargers – ranked 15th against the pass
- @ Miami, couldn’t stop a tricycle with a brick wall
- Home versus Detroit who is ranked 7th against the pass. Great potential for a shootout here
- @ Oakland – ranked 27th against the pass (3 catches for 53 his first time around the May Pole).
If Eric Decker is available, then you must run out and grab him now, I know in every league that I'm competing in, all three of these receivers are being gobbled up the minute the WW opens, so act now while supplies last!
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