Last season Detroit Lions rookie quarterback Matthew Stafford only played in 10 games, but he was on a pace to pass for over 3600 yards. In his second full season, one can expect him to attain those passing numbers.
With rookie running back Jahvid Best sparking the ground game, it should open the passing game even more. And with Calvin 'Megatron' Johnson spending his Sundays in double coverage, that means whoever is on the other side of the field is going to have ample opportunities to shine. In 2010, that person is Nate Burleson.
Last season Burleson only started 12 games but still managed 103 targets, 63 receptions, 812 yards, and 3 TDs, with an oft injured quarterback.
If Burleson can keep himself healthy, there's every reason to believe he'll be an incredible fantasy football sleeper entering the 2010 season.
By the numbers
- Despite missing 4 games, Burleson put up numbers similar to TJ Houshmandzadeh. Prorated over a full season, he'd have eclipsed 1000 yards with 4-5 TDs.
- The big dig on Nate is is health. He's only played one full season in 7 years. But that year he passed 1000 yards and had 9 TDs. In 2008, he missed basically the whole season, playing only one game, but in that game he was targeted 9 times and scored a TD. In 2007 he played 11 games and had 9 TDs. When he plays he's always in the game.
- Burleson is a sneaky often overlooked target. If he's in the game he'll be targeted often, especially in Detroit. If he plays a full season he can easily put up WR2 numbers. If he gets hurt he has strong value when he plays.
- Word out of Detroit's camp, is that he's in excellent shape heading into the new season. From his own Twitter account he talked to former QB Matt Hasselbeck about having a career year.
Summary: Burleson is being drafted right about where he should be, but his upside is much higher. If you have the room on your roster, he's got high reward written all over him for every game he's healthy and in the line up. He's due for a full season. I currently have him ranked at 44th.