With a little bit of a change up, for our third installment we will look at both wide receivers and tight ends (as opposed to just receivers). Lets take a look at what went right, what went wrong, and who completely blew our minds during the 2010 fantasy football season.
To begin, let's refresh some of the scoring parameters: 1 pt per 10 yards receiving, 2 pts for a 2 pt conversion reception, 6 points for a receiving TD, -2 for fumbles lost (CBSSports, WCG League).
The last two articles we looked at predicted top 10 RBs and QBs and then looked at who surprised. With the much larger pool of wide receivers, I'd rather take a look at who finished where, and how that met up with my expectations for the year.
Wide Receiver Big Suprises: It doesn't take long looking at WRs to find surprises. Under the standard scoring, Brandon Lloyd finished #1 overall. That's right, THAT Brandon Lloyd. Nearly 1450 yards and 11 TDs, he simply exploded. He was a 10+ point receiver in 11 of the 16 weeks as well. I didn't see it coming, and neither did anyone else. Orton? Tebow? Lloyd? If you needed proof fantasy winning doesn't mean football winning, just look here. If that wasn't enough, Dwayne Bowe finished #2. Now he has more talent and ability than Lloyd, but he has also been a historically disappointing receiver. He set career bests in receiving yards, TDs, first down catches, yards per catch, and had his longest career reception this year. Mike Wallace jumping up to 6th overall was a big surprise to me as well, who thought he'd remain a deep threat but not a top 10 receiver. Outside of Lloyd though, Mike Williams from Tampa Bay may have been the biggest shock to me. He finished 12th overall with 11 TDs and nearly 1000 yards in his rookie year. I see big things in his future, he and Josh Freeman should grow together. Honorable mentions go to Steve Johnson (10th), T.O.'s comeback (15th), and Deon Branch's resurgence in New England.
Wide Receiver Busts: We all saw the Sidney Rice (Hip) and Vincent Jackson (hold out/suspensions) things coming before the draft, but man did Steve Smith's (NYG) injury hurt some teams this year. The guy was drafted on average in the 3rd-4th round, which means he was a #2 receiver on most teams, and he went down with just over 500 yards to his name this year. Larry Fitzgerald had a big fall off standings-wise, but it's hard to hate on 1100 yards receiving with that QB group. Still, where he was drafted, and how he was retained in keeper leagues, calls for better than a 16th performance. He'll be back next year, regardless of his QB. Anthony Gonzalez from Indy gets my vote here though, he just couldn't stay healthy or compete even as the year wore on.
Expectations Met: This is most of the receivers. Besides Lloyd, Bowe, Wallace, and Williams, plus the injuries/suspensions to Jackson, Rice, and Smith, the year was pretty stable. Roddy White, Greg Jennings, Calvin Johnson, Reggie Wayne, Andre Johnson, and Hakeem Nicks all hit the top 10. DeSean Jackson, Miles Austin, Jeremy Maclin, Marques Colston, Santana Moss, Percy Harvin all made the top 20. Guys like Johnny Knox, Wes Welker, Anquan Boldin, Lance Moore, Brandon Marshall, and Malcolm Floyd had good years and are likely to keep it up in 2011.
I won't lie, it was nice to see Jason Witten back on top. I don't like the Cowboys much, but Witten is everything you want from a TE. A good blocker, a good receiver, and a really tough guy... Remember him running down the field, stripped of his helmet, blood pouring from his nose? I do. I'd like to see some more of that toughness from Olsen to be honest, but they are different players. Gates had a disappointing year, but still finished #2 overall. I think TE was very sad in 2010 to be frank. One 1000 yard receiver. Five total players with over 100 fantasy points on the year. Three guys with double digit TDs, and only 1 (Gates) was drafted strongly. Zach Miller stayed himself, good for top 10 most years. Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez were a mix of surprise and frustration. They took turns being good, and while Gronk got 10 TDs, neither had 600 yards. In PPR leagues Chris Cooley, Brandon Pettigrew, Tony Gonzalez and Benjamin Watson finished well.
Let's hope next year we see Greg Olsen step it up, Dallas Clark return, and Vernon Davis and Antonio Gates hit that 1000 yard mark.
Things still to come: A Year in Review: 2010 (2 more to go), Post-Draft Fantasy Update, Fantasy Football Team Reports (8 part series, by division)