Week 1: WR Report
As there is every season, there was a long list of players and coaches in new places when training camp finally opened. There were a lot of players adjusting to new teams, new systems, and trying to fit in and make their mark. The big difference this season is that teams didn’t have a chance to get as long a look at their new players due to the lockout (which left no OTA’s or mini camps). It is during those camps where new players get a chance to learn a new team's playbook and work on timing with their new teammates. With pre-season coming to an end, we have a clearer vision of which receivers are fitting in with their new teams. Below is a list of receivers who (when training camp started) weren't on fantasy wish lists, but should now be seriously considered drafted or as an early week pick up.
Briscoe was a 6th round pick of the Bengals in 2010, but was cut before the season and was then signed by the Bucs (but didn't get in a game until November). Last season the Bucs drafted 2 receivers, Mike Williams and Arrelious Benn. Williams was a stud as a rookie and will look to build on that this season. Benn didn't play so well and has been battling injuries this off season; giving Briscoe a chance to show what he can do. While most teams will be focusing on Mike Williams, Briscoe will try and sneak under the radar and become a player who might surprise people. If he can win the job opposite Mike Williams, Briscoe could be worth a late round flyer or an early season pick up.
Most people still aren't sure what to expect from 2nd year WR, Eric Decker. In 2009, Decker's senior season of university, he missed the final 2 ½ months of the season due to a sprained foot. Before the injury many were predicting that he would go in the 1st round of the 2010 NFL draft, but he ended up going in the 3rd round to the Denver Broncos. Decker spent most of season playing on special teams only catching 6 passes for 106 yards and 1 TD. Look for this season to be different. Going into the 2011 season, Brandon Lloyd will be QB Kyle Orton's go-to guy after his breakout 2010 season, but who becomes the man opposite Lloyd is still up in the air. Decker has looked great so far in training camp and the pre-season and will be given every chance to prove why the Broncos drafted him in 2010. Decker is a good late round pick if you still haven't had your draft yet or if you have someone to look at picking up over the first few weeks of the season.
When training camp started, Lee Evans was stuck playing on one of the worst teams in the NFL -- the Buffalo Bills -- and he looked destined for another year as a fantasy bench player. That might have changed when he got traded to the Baltimore Ravens. The Ravens are a much better team than the Bills, but they were looking for a receiver that could open up the field for Boldin and Ray Rice, and that's what they hope they got in Evans. With defenses paying attention to Boldin and Rice, look for Flacco to go to Evans to try and open up the field, giving Evans many chances to make plays. While Evans won't be a fantasy stud, he could be a solid flex starter.
Due to some NCAA infractions, Greg Little had to sit out the 2010 season and therefore dropped to a 2nd round pick even though he has 1st round talent. The good news for Little is he was drafted to a team with no clear cut #1 WR and Little will have every chance to step into the #1 role. Due to the fact that Little had to sit out all of 2010 (and there was no OTA's or mini camps this off season), his timing might be a little off, but he has the most upside of any Browns receiver. Little is definitely someone to take in the latter part of drafts and/or pick up early on in the season. While he might not do much for you at the start, he could be a big help to your fantasy team down the stretch.
A few years ago the Cardinals were loaded with receivers: Fitz, Boldin and even Steve Breaston had 1000 yard season. Going into 2011 only Fitz is still around, leaving question marks as to who starts opposite him. There is talk about Early Doucet or the newly acquired Todd Heap being the guys who will benefit most from playing opposite Fitz, but don't be surprised if it is 2nd year man Andre Roberts. The Cards have a new QB this season, Kevin Kolb, and have high expectations for the offense this year. While other guys are drafting Doucet or Heap, look to pick up Roberts late in the draft or as an early week pick up.