In the table below you’ll find my initial WR rankings for the 2011 season, assuming we have one. For each player, I’ll list their strength of schedule (SOS), their 2010 points per game output adjusted for the 2011 SOS (i.e. if their 2010 performance was translated to their 2011 SOS) and their straight two-year average (schedule bias not removed). Keep in mind these aren’t actual projections, just additional info and the likely order that I’d draft these players given what we know now. Things will change as some of these free agents (hopefully) find homes for the season. Keep in mind these are rankings for standard (non-PPR) leagues.
– Who has the highest 2011 PPG projection when applying 2011 SOS adjustment to 2010 actual 2010 performance? Mike Wallace, that’s who. He had the 9th-highest point per game average last season, but his schedule looks a lot easier and he has a few great matchups in the fantasy playoffs. I’d say his value should be solidly in the 2nd round, and he’s currently going WR10. I’d take him WR5, depending on who Arizona gets to throw the ball to Larry Fitzgerald.
– While I do like Dwayne Bowe, his SOS looks to be about 9% tougher than last year, and he has a couple of bad matchups during the fantasy playoffs. Right now, I project him to have eight tough matchups and zero easy ones. That could change, but as it stands — not good.
– Both Philly WRs should have productive years, though it’s tough to tell who’s the better value. DeSean Jackson is probably the better pick in standard leagues, while I’d seriously consider drafting Jeremy Maclin first in PPR formats.
– Santonio Holmes seems to be undervalued at this point in the offseason. It might be that his contract is up in the air, but if he re-ups with the Jets (which is likely) then he should have a great shot at finishing in the Top 20 this season. He’s definitely a Top 20 talent.
– Austin Collie is a great example of a boom/bust pick this season. He was hugely productive when he played in 2010 (#5 in PPG), but he’s a big injury risk. Kenny Britt is boom/bust for other reasons. If he plays a full 16-game season, he’s probably going to finish in the Top 10, assuming the Titans have a somewhat decent QB under center.
– Mike Thomas and Davone Bess are classic PPR guys, but they have been productive in standard leagues as well. Thomas should benefit from Mike Sims-Walker’s departure and become the Jaguars’ WR1 by attrition. Meanwhile, Bess has to fight Brian Hartline for targets and has Chad Henne at QB (right now).
– Don’t forget what Mark Clayton did before getting injured this season. The Rams didn’t do much to address the WR position in the draft, so if Clayton’s knee comes back strong, he should be the WR1 in Josh McDaniels’ pass-happy offense.
– Jacoby Ford and Michael Crabtree are a couple of younger sleepers who could emerge as bona fide WR1s for their respective teams. Hopefully, Jim Harbaugh features Crabtree in the passing game and can coax good QB play out of Alex Smith or whoever is under center for the 49ers. Ford was solid down the stretch for the Raiders and is probably the best WR in Oakland.