Josh Vitale

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Top 10 Wide Receivers for 2011

Wednesday, July 06, 2011

Remember when we all drafted Randy Moss early in the second round last season, only to see him finish the season with less receiving yards than stalwarts such as Jerricho Cotchery and Roscoe Parrish? It's an outcome that occurs all too often in the fantasy game. Not every bust has a stat line as disappointing as Moss did last season, but year-in and year-out, we see less-than-stellar seasons from highly touted fantasy receivers.

Whether it's due to questionable quarterback play, injuries or simply poor performance, wide receiver is a volatile position. When it comes to ranking the top pass-catchers in the game, the No. 1 overall producer could be among the preseason top 10, or it could be a no-name freshman out of Louisiana-Monroe.

But even with all the uncertainty surrounding the position, here are the top 10 wideouts to target on draft day:

Other Top 10 Rankings: Quarterbacks | Running Backs

1. Justin Blackmon – Oklahoma State
If there ever was a model for the perfect fantasy wide receiver, Justin Blackmon would be it. Blackmon totaled more than 100 receiving yards and at least one score in each of the 12 games he played in, finishing second in the nation with 1,782 yards despite missing one midseason game. And if that wasn't good enough, Blackmon was also No. 1 in the game with 20 receiving touchdowns. With those numbers, Blackmon should without question be the first wideout off the board.

2011 Projection: 1,700 yards, 19 touchdowns

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2. Ryan Broyles – Oklahoma
With his quarterback being the No. 1 ranked passer in the game, it makes sense we would see his top target on this list. Broyles was Landry Jones' go-to guy last season, leading the nation in receptions with 131, 12 more than the next closest receiver. He also finished third in receiving yards and tied for fourth in touchdowns, and with the chemistry he and Jones share, 2011 could be another special fantasy season for Broyles.

2011 Projection: 1,700 yards, 16 touchdowns

3. Lance Lewis – East Carolina
The biggest gain in Lewis' fantasy value may come from the departure of former teammate Dwayne Harris. Each wideout finished last season with over 1,100 yards and 10 touchdowns, but Harris graduated after the 2010 season, and with no proven pass-catcher to step up in his place, Lewis should reap the fantasy benefits of his absence. Lewis finished just 16th in receiving yards last season, but you can expect that ranking to jump significantly in 2011.

2011 Projection: 1,400 yards, 18 touchdowns

4. Jordan White – Western Michigan
It seemed as if White's run a solid fantasy contributor was over following his fifth year at Western Michigan last season, but the NCAA granted him the elusive sixth year of eligibility, meaning he's back on the fantasy radar. White topped 100 yards receiving in seven games last year en route to a season stat-line of 1,378 yards and 10 TDs. He does have the tendancy to get shut out in certain games, but when he's on, he's near the top of the scoring list every week.

2011 Projection: 1,300 yards, 14 touchdowns

5. Alshon Jeffery – South Carolina
One of the riskier wide receiver plays in the game, Jeffery is one of the biggest boom or bust players near the top of fantasy draft boards. Though he finished last season ranked fourth in receiving yards with 1,517, the indefinite suspension of Gamecocks' quarterback Stephen Garcia leaves Jeffery's fantasy value in flux. If Garcia plays, Jeffery should again be a top-five receiver, but he will be a draft-day risk.

2011 Projection: 1,500 yards, 12 touchdowns

6. Juron Criner – Arizona
In his junior season, Criner nearly doubled the numbers he had accumulated in both is first two seasons combined, finishing the year ranked ninth with 1,233 yards and 16th with 11 touchdowns. Though he struggles at times—he had four games in 2010 with three or less receptions—Criner is a big-bodied weapon for the Wildcats and should continue to be a valuable fantasy commodity in his senior season.

2011 Projection: 1,200 yards, 13 touchdowns

7. Patrick Edwards – Houston
Edwards is another receiver who struggled with bouts of inconsistency last season, but his ability and experience leave so much room for fantasy growth in 2011. As a junior in 2010, Edwards finished 20th in the nation with 1,100 receiving yards, despite catching two passes for negative-three yards in a late-season game against Tulsa. If Edwards can develop more consistency in his senior season, he could be an underrated fantasy producer this year.

2011 Projection: 1,150 yards, 14 touchdowns

8. Royce Pollard – Hawaii
Last season, Hawaii receivers Greg Salas and Kealoha Pilares finished with a combined 3,195 receiving yards, finishing first and seventh in the nation, respectively. But with both players no longer with the Warriors, much of their fantasy success could be passed on to Pollard, last year's third leading wide receiver. Pollard finished 2010 with 901 yards and seven touchdowns, and with more than half of Hawaii's receiving production graduating, Pollard could be in line for a breakout year in 2011.

2011 Projection: 1,600 yards, 16 touchdowns

9. Jeff Fuller – Texas A&M
If you're looking for a high-risk, high-reward player at receiver, Fuller might be your guy. At 6-4, 215 pounds, Fuller is a classic big-body receiver with potential to be one of the top pass-catchers in the game. He struggles with inconsistency, going over 100 yards receiving just four times last season, but even with those struggles, Fuller still finished top-25 in yards and top-15 in touchdowns. He's a risky pick, be could offer a high reward if he can put it all together in his senior season.

2011 Projection: 1,100 yards, 14 touchdowns

10. Tyler Shoemaker – Boise State
Shoemaker is another sleeper that moves into the top-10 rankings. Shoemaker finished with just 582 yards on 32 receptions last year, but he now has more opportunity ever to make the leap to a statistically elite receiver. With both the Broncos' top two wideouts—Titus Young and Austin Pettis—now in the NFL, Shoemaker, the team's third-leading receiver, has a chance to move up to No. 1 on the depth chart. If he can develop more chemistry with quarterback Kellen Moore, Shoemaker could be one of the best receiver sleepers this year.

2011 Projection: 1,350 yards, 10 touchdowns

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