Chris Wesseling

Offseason Low Down

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Top 30 Keepers for 2011

Tuesday, March 01, 2011


In Part I of the Top-50 keepers, we covered the nature of keeper leagues, the near misses, the fallers, and players 31-50. Let's move on to the top 30 keepers.

Top 30 Keepers
Rank from the previous two seasons (2010, 2009) in parentheses.

30. Michael Turner, Falcons (8, 8): I'd rather sell a year early than hold on a year too long. Turner just turned 29 years old, and his YPC dropped off to 3.6 over the final six games of the season.

29. Reggie Wayne, Colts (12, 23): The decline is on. Wayne's downfield effectiveness and yards per reception dropped for the fifth straight season. With Austin Collie and Dallas Clark banged up and Pierre Garcon underwhelming, Wayne still managed a seventh-place fantasy finish. The arrow is pointing down for 2011.

28. Greg Jennings, Packers (30, 25): Packers coaches game-planned to get the ball in Jennings' hands after a slow start, but there's no escaping the fact that his production spike coincided with Jermichael Finley's season-ending injury. In the five early-season games with Finley, Jennings averaged 2.8 receptions and 36.6 yards. The rest of the way without Finley, Jennings averaged 5.5 receptions and 92.3 yards. Jennings still makes for a fine keeper, but his numbers will decline at least slightly next season.

27. Philip Rivers, Chargers (33, 43): Coming off a career year with a patchwork receiving corps. Rivers should have no problem repeating his fourth-place fantasy finish with Antonio Gates back healthy and Vincent Jackson returning for 16 games.

26. Tony Romo, Cowboys (29, 29): Is Romo an elite QB? He's fifth among active starters in completion percentage (64.1), first in passing TD percentage (5.7), first in yards per attempt (8.00), and third in passer rating (95.5). Regardless of reputation, it's clear that Romo is a premier passer. Throw in arguably the most dynamic pair of receivers in the NFL, an elite tight end, and a fine pass-catching back, and Romo is poised for a career-year in 2011.

25. Brandon Marshall, Dolphins (21, 15): Marshall's 2010 numbers were down for two reasons: 1. The Week 11-13 hamstring injury and 2. Chad Henne was brutal in the red zone. I'm not buying GM Jeff Ireland's public backing of Henne the past few weeks. The Dolphins will have a new starter come September.

24. Miles Austin, Cowboys (19): Is there a better offseason trade target in keeper leagues? Austin averaged 6.6 catches and 97.2 yards with Tony Romo under center the first five games of last season. After Romo's shoulder injury, those numbers plummeted to just 3.2 catches for 50.4 yards.

23. DeAngelo Williams, Free Agent (18, 14): Most likely to sign Williams: Miami Dolphins. We've seen the Broncos, Saints, and Colts mentioned as possibilities as well. Denver has too many holes to break the bank on a backfield partner for Knowshon Moreno. Indy and NOLA use a plug 'n' play approach in the backfield, unwilling to make a big free agency splash. Keep an eye out for the Redskins and Bengals as wildcards.

22. Steven Jackson, Rams (6, 4): Jackson saw a sharp decline in effectiveness in 2010, dropping to 3.7 YPC while finishing in the bottom quarter of metrics compiled by Pro Football Focus as well as Football Outsiders. Particularly worrisome is that he averaged just 3.38 yards per on 127 carries from Week 12 on. S-Jax should see an uptick in PPR value with pass-heavy coordinator Josh McDaniels calling plays, but that will be offset if the Rams draft a dangerous change-of-pace.

21. Hakeem Nicks, Giants: Nicks is a true phenom, but owners can't count on 16 games in 2011 after he's battled wrist, leg, ankle, hamstring, knee, and multiple toe injuries in his first two seasons.

20. Larry Fitzgerald, Cardinals (15, 11): Fitz's talent and track record merit a higher ranking, but QB questions persist. Marc Bulger would hardly be a panacea, and this year's rookie crop isn't ready to step in from Day One.

19. Frank Gore, 49ers (5, 6): Exiting his prime at age 28, coming off a fractured hip, and entering the final year of his contract. Plenty of re-draft value, but it's hard to project RB1 production beyond 2011.

18. Peyton Manning, Colts (9, 21): Way too early to worry about a decline phase for the best statistical QB in NFL history. If Austin Collie stays concussion free, Manning could have the best collection of receivers since his magical 2004 season.

17. Maurice Jones-Drew, Jaguars (3, 2): If not for the meniscus surgery, Jones-Drew would flirt with the top-five. MJD revealed in January that his left knee was "bone-on-bone" by the end of the season. Torry Holt and Antonio Bryant never captured pre-injury form after bone-on-bone conditions related to meniscus injuries.

16. Drew Brees, Saints (13, 20): Brees' interceptions sky-rocketed while playing through a sprained MCL, but he still finished an impressive third in fantasy points and passing yards and second in touchdowns. Aided by the dome-field advantage, Brees has been a top-five fantasy QB in each of the past five seasons.


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Chris Wesseling is a senior football editor and Dynasty league analyst for Rotoworld.com. The 2011 NFL season marks his fifth year with Rotoworld and his third year contributing to NBCSports.com. He can be found on Twitter @ChrisWesseling.
Email :Chris Wesseling



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