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Fantasy Football Pre-Season Preview: Receivers
David Dorey
July 27, 2012
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Other Positions:  Quarterbacks  |  Running Backs  |  Receivers

Wide Receiver Totals by Year

Year Runs Rush Yards Rush TD Targets Comps Receiving Yards Receiving TD
2005 239 1,189 7 9,962 5,514 74,065 421
2006 246 1,463 5 9,719 5,349 72,546 431
2007 208 869 4 10,231 5,915 77,272 483
2008 240 1,642 9 9,690 5,563 73,039 416
2009 317 2,102 7 9,846 5,648 74,564 431
2010 331 2,108 7 10,098 5,764 76,403 485
2011 283 1,775 6 10,031 5,681 78,470 473

The wide outs come off a big year as would be expected but it wasn't that much different and 2007 actually had more passes thrown to the position. Passing numbers are up but not that much for wideouts. Where last year made a mark was a higher yards per catch.

Top Ten Wide Receiver Totals

Year Targets Comps Receiving Yards YPC TD FF Pts
2003 1,494 926 13,171 14.2 101 1,923
2004 1,433 869 12,808 14.7 119 1,923
2005 1,528 907 13,142 14.5 100 1,914
2006 1,521 853 12,552 14.7 90 1,795
2007 1,559 938 13,191 14.0 124 2,063
2008 1,420 845 12,778 15.1 93 1,836
2009 1,398 861 12,417 14.4 103 1,860
2010 1,409 835 12,337 14.8 105 1,871
2011 1,355 839 13,592 16.2 97 1,962

A very solid year for the wideouts but nothing that out of line with the other top tens in recent years. All that passing that happened in 2011 was mostly to other positions and there was just minimal growth for the top ten.

Tight End Totals by Year

Year Targets Catches Yards Touchdowns
2005 3,093 1,932 20,171 140
2006 3,104 1,911 20,282 158
2007 3,257 2,095 22,131 183
2008 3,250 2,085 22,658 139
2009 3,558 2,274 24,960 193
2010 3,554 2,252 24,902 190
2011 3,658 2,310 26,672 197

Last year witnessed two monster seasons in particular but overall it was every bit as good as the recent past even without them. The position has come a long way over the last seven years.

Top Ten Tight End Totals

Year Targets Catches Yards YPC Touchdowns FF Pts
2003 809 518 6,014 11.6 42 853
2004 997 669 7,688 11.5 62 1,141
2005 1,084 675 7,978 11.8 57 1,140
2006 1,027 629 7,483 11.9 58 1,096
2007 1,053 683 8,267 12.1 66 1,223
2008 961 652 7,524 11.5 55 1,082
2009 1,157 779 8,947 11.5 77 1,357
2010 959 628 7,551 12.0 70 1,176
2011 1,106 740 9,327 12.6 78 1,413

The season of Rob Gronkowski and Jimmy Graham resulted in the highest numbers ever for the positional top ten. That wasn't too hard to guess.

Breakdown of all receptions

   Catch %   Catches  Receiving Yards Receiving TDs
2003 27% 18% 55% 2,644 1,731 5,287 20,158 18,176 70,929 78 128 441
2004 25% 19% 56% 2,439 1,889 5,417 18,844 19,846 76,403 77 188 465
2005 24% 20% 56% 2,326 1,932 5,514 17,440 20,171 74,065 75 140 421
2006 26% 20% 55% 2,519 1,911 5,349 19,377 20,282 72,546 58 158 431
2007 24% 20% 56% 2,529 2,095 5,915 18,889 22,131 77,272 55 183 483
2008 24% 21% 55% 2,416 2,085 5,563 18,926 22,658 73,039 88 139 416
2009 24% 22% 55% 2,437 2,274 5,648 19,275 24,960 74,564 84 193 431
2010 24% 21% 55% 2,492 2,249 5,737 19,888 24,874 76,114 72 190 484
2011 23% 22% 55% 2,430 2,310 5,681 19,694 26,672 78,470 75 197 473

The trends are clear. Wide receivers remain almost exactly the same in receptions every year but the running backs have been overtaken by the tight ends. What has really happened is that both running backs and wide receivers have not changed that much in actual catches but the tight ends have just added on to what used to happen.

The tables below show the split between all passes thrown to either a tight end or a wide receiver and what their respective percentages are. Their ranks are from their fantasy rank that year for the position against all NFL teams.

Arizona Cardinals

  Tight Ends Wide Receivers
Year % Catch Yards TDs Rank % Catch Yards TDs Rank
2009 8% 23 245 3 32 92% 271 3228 21 2
2010 11% 25 210 0 32 89% 208 2671 10 15
2011 22% 53 579 4 24 78% 192 2761 15 10

(Rookie Watch) The Cardinals have stepped up the use of tight ends but that could really just reflect the lack of a credible #2 across from Larry Fitzgerald. The Cardinals had long been the worst team for tight ends but Todd Heap and Jeff King combined for 51 catches to make a minor difference. The biggest thing happening here is the drafting of Notre Dame's Michael Floyd with the 1.13 pick but he's seemed slow to pick up the offense in the offseason. Floyd will likely remain behind Andre Roberts for now but a good camp would help the rookie get onto the field more. Fitzgerald needs his newest "Boldin" and the Cards are trying but it may take a while to get Floyd up to speed. In fantasy terms, it remains mostly just Fitzgerald with some help from Roberts that will give way to Floyd eventually.

Worth Watching: Michael Floyd

Atlanta Falcons

  Tight Ends Wide Receivers
Year % Catch Yards TDs Rank % Catch Yards TDs Rank
2009 36% 95 982 8 9 64% 168 2130 15 16
2010 30% 85 781 8 13 70% 203 2415 16 13
2011 31% 91 954 8 10 69% 204 2843 17 7

The only change here is to see how much better the passing becomes with Julio Jones entering his second season and coming off his very first offseason. Roddy White started the season slowly but came on strong towards the end and had his second season of 100+ catches. The rookie Jones missed three games with a hamstring injury but still ended with 959 yards and eight touchdowns. The beauty here is both wideouts were getting hot at the end of the year and their schedule is easier for 2012. Harry Douglas fills in as the #3 but there isn't enough passes to go around to make him fantasy relevant. Tony Gonzalez is playing in his final season and at the age of 36 it is reasonable to expect a lesser season. His draft stock certainly reflects that this summer but his 80 catches for 875 yards and seven scores placed him fourth best in most leagues for 2011. Not much to see this summer but should be some fireworks starting in September.

Worth Watching: Status quo

Baltimore Ravens

  Tight Ends Wide Receivers
Year % Catch Yards TDs Rank % Catch Yards TDs Rank
2009 27% 56 632 6 20 73% 149 2081 12 19
2010 25% 52 752 6 17 75% 157 2119 17 18
2011 45% 94 933 8 11 55% 115 1848 10 28

Two interesting developments happened last year. First - Torrey Smith became the #2 and though he really only had two monster games, he ended with 841 yards on 50 catches and scored seven times. He should be much more consistent this year though playing in the AFC North is no fun for any receiver. What also happened is that during the season where so many teams had huge passing seasons, the Ravens had almost the exact same result for the last three seasons. Only this time, they upped their use of the tight ends with Dennis Pita (40-405-3) and Ed Dickson (54-528-5). Together those were excellent and ranked 11th best in the league. But split out - neither tight end made for a decent fantasy starter. This is the same offense and personnel so it will probably be the fourth straight season of around 3600 yards and 20-something touchdowns.

Worth Watching: Status quo

Buffalo Bills

  Tight Ends Wide Receivers
Year % Catch Yards TDs Rank % Catch Yards TDs Rank
2009 24% 42 374 1 31 76% 132 1769 13 22
2010 9% 22 179 1 30 91% 211 2764 20 9
2011 19% 49 468 6 23 81% 207 2488 15 15

The Bills were yet another team that actually dropped in wideout use last year and had a relatively big season using the tight ends.The tight end had not been a factor there for many years but Scott Chandler (38-389-6) turned in a decent year considering he only had one career catch after four years. Steve Johnson seemed to have a down year but really came close to his 2010 marks by the end of the year. He just made no progress and declined a bit. Lee Evans was gone last year and David Nelson (61-658-5) filled in at least as well. Donald Jones remains the upside guy who never seems to improve. No changes to the personnel here but another year better. The rushing game worked really well last season and should be just as good this season. No real changes.

Worth Watching: Status quo

Carolina Panthers

  Tight Ends Wide Receivers
Year % Catch Yards TDs Rank % Catch Yards TDs Rank
2009 31% 63 755 5 18 69% 142 1824 9 26
2010 29% 51 385 2 29 71% 123 1570 6 31
2011 35% 85 1008 9 6 65% 160 2478 11 18

That surprising rookie season by Cam Newton translated into bigger numbers for all the receivers and what may be overlooked is that the tight ends were used much more than recent seasons. What made that harder to notice is that the work was split between Greg Olsen (45-540-5) and Jeremy Shockey (37-455-4). In all, the Panthers were almost top 5 in using tight ends. The wideouts had a big season but it was clearly Steve Smith who had the best season. He returned to yesteryear with 1394 yards and seven scores but he calmed down significantly in the second half of the season as did Newton. The only change to the receivers is that Shockey left and the Panthers want to see Gary Barnridge step up into the role. He's been with the team since being drafted in 2008 but has had scant playing time so far.The one to watch here is Brandon Lafell who enters his third season. The coaching staff would like to see him earn the starting job across from Smith and do something more with it than the 36 catches for 613 yards last year.

Worth Watching: Brandon Lafell

Chicago Bears

  Tight Ends Wide Receivers
Year % Catch Yards TDs Rank % Catch Yards TDs Rank
2009 32% 88 832 13 5 68% 185 2334 14 14
2010 24% 48 478 7 23 76% 156 2229 13 21
2011 14% 25 256 7 27 86% 159 2369 9 25

(Depth Chart Change)This training camp should be a must watch for receivers. Mike Martz left his fourth team proving that the St. Louis magic was over about ten years ago. Mike Tice takes over the offense and that should see a more conventional approach that uses tight ends more and focuses on fewer receivers. Kellen Davis only had 18 catches last season but scored five times. He's sure to get more catches this year and Matt Spaeth will figure in as well if not the rookie Evan Rodriguez. It is worth watching to see if any one emerges with fantasy relevance. The acquisition of Brandon Marshall reunites him withy Jay Cutler and gives the Bears a legitimate #1 receiver for maybe the first time in decades. And the #2 receiver needs to be worked out with Earl Bennett likely to take the slot where he could see more passes. Devin Hester or the rookie Alshon Jeffrey will play across from Marshall but likely won't have much fantasy value. This is worth watching because there should be significant changes to the passing game.

Worth Watching: Brandon Marshall

Cincinnati Bengals

  Tight Ends Wide Receivers
Year % Catch Yards TDs Rank % Catch Yards TDs Rank
2009 19% 43 410 2 30 81% 182 2284 19 13
2010 21% 65 543 4 27 79% 238 3052 19 7
2011 28% 72 755 7 17 72% 183 2403 14 17

(Depth Chart Change) Last year was a nice surprise when the rookie Andy Dalton impressed and the rookie A.J. Green astounded. Green ended with 65 catches for 1057 yards and seven touchdowns playing with a rookie quarterback in perhaps the toughest division for receivers and, oh yes, he had zero offseason work thanks to the lockout. The needle is pointing up for Johnson who has the marks of an elite receiver. The Bengals let Jerome Simpson go and drafted Mohamed Sanu with their 3.20 pick in the hopes that he might take over the #2 spot. Brandon Tate and Armon Binns are also fighting for playing time and it should sort out in training camp. How much value the #2 receiver will have in Cincy remains to be seen but it is no given who will step up and be that guy. Jermaine Gresham (56-596-6) has two solid seasons in the NFL now though he was only mildly better last year than he was as a rookie.

Worth Watching: #2 wideout battle

Cleveland Browns

  Tight Ends Wide Receivers
Year % Catch Yards TDs Rank % Catch Yards TDs Rank
2009 27% 42 469 3 28 73% 113 1372 5 32
2010 41% 90 1147 5 10 59% 129 1438 6 32
2011 36% 91 898 7 13 64% 162 1935 9 27

(Rookie Watch) The Browns were busy patching many holes with the NFL draft and never reached for a receiver until the 4.05 when they selected Travis Benjamin who will see special teams duty. The Browns have long been receiver poor but at least broke out of the #32 ranked unit last year. They used the supplemental draft to acquire Josh Gordon and already the rookie who never played anywhere in 2011 is considered a starter. Greg Little had a respectable 709 yards on 61 catches to lead the team but only scored twice. Mohamed Massaquoi has spent three seasons getting just a little worse each year so reaching for Gordon made some sense. New OC Brad Childress will bring a west coast offense to town and use a rookie quarterback in Brandon Weeden. Certainly no lock that any of these players will have any fantasy value or that Benjamin Watson will see any more work. Gordon is the main one to follow here if only from morbid curiosity.

Worth Watching: Josh Gordon

Dallas Cowboys

  Tight Ends Wide Receivers
Year % Catch Yards TDs Rank % Catch Yards TDs Rank
2009 41% 116 1251 2 11 59% 170 2755 24 5
2010 43% 128 1270 9 3 57% 169 2292 18 14
2011 38% 111 1187 6 7 62% 182 2698 27 5

This offense usually produces top 10 numbers for tight ends and wideouts (if not top 5) and there is minor changes this year. Miles Austin came to camp well paid but apparently under motivated and had a shockingly bad season that included missing six games. Dez Bryant had a better season with 928 yards and seven scores but still has never become the receiver they hoped. He has been the problem child that they feared though. The biggest question is how the Cowboys are going to replace the 858 yards and 11 touchdowns that Laurent Robinson turned in as the #3 last year. His spot will likely end up with Kevin Ogletree and that means the #3 spot returns to being a nonfactor. It will be up to either Dez Bryant making good on his potential and/or Miles Austin rediscovering his form of 2009 when he was the "Robinson". Jason Witten remains the same 1000 yard tight end that he has been for the last five seasons. Not much to glean from the summer but one of the starting wideouts has to be a home run hitter this year or the Cowboys are sunk.

Worth Watching: Miles Austin and Dez Bryant to see if either are hungry

Denver Broncos

  Tight Ends Wide Receivers
Year % Catch Yards TDs Rank % Catch Yards TDs Rank
2009 21% 59 705 3 24 79% 219 2641 16 12
2010 11% 27 222 0 31 89% 230 3356 19 3
2011 11% 23 285 3 30 89% 183 2551 19 9

(Depth Chart Change) Erase everything we knew about the Broncos. Peyton Manning was acquired and Tim Tebow sent packing. Jacob Tamme was brought in to give Manning some familiarity and Tamme could reprise the same role he had in 2010 when he went 67-631 and scored four times replacing Dallas Clark. They also brought in Joel Dreessen from the Texans and look to use both tight ends interchangeably and together. Where fantasy leaguers are paying the most attention is naturally with the wideouts where Demaryius Thomas and Eric Decker are both thanking their lucky stars and hoping to gain the favor of his highness Lord Peyton. Andre Caldwell figures in as well but both Decker and Thomas should see better numbers this year and the potential to far better than they have ever been. That may be hard to gauge from the summer but preseason games should give some help determining who is best meshing with Manning.

Worth Watching: All receivers

Detroit Lions

  Tight Ends Wide Receivers
Year % Catch Yards TDs Rank % Catch Yards TDs Rank
2009 36% 80 800 5 16 64% 145 1822 9 27
2010 44% 120 1137 6 9 56% 153 1985 18 20
2011 34% 115 1166 11 3 66% 223 3135 25 3

What a difference a full season of Matt Stafford made. Both the tight ends and wideouts ranked #3 in the NFL thought it was mostly Calvin Johnson (96-1681-16) propping up the wide receivers. The only change to the wideout was drafting Ryan Broyles with their 2.22 pick. But Broyles blew his ACL last year and is unlikely to do anything this season. He was the primary wideout at Oklahoma and is a nice dynasty pickup but a nonfactor for this year. It will still be Nate Burleson and Titus Young as the non-Megatron receivers. The Lions also used the tight ends with much success but split it up between Brandon Pettigrew (83-777-5) and Tony Scheffler (26-347-6). No real changes here but a very productive set of receivers are all one year better.

Worth Watching: Titus Young

Green Bay Packers

  Tight Ends Wide Receivers
Year % Catch Yards TDs Rank % Catch Yards TDs Rank
2009 34% 99 1048 10 4 66% 192 2934 17 10
2010 20% 57 673 5 20 80% 228 3163 23 2
2011 22% 67 858 10 9 78% 235 3667 38 1

The most productive set of wide receivers all return. Greg Jennings (67-949-9) had a slightly down year but Jordy Nelson (68-1263-15) had more yardage than his first three years combined and was a scoring machine in every home game. Randall Cobb and James Jones fight for scraps while Donald Driver can hardly believe they keep sending him checks. Jermichael Finley (55-767-8) finally had a breakout of sorts but lost catches and touchdowns to Nelson. No changes here and one year better. Except for Driver.

Worth Watching: Status quo

Houston Texans

  Tight Ends Wide Receivers
Year % Catch Yards TDs Rank % Catch Yards TDs Rank
2009 24% 73 912 6 12 76% 225 3046 17 7
2010 27% 74 989 6 11 73% 199 2516 16 11
2011 42% 83 1054 9 4 58% 116 1647 9 30

With Andre Johnson injured after week three and Matt Schaub also missing six games as well, the passing went downhill for the wide receivers and the unit showed just how important Johnson is - he is the entirety of the wide out production. Johnson is back and so is Kevin Walter. Jacoby Jones left but never was able to dislodge Jones or even matter really. This offense is locked into using Johnson and hoping that either rookie DeVier Posey (3.05) or Keshawn Martin (4.26) can eventually develop into something better than Walter. The strong tight end numbers came from Owen Daniels (54-667-3) having a standard year but Joel Dreessen (28-353-6) developed into an end zone weapon. He has left for the Broncos though and his production should end up with the wide receivers since Daniels has seemingly capped out with his role as a scorer. Not much to glean from this summer.

Worth Watching: DeVier Posey. Maybe.

Indianapolis Colts

  Tight Ends Wide Receivers
Year % Catch Yards TDs Rank % Catch Yards TDs Rank
2009 36% 121 1312 10 2 64% 211 2733 21 8
2010 28% 112 1029 8 8 72% 283 3250 25 1
2011 24% 64 584 3 25 76% 199 2421 11 20

(Depth Chart Change) The Colts are all new at quarterback with the rookie Andrew Luck hoping to be the newest Peyton Manning. That alone puts a new spin on the offense that also has all new coaches and schemes. Reggie Wayne remains as the #1 but comes off his worst season since he was a rookie with only 960 yards and four touchdowns. At the age of 34, time is catching up to him. Pierre Garcon left for the Redskins to prove he was just a product of Peyton Manning and his spot is up for grabs. Donnie Avery has been an early favorite to get the job though the rookies T.Y. Hilton (3.29) and LaVon Brazil (6.36) are both in the running for the job. It could be that no one player holds it all season anyway. The slot goes to Austin Collie but this is a new offense and OC Bruce Arians has a big job to put it all together in just one season. Arians comes from the Steelers and hasn't been a big user of tight ends but Coby Fleener was the college room mate of Andrew Luck and brings some familiarity into the offense for him. Hard to expect too much from a rookie tight end who never had more than 35 catches in any year at Stanford. This all bears watching if only for the future but this year looks like mostly the aging Wayne will matter.

Worth Watching: Coby Fleener

jacksonville jaguars

  Tight Ends Wide Receivers
Year % Catch Yards TDs Rank % Catch Yards TDs Rank
2009 27% 65 856 5 15 73% 176 2254 9 20
2010 40% 82 943 11 5 60% 123 1553 12 29
2011 31% 52 609 1 28 69% 118 1309 8 31

(Rookie Watch) (Depth Chart Change) This unit has no where to go but up. But unless Blaine Gabbert really catches fire (where only fizzle has been), it is hard to expect much from this group. The more productive from last year was Mike Thomas with just 415 yards and one touchdown. The Jags used their 1.05 pick to grab Justin Blackmon to help out the group but he is going to be limited by what Gabbert can do. They also brought in Laurent Robinson and Lee Evans so the talent has been vastly upgraded here. OC Bob Bratkowski gets to till the soil and start all over but he's not likely to do anything more with Marcedes Lewis or any other tight end. Gabbert was saddled with bad receivers as a rookie and that was no help. What transpires when he has all the talent he could possibly want remains to be seen. Worth watching since Blackmon and Robinson are sure to be drafted. This could be a surprising offense but MJD has to be happy enough to play and Gabbert needs to meet his potential.

Worth Watching: All wide receivers

Kansas City Chiefs

  Tight Ends Wide Receivers
Year % Catch Yards TDs Rank % Catch Yards TDs Rank
2009 21% 45 436 3 29 79% 173 2200 12 17
2010 34% 60 663 5 21 66% 118 1646 17 26
2011 16% 34 325 1 32 84% 184 2436 9 21

All the same players return for 2013 and the hope is that second-year player Jonathan Baldwin can do something more with his first round draft slot than punch out a team mate and break his wrist. Dwayne Bowe comes off the same 1160 yards for two straight years but he fell from 15 scores in 2010 to just five last year. The offense was rocked with the loss of Jamaal Charles and that affected the passing game as well. Steve Breaston remains the other start but will be supplanted by Baldwin as early as training camp potentially. Baldwin impressed coaches in the offseason with his knowledge of the playbook, maturity and lack of breaking his wrist. Dexter will get some slot work this year as well. Bowe is likely gone next year when he becomes a free agent so it is important the other receivers have a good year. Baldwin is the one worth watching in this group. Tony Moeaki returns from his torn ACL and should be ready for week one.

Worth Watching: Jonathan Baldwin

Miami Dolphins

  Tight Ends Wide Receivers
Year % Catch Yards TDs Rank % Catch Yards TDs Rank
2009 21% 53 532 5 26 79% 195 2270 6 21
2010 16% 41 572 4 26 84% 221 2645 10 16
2011 19% 40 576 5 22 81% 169 2319 10 24

(Depth Chart Change) This is shaping up to be a bad year for the receivers. There is a quarterback competition that may not end with week one. Brandon Marshall was allowed to leave in part because new HC Joe Philbin says they do not need a primary wideout. So they will make do with a gaggle of mediocre receivers - Davone Bess, Brian Hartline, Roberto Wallace, Legedu Naanee and even Chad Johnson in his swan song part 2. Anthony Fasano remains the starter and should maintain his typical level of production where he occasional has a decent game but never enough to warrant owning on a fantasy team for long. The wide receivers need to sort themselves out over the summer but the potential of changing quarterbacks and a "spread it around" mentality may not make the depth chart clear at any time. If anyone can break out of this mess it would be Chad Johnson but it would probably need to be three years ago.

Worth Watching: Chad Johnson

Minnesota Vikings

  Tight Ends Wide Receivers
Year % Catch Yards TDs Rank % Catch Yards TDs Rank
2009 26% 72 688 13 8 74% 207 2825 19 9
2010 31% 68 708 2 24 69% 153 1837 8 28
2011 28% 64 667 6 19 72% 168 2123 10 26

(Depth Chart Change) There are a few changes here with Christian Ponder back in the saddle as the starting quarterback. Michael Jenkins is still on the roster but may not make it to September that way. Percy Harvin remains the clear #1 wideout and Devin Aromashodu will play as well but the new guy on the block is Jerome Simpson from the Bengals. He has impressed in early work this spring and is brought in expressly to add some speed to the outside and hopefully free up shorter routes. Simpson will miss the first three weeks because of a suspension but by this time he's just happy he is not trying to pick a gang in a federal prison. Simpson ended with 50-725-4 in Cincy last year and could at least replicate that here in Minnesota if not improve. Missing the first three weeks means his draft stock is suitably low. The Vikes also said goodbye to Vishanthe Shiancoe since their 2.11 pick from 2010 of Kyle Rudolph is ready to start. The team is high on what they think Rudolph can do and he is in a nice spot to have the traditional second year break out for tight ends.

Worth Watching: Kyle Rudolph, Jerome Simpson

New England Patriots

  Tight Ends Wide Receivers
Year % Catch Yards TDs Rank % Catch Yards TDs Rank
2009 14% 43 546 7 21 86% 273 3386 20 1
2010 39% 93 1161 18 1 61% 148 1800 15 25
2011 46% 169 2237 24 1 54% 197 2654 15 13

(Depth Chart Change) Tom Brady finished with the second best passing yardage in the history of the NFL and much of that was from the tight ends who blew away all other tight end units in the league (if not almost every set of wideouts as well). Downfield passes were nearly split between tight ends and wideouts with touchdowns clearly favoring the tight ends. This was such an extreme that it is a challenge to forecast this year. Extremes always seem to calm down the next year for almost all such events and yet cut the production of Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez in half and they still might combine to be #1 this year. Wes Welker comes off his fourth 100+ catch season. About the only change to this high-powered unit is that Deion Branch has given way to newly acquired Brandon Lloyd. This reunites OC Josh McDaniels with Lloyd who may end up the most dangerous #4 receiver in the history of the NFL. While he only had one really good year, Lloyd turned in 1448 yards and 11 scores when last in a McDaniels system with a good quarterback at the helm. There are only so many passes to distribute so it will be interesting to see how they will fit in the potential that Lloyd seemingly brings in.

Worth Watching: Brandon Lloyd

New Orleans Saints

  Tight Ends Wide Receivers
Year % Catch Yards TDs Rank % Catch Yards TDs Rank
2009 33% 89 954 5 13 67% 181 2759 22 6
2010 30% 103 995 10 6 70% 235 2967 21 5
2011 34% 108 1350 12 2 66% 206 2924 24 4

The biggest influence on the Saints will not come from one player or position. It will come from their ability to get past the effects of Bountygate which may be a nonfactor or could infect the team - and particularly the defense - with a malaise that is common when bad things hit teams. It could go either way and depends on how the players respond. Luckily they have the fabulously wealthy talented Drew Brees under center and that alone should keep this offense star-studded if only in fantasy terms. Like the Patriots, the tight end positron here had a monster 2011 season but it was because of only one player - Jimmy Graham. No other tight end on the roster had more than five catches on the season. The downfield receivers lose a lot of passes to the running backs in this offense but there are always plenty left over for everyone thanks to Brees. The only real change to this offense is that Robert Meachem left but he lost the #2 to Lance Moore way back and never had a meaningful impact on the team anyway. The ball is spread around a lot anyway other than to Jimmy Graham.

Worth Watching: Signs of Bountygate funk

New York Giants

  Tight Ends Wide Receivers
Year % Catch Yards TDs Rank % Catch Yards TDs Rank
2009 19% 56 663 5 22 81% 236 3154 21 3
2010 21% 57 719 7 15 79% 219 2835 24 4
2011 20% 55 833 5 18 80% 214 3439 21 2

(Rookie Watch) The wide receivers more than held their own here last season when Victor Cruz merely went from zero NFL catches to ranking #3 in yardage behind only Calvin Johnson and Wes Welker. That is called a very nice and yet sharp progression. There is not much happening here this summer to track other than Hakeem Nicks who had foot surgery in May and is hoped to be ready by week one. His progress is being closely monitored so it will be apparent in late August whether or not he is able to suit up in the opening game against the Cowboys. His spot is being kept warm by Domenik Hixon and the rookie Rueben Randle (2.31). Randle has some long term potential at 6-4, 210 and coming from the LSU offense. Jake Ballard (38-604-4) plays an important role on the offense and yet remains outside of fantasy relevance.

Worth Watching: Hakeem Nick's foot, Rueben Randle

New York Jets

  Tight Ends Wide Receivers
Year % Catch Yards TDs Rank % Catch Yards TDs Rank
2009 26% 47 526 3 27 74% 134 1844 9 25
2010 26% 57 697 5 19 74% 159 2277 15 17
2011 33% 75 935 6 14 67% 152 1846 18 22

(Rookie Watch) This is a messy offense in passing terms (heck, rushing terms as well). And it is not going to get any better. The only real plus that happened here was that Plaxico Burress (45-612-8) is gone so Santonio Holmes (51-654-8) should see a higher rate of passes since Jeremy Kerley, Stephen Hill and Chaz Schilens are not likely to have a big year in this offense. Kerley is the early favorite to win the slot receiver but may lose time to Schilens. Stephen Hill has been plagued with hamstring issues in the offseason but the 2.11 pick out of Georgia Tech is expected to take over for Burress. Bottom line - this is a run first team that may employ two quarterbacks so finding fantasy relevance may be hard beyond Holmes and the tight end Dustin Keller who turned in a very respectable 65-815-5 last season.

Worth Watching: Stephen Hill

Oakland Raiders

  Tight Ends Wide Receivers
Year % Catch Yards TDs Rank % Catch Yards TDs Rank
2009 45% 80 902 3 17 55% 99 1363 7 31
2010 39% 72 765 5 18 61% 112 1645 6 30
2011 20% 47 535 3 26 80% 190 2790 14 11

It was plenty evident that picking up Carson Palmer made a huge difference to the wide receivers though the absence of the red phone connected to the owner's box may have had some impact as well. Carson Palmer allowed the team to hit receivers all over the field, not just being poorly overthrown on a post route. No changes here but the first offseason and training camp for all receivers and Palmer will help along with a chance to install shorter routes in a scheme more west coat from OC Greg Knapp. Darius Heyward-Bey and Denarius Moore have already seen at least some success and should be posed for bigger seasons. This will be a run-first offense, but plenty of passes will go to the top two wide receivers if no one else. The offense is likely to increase the use of the tight end if a decent one can be found. David Ausberry is a converted wideout and may step up into the role. Otherwise, Brandon Meyers will almost certainly remain the primary tight end with marginal fantasy value.

Worth Watching: David Ausberry

Philadelphia Eagles

  Tight Ends Wide Receivers
Year % Catch Yards TDs Rank % Catch Yards TDs Rank
2009 31% 79 996 8 7 69% 175 2754 16 11
2010 22% 53 602 5 22 78% 187 2842 19 8
2011 27% 75 974 6 12 73% 203 2958 13 8

Michael Vick had a down year but that was thanks mostly to his lack of rushing touchdowns (one instead of nine - go figure). But the passing remained just as good if not a bit better. There were no changes in wideouts the last couple of seasons and the results were nearly exactly the same. Passing to the tight ends increased but only to Brent Celek (62-811-5) who actually started the season with minimal production for the first five games. DeSean Jackson and Jeremy Maclin will continue to consume almost all the wide receiver passes and Celek has apparently become a bigger part of the offense. No changes though.

Worth Watching: Status quo

Pittsburgh Steelers

  Tight Ends Wide Receivers
Year % Catch Yards TDs Rank % Catch Yards TDs Rank
2009 28% 83 823 7 14 72% 215 3190 17 4
2010 23% 55 638 3 25 77% 185 2808 17 10
2011 23% 67 751 4 21 77% 225 3207 16 6

The Steelers opted to revive a stale offense by bringing in OC Todd Haley who coached the Chiefs and he worked with the Cardinals on their 2008 Super Bowl team with Larry Fitzgerald and Anquan Boldin. Ben Roethlisberger has to learn a new offense but has all the same players at his disposal - assuming the Mike Wallace holdout ends which is almost certain. Hines Ward is gone but his skills and production had been diminishing and the Steelers were already well off with Wallace, Antonio Brown and Emmanuel Sanders. Haley has no history using the tight ends much and Heath Miller has already settled down to around 600 yards and two scores per season anyway. The summer is for installing the new offense and just needs to get Wallace in to make it all work according to plan. That will happen.

Worth Watching: Status quo

San Diego Chargers

  Tight Ends Wide Receivers
Year % Catch Yards TDs Rank % Catch Yards TDs Rank
2009 37% 88 1198 9 3 63% 153 2376 13 15
2010 35% 80 1149 12 2 65% 151 2571 15 12
2011 39% 95 1081 7 8 61% 148 2566 17 12

(Depth Chart Change) Philip Rivers may have become an interception machine last year but he posted the same old stats as usual. Going into this season there is a big change with Vincent Jackson has left the Chargers after seven seasons and in his place is uncertainty no matter what coaches or Rivers says. Antonio Gates has struggled to remain healthy for the last two years though he says he feels 100% healthy (of course). He has lost five pounds hoping that helps his longevity. As for the wide receivers, Jackson leaves a big hole. Malcom Floyd is purely a #2 guy with never more than 45 catches in any of his seven seasons. Robert Meachem was brought in to be a starter and HC Norv Turner says he expects 1000 yards and 60 to 70 catches. This seems rather lofty for a guy who never had more than 45 catches for 722 yards in his four year career with perhaps the premier quarterback in the NFL and in an offense that passes more than anyone. Brees set the all-time record last year with 5476 yards and yet Meachem only accounted for 40 catches for 620 yards. Vincent Brown enters his second season and should end up with slot work though newly acquired Eddie Royal will contend for work as well. This is going to be worth following since Rivers is very productive but it is hard to imagine any of these guys stepping up into a true #1 role. Preseason games should give the best indication of which player is stepping up.

Worth Watching: Robert Meachem, Vincent Brown

San Francisco 49ers

  Tight Ends Wide Receivers
Year % Catch Yards TDs Rank % Catch Yards TDs Rank
2009 42% 99 1198 13 1 58% 136 1564 7 30
2010 41% 90 1272 7 4 59% 132 1956 10 27
2011 38% 87 1009 9 5 62% 143 1751 8 29

(Depth Chart Change) Alex Smith has no more reasons to complain. He gets the same offensive coordinator and scheme from the previous year and the offense is now stocked with weapons. Michael Crabtree has spent his career falling short of expectations but he better step it up because now Randy Moss and Mario Manningham have joined the team. Moss already projects as a starter and has been thoroughly impressive in the offseason as he tries to comeback after a year off. Throw in Vernon Davis who posts top 5 tight ends stats every year and Smith had better improve. Of course with a premier defense the need to pass may not be that great, but with these weapons on a winning team, it bears following in training camp and preseason games if only to see how well Smith does connecting with all his new toys.

Worth Watching: Randy Moss, Mario Manningham

Seattle Seahawks

  Tight Ends Wide Receivers
Year % Catch Yards TDs Rank % Catch Yards TDs Rank
2009 21% 55 593 7 19 79% 206 2376 8 18
2010 16% 49 551 2 28 84% 251 3187 17 6
2011 19% 44 453 0 31 81% 184 2512 13 16

There is a three-way competition for quarterback that will have an obvious bearing on the success of the receivers but smart money has Matt Flynn getting the nod if only to get some value back on his major payday in the offseason. The tight ends have not mattered here despite the acquisition of Zach Miller who went from the #1 receiver in Oakland to a whopping 25-233-0 in Seattle last year. To make matters even harder to figure out, they brought in Kellen Winslow as the only new element in the passing game that apparently will play behind a guy who only had 233 yards last year. As for the wideouts, they are average. Sidney Rice cannot stay healthy and so far has been a nonfactor in Seattle for two years. Golden Tate enters year three of being the high potential guy despite never having more than 382 yards in a season. That Doug Baldwin (51-788-4) led the team in receiving as an undrafted rookie says more about the other receivers than it does his untapped talent. Likely marginal fantasy relevance from these receivers at best.

Worth Watching: If Matt Flynn starts and picks a favorite receiver.

St. Louis Rams

  Tight Ends Wide Receivers
Year % Catch Yards TDs Rank % Catch Yards TDs Rank
2009 27% 63 699 4 23 73% 170 1793 8 28
2010 24% 70 697 7 16 76% 221 2328 10 23
2011 25% 46 508 0 29 75% 136 1603 3 32

(Depth Chart Change) (Rookie Watch) Little hard to get excited about an offense that ranked #32 with wideouts and #29 with tight ends. But this year should see an improvement and the only question is how much? HC Jeff Fisher brings on OC Brian Schottenheimer who spent six years running the Jets offense and no doubt the run will be a big part of the offensive equation. But 2010 Rookie of the Year Sam Bradford had a horrible sophomore season but has new weapons to use. Danny Amendola returns from the dislocated elbow and torn pectoral that ended his 2011 season after the first game. Greg Salas is another returnee with some potential but the Rams elected to restock the wideouts using the NFL draft. Brian Quick (2.01) and Chris Givens (4.01) are expected to make a mark and Quick hopefully lays claim on one of the starting slots. Steve Smith (the lesser) was brought on for one year after struggling with knee issues for the last two seasons but early word has him looking improved and he may stick. Danario Alexander is still around and hopes to play three consecutive games without a season ending injury. Most likely it will be Quick, Amendola and Givens as the starters but remember how promising this offense was after 2010.

Worth Watching: Brian Quick, Chris Givens

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

  Tight Ends Wide Receivers
Year % Catch Yards TDs Rank % Catch Yards TDs Rank
2009 45% 95 1037 6 10 55% 116 1595 7 29
2010 37% 87 971 6 12 63% 148 2064 17 19
2011 34% 91 895 2 20 66% 174 2205 15 19

Like the Rams, the Bucs entered 2010 with hope and expectations that were not to be. And like the Rams, it is a new year with a new coaches and a new offense. OC Mike Sullivan spent the last two seasons teaching Eli Manning with spectacular results and that can only mean good things for Josh Freeman and the passing game. The tight ends fell off last year and with that Kellen Winslow was sent packing. His absence is not likely to be a problem and Dallas Clark assumed his spot. The most exciting part was the addition of Vincent Jackson for a legitimate #1 wideout that should help the offense reach the next level. Mike Williams and Arrelious Benn round out the starters but this offense should take better form. New coaches, scheme and players in Clark and Jackson can only help. Even the rushing game should be improved with the rookie Doug Martin.

Worth Watching: Vincent Jackson, Dallas Clark

Tennessee Titans

  Tight Ends Wide Receivers
Year % Catch Yards TDs Rank % Catch Yards TDs Rank
2009 39% 81 736 2 25 61% 125 1772 12 24
2010 38% 76 801 7 14 62% 125 2008 16 22
2011 24% 60 950 5 15 76% 191 2443 17 14

(Rookie Watch) The quarterback competition between Matt Hasselbeck and Jake Locker enters training camp and it may not be over all year unless Locker can grab it and shine. The tight ends were average though Jared Cook (49-759-3) only fell short on touchdowns. The story this year is Kenny Britt who had surgeries on both knees and was placed on PUP to open training camp. That did not prevent him from racking up a DUI though and his draft stock has plummeted. Fortunately the Titans drafted Kendall Wright (1.20) with their first pick and he will fill in for Britt as long as needed (health or suspension reasons). He may very well carve himself out a fulltime position as a very talented and mature receiver that helped Robert Griffin III to win the Heisman. Nate Washington keeps the #2 and Damian Williams mans the slot for now. But Wright is going to be the difference maker if there is one. Washington and Williams have already reached their potential.

Worth Watching: Kendall Wright

Washington Redskins

  Tight Ends Wide Receivers
Year % Catch Yards TDs Rank % Catch Yards TDs Rank
2009 32% 81 850 11 6 68% 174 2136 6 23
2010 38% 100 1175 7 7 62% 162 2325 9 24
2011 33% 78 999 3 16 67% 159 2141 13 23

(Depth Chart Change) The Redskins are retooling this year and drafted Robert Griffin III to lead the offense. That brings risk to the passing game but undeniable upside and potential. RG3 has a better pedigree than any Redskins quarterback for decades. The receivers have a lot to prove outside of Fred Davis who was breaking out last year before getting suspended for the final four games. In his 12 games, Davis had 59 catches for 796 yards and three scores and was on pace for a 1000 yard season playing with just John Beck and Rex Grossman. Santana Moss is 33 and on the downside of his career but should remain a starter along with newly added Pierre Garcon in the hopes that somehow he is worthy of being a #1 wideout. That flies in the face of how such moves usually work out when a #2 wideout leaves one of the elite quarterbacks. They also brought in Leonard Hankerson and Josh Morgan to contend for the #3 role though Morgan is still bothered by his leg that was broken last year. While it is all up to Griffin, it looks like the Skins overpaid for Garcon and Morgan which would follow their typical pattern. Griffin is the key here but the rest of the receivers have to sort themselves out in the pecking order and indicate what sort of success they might have this year.

Worth Watching: Pierre Garcon, Leonard Hankerson and Josh Morgan

Other Positions:  Quarterbacks  |  Running Backs  |  Receivers

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