Last Updated: Jan 25, 2011 5:01 PM
For the third installment of CFG's "Way Too Early" 2011 college fantasy football player rankings, we turn our attention to the wide receiver position.
Remember, we're calling them "Way Too Early" rankings for a reason. It's just a first glance at the 2011 prospects. A gut feel. We haven't fully analyzed returning o-lineman for each school. We haven't yet plugged in the incoming stud recruits (signing day is February 2nd). We didn't account for all of the new coaching changes. And we haven't taken a peek at the upcoming fall schedules. All of that will come with due time.
We've been releasing one article per position per day. Eventually we'll transfer all of the data over to our Big Board. Here's the schedule:
Friday, January 21 - Quarterbacks
Monday, January 24 - Running Backs
Tuesday, January 25 - Wide Receivers
Wednesday, January 26 - Tight Ends & Kickers
We're going to pass on defensive rankings until later this spring. So, without further ado, let's dive into the wide receivers!
"Way Too Early" 2011 Wide Receiver Rankings
Wide receivers are typically the most difficult position to analyze at this early stage of the game. Lots of moving parts. We're fortunate that the 2011 fantasy wideout class actually has some pretty big names (surprisingly) returning to campus in Oklahoma's Ryan Broyles, Oklahoma State's Justin Blackmon and Notre Dame's Michael Floyd. Most considered that trio to be pro-bound.
Proven fantasy studs Alshon Jeffrey (South Carolina) and Juron Criner (Arizona) are also back in the fold. And most importantly, their quarterbacks also return.
A new name to add to the Top 5 mix is East Carolina's Lance Lewis. With teammate Dwayne Harris departing, Lewis could improve upon last fall's outstanding 89-1,116-14 statline as he becomes the go-to guy for QB Dominique Davis.
Like your wideouts to take handoffs and return kicks? Then Tulsa's Damaris Johnson is right up your alley. This multi-faceted playmaker accounted for 112 touches, 1,432 yards from scrimmage, and 13 total touchdowns last fall.
Some WR questions to chew on:
Will Western Michigan's Jordan White get a sixth year of eligibility from the NCAA? If so, he's a sure-fire Top 10 fantasy prospect.
After a dynamite start to the year (11 TDs in his first eight games), Texas A&M's Jeff Fuller fell off the face of the earth (1 TD in his final five outings). Fuller was banged up in early November, and most think this was the reason for his late season swoon.
What is the ceiling for West Virginia's Tavon Austin? New offensive coordinator Dana Holgorsen arrived on campus this winter, and he brings his high-flying passing schemes along with him. If Holgorsen decides to feature Austin in the passing game (he could also opt to play him at RB), look for a huge increase in his already-impressive numbers (900 total yards, 9 TDs in 2010).
Over at SMU, how does Aldrick Robinson's departure factor into Cole Beasley and Darius Johnson's on-the-field production? The two combined for 165 catches, 1,900+ receiving yards and 12 scores with Aldrick in the lineup.
Who's left on the island? Hawaii's Royce Pollard is the leading returning receiver for the Rainbow Warriors (64-901-7). Who else will step up to fill the void left by the departure of Greg Salas and Kealoha Pilares? Redshirt Darius Bright and Billy Ray Stutzmann seem to be in line for possible starting gigs as well.
Will Oregon State's James Rodgers return to pre-injury form in 2011? He injured his left knee early in the 2010 season and was granted a medical hardship by the NCAA.
Can Brady Hoke turn Ray Roundtree into the next Vincent Brown? Roundtree put up nice stats last fall (92-935-7). Hoke had a pair of great wideouts at San Diego State in Vincent Brown and Demarco Sampson. The duo combined for 2,572 receivng yards and 18 TDs last fall.
What the heck are we to make of the Rutgers receiving corps? It's one of the more puzzling situations to monitor this spring. Mohamed Sanu was solid at times last fall, but did not live to the preseason hype. One of the reasons for Sanu's downfall was the emergence of Jeremy Deering (who took over the Wildcat package midway through the year) and Mark Harrison. All three Scarlet Knights return and it's anyone's guess at this point as to how they will be utilized.
Don't sleep on Stanford's Chris Owusu. He slogged through an injury-plagued 2010 campaign that left a bad taste in many-a-fantasy-owner's mouth. But with Andrew Luck back and WRs Ryan Whalen and Doug Baldwin departing, the door is opened for Owusu to have a productive season -- if he can stay healthy, of course.
How will Missouri's T.J. Moe and Washington's Jermaine Kearse produce with rookie quarterbacks at the helm?
It's a question we seem to be asking every year at this time: who will emerge as the go-to receivers for Texas Tech? Alexander Torres would seem to be the best bet at this point. Keep a close eye on spring ball to see if anyone else can make a splash.
James Cleveland and Kierre Johnson are gone down in Houston, leaving Patrick Edwards and Tyron Carrier to shoulder the load. Speaking of Carrier, what the devil happened to him in 2010? His statline went from 80-1026-9 in 2008, to 91-1029-7 in 2009, to a measley 53-480-1 last fall.
BYU freshman Cody Hoffman became a bigger factor in the offense once the calendar turned over to November, capping things off with a monster bowl game performance (8-137-1). A sign of things to come? It should be fun watching him grow along with fellow sophomore-to-be QB Jake Heaps.
Mississippi State's Chad Bumphis beat up the lightweights on the 2010 schedule, but completely vanished during SEC play. Can he put together a complete season this fall?
Who will utlimately serve as WR2 in Cincinnati (to D.J. Woods)? Armon Binns and Marcus Barnett are gone.
East Carolina threw the ball 609 times last fall. Who from the receiving corps is going to join Lance Lewis in hauling in all of those passes?
Will the La Tech passing game get its act together? If so, there should be plenty of opportunities to a receiver or two to step into the fantasy limelight.
Who will be on the receiving end of Dana Holgorsen's aerial attack in Morgantown (other than Tavon Austin)? Stedman Bailey and Brad Starks are possibilities.
Spring ball will shed more light on the wide receiver situations around the country. Until then, here's how we rank 'em....
CollegeFootballGeek.com's "Way Too Early" 2011 Wide Receivers Rankings
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