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Mirror, mirror on the wall, who is the fairest of them all?
We know who will be taken in the top-three of your fantasy draft - Arian Foster, Adrian Peterson or Chris Johnson, but who is going to post the most fantasy points in 2011?
And who is going to be the best quarterback, receiver, running back and tight end?
Among other questions I'd like solved if I had a mirror with all the answers (besides who was going to win this year's Super Bowl and World Series) is "what players will have breakout seasons?"
With most of you about ready to draft your fantasy rosters, I'll try to answer these questions.
Most Points - Sure, many fantasy owners were disappointed with Chris Johnson's performance last season, but most had unrealistic expectations after he ran for 2,006 yards and 14 touchdowns in 2009. Considering the Titans' lack of a passing threat, the fact that he posted 1,364 yards and 11 touchdowns was phenomenal. Tennessee has brought in a solid veteran quarterback in Matt Hasselbeck who will help Johnson return to glory and in my opinion, the Titans' running back should go No.1 overall as he'll be the top scorer in 2011.
Top Quarterback - Aaron Rodgers, Green Bay
Rodgers is being taken at pick No.7 according to fantasyfootballnerd.com and that's not a mistake. The Packers' quarterback does everything you want from your fantasy passer, including run a handful of touchdowns in himself. He loves to throw and has a great group of receivers and tight ends. He's also durable, having played in 47 of the last 48 regular season games. In that span he's thrown for 86 touchdowns passes and 12,394 yards against just 31 interceptions. He's also run for 13 scores and 879 yards. He did all that with a suspect offensive line which should be improved in 2011.
Breakout Quarterback - Matthew Stafford, Detroit
The Detroit Lions "brain trust" likes to throw the ball. We know this because even with Stafford hurt for most of the season, the team threw the ball 633 times. With Shaun Hill, Drew Stanton and Stafford at the helm, the only teams who threw the ball more were Indianapolis (679) and New Orleans (661). The team has one of the league's top receivers in Calvin Johnson, a solid No.2 man in Nate Burleson, a talented rookie in Titus Young and a pass-catching tight end in Brandon Pettigrew and a good receiving back in Jahvid Best. Which means the only thing holding Stafford back from stardom is his ability to stay healthy and on the field. In 2011, Stafford will play in at least 15 games and give you great value for a player drafted in the seventh round (ADP 79).
Top Running Back - Chris Johnson, Tennessee (see above).
Breakout Running Back - Ryan Williams, Arizona
In 2009 at Virginia Tech Williams ran for a freshman record 1,655 yards and 21 touchdowns. He didn't fumble the ball in 300+ touches. That's a key factor as he'll begin the season in the "Tim Hightower role" as a third-down back and that was Hightower's biggest problem. Considering it's only Beanie Wells in front of him I expect Williams to take over the starting spot by mid-season and come fantasy playoff time (opponents will be San Francisco, Cleveland, Cincinnati) he could be a star. According to fantasyfootballnerd.com he's going in the seventh round.
Top Receiver - Andre Johnson, Houston
Despite playing much of the season with a swollen ankle, Johnson still managed to accumulate 1,216 yards and eight touchdowns in 13 games. The rise of Arian Foster and the return to health of talented tight end Owen Daniels will force defenses to avert some of their attention from Johnson and that should allow the best receiver in football to once again crack the 1,500-yard mark and double-digit touchdowns.
Breakout Receiver - Mario Manningham, New York Giants
When Steve Smith and Hakeem Nicks were hurt last season, it was Manningham who took control. In the fantasy playoffs (Week 14-16) he posted three consecutive 100-yard days totaling 346 yards and four scores over that span. Smith is in Philadelphia and Manningham has earned the starting role opposite Nicks. That's a great opportunity for the former Michigan Wolverine wideout as Nicks will draw the coverage and Eli Manning should find Manningham open all day long. I'm expecting 80 receptions for 1,100 yards and 10 touchdowns. As the 27th receiver off the board (No.75 overall) he's going to be a huge bargain.
Top Tight End - Antonio Gates, San Diego
The Chargers All-Pro tight end is impossible to cover and the only thing keeping him out of the end zone each week is his sore feet. Gates has had to deal with plantar fasciitis for a couple of years. When he plays, he stars. In the 26 games over the past two seasons while dealing with the injury, Gates has still managed to post 1,939 yards and 18 touchdowns.
Breakout Tight End - Jared Cook, Tennessee
This is the year that Cook comes out of the shadows and becomes a top-10 tight end. He displayed a bit of his talent at the end of 2010, with 12 catches for 154 yards in the team's final two games. With Matt Hasselbeck at quarterback, the tight end position should shine. Hasselbeck brought out the best in John Carlson in Seattle and he'll do the same with Cook in Tennessee. Cook will be the best player picked in the 16th round (ADP 183).
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