With so many surprises in the fantasy football wide receiver ranks in 2009, it was kind of like your last birthday party.
You had some good friends there — like Andre Johnson and Randy Moss — some pals who you weren’t sure about, but were darn fun at the party — Miles Austin and DeSean Jackson — and there were a couple pals who didn’t show up — Terrell Owens and Dwayne Bowe — and have thus been knocked down the friend food chain. Bad analogy because, y’know, you don’t eat your friends. Hopefully, anyway.
So, here we are on the cusp of change — if we were playing that game, two of the top five don’t belong, and that’s not even considering Sydney Rice or that Steve Smith.
What chance do these surprises have of making a splash at your fantasy football bash in 2010?
Andre Johnson — When Owen Daniels returns he’ll steal some catches in 2010, but we can call AJ the new gold standard for wide receivers… At least until Miles Austin plays a full season as the No. 1 in Dallas.
Randy Moss — When you talked about gold standards for most every season since 1998, you talked about Moss — let’s forget about the Raider years. But Moss and Brady displayed humanity in 2010. Is it the beginning of the end?
Miles Austin — Much has been said of Awesome Austin so far at Chinstrap Ninjas, what with the Platinum Shuriken nod and such. He’ll be back here again next season, which, coincidentally is this year.
DeSean Jackson — Speaking of being back here in 2010. Jackson’s got this whole speed, game-changer thing going on. I’d like to see him back in the top-5, but if the rumor-mongers prove to be right, jzak’s prediction is wrong and some Kolb of corn is under center for the Eagles in 2010, you’ve gotta change Jackson’s crop forecast.
Reggie Wayne — Manning to Wayne is like Manning to Harrison, only newer. If you don’t expect Wayne back here next year then I’d just like to say that this is a fantasy sports Web site. You are in the wrong place.
Larry Fitzgerald — Fitz’s super statistics rest solely on Kurt Warner’s ultimate decision to retire or keep playing. The Cardinals’ receiver is a tremendous talent and will get his points regardless. But I think everyone reading this can agree that without an All-Pro veteran like Warner firing passes at him, he’ll score less in 2010.
Wes Welker — If you want a sure-fire player to strike from list in 2010, pick the guy with a demolished knee who will likely only play about four games in 2010.
Roddy White — Things are going to have to change for White to return to this list. He benefited greatly from two 30+ point games in 2009. If Ryan and the Falcons offense improves, White will return.
Brandon Marshall — It’s pretty much a foregone conclusion that Marshall won’t be with the Broncos in 2010. It’s also pretty obvious that he’s supremely talented, will catch on somewhere and be a fantasy factor in 2010.
Vincent Jackson — Look at the targets for the top 10 receivers and two numbers really jump out at you, DeSean Jackson’s and Vincent Jackson’s. Vincent had just 107 targets while those around him had 140s and 150s. His talent is on the rise. Let’s stop for a second and imagine if he got 40 or 50 more targets. That’s probably not going to happen, but even 20 more targets in 2010 could boost him into the top-5.
Sydney Rice — Rice had relatively low target numbers (121) despite how much it seemed like Brett Favre was tunnel-visioning him in the playoffs. Rice finally seems to be living up to the hype. If Favre stays retired — double-Ha! — Rice will not be happy. The Vikings can’t go from Favre to Tarvaris Jackson with a straight face.
Steve Smith (NYG) — A lot of people could have expected him to be this high on a point per reception list, but this one doesn’t factor in every one of his 107 catches. He’ll continue to be the one constant for the Giants passing game.
Hines Ward — People keep trying to bury Hines Ward because he’s old. He’s got a few years left.
Chad Ochocinco — I’d like to badmouth Ochocinco for scoring nine TDs and relying on that for his fantasy points — he had an un-Ocho 72 catches for 1,047 yards, but then we turn to Marques Colston’s numbers…
Marques Colston — Colston is one of the most talented receivers in the NFL, so it pains me a bit to rip on him for relying on his nine TDs to inflate his fantasy points. What I mean is that, with his 70 catches and 1,074 yards, if he scores three less TDs, he is Donald Driver or Derrick Mason and has a good chance of missing out on top-20 status.
Santonio Holmes — So, how do you follow up a spectacular catch to win the Super Bowl? With 79 catches, 1,248yards and five TDs, of course.
Steve Smith (CAR) — A number of times I’ve said to a number of people that if the Panthers had made Matt Moore their quarterback earlier in 2009, they might be playing next weekend. Steve Smith would definitely have been ranked higher than 17th. Moore, or any quarterback other than Delhomme could help vault Smith back into the elite in 2010.
Greg Jennings — We touted Jennings pretty highly in the preseason. It’s not like he was a bad receiver, it’s just that Ninjas paid a top-5-ish price. The promise is still there for Jennings, but Rodgers is generous with his passes. Until something changes expect this kind of performance in the future.
Derrick Mason — Will he retire? He was retired in the offseason last year, but came back. The only thing is, the Ravens were close again this year and Mason had his best season statistically. I bet he’ll be back, but not up in this list.
Anquan Boldin — So, if Boldin does in fact get out of the dry heat that is Arizona in the offseason he’s actually getting out while the getting is good. He played hurt for what seemed like the entire season but still amassed 84-1,024-4 and a rushing TD. That’s an impressive audition for his next team.
Who won’t be back in 2010? Who crashes this party in 2010? Let us know in the comments.