Last season there were a significant amount of fantasy football players who simply did not perform quite the way we all thought they were going to.
We can attribute this to perhaps a shortened off-season thanks to the CBA debacle or just the player being in a crappy situation that nobody saw coming, but either way, a certain percentage of these players are certainly due for a “bounce-back” 2012 campaign.
And potential “bounce-back” candidates are just as important as fantasy sleepers.
In a new series I am starting, I’ll try and isolate five players at QB, WR, RB, TE, and perhaps IDP that could be in-line for a bounce-back year; players I think you should know about—we’ll start with the coveted WRs.
DeSean Jackson, Philadelphia Eagles
DeSean Jackson has technically been taking a step backwards since his phenomenal 2009 season (63 catches, 1,167 yards, 9 TDs, five 100+ yards games).
In 2010, Jackson missed two games that could’ve helped him eclipse his 2009 season, but in 2011, Jackson had a true-type regression that only yielded 58 catches, 961 yards, 4 TDs and two 100+ yards games.
Some say Jackson’s contract situation caused him to under-perform. Others say Jackson was the victim of heavier coverage in 2011 while a few will argue that Jackson wasn’t completely healthy despite competing in 15 games last season.
Either which way Jackson now has a new contract, feels healthier than ever been and is looking to reclaim his place as one of the best receivers in the NFL.
The Eagles absolutely need Jackson to do what he could’ve done in 2011 this year and I believe they will get it all and more. This is solid news for fantasy owners looking for a legitimate playmaker out of the fifth round; right about where DeSean Jackson is projecting to be taken.
Mike Williams, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Mike Williams is a very interesting bird. The Bucs brought in Vincent Jackson for a very specific reason—they had no true marquee receiver.
Mike Williams had to sort of “step-up” and play the role of WR1 last season, but the Bucs never truly saw him as that player. Williams suffered a great regression in 2011 despite catching the same amount of balls as he did in his rookie year (65).
Williams fell short on yardage (771) and TDs (3).
Look, the Bucs need Williams to return to his play-maker self. Teams are undoubtedly gonna focus heavily on Jackson which is bound to open a ton of opportunities for Williams which is what I think the Bucs are hoping for.
If Williams can shake off last season and find comfort as the team’s number 2 receiver, I can certainly see him catching 60 balls for 800 yards and 6 TDs—not too shabby for a guy projecting as a 10th round selection.
Donald Driver, Green Bay Packers
OK, look. Yes the old man is getting older and yes Driver is not the same guy he once was, but that doesn’t mean Driver won’t bounce-back—even if it is a little bit.
Driver has said in the past he wants to play two more years, but he restructured for only one, and we all know he intends to retire as a Packer.
This curious situation could mean Driver’s last great “hurrah”, and a lot of times, players in those situations more often go out “with a bang” or at least attempt to.
Driver is probably going to try his best to leave one lasting impression upon the Green and Gold faithful, and that could mean some additional fantasy value in a guy that many feel is nothing more than waiver wire fodder.
Driver is still lining up as one of the three main receivers for Green Bay in camp and let’s not forget this guy still provided fantasy owners with six TDs last season despite low catch totals (37) and yards totals (445).
I really see the man catching 50 balls for 610 yards and 7 TDs; pretty good numbers for a guy you can easily draft at the tail end of your draft.
Austin Collie, Indianapolis Colts
Austin Collie was a fantasy darling in 2010 coming out of nowhere catching 58 balls for 649 yards and 8 TDs in just nine games.
His rookie year (2009) he put up almost identical numbers, but it took him 16 games to do so.
In 2011 Collie, like many out of Indianapolis, was a huge disappointment catching just 54 balls for 514 yards and a single TD.
Many fantasy owners are a little hesitant to take another chance on Collie this season. His 2011 bust was totally unexpected by many and the idea of a rookie QB throwing the ball has a few thinking all the Colts’ receivers will regress a bit—not to mention the total overhaul of the team has the remainder thinking there’s too much turmoil in Indy to expect a turnaround.
The fact is Andrew Luck is a rookie, yes, and he will make mistakes but the Colts drafted him for a reason—talent. As far as Collie’s 2011 bust season, many Colts players suffered greatly because of last year’s team-turmoil riddled season—Collie included.
This year, however, the Colts are quietly putting together a very progressive team that is certain to make more noise than they did in 2011.
The Colts already have Collie penciled in as the team’s slot receiver, but they are also giving him every chance to be the starting outside receiver opposite of Reggie Wayne which will only bolster his potential fantasy output.
Austin Collie is projecting as a 14th round receiver!!! Even if the guy winds up somewhere in the middle of the past two seasons he winds up being a great value. I personally see Collie putting together one helluva season this year, and I certainly think he is being underestimated.
I also think there is more potential for Boom than Bust in 2012.
Miles Austin, Dallas Cowboys
Miles Austin’s regression actually came in 2010, not 2011. Last season the man was in terrible shape—Austin himself admits to the fact—and subsequently missed 6 total games, but he was on pace to have a better season than 2010—here’s the last three seasons.
Can you expect the 2009 version of Austin? Perhaps not, but I believe you may get close this season. The Cowboys are going to rely heavily on just two main receivers for the better portion of 2012 which means a lot of opportunity for both Austin and Bryant. Austin, even with a shortened season under his belt, has remained fairly consistent which is something fantasy owners should pay attention to.
An issue you should be aware of, however, if the fact that Austin is climbing up the ranks while fellow receiver Dez Bryant is falling a bit (probably due to Dez Bryant’s arrest). This simply means that more and more people are beginning to favor him, so if you want in on him, be prepared to target him early.
Miles Austin is currently projecting as a fourth round selection.
“Just miss” candidates who should perform better this season: Andre Johnson (Texans, obvious), Damian Williams (Titans), Earl Bennett (Bears…HUGE potential), Danny Amendola (Rams)
Be sure to check out other great articles at Fantasy Knuckleheads.