Top Ten Fantasy Football Players of 2011

For many fantasy football leagues, this week represents the championship game.  While some of you perhaps achieved this success through dumb luck, I will assume that most of you actually knew what you were doing and utilized your skills and intuition to attain such success.  That being said, this week’s Top Ten list will be the ten best fantasy players of the season.  As a disclaimer, this list is representative through 15 weeks of the season.  So if Tony Romo throws 18 touchdowns in the next two weeks, you will have to forgive me for not ranking him higher than Aaron Rodgers or Drew Brees.  So without further adieu, here are the Top Ten fantasy players of 2011.

10.  Wes Welker (WR-NE) – He started the 2011 season hotter than anyone as he was on a record-setting pace for receptions and receiving yards.  He slowed down a bit as the Patriots slumped a bit in the middle of the season.  But it has been another stellar year for Welker as he has accumulated 104 catches for 1,380 yards and 9 touchdowns thus far.  Even without a dominant deep threat in New England’s offense, Welker still managed to get himself open and catch passes despite being covered by his opponent’s best defensive back.

9.  Matthew Stafford (QB-DET) – No one has ever questioned Stafford’s talent or abilities.  The real issue was whether he could stay healthy for an entire season, and that question has been answered this year.  Stafford helped the Lions emerge as a playoff team this year by throwing for 4,145 yards and 33 touchdowns.  He never had the benefit of having an effective running game, but that hasn’t stopped him from leading one of the league’s most prolific offenses.  He still isn’t in the elite category, but he is certainly near the top of the next tier of quarterbacks.

8.  Tom Brady (QB-NE) – It has been another banner year for the future Hall of Fame quarterback.  He has been overshadowed by the performance of some other great quarterbacks, but his numbers are right near the top and on pace with what he customarily produces.  He has thrown for 4,593 yards and 35 touchdowns and still has a chance at breaking Dan Marino’s record for passing yards in a season.  He has been healthy all season and looks as good as ever at this stage of his career.

7.  Ray Rice (RB-BAL) – In a season filled with disappointments for running backs, Ray Rice has been stable and solid all year long.  Picked by many as one of the top three running backs in fantasy football, Rice has amassed 1,086 rushing yards and 10 touchdowns.  While those rushing yards do not appear to be anything special, his fantasy value is enhanced by the fact he caught 71 passes for 648 yards making him truly a double threat.

6.  Calvin Johnson (WR-DET) – Megatron was on pace for a historic season over the first five games of the year.  While he has slowed down a bit, he still has caught 81 passes for 1, 335 yards and 14 touchdowns.  Defenses smartened up a bit by double and triple-covering him.  However, he has justified his position as the best fantasy receiver in the league. 

5.  Rob Gronkowski (TE-NE) – This man has redefined the tight end position by putting up numbers that almost all wide receivers would be envious of.  All he has done is catch 75 passes for 1,141 yards and an astounding 15 touchdowns.  He has been so good this year that you could easily justify taking him in the first round of your fantasy football draft in 2012 because he is so much better than anyone else at his position, and arguably better than most receivers.  He has become Tom Brady’s favorite target and deserves to be recognized for having such an incredible season.

4.  Drew Brees (QB-NO) – What can’t be said about how good Brees has been this year?  He is on pace to shatter Marino’s record for passing yards and would be a lock for the MVP if not for some guy named Rodgers.  He has thrown for 4,780 yards and 37 touchdowns in an offense without a superstar receiver and an ineffective running game.  He has made players such as Jimmy Graham, Lance Moore, Devery Henderson and Robert Meachem that much better.  He has also taken advantage of having Darren Sproles as a reliable option out of the backfield. 

3.  LeSean McCoy (RB-PHI) – Before the season, McCoy was still ranked behind running backs such as Jamaal Charles, Maurice Jones-Drew and Chris Johnson.  However, he has proven to be the Real McCoy with his 1,274 rushing yards and 17 touchdowns.  He has averaged almost six yards per carry which demonstrates how explosive he is.  The Eagles still haven’t fully maximized McCoy’s potential, which is scary.  Going into next year, he should be right at the top of your lists of fantasy running backs.

2.  Cam Newton (QB-CAR) – The biggest fantasy surprise of the year has to be the obvious choice for Rookie of the Year, Cam Newton.  No one could have foreseen how good he has been stepping right in as the starter for the Panthers.  Everyone knew he could run with the ball, but his passing has been crisp and explosive.  He developed a rapport with Steve Smith immediately and has been a big play threat all season.  His 3,722 passing yards is a rookie record.  He also has thrown for 17 touchdowns and rushed for 13 more.  Many people who drafted him sold high early in the season and got great value for him.  He won’t be a surprise next year.

1.  Aaron Rodgers (QB-GB) – The obvious choice for number one on this list is the reigning Super Bowl MVP and star of State Farm commercials.  Aaron Rodgers has stepped out of Brett Favre’s shadow and erased it from existence.  He arguably has played the quarterback position better than anyone in history this season with his deadly accuracy and explosive results.  He has utilized all of his offensive weapons and helped make each of them a scoring threat.  With 4,360 passing yards and 40 touchdowns, Rodgers has been the best real and fantasy player of the season.  Oh, he only has six interceptions.

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