Getting even better this season will be Tampa Bay Quarterback Josh Freeman. The emergence of Blount in the backfield will continue to draw defenses in and open things up for Freeman to operate. He is a big quarterback who plays to win, regardless of stats. Part of that statement would make a fantasy player hesitate to pull the trigger on him. But I say, go for it. This young man is ready to join the ranks of the elite in football at his position.
Surprising people this year will be Matthew Stafford, provided he stays healthy of course. Kevin Kolb will enjoy the company of Larry Fitzgerald. He will be good, very good. But let’s keep those expectations within reality. If Colt McCoy actually had reliable targets, he could resemble a young Drew Brees. Despite the small arm, his accuracy is excellent, and mobility sorely underrated.
Sam Bradford was a huge success as a rookie, and should be again. Let’s give it just another year or two before we really start expecting him to be elite though, right? He will still progress this year as he is a very composed and intelligent young QB with a nice arm and quick release. However, I smell a slight hitch in store for Bradford’s 2011 sophomore season. I think defenses will focus more on pressuring him through the middle, as opposed to letting him roll out and throw, as he does so effortlessly. The NFC West isn’t home to any of the best defenses, so…Any way I try to dice this one up, Bradford will be rising to elite status among all NFL QBs. Whether that will be happening this year or next year is really the only question here.
The next few guys here are QBs that will spark severely contrasting opinions when asked about their potential production in 2011. I believe Mark Sanchez will benefit greatly from a very large, and even possibly rusty, yet bona-fide red zone target in Plaxico Burress. His legs are very well rested, and he can still run a sharp route.
I do not believe that Joe Flacco will become a big factor in fantasy football. He just simply does not have the downfield weapons to help him reach this status among quarterbacks. His security blanket will continue to be Ray Rice. That should continue to result in plenty more completions for Flacco, just not a lot of big ones. While I think he will be solid, I am not nearly as high on his fantasy potential this year as some of the main fantasy sports sites are.
Alex Smith and Chad Henne will surprise people this year. While I’m not saying that either of these players can carry a fantasy player’s team this year, especially not in standard 10 team setup. But, I do believe that both these QBs will be significantly better than most fans may believe.
Henne will have to make plays with guys like Brandon Marshall and Reggie Bush. Also, Davone Bess seems primed for a breakout. He probably wishes he still had Ted Ginn, but Alex Smith will now be the beneficiary of that. Coach Harbaugh has decided to roll with Alex Smith, saying he was thrown under the bus by his own team in the past. I think there is truth in that.
Think about it, once Crabtree is back to full strength, he will be joining both Ginn and Braylon Edwards as downfield weapons for Smith. Worst case scenario; another Smith becomes the San Fransisco treat, Troy. I know you’re laughing, but seriously even the former buckeye could put together a few nice fantasy games in a row with all three of those receivers healthy, along with Gore at full strength. The 49ers are very unlikely to re-sign Troy Smith, but you get the point. It’s a job that EVEN he would have relative success with now that Head Coach Jim Harbaugh will be bringing this offense along.
Andy Dalton will be the best rookie quarterback in 2011. In reality, or in fantasy you ask? Well both, I respond. Who else has a more open door way to first team snaps this year among rookies? I believe that Cam Newton could challenge Dalton for this distinction in 2011, but I’m gonna pick the guy who wasn’t the national champion/Heisman winner/ #1 overall pick. Plus, Dalton is easily underrated as a big time winner from his days as the TCU Horned-Frogs leader in to BCS recognition. Georgia Bulldog A.J. Green will be the terrific playmaker that a rookie quarterback with a condensed camp will need to get started.
I think Jake Locker has better overall physical tools that could prove to make him even more productive than Dalton two years down the line, but his time will come another year.
Matt Cassel has been put in such a great position to succeed this year that it would really be a shame if he didn’t. The addition of Steve Breaston to the receiving corps in KC should help pull away at least some of the weekly attention that Dwayne Bowe deals with. If all the key pieces stay healthy here, I can’t picture a situation in which Cassel actually does not improve. However, I am still not picking him to step up all the way in to the elite level of quarterbacks.