Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) -
While we watch and wait as NFL players and owners continue to battle each other with lawyers and the court system, let's continue our analysis of the 2010 fantasy draft.
Using RapidDraft's ADP lists from July 7th (before training camp) and August 31st (end of the exhibition season) we will evaluate those players who moved up or down significantly (10 points-or-more).
Who were the rising stars, why were they moving up and did they meet expectations? And we will also look at who was dropping, why and did they play better or worse than expectations?
Today we take up the wide receiver position.
Injuries seemed to be the primary reason for the rise and fall of fantasy wideouts.
We start in Minnesota with Sidney Rice. Rice was coming off a "monster" 2009 season in which he and Brett Favre had become a potent weapon. The two connected 83 times for 1,312 yards and eight touchdowns that year. But he also had a lingering hip problem which we all became more aware of as training camp approached. He and the team kept underplaying the injury and in early July he was the No.8 receiver with an ADP of 20. By late August Rice had hip surgery and his fantasy value dropped quickly. Fantasy owners were still taking a flier on him the week before the season opener, but using a fourth-or-fifth round selection.
Even that was wishful thinking as Rice ended the season with 17 receptions for 280 yards after returning in Week 11.
The New York Giants tandem of Steve Smith and Hakeem Nicks were headed in opposite directions as the season approached. Smith started at 31 and dropped to 34 while Nicks began training camp with an ADP of 58 and jumped to No.48 by the final week of August.
When the season began, Nicks exploded for three touchdowns in Week 1 and had 653 yards and nine touchdowns after eight games before being slowed by injury. Meanwhile, Smith earned 517 yards and three scores at the team's mid-season.
While fantasy owners still had Smith ahead during draft season, it was obviously noted that Nicks was quickly improving.
Fantasy owners were also enjoying what they saw from Patriots wideout Wes Welker who was trying to come back from major knee surgery. Welker looked good throughout training camp despite it being just eight months removed from ACL and MCL surgery. His ADP jumped from 48 to 37 in the seven weeks.
Welker did play 15 games last year, but he wasn't quite the same receiver. After averaging 115.3 receptions for the three previous seasons, Welker caught 86 balls for a career-low 9.9 ypc. The loss of Randy Moss could also have had and effect, but Welker was the 16th receiver off the board and finished just 24th best at the position and simply wasn't as explosive as in past seasons. We were fooled by his early return. We should have known it takes two years to return to full health and Welker should give us our 115 catches in 2012.
We were also fooled by the exciting prospect of teaming Terrell Owens with Chad Ochocinco. When he signed, Owens' ADP jumped from 187 to 106. Owens started slowly, but was a No.1 receiver from Week 4 through Week 9. Then things fell apart and by fantasy playoff time he was nowhere to be found.
Vincent Jackson (holdout) and Antonio Bryant (knee) and Donnie Avery (knee) dropped precipitously over the seven-week timeframe, and none produced during the season.
On the upside, summer camp proved to fantasy owners that Tampa Bay rookie Mike Williams was the No.1 receiver and his numbers jumped from 150 in July to 139 in August. Even that wasn't enough as Williams became a star particularly near the end zone. Williams pulled in 65 balls for 964 yards and 11 touchdowns.
Overall fantasy owners were less accurate with their moves at wide receiver than those at running back and quarterback.