Welcome war buffs to The Battle of Powder Blue, also known as San Diego WRs versus Tennessee WRs. Not all of them. We’re leaving out the rookie additions Keenan Allen and Justin Hunter. Who’s to say rookie magic can’t happen (Brian “TheBoss” Luzier, that’s who, if you know what’s good for ya’ – see his awesome DFW article here), but Allen and Hunter would likely get no votes (they are down significantly in ADP and magazine rankings), plus one or both are pegged for a future poll. Danario Alexander is the clear-cut favorite here, saddled in between Greg Jennings and Tavon Austin on average in magazine rankings. Kenny Britt and Kendall Wright are right next to each other in magazine rankings as the 42nd and 43rd WR on average. Vincent Brown is a deep sleeper. However, he says put me in coach. Crazier things have happened. Digging back a few years: James Jones was the #17 WR last year – he was 63rd in ADP, while Cecil Shorts was the #25 WR last year – he doesn’t show up in ADP 99 WRs deep; Laurent Robinson was the #20 WR in 2011 – he doesn’t show up in ADP 103 WRs deep; Brandon Lloyd was the #2 WR in 2010 – he doesn’t show up in ADP 101 WRs deep; Miles Austin was the #6 WR in 2009 – he was 50th in ADP that year.
Speaking of WRs you didn’t see coming, how about Danario Alexander? The 2012 ADP listing on MFL is 99 WRs deep – not a one of them is named Danario Alexander. As of Week 7 last year, he was literally an unemployed free agent. San Diego signed Alexander and he had 1 target in Week 8, 3 catches in Week 9 and then ignited. From Weeks 10 – 17, Alexander was the 8th best fantasy WR, scoring more points than A.J. Green, Julio Jones, or Roddy White. Is it for real though? He was a great fit as a long-strider for Norv Turner, but San Diego under new HC Mike McCoy will employ a shorter passing game requiring more precision route-running and change-of-direction skills. This is still the same player who has multiple knee issues, the Rams cut him (twice), he sat on the open market for nearly two months last year and despite San Diego tendering him at the lowest level this past free agency not a single other NFL team bit.
We had a poll earlier called “The Torrey Smith Question?” and certainly could have “The Kenny Britt Question?” too. Is this the year Britt finally puts it together and keeps it together? He’s no doubt highly talented (he had 9 TDs in 2010 on 7 starts and in 12 games, and sports a career 16.1 YPC average), but he’s almost always injured (over the past three seasons Britt has missed 16 total games, and missed time each and every year) and his police record is about a mile long. Britt, no doubt, is one more knucklehead-move from a major league suspension. Last summer he had his 8th arrest since entering the NFL, that latest which was almost stupid-stupid as he tried to drive past an Army installation gate drunk and got popped for DUI. His most recent injury was a complete reconstruction of his ACL and MCL which was injured in 2011 (and he has had a series of minor knee surgeries after that as well) but Britt came back to start 11 games last year. All in, Britt averages 37/589/5TDs per season. Britt is in a contract season.
With perhaps a transition to smaller, quicker wide receivers under Mike McCoy, it’s possible that the 6-5 guys Norv Turner liked Danario Alexander and Malcolm Floyd will make way for the smaller, shiftier guys in the new offense in Vincent Brown and Keenan Allen. In limited work in 2011 as a rookie, Brown looked like a player. He got pressed into action that year starting Weeks 9-12, totaling 13 receptions and 234 in four games. Last year, Brown looked like a sleeper for sure with a 4/81/1-TD stat-line in Pre-Season Week 1, and then a 2/31/1-TD stat-line in Pre-Season Week 2. Two games, two TDs, but then a broken ankle sent him to IR for the season. Is a 3rd-year breakout in store? In terms of magazines, the most love you can find for Brown is from Sports Illustrated who ranks him as the WR51; at the other end, Pro Football Weekly ranks Brown as the WR91. As SI said, “Brown had a chance to be Phillip River’s go-to man last year (before the broken ankle). He hoped to return late last year, but San Diego chose to give him a full season to recover. If Brown is healthy enough to start for the Chargers this year, he can press 2012 surprise Danario Alexander for the team’s leading role.”
Built fairly similar in size to the Panthers’ Steve Smith, Kendall Wright ended his career at Baylor with an absolute studly senior season with 1,663 receiving yards, although Wright then posted a brutal-low 4.61 forty-time at the 2012 Combine. However, forty-times be-damned as Tennessee drafted Wright last year with the 20th overall pick in the NFL Draft anyway. Wright is no doubt a safe bet for a lot of work. From Baylor straight to the NFL, Wright saw 104 targets last year, tied with Lance Moore and Randall Cobb (tied as the 35th most among WRs). Wright’s 64 receptions tied him with Justin Blackmon as the 2012 rookie receptions leader. However, Wright didn’t do a ton with them. Wright averaged just 9.8 yards per catch last year. Among WRs with at least 50 receptions, only Dexter McCluster was lower (8.7) although for what it’s worth Percy Harvin was only 1 yard better (10.9) last year and Antonio Brown was at 11.9 so Wright isn’t too far away if he can build off his busy rookie season.
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