Just like it is never too early to get excited about the next Dark Knight movie, it is never too early to prepare for your fantasy football draft. Hey, August is going to be here quicker than you can ask, “Terrell Owens was released from an arena football team?”
So here are three wide receivers whose fantasy values should increase in 2012 because they will go from being under 1,000 yards to being close to or going over 1,000 yards. Feel free to move them up a few pegs on your offseason cheat sheets!
Santonio Holmes, New York Jets
Holmes might be coming off the lowest yardage output of his six-year career (654 receiving yards in 2011), but everything is fine with Gang Green’s top target. Holmes is hanging out religiously with his new best pal, Mark Sanchez. Tim Tebow is in camp looking to form some sort of Vince Young/Kenny Britt combo with Holmes. And head coach Rex Ryan is wearing a New Jersey Devils jersey at the Stanley Cup Finals. Like I said, everything is fine!
While Holmes has not exactly been racking up yards during his two-year tenure with the Jets, he has scored 14 touchdowns in 28 contests, a better scoring clip than he had with the Pittsburgh Steelers. Sanchez cannot find Holmes on the field 99 percent of the time, not even with the help of a magnifying glass, a spotlight and TMZ, yet Sanchez seems to search Holmes out around the end zone.
Fantasy owners might be scared about the Jets’ ground-and-pound, run-first offense and how that will impact Holmes again in 2012, especially with new offensive coordinator Tony Sparano at the helm.
Fear not! Brandon Marshall still had 1,000-yard years in Miami with Sparano as head coach, and if the overrated Michael Crabtree can have 874 yards with the run-always San Francisco 49ers, then Holmes can get 1,000 this season with the Jets.
When the Jets throw the ball this year, Holmes will be the main mark. Plaxico Burress is gone; Derrick Mason is gone; rookie Stephen Hill will not be a big contributor right away; and Dustin Keller is the ideal complementary player. Sanchez, Sparano and the Jets will do everything in their powers to make Holmes happy, productive and worth the millions they are spending (wasting?) on him.
Denarius Moore, Oakland Raiders
A full training camp and regular season for Carson Palmer plus another year of route-running experience for Moore should equal a breakout fantasy campaign. Moore is faster than a cheetah on crystal meth. Any catch he makes can be turned into a touchdown no matter where he is on the field. He averaged 18.7 yards per catch and 12.2 yards per carry in 2011.
Moore had a respectable 618 receiving yards last year, but that came on just 33 receptions. Considering Jason Campbell and Kyle Boller were his quarterbacks early on, and then the rusty Palmer during the second half of the season, it is downright amazing Moore caught that many passes.
You have to assume Palmer will be crisper with his passes and more on the same page with Moore in 2012. And Moore’s patterns and pass-catching will be more consistent with every game he plays in. Darrius Heyward-Bey may no longer be Oakland’s No. 1 receiver when the 2012 season ends if Moore takes his game and fantasy value to the next level.
Could Meachem actually shock the fantasy world and post bigger, better numbers without Drew Brees as his quarterback? Stranger things have happened. Look no further than Victor Cruz piling up 1,569 yards for the Super Bowl champ New York Giants and millions of lucky fantasy owners.
Meachem was at times New Orleans’ sixth-best option in its pass offense. Brees had to sling balls at Jimmy Graham, Darren Sproles, Lance Moore, Devery Henderson and Marques Colston first before Meachem would get his customary two targets per game. Heck, Joe Horn had more passes thrown at him in 2011, I believe.
So moving to San Diego after signing a multi-million dollar deal with the Chargers could be just what the fantasy doctor ordered for Meachem. He still will have to fight Antonio Gates, Malcom Floyd and Vincent Brown for Philip Rivers’ passes, but the good news for Meachem is that Gates and Floyd get banged-up more often than roller derby girls.
If you tell me Meachem will finish with 600 yards and four touchdowns in 2012, it would not surprise me. The guy has a better vanishing act than Criss Angel. But I predict Meachem will earn his millions and set out to prove that he does not need Brees, the Superdome, Sean Payton’s intricate offense or jambalaya to have a decent season. One thousand yards and seven TDs are not out of the question.