Whether it was from injury or lack of production on the gridiron last season there were some big time disappointments from the 2011 Fantasy Football season. There are definitely a handful of players who, barring unexpected injuries, are primed to return to form and live up their high fantasy draft status or at least lofty expectations. Here is a quick rundown of the Top 10 projected bounce back candidates for this season. Injury aside, Peyton Manning has been left off this list, as he went either undrafted or in the later rounds last year due to his neck injury.
Last season was a nightmare for Chris Johnson as his contract dispute hampered him for much of the beginning of the season and as the season progressed became less of a focal point of the offense. CJ2K did not show the burst and 4.3 speed that has made him a dynamic and elusive back that is capable of hitting the homerun on any play. With the succession to the QB throne soon to be Jake Locker’s, it’s fully expected that a strong running game and balanced attack will be present to aid the young QB this season at some point. CJ is primed for a bounce back season as he takes aim to prove last season was an aberration and bring the Titans back into viable contention in the AFC South.
Michael Vick is the most dynamic and versatile player in fantasy football. His mobility in the pocket makes him a potential highlight reel to put up RB type numbers but also a huge fantasy risk. Andy Reid has a team in the Eagles that are capable of making a legitimate playoff run. Vick’s health is a certain priority so expect Vick to think pass first to keep his body healthy for the long season ahead. With the continued emergence of LeSean McCoy as an elite RB and with DeSean Jackson back in the fold Vick has many weapons to spread the ball around in an Eagles offense that seems likely to breakout in a big way this season.
The Cowboys soft spoken and often overlooked wide out had a very mediocre and injury plagued campaign last year. Along with Jason Witten he is one of Tony Romo’s favorite targets and often is able to beat CBs deep at least twice a game for big time plays. With added pressure of another missed opportunity at the post-season in Big D it seems like if the Cowboys plan to open up the offense under Coach Garrett. Expect Miles Austin will receive less double coverage with the emergence of Dez Bryant opposite him as well.
Getting paid never felt so good for this tumultuous Eagles wide receiver. In a heated and largely publicized contract dispute for much of last season, DeSean drew criticism for being disinterested and lost in an Eagles offense that failed to live up to high expectations. Jackson has been a workout warrior since re-signing with Philly and building back chemistry with Michael Vick. As Philly’s most dangerous offensive weapon at the WR position, there is no doubt that DeSean will be more productive this season. It is possible that he may lose red zone looks to LeSean McCoy, but fully expect a bounce back effort nonetheless as he looks to revitalize the Eagles offense and hook up with Vick often as they prepare to reach lofty preseason goals.
What a difference a year makes. Last season Randy Moss was enjoying an early retirement from football after burning out towards the end of the trading carousel in 2010 that found him an invisible part of the Patriots, Vikings and Titans offense. To think that Randy Moss would be interested in anything other than a run at a championship is foolishness. Teamed up with Alex Smith, who showed dramatic improvement last season, and alongside a premier Tight End in Vernon Davis, matched with a staunch run-attack in a weak division, Moss will have plenty of opportunities for fantasy success. The key will be to keep Moss healthy and for Smith to keep attacking downfield. The offense tends to be more ball controlled but with a burner like Moss it is tough to not see him take flight in San Fran this season.
This workhorse was not as big a disappointment as some might have expected given his team was a complete disaster on the field in 2011. Blount returns from a season in which he completely disappeared in some weeks when Tampa Bay fell behind early and had to play catch up. The real bounce back potential lies in his ability to hang on to the football as at times he has had a history of fumbling. If he is able to remedy that then he should be set up for more goal line carries. Having a playmaker like Vincent Jackson should take more defenses off the line of scrimmage and open up more holes for him. This season appears to be promising if Tampa Bay can improve its offense efficiency and Josh Freeman takes strides in returning to his 2010 form.
Charles is an absolute game breaker. That is exactly what Jamaal Charles adds to the Kansas City Chiefs, his ability to break a game open with his electrifying speed and vision. Charles suffered an injury last season, much to the chagrin of fantasy owners. Fully expect that he will come back stronger from that injury. As the main tailback in a ball controlled offense with rather weak competition within the division, he should be primed to return to the production he is capable of in 2012.
Brandon Lloyd was an absolute fantasy stud with Denver Broncos when Offensive Coordinator Josh McDaniels worked with him. Now reunited with the New England Patriots, expect that return to relevance with Tom Brady at the helm in New England as the #2 primary target to Wes Welker in an explosive offense. Brandon Lloyd was somewhat hampered by a beat up Rams team and injured QB Sam Bradford last season. Lloyd is capable of putting up huge numbers on any night and with Tom Brady as QB it only takes a tiny bit of separation for Lloyd to get the necessary targets and have a bounce back type season.
Sometimes a change of surroundings is all it takes. Brandon Marshall will be re-united with Jay Cutler from his days in Denver as Chicago takes aim at the NFC North. The division is rather weak defensively and with Cutler’s gun-slinging mentality and Marshall’s speed and height should set up nicely for a break season for him in the windy city. Marshall is a fantasy owner’s dream in the red zone and when motivated can be very productive in the passing game. Expect results similar to those as he had in Denver with considerable more targets and TDs in 2012.