2011 Fantasy Football: Must-Have Players

This is a list of fantasy players I absolutely love this year. I’ll be targeting them in all of my leagues in the rounds posted below. Unlike crappy ESPN, projected rounds are based on 12-team formats.

Follow me @walterfootball for updates.

Tom Brady, QB, Patriots. Round: Mid-Late 3, Early 4.
Assuming Tom Brady drops that far. I’ve seen him fall to the beginning of the fourth round in some fantasy mock drafts I’ve participated in recently.

Brady is slotted second in my 2011 Fantasy Football Quarterback Rankings, placed ahead of Drew Brees, Peyton Manning, and even the overrated QB Dog Killer (had to bring that nickname back upon request).

I’ve never seen Brady more focused or determined. He’s on a mission. What he did at the end of last season was just a sign of things to come.

I’m not a fan of taking a quarterback early this year, but if Brady falls to the middle or late third round, or early fourth round, I won’t hesitate to pick him.

Felix Jones, RB, Cowboys. Round: Late 2, Early 3 (PPR), Mid-Late 3 (Reg).
I almost feel as strongly about Felix Jones as I did regarding Arian Foster at this time last year. Jones has bulked up to 220 pounds, but still has his trademark quickness and speed. He’s good in pass protection and big enough for goal-line carries, so he’ll be on the field at all times. He’s going to have a BIG year. Make sure you get Jones on your roster.

Chris Wells, RB, Cardinals. Round: Late 5, Early 6.
I hate the Ryan Williams injury because it raised Chris Wells’ ADP (average draft position) in fantasy drafts. Williams was never a threat to take Wells’ job, but I’m still a fan of the Arizona running back because unlike last year, he’s healthy and has a competent quarterback whom defenses will have to respect.

Tim Hightower, RB, Redskins. Round: Late 6, Early 7.
Tim Hightower is a perfect fit for Mike Shanahan’s zone-blocking scheme. There’s a very good chance he’ll rush for 1,000 yards, catch 40-plus passes and score eight touchdowns. He’s currently going in the late sixth, early seventh round of fantasy drafts, which I think is absurd. I’d feel comfortable with Hightower as an RB2 – there’s no competition for him at the running back position because Roy Helu struggles in pass protection and Ryan Torain is made out of glass.

Reggie Bush, RB, Dolphins. Round: 6-7 (PPR).
Those who think Daniel Thomas is the starting running back for the Dolphins will be in for a rude awakening. Though he won’t get goal-line carries, Reggie Bush will be the every-down runner in Miami. In an effort to cut down on turnovers, Chad Henne has morphed into Trent Edwards, so Bush will be the recipient of many checkdowns this season.

Vincent Jackson, WR, Chargers. Round: Mid-Late 2, Early 3.
Vincent Jackson is going to have a career year if he can stay healthy. Jackson is entering his first full season without LaDainian Tomlinson, so he’ll be in position to score more touchdowns. He and Philip Rivers have had a strong connection in the preseason, which is why I’ve bumped him up in my 2011 Fantasy Football Wide Receiver Rankings.

Lance Moore, WR, Saints. Round: Early 9 (PPR), Early 10 (Reg).
Marques Colston isn’t anywhere close to being 100 percent coming off microfracture knee surgery. Someone else will step up in the Saints receiving corps, and based on what has transpired in two weeks of preseason, it’s looking like Lance Moore will be the guy. He easily could match the eight touchdowns he scored in 2010.

Nate Burleson, WR, Lions. Round: 10-11.
Matthew Stafford has thrown to Nate Burleson more than anyone else in two preseason games. OK, Calvin Johnson was out for one contest, but Burleson is still going to be a big part of Detroit’s offense. If Stafford can stay healthy – definitely a big if – Burleson should be able to put up some pretty solid numbers.

Jimmy Graham, TE, Saints. Round: 7.
As I wrote under the Lance Moore entry, Marques Colston’s problematic knee means that someone else will step up in New Orleans’ receiving corps. Jimmy Graham will benefit as well; he’ll be Drew Brees’ primary end-zone target. He scored four touchdowns in the final three games last year – a definite sign of things to come in 2011.

More 2011 Fantasy Football Articles:
2011 Fantasy Football: Home

2011 Fantasy Football Rankings:
2011 Fantasy Football Rankings: Quarterbacks - 9/8 (Walt)
2011 Fantasy Football Rankings: Running Backs - 9/8 (Walt)
2011 Fantasy Football Rankings: Wide Receivers - 9/8 (Walt)
2011 Fantasy Football Rankings: Tight Ends - 9/8 (Walt)
2011 Fantasy Football Rankings: Defenses - 9/1 (Walt)
2011 Fantasy Football Rankings: Kickers - 6/26 (Walt)
2011 Fantasy Football Downloadable Spreadsheets - 9/8 (Walt)
2011 Fantasy Football Dynasty Rookie Rankings - 8/27 (Walt)
2011 Fantasy Football Auction Values - 8/27 (Walt)

2011 Fantasy Football Cheat Sheets:
2011 Fantasy Football Cheat Sheet: Top 150 Traditional - 9/8 (Walt)
2011 Fantasy Football Cheat Sheet: Top 150 PPR - 9/8 (Walt)
2011 Fantasy Football Cheat Sheet: Top 150 Touchdown - 9/8 (Walt)

2011 Fantasy Football Mock Drafts:
2011 Fantasy Football Mock Draft: Real League Draft - 8/31 (Walt)
2011 Fantasy Football Mock Draft: Fake Mock - 8/25 (Walt)
2011 Fantasy Football Experts Draft - 8/25 (Walt)
2011 Fantasy Football Mock Draft: Forum 2-QB Mock - 7/21 (Walt)
2011 Fantasy Football: Mock Draft Scenarios - 7/17 (Walt)
2011 Fantasy Football Auction: Mock PPR Auction - 7/14 (Walt)
2011 Fantasy Football Mock Draft: Forum PPR Mock - 7/7 (Walt)
2011 Fantasy Football Mock Draft: Forum Mock - 7/3 (Walt)
2011 Fantasy Football Mock Draft: Four-Man PPR Draft - 6/19 (Walt)
2011 Fantasy Football Draft: Fox Sports - 5/5 (Walt)

2011 Fantasy Football Articles:
2011 Fantasy Football Injury Reports: Week 2 - 9/18 (Walt)
2011 Fantasy Football Weekly Rankings: Week 2 - 9/18 (Walt)
2011 Fantasy Football: Week 2 Add/Drop - 9/13 (Walt)
2011 Fantasy Football: Training Camp Stock - 9/8 (Walt)
2011 Fantasy Football: Start Em, Sit Em - 9/6 (Walt)
2011 Fantasy Football: Preseason Stock - 9/3 (Walt)
2011 Preseason Recap and Fantasy Football Notes - 9/3 (Walt)
2011 Fantasy Football: Preseason Targets - 9/3 (Walt)
2011 Fantasy Football: Late-Round Sleepers - 9/1 (Walt)
2011 Fantasy Football: Round-by-Round Strategy - 9/1 (Walt)
2011 Fantasy Football: Value Comparison - 9/1
2011 Fantasy Football: Must-Have Players - 8/24 (Walt)
2011 Fantasy Football: Busts, Players to Avoid - 7/25 (Walt)
2011 Fantasy Football Mailbag - 7/24 (Walt)
2011 Fantasy Football Sleepers - 7/23 (Walt)
2011 Fantasy Football: Various League Strategy - 7/18 (Walt)
2011 Fantasy Football: Three-Dimensional Running Backs - 7/16 (Walt)
2011 Fantasy Football: ADP Analysis - 7/15 (Walt)
2011 Fantasy Football: First-Round Bust History - 7/10 (Walt)
2011 Fantasy Football Mailbag - 7/9 (Walt)
2011 Fantasy Football Mailbag - 7/4 (Walt)
2011 Fantasy Football Mock Draft Analysis - 7/1 (Walt)
2011 Fantasy Football Mailbag - 6/18 (Walt)
2011 Fantasy Football Mailbag - 6/12 (Walt)
2011 Fantasy Football Mailbag - 6/5 (Walt)
2011 Fantasy Football: Stock Up (Draft) - 5/6 (Walt)
2011 Fantasy Football: Stock Down (Draft) - 5/6 (Walt)
2010 Fantasy Football: Buy Low - 4/8 (Walt)
2011 Fantasy Football: Defense Strategy - 4/8 (Walt)
Running Backs with Most Carries - 4/8 (Walt)

NFL Power Rankings - Feb. 22

2024 NFL Mock Draft - Feb. 21

Fantasy Football Rankings - Feb. 19

NFL Picks - Feb. 12