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Playoff Extra: Receivers after the big game

by | Senior Fantasy Writer
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If last year was an indication, then 2013 could be a problem for Michael Crabtree, Torrey Smith and Anquan Boldin. That's because Super Bowl XLVI was not good for receivers.

The receivers who played in last year's title game for the Giants and Patriots -- Victor Cruz, Hakeem Nicks, Mario Manningham, Wes Welker and Deion Branch were the main contributors -- all saw a decline in Fantasy points in 2012. We hope that's not a developing trend when it comes to Crabtree, Smith and Boldin, who were the top receivers in Super Bowl XLVII.

Each receiver last year suffered for different reasons, which we'll illustrate below, but playing in the Super Bowl has not been good for receivers during the past six seasons. There were 31 receivers who had at least 40 catches in the season they played in the Super Bowl going back the past six years, and 21 saw a decline in Fantasy points the next year, including four from last season (Manningham just missed the cut with 39 catches).

As you can assume, when the quarterback plays well the season after a Super Bowl appearance, so do the receivers. The quarterbacks who improved their Fantasy value after reaching the Super Bowl since 2006 were Aaron Rodgers (XLV), Ben Roethlisberger (XLIII), Peyton Manning (XLIV) and Eli Manning (XLII), and several of their receivers saw an increase in Fantasy points the following year (Donald Driver, James Jones, Jordy Nelson, Hines Ward, Santonio Holmes, Austin Collie and Pierre Garcon).

But just because a quarterback struggles doesn't mean the receiver is terrible. Mike Wallace in 2011 and Marques Colston in 2010 saw a decline in Fantasy points, but they were still elite options. That happened with Cruz and Welker in 2012. Their stats declined, but they remained viable Fantasy receivers.

Crabtree and Smith have the most to lose heading into 2013 because they are starting-caliber Fantasy options. Crabtree had 85 catches for 1,105 yards and nine touchdowns during the season (he added 15 catches for 176 yards and two touchdowns in the playoffs), and Smith had 49 catches for 855 yards and eight touchdowns during the year (nine catches for 198 yards and two touchdowns in the playoffs).

Barring an injury, we don't expect a decline for either receiver. Crabtree has the look of an elite receiver, especially with Colin Kaepernick under center. He ended the season with at least nine Fantasy points in eight of his past 11 games, including the playoffs, and will enter 2013 as a Top 15 receiver. Smith is more of a low-end starting option, and we expect his catches and yards to increase in his third season in 2013 while still being able to score at a high level.

As for Boldin, he had a tremendous postseason run with 22 catches for 380 yards and four touchdowns, but he is 32 and could be a cap casualty since he's owed $6 million next year. We'll see what happens to him this offseason, but either way he's a reserve Fantasy receiver worth a late-round pick in 2013.

Editor's note: All stats listed below are regular-season only.

XLVI: Giants 21, Patriots 17
Victor Cruz, Giants
2011: 82 catches for 1,536 yards and nine touchdowns; one fumble in 16 games (198 Fantasy points)
2012: 86 catches for 1,092 yards and 10 touchdowns in 16 games (162 Fantasy points)
Difference: Cruz saw his yardage decline in 2012, but he remained a consistent producer and a solid option for the Giants and Fantasy owners. Eli Manning had a down year in 2012, which contributed to Cruz struggling, but he remains a No. 1 Fantasy receiver heading into 2013 and is worth drafting by Round 4.

Hakeem Nicks, Giants
2011: 76 catches for 1,192 yards and seven touchdowns in 15 games (153 Fantasy points)
2012: 53 catches for 692 yards and three touchdowns in 11 games (82 Fantasy points)
Difference: Injuries took a toll on Nicks in 2012 as he battled foot and knee problems all year. Even when he was active he was never the same, and he had just three games with double digits in Fantasy points. We hope he can overcome his leg issues heading into 2013 because based on talent he's an elite receiver, but injuries have been a problem for him during his entire four-year career.

Mario Manningham, Giants
2011: 39 catches for 523 yards and four touchdowns in 12 games (68 Fantasy points)
2012: 42 catches for 449 yards and one touchdown; one fumble in 12 games (47 Fantasy points)
Difference: Manningham left the Giants for the 49ers as a free agent after 2012, but he wasn't as productive. He then suffered a torn ACL in Week 16, and his status for the start of the 2013 season is in doubt. Manningham had a great postseason run for the Giants in winning the Super Bowl, and hopefully he can return at that level when he's 100 percent healthy.

Wes Welker, Patriots
2011: 122 catches for 1,569 yards and nine touchdowns; one fumble in 16 games (204 Fantasy points)
2012: 118 catches for 1,354 yards and six touchdowns; three fumbles in 16 games (163 Fantasy points)
Difference: Welker remained a consistent weapon for the Patriots in 2012, and that could be his last year in New England. He is a free agent this offseason, and the Patriots might decide to let him go if the price is too high. But coming off the Super Bowl, Welker was still an elite Fantasy option, especially in PPR leagues with his fifth year with at least 111 catches since 2007.

Deion Branch, Patriots
2011: 51 catches for 702 yards and five touchdowns in 15 games (92 Fantasy points)
2012: 16 catches for 145 yards in nine games (14 Fantasy points)
Difference: Branch was on and off the roster for New England in 2012, which is why he wasn't as productive. The Patriots also added Brandon Lloyd prior to the season, which made Branch expendable. He has been a good weapon for Tom Brady and a spot starter for Fantasy owners over the years, but his days as a relevant Fantasy option are over.

XLV: Packers 31, Steelers 25
Greg Jennings, Packers
2010: 76 catches for 1,265 yards and 12 touchdowns; two fumbles in 16 games (191 Fantasy points)
2011: 67 catches for 949 yards and nine touchdowns in 13 games (143 Fantasy points)
Difference: Jennings missed the final three games of the regular season in 2011 otherwise his production would have been similar to his 2010 stats. He was injury prone again in 2012, and he is a free agent this offseason. Keep an eye on where he signs, but he should remain a No. 2 Fantasy receiver in the right scenario.

Donald Driver, Packers
2010: 51 catches for 565 yards and four touchdowns; one fumble in 15 games (71 Fantasy points)
2011: 37 catches for 445 yards and six touchdowns in 16 games (74 Fantasy points)
Difference: Driver has been a reliable receiver for the Packers and Fantasy owners during his career, but he is expected to retire this offseason. His role changed in 2011, but he still produced at a similar level to his Super Bowl year in 2010.

James Jones, Packers
2010: 50 catches for 679 yards and five touchdowns; three fumble in 15 games (88 Fantasy points)
2011: 38 catches for 635 yards and seven touchdowns; one fumble in 16 games (99 Fantasy points)
Difference: Jones has shown a great ability to score touchdowns, including a breakout season in 2012 when he scored 14 times, and his increase in touchdowns in 2011 helped improve his Fantasy total. He heads into 2013 as a No. 3 Fantasy receiver with plenty of upside.

Jordy Nelson, Packers
2010: 45 catches for 582 yards and two touchdowns; two fumbles in 16 games (78 Fantasy points)
2011: 68 catches for 1,263 yards and 15 touchdowns in 16 games (210 Fantasy points)
Difference: Nelson took a major leap in 2011 with his production as he emerged as a go-to target for Rodgers. He was the No. 2 Fantasy receiver in 2011 behind Calvin Johnson, but he struggled in 2012. He should rebound in 2013, and he should still be drafted by Round 4.

Mike Wallace, Steelers
2010: 60 catches for 1,257 yards and 10 touchdowns; five carries for 39 yards in 16 games (178 Fantasy points)
2011: 72 catches for 1,193 yards and eight touchdowns, five carries for 57 yards; one fumble in 16 games (162 Fantasy points)
Difference: Wallace saw an increase in catches, but his production declined in 2011 because his yards and touchdowns decreased. Still, he was a Top 10 Fantasy receiver, and hopefully he can return to that level in 2013 after he struggled in 2012. He is a free agent this offseason, so keep an eye on where he lands, but he should remain a No. 2 Fantasy receiver in the right scenario.

Hines Ward, Steelers
2010: 59 catches for 755 yards and five touchdowns; one fumble in 16 games (96 Fantasy points)
2011: 46 catches for 381 yards and two touchdowns, one fumble in 15 games (48 Fantasy points)
Difference: Ward slipped on the depth chart for the Steelers in 2011 behind Wallace and Antonio Brown. He retired after that season, and he should be remembered as one of the best receivers of all time.

XLIV: Saints 31, Colts 17
Marques Colston, Saints
2009: 70 catches for 1,074 yards and nine touchdowns; two fumbles in 16 games (150 Fantasy points)
2010: 84 catches for 1,023 yards and seven touchdowns in 15 games (138 Fantasy points)
Difference: Drew Brees saw a decrease in Fantasy production in 2010 with an increase in his interceptions, but Colston was still solid with only a 12-point decline in Fantasy points. The difference was the additional two touchdowns he scored in 2009. Colston remains an elite Fantasy receiver in 2013.

Devery Henderson, Saints
2009: 51 catches for 804 yards and two touchdowns; four carries for 13 yards in 16 games (85 Fantasy points)
2010: 34 catches for 464 yards and one touchdown in 16 games (47 Fantasy points)
Difference: Henderson has never been a quality Fantasy receiver because of his inconsistent play, so it's no surprise his Fantasy points went down in 2010. The Saints receivers also had to deal with the return to health of Lance Moore, which cut into Henderson's playing time.

Robert Meachem, Saints
2009: 45 catches for 722 yards and nine touchdowns; six carries for 82 yards; one fumble in 16 games (121 Fantasy points)
2010: 44 catches for 638 yards and five touchdowns; four carries for 14 yards in 16 games (88 Fantasy points)
Difference: Meachem was a breakout for Fantasy owners in 2009, which was his third year in the NFL, but he struggled in 2010 to repeat that performance. Moore took away a lot of production from Meachem, but Brees didn't appear to trust Meachem the same way.

Reggie Wayne, Colts
2009: 100 catches for 1,264 yards and 10 touchdowns in 16 games (177 Fantasy points)
2010: 111 catches for 1,355 yards and six touchdowns; one fumble in 16 games (162 Fantasy points)
Difference: The reason that Wayne saw a 15-point decline in his Fantasy production was his decrease in touchdowns. Otherwise all his other stats improved as he was an elite option again in 2010.

Austin Collie, Colts
2009: 60 catches for 676 yards and seven touchdowns in 16 games (102 Fantasy points)
2010: 58 catches for 649 yards and eight touchdowns; one fumble in nine games (107 Fantasy points)
Difference: Collie would have had more than a five-point improvement in 2010 if he didn't miss time due to a series of concussions. His career was never the same again after getting hurt, and we hope he can rebound heading into 2013.

Pierre Garcon, Colts
2009: 47 catches for 765 yards and four touchdowns; two carries for 10 yards in 14 games (92 Fantasy points)
2010: 67 catches for 784 yards and six touchdowns in 15 games (109 Fantasy points)
Difference: Garcon took advantage of injuries to Collie, Anthony Gonzalez (knee) and Dallas Clark (wrist) to build off his breakout year in 2009. He had a 17-point improvement in his Fantasy points in 2010, and his career took off from that point.

XLIII: Steelers 27, Cardinals 23
Hines Ward, Steelers
2008: 82 catches for 1,047 yards and seven touchdowns in 16 games (139 Fantasy points)
2009: 95 catches for 1,167 yards and six touchdowns; one fumble in 16 games (142 Fantasy points)
Difference: Ward saw a three-point increase in Fantasy points with the Steelers passing game seeing a significant improvement in 2009. He remained a productive Fantasy option even as he got older throughout his career.

Santonio Holmes, Steelers
2008: 55 catches for 821 yards and five touchdowns; one fumble in 15 games (103 Fantasy points)
2009: 79 catches for 1,248 yards and five touchdowns in 16 games (145 Fantasy points)
Difference: Holmes saw the biggest boost from Big Ben's new passing ways in 2009 with an increase of 42 Fantasy points. It would be his last year in Pittsburgh before he was traded to the Jets, but Holmes helped Fantasy owners with a solid season.

Nate Washington, Steelers
2008: 40 catches for 631 yards and three touchdowns; five carries for 18 yards in 16 games (74 Fantasy points)
2009: 47 catches for 569 yards and six touchdowns; two carries for 15 yards in 16 games (85 Fantasy points)
Difference: Washington went to Tennessee as a free agent after winning the Super Bowl with the Steelers, where he was the No. 3 wide receiver behind Ward and Holmes. He was essentially the No. 2 wide receiver for the Titans behind Kenny Britt, and Washington has become a key Fantasy reserve since going to Tennessee.

Larry Fitzgerald, Cardinals
2008: 96 catches for 1,434 yards and 12 touchdowns in 16 games (207 Fantasy points)
2009: 97 catches for 1,092 yards and 13 touchdowns in 16 games (179 Fantasy points)
Difference: Fitzgerald saw a 28-point decline in his Fantasy production after an amazing year in 2008, but he still played well in 2009. Fitzgerald's production was a direct result of playing with a standout quarterback in Kurt Warner, and his career hasn't been the same since Warner retired in 2009.

Anquan Boldin, Cardinals
2008: 89 catches for 1,038 yards and 11 touchdowns; nine carries for 67 yards; three fumbles in 12 games (158 Fantasy points)
2009: 84 catches for 1,024 yards and four touchdowns; three carries for 12 yards and a touchdown; two fumbles in 15 games (121 Fantasy points)
Difference: Like Fitzgerald, Boldin also suffered in 2009 with Warner having a down year. It was Boldin's last season with the Cardinals since he went to Baltimore in 2010, and Boldin has only been a No. 3 Fantasy receiver at best since leaving Arizona.

Steve Breaston, Cardinals
2008: 77 catches for 1,003 yards and three touchdowns in 16 games (110 Fantasy points)
2009: 55 catches for 712 yards and three touchdowns; two carries for 44 yards; one fumble in 15 games (80 Fantasy points)
Difference: Breaston could be the classic example of a one-year wonder since he was solid in 2008, declined in 2009 and struggled with injuries and inconsistent play ever since. His Fantasy production has decreased each year, and he appears to have peaked in 2008.

XLII: Giants 17, Patriots 14
Plaxico Burress, Giants
2007: 70 catches for 1,025 yards and 12 touchdowns in 16 games (167 Fantasy points)
2008: 35 catches for 454 yards and four touchdowns in 10 games (61 Fantasy points)
Difference: Burress went from an elite Fantasy wide receiver to prison when he shot himself in the leg in a New York nightclub in 2008. He did well with the Jets once he was released in 2011, but his career was never the same.

Amani Toomer, Giants
2007: 59 catches for 760 yards and three touchdowns in 16 games (86 Fantasy points)
2008: 48 catches for 580 yards and four touchdowns in 16 games (74 Fantasy points)
Difference: Toomer's last full season in the NFL was in 2008, and he remained a good weapon for Eli Manning but not a consistent Fantasy option. Even though Manning saw an increase in Fantasy points after his Super Bowl victory it was mainly because he cut down on his turnovers in 2008 and not because of his passing prowess.

Wes Welker, Patriots
2007: 112 catches for 1,175 yards and eight touchdowns; four carries for 34 yards in 16 games (159 Fantasy points)
2008: 112 catches for 1,165 yards and three touchdowns; two carries for 26 yards; one fumble in 16 games (127 Fantasy points)
Difference: Welker saw a 32-point decline in his Fantasy points in 2008 mainly because Brady was lost for the season in Week 1. Welker was still amazing for Fantasy owners in PPR leagues, but Matt Cassel couldn't help Welker find the end zone on a consistent basis.

Randy Moss, Patriots
2007: 98 catches for 1,493 yards and 23 touchdowns in 16 games (280 Fantasy points)
2008: 69 catches for 1,008 yards and 11 touchdowns; two fumbles in 16 games (156 Fantasy points)
Difference: Like Welker, Moss struggled with Cassel and couldn't duplicate his record-breaking year in 2007. He would have likely seen a decline in 2008, but dropping by 124 Fantasy points was pretty steep. Moss would rebound in 2009 before seeing his career fall apart in 2010 when he was with three teams (New England, Minnesota and Tennessee). He has the chance for another ring with the 49ers this year, but his best days are clearly behind him.

Donte Stallworth, Patriots
2007: 46 catches for 697 yards and three touchdowns; one carry for 12 yards in 16 games (80 Fantasy points)
2008: 17 catches for 170 yards and one touchdown in 11 games (15 Fantasy points)
Difference: Stallworth went to Cleveland in 2008, and leaving the Patriots hasn't been good for his career. He was suspended in 2009 and has bounced around the NFL ever since. His Fantasy career is non-existent going forward even if he plays again.

XLI: Colts 29, Bears 17
Marvin Harrison, Colts
2006: 95 catches for 1,366 yards and 12 touchdowns; one fumble in 16 games (199 Fantasy points)
2007: 20 catches for 247 yards and one touchdown in five games (23 Fantasy points)
Difference: Harrison's last good season in the NFL was 2006 since he was injured in 2007 and couldn't regain his form in 2008. He was once among the best Fantasy options at any position, and he should be considered one of the best wide receivers of all time.

Reggie Wayne, Colts
2006: 86 catches for 1,310 yards and nine touchdowns in 16 games (179 Fantasy points)
2007: 104 catches for 1,510 yards and 10 touchdowns; three fumbles in 16 games (197 Fantasy points)
Difference: With Harrison dealing with a knee injury in 2007, the torch was passed to Wayne to become the new No. 1 receiver for the Colts. He saw an 18-point increase in Fantasy production and hasn't looked back since as a solid Fantasy option.

Muhsin Muhammad, Bears
2006: 60 catches for 863 and five touchdowns; one fumble in 16 games (106 Fantasy points)
2007: 40 catches for 570 yards and three touchdowns in 16 games (67 Fantasy points)
Difference: Muhammad had a solid season in 2006 in helping the Bears reach the Super Bowl, but he struggled in 2007 with Chicago dealing with quarterback issues. Rex Grossman was benched and then injured, and the passing game never took off. Muhammad had one more productive season in 2008 with Carolina before his last year in the NFL in 2009.

Bernard Berrian, Bears
2006: 51 catches for 775 yards and six touchdowns; one fumble in 16 games (103 Fantasy points)
2007: 70 catches for 948 yards and five touchdowns; one fumble in 15 games (115 Fantasy points)
Difference: Berrian, despite all the quarterback woes in 2007, still had a 12-point increase in Fantasy points from his Super Bowl season. He left Chicago for Minnesota in 2008, but he never blossomed into a standout Fantasy option even with plenty of chances to succeed.

Stay in touch with the most passionate Fantasy staff in the business by following us via Twitter @CBSFantasyFB . You can also follow Jamey at @JameyEisenberg and on Facebook .

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