Friday, June 26

Big 12 WR/TE Preview

In 2008, the Big 12 was known for its quarterbacks, but the wide receiver/tight end crop was equally deep. Some stars such as Michael Crabtree and Chase Coffman are gone, but the conference will still be strong at these positions in 2009.

Wide Receivers

1. Dez Bryant, OSU
In addition to hauling in 1480 yards and 19 TDs in 2008, Bryant chipped in as a punt returner, recording 305 yds ret and 2 TDs. He's on the outskirts of most Heisman lists, and should be your #1 WR pick from the Big 12.

2. Jordan Shipley, Texas
After a few seasons hampered by injury, Shipley finally had a chance to show Texas fans what they had heard since his recruitment - this guy is an elite college receiver. He produced nearly identical stats as Quan Cosby, but with Cosby gone in 2009 Shipley could easily catch 100 passes and further improve his yardage total. He also scored special teams touchdowns against Oklahoma and Texas Tech.

3. Dezmon Briscoe, Kansas
Briscoe had a great 2008 season, hauling in the next-most yards in the conference after Dez Bryant. I don't know if he will duplicate those numbers - that was a jump of nearly 1000 yards compared to 2007; I'd almost think something's gotta give. But regardless, he's easily in the preseason top 3 for the conference.

4. Detron Lewis, Texas Tech
It'd be criminal not to put a Tech receiver in the top five. Of TTU's three top receivers from 2008, Lewis is the only one returning. He's likely to be the #1 target in 2009, and therefore top 1000 yards.

5. Kerry Meier, Kansas
Meier completed the transition from backup QB beautifully, hauling in 1045 yards and 8 TDs in 2008. I don't see any real reason for improvement nor decline in 2009, short of problems with the new offensive line.

6. Ryan Broyles, Oklahoma
Putting up just 687 yards in 2008, Broyles could be Sam Bradford's top outside target (ie, the guy he looks at after Gresham) in 2009 as he is the only one of OU's top four WRs returning.

7. Edward Britton, Texas Tech
Britton had three big games down the stretch - against Texas, Kansas, and Mississippi. For the last two seasons he's produced decent stats while Crabtree shined, now's his turn to join the first line of the Air Raid.

8. Kendall Wright, Baylor
If Griffin is going to have a huge season shredding defenses, and you'd better believe he is, he's going to need someone to throw to. Kendall Wright was his #1 target in 2009 -- bonus that (unlike Gettis), he hauled in some TDs as well.

9. Danario Alexander, Missouri
Alexander has produced minimally at Missouri thus far, but should easily earn one of the top two spots on the team. His size makes him more difficult to cover than Perry, which could affect who the pro-style recruit at QB targets first.

10. Jared Perry, Missouri
Perry's snagged 91 passes in his career at Mizzou despite being pretty far down on the depth chart. In 2009, he could be the primary receiver.

11. Ryan Tannehill, Texas A&M
Tannehill pulled in 844 yds and 5 TDs on a struggling Aggie offense in 2008. He's competing for the starting QB position in 2009, but in the likely event that Jerrod Johnson wins out, Tannehill should put up similar numbers.

Other Receivers (in no particular order):

John Chiles, Texas - Athlete converting from QB to WR. We'll see how his hands hold up against game-level defenses, but his open-field abilities are already proven. I consider this a high risk-high reward pick.
Brandon Collins, Texas - Hauled in 13 passes in the final two games, and had a 6 rec outing against Missouri. No more than 2 rec in any other game, however, and right now it's looking like he's 4th on the depth chart.
Darius Darks, Iowa State - Darks had a strong season as a freshman, finishing second in receiving yards on the Cyclones. The top receiver (RJ Sumrall) graduated, so Darks has a good chance to shine here.
Jeff Fuller, Texas A&M - 630 rec, 9 TD in 2008. If you're not opposed to drafting Aggies on offense (in which case, why aren't you?) then you might look for him to duplicate this.
James Kirkendoll, Texas - Had 12 rec in his final three games (DNP against A&M), after recording just 9 in the first nine. The departure of Cosby will mean McCoy is looking his way far more often.
Tramain Swindall, Texas Tech - Hey! Texas Tech WR! Alright!
Adron Tennell, Oklahoma - Tennell was a big-time recruit but has contributed minimally in three seasons. He will likely be the #2 receiver on the depth chart in 2009.
Malcolm Williams, Texas - Nearly a third of his receiving yards in 2008 came on an awesome 91-yard bomb against Texas Tech, where he basically ran past the cornerback, then ran past the safety. I'm excited to see this speedster on the field more in 2009.

* Four Texas receivers in the "Other Receivers" list is more indicative of the status of Texas' depth chart than anything else. Shipley is the sure #1 receiver. Whoever solidifies the position of #2, and perhaps #3, will have a good season, but there's no reason to believe Texas will produce five receivers of any meaningful fantasy value.

* Colorado, Kansas State, and Texas A&M should have poor passing offenses in 2009, and I would avoid WRs from their teams. Nebraska is more of a question mark - their projected starters are Menelik Holt and Niles Paul, but as both are first-year starters with little experience, also working with a QB who has thrown just a handful of passes in his college career, I cannot recommend either one unless you believe Nebraska's offense will be better than expected.

Tight Ends

1. Jermaine Gresham, Oklahoma
Gresham is essentially a gigantic wide receiver. A year ago, he put 950 yards and 14 TDs in the stat books. The departure of most of OU's receiving corps may hurt Bradford's stats, but it'll make sure that that many more passes are coming Gresham's way. He's good for 1000, a rare luxury in a TE.

2. Blaine Irby, Texas
I'm looking down the list of B12 TEs, and I cannot justify putting many of these other names second -- there is simply no player to compete with Gresham nor replace Coffman. Irby caught 10 passes for 95yd 2TD in 2008 despite playing just three games (injury), stats that would project out well over a full season. Texas threw the ball a lot to TEs in 2004-07, and with Cosby's absence felt by the offense I expect McCoy to look to the big guy over the middle once again.

3. Mike McNeill, Nebraska
McNeill just set a Nebraska school record for receiving yards by a tight end (442). With such talent, we could see the system modified to get him the ball a bit more often in 2009, as the Huskers are breaking in several new starting WRs.

4. Jamie McCoy, Texas A&M
McCoy had 500 rec yards in 2008 and should again be the #3 target of this passing game in 2009. Bonus that A&M QBs typically have a good enough arm to dump off to the TE/RB.

5. Jeron Mastrud, Kansas State
Mastrud has seen steady improvement by about 100 yards a season for his three years at KSU. The effect that Snyder's return will have on the system remains unknown, but Mastrud is one of the productive TEs returning to the conference.

6. Justin Akers, Baylor
Akers is a converted WR playing TE, which is always good for fantasy stats. Two years ago, he caught passes for 480 yards despite being on a pre-Cream Baylor offense. With Griffin requiring all 11 defenders to contain, Akers could have another solid season.