The prettiest number in football is 1,000. For a player to reach the 1,000-yard plateau in either rushing or receiving, it's a milestone for him and it stands out to the fans. You haven't "made it" until you've hit quadruple digits, and for fantasy owners you're not quite legitimate until you've done it.
Tight ends can get away with not getting 1,000 yards, but for wide receivers we will always ding your grade until you get over that hump. Even if you're more valuable than a 1,000 yard receiver, and it's entirely possible that you could be, you'll still fall short of glory if you fall short of that fourth digit. Despite the fact that it's a completely arbitrary number...
Honestly, what does 1,000 mean? It means very little. If a player gets 950 yards as opposed to 1,000 yards, is he a worse player because of it? A guy might catch a slant route that normally goes for 15 yards but the defender falls down and you tack on an extra 50 yards. Because you are more talented or because you were lucky? Even in fantasy the difference might be 5 points at most, which could be made up by 5 catches or a TD.
Derrick Mason has eight 1,000 yard seasons, but has never been considered elite. He has stayed in the league for 15 years however. He's been a WR3 on fantasy teams for over a decade. What if he had eight 900-yard seasons instead?
Still, it's a number we all look for. It's a number that jumps out to fans and when you get there we notice and we'll continue to notice you and you'll stay on our radar. How long did we continue to monitor Michael Clayton because of his rookie season? Would you monitor Mike Thomas of Jacksonville just the same throughout his career? Maybe you would, maybe you wouldn't.
Will Thomas join the 1,000-yard club this season? Continue with me after the jump and let's see...
Last season Brandon Lloyd, Mike Wallace, Stevie Johnson, and Hakeem Nicks joined the club for the first time in their careers. That's an enormously interesting group of wide receivers and all took a different path to get here.
You've got the veteran that came out of nowhere to lead the league in yardage in his eighth season. The 2nd-year pro building off of a successful rookie season when he led the league in yards per catch. The complete unknown on the leagues least recognizable offense who went from 10 yards in 2009 to 1,073 yards in 2010. And the former first-round pick just blossoming into one of the leagues elite receivers.
Not every player who gets 1,000 yards will repeat. In fact, it's the repeat that's the most difficult. It's the repeat that separates David Boston from Roddy White. The 2008-2009 1,000-yard club includes non-repeaters (so far) like Sidney Rice and Steve Breaston, alongside mostly-disappointing guys like Lee Evans and Antonio Bryant.
Here are the players I suspect will join the 1,000-yard club for the first time. I wanted to do this before the season started, but just ran out of time. So don't consider it cheating, just consider it "Being more accurate"
He's already behind with some work to do in order to catch-up and join the club because he had just 1 catch for 20 yards in week 1. That won't deter me from including him in this list. Maclin has #1 WR ability and the former 19th-overall pick is a good bet to get over the hump this year. He had 70 catches for 964 yards last season so he doesn't have to improve much in order to get where he needs to be. He's easily got 1,200-yard ability, so one bad game won't keep him from joining the 1,000-yard club this season alongside fellow member (and potentially long-time member) Desean Jackson.
I'm as sure about this one as I am about anything. I considered Britt to be, far and away, the breakout player of the season. So of course, I managed to draft him in exactly 0-out-of-4 leagues. I guess I wasn't alone in that belief. The former first-round pick is a #1 WR and has been one since his first game in the league when he had 4 catches for 85 yards. He topped 100 yards for the first time in his fourth game, and he topped 200 yards in his 20th professional game to go along with three scores. Britt's off-field issues are well-documented, but as of now he is on the field and that's what matters. He started off the season on the right foot and he's already got 136 yards and 2 TDs in 2011. I think Britt can approach 1,300 yards this season and he has the potential to top 1,500 yards. Something that's only been done 26 times.
I need someone to fill the "Talented but inconsistent finally gets an opportunity" category and what better pick than Meachem? He's got the pedigree (former 1st-round pick out of Tennessee,) the quarterback, the offense, and now thanks to injuries to Marques Colston and Lance Moore he's got the opportunity. Meachem has been wildly inconsistent throughout his career. Last season he followed up both of his 100-yard games with games of less than 20 yards. But that's when Drew Brees has the opportunity to spread the ball around. He'll hit Darren Sproles and he'll hit Jimmy Graham, but somebody has to fill in for Colston. Devery Henderson was the 100-yard gamer in week 1, but Meachem is the better all-around player and I believe he'll receive more targets.
My "Stevie Johnson" pick of the day will be awarded to Brandon Gibson. This pick is also thanks to a week 1 injury that will provide opportunity, and an offense under Josh McDaniels that will provide a lot of targets. If Sam Bradford doesn't miss any time, he's going to need to send more passes towards Gibson with Danny Amendola out for a couple of months. He's gone from a mostly unnoticed 6th round pick, to coming up with some big plays in the preseason to a starting role and now potentially as one of Bradfords favorite targets. I needed a sleeper pick, and here you have it.
There are several rookie wide receivers to choose from this year. I love AJ Green's ability but he was hurting enough with Andy Dalton at the helm. Dalton's already doubtful for his 2nd game which means its Bruce Gradkowski time. Doug Baldwin in Seattle is trying to make a name for himself and he wants to be the undrafted rookie free agent prize of 2011 (he already is) but he's doing it without a QB and so far has gotten opportunity that will go away once Rice returns. Denarius Moore in Oakland seemed like another good sleeper, but he was targeted only once in week 1. So I have to go with Julio Jones thanks to having a QB and an offense and playing opposite one of the best wide receivers in the league, meaning he'll never have to matchup against the defenses #1 cornerback. Jones had 71 yards in week one.
There's some debate about the potency perhaps of the Dallas offense? I always feel like the reviews are really mixed and polarizing when people talk about Bryant and Miles Austin. Despite having to share the love with a prolific WR and TE, I don't think Bryant will have a problem topping 1,000 in his 2nd season. Everything about his game suggests that he can be one of the top pass catchers in the NFL.
Surely you have reached the "omissions" category and you're steaming mad or thinking of names you will call me because I didn't name "so and so" or "that guy" but I have to take risks. Despite this being more of a passing league than it ever has been before, I have my doubts about the following players reaching 1,000 yards this season:
Mike Williams (TB)
He was the closest to 1,000 yards last season to not make my list. I think there's going to be a little bit of regression on Tampa Bay this season, where they're the youngest team in the league on offense, defense, and special teams respectively. Williams had a phenomenal rookie season, but he's got a target on him now. He'll need Arrelious Benn to step it up and take some pressure off.
Am I a dick for excluding Manningham after he fell just short in 2010 and did so in only 14 games? He finished last year with three straight 100-yard games to come close to quadruple-digits but couldn't get quite there. Nicks is an elite receiver and will still get most of Eli's attention. Manningham is a very good #2 WR but I don't believe he'll top 1000 yards this season.
He had 960 yards last season, but preseason stories were all about how Knox fell out of favor with the Chicago offense. He still had 60 yards in week 1 and he's still one of the fastest and most explosive players in the league. I just don't see there being enough consistent targets to get him over the hump.
If I had done this list before week 1, I would have had Ford at the top of my list. He was one of the best wideouts in the 2nd half of 2010 and he's potentially the fastest player in the NFL. Then I watched Monday Night Football and remembered that Jason Campbell is terrible. Okay, maybe not terrible, but more like "Jason Campbell won't produce 1,000 yard receivers." If Ford breaks the threshold this season, it'll be because he broke off four or more catches of 60+ yards at least.
Mike Williams (SEA)
I personally love Mike Williams, but same story as Doug Baldwin. This offense won't produce a 1,000-yard receiver.
Same story as Jacoby Ford, but in purple instead of black.
Mike Thomas (JAX)
No QB. Not quite talented or experienced enough to do it on his own.
If Peyton Manning was healthy, I'd peg Collie for 1,200 yards and 80 catches. And I certainly drafted Collie as such. Believe it or not, Collie actually played in week 1. But then Kerry Collins happened.
He might top the 800-yard barrier, but I don't see him getting much further than that.
Okay, so am I forgetting anyone? Do you hate me now? Please let me know in the comments. As always, please do give me a follow on twitter @casetines because while I'm not a very dramatic person, I will kill myself if I don't get 100 followers by tomorrow. Hell, tweet me stories you want to hear and I'll do my best to come up with something. Happy waiver wire hunting.