By David Sabino
August 05, 2010
Gridiron 11

There's only one thing worse to a professional musician than being a one-hit wonder: never having a hit at all. However, for a fantasy football owner, one-hit wonder players can doom an entire season. Think about it: you spend a high pick on someone who had a breakthrough for someone else one season then disappears when he reaches your roster the next. Chances are you could've had someone more proven at that spot but you decided to go with the trendier pick. Sometimes it pays off, but it's not always the case.

This week's Gridiron 11 takes a look at pass-catchers who had breakout seasons in 2009 after spending at least one quiet previous season in the league. Many of them will continue to rise in the league, but some will provide nothing but grief for those unlucky enough to draft them. Here they are in order of least-to-most likely to be a one-hit wonder.

For more insights, follow SI's fantasy expert David Sabino on Twitter at SI_DavidSabino.

1 Miles Austin, Cowboys
Miles Austin, Cowboys
Last year at this time Austin was a non-descript third or fourth receiver who had 18 catches in three previous seasons for the Cowboys. Now the former Jersey shore (Monmouth University) standout has enough star-power to date Kim Kardashian and finds himself ranked in the top 10 in most fantasy receiver rankings. It'll be hard for Austin to duplicate his 1,300-yard, 11-TD season, especially with Dez Bryant now on board and Felix Jones healthy again, but not enough to drop him below the ranks of an every week starter.
2 Brent Celek, Eagles
Brent Celek, Eagles
How unexpected was Celek's 2009 breakthrough? He was my 16th round-pick in 14-team league made up of present and former SI staffers last year. He then went on to one of the finest seasons for an Eagles tight end in history, finishing in the top four at his position in touchdowns and yards in his first season as a starter. Look for another big year as the favorite target of new quarterback Kevin Kolb, and one of fantasy's top tight ends.
3 Vernon Davis, 49ers
Vernon Davis, 49ers
The sixth pick of the 2006 draft was one of the most frustrating fantasy players for his first three seasons in the NFL. That all changed last year when he moved into the elite class of tight ends while tying Antonio Gates' single-season mark with 13 touchdowns. While we expect his receptions and yards (78 and 965, respectively) to hold steady, there is only one way for his touchdown total to go in an offense that will benefit from a full year of Michael Crabtree, and that's down. Yet even a drop keeps Davis among the Top 5 players at his position.
4 Steve Smith, Giants
Steve Smith, Giants
In nearly doubling his previous career total in catches, the Giants' second-eldest receiver (at just 25) shattered Amani Toomer's single-season franchise record for catches by an astounding 25 receptions. He finished with a total of 107, second-best in the NFL to New England's Wes Welker last season. A word of caution is needed, though, as Smith exploded as Hakeem Nicks and Mario Manningham were getting accustomed to Eli Manning for the first time. Both will see an uptick in production this season and should take away from Smith's total. Another unknown is what the notorious Meadowlands winds will do to the passing game at the Giants new home stadium. Still, Smith is a solid WR2 selection.
5 Jermichael Finley, Packers
Jermichael Finley, Packers
Not since Mark Chmura in 1995 had a Packers tight end enjoyed as fine a season as Finley, who passed veteran Donald Lee on the depth chart by raising his 2008 totals from six catches for 74 yards and a touchdown to 55-676-5. In fact his 52 yards per game average was the highest in the long and illustrious history of the Packers. Just 23, Finley's best days are ahead of him, and playing in an offense that produced 25 touchdowns for tight ends since '07, he'll keep climbing the ranks.
6 Pierre Garçon, Colts
Pierre Garçon, Colts
Manning's wideouts beyond Reggie Wayne were a big mystery at this time last season with Marvin Harrison no longer wearing the Indy horseshoe. Garçon, an unknown second-year special teams player from Division-III Mount Union, with just four catches and 23 yards on his résumé, was slotted as the fourth receiver, behind Wayne, Anthony Gonzalez and rookie Austin Collie. An injury to Gonzalez, though, opened the door for Garçon, and the speedster and precision route runner bolted through, developing a great rapport with Manning. Now Gonzalez is back, which should mean a decline in targets for Garçon, despite being the league's leader in '09-10 playoff catches (21) and receiving yards (251). He'll still be worth owning, but shouldn't be counted on for another spike in value.
7 Mike Sims-Walker, Jaguars
Mike Sims-Walker, Jaguars
Entering the final year of his first NFL contract, he's one of the few candidates on this list with a good chance to experience another leap in value after producing 869 yards and seven scores following a 217-yard, zero-TD performance in 2008. The only things standing in his way are his habit of being injured, especially his creaky knees, and the faltering play of starting quarterback David Garrard, both of which also make Sims-Walker a candidate to provide fantasy owners with grief.
8 Sidney Rice, Vikings
Sidney Rice, Vikings
In just one season playing with Brett Favre, Rice went from being a big bust with unfulfilled potential to one of the biggest steals of the 2009 fantasy draft season with 1,312 yards and eight touchdown catches. Unfortunately, that was then, and now ain't so pretty. Rice entered camp still feeling the effects of a hip injury suffered in the NFC Championship Game and finds himself on the Active/PUP list. Favre's ankle injury from the same game could end his record-shattering career and would leave Tarvaris Jackson at the reins of the offense, which would be a blow to every Vikings receiver, but none more than Rice.
9 Earl Bennett, Bears
Earl Bennett, Bears
Reunited with his Vanderbilt teammate Jay Cutler, Bennett tallied 717 yards last season in earning a starting role with the Bears. Teammates Johnny Knox, Devin Aromashodu, and Devin Hester have been garnering all of the fantasy buzz this offseason, but Bennett is the team's most classic all-around receiver. Don't discount his relationship with Cutler as the Bears transition into a passing team.
10 Mario Manningham, Giants
Mario Manningham, Giants
Even frequent lapses didn't hold back Manningham's leap in fantasy attractiveness last season as a surprise starter and de facto replacement for the incarcerated and released Plaxico Burress. However, he was another player who saw his ups and downs, gaining more than 60 yards just three times, albeit two of those efforts went for more than 120 yards each. He's battling last season's first-round pick, Hakeem Nicks, for the starting slot opposite Steve Smith, and it's likely that the more accomplished Nicks will emerge, leaving Manningham in a punt-returner/third receiver role.
11 Robert Meachem, Saints
Robert Meachem, Saints
As just a single cog in the league's most dangerous and deepest receiving corps, it was possible to overlook Meachem, who was tied for seventh in the league among wideouts with nine touchdown catches. But inconsistency (one 100-yard game, two with zero yards) and a lack of receptions (just 45 catches) tempered his fantasy appeal. Now a toe injury has landed him on the PUP list, and the re-emergence of sure-handed Lance Moore has landed Meachem's fantasy worth beyond that as a reserve fourth or fifth receiver in serious question.

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