Stat Kings: the Top 5 NFL Players of 2011

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A Peyton Manning-less Colts team, the unstoppable plague of Tebow-mania and Cam Newton putting up video game-like numbers were perhaps the most memorable aspects of the 2011 NFL season, but were they the best? Hardly.

Some ridiculous numbers put up by some serious all-pros made 2011 a great year for any Fantasy Football nerd who collapsed in a tearful fit of joy upon drafting one of the guys listed below. They each had an absolute monster season in their own right, and they are easily the top five players from the 2011 NFL football season.

5 Calvin Johnson – Detroit Lions (WR)

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If it’s possible to have a quiet 1,681-yard season, the Lions’ Calvin Johnson managed to do it. Setting the 7th highest single season total in league history, Johnson was easily Matthew Stafford’s favorite target in 2011. In fact, he had nearly 1,000 more yards than the next closest player on his team. Having fast become one of the league’s most feared receivers, Johnson earned the nickname Megatron, most likely a reference to the fear people feel when being forced to sit through another Transformers sequel.

4 Rob Gronkowski – New England Patriots (TE)

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Has their ever been a more fitting nickname in NFL history than this guy being called “Gronk”? Sure, he may not be the brightest tool in the bulb-drawer, and we’ve definitely seen way too much of him, but don’t act like you don’t still want him on your fantasy team. In his second season in the league Gronk blew his own solid rookie numbers out of the water, more than doubling his catches, nearly tripling his yards and scoring 17 touchdowns for the 2011 Patriots. Rob Gronkowski is the prototype of the modern NFL tight end. He’s quick on his feet, has great hands and is legally classified as an ogre.

3 Drew Brees – New Orleans Saints (QB)

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Drew Brees is, quite simply, a stat factory. This dude puts up bigger numbers than the National Debt Clock. In 2011 Brees threw for a single-season record of 5,476 yards, breaking Dan Marino’s old mark that stood since 1984. He added 46 touchdowns and led the Saints to a single season record for offensive yards, a 13-3 record and their second NFC South title in three years. So just how efficient was Brees’ record in 2011? He averaged more yards passing per game than 15 NFL teams averaged overall. In fact, Drew Brees’ gaudy 2011 numbers were the only thing admired more in the Super Dome than this lady.

2 Aaron Rodgers – Green Bay Packers (QB)

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Over the last few seasons Aaron Rodgers has been to the Green Bay Packers what Twinkies have been to stoners: Old Reliable. And 2011 was no exception. He averaged 310 yards per game, threw for 45 touchdowns with only 6 interceptions, and finished the year with a 122.5 QB rating. His cannon arm and solid decision-making were the biggest reasons the Pack wound up with a 15-1 record and led the league in scoring offense, and landed him with the MVP. His surprising comedic timing was also the reason State Farm’s Discount Double Check caught on, so, this guy can simply do everything.

1 Jared Allen – Minnesota Vikings (DE)

If you’re surprised to see a defensive player atop this list, you need to look at only one stat: in 2011, Jared Allen had one fewer sack by himself (22), than the entire Tampa Bay Buccaneers team amassed all year. The Vikings mulleted mercenary absolutely went off in 2011, falling just a half-sack short of Michael Strahan’s single-season record, while also adding 66 tackles, 4 forced fumbles and one interception. And if his unbelievable season somehow isn’t enough to gain your respect, you at least have to admit his sack celebration is amazing. After each one he drops to one knee and strikes a pose reminiscent of the first primitive man to conquer the mighty flame.

There they are, the top five players from the 2011 NFL season. Some might argue Tom Brady should be included for also breaking Marino’s yardage mark. But who wants an “also-ran”? Plus Drew Brees broke it way harder. And if you contend that Eli Manning deserved a nod for leading the underdog Giants to a Super Bowl, remember that he also led the league in making this face. So… no.

And as usual, if you think you can do better, why not crank out a list of your own? But remember, there’s no chance you’ll top the line about Jared Allen discovering fire, so don’t even try.

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