Fantasy Football Preview – Wide Receivers
The beauty about the WR position is there are more Big Dogs than any other position. For that reason, many fantasy footballers are contemplating grabbing stud WRs in the middle-to-late first round and early second round rather than mindlessly taking the best RB available. With that in mind, let’s take a look at who those characters are.
Randy Moss – How can you start anywhere else after the historic season Moss produced last year? The thing that worries me about Moss is he looked vulnerable to physical play during the playoffs. If you’re expecting another 23 TDs, you’ll be disappointed.
Terrell Owens – So far so good in Big D for MeO, I mean T.O. As long as he’s happy, he’ll continue to produce in bunches. I can see T.O. lead all WRs in scoring this year.
Reggie Wayne – Well, he officially surpassed Marvin Harrison as the Top Dog in Indy, and I don’t see that changing any time soon. You can pretty much pencil him in for 1300 yards and 10 TDs. How many RBs can you say that with? That’s why he’s a safer pick than a Clinton Portis or Willis McGahee.
Braylon Edwards – Braylon finally showed why he was a 3rd pick last year scoring 16 TDs. I don’t see him reaching paydirt quite as often, especially with the addition of Donte Stallworth, but double-digits isn’t out of the question.
Andre Johnson – He averaged close to 95 yards and nearly a TD a game last year. That translates to 1500 yards and 14 TDs. Will he reach those lofty numbers? I doubt it, but he’ll come close if he gets a full season in.
Larry Fitzgerald – I am a huge fan of Fitzy. He just seems to get it. Must be his Minnesota ties. Every other year he gets 1400 yards and 10 TDs. If he can avoid his even-year slump, he’ll be worth his weight in gold again for fantasy owners.
Steve Smith – Here’s a guy who NEEDS his QB to stay healthy. He’s had two down years (compared to his 2005 masterpiece), but he still has what it takes to be an elite WR in this league. If Delhomme goes down, he could easily lose his Big Dog status.
Chad Johnson – Ocho Cinco had 1440 yards and 8 TDs last year. Unfortunately his TDs came in just 4 games last year. That’s what bugs me about Ocho. His end of the year stats look great, but he’s not as solid week-to-week like some of the Big Dogs. His contract situation is a little scary, but I think he’ll play.
T.J. Houshmandzadeh – Unlike Ocho, Housh likes to spread the wealth out during his season. He scored a TD in his first 8 games last year. He’s not going to wow you with big yardage (only three weeks over 100 and none after Wek 6), but you’ll be happy with his production.
Marques Colston – I was tempted to put him a tier lower, but his improvement on an already outstanding rookie season was too hard to ignore. If the 3rd Year Rule applies to Colston, the league better look out because he’s already blown up. He caught nearly 100 balls last year for over 1200 yards and 11 TDs. Those are solid digits.
Torry Holt – Holt had a down year by his standards last year, failing to produce either 1200 yards or 10 TDs for the first time since his rookie season. I see Marc Bulger bouncing back this year though, and Holt will rebound with him. He’s going to be a great value pick this year.
Plaxico Burress – I wasn’t going to put him in the Big Dog Club, but when you consider what he did last year despite knee and ankle injuries. He scored in his first 6 games last year and racked up 1025 yards and 12 scores for the year. It was his second straight double-digit TD year with the G-Men, and Eli’s added confidence (and pressure from NY media and fans removed) following the Super Bowl victory should keep the success going.
Second Tier WRs
These will most likely be your 2nd or 3rd WRs depending on your league size and your draft stratgey. They are solid wideouts, but not quite the caliber of the Big Dogs.
Brandon Marshall – The only thing that kept Brandon Marshall from runnin’ with the Big Dogs is his maturity, or lack thereof. Numbers are numbers though and he went for over 1300 yards and 7 TDs last year. If he can avoid fast food bags, he should have another solid year. He’s the one 2nd Tier WR that’s most likely to be a Big Dog.
Wes Welker – When the Patriots offense is clicking, there really is no answer for Welker. I still think if he caught 20+ passes in the Super Bowl the outcome would have been different. The Giants had no answer for him. 112 catches last year. That’s amazing. I think he can catch more if that’s what the Defenses present to TB.
Anquan Boldin – Boldin took a step back in yardage last year, but his TD production went up. He caught a career high 9 TDs depsite missing 4 games. If he gets steady QB play again this year he’ll produce with the best of them.
Greg Jennings – Jennings was awesome last year. He had 12 TDs and nearly 1000 yards. Of course, Brett Favre was throwing to him. I couldn’t quite justify making him a Big Dog without his favorite gunslinger. He scored in 10 of the 13 games he played in last year.
Roy Williams – Roy took a major step back from the 1300 yard 2006 season he produced. That doesn’t mean he can’t return there though. He needs to prove he can stay healthy and he’ll be a heck of a value come draft day.
Third Tier WRs
Again, these will be #2 & #3 wideouts for most teams. They have a little more question marks than the previous tier.
Santonio Holmes/Hines Ward – Has Santonio Holmes officially surpassed Hines Ward as the top dog? Juding by last year’s stats (942 yards, 8 TDs to 732, 7) and it appears that way. I’m not quite ready to write Hines Ward off, but Holmes will likely be the first Steeler WR drafted. They will probably be picked fairly close together and produce very similar numbers.
Marvin Harrison – Last year was a wasted year for the former Syracuse Orangeman. Then he showed some bad judgement in the offseason. Was last year the beginning of the end for #88? I don’t think so. I think he keeps himself in good enough shape, has one of the games best QBs slinging it to him, and has great knowledge of his system that he’s in for a nice rebound.
Calvin Johnson – Here’s a guy I’m high on. He has the size and speed to be an elite wideout. He was decent enough (756 yards, 4 TDs) as he was adjusting to the NFL. Now that he has a year behind him, I can see his career taking off.
Dwayne Bowe – Bowe had a nice rookie campaign last year, nearly hauling in 1000 yards. I see him leaving that mark behind as well as tacking on a couple of TDs to his decent five-spot he produced last year.
Roddy White – Roddy had a sneaky 1200 yards last year. On name recognition alone I wouldn’t put him in this tier, but his numbers talk. He was one of the top wideouts from Week 12 on (minus the dud he dropped in Week 15) scoring in 4 games and topping 140 yards twice.
Chris Chambers – I think San Diego was a good fit for CC. With a full training camp and preseason with the Bolts, I expect him to do even better. He’s one of the WRs I’m targeting for ’08.
Lee Evans – If someone can just convince Evans that December year round (17 of his 29 career TDs have come in December), he’ll make the leap into Big Dog status. He almost always starts off slow out of the gate so he’s a guy you may want to hold off on using during the beginning weeks of the season. However, targeting him for a midseason trade may not be a bad idea. I think he can return to the 1000 yard territory with 8 TDs. Let’s just hope they don’t all come in December.
Jerricho Cotchery – He’s produced back-to-back 82 reception seasons for the Jets. He topped the 1100 yard mark. He just needs to prove he can be more a factor in the endzone. His measly 2 TDs conjure up thoughts of past Jet Wideouts like Keyshawn Johnson.
Donald Driver – Driver slid under the Third Tier wall like Indiana Jones in Raiders of the Lost Ark. He failed to reach 1200 yards for the first time since 2003 last year, but his 1048 weren’t bad. What was bad was the 2 TDs he scored. Greg Jennings was clearly Brett’s go-to-guy last year in the red zone. With a new QB though, the steady Driver could be leaned on heavier than the explosive Jennings.
These will likely either be your 3rd WR or make up your WR depth.
Kevin Curtis/Reggie Brown - Curtis was decent last year for the Eagles. He had a couple of huge games. I’d like to see DeSean Jackson push for the starting job opposite of Reggie Brown, who should bounce back from his mediocre 780 yard 4 TD season, which would allow Curtis to got to the slot and utilize his speed like Wes Welker. If that happens, all three could be viable plays.
Laveranues Coles – Coles had a decent season going before the wheels fell off in Week 8. If he can produce like he did the first seven weeks (460 yards, 6 TDs), he’ll be worth an occasional start.
Joey Galloway – How long can Mr. Galloway keep it up? Dude will turn 37 in November. He’s registered three straight 1000+ yards seasons though. One warning, he was very inconsistent last year.
Santana Moss – Moss has barely matched his outstanding 2005 numbers when you combine the past two years. However, he still has big-play ability. He’s scary to own, and even scarier to start, but he can occasionally almost single-handedly win a matchup for you.
Javon Walker – Who knows how he’ll respond following last year’s lost season and butt-whoopin’ he took in Vegas. When he’s healthy though, he can produce. That hasn’t always been easy for him though.
Bernard Berrian – He’s a mystery heading into the year. He produced in Chicago, but we’ll see how he does in Minnesota. The Viking certainly have the running game to keep the DBs honest. I’m just leery of T-Jack’s accuracy.
Anthony Gonzalez – Here’s another guy I’d love to see end up on my team. He gained valuable experience as a rooke, and if Marvin Harrison returns to form, he could be looking at some cupcake matchups. He could be the poison that defenses pick, which is great news to his fantasy owners.
These are guys you’ll use during bye weeks and as injury replacements.
Bobby Engram/Nate Burleson/Deion Branch – Engram is the Old Guy in the Club. He had a great season last year. Nate is the underachiever. Branch was voted Least Likely to Stay Healthy. They all could be used at times next year though.
Derrick Mason/Mark Clayton – Mason had kind of a turn-back-the-clock season. I don’t see him repeating it, but he could have some decent weeks. I think Clayton can make the leap to decent WR this year. I thought the same thing last year though.
D.J. Hackett – Like Clayton, I was huge on Hackett last year. He produced when he was healthy, but ankle injuries can simply derail a season. We’ll see how he does opposite Steve Smith and Mushin.
Donte Stallworth – Stall is moving on once again. He should have opportunities as Braylon and Winslow should open things up for him.
Patrick Crayton – He has the luxuyr of playing opposite of T.O. , plus Jason Witten takes plenty of attention. Crayton should have a decent year.
Ted Ginn, Jr. – I don’t know why, but I think Ginn could be a decent play at times this year. I love his speed, but he’ll need to be able to take some hits.
Sidney Rice – I liked Rice last year as a rookie. If T-Jack can actually hit him when he’s open, he’ll have a decent year. At 6’4″, he’s a big target in the red zone.
Vincent Jackson – Everyone was on Jackson last year like white on rice. He didn’t live up to the hype. He’s the 4th option (LT, Gates, Chambers) this year, which may hurt (not enough touches) or help (less defensive pressure). He’s also a big target.
Bryant Johnson/Isaac Bruce – The 49ers brought in two new WRs and Martz. They should be good for some decent yards. Obviously, I’m higher on Johnson.