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Wide Receiver Watch - 2004
Todd Gray
August 23, 2004
Top Ten Fantasy WR’s to own Comment
1 MIN Randy Moss Better than ever? Last year’s stats would support that claim (111 catches, 1,632 yards). If healthy and happy, real potential for a season for the ages.
2 IND Marvin Harrison Stats took a huge hit from ’02 to ’03, but Harrison remains a statistical giant. A virtual lock as a top three receiver with Manning throwing in his direction.
3 STL Torry Holt Has probably peaked statistically, but even a slight dip in last season’s numbers (117-1,696-12) ensures fantasy dominance.
4 PHI Terrell Owens Should connect with McNabb on a slew of huge plays, but will the gaudy weekly stats be there? May have been spoiled by Garcia’s accuracy while in ‘Frisco.
5 CIN Chad Johnson No reason he can’t build on last season’s totals (10 TDs, 1,355 yards). Biggest ‘if’ may be untested QB Carson Palmer (zero snaps in ’03).
6 PIT Hines Ward Mr. Consistent should find himself in the 90-100 catches and 1,100-1,300 yards range once again.
7 TEN Derrick Mason Unlikely that he’ll match last season’s stats (career-high 95 receptions and 1,303 yards), but remains QB Steve McNair’s go-to guy and a constant threat.
8 NO Joe Horn Horn hobbled through a disappointing season in ’03 with a bone bruise that caused him to miss his first action since ’99. If healthy, a return to 80-plus catches and 1,250 yards is well within reach.
9 NYJ Santana Moss Athleticism, quickness and guile make up for lack of height (5-10). Could rise a couple of notches with a big (and healthy) year from QB Chad Pennington.
10 WAS Laveranues Coles Settled into an 80-catch, 1,200-yard groove the past two seasons and should continue that pace this year. A couple more scores than he’s produced the past two years (11 total) would be a bonus.

(Note – this listing considers the rankings of WR’s if a draft was held today)

Climbing The Ladder

Javon Walker (GB) – Walker made huge strides in his second NFL season and is making a case to become QB Bret Favre’s favorite target. Most likely won’t be a top 10 or 15 receiver fantasy-wise, but five catches and 75 yards a game, in addition to a score every other game or so are well within the realm of possibility. Totaled nine TDs in 2003 on only 41 catches.

Drew Bennett (TEN) – The fourth-year pro has improved every season and will begin the 2004 campaign starting opposite Derrick Mason following the departure of former No. 2 man Justin McCareins. At 6-foot, 5-inches, Bennett makes a large target and may very well get enough quality grabs to be a mid- to low-tier No. 2 receiver in some leagues.

Justin McCareins (NYJ) – McCareins hung out on the verge of becoming a full-time fantasy commodity last season, and it’s not too much of a stretch too foresee him equaling the work of his new counterpart, WR Santana Moss, in overall fantasy production. McCareins brings a physical, big-play presence to the table opposite Moss’ explosiveness, and will be looked at more as a possession and key downs receiver for the Jets.

Sliding Back

Keenan McCardell (TB) – Currently a holdout, not getting any younger (35) and on a team with a potentially tumultuous QB situation, it’s hard to foresee McCardell as anything better than a solid No. 3 fantasy option – pending his holdout situation. McCardell did put together a fine campaign in ’03 (84-1,174-8), but expect that to be his swan song. Newcomers including rookie Michael Clayton (LSU) and veterans Tim Brown, Joey Galloway and (even) Bill Schroeder will push to eat up many of the grabs that McCardell would get if he were playing, but there’s no guarantee that even that’s going to happen.

Anquan Boldin (ARI) – Boldin will most likely miss 8 to 12 weeks – if all goes well – following successful surgery on his right knee on August 11. Gambling owners choosing to stash the second-year Pro Bowl WR on their roster in hopes of being rewarded with an early return may indeed reap rewards, but there’s no guarantee Boldin will do much at all this season. It’s worth noting that Boldin missed his junior year at Florida State University due to reconstructive surgery on a tendon in his left knee.

David Boston (MIA) – Will this guy ever going to come close to duplicating his (98-1,598) season? One thing is for certain – it won’t be this year. Boston is set to endure his third straight disappointing campaign after tearing his patellar tendon in his left knee on August 6. He’s planning a November return, but that is the most optimistic scenario and more accurately a long shot.