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FANTASY FOOTBALL WEEKLY FEATURES

Wide Receiver Watch - Week 7
Todd Gray
October 19, 2004
Top Ten Fantasy WR ’s To Own Comment
1 MIN Randy Moss Those “on pace for 25 TDs” comments don’t sound so crazy after all. Ah, but there’s a catch – Moss (hamstring strain) may miss his first career game against the Titans this Sunday. Surprising stat: Moss has topped 100 yards receiving only once this season despite the Vikings averaging 75 more passing yards per game than any other team.
2 PHI Terrell Owens A “quiet” day against the Panthers with 123 yards and nary a TD (first shutout this season) on only four catches in Philly’s rout of the Panthers. Owens did average more than 30 yards per catch, along with a couple of spirit-crushing 50-yarders. Matchups get a little tougher in the near future beginning with this week’s tilt in Cleveland (only three passing TDs allowed).
3 HOU Andre Johnson A quiet day (4 catches, 66 yards) in a huge win for the upstart Texans. Things don’t get easier any time soon: matchups against Jacksonville (home) and Denver (away) follow Houston’s Week 7 bye.
4 STL Torry Holt Back in business with his first two-TD performance of the year and a season-high 124 yards against the Bucs on Monday night. Schedule toughens with a Week 7 matchup against Miami’s No. 1-ranked passing defense, followed by a Week 8 bye and then games against New England, Seattle and Buffalo.
5 NO Joe Horn The Saints have their problems, but Horn is not one of them. He proved it on Sunday by snagging a TD for the fourth time in five games. Week 7 match-up against Oakland’s No. 9 passing defense provides a stiff test before the Saints enjoy their Week 8 bye.
6 PIT Hines Ward The trouble these days with the ever-consistent Ward is that he’s been consistently not scoring touchdowns. Still, he remains the No. 1 guy on an offense that hasn’t looked this legitimately good in a long time. With Plaxico Burress being used perhaps more effectively than ever to stretch the field, Ward has refined his role as the Steelers’ main possession receiver – as was evident in his performance against the Cowboys (9 catches, 76 yards).
7 IND Marvin Harrison Harrison remains arguably one of the top two or three receivers in the league, but this offense is perhaps too good to allow any one receiver to be fantasy platinum, instead producing three receivers that are fantasy gold. He is currently projected to tally 93 catches and 947 yards, which could make him the only starting skill player on this offense to not have a career year.
8 TEN Derrick Mason Solid if not spectacular has been Mason’s calling card of late. In the Titans’ loss to Houston, he grabbed five passes for 74 yards. Tennessee should have success throwing the ball the next two weeks at Minnesota and home against Cincinnati.
9 GB Javon Walker Early reports are that Walker won’t miss any time following a slight separation in his shoulder in Week 6 against the Lions. He entered the game nursing a sprained right hand, and injured his shoulder and a rib before bowing out for good in the second quarter. Up next: games against a pair of below-par teams with solid pass defenses in the Cowboys and the Redskins.
10 STL Isaac Bruce Easily established season lows with a meager one catch for 11 yards against the Bucs on Monday. It’s only one game, but most likely it’s also a sign that Bruce owners have already enjoyed the best stretch he’ll have this season.

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

Climbing The Ladder

Donald Driver (GB) – There are ample reasons why Driver has suddenly become a fantasy darling. Forget his production in weeks 1-4 – what really matters are his 19 catches, 260 yards and two TDs the past two weeks. Aiding Driver’s production are ongoing knee and ankle injuries to starting WR Robert Ferguson, and a handful of aches and pains (ribs, shoulder, hand) being suffered by current No. 1 WR Javon Walker. Bret Favre spreads around 280-plus yards of passing offense on an average week, good for third in the NFL. You never know – Driver may be the Javon Walker of the next five weeks.

Brandon Lloyd (SF) – The 49ers may have finally found themselves a go-to guy who’s not their tight end. Lloyd accumulated 11 catches, 149 yards and two TDs the past two weeks following a two-game hiatus due to a groin injury, and he was thrown to 11 times on Sunday against a Jets defense that placed heightened emphasis on TE Eric Johnson. Indeed, some of Lloyd’s production has come with the aid of smoke and mirrors (a.k.a. blown coverage and garbage time production), but the 49ers have proven that, if nothing else, they will throw the ball as is evidenced by their league-highs in completions (151) and attempts (242). Lloyd is not an immediate fix for fantasy owners due to the 49ers’ bye this weekend, but he’s a safe bet for solid production for the remainder of the season.

Keyshawn Johnson/Terry Glenn (DAL) – To put this in perspective, consider how many points your No. 2 & 3 receivers have earned for you thus far this season. Now, consider that Johnson and Glenn have probably earned a comparable amount of points between them – with their bye week done and gone, to boot. Glenn’s seven-catch, 140-yard afternoon against the Steelers makes him four of five in quality fantasy performances this season, and Johnson’s TD against Pittsburgh was his second score in as many games. The Cowboys rank seventh in the league with 265.4 passing yards per game, albeit with only six TD passes.

D. Bennett (TEN) – WR Tyrone Calico’s season-ending surgery more or less solidifies Bennett’s status as a solid play in the foreseeable future, if it wasn’t determined already. Bennett’s maximum value both on the field and in the fantasy realm is truly in his hands at this point. His penchant for highlight-film grabs is often countered by his knack for letting footballs bounce off his hands. In Week 5, he helped to offset a pair of drops by throwing a TD pass on a trick play. Against the Texans, he somewhat amended for a couple of drops by adjusting nicely in order to catch Steve McNair’s only TD pass. The Titans’ offense is very kind to No. 2 receivers and a 1,000-yard season with a handful of touchdowns is not out of the question.

Sliding Back

Reche Caldwell (SD) – Caldwell spent much of Sunday on crutches after injuring his knee early in the Chargers’ loss to the Falcons. The necessity of the crutches, along with Caldwell’s quote, “My knee was up under me funny” (San Diego Union-Tribune), don’t bode well for fantasy production in the near future. Injuries are nothing new for the third-year wideout who is (or was) in the process of having a breakout year. Caldwell missed seven games in his sophomore season. WR Eric Parker stepped up to make six catches for 76 yards and a TD and should become the Chargers’ No. 1 wideout should Caldwell miss any time. Still, better options probably exist in all but very deep leagues.

Lavernaus Coles (WAS) – It appears that Coles has become the Chris Chambers of the NFC: a talented receiver who has no one with whom he can play catch. Against the Bears, QB Mark Brunell failed to throw for 100 yards for the second straight game, despite getting 218 yards from the running game and controlling the ball for 34 minutes. The Redskins are 29 th in the league with an average of 175.7 passing yards per game along with six passing TDs. Washington enjoys a Week 7 bye before hosting Green Bay.

Koren Robinson (SEA) – Not just any receiver could have nine catches and 150 yards against the defending Super Bowl champs and then wind up on this list. Robinson currently has two big strikes against him. One, he continues to be the NFL’s poster child for dropped passes (at least eight this season). Two, and perhaps most significantly, it appears that he faces a four-game suspension for violation of the league’s substance abuse policy.