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FANTASY FOOTBALL WEEKLY FEATURES

Wide Receiver Watch - Week 9
Todd Gray
November 2, 2004
Top Ten Fantasy WR ’s To Own Comment
1 PHI Terrell Owens Owens burned the Ravens in Week 8, and now faces an equal test against the giant-killing Steelers. He’s amassed nine TDs in seven games following Sunday’s eight-catch, 101-yard, one TD effort. Division rivals Dallas, Washington and the Giants loom in the following weeks.
2 GB Javon Walker Walker’s Owensian feats include seven TDs in the past six games and a league-leading 783 yards receiving. The fantasy letdown that is the Packers’ bye this week is tempered by the anticipation of games against Minnesota and Houston in Weeks 10 and 11.
3 MIN Randy Moss The moment that Moss (hamstring) declares himself anything close to 100 percent, he’s automatically No. 2 or better. Until then, he joins the ranks of the mere semi-elite. Moss owners must be getting teary-eyed at the thought of not having him on the field Monday against the Colts.
4 HOU Andre Johnson Johnson’s feet never hit the end zone despite nine grabs against the Jaguars. Houston can expect stiff resistance in Week 9 against the reeling Broncos, but the Carr-Johnson connection should pay off at some point during the contest. Potential feasts against the Colts and Packers loom in weeks 10 and 11, respectively.
5 IND Marvin Harrison Four touchdowns in two weeks is more like it. Harrison also crested 100 yards receiving for only the first time this season (who would’ve thunk?), thanks to the near-constant double teams he’s faced week-in and week-out. All looks well in the near future with home dates against Minnesota (Week 9) and Houston (10).
6 STL Torry Holt Week 9 Sunday will mark 20 days since Holt has contributed to a fantasy matchup – a virtual eternity by his standards even when considering the Rams’ recent bye. The bet here is that he will get it done this week against the smarting Patriots, especially if Pats’ Pro Bowl CB Ty Law (foot) misses the game.
7 NO Joe Horn A special stretch could be on the horizon for Horn. He’s had two weeks to rest his knee thanks to the Saints’ Week 8 bye, and his next two games are at San Diego and home against the Chiefs. Regardless, his gimpy knee hasn’t stopped him from setting a pace for 100-plus catches for the first time in his career.
8 MIN Marcus Robinson Robinson’s strained left foot probably won’t keep him out of action against the Colts, but it may very well slow him down. With the Vikings’ top two WRs limping, Kelly Campbell and especially Nate Burleson make nice plays in Week 9.
9 TEN Derrick Mason Mason has been steady through the storm for the Titans, compiling 37 catches, 401 yards and two TDs over the past five games. No TDs for three straight weeks is guaranteed due to Titans’ Week 9 bye.
10 JAC Jimmy Smith Four straight games with 90-plus yards leaves Smith No. 2 in the NFL with 703 yards. Only two TDs to his credit, but the scores should arrive if his catches remain constant (29 over the past four weeks). The Jaguars get a bye this week before hosting the Lions and Titans in Weeks 10 and 11, respectively.

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

Climbing The Ladder

Johnnie Morton (KC) – That the Chiefs never seem to produce a top-flite wide receiver is understandable. That they consistently fail to produce a WR that belongs on a fantasy roster is mind-boggling. Thus, Morton becomes a viable fantasy option now that the Chiefs are back to their old point-per-minute selves. Morton caught his first TD pass of the season against the Colts (but then, who hasn’t?) and has 33 catches for a not-so-shabby 453 yards on the year. Indeed, he’s displayed a career-long propensity to not score, but the Chiefs are hot and, despite their early struggles, are averaging 254.7 passing yards per game.

Keyshawn Johnson (DAL) – Johnson shared this space with Terry Glenn a couple of weeks ago, but there’ll be no more sharing following Glenn’s season-ending foot sprain in Week 7. Johnson posted two TDs and 80 yards on three catches in his first game as Dallas’ unquestioned No. 1 WR, and he’s now scored three weeks in a row. He could be a Top 15 receiver the rest of the way.

Jabar Gaffney (HOU) – Gaffney is far from being a fantasy lock, but recent returns have been promising. He’s in a good situation, to say the least, as QB David Carr and the Texans have made huge strides in their passing game and in general. It doesn’t hurt Gaffney’s cause that fellow wideout Andre Johnson receives the lion’s share of attention from opposing DBs. Against the Jaguars in Week 8, Gaffney made it two straight games with at least five catches and 80 yards and would have scored a touchdown on a 15-yard reverse if he hadn’t been foolish with the ball on his way into the end zone.

Sliding Back

Drew Bennett (TEN) – A pair of disappointing performances has resulted in Bennett being shuttled off many a fantasy roster. He barely had a chance against the Bengals, getting only two throws from QB Billy Volek, and this week the Titans have a bye so he’s officially stuck in a ‘dead weight’ period as far as fantasy rosters are concerned. Bennett could be a fair play when the Titans host Chicago on Nov. 14 if QB Steve McNair (bruised sternum) is 100 percent or close to it, but if the situation is uncertain, best lay off Bennett for the time being.

Donte’ Stallworth (NO) – Jerome Pathon replaced Stallworth in the starting lineup against Oakland in Week 8, a change that may stick. In five starts this season, the underachieving Stallworth has only one touchdown on 28 catches at 12 yards per catch – hardly the returns you expect from a “big play” receiver. Fantasy owners may be tempted to employ Stallworth against a couple of cake pass defenses (San Diego, Kansas City) in Weeks 9 and 10, but keep in mind that he just totaled five grabs and 49 yards against Minnesota and Oakland. It’s a risk.

Hines Ward (PIT) – Ward remains one of the best clutch receivers in the game, but these days all the big scoring strikes in Pittsburgh are landing in Plaxico Burress’ hands. He’s produced only 243 yards and zero TDs over the past four games and may no longer the best fantasy option on his team, let alone one of the top 10 fantasy WRs in the league. Considering that the Steelers are unlikely to deviate from their newfound winning formula anytime soon, that’s unlikely to change.