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FANTASY FOOTBALL WEEKLY FEATURES

Wide Receiver Watch - Week 12
Todd Gray
November 23, 2004
Top Ten Fantasy WR ’s To Own Comment
1 PHI Terrell Owens Just more than half a season and Owens has officially left the competition in his wake. His 13 th TD of the year on Sunday leaves him behind only Jerry Rice for the most seasons with 13 or more TD grabs (he now has five such seasons). Suffice it to say T.O. owners will probably want to keep him in their lineups for the Eagles’ Week 12 game against the Giants at the Meadowlands.
2 GB Javon Walker Walker had nine catches and 88 yards against the Texans, but he failed to score a TD for the first time in a month thanks in part to Brett Favre’s other favorite target, Donald Driver (10 catches, 148 yards, 1 TD). Despite sharing the wealth, Walker remains tied for fourth in the league with eight TDs and atop the NFL with 945 receiving yards.
3 MIN Randy Moss Moss (hamstring) hasn’t caught a pass in a month and he’s currently listed as doubtful for the Vikings’ Week 12 home game against Jacksonville. However, he should be back in the lineup against the Jags barring any setbacks at practice this week. Assuming that he does play, coach Mike Tice said that he would most likely take part in roughly 25 plays – mostly in three-receiver sets. While not exactly full-time duty, that would be ample reason to get Moss back in your lineup.
4 IND Reggie Wayne Wayne’s six TDs over the past four weeks are enough to make Marvin Harrison owners drool. Once again, Wayne outperformed Harrison from a fantasy perspective, nearly doubling his counterpart with 106 yards and two touchdowns against the lowly Bears. Wayne and the Colts should keep rolling in Week 12 against the Lions in Detroit.
5 IND Marvin Harrison Eighty-four catches and 1,045 yards sounds like a good season for Reggie Wayne. Unfortunately for Harrison owners, those numbers represent Harrison’s projected totals for the season – his worst output since 1998 when he played in only 12 games due to injury. He did score for the first time since Halloween on Sunday, but it’s more or less official: Harrison is no longer among the fantasy elite. At least you can count on a handful of yards and a score on most weeks – including the Colts’ Week 12 game against the hapless Lions.
6 STL Torry Holt The concussion Holt suffered in Week 11 couldn’t keep him out of the game or out of the end zone against the Bills as he finished with 90 yards and a touchdown. He did take a nasty hit to the leg in the third quarter, but it shouldn’t prevent him from taking the field against the Packers on Monday night.
7 NO Joe Horn Horn shook off a sore left knee to gather five catches and 81 yards against one of the league’s finest CBs in the Broncos’ Champ Bailey. That gutsy performance isn’t much of a consolation for fantasy owners who count on TDs from Horn, but it’s further indication that his production should suffer little despite being caught in the middle of the mess that is the New Orleans Saints. He should fare well in a Week 12 matchup against Atlanta and a Falcons’ passing defense ranked among the worst in the league.
8 DEN Ashley Lelie Lelie picked up where he left off before Denver’s bye week with 79 yards and a score against the Saints. More of the same should be in store when the Broncos host Oakland on Sunday.
9 CAR Muhsin Muhammad There’s just no stopping Muhammad these days. The emergence of RB Nick Goings didn’t put a dent in his numbers on Sunday as he caught six passes for a gaudy 118 yards and two touchdowns. That makes seven touchdowns in four weeks, an obscene total for a receiver who was slightly better than average throughout much of the season’s first half. A big test awaits in Week 12 when the Panthers host Tampa Bay.
10 HOU Andre Johnson Johnson caught six of the seven completions that David Carr threw to his wide receivers, which is both good and bad. Good because it shows that Johnson is alive and well in the Texans’ struggling offense (which is the bad). Johnson finished the game with 107 yards but nary a score and still hasn’t hit pay dirt since Oct. 10. It’s unlikely that anything will come easy this weekend when Houston hosts somewhat resurgent Tennessee.

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

Climbing The Ladder

Jerry Rice (SEA) – Sure, it’s difficult to promote a WR who’s made exactly one big catch in 10 games, but a few factors make Rice an intriguing option for the time-being. First and foremost, the starter who he replaced on Sunday, Koren Robinson, has just been suspended for four games by the NFL for violating the league’s substance abuse policy. Second, Rice is only two years removed from Pro Bowl consideration, and though he hasn’t been the same since, he did play on one of the more dysfunctional teams in the league in Oakland. Third, he’s the best wide receiver ever and only a few days removed from posting 86 yards and a TD against Miami. It’s not as if the best is yet to come, but 70-80 yards per game and an occasional TD may not be asking too much from Rice down the stretch. Seattle is at home the next two weeks against Buffalo and Dallas, respectively.

Deion Branch (NE) – It didn’t take long for Branch and QB Tom Brady to make up for lost time in Branch’s first action since he injured his right knee in Week 2. Based on the results, Branch’s knee is just fine as he recorded six catches for 105 yards and a 26-yard TD and re-established himself as the Patriots’ most consistent deep threat. A lot of fantasy owners gave up on waiting for Branch when he was listed as questionable for the better part of three months. If he’s available in your league and you need help at WR, this one’s a no-brainer.

Eddie Kennison (K.C.) – Kennison posted his third straight game of 99 or more yards receiving and has scored three TDs in that span. The hamstring injury he suffered early in the season is clearly a thing of the past, and the K.C. offense is on a roll even if it’s not translating into wins. And then there’s the Chiefs’ favorable schedule in the short term, including a home date against San Diego Week 12 followed by a trip to Oakland in Week 13.

Sliding Back

David Givens (NE) – For as long as it took for Deion Branch to re-establish himself as QB Tom Brady’s favorite target, it took equally as long for Givens to revert to his former role as an occasional nice play, but more accurately a risky fantasy start. He’s worth a roster spot, no doubt, but with the Pats hot-and-cold schedule the rest of the way Givens owners had better have a back-up plan – namely Branch, if he’s available. The Patriots host Baltimore on Sunday in a game that should be relatively quiet in terms of fantasy output.

Plaxico Burress (PIT) – It’s still unclear if Burress (hamstring) will be on the field against the Redskins on Sunday. However, when you consider the havoc that hamstring injuries have wreaked on fantasy owners this year, Burress owners should prepare for a week or two without QB Ben Roethlisberger’s favorite target. If he can’t line up against the ‘Skins, Antwaan Randle El will get the start in his place, but better options are almost certainly available in most leagues.

Koren Robinson (SEA) – Robinson’s long-awaited four-game suspension for violation of the NFL’s substance abuse policy is officially underway. This places his return at Week 16, which in some fantasy leagues is championship week and therefore renders Robinson more or less useless down the stretch. In the meantime, Jerry Rice will start in Robinson’s stead and may prove to be a viable No. 3 WR.