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FANTASY FOOTBALL WEEKLY FEATURES

Wide Receiver Watch - Week 5
Todd Gray
October 4, 2005

Top Ten Fantasy WR’s to own

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1 PHI Terrell Owens Owens leads the NFL in receptions (32) and yards (506) and is tied for second in TDs (4) following another monster performance, this time against the Chiefs. He did suffer a shoulder contusion on Sunday to go along with the pain in his lower abdomen area, but these setbacks haven’t slowed him, yet. Week 5 opponent Dallas has been a relative pushover against the pass thus far this season.
2 OAK Randy Moss The last time a fully healthy Moss went two straight games without a touchdown catch was during Weeks 10 & 11 of the 2003 season . His reception (19) and TD (2) numbers are low, but he’s second in the league with 466 yards receiving. Fantasy owners should leave him on the bench in Week 5, but only because the Raiders are on a bye.
3 CIN Chad Johnson Johnson owners who were drooling in anticipation of big numbers against the Texans were left disappointed. Seven catches and 67 yards are nothing to sneeze at, but they’re a far cry from what Johnson has been providing. The schedule becomes less forgiving for the 4-0 Bengals starting with a Week 5 tilt in Jacksonville against a Jaguars defense that has allowed only 136 passing yards per game, good for second-best in the NFL.
4 STL Torry Holt Holt continued his steady production with a seven-catch, 84-yard, one-TD showing against the Giants, although much of those stats came in garbage time of the Rams’ blowout loss. With counterpart Isaac Bruce (turf toe) sidelined for at least a couple more games, Holt will continue to get a greater share of attention from opposing defenses despite the Rams’ ability to field more quality wideouts than the AFC East. Week 5 opponent Seattle held Holt to a mere 13 catches, 193 yards and zero TDs in three meetings last season – all St. Louis victories.
5 IND Marvin Harrison Harrison posted nine catches, 109 yards and a pair of scores as the Colts’ offense finally awoke against a weak Titans’ D. Those who have Harrison on their rosters can sit back and enjoy the ride – the Colts play a handful of pass defense patsies the next three weeks, beginning with the league-worst 49ers in Week 5.
6 SEA Darrell Jackson Jackson owners avoided a setback in Week 4 as the sore-kneed wideout recorded seven catches, 55 yards and the Seahawks’ only TD in a tough matchup against the Redskins. In three 2004 games against Week 5 opponent St. Louis, Jackson produced nice totals but was limited to three catches for 33 yards on the Rams’ turf – the site of Sunday’s game.
7 CAR Steve Smith Smith has alternated huge games with quiet performances, most recently catching only two passes for 12 yards in the Panthers’ win over Green Bay on Monday night. Interestingly, his big performances have come in Carolina losses. That trend could continue in Week 5 against the not-dead-yet Cardinals in a game that should feature its share of offense.
8 PIT Hines Ward Ward is nursing a sore hamstring, but there’s little question he’ll play in San Diego on Monday night. In two home games this season, the Chargers have allowed averages of 319.5 yards passing and 2.5 passing TDs.
9 NYG Plaxico Burress Based solely on his year-to-date stats, Burress should receive a higher ranking than this. But there’s a lot of season left, and one must wonder what could come of Burress’ friction with head coach Tom Coughlin. His career-highs of 10 catches and 204 yards along with a career-tying two TDs against the Rams in Week 4 carried many fantasy owners to victory. There will be no heroics this week, as the Giants get a bye before visiting Dallas in Week 6.
10 ARI Anquan Boldin Boldin’s numbers (26 catches, 385 yards, 1 TD) through three games barely match those of teammate Larry Fitzgerald (27-368-2), but Boldin has been the Cardinals’ top receiving threat since Week 1. He even posted his first TD of the campaign against the 49ers on Sunday night and looks to be a strong weekly play regardless of the competition.

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

Climbing The Ladder

Eddie Kennison (KC) – Fantasy players know what they’re going to get with Kennison, and over the past two years what they’ve gotten is generally to their liking. Kennison enjoys the benefit of being the No. 1 wideout on the Chiefs’ offense, though he’s technically QB Trent Green’s second-favorite target to TE Tony Gonzalez. That means Kennison will continue to move the chains, as his 23 catches for 349 yards through four games attest, and he’ll continue to play second-fiddle in the red zone to the likes of Gonzalez and RB Priest Holmes. Regardless, with 15 catches, 221 yards and one TD the past two weeks and on the heels of a strong 2004 campaign, Kennison merits strong consideration as a weekly play in most fantasy formats. Kansas City follows its Week 5 bye with tough matchups against the Redskins and the Dolphins, but Kennison should be good down the stretch as seven of the Chiefs’ final 10 games are against opponents with less-then-stingy pass defenses.

David Givens (NE) – Givens is 14 th in the NFL in receptions (22) and tied for 19 th in yards (283), most of which have been accumulated in the past three games. Though he’s never been a very prolific scorer, Givens did post TDs in all three of the Patriot’s postseason games in 2004 and he’s certain to score a few times in 2005 if he can continue to catch anything close to the 6.7 passes he’s averaged the past three weeks. His overall production is on par with that of teammate Deion Branch, who was a popular mid-upper-round draft selection only weeks ago. The only knock on Givens’ overall value right now is the Patriots’ schedule, which includes the following matchups over the next six weeks: @ ATL, @ DEN, Bye, vs. BUF, vs. IND, @ MIA. It looks tough, but Givens has proven to be a respectable No. 3 option in most league formats until proven otherwise.

Jimmy Smith (JAC) – Smith is steadily proving his doubters wrong yet again. He may not get a great number of catches (17 through four games), but his four TDs are tied for second in the NFL with four other wideouts, he’s scored in three of four games and he’s chalked up two 100-yard performances, to boot. He should make a nice play at home against Cincinnati in Week 5, although the Bengals have been surprisingly tough against the pass (two TDs allowed, 12 interceptions).

Troy Williamson (MIN) – Sure, much of Williamson’s production has come near the end of games in which the Vikings are winning or losing by vast amounts, but production is production, and the rookie wideout’s seven catches, 122 yards and two TDs total in Weeks 3 & 4 make him an intriguing bye-week sub in deeper three- and four-receiver leagues.

Sliding Back

Joe Horn (NO) – The good news is that Horn (hamstring) should be back to full-strength when the Saints visit Green Bay in Week 5. Even though New Orleans upended the hapless Bills 19-7 on Sunday, QB Aaron Brooks continued to struggle and now sits near the bottom of the league with a QB rating of 68.9 to go along with two TD passes and five interceptions. These challenges, in addition to the emergence of a healthy Donte’ Stallworth and a season-long stretch of tough opposing defenses including the likes of Atlanta (twice), Tampa Bay (twice) Miami, Chicago, New England, Carolina and the New York Jets, should encourage Horn owners to think twice about relying on him to post Horn-like numbers down the stretch.

Michael Clayton (TB) – Through the first three games of the season, Clayton was targeted 25 times by Tampa Bay QB Brian Griese, while fellow wideout Joey Galloway was targeted only 17 times. On Sunday, that changed as Griese threw to Galloway 13 times and in Clayton’s direction on only four occasions. To make matters worse, Clayton suffered a shoulder bruise against the Lions, missed some action, and was ineffective once he did return to the game. He should be ready to face the Jets in New York in Week 5, but the Jets have been especially stingy against the pass (168.3 yards passing per game and three passing TDs total). In a nutshell, it’s fast appearing that the talented sophomore wideout will struggle to repeat his rookie numbers.

Derrick Mason (BAL) - Mason caught five passes for 54 yards against the Jets and was the only Ravens wideout with more than one catch. That storyline may get repeated as often as Baltimore gets into low-scoring slugfests, which should happen more often than not. The Ravens visit the Lions for a Week 5 matchup that promises to bear little fruit: Detroit has allowed averages of 201 passing yards and one passing TD through three games.