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Wide Receiver Watch - Week 7
Todd Gray
October 18, 2005

Top Ten Fantasy WR’s to own


1 PHI Terrell Owens Owens returns from a Week 6 bye that followed a disappointing Week 5 performance against the Cowboys (5 catches, 50 yards). He’s a good bet to resume his dominant ways against the generous San Diego pass defense in Philadelphia’s Week 7 home game against the Chargers.
2 STL Torry Holt Holt managed six catches and 70 yards against the Colts on Monday night – his first disappointing fantasy performance of the season. He may make up for it on Sunday when St. Louis entertains New Orleans in what has all the makings of an NFC South shootout.
3 CAR Steve Smith Do you think anyone underestimated this guy? Smith is tied for the league lead in receptions (39), second in yards (596) and way ahead of the pack with seven TD catches (two receivers have five). Alas, he enjoys a Week 7 bye before the Panthers host the Vikings in Week 8.
4 CIN Chad Johnson Johnson produced his best game among a few great ones this year with eight catches, 135 yards and one TD against Tennessee. The Bengals host Pittsburgh in Week 7, making a repeat of Sunday unlikely. The Steelers have surrendered only four passing TDs this season, and Johnson has totaled only nine catches for 177 yards and zero TDs in the Bengals’ past two home games against Pittsburgh, both Cincinnati losses.
5 OAK Randy Moss Moss may be thankful that he’s no longer in Minnesota, but Moss owners surely don’t share that sentiment. Now he’s dealing with multiple injuries (groin, ribs), the severities of which are unclear. Moss may suit up against the Bills on Sunday, but he’s far from a safe play at this point and it seems a good bet that his stock will continue to drop a bit before it goes up again. Stay tuned to the Huddle for more updates on Moss’ condition as the week progresses.
6 WAS Santana Moss It’s time to give the other Moss some props following his fifth quality fantasy performance in five games. Moss torched the Chiefs for 10 catches, 173 yards and a pair of TDs and he leads the league in receiving yards (631) despite having his bye week out of the way. Moss owners may want to plug him in this weekend when the Redskins host San Francisco – the 49ers surrender an NFL-worst (by a long shot) 343.6 passing yards per game.
7 NYG Plaxico Burress Giants wideouts were stifled by the Cowboys’ improving pass defense on Sunday, which resulted in Burress’ most disappointing outing of the season. Despite the down week, Burress is a quality bet for solid production when New York hosts Denver on Sunday.
8 ARI Anquan Boldin Arizona ’s Week 7 opponent Tennessee has allowed an NFL-high 13 TD receptions. That should mean one or more apiece for Boldin and teammate…
9 ARI Larry Fitzgerald Both Fitzgerald and Boldin remain top-10 wideouts in most fantasy formats despite the Cardinals’ Week 6 bye. It will be difficult for coach Dennis Green to pull the plug on QB Josh McCown now that starting QB Kurt Warner is healthy again: McCown has thrown for 783 yards in the past two games – a Cardinals record for consecutive games. It’s safe to assume that Boldin and Fitzgerald owners would like things to stay just as they are.
10 IND Marvin Harrison On the bright side, Harrison has scored three TDs over the past three games following his four-catch, 39-yard, one-TD performance against the Rams on Monday night. Regardless, those who have Harrison on their rosters expected more than 30 catches and 323 yards after six games. The schedule remains favorable with a game at Houston on Sunday before the Colts hit their Week 8 bye.

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

Climbing The Ladder

Deion Branch (NE) – Branch was a popular preseason pick to enjoy a breakout season in 2005, and while that hasn’t happened, a closer look at the numbers suggests that more productive outings may loom in the near future. He’s accounted for only one poor fantasy outing in six games despite scoring a lone TD in those contests, ranking fourth in the NFL with 37 catches and 12 th in receiving yards with 437. Five of QB Tom Brady’s eight TD passes have been directed to his wideouts, a trend that should continue – as should the trend of the Pats giving up more points than usual and trying to make up the difference through the air.

Donte’ Stallworth (NO) – Stallworth has been the textbook definition of inconsistent this season, but the net results are far better than what was expected when the 2005 campaign began (28 catches, 406 yards, one TD through six games). This rise in production is due in large part to the continued absence of Joe Horn (hamstring), who returned for only a few plays on Sunday before leaving the game for good. Week 7 opponent St. Louis fields the league’s worst pass defense this side of San Francisco, making it difficult for owners in a pinch to ignore Stallworth.

Jabar Gaffney (HOU) – At a time when fantasy owners are avoiding Houston skill players like the plague, Gaffney may actually present a bit of value to those in mid-sized to deeper leagues who are desperate for a serviceable bye week replacement. He’s averaged six catches and 66 yards over the past three games, culminating in a 10-catch, 87-yard effort at Seattle on Sunday night. The availability of No. 1 wideout Andre Johnson (calf) remains uncertain for Houston’s Week 7 home game against the Colts, a contest in which the Texans may find themselves trying to pass their way out of a 30-point deficit by halftime.

Sliding Back

Keenan McCardell (SD) – McCardell owners were riding high throughout the first three games of the season as the veteran wideout totaled 17 catches, 257 yards and four TDs in those contests. Then, just as everyone who owned him began starting him with confidence, his production fell off the charts to the tune of four catches, 36 yards and one TD combined in his past three games combined. While his production should level out to somewhere in-between those totals, three primary factors should ensure modest fantasy value for McCardell throughout the remainder of the season: RB Ladainian Tomlinson, TE Antonio Gates and a number of tough opposing pass defenses, beginning with the Chargers’ Week 7 game against the well-rested Eagles in Philadelphia.

Joey Galloway (TB) – Galloway was enjoying a career year with QB Brian Griese at the helm, but Griese’s knee injury will likely keep the QB out of action for at least a few weeks and possibly for the rest of the season. This can’t be good news for Galloway owners who’ve seen their late-round gamble post the kind of numbers that have been expected of him for the past decade or so. Enter backup QB Chris Simms and his one career TD pass. The Buccaneers have a Week 7 bye before playing at San Francisco in Week 8. Galloway should make a safe start in that matchup, if only because the 49ers field the league’s worst pass defense.

Hines Ward (PIT) – Both Ward (hamstring) and QB Ben Roethlisberger (knee) should return to action when the Steelers face the Bengals in Cincinnati on Sunday. While that’s good news, their respective injuries have provided a nasty speed bump for Ward owners who were enjoying his return to fantasy prominence a few weeks ago. Pittsburgh QBs have attempted only 22.8 passes per game – two fewer than any other team in the league. Not only is that not going to change any time soon, but also it begs the question: are Ward’s early-season totals a bit inflated? The Steelers’ Week 7 game at Cincinnati should go a long way toward answering that question. In two games last season, Ward managed nine catches, 63 yards and zero TDs against the division-rival Bengals.