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FANTASY FOOTBALL WEEKLY FEATURES

Wide Receiver Watch - Week 11
Todd Gray
November 15, 2005

Top Ten Fantasy WR’s to own

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1 CAR Steve Smith Smith’s role in the Carolina offense was reduced on Sunday in the Panthers’ run-heavy bullying of the Jets. His three catches and 30 yards marked his third dud performance of the season fantasy-wise, which serves to illustrate just how dominant he’s been in the Panthers’ other six games. Up next is a stingy Bears D ranked third in the league in passing yards allowed per game (158.4) and fourth in passing TDs allowed (7).
2 IND Marvin Harrison Harrison owners rejoice! Your second-round draft pick is finally producing like a go-to wideout on a consistent basis. He grooved the Texans’ for seven catches, 108 yards and a touchdown to make it five TDs in his past four games and two straight 100-yard outing. More of the same is likely in store when the Colts host Cincinnati in Week 11.
3 CIN Chad Johnson Cincinnati returns from a Week 10 bye to face undefeated Indianapolis on Sunday. Not a great matchup to produce a jump-start for Johnson, whose owners are eager for a return to greatness following a three-game span in which he’s averaged only 4.7 catches and 82.3 yards while failing to score a TD.
4 TB Joey Galloway Galloway is quite possibly the hottest fantasy wideout in the NFL over the past month and maybe even beyond that. He’s averaged 7.3 catches and 114.8 yards over the past four games and a touchdown per outing since Week 3. Galloway is bound to lay an egg one of these days, but the odds appear to be in his favor when the Bucs play at Atlanta on Sunday.
5 ARI Larry Fitzgerald Fitzgerald’s two-game binge (17 catches, 243 yards, one TD) in the wake of Anquan Boldin’s knee injury leaves him perched atop the NFL in receptions (61) and fourth in yards (854). Boldin may return for the Cardinals’ game on Sunday at St. Louis, but if he does there’ll simply be more to go around against a Rams defense ranked among the worst in the league against the pass.
6 WAS Santana Moss The scary thing about Moss’ production the past three games (15 catches, 192 yards, zero TDs total) is that it’s the type of output many people expected from him before the season began. He hasn’t scored a TD or topped 79 yards in three straight weeks and the Redskins’ offense of late has looked like anything but a well-oiled machine.
7 STL Torry Holt Holt had four catches, 45 yards and a TD upon returning from a two-game absence due to a knee injury, but he clearly wasn’t himself. He made a couple of uncharacteristic mistakes that may have cost him touchdowns and fantasy owners should expect his return to form to be somewhat gradual. Fortunately, that slow road back may be disguised by the Rams’ Week 11 opponent: an Arizona squad that just made everyone on the Detroit Lions’ offense look like world-beaters.
8 OAK Randy Moss It’s hard to believe that Moss has scored in more than half of the Raiders’ games this season, although that doesn’t disguise the fact that he’s barely registered as a top-15 wideout in only a select few fantasy formats. If anyone can make up ground in a hurry, it’s a healthy Moss. He was targeted 11 times against Denver and finished with a season-high six catches. He’ll need all of those opportunities and more to produce on Sunday against the Redskins in D.C.
9 NYG Plaxico Burress Burress has come down to Earth the past three games with only 12 catches, 171 yards and zero TDs total in that span. A season-altering matchup against division-rival Philadelphia looms for New York on Sunday, and Burress should be counted on to make a big grab or two against an Eagles defense that has its share of challenges defending against the pass.
10 GB Donald Driver Driver’s 10-catch, 114-yard performance against Atlanta represented one of his better games of the season and further emphasized his value as a consistent every-week fantasy starter. There’s little doubt he’ll contribute to fantasy box scores on Monday night when the Packers host Minnesota.

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

Climbing The Ladder

Chris Chambers (MIA) – “Consistency” has never been a word that springs to mind when considering Chambers’ fantasy output through the years. Nevertheless, his steady production over the past seven games has him ranked among the top-15 wideouts in just about every fantasy format, and that makes him a solid No. 2 option in most leagues. Chambers was targeted 14 times by QB Gus Frerotte on Sunday, a nice sign that he’ll get his share of chances down the stretch as the Dolphins’ No. 1 receiving threat. The upcoming schedule looks pretty good, too, with games in the immediate future at Cleveland and Oakland, respectively.

Roy Williams (DET) – Williams attempted to cram a season’s worth of production into one game against the Cardinals on Sunday by catching three touchdown passes among his seven receptions for 117 yards. He showed no signs of the quadriceps injury that kept him out of action for most of the past month as he turned in his second productive game of 2005 and his first since Week 2. There remain more questions than answers for the Lions’ offense, but a favorable schedule down the stretch and, if possible, a healthy finish should keep Williams in fantasy lineups from this point forward.

Matt Jones (JAC) – Jones entered Jacksonville’s Week 10 game against Baltimore having recently jockeyed his way into the No. 3 spot on the Jaguars’ receiving corps. When the dust settled, he had become QB Byron Leftwich’s No. 2 target following a shoulder injury to surging second-year wideout Ernest Wilford. Jones finished with five catches, 117 yards and a touchdown against the Ravens, giving him three TD catches in his past four games. Wilford’s availability for the Jaguars’ Week 11 game at Tennessee is in question, but Jones makes a respectable play as a No. 3 fantasy wideout against the Titans’ woeful defense regardless of Wilford’s status.

Sliding Back

Isaac Bruce (STL) – Bruce managed only one catch for 16 yards in his return after missing the previous five games with turf toe. Sadly for Bruce owners, the problem may lie a bit deeper than needing to shake off the rust following a month-plus layoff. Bruce should indeed get more looks in Week 11 against Arizona, but both Kevin Curtis and Shaun McDonald will continue to see their share of passes, as well. It all adds up to Bruce being a risky start for the time being in almost any fantasy format.

Jerry Porter (OAK) – Enter a healthy Randy Moss, exit a healthy Jerry Porter. Porter reached into his old bag of tricks and pulled out three catches and 27 yards against Denver on Sunday, an effort that crushed the hopes of so many fantasy owners who felt they had no choice but to start him given his production the previous two weeks (13 catches, 191 yards, 3 TDs). Expect little of Porter on Sunday when the Raiders face a Washington defense that will be out to set the record straight after giving up its first big game to an opposing QB against Tampa Bay in Week 10.

Nate Burleson (MIN) – Fantasy owners waited a month for Burleson to return to health, and since he’s been back his stat lines have been anything but healthy. He’s totaled only eight catches, 73 yards and one touchdown in four games since his return, and now he’s banged up and expected to miss some practice time this week. That puts Burleson’s very availability in question for the Vikings’ road game against Green Bay on Monday night and should all but cement him to fantasy benches until he proves otherwise.