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FANTASY FOOTBALL WEEKLY FEATURES

Wide Receiver Watch - Week 12
Todd Gray
November 22, 2005

Top Ten Fantasy WR’s to own

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1 CAR Steve Smith Smith gathered catches (14) and yards (169) in bunches against the vaunted Chicago defense, but the Bears denied him the end zone. His most impressive stat may have been the number of looks he received from QB Jake Delhomme – 22, to be exact. Week 12 opponent Buffalo has allowed only 175.8 yards passing per game and 10 TD passes this season, but bear in mind that the struggling Bills were shredded by the Chargers in Week 11.
2 CIN Chad Johnson Johnson raked in eight catches for a career-high 189 yards and a touchdown – his first since Oct. 16 – in a losing effort against the Colts. He fared well in 2004 against Week 12 opponent Baltimore, averaging nine catches, 130 yards and one TD in two games against the Ravens.
3 ARI Larry Fitzgerald Teammate and fellow WR Anquan Boldin (knee) returned, but Fitzgerald produced his third straight 100-yard game nonetheless. As long as the Cardinals continue to play from behind, and as long as they struggle to run the ball – two likely scenarios – both Fitzgerald and Boldin should remain consistent fantasy standouts.
4 STL Torry Holt Holt’s 11 catches, 129 yards and one TD were a small surprise for fantasy owners who simply wanted a solid performance in his second game back from a knee injury. Week 12 opponent Houston looms as a minor obstacle for one of the league’s top passing offenses.
5 NYG Plaxico Burress Burress had his biggest game since Week 4 with six catches, 113 yards and a touchdown in New York’s win over reeling Philadelphia. Week 12 features a matchup in Seattle against a Seahawks defense that has a surprisingly average track record against the pass.
6 IND Marvin Harrison Peyton Manning throws the ball 40 times for 365 yards and three TDs and Harrison gets 5 catches, 42 yards and that’s it? Alas, there was bound to be another bump in the road, but that bump was supposed to be the Colts’ Week 12 opponent, Pittsburgh. The Steelers are tied for the league lead with only seven TD passes allowed through 10 games.
7 TB Joey Galloway THUD! Oh well, Galloway owners can’t complain too much – especially those in smaller leagues who picked him off the waiver wire early in the season. Nevertheless, if there’s ever a time to bench a Top-10 wideout, it may be on Sunday when the Buccaneers host Chicago and the Bears’ league-best defense.
8 WAS Santana Moss It's getting difficult to recommend a guy who’s hardly been a blip on the fantasy radar over the past four weeks. Moss’ averages the past four games of 4.8 catches and 61.3 yards along with zero TDs have caused many fantasy owners to regret rejecting the trade offers they received for Moss when he was hot. Still, there is hope: the upcoming schedule is somewhat forgiving with consecutive games in Weeks 12 through 14 against San Diego (home), St. Louis (away) and Arizona (away).
9 IND Reggie Wayne Wayne has quietly moved up the ladder with a string of performances in which he's averaged 7.6 catches, 92.2 yards and .6 TDs over a five-game span. He actually has more catches (59-58) and yards (750-666) than Harrison, but Harrison doubles him up in TDs, 8-4.
10 OAK Randy Moss Moss still didn’t look quite like himself against Washington, although he did play full-time. You wouldn’t know it by his stats, though (three catches, 40 yards). Given his injuries this season and the trouble he’s had fitting into the Raiders’ system, the odds of seeing the pre-Oakland Randy Moss anytime soon are growing less favorable by the week.

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

Climbing The Ladder

Anquan Boldin (ARI) - Many Boldin owners didn’t return him to their starting lineups in Week 12 following his two-game absence due to a bruised knee, and chances are they could have used his eight catches, 105 yards and one TD. Stats like those should be harder to come by when the Cardinals host Jacksonville in Week 12, but Boldin has proven his value as a Top-15 wideout this season and needs only to put his injury issues behind him to become one of the top receivers in fantasy play.

Donte' Stallworth (NO) – Stallworth was limited in practice all of last week by a bothersome shoulder injury, but it didn’t stop him from catching six balls for two touchdowns against New England. He’s averaged 4.6 catches and 60.2 yards receiving over the past five games, but more importantly he’s scored five TDs in that time and has become QB Aaron Brooks’ favorite red zone target.

Amani Toomer (NYG) – Apparently, the fantasy demise predicted for Toomer entering this season was greatly exaggerated. Toomer put together his second straight six-catch, one-TD performance and third in five games in New York’s defeat of Philadelphia on Sunday. Toomer, QB Eli Manning and the Giants coaches are getting better at exploiting the double-coverage that teams give to No. 1 wideout Plaxico Burress, and as a result Toomer is getting even more opportunities this year than he did last season. The Giants’ schedule down the stretch is favorable, too, making Toomer a solid option as a No. 3 wideout in most mid-sized to deeper leagues.

Drew Bennett (TEN) – Bennett’s return to the field after missing a month with a broken thumb was a modest success as he was targeted eight times and hauled in six of those passes for 55 yards. The Titans have been starving for healthy wideouts – and good ones, at that – and Bennett will continue to be the focal point in the team’s passing game as long as he can stay healthy. The upcoming schedule favors nice numbers for Bennett as the Titans sandwich home dates against San Francisco (Week 12) and Houston (Week 14) around a tough matchup on the road against the Colts.

Sliding Back

Terry Glenn (DAL) – One of the biggest surprises of the season’s first half has become just another average receiver – on paper, at least – over the past five weeks. Glenn’s per-game averages of 3.6 catches, 46 yards and .2 TDs in that span are three good reasons for fantasy owners to keep him out of their starting lineups when the Cowboys host Denver on Thanksgiving Day.

Andre Johnson (HOU) – Johnson is getting a fair amount of looks and even a decent number of catches (6.3 per game) in three games since his return from injury, but the Texans’ poor offensive line simply buys too little time for this offense to do anything truly threatening. Few players can hang with Johnson one-on-one downfield, but that’s a moot point when given an OL that acts as a revolving door to opposing defenses. If Johnson is going to have a breakout game this season – which seems unlikely at this point – his best opportunity to do so may be in the Texans’ Week 12 home game against St. Louis.