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FANTASY FOOTBALL WEEKLY FEATURES

Wide Receiver Watch - Week 13
Todd Gray
November 29, 2005

Top Ten Fantasy WR’s to own

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1 CAR Steve Smith Smith remains at or near the top of all major receiving categories despite contributing only five catches and 55 yards against the Bills. Specifically, he’s first in the league in catches (75) and yards (1,161) and second in TD receptions (9) despite not scoring since Nov. 6. Smith’s biggest test of the year may come on Sunday when he faces Falcons shut-down CB DeAngelo Hall in an NFC South tussle that brims with playoff implications.
2 CIN Chad Johnson Johnson’s leg cramps resurfaced, but overcoming that annoyance is becoming routine as was evidenced by his five catches, 88 yards and one TD against the Ravens. Week 13 opponent Pittsburgh had allowed only seven TD passes in 10 games before surrendering two to Peyton Manning on Monday night.
3 ARI Larry Fitzgerald Fitzgerald wasn’t his usual dominant self against the Jaguars, but that could have been expected given the competition. His second-quarter TD catch salvaged an otherwise forgettable day (four catches, 41 yards) and made it three straight games with a score. That streak should continue when the Cardinals face a wreck of a pass defense in San Francisco on Sunday.
4 STL Torry Holt Holt could be No. 1 if not for the pair of games he missed with a knee injury, but he may get there anyway at the rate he’s going. In three games since his return, Holt has racked up 25 catches, 304 yards and three touchdowns. Not even the Rams’ QB issues or the team’s Week 13 opponent, Washington, can put much of a damper on Holt’s potential to produce.
5 IND Marvin Harrison Harrison is currently riding one of his best streaks over the past couple of years with averages of 6.3 catches, 101.5 yards and one TD catch over his past four games. He’s been arguably the top fantasy wideout in the NFL since Week 4 and he should prove it again when the Colts host hapless Tennessee on Sunday.
6 NYG Plaxico Burress Burress was targeted 15 times by QB Eli Manning in the Giants’ OT loss to the Seahawks and those looks paid off in catches (six) and yards (109), but minus a TD. Burress has scored only one of his six TDs this season since Oct. 23, but his catches and yards have been getting it done of late. Week 13 opponent Dallas shut down Burress to the tune of 5 catches for 55 yards in the teams’ Oct. 16 game in Dallas.
7 TAM Joey Galloway Galloway responded to being shut out in Week 11 by catching seven passes for 138 yards against the Bears’ No. 1-ranked defense. Can he do the same in Week 13 against a break-but-don’t bend New Orleans pass defense that’s generally not as bad as advertised? Or maybe it is that bad, but Saints opponents are too busy piling up the rushing yards to notice.
8 WAS Santana Moss Moss gave fantasy owners a break against the Chargers with six catches, 65 yards and his first touchdown catch since Oct. 23 in the Redskins’ OT loss. He has a great opportunity to keep the ball rolling in Week 13 against a St. Louis defense that allows 248.5 passing yards per game and a league-high 2.1 TD receptions per contest.
9 IND Reggie Wayne Wayne’s modest output against the Steelers may come as no surprise, but big things will be expected when the Colts host a Titans squad has allowed an even two passing TDs per game this season. Despite the “off” game against Pittsburgh, Wayne’s five catches made it seven straight games in which he’s either accomplished that feat or bettered it.
10 GB Donald Driver Driver hit a rough spot against the Eagles with only three catches for 50 yards – his lowest single-game output in either category since Week 5. Two of the Packers’ remaining five games are against the Bears, the first of those being in Chicago on Sunday.

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

Climbing The Ladder

Darrell Jackson/Joe Jurevicius (SEA) – Jurevicius’ catch (44) and yardage (558) totals aren’t even fantasy-worthy in some leagues, but his seven TDs tie him for third in the NFL in that category and make him fantasy-relevant in almost any setting. He was relied on heavily against the Giants on Sunday with 13 pass targets and should remain a quality fantasy option on most weeks from here on out. That is, until No. 1 wideout Darrell Jackson returns to full health from his knee injury and Jurevicius is banished to No. 3 on Seattle’s depth chart behind Jackson and No. 2 wideout Bobby Engram. Not to worry, Jurevicius owners, this shouldn’t happen for a couple more weeks, at least. Jackson should indeed return to game duty by Week 14, but even then he should need a game or two to get up to speed. Given that speculation and the Seahawks’ relatively weak schedule from here on out, it seems clear that Jurevicius is a wideout worth holding on to for those juicy matchups down the stretch.

Eric Parker (SD) – Parker has made a solid fantasy contribution in each of the past three games in which he’s played with totals of 15 catches, 230 yards and two TDs in those contests (an ankle injury sidelined him in Week 9). He does play alongside two of the league’s premier TD machines in RB LaDainian Tomlinson and TE Antonio Gates, but on the second-highest scoring offense in the NFL there’s more to go around. Indeed, Parker led the Chargers in both catches (7) and yards (98) in what was an otherwise forgettable passing performance against the Redskins, and he should be good for a few more highlights as the schedule takes a slight turn for the better with home dates against Oakland and Miami in Weeks 13 & 14, respectively.

Justin McCareins (NYJ) – Fantasy owners in deep leagues may want to look in McCareins’ direction, at least for a week. His combined totals over the past two games – eight catches, 144 yards and one TD – won’t stop traffic, but McCareins could make a sneaky play in Week 13 against a New England defense ranked among the lowest in the league. The Patriots have allowed an average of 267.5 passing yards per game and 21 passing TDs against only five interceptions.

Sliding Back

Randy Moss (OAK) – First it was a variety of injuries, and then it was the “he’s still getting better” period as he teased fantasy owners with an occasional TD amid poor catch and yardage totals. Now it’s growing clearer by the day that the old Randy Moss may not return in 2005. Oakland’s passing game often places greater emphasis on using RB LaMont Jordan than on any Raiders wideout, and struggling QB Kerry Collins has clicked better with WR Jerry Porter over the past month or so than he has with Moss, who in fact appeared to be almost an afterthought against the Dolphins on Sunday. “Bold” may be a kind way to describe the fantasy owner who sits Moss when the Raiders play at San Diego on Sunday night, but the way things are going such a ploy may ultimately prove to be a shrewd maneuver.

Ernest Wilford/Matt Jones (JAC) – Both Wilford and Jones had been waiver wire godsends in the month leading up the Jaguars’ Week 12 matchup against Arizona, with each posting solid-or-better fantasy totals in three of the Jags’ four previous games. That apparently ended when QB Byron Leftwich broke his ankle in the first quarter of Sunday’s game, as the two young wideouts totaled only three catches and 35 yards with backup QB David Garrard at the helm. Garrard, a notable runner, finished the day 12-of-26 passing for 115 yards along with six rushes for 61 yards and a TD. While those passing totals should improve somewhat, it’s hard to envision this offense producing more than one fantasy-quality wideout, if that. That one receiver will likely be veteran Jimmy Smith, who Garrard may count on to keep him afloat starting on Sunday at Cleveland.

Joe Horn (NO) – In the Saints’ 21-19 defeat of the Jets on Sunday, Horn had only one fewer catch (5-4) and only one fewer yard receiving (48-47) than Donte’ Stallworth, but most notably he caught one fewer TD pass (1-0). It’s more than a trend, too, as Horn has exactly zero touchdown catches since his return from injury four weeks ago, while Stallworth has crafted a nice TD-per-game average over his past six outings. Horn will shine at some point, no doubt, but he’s a better fit as a No. 3 fantasy wideout in most formats until he rights the ship. That won’t be an easy thing to do with a season-ending schedule that includes not a single patsy defense in the bunch, beginning on Sunday when the Saints host Tampa Bay.