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FANTASY FOOTBALL WEEKLY FEATURES

Wide Receiver Watch - Week 14
Todd Gray
December 6, 2005

Top Ten Fantasy WR’s to own

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1 CAR Steve Smith Smith snapped a three-game scoring drought with his second-quarter touchdown catch against the Falcons – his 10 th TD of the season. He’s a decent bet to go off any given week, matchup notwithstanding, but it’s worth noting that the Panthers’ final four opponents – Tampa Bay, New Orleans, Dallas and Atlanta, respectively – are all ranked among the league’s top 15 defenses against the pass.
2 ARI Larry Fitzgerald Who needs TDs? Fitzgerald’s eight catches and 129 yards against the 49ers give him a nice little streak of at least eight catches and 102 yards in four of his past five games. The TDs have been there, too – Fitzgerald’s seven on the season are fewer than only four other WRs.
3 CIN Chad Johnson Johnson managed five catches and 54 yards in a tough game against Pittsburgh. He received the lion’s share of attention from the Steelers’ DBs while teammate T.J. Houshmandzadeh had a field day across the way. Johnson makes a strong play, as usual, when the Bengals host Cleveland in Week 14.
4 IND Marvin Harrison Harrison scored yet another touchdown and now has nine in his past nine games and 10 on the season – good for a tie with Steve Smith for most receiving TDs in the NFL. Fantasy owners should look for a similar performance on Sunday against a Jacksonville squad that doesn’t give up many yards (175.4 per game) but has allowed 16 TD passes in 12 games.
5 STL Torry Holt Surprise…QB Ryan Fitzpatrick really is a late-round rookie out of Harvard. Granted, the Redskins made for tough competition, but this one wasn’t pretty and it showed in Holt’s stat line: six catches, 75 yards, zero TDs and, in brief, his worst single-game numbers since he returned to action in Week 10. The Rams’ Week 14 game in Minnesota doesn’t sound nearly as fantasy-friendly as it would have a month or two ago.
6 TAM Joey Galloway Galloway’s second-quarter touchdown catch against the Saints marked the third time this season that he’s accounted for all Buccaneers touchdowns in a single game. Week 14 opponent Carolina has allowed only one TD pass per contest, but Galloway notched one of those when the teams met on Nov. 6.
7 ARI Anquan Boldin Boldin’s remarkable 54-yard catch-and-run TD highlighted his 11-catch, 154-yard day. Given the way the Cardinals’ passing game is clicking, both Boldin and teammate Fitzgerald make strong plays on Sunday despite the competition: a Washington defense that just buried the Rams in St. Louis.
8 IND Reggie Wayne Wayne continued his TD-every-other-game stretch with three catches, 50 yards and a score against the Titans. Nice, but not loaded stat line that most Wayne owners expected against a weak Titans defense. Expectations should be tempered on Sunday when Indianapolis visits Jacksonville in what’s currently the Colts’ last best chance to lose a regular season game.
9 GB Donald Driver Driver produced a very respectable eight catches and 64 yards against a tough Bears defense. He’s on pace for 89 catches, 1,211 yards and seven TDs, numbers that would nearly match his production last season. Despite the Packers’ struggles, Driver makes a solid start when the team hosts another reeling squad – Detroit – on Sunday.
10 NYG Plaxico Burress Burress caught twice as many passes as any other Giants receiver in New York’s defeat of Dallas, but that amounted to only four catches for 47 yards. Both he and QB Eli Manning should fare better on Sunday against an Eagles defense that Burress torched for 100+ yards and a TD on Nov. 20.

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

Climbing The Ladder

Koren Robinson (MIN) – Robinson’s performance is perhaps most noteworthy because he remains available in many fantasy leagues. He put all of his potential together against the Lions on Sunday to the tune of four catches, 148 yards and his first TD catch of the season. The Vikings have been looking for a go-to wideout all season long, and Robinson may very well be that person. You have to love his chances when streaking Minnesota hosts St. Louis on Sunday.

Lee Evans (BUF) – Evans’ three TDs in the Bills’ 24-23 loss to the Dolphins came at a great time for all of the fantasy owners who had him planted firmly on the bench. His production spiked almost immediately upon QB J.P. Losman’s return to the starting lineup on Nov. 13, though there was no way to foresee his three-TD outburst on Sunday. Evans has clearly become Losman’s favorite target and makes a strong play this weekend when the Bills host New England.

Hines Ward (PIT) – QB Ben Roethlisberger heaved the ball 41 times against the Bengals on Sunday, and Ward caught nine of those passes for 135 yards and two TDs. The Steelers’ once-dominant ground game has been nowhere to be seen of late, and Ward owners stand to gain the most if this trend continues. Week 14 opponent Chicago has surrendered only four rushing TDs on the season while giving up seven through the air, both marks at or near the top of the league. Even so, fantasy owners must have a handful of sweet alternatives to consider benching Ward for this one.

Sliding Back

Santana Moss (WAS) – Moss remains among the top 10 fantasy wideouts in terms of year-to-date production, but he’s hardly produced like one over the past month-and-a-half. It’s a scary trend for fantasy owners who’d grown comfortable with his early-season success, and one that shows no signs of reversing any time soon. At this point, Moss should be considered no better than a solid third option when the Redskins play at Arizona on Sunday.

Braylon Edwards (CLE) – Edwards got his wish when rookie QB Charlie Frye started for the Browns over injured Trent Dilfer, and he was having a great game before tearing the ACL in his right knee in the fourth quarter (five catches, 86 yards, two TDs). He’ll require surgery on the knee once the swelling goes down, and there’s some early speculation that the injury could limit him next season. Meanwhile, Dennis Northcutt replaces Edwards in the starting lineup, but he offers lukewarm potential for upcoming road games at Cincinnati and Oakland.

Muhsin Muhammad (CHI) – Given that Muhammad was generally one of the first wideouts taken off the board in fantasy drafts this season, his status as a fantasy bust has been cemented for some time now. However, Sunday marked a season low as the Bears failed to convert a single third down and Muhammad recorded zeroes across the board for the first time in nearly three years’ worth of games. With the exception of an occasional TD catch, little should be expected of Muhammad as the Bears begin the final portion of their schedule on Sunday at Pittsburgh.