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FANTASY FOOTBALL WEEKLY FEATURES

Wide Receiver Watch - Week 16
Todd Gray
December 20, 2005

Top Ten Fantasy WR’s to own

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1 IND Marvin Harrison The Colts may have suffered their first defeat, but Harrison’s fantasy owners came out of it unscathed (8 catches, 135 yards). Harrison is on pace to post his best single-season numbers since the 2002-2003 season, but there’s one nasty little catch: coach Tony Dungy has indicated that his starters will get an unspecified amount of rest in the team’s final two regular season games, beginning at Seattle on Saturday.
2 CAR Steve Smith Smith posted his first two-TD game since Week 5, and with RB Stephen Davis (knee) shelved for the season, he now becomes the Panthers’ only healthy scoring threat. Case in point: Smith has scored 12 touchdowns compared to 12 TDs total for the rest of the DeShaun Fosters, Kris Mangums and Keary Colberts on this team combined. Plug him in and enjoy the ride when Carolina hosts Dallas on Saturday.
3 STL Torry Holt You know the Rams’ offense is in trouble when even Holt is held in check, as he was on Sunday against the Eagles. He did make that all-important trip to the end zone to supplement his three catches and 16 yards. The Rams and Holt owners get a well-timed matchup at home against the 49ers in Week 16.
4 ARI Anquan Boldin Boldin’s streak of catching at least eight passes and gaining at least 105 yards is now at five games following his eight-catch, 134-yard, one-TD outing against the Texans. The loss of QB Kurt Warner won’t help, but then, it may not hurt. Backup Josh McCown was on the throwing end of a couple of huge games for Boldin earlier this season.
5 CIN Chad Johnson Johnson busted out of his mini-slump in a big way with a season-high 11 catches to go with 99 yards and a TD against the Lions. It was his first touchdown since Week 12 and almost the same number of catches he’s had in the past three games combined. The Bengals still have plenty to play for when they host the reeling Bills on Sunday, and career season highs for Johnson in all major receiving categories remain well within reach.
6 ARI Larry Fitzgerald Fitzgerald snapped a two-game scoring drought with six catches, 85 yards and a touchdown against the Texans. Like his counterpart Boldin, Fitzgerald posted great numbers earlier this season with backup QB Josh McCown taking the snaps. That should remain the case when the Cardinals host the Eagles on Sunday.
7 MIA Chris Chambers Chambers finally cooled off a bit in the Dolphins’ win against the Jets, but his first-quarter TD grab took the sting out of an otherwise disappointing day (four catches, 34 yards). Chambers owners have an easy call to make this weekend when the Dolphins host a Titans squad that’s surrendered a league-high 29 passing touchdowns in 14 games.
8 TAM Joey Galloway Galloway is fizzling at the worst possible time with eight catches and 77 yards combined in his past two games. Now the good news: the Bucs host the Falcons on Sunday in what will be the team’s first home game since Week 12. In his past five games at home, Galloway has averaged an even seven catches, 122.8 yards and almost a TD per game (.8).
9 DEN Rod Smith Smith inherits Reggie Wayne’s spot in the Top 10 if for no other reason than the Broncos still have something to play for – namely a first-round bye. But Smith is here on his own merits, as well, and his 11-catch, 137-yard, one-TD day against the Bills plants him firmly among the Top-10 wideouts for the season in most fantasy formats. He should once again produce fine fantasy totals in Week 16 when the Broncos host the last-place Raiders.
10 CIN T.J. Houshmandzadeh Housh’s foot injury is reportedly no reason for concern, and he left the game against the Lions largely because there was no reason to leave him in the game in what was a blowout win for the Bengals. Before getting hurt, Housh compiled six catches, 61 yards and his fifth TD in the past four games. As long as his foot is okay, he may be able to do a fine impression of a top-tier wideout when the Bengals host Buffalo on Saturday.

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

Climbing The Ladder

Darrell Jackson (SEA) – Jackson wasted no time rewarding fantasy owners who held onto him the past two-and-a-half months by posting six catches, 72 yards and one touchdown against the Titans. In the five games in which he has played this season, he’s been money with three TDs and per-game averages of seven catches and 89.6 yards. That’s Top-10 fantasy WR value no matter how you slice it. Jackson owners get another dose of good fortune now that Seattle’s Week 16 opponent, Indianapolis, is no longer undefeated and is sure to rest many of its starters for long stretches of time in what has become a somewhat meaningless game for the Colts.

Eric Moulds (BUF) – Moulds rebounded from two miserable weeks to tally nine catches and 110 yards against the Broncos. Though his season as a whole has been a resounding disappointment, the five games in which he’s played with QB Kelly Holcomb taking the snaps have been provided fantasy owners with nothing short of No. 2-caliber production (7.2 catches, 78.6 yards, three TDs total). On the flip side of the coin, the opposite is true for wideout Lee Evans, who with Holcomb at QB has scored only once in those five games while averaging 2.4 catches and 25 yards. It remains to be known whether Holcomb or J.P. Losman (shoulder) will start for the Bills at Cincinnati on Saturday, but at the moment it appears that Moulds and Holcomb will have another chance to work their magic.

Drew Bennett (TEN) – Bennett doubled his year-to-date TD total on Sunday with two TDs against the Seahawks, and he finished the day with a season-high eight catches while getting 14 looks from QB Steve McNair. The Titans are struggling to run the ball, and the team’s corps of wideouts is arguably as healthy as it’s been all season long. This all bodes well for Bennett owners who may finally be getting the No. 1 wideout they expected when they burned an early-round draft pick on him so many months ago. The Titans face an average-ish Miami pass defense on the road this Sunday.

Sliding Back

Reggie Wayne (IND) – Wayne has been remarkably consistent this season, contributing a string of solid fantasy performances stretching back to Week 2. He’s even caught more balls than Marvin Harrison (81-80) and trails the Colts’ No. 1 wideout by only 93 yards (1,034-1,127). The big difference, TDs – 12 for Harrison and five for Wayne – means even more than usual when the Colts play at Seattle on Saturday. Wayne simply may not get enough playing time to pile up catches and yards if coach Tony Dungy rests his starters for prolonged periods of time. And since Wayne doesn’t score many TDs to begin with, his fantasy owners may want to consider whether or not five catches and 60 yards is worth a starting spot in their lineups come Week 16.

Eddie Kennison (KC) – Kennison was filling his annual second-half role as a solid No. 2 fantasy wideout when he sprained his left knee against the Giants on Saturday. Little is known about the injury, but Kennison did leave the locker room after the game on crutches and with a brace on his left knee – neither being a positive indication that he will play against the Chargers on Sunday. Fear not, Kennison owners: the silver lining may be second-year wideout Samie Parker, who remains available in most leagues despite contributing four respectable fantasy performances in the past five games. Parker led the team in catches (6) and yards (87) against the Giants.

Isaac Bruce & Kevin Curtis (STL) – For years, it seemed that no amount of injuries, controversies or other challenges (take your pick) could stop at least three or four Rams skill position players from providing nice fantasy lines on a near-weekly basis. These days, it’s Torry Holt and no one else – and even Holt owners are suffering a bit. Curtis, who danced on the outskirts of Top-10 wideout status in most fantasy formats for much of the season, and Bruce have combined for a jaw-dropping 16 catches, 141 yards and zero TDs in the Rams’ past three games – all losses. There is some good news: QB Jamie Martin takes over as starter (again) for the ineffective rookie Ryan Fitzpatrick, and the Rams get to host San Francisco in Week 16. Even so, counting on either Bruce or Curtis for quality fantasy production has become a crapshoot, at best.