fantasy football     JOIN THE HUDDLE    


Wide Receiver Watch - Week 17
Todd Gray
December 27, 2005

Top Ten Fantasy WR’s to own


1 CAR Steve Smith A frustrating first half (one catch, 18 yards) against the Cowboys turned into a disastrous all-around day for Smith when he was ejected in the third quarter for making contact with an official. Despite the letdown, he’s a lock to finish the season as the No. 1 fantasy wideout in most formats. Smith and the Panthers have a playoff spot to fight for on Sunday when the team faces a potentially demoralized Falcons squad in Atlanta.
2 STL Torry Holt No letdowns here. Holt’s 10 catches and 161 yards were second to none in Week 16, and his second-quarter TD was the icing on the cake. If he hadn’t missed two games with a knee injury earlier this season, there’s little doubt that he’d be atop this list. The 5-10 Rams, who face a playoff-hungry Cowboys squad in Dallas on Sunday, should find themselves airing it out early and often in this one.
3 CIN Chad Johnson Johnson makes one of the better starts at WR in Week 17 when the Bengals face the Chiefs in Kansas City in what is a meaningful game for both teams. He needs only two catches and one TD against the Chiefs to match his career highs in those categories, and he’s already surpassed his lifetime-best in yardage with 1,377 yards in 15 games.
4 ARI Anquan Boldin Boldin’s streak of 100-yard games ended at five, but nine catches, 81 yards and one touchdown is nothing to sneeze at. Like Holt, he could easily have been a Top-2 or –3 fantasy wideout this season had he not missed two games near midseason with a knee injury. The quad injury that Boldin suffered against the Eagles is not expected to slow him when the Cardinals face the Colts’ second-best defense in Indianapolis on Sunday.
5 ARI Larry Fitzgerald To state that Fitzgerald hasn’t been as dominant as Boldin seems like something of an injustice given the type of season that Fitzgerald has had. Perhaps most notably, he’s played in 32 of 32 games in his brief NFL career, and what he’s lacked in Boldinesque explosions he’s made up for in consistency and durability.
6 WAS Santana Moss Moss launched himself back into the Top-10 with his three-TD performance against the Giants. His five-catch, 160-yard outing helped to snap a string of so-so performances dating back to Week 8. Moss should be a strong play against the Eagles in Week 17 unless Mark Brunell’s sprained right knee keeps him out of action. If that’s the case, Moss owners should temper their expectations with QB Patrick Ramsey at the helm.
7 MIA Chris Chambers Chambers has been arguably the best fantasy wideout down the stretch with six TDs in four games and three multi-touchdown games in seven outings following his two-TD performance against Tennessee on Saturday. He’ll have the opportunity to build on his current career-highs in catches (77), yards (1,043) and touchdowns (11) when the streaking Dolphins wrap up their season on Sunday in a tough matchup against the Patriots.
8 IND Marvin Harrison Harrison’s stat line against the Seahawks – or lack thereof – should’ve come as no surprise as it was announced on Friday that he wouldn’t accompany the Colts to Seattle. His broken hand isn’t believed to be a serious injury, but fully healthy or not Harrison is unlikely to see much action, if any, when the Colts wrap up the regular season at home on Sunday against the Cardinals.
9 TAM Joey Galloway Galloway rebounded from two sub-par outings to contribute eight catches and 97 yards against the Falcons. In what has been a textbook comeback season for the 34-year-old wideout, Galloway has produced career-highs in catches (79) and yards (1,249) with more TDs (8) than in any season since 1998-1999. Better yet, playoff-hopeful Tampa Bay plays at home against the Saints on Sunday.
10 PIT Hines Ward If you can overlook his two-catch performance in Week 15, Ward has been rock solid over the past seven weeks, including a seven-catch, 105-yard, one-TD outing against the Browns on Saturday. He’s a good bet to end the season with the bang when the Steelers host the Lions on Sunday in a game that means a lot to the home team and little to the visitors.

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

Climbing The Ladder

Brandon Stokley/Troy Walters (IND) – Meaningless game or not, someone will have to catch the ball when the Colts wrap up their regular season on Sunday in a home game against Arizona. The same held true against Seattle on Saturday, when Stokley (5 catches, 122 yards) and Walters (8 catches, 91 yards, 1 TD) did their best Marvin Harrison/Reggie Wayne impressions in the Colts’ losing “effort.” Stokley did suffer a reportedly minor injury to his knee in the fourth quarter of that game, but he’s the choice pick among the two wideouts on Sunday if he’s available when the Colts host the Cardinals.

Muhsin Muhammad (CHI) – In an offense that for much of the season started a QB only because that’s part of the rules, Muhammad produced two types of stat lines: respectable and poor. However, the return of QB Rex Grossman has boosted Muhammad’s chances considerably to produce the type of numbers that he did against the Packers on Sunday (5 catches, 58 yards, 1 TD). Though a return to the 100-yard, multiple-TD games of yesteryear is probably not in the picture, Muhammad can once again be considered as a solid fantasy option when the Bears play at Minnesota on Sunday.

Andre Johnson/Corey Bradford (HOU) – Johnson and Bradford make respectable Week 17 plays for a couple of reasons. One, they haven’t been half bad of late, both registering 100-yard games against the Jaguars on Saturday. Two, the Texans will be in San Francisco to face the 49ers’ all-but-even-remotely-effective pass defense.

Sliding Back

Rod Smith/Ashley Lelie (DEN) – The Broncos have earned a first round bye and coach Mike Shanahan is expected to give many of his starters some rest on Sunday when the team plays a relatively meaningless game in San Diego. That’s a bummer for Smith owners who’ve benefited from his season-long consistency, but it may be a blessing for Lelie owners who would otherwise be teased into starting him following his first 100-yard game of the season against the Raiders on Saturday. Lelie also suffered an elbow laceration in that game that required 14 stitches, but he shouldn’t miss any time as a result. Fantasy owners in dire need of three quality starters in Week 17 can hardly pass on Smith if he’s an option pending further words on the matter from Shanahan, but Lelie owners should simply be thankful for the wonderful production he’s given them this season and move on to other options.

Darrell Jackson (SEA) – Jackson’s stock has plummeted in only a few short days, partly because Seattle has clinched home field in the NFC playoffs, and partly due to swelling in his surgically repaired right knee. The Seahawks pulled him from the game after only one half in the team’s 28-13 win over the Colts on Saturday, and they’ll surely do the same again against Green Bay on Sunday. In other words, even if fully healthy, it appears that Jackson should be nowhere near fantasy lineups in Week 17.