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2006 Player Rankings: Wide Receivers
Updated: September 5, 2006
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Tier 1
Torry Holt - FA YEAR TM GMS CAT CYD YPC CTD CAR RYD RTD
Performance: 1
TD Only: 1
Keeper: 2
Auction: 16%
2003 STL 16 117 1696 14.5 12 1 5  
2004 STL 16 94 1372 14.6 10      
2005 STL 14 102 1331 13.0 9 1 2  
Avg   15 104 1466 14.0 10 1 2 0
PROJ FA   97 1360   12      

Torry Holt comes off his sixth consecutive season with 1300 or more yards when he ended with 1331 to rank 6th in the NFL last year. Holt was 2nd in number of passes targeted to him (169) and 4th in catches with 102. He does this every year.

There could be a reasonable concern now that Mike Martz has left that the Rams will no longer be the pass happy slingers we have come to love. That is likely true to some extent but that doesn't mean that Holt will be the one getting a decrease. Consider that new HC Scott Linehan was the offensive coordinator for Randy Moss until last year when he went to Miami where Chris Chambers turned in a career best year in only his first season with Linehan (and only as it ends up). And Chambers accomplished that with Gus Frerotte as the quarterback. While those 3rd and 4th receivers will feel the pinch of less passes, there is no reason to assume that Holt will.

The only question with Holt is if you take him as the first wideout in the draft. Marvin Harrison is getting older. Terrell Owens is on a new team. Randy Moss has a new quarterback and system. Chad Johnson may not have a healthy Palmer to start the season. In terms of annual consistency and production, Holt has become the new Harrison.

Chad Johnson - FA YEAR TM GMS CAT CYD YPC CTD CAR RYD RTD
Performance: 2
TD Only: 2
Keeper: 1
Auction: 16%
2003 CIN 16 90 1355 15.1 10      
2004 CIN 16 95 1274 13.4 9 4 39  
2005 CIN 16 97 1432 14.8 9 5 33  
Avg   16 94 1354 14.4 9 3 24 0
PROJ FA   100 1410   11      

2005 saw Chad Johnson turn in his fourth straight 1000 yard season and with 1432 yards, he finished third in the NFL last year behind only Steve Smith and Santana Moss. He ended up being fifth in both targets (163) and catches (97). For the last three seasons, Johnson has not had less than 90 catches. He has developed into a true star wideout in the league that has become noted for his endzone celebrations (he had nine scores in each of the last two seasons with Carson Palmer).

Johnson not only remains a consistent fantasy scorer every week, he also added three games over 130 receiving yards last year and he had two in 2004. At the age of 28, he is only now starting to enter his prime years. Johnson should remain a fixture in the top 10 for years to come. Perhaps the top 5 at that.

His only caveat on this season is the health of Carson Palmer who tore up his knee last January and may - or may not - be ready to go when the season kicks off. The Bengals have lost Jon Kitna as well, opting to back-up Palmer with the ex-Raven Anthony Wright. As the primary wideout, he should be sheltered from a downturn more than any other player but still, his risk warrants a slight drop in drafts this summer until more is known about Palmer. Regardless, he remains as talented as any wide receiver out there.

Steve Smith - BAL YEAR TM GMS CAT CYD YPC CTD CAR RYD RTD
Performance: 3
TD Only: 3
Keeper: 3
Auction: 16%
2003 CAR 16 88 1110 12.6 7 11 42  
2004 CAR 1 6 60 10.0        
2005 CAR 16 103 1563 15.2 12 4 25 1
Avg   11 66 911 12.6 6 5 22 0
PROJ BAL   95 1370   11      

We should all be so productive after a year off. Steve Smith was a budding star in 2003 when he had 1110 yards and seven touchdowns but then suffered a broken leg in the first week of 2004. By the time he returned, Muhsin Muhammad had already turned in an amazing year of 1405 yards and 16 touchdowns and then left for Chicago. Smith merely took that baton and kept the Panthers atop the NFL wideout leader board again in 2005 when he turned in 1563 yards and 13 touchdowns.

Smith is only 5'9" and 185 pounds and it is players like him who have finally erased the myth that an NFL wideout must be tall and big. They just need to be intense, focused, talented and maybe wound just a tad too tightly. As if the regular season was not enough, he helped the Panthers reach the NFC title game while gaining 218 yards and two scores against Chicago the previous week. At the age of 27, he is just starting to enter his prime.

There are two factors that are potentially working against a repeat of 2005. For one realize that the Panthers will have a very tough schedule this season - but consider what he did to the Bears in the playoffs. Secondly, Keyshawn Johnson seemingly could siphon off passes - but there were already 142 "non-Smith" throws to wideouts last season. Keyshawn could actually help Smith by giving the secondary more than one player to worry about. An improved rushing game this year also could limit Smith but could just as easily help balance the offense and prevent the defense from loading up specifically on him. Top wideouts for a season rarely repeat the feat, but if Smith falls back it won't be far.

Anquan Boldin - SFO YEAR TM GMS CAT CYD YPC CTD CAR RYD RTD
Performance: 4
TD Only: 8
Keeper: 5
Auction: 14%
2003 ARI 16 101 1377 13.6 8 5 40  
2004 ARI 10 56 623 11.1 1 1 3  
2005 ARI 14 102 1398 13.7 7 12 45  
Avg   13 86 1133 12.8 5 6 29 0
PROJ SFO   103 1420   9      

(+Upside) After exploding on the scene as a rookie in 2003, Boldin has done nothing to make that year look like a fluke. He comes off a solid 2005 campaign when he had 1398 receiving yards to rank fifth best in the league. Despite only playing in 13 full games, Boldin led the league in targets (176) and his 102 catches were only one short of the league leader (teammate Larry Fitzgerald). Not shabby for 13 games. He already had 15 games over 100 yards in his three year career that spans only 40 games thanks to a meniscal tear in 2004 and a bone bruise last season.

The future is bright for Boldin who has already excelled with Kurt Warner and will undoubtedly pair with Matt Leinart next season. While the Arizona offensive scheme was ineffective last year running the ball, it was one of the best passing thanks almost exclusively to both Boldin and Fitzgerald. Consider too that Boldin not only had 102 catches and almost 1400 yards, he was one of only two players that every defense focused on every play.

The addition of Edgerrin James could be a concern since success rushing the ball often spells a decrease in passing. Don't be so sure. Denny Green's background has shown that he loves to score early and often and his passing games become even more effective with a ground game to support it. Boldin may fall back slightly this year with better running by James, but it could just as easily improve from lesser focus by the defense. James certainly did not harm the passing numbers in Indianapolis.

Larry Fitzgerald - ARI YEAR TM GMS CAT CYD YPC CTD CAR RYD RTD
Performance: 5
TD Only: 7
Keeper: 4
Auction: 14%
2003                  
2004 ARI 16 58 780 13.4 8 8 14  
2005 ARI 16 103 1409 13.7 10 8 41  
Avg   16 81 1095 13.6 9 8 28 0
PROJ ARI   96 1350   10      

After an encouraging rookie season in 2004 when Fitzgerald managed to gain 780 yards and eight scores while being almost the only option in the passing game while Boldin was out, he completely exploded last year when he became the youngest player in the history of the NFL to have over 100 catches in a season. His 103 actually led the league while his 1409 yards ranked fourth best and his 160 targets were sixth highest in the league as well. This is a draft choice that Denny Green got right - ex-ball boy or not.

Fitzgerald's production last year was more than a classic breakout season; it was a mirror to what the most elite wideouts can do in a year. He scored in ten different games and ended with seven games over 100 yards. With the exception of four clunkers, he remained over 70 yards in every game. And he is only 23 years old this year.

While the addition of Edgerrin James may reduce the number of targets, that doesn't necessarily mean there will be less catches. A sound rushing game will only serve to further free Fitzgerald from such heavy coverage and there is no chance that the Cardinals will turn into a just another heavy rushing team. Look for Fitzgerald to be more efficient this year and with a delightfully soft schedule, he should end 2006 with similarly spectacular numbers.

Randy Moss - FA YEAR TM GMS CAT CYD YPC CTD CAR RYD RTD
Performance: 6
TD Only: 4
Keeper: 6
Auction: 14%
2003 MIN 16 111 1632 14.7 17 6 18  
2004 MIN 12 49 767 15.7 13      
2005 OAK 16 60 1005 16.8 8      
Avg   15 73 1135 15.7 13 2 6 0
PROJ FA   90 1250   11      

After two "lackluster" seasons, it may be easy to forget what a dominating player Randy Moss has been during his career. Prior to 2004, Moss had never had less than 1233 receiving yards including his rookie season when he had an astounding 17 touchdowns. Other than 2002, he had never had less than 10 touchdowns in a season. His final year in Minnesota had him bothered by a hamstring for much of the year and he missed three games. Last year in Oakland, he was hampered by rib, groin and pelvis injuries and while he only missed one game, he played at far less than 100% after week six when he was crushed in a tackle against the Chargers during the first quarter.

Moss had been averaging 117 yards per game until the injury happened with three 100 yard efforts in those first four games. Afterwards - he only had one more game over 100 yards. He ended with just 60 catches for 1005 yards and eight touchdowns.

This year Moss will enter the season healthy and ready to resume what he does best - provide the services of an elite wideout. With strong armed Aaron Brooks, Moss has more upside this year since Collins could not buy time for Moss to get open and resorted to 70 dump passes to Jordan instead. Brooks has already had big seasons throwing to Joe Horn - which of the two is the better receiver? The primary offensive focus this season will be to involve Moss as much as possible and after two down seasons, he'll likely be drafted at a bargain price. He's only 29 years old and in his prime, something he was showing last year before the tackle in the Chargers game.

08-15-06 Update: Moss slips back one spot and that may not be the extent of his drop. The Raider offense has yet to look like they have met before and Aaron Brooks in particular is struggling. That cannot mean good things for Moss. It is only the preseason and there is time left to get the offense going, but nothing so far says it is going to happen quickly. Moss will benefit from the team falling behind in games, but even with a high volume of passes, it's less reliable now than before.

08-18-06 Update: Moss drops a bit more because his situation just introduces too much risk to be a top wideout.

Terrell Owens - FA YEAR TM GMS CAT CYD YPC CTD CAR RYD RTD
Performance: 7
TD Only: 5
Keeper: 8
Auction: 14%
2003 SFO 15 80 1102 13.8 9 3 -2  
2004 PHI 14 77 1200 15.6 14 3 -5  
2005 PHI 7 47 763 16.2 6 1 2  
Avg   12 68 1022 15.2 10 2 0 0
PROJ FA   91 1230   11      

After Terrell Owens had turned Philly into Barnum & Bailey last year, the subject of many in the media and in barrooms was - who would take the risk on Terrell Owens? Well, the roulette wheel had barely started spinning when Jerry Jones stopped it with a $10 million dollar stack of bills. The player most reviled by Cowboy fans for his disrespect to "The Star" comes to town looking for his second-second chance in the NFL. There is little reason to expect at least not moderate success and a very good chance for more big numbers from the Mouth That Roared.

The Cowboys already had Drew Bledsoe turn in one of the best seasons by a quarterback in Dallas history just last year (albeit only statistically). With his reputation as a player and the money paid by the Cowboys, Owens will be given plenty of opportunities to make good on that paycheck. Of course Owens has only been a full 16 game starter once in his career (2001) and he usually misses one or two games a year with some nagging issue like an ankle, hamstring or groin injury. But since he left San Francisco, he has been catching about one touchdown per game.

The Cowboys are loading up for a playoff run this year and have pulled out the checkbook to get there. The signing of Owens is an equivalent of saying "I want to win this year so badly that I would… well... sign Terrell Owens". He is almost singular in being an icon for everything good and bad about the NFL, often both at the same time. Owens will be fired up for a good season and at the age of 33; he needs to succeed while he still can. He led the Eagles to the Super Bowl in 2004 and that is exactly what the Cowboys are buying. Or so they hope.

08-21-06 Update: Owens is back on the exercise bike and until he gets healthy and learns the offense, it looks like he is training for the Tour de Flop. Owens has never played in a non-west coast offense and losing all this practice time is not a positive.

Tier 2
Marvin Harrison - FA* YEAR TM GMS CAT CYD YPC CTD CAR RYD RTD
Performance: 8
TD Only: 6
Keeper: 10
Auction: 14%
2003 IND 15 94 1272 13.5 10 1 3  
2004 IND 16 86 1113 12.9 15      
2005 IND 15 82 1146 14.0 12      
Avg   15 87 1177 13.5 12 0 1 0
PROJ FA*   84 1140   11      

Marvin Harrison ended his seventh straight 1000 yard season when he left 2005 with 1146 yards on 82 catches. While those were was his lowest numbers or receptions in eight years, he still posted a respectable 12 touchdowns making his string of 10+ scores also reaching seven years. Harrison tied with Steve Smith for the NFL lead in receiving touchdowns but he fell behind the leaders in every other category including only placing 10th in yardage and tying for 11th in receptions last season.

Even during Manning's record-setting 2004 season, Harrison only had 1113 yards on 86 receptions. At the age of 34, he could be slowing down slightly but more to blame is the expanse of weapons that Manning has come to use each week. Harrison is always the constant in the passing game but that level has not exceeded 1300 yards since 2002.

Expect another double-digit touchdown year from Harrison with enough yardage to clip that 1000 yard mark even if it doesn't stray too far beyond. Given his consistency over the last decade, he remains the safest possible choice for a fantasy wideout even if his upside shrinks each season.

Reggie Wayne - IND YEAR TM GMS CAT CYD YPC CTD CAR RYD RTD
Performance: 9
TD Only: 13
Keeper: 7
Auction: 12%
2003 IND 16 68 838 12.3 7      
2004 IND 16 77 1210 15.7 12 1 -4  
2005 IND 16 83 1055 12.7 5      
Avg   16 76 1034 13.6 8 0 0 0
PROJ IND   89 1230   8      

After a breakout 2004 when he racked up 1210 yards and 12 touchdowns, Reggie Wayne settled back down to 1055 yards and just five scores last year, despite increasing his number of catches from 77 to 83. The offense became much more ball-control oriented and with that a reduced need for those delightful long passes that marked the 2004 season. While Wayne ended as a top ten wideout in almost every category that year, he did not rank as well in any area last season. Still, a 1000 yard season is a good thing. It just was not worth what virtually every fantasy team spent to acquire him.

The increased number of receptions is encouraging for this year, especially considering for the first time another Indy wideout had more catches than did Marvin Harrison. And though the Colts passing game shrank last year, that hit was largely felt by the tight ends and slot receivers - not so much the two starting wideouts.

The loss of Edgerrin James should only spell better things for Wayne since the running game won't be quite as productive with Dominic Rhodes and Joseph Addai. Harrison still has a few years left in him but his recent past suggests that he is slowing down and now Wayne has already eclipsed him in catches. Next up - yards first and eventually the final frontier - touchdowns.

Donald Driver - FA YEAR TM GMS CAT CYD YPC CTD CAR RYD RTD
Performance: 10
TD Only: 14
Keeper: 13
Auction: 12%
2003 GBP 15 52 621 11.9 2 5 51  
2004 GBP 16 84 1208 14.4 9 3 4  
2005 GBP 16 86 1221 14.2 5 2 13  
Avg   16 74 1017 13.5 5 3 23 0
PROJ FA   86 1220   8      

Now that Javon Walker is in Denver, Donald Driver once again finds himself as the primary receiver with so little competition that he could have problems with excessive coverage. A one-time seventh round draft pick, Driver is the blue-collar guy that plays with so much heart that he becomes far better than he seems he should. Having Brett Favre as his buddy is another major factor here as well. While every other Packer was either turning in sub-par seasons or leaving on a stretcher last year, Driver ended with a career best 86 catches for 1221 yards. He ranked sixth in receptions and 8th in yardage for NFL wideouts last year.

Driver returns to almost the same conditions as last season other than everyone will be healthy once again and the running backs are back to using Green and Davenport (potentially). The Packers lost Walker but they did not replace him with any veterans of note. This leaves the gate open for Driver to possibly improve upon last season if only because Favre will make it happen from the lack of other strong receivers.

This makes Driver a sleeper of sorts, or at least a solid pick that should equal numbers from last year while improving the five touchdowns much closer to the nine he had in 2004. Driver is a very solid #2 receiver for your fantasy team that has almost no risk and yet more upside even after seven years in the league.

Roy Williams - FA YEAR TM GMS CAT CYD YPC CTD CAR RYD RTD
Performance: 11
TD Only: 9
Keeper: 9
Auction: 12%
2003                  
2004 DET 14 54 817 15.1 8 1 1  
2005 DET 12 45 687 15.3 8      
Avg   13 50 752 15.2 8 1 1 0
PROJ FA   80 1150   9      

(+Upside) Roy Williams enters his third season - typically considered the "breakout" year - and that could happen in a big way. His first two years have already entrenched him as the best wideout on the team and while his numbers may not be eye-popping compared to the rest of the league, they are amazing against all other Detroit receivers. They are phenomenal considering the situation he played in with changing quarterbacks and a team that imploded last year.

Williams suffered a quadriceps injury last year that forced him to miss four games and he battled a high ankle sprain almost his entire rookie year. Through all that he still maintained a healthy 15 yards per catch and scored six times in each of his two seasons. If only the Lions could figure out a way to break the injury curse, this unit could do some damage.

With Mike Martz installing a new offense that will undoubtedly improve the passing game, expect Williams to be the biggest beneficiary as he plays the same split end position that Torry Holt does in St. Louis. The offense will take some time to take form and ridding the team of the bad mojo of the last two seasons isn't done over night. But Williams' future became brighter when the Lions acquired Jon Kitna and Josh McCown and could become brilliant with Mike Martz directing the offense.

Chris Chambers - FA YEAR TM GMS CAT CYD YPC CTD CAR RYD RTD
Performance: 12
TD Only: 11
Keeper: 15
Auction: 10%
2003 MIA 16 64 963 15.0 11 4 30  
2004 MIA 15 69 898 13.0 7 9 76  
2005 MIA 16 82 1118 13.6 11 12 92  
Avg   16 72 993 13.9 10 8 66 0
PROJ FA   75 1110   9      

While the notion that Chris Chambers had a breakout season in 2005 is supported by turning in his first 1000 yard season, the reality is that he merely returned to the level of 2003 when he had 64 catches for 963 yards and 11 touchdowns. While he had 18 more catches last year for 155 more yards than in 2003, his average per catch decreased from a career high of 15 yards per catch to only 13.6 yards. What serves Chambers the most for consideration this year was that he ended the season on a very high note, catching six touchdowns in a four game span from week 13 through week 16 and his game against the Bills donated 238 yards on 15 catches to explain the variance from 2003. He merely had what was an average season for himself with one monster game to make it see like so much more. His 238 receiving yards was the highest yardage for any NFL player in 2005.

In fairness, Chambers has become an accomplished receiver while catching passes from such notable quarterbacks as Jay Fiedler, A.J. Feeley, Sage Rosenfels, Ray Lucas and Gus Frerotte. None of them are currently starters in the NFL. The Dolphins acquired both Daunte Culpepper and Joey Harrington during the offseason so Chambers' long-term outlook is even better and at the age of 28, he is just now hitting his prime years as a wideout.

Chambers won't come cheap this year after ending 2005 with a string of great games but the reality is that he'll likely be drafted too early. The Dolphins lost OC Scott Linehan to the Rams and ex-Bills HC Mike Mularkey takes his place with the directive to continue to use the Linehan offensive scheme. But there is obvious risk with the architect no longer there. And the quarterback situation changes yet again. Chambers is a lock for solid numbers in the 1000 yard, eight touchdowns area with the upside to do much more but that potential may be slow starting this year.

08-25-06 Update: Chambers looked undeniably sharp in the third preseason game catching 7 passes for 67 yards and one score. With Culpepper looking better and throwing to Chambers, he deserves a slight boost in the rankings

Derrick Mason - FA YEAR TM GMS CAT CYD YPC CTD CAR RYD RTD
Performance: 13
TD Only: 18
Keeper: 14
Auction: 10%
2003 TEN 16 92 1255 13.6 7 3 11  
2004 TEN 16 96 1168 12.2 7 1 -3  
2005 BAL 16 86 1073 12.5 3      
Avg   16 91 1165 12.8 6 1 3 0
PROJ FA   88 1220   7      

(+Upside) While Derrick Mason traded being Steve McNair's favorite target for heading up the Ravens normally lackluster wideout crew, his numbers really did not suffer much. With 86 catches for 1073 yards, he was right in line with his normal production over the previous four seasons but his touchdown total did fall to only three last year - his lowest since becoming a starter in 2000.

Now Mason continues his role as the best Ravens wideout and gets to play with Steve McNair once again. Mason's best years were with McNair and he actually dropped slightly in the year that McNair was injured and Billy Volek decided that Drew Bennett was the more attractive option.

Consider Mason as a rock solid possession receiver that will net you around 1000 yards as a minimum with the upside for more. Reunited with McNair, Mason should once again see even better production and he comes as a good value in drafts with most fantasy fans locked into last year's production. That is just the worst he would do - and almost certainly something he will surpass. The only question is by how much.

Tier 3
Darrell Jackson - FA YEAR TM GMS CAT CYD YPC CTD CAR RYD RTD
Performance: 14
TD Only: 10
Keeper: 11
Auction: 10%
2003 SEA 16 68 1137 16.7 9      
2004 SEA 16 87 1207 13.9 7      
2005 SEA 6 38 482 12.7 3 1 7  
Avg   13 64 942 14.4 6 0 2 0
PROJ FA   81 1090   9      

Darrell Jackson had an excellent start to the season when he recorded two big games in his first three weeks but he injured his knee against the Redskins in week four and that later was discovered to be a torn lateral meniscus that required surgery. He missed the next nine games and yet still scored in his first week back. He was rested and then scored in both of the first two games of the postseason including nine catches for 143 yards in the win over the Redskins.

Jackson is clearly the favorite target for Matt Hasselbeck and he returns this year healthy and ready to resume the same form that saw him gain around 1100 yards and eight scores in 2003 and 2004. The Seahawks will enjoy one of the lightest schedules in the league this year despite coming off a Super Bowl appearance and that will benefit Jackson before any other receiver. The team trainers have not been happy with Jackson's recovery from his knee surgery in the offseason though and he may be limited to practicing just once a week in training camp. Jackson is a bit higher of a risk than may seem apparent with his balky knee.

The rushing game with Shaun Alexander depresses what the passing offense could do but Jackson remains a very safe pick that will turn in consistent numbers and enough big games to make a difference - as long as his knee gives him no more problems. He won't win you a championship by himself, but he won't be the reason if you don't get there as long as he remains healthy.

08-25-06 Update: Jackson tumbles two spots since he has just been so slow from returning from his off-season knee surgery. His durability is a bit bothersome but he has been golden when healthy. He drops but just slightly. The Seahawks still expect him to be ready for the regular season but he is missing almost all the preseason recovering.

Andre Johnson - HOU YEAR TM GMS CAT CYD YPC CTD CAR RYD RTD
Performance: 15
TD Only: 19
Keeper: 16
Auction: 8%
2003 HOU 16 66 976 14.8 4 5 -10  
2004 HOU 16 79 1142 14.5 6 4 12  
2005 HOU 13 63 688 10.9 2 6 10  
Avg   15 69 935 13.4 4 5 4 0
PROJ HOU   85 1180   7      

(+Upside) After turning in a great sophomore season of 1142 yards and six touchdowns, Andre Johnson seemed poised for a complete breakout in his third season when the wheels began wobbling on the Houston offense and all Texan players turned in sub-par seasons in 2005. The debacle that was last year led to the hiring of HC Gary Kubiak and the dismissal of both Jabar Gaffney and Corey Bradford. When the Texans added Eric Moulds in the offseason, they finally came up with a receiver across from Johnson that could both help move the ball and reduce the intense coverage that had dogged him the entire 2005 season.

Just as promising for this year is the addition of several linemen and the blocking scheme of the Broncos. That should give Johnson much more time to get into the pattern without seeing his quarterback's heels flying up in the air.

Look for Johnson to return more to 2004 form though the offense may take some time to come to complete fruition. Carr will be receiving close attention by OC Troy Calhoun and the main beneficiary will be Johnson.

Plaxico Burress - FA YEAR TM GMS CAT CYD YPC CTD CAR RYD RTD
Performance: 16
TD Only: 16
Keeper: 17
Auction: 6%
2003 PIT 16 60 860 14.3 4 1 -7  
2004 PIT 11 35 698 19.9 5      
2005 NYG 16 76 1214 16.0 7      
Avg   14 57 924 16.7 5 0 0 0
PROJ FA   71 1100   8      

After playing in Pittsburgh for five seasons, Plaxico Burress came over to the Giants last year and while most receivers have a down year when they change teams, Burress thrived. Paired with the quickly developing Eli Manning, Burress was only about 100 yards from his career best season in 2002 and he matched the seven touchdowns from that season. Burress only had three games with more than 100 yards last year but the one week four against the Rams cracked the 200 yard mark and ended up the second best wideout game in the NFL last year.

Burress cooled down in the final month before his nice game in Oakland and he was held without a catch in the playoff loss to the Panthers. Of some concern is that his best eight games from last year contained only one game against an NFC East opponent and that was a late season match-up against the Eagles who had already been decimated by injuries. That same team held him to only 37 yards just three weeks later.

This season could be tougher for Burress pitted against better defenses but he has already established chemistry with Eli Manning and already has become the lead receiver for the Giants. Shockey will always factor in as well as both Amani Toomer and even Tiki Barber, but Burress remains a strong player to have as a starter on your fantasy team. He'll cost you like a #2 fantasy wideout but there is some risk this year that he'll perform more like a #3.

Santana Moss - WAS YEAR TM GMS CAT CYD YPC CTD CAR RYD RTD
Performance: 17
TD Only: 20
Keeper: 19
Auction: 6%
2003 NYJ 16 74 1105 14.9 10 10 67  
2004 NYJ 15 45 838 18.6 5 6 18  
2005 WAS 16 84 1483 17.7 9 3 -3  
Avg   16 68 1142 17.1 8 6 27 0
PROJ WAS   68 1150   7      

Through the first six games of 2005, there was no receiver hotter than Santana Moss. He had already scored five times and averaged 124 yards per game. He had never gained less than 87 yards and had four 100+ yard games. By this time, the league took note that Moss needed to be covered on deep routes and Moss only managed one more 100 yard game. Thanks to that torrid start, Moss ended 2005 with 1438 yards and nine scores to rank him second only to Steve Smith in yardage and his 17.7 yards per catch was bettered only by Terry Glenn and Ashley Lelie (with far fewer catches).

Moss was the only viable wideout last year and while he was deadly on the deep routes, he was roughly average when those were taken away. In the final ten games, he only scored in two of them and only once did more than 83 yards. He averaged around 70 yards per game down the stretch outside of his late season blowup against the Giants. During the playoffs, he only had 18 yards against the Buccaneers but managed 103 in the loss to the Seahawks.

Moss enjoyed a rare situation last year with the Redskins almost devoid of other wideouts than him and yet a need to throw in many games. Moss either caught a bomb or two or logged good yardage and scores, or he turned in around 70 yards and no scores. This year the Redskins will have both Brandon Lloyd and Antwaan Randle El on board which will naturally depress what Moss could do. Still - they could help him to some degree by reducing the double and triple coverage that often held him in check during the final ten weeks of the year.

Hines Ward - FA YEAR TM GMS CAT CYD YPC CTD CAR RYD RTD
Performance: 18
TD Only: 15
Keeper: 18
Auction: 6%
2003 PIT 16 95 1163 12.2 10 11 61  
2004 PIT 16 80 1004 12.6 4 7 25 1
2005 PIT 15 69 975 14.1 11 3 10  
Avg   16 81 1047 13.0 8 7 32 0
PROJ FA   82 1080   8      

Hidden inside the season of the 2005 Super Bowl MVP is a small surprise. Hines Ward comes off his worst yardage during the season in the last five years. His 69 catches also falls behind his four previous seasons but where Ward made it all okay was with his 11 touchdowns - one away from his career best in 2002. While Ward was named the MVP, he only had five catches for 58 yards and one score in the Super Bowl and only 78 yards in the first two playoff games. His value to the team is mostly heightened by a lack of other credible receivers and the way he has meshed with Ben Roethlisberger when the endzone gets near.

Ward had four 100 yard games in 2005 but he also had seven efforts that never exceeded 40 yards in the game. But he did score in over half the games he played including three efforts with two scores for the week. Previous to last season, Ward typically would have two 100 yard games per year. His fantasy value remained fairly consistent thanks to scoring in three of those low yardage games. In fairness too, Ward missed one game with a sore hamstring that did not clear up entirely for two more weeks.

The fantasy advantage of Ward is that while he will turn in a few low yardage games when the rushing effort is more than enough to win the game, he has developed a nice chemistry with Roethlisberger on those end zone passes. And he is turning multiple touchdown games and big yardage efforts that can get you the win in a given week. Roethlisberger's motorcycle accident casts some risk here but Ward is so clearly the primary wideout that even Charlie Batch would rely on him. Consider him a very safe #2 wideout that will lag a bit on yardage but make it up with some nice scores.

Joe Horn - FA* YEAR TM GMS CAT CYD YPC CTD CAR RYD RTD
Performance: 19
TD Only: 21
Keeper: 29
Auction: 4%
2003 NOS 15 78 973 12.5 10 2 15  
2004 NOS 16 94 1399 14.9 11      
2005 NOS 13 49 654 13.3 1      
Avg   15 74 1009 13.6 7 1 5 0
PROJ FA*   80 1130   6      

(-Risk) Entering into 2005, Horn had never turned in less than 973 yards per season with the Saints over the course of his five seasons there and four of those years ended with over 1250 yards. He had never scored less than seven touchdowns and had averaged nine per season. He was one of the safest and most consistent wideouts available in a fantasy draft. And then came 2005. Missing four games and playing injured most of the year led to only 49 catches for 654 yards and just one touchdown on the year. And only that much because he had a 143 yard game in week two with that single touchdown before the Saints' world came crashing down.

Horn pulled a hamstring in week three and never completely recovered last year. He missed four games that included the game in Atlanta where he was thrown one pass and re-aggravated his injury. After returning in week eight, he later re-aggravated his hamstring yet again in Mid-December. It was a lost season for the Saints and Horn's production fell dramatically with the inability to completely heal from his hamstring strain.

This year Horn is 34 years old and comes off an injury-marked 2005 like about half of his team. While he is a risk for injury, he played through problems in 2004 when he turned in a career best season. He will drop in drafts this year by those with short memories but his fall should not be far for the more astute. Drew Brees has joined the team and the running game should take primary focus by the opposing defenses. That means the Saints #1 wideout should be a lock for another 1000 yard season even in the new scheme. - if he can just remain healthy. One other notable - fantasy playoff weeks will be @DAL, WAS and NYG which could be tough.

T.J. Houshmandzadeh - FA YEAR TM GMS CAT CYD YPC CTD CAR RYD RTD
Performance: 20
TD Only: 17
Keeper: 20
Auction: 4%
2003                  
2004 CIN 15 73 978 13.4 4 6 51  
2005 CIN 14 78 956 12.3 7 8 62 1
Avg   15 76 967 12.9 6 7 57 1
PROJ FA   81 980   8      

After playing little or none for his first three seasons in the NFL, T.J. Houshmandzadeh has spent the last two seasons as a very solid #2 wideout across from Chad Johnson. Once Peter Warrick was injured in 2004, the team has never looked back thanks to Houshmandzadeh. He has responded with back-to-back seasons of around 960 yards and six touchdowns. With around 77 catches a year, he has become a solid #3 fantasy wideout who can add a score almost every other game.

With Chad Johnson around, there is not a lot of upside on Houshmandzadeh but there obviously has not been much risk either given his mirror seasons in 2004 and 2005. His one negative is durability, since he missed time early in his career with severe hamstring issues and had a sprained wrist that bothered him for several weeks as well. He still has yet to start a full 16 game season.

That all said, Houshmandzadeh is a very solid receiver who will typically turn in at least 60 yards per game as long as Carson Palmer is throwing the ball. He makes a nice choice to round out your starting receivers and an even better player to rely on as your back-up and bye week filler. Expect Houshmandzadeh to suffer a decrease in numbers should Palmer end up missing any significant time this year.

Rod Smith - FA YEAR TM GMS CAT CYD YPC CTD CAR RYD RTD
Performance: 21
TD Only: 22
Keeper: 27
Auction: 4%
2003 DEN 15 74 846 11.4 3 10 98  
2004 DEN 16 79 1144 14.5 7 5 33  
2005 DEN 16 85 1105 13.0 6 1 7  
Avg   16 79 1032 13.0 5 5 46 0
PROJ FA   86 1060   6      

(-Risk) After 11 seasons, Rod Smith is now the oldest starting wide receiver in the NFL and while he is 36 years of age, there has not been all that much of a sign of him fading. Other than 2003 when Smith was forced to play five games with Steve Beuerlein and Danny Kanell replacing the injured Jake Plummer, Smith has turned in 1000+ yards in each of the last nine years. In the two seasons that Plummer has been healthy, Smith has produced bookend seasons of 1144 yards/7 touchdowns and 1105 yards/6 touchdowns. He is the consummate possession receiver and though he may have lost a step, he knows how to get to the ball and catch it.

Smith returns this year and lines up across from Javon Walker for the first time. Since Walker is recovering from a knee injury last season and will be new to the team, Smith will be relied on no less than he ever has. Figure the Walker trade to be made to find someone to catch the passes that Lelie could not last year.

Smith's season of 2005 likely represents a high side to what to expect this year but after ten years in the league, Smith does not have much of a downside. Plummer will be extra motivated this season with Cutler watching and his favorite target remains Smith.

Lee Evans - FA YEAR TM GMS CAT CYD YPC CTD CAR RYD RTD
Performance: 22
TD Only: 12
Keeper: 21
Auction: 3%
2003                  
2004 BUF 16 48 843 17.6 9 5 85  
2005 BUF 16 49 743 15.2 7 4 38  
Avg   16 49 793 16.4 8 5 62 0
PROJ FA   55 800   9      

(+Upside) While Lee Evans ended 2005 with some respectable numbers - seven touchdowns and 793 receiving yards - the way he produced those numbers paints a different picture. Taking away road games in Kansas City and Miami means that he only scored twice in 14 games and he was a bust through the first half of the season. What is encouraging is that his best games happened with Losman as the quarterback. It's just that there were not many of them.

The departure of Eric Moulds will likely affect Evans production in a negative way this season. Moulds took the possession catches and left Evans for the long passes. Now that Evans is gone, the secondary will focus even more on containing him and if they attempt to turn the excellent long-ball speedster into a possession receiver it will not go well. Evans has all the speed for outside work but at only 5'10" and 197 pounds, he is not an "over the middle" sort of receiver. The Bills may attempt to make him that given the need, but it goes away from what his strengths have been in his two seasons in the league.

Evans should see many more passes this season and if Losman can deliver on his promise, then the warning signs need not be heeded. But given the risk that Evans could become another Peerless Price (ironic, eh?) by being miscast into a primary receiver with possession duty, then he'll once again disappoint. Safer bet is to let someone else draft him not realizing that those yards and scores last year came mainly in just three games.

Eddie Kennison - FA YEAR TM GMS CAT CYD YPC CTD CAR RYD RTD
Performance: 23
TD Only: 30
Keeper: 22
Auction: 3%
2003 KCC 16 56 854 15.3 5 2 9  
2004 KCC 14 62 1086 17.5 8 2 15  
2005 KCC 16 68 1102 16.2 5 7 43  
Avg   15 62 1014 16.3 6 4 22 0
PROJ FA   66 1000   5      

After ten seasons in the NFL, Eddie Kennison comes off his career best year of 68 catches for 1102 yards. That makes back-to-back 1000 yards seasons that did not start until he was 31 years of age. On an offense that has constantly struggled to find a decent #2 wideout, Kennison has been the lone consistent feature in the passing game outside of Gonzalez and the running backs.

Kennison turns 34 in January but he hasn't shown any signs of slowing down. His 16.2 yards per catch last year was one of his best seasons. The Chiefs have changed to HC Herman Edwards and promoted up line coach Mike Solari which has the potential to alter the offense at least a little with ex-OC Al Saunders gone but it will likely have no effect on Kennison since his primary role will continue to be used even if all other wideouts see a reduction.

Consider Kennison as a safe bet to get near 1000 yards yet again but his touchdowns totals have never been higher than eight and typically remain at five or less. A safe yet boring pick for your #3 wideout but consistency alone makes him a worthwhile starter for your team.

Laveranues Coles - FA YEAR TM GMS CAT CYD YPC CTD CAR RYD RTD
Performance: 24
TD Only: 23
Keeper: 23
Auction: 3%
2003 WAS 16 82 1204 14.7 6 10 39  
2004 WAS 16 90 950 10.6 1 3 -3  
2005 NYJ 16 73 845 11.6 5      
Avg   16 82 1000 12.3 4 4 12 0
PROJ FA   79 920   6      

Laveranues Coles went full circle last year when he returned to the New York Jets after spending two seasons with the Washington Redskins. He truly could not have picked a worse year. After his first two games, Coles had one score and 11 catches for 134 yards which was fairly respectable. Then Chad Pennington went down injured in week three and the Jets began a year-long game of "who's next?" at quarterback. Coles ended with just 845 yards on 73 catches.

Encouraging was that he ended the season strongly and he clearly was the primary wideout for the team. After brining in new HC Eric Mangini and cleaning house, the Jets only receiver acquisitions were Tim Dwight (primarily special teams) and the rookie Brad Smith taken in the fourth round. For whatever the passing game produces this season, Coles will be first in line once again.

With Curtis Martin and Chad Pennington returning from injury while a new offense is being installed, the outlook is not particularly bright for the Jets this year and that could either spark more production from Coles who will be needed as much as ever or it could yet again result in a sub-par season as it did last year. The Jets have a decent enough passing schedule this year but until the quarterback situation is reliable and the offense has taken form, Coles cannot be considered anything more than a back-up wideout this season.

Javon Walker - FA YEAR TM GMS CAT CYD YPC CTD CAR RYD RTD
Performance: 25
TD Only: 25
Keeper: 12
Auction: 3%
2003 GBP 16 41 716 17.5 9 2 1  
2004 GBP 16 89 1380 15.5 12      
2005 GBP 1 4 27 6.8        
Avg   11 45 708 13.3 7 1 0 0
PROJ FA   72 880   6      

(-Risk) (+Upside) Javon Walker was the first round selection by the Packers in 2002 and he spent his first three seasons in a perfect progression that was typical of star receivers. He turned in only 319 yards as a rookie, then added 600 more in 2003 and used his third season to breakout with 600 more yards from the previous season. He ended the year with 89 catches for 1382 yards and 12 touchdowns. He then, understandably, wanted to be paid more. After an acrimonious holdout that sparked comments from Brett Favre about "team first", Walker returned to play out his contract and promptly suffered a torn ACL in the first game of the season.

After rampant speculation, Walker was dealt to the Broncos in exchange for a second round pick in April. Later in May, Walker agreed to a six-year contract with the Broncos. He was examined by team doctors and the expectation is that he will be ready for the start of training camp.

Make sure that his status is certain before pulling the trigger on an early pick to take Walker this summer. He will have had a full year of rehab since he injured his knee to start last year but he will need to learn a new system and get used to a quarterback not named Favre for the first time. In a long-term view, Walker's stock has risen with the move to Denver but for this year, expect him to need several games to shake off the rust, completely heal and integrate completely into the passing scheme.

08-18-06 Update: Walker bumps up with a good showing in camp and preseason games. He may still feel the effects of his old injury and moving to a new team this year but he is on the right track. In a keeper league, he is even more valuable for next year.

Tier 4
Matt Jones - FA YEAR TM GMS CAT CYD YPC CTD CAR RYD RTD
Performance: 26
TD Only: 27
Keeper: 30
Auction: 2%
2003                  
2004                  
2005 JAC 16 36 432 12.0 5 12 51  
Avg   16 36 432 12.0 5 12 51 0
PROJ FA   69 870   6      

(+Upside) Matt Jones was one of those risky picks in the first round of the 2005 NFL draft and the early returns are still undecided. The one-time Arkansas quarterback who switched to receiver was involved in every game but only once had more than 50 yards. About half of his games came in at less than 20 yards. Jones is freakishly fast and yet 6'6" tall. The original plan was to take advantage of his height in the redzone and allow Jones to become a feared weapon near the goal line. The reality is that he had five touchdowns but only one came from inside the 10 yard line (7 yard TD @TEN). Otherwise they ranged from 10 to 32 yard passes. Jones also only had 101 yards over the final six games that Leftwich missed.

While 432 yards is hardly the stuff of rookie glory, it was not that bad taking into account that Leftwich was injured and Jones was learning a new position during his first season in the NFL. Hines Ward only had 246 yards in his first season of changing from college quarterback to wideout. That is not to say Jones is the next coming of Hines Ward, but then again, there is no proof yet that he won't be.

The Jaguars offense is entering its second season in the new scheme and Leftwich is healthy once again. Jimmy Smith has retired and Jones has been the leading candidate to take over his spot during mini-camp. Figure Jones for a nice increase from last season but the drafting of Marcedes Lewis could impact the amount of passes Jones gets as well as the specter of Reggie Williams still looking to make good on his early draft pick in 2004. There is not that much risk that Jones has a decent season given his success in just his first year and now that Smith is gone - Jones truly has big upside this year. Considering that he will only cost you the price of a back-up wideout, put him on your short list of sleeper types to stash.

Joe Jurevicius - FA YEAR TM GMS CAT CYD YPC CTD CAR RYD RTD
Performance: 27
TD Only: 24
Keeper: 26
Auction: 2%
2003 TBB 4 12 118 9.8 2      
2004 TBB 10 27 333 12.3 2      
2005 SEA 16 55 694 12.6 10      
Avg   10 31 382 11.6 5 0 0 0
PROJ FA   75 870   6      

(+Upside) The Browns lost their leading receiver from 2005 when Antonio Bryant was allowed to leave for San Francisco and in his place comes the tall Joe Jurevicius who was also coming off a career best season just last year. Subbing in for the injured Darrell Jackson, Jurevicius only had 55 catches for 694 yards but he scored ten touchdowns on the year - good enough to tie him for third best in the league for wideouts. He had two games over 100 yards and continued to contribute even when Jackson returned.

At 6'5" and 230 pounds, Jurevicius makes a very big target over the middle and in the endzone as was discovered by the Seahawks last season. He's not likely to break off many long gainers of course, but for moving the sticks and coming down with the ball, he's a valuable component of a passing attack. He'll be assuming the #2 role to Braylon Edwards but since Edwards continues to rehab from a torn ACL, chances are Jurevicius could be the primary wideout for several weeks this year. And his size makes him an attractive target for the still young Charlie Frye.

The Browns have a pretty tough schedule this season, particularly during fantasy playoff weeks, but that could work in the favor of Jurevicius who plays like a combination wideout and tight end. There's not a great chance that the Browns will find themselves near the goal line as often as the Seahawks did last season, but with a higher volume of passes and a more integral role this year than last, Jurevicius should see a decent increase to his production. His numbers are likely going to be better earlier in the year when Edwards is out or at least trying to get back into shape.

Reggie Brown - FA YEAR TM GMS CAT CYD YPC CTD CAR RYD RTD
Performance: 28
TD Only: 35
Keeper: 25
Auction: 2%
2003                  
2004                  
2005 PHI 14 43 571 13.3 4 1 5  
Avg   14 43 571 13.3 4 1 5 0
PROJ FA   69 900   5      

(+Upside) The Eagles tabbed Reggie Brown with the 2.03 pick in the 2005 NFL draft in the hopes that they would develop him into a viable #2 to complement Terrell Owens. By the end of the season, they had found their #1 wideout for this year. Brown was not given the luxury of seasoning on the bench before playing once Todd Pinkston ruptured his Achilles tendon in training camp. He played sparingly while Owens was there to take all the attention but after he left in week eight, Brown was forced to become "the man".

He responded well, logging four scores and 470 yards in the final nine weeks as a starter. While he was blanked once, he had turned in four games with more than 70 receiving yards while the Eagles team was self-destructing around him. Entering 2006, Brown is the only receiver with a guaranteed starting spot.

The Eagles have a fairly tough passing schedule this year and without Owens, the offense returns to pre-2004 form. There is also a stated intention to run more this year but almost every coach says as much each summer. With Donovan McNabb as quarterback and no other wideout of note, expect Reggie Brown to turn in a better season in 2006 that should see him become a decent back-up wide receiver for your team with upside to possibly be more. His best should happen in 2007, but this year will be building towards that.

Terry Glenn - FA* YEAR TM GMS CAT CYD YPC CTD CAR RYD RTD
Performance: 29
TD Only: 28
Keeper: 36
Auction: 2%
2003 DAL 16 52 754 14.5 5 3 55  
2004 DAL 6 24 400 16.7 2 1 -3  
2005 DAL 16 62 1136 18.3 7 2 -4 1
Avg   13 46 763 16.5 5 2 16 0
PROJ FA*   70 840   6      

Hopefully you watched Terry Glenn play last year because not only did he come within nine yards of a career best yardage year; his seven touchdowns were the best he has never had. He also played for all 16 games for only the second time in his 10 year NFL career. It had been six years since the last time he had accomplished that feat. Glenn started red hot in 2005, clicking instantly with his new/old quarterback Drew Bledsoe. By week five, Glenn had totaled three scores and 518 yards which included three games over 100 yards. He only had one more in the final 11 games.

A reduction in Glenn's numbers seem almost guaranteed this year given that he basically had as much production in 2005 as he did in 2003 and 2004 combined. Another interesting fact is that Terrell Owens will be lining up across from him this year. In a season where Owens has been the lead receiver for a team, the most receiving yards turned in was 805 yards by Jerry Rice six years ago. Other than Lord Jerry, the most has been 676 yards by Todd Pinkston in 2004. No other wideout playing with Owens has had more than seven touchdowns and that was on teams with far less weapons that Dallas has this year.

Glenn comes off a career best season and one that smacks of the "magic year" that aging wideouts often have (see Joey Galloway, Muhsin Muhammad, etc.). Glenn was reunited with Bledsoe which was a benefit that continues. But the Cowboys have paid $10 million dollars for the right to throw it away from Glenn this year when they signed Owens. Look for a year with at least a couple of games missed by injury and numbers closer to 2004. Glenn will likely be drafted too early in leagues by either the guy remembering last year or the guy that thinks somehow Terrell Owens is going to boost Glenn's numbers.

Isaac Bruce - FA YEAR TM GMS CAT CYD YPC CTD CAR RYD RTD
Performance: 30
TD Only: 33
Keeper: 32
Auction: 2%
2003 STL 14 69 981 14.2 5 2 17  
2004 STL 16 89 1292 14.5 6      
2005 STL 11 36 525 14.6 3      
Avg   14 65 933 14.4 5 1 6 0
PROJ FA   72 900   5      

(-Risk) (+Upside) Isaac Bruce comes off his worst season since 1998 when he only turned in 36 catches for 525 yards and three scores. Like that season, Bruce was injured for several games, missing five with a hyper-extended toe. This came on the heels of a very solid 2004 season when he reversed a three year decline in catches and yards. In that year, Bruce had six 100+ yard games and scored six times so cresting the age of 30 has not affected him. He turns 34 this year the same as Marvin Harrison and one year younger than Joey Galloway.

To show their financial sense, the Rams released Bruce temporarily but then showed even better football sense by re-signing him to a three year contract worth $15 million that pays him $6 million this season.

Bruce has been overshadowed by Torry Holt but he had been remarkably consistent over the five seasons leading up to last year. While Kevin Curtis gets plenty of fantasy press, Bruce was not paid that sort of money to stand to the side. The Rams will not be quite as pass happy as they were under Mike Martz but be assured that the starting flanker has a big role - one they were willing to pay up to have Bruce fulfill.

Nate Burleson - FA YEAR TM GMS CAT CYD YPC CTD CAR RYD RTD
Performance: 31
TD Only: 36
Keeper: 31
Auction: 3%
2003 MIN 16 29 455 15.7 2      
2004 MIN 16 68 1006 14.8 9 6 49  
2005 MIN 12 30 328 10.9 1 2 -6  
Avg   15 42 596 13.8 4 3 14 0
PROJ FA   66 890   5      

(+Upside) Entering into his third season last year, Nate Burleson was positioned precisely for a break out year. He had turned in his first 1000 yard season in only his second year along with nine touchdowns. He had Daunte Culpepper as his quarterback and he no longer had to worry about Randy Moss taking all the action. What happened was almost the exact opposite of what expectations were. The Vikings started the year surprisingly ineffective and in just the second game, Burleson went down with a sprained PCL in his knee. He missed three weeks and came back just in time to see Culpepper go out injured for the season in week eight.

He later had a hip pointer and missed action for two more weeks. By the time he returned, the Vikings under Brad Johnson were already using four other wideouts. He closed out the season with only 328 receiving yards. In the off-season he was acquired by the Seahawks in the now infamous contract wrangling with the Vikings.

The Seahawks coughed up $49 million for a seven year contract on Burleson and that sort of money was not spent for a back-up or slot player. Look for Burleson to start a little slowly as he learns the offense but with one of the most powerful offenses around him, his future is very bright in Seattle. He is healthy and while he won't eclipse Darrell Jackson, he'll make a great back-up for your fantasy team with upside to move up.

Muhsin Muhammad - FA YEAR TM GMS CAT CYD YPC CTD CAR RYD RTD
Performance: 32
TD Only: 34
Keeper: 33
Auction: 2%
2003 CAR 15 54 837 15.5 3 2 -2  
2004 CAR 16 93 1405 15.1 16 3 15  
2005 CHI 15 64 750 11.7 4      
Avg   15 70 997 14.1 8 2 4 0
PROJ FA   72 880   5      

After leading the NFL in 2004 for both receiving yards (1405) and touchdowns (16), he parlayed that magic year into a six-year, $30 million contract with the Chicago Bears. Not too shabby for a player who had spent nine seasons in Carolina and was coming off three consecutive seasons of less than 840 yards and three scores each year. As the starting wideout for the Bears, he ended 2005 with 750 yards and four scores. That's a little more than a million dollars per touchdown.

The reality of course is that Muhammad was merely being himself again. His performance last year was right in line with what he had done in three of the previous four seasons. That he did that well was surprising given the problems at quarterbacking that plagued the Bears last season.

Grossman is back this year, at least for a while, but he never had more than 60 yards with Muhammad in the three games they shared. Look for Muhammad to make that four out of five years with the mediocre receiving numbers with some minor upside if Brian Griese gets the job. Muhammad did have 139 targets last year but only caught 64 of them. Whether it is Grossman or Griese, chances are good his catch percentage should rise and with that, at least a small increment upwards in his production.

David Givens - FA YEAR TM GMS CAT CYD YPC CTD CAR RYD RTD
Performance: 33
TD Only: 26
Keeper: 24
Auction: 2%
2003 NEP 11 34 510 15.0 6      
2004 NEP 15 56 872 15.6 3      
2005 NEP 13 59 738 12.5 2 2 13  
Avg   13 50 707 14.4 4 1 4 0
PROJ FA   75 840   6      

(+Upside) David Givens signed a five-year contract last March worth a reported $24 million. While he was desired to be retained by the Patriots, the Titans offered him something that no other team did - a chance to be the #1 wideout. With only Drew Bennett as real competition, Givens should manage to take the lead and allow Bennett to return to a supporting role which has been more effective for him in the past.

After four seasons in New England, Givens worked up to being the #2 receiver but the Patriot scheme uses such diverse spreading out of passes that Givens never had more than 874 yards or six scores in any season. This is an excellent opportunity for him to finally become the primary target. The Titans had a glaring need for a veteran receiver last year and ended up relying on tight ends more than wideouts.

Givens has definite upside this season but in the Tennessee offense that will see Billy Volek and possibly even Vince Young play behind an offensive line that is still in flux, Givens cannot be considered worthy of a fantasy starter yet. He makes a nice draft pick fairly deep as depth to see if anything notable does develop but assuming a significant change in his production is far too risky to merit a pick in the first half of a draft.

Michael Clayton - FA YEAR TM GMS CAT CYD YPC CTD CAR RYD RTD
Performance: 34
TD Only: 31
Keeper: 28
Auction: 3%
2003                  
2004 TBB 16 80 1193 14.9 7 5 30  
2005 TBB 13 32 372 11.6   1 2  
Avg   15 56 783 13.3 4 3 16 0
PROJ FA   73 900   5      

(+Upside) In one of the most stellar performances by any rookie wideout in the NFL, Michael Clayton caught 80 passes for 1193 yards and seven touchdowns in his first season which spawned even greater expectations last year. Unfortunately, Clayton needed knee surgery after that season and ended up missing all the offseason workouts last year and what proved to be a big chance to gain chemistry with Chris Simms who later became the starting quarterback. Clayton played the entire season with his knee less than 100% from his surgery.

To make matters worse, he suffered a dislocated left shoulder in week nine and missed all or part of three more games. To make it complete, he had turf toe and missed the final game of the season. Ending with only 32 catches for 372 yards and no scores, it was almost exactly opposite from his fine rookie season.

The good news is that he will again be the starting flanker and like 2004, he has looked outstanding in the offseason. He's healthy again and working out now that he has learned what happens when a player enters the season unprepared and dinged up. With Joey Galloway 35 years old, there is plenty of time for Clayton to get back to form. Coming off such a poor performance in 2005 that was primarily due to the immediate and lasting effects of injuries and missing time, it is almost certain that Clayton will be falling too far in drafts this season. You should be able to reach him as a back-up wideout and yet he already has shown that he is capable of being at least your #2 wideout when he is healthy.

Keyshawn Johnson - FA YEAR TM GMS CAT CYD YPC CTD CAR RYD RTD
Performance: 35
TD Only: 32
Keeper: 43
Auction: 2%
2003 TBB 10 45 601 13.4 3      
2004 DAL 16 70 986 14.1 6 2 13  
2005 DAL 16 71 839 11.8 6 1 3  
Avg   14 62 809 13.1 5 1 5 0
PROJ FA   78 850   5      

Just give me the damn plane ticket. Keyshawn Johnson now heads to his fourth team and at the age of 34, it's likely his final stop. Johnson came over to the Panthers after being dislodged in Dallas by Terrell Owens and his rejuvenation there - two seasons totaling 1820 yards and 12 scores - says that this possession receiver is hardly finished. Johnson doesn't have much in the way of yards after the catch but as a tall, sure-handed wideout willing to go over the middle he will provide exactly what the Panthers needed.

Last season, the Panthers were largely limited to pitch and catch with Steve Smith since no suitable second receiver was on the roster. Keyshawn won't likely improve much from what he has already done in Dallas, but there's no reason to expect much of a drop-off either. There's still plenty of room for another wideout here since the Panthers threw 142 passes to receivers other than Smith and only completed 64 of them - a mere 45% catch rate. Keyshawn has generally remained around 60% for his entire career.

Obviously Steve Smith will continue to get the most action but Keyshawn will be providing those over the middle, third down catches and an excellent outlet for when Smith is not open. And let's be serious, unlike 2004 in Carolina, Keyshawn will usually catch what Delhomme throws. He makes a decent third fantasy wideout since he should offer consistency with moderate production and not likely more.

Joey Galloway - FA YEAR TM GMS CAT CYD YPC CTD CAR RYD RTD
Performance: 36
TD Only: 29
Keeper: 44
Auction: 2%
2003 DAL 15 34 672 19.8 2 4 22  
2004 TBB 10 33 416 12.6 5 2 19  
2005 TBB 16 83 1287 15.5 10 2 4  
Avg   14 50 792 16.0 6 3 15 0
PROJ FA   62 790   6      

(-Risk) There are career high seasons. There are freak, "magic" years for wideouts. And then there is the 2005 version of Joey Galloway. After spending the previous six years with never more than 908 yards and six scores, Galloway exploded for 83 catches, 1287 yards and ten touchdowns. Like it was like it was Seattle 1998 all over again. Conventional wisdom had the often fragile wideout as over the hill at 34 years old and was coming off a 2004 campaign that was shortened by injury and only produced 416 yards and five scores.

Galloway was helped by three main factors. The rushing game by Cadillac Williams gave the offense all new balance. Remaining healthy gave him far more opportunities than he had been getting. Lastly, the nagging injuries to Michael Clayton left Galloway as the only viable wide receiver to catch the ball. While the rushing game should once again be solid, there is no guarantee that Galloway will make it through a season uninjured again considering he had not done so in two years and only twice in the previous six seasons. And this season, Clayton is healthy again and working out hard in the offseason.

Galloway was one of those wonderful sleepers that most people fell into last year since his season greatly exceeded expectations given that all three of those situations above were relatively unforeseeable last year. His season will undoubtedly cause his name to be called too early on draft day by many believing that he will again be worthy of being a #1 fantasy wideout. Only Rod Smith and Keenan McCardell will be older than Galloway this year.

Antonio Bryant - FA YEAR TM GMS CAT CYD YPC CTD CAR RYD RTD
Performance: 37
TD Only: 45
Keeper: 37
Auction: 2%
2003 DAL 16 39 550 14.1 2 2    
2004 CLE 15 58 812 14.0 4      
2005 CLE 16 69 1009 14.6 4 1 3  
Avg   16 55 790 14.2 3 1 1 0
PROJ FA   71 890   4      

(+Upside) The loss of Brandon Lloyd to the Redskins sent the 49ers shopping for veteran wideouts this spring and they came away with Antonio Bryant who will be the #1 wideout without even trying on his uniform for the first time. Entering his fifth NFL season and yet third team, Bryant comes off a 1000 yard season in Cleveland last year but he's hardly been a scoring machine since producing six scores as a rookie in Dallas.

Brandon Lloyd managed to turn in 733 yards and five scores last year as the starting 49ers flanker but he never had more than 48 receiving yards in any game with Alex Smith as the quarterback. Lloyd was also the only real option for receiver in 2005 and Bryant will contend with sharing passes with a healthy Arnaz Battle and the rookie Vernon Davis. Add in that new OC Norv Turner has inherited the worst offense in the NFL last year and wants to first establish the running game better and the outlook for Bryant is not particularly thrilling this year. Alex Smith will be better in 2006, but his first touchdown pass this year will already tie his season total from 2005.

Bryant can be had very cheaply in your drafts and that de facto ranking is realistic. Expect a couple of games where he will appear to have decent fantasy value but most likely he won't have the consistency or production to warrant being a starter for your team. If the 49ers offense starts to come together towards the end of the year, he could become a decent back-up wideout for your squad with minor upside.

Eric Moulds - FA YEAR TM GMS CAT CYD YPC CTD CAR RYD RTD
Performance: 39
TD Only: 44
Keeper: 45
Auction: 2%
2003 BUF 13 64 780 12.2 1      
2004 BUF 16 88 1043 11.9 5 5 19  
2005 BUF 15 81 816 10.1 4      
Avg   15 78 880 11.4 3 2 6 0
PROJ FA   75 880   4      

In one of those oddities of statistics, Eric Moulds has alternated between 1000 yard seasons and then sub-1000 every other year since 1997. This year - he is on track for another 1000 yard season if his nine year pattern holds true. It just might.

Moulds left the Bills after ten seasons and comes to the Texans where he no longer has to be the primary receiver thanks to Andre Johnson. The new offense being installed by Gary Kubiak and Troy Calhoun promises to bring around a better passing game and easily superior to the mess than Moulds left back in Buffalo. It may take time to all come together, but Moulds is 33 years old and still has several good seasons left in him.

Moulds is a great possession receiver who may be getting older but his game is not one of speed anyway. With Andre Johnson still likely to attract attention, Moulds will be more free from secondary attention than he has in almost a decade. Consider Moulds as a great back-up wideout for your team but planning on using him even as a starting #3 wide receiver for your team may be premature until the offense gets operating to specs. Then again - he has a nine year pattern of making this a 1000 yard season.

Keenan McCardell - FA YEAR TM GMS CAT CYD YPC CTD CAR RYD RTD
Performance: 40
TD Only: 46
Keeper: 35
Auction: 2%
2003 TBB 16 84 1179 14.0 8      
2004 SDC 7 31 393 12.7 1 1 3  
2005 SDC 16 70 917 13.1 9 3 2  
Avg   13 62 830 13.3 6 1 2 0
PROJ FA   66 870   4      

Keenan McCardell returns for his 15th NFL season and while he failed to break 1000 yards in his first full season in San Diego, he still totaled 917 yards on 70 catches with a career high nine touchdowns. McCardell only had one game over 100 yards but was a consistent wideout with usually around 60 yards per week and six games with touchdowns scored.

McCardell is the oldest starting wideout in the NFL and he has lost a step from a gait that was never that fast to begin with but he's a solid and yet unspectacular wideout for your wide receiver depth. He did score nine times last year but five came in the first four games before settling down to a more normal pace.

McCardell is more risky this season since Phillip Rivers will be taking his first starts in the NFL but that shouldn't result in a dramatic downturn for McCardell as the #1 wideout. He's just a possession receiver and Rivers was drafted for his tremendous accuracy in the short and medium range passes. It would be a stretch to expect McCardell to be a preferable fantasy starter, but he will remain a very viable fantasy back-up. Not much upside here but then again, minimal downside even with the change in quarterback.

Donte' Stallworth - FA YEAR TM GMS CAT CYD YPC CTD CAR RYD RTD
Performance: 41
TD Only: 38
Keeper: 41
Auction: 2%
2003 NOS 11 25 485 19.4 3 1 3  
2004 NOS 15 58 767 13.2 5 6 37  
2005 NOS 16 70 945 13.5 7 2 2  
Avg   14 51 732 15.4 5 3 14 0
PROJ FA   60 800   5      

Donte Stallworth comes off a career best season with 947 yards and seven touchdowns which could have been far better had the Saints not gone into a tailspin almost from the start of the year. Stallworth had three games over 100 yards and finally played the first 16 game season of his career despite suffering a rib injury in October and nursing a shoulder injury. Stallworth had shoulder surgery to clean out the labrum and rotator cuff as soon as the 2005 season was over. He is expected to have no problems stemming from the procedure.

Stallworth was the subject of many trade rumors during the offseason which never transpired and he missed the early mini-camps while he continued to rehab his shoulder. He was jailed in Miami in March for driving with expired tags and resisting arrest when he would not get off his phone and out of his car. This is notable only because HC Sean Payton is adamant about having players with the right character.

Stallworth could have turned in a true breakout season last year had the wheels not wobbled in New Orleans so early and often. The new offense installed by HC Sean Payton will focus on running more than passing which should impact Stallworth to a degree and the first year of an offense is often hardest on the wideouts. But Stallworth still makes a good fantasy back-up for your squad.

08-18-06 Update: Stallworth falls because he has missed training camp time with various injuries and has not been particularly impressive to the new coaching staff. While he is listed as the #2 on the depth chart, there is some word from coaches that his role is not guaranteed this year until he shows more.

08-29-06 Update: Stallworth was dealt to the Eagles in a trade and now becomes their #2 wideout. It will take time to mesh with McNabb but there's scant competition for him to go against. Expect his production to rise as the season progresses and he learns the offense.

Troy Williamson - FA YEAR TM GMS CAT CYD YPC CTD CAR RYD RTD
Performance: 42
TD Only: 39
Keeper: 42
Auction: 2%
2003                  
2004                  
2005 MIN 12 24 372 15.5 2 3 28  
Avg   12 24 372 15.5 2 3 28 0
PROJ FA   59 790   5      

After Braylon Edwards was the first wideout taken in the 2005 NFL draft, Troy Williamson followed right behind with the 1.07 pick by the Vikings. The thought that a top wideout was heading to the ultra-deadly passing attack of Daunte Culpepper was enough to send fantasy fans scurrying to their draft boards. Ends up they could have walked slowly and not changed anything when they got there.

Williamson had a soft tissue injury in his ankle and missed the first game of the year. He later sprained his shoulder and missed more time. After starting with 13 catches and two scores in his first four games, Williamson only managed two games that had him with more than one catch and he never again scored. For a hot rookie going to what was expected to be another huge year for the Vikings, Williamson was a major disappointment. Ask anyone who spent a draft pick on him.

However - HC Brad Childress has already supported Williamson and expects to see him have a much better second season in the NFL. By far the fastest wideout, Williamson will get as much playing time as the coaches believe he can handle and the expectation is that by midseason - if not the start of the season - Williamson will man the #2 role and make it worthwhile.

Tier 5
Samie Parker - FA YEAR TM GMS CAT CYD YPC CTD CAR RYD RTD
Performance: 43
TD Only: 47
Keeper: 46
Auction: 1%
2003                  
2004 KCC 3 9 137 15.2 1      
2005 KCC 12 36 533 14.8 3      
Avg   8 23 335 15.0 2 0 0 0
PROJ FA   54 790   4      

Samie Parker looked good last summer in training camp, enough so that the Chiefs had no problem with releasing Freddie Mitchell and relying on the second-year player taken in the fourth round of the 2004 NFL draft. Parker responded well all things considered. A knee sprain forced him to miss four games during mid-season but factoring in his overall pace, he would have ended with over 700 yards and four scores - not too bad and great using all other Chiefs receivers as a measurement.

Parker enters his third season and while he could break out, the offense will likely not call on him enough for any significant gains in yardage or scores. Kennison is getting older but has not slowed down yet. The passing game, however, may see a decline this season from the apparent strength of the rushing game.

Parker makes an interesting deep pick in a fantasy draft but he'll likely not reach the level of being worthy of starting every week. His value mainly lies in his youth and situation in dynasty league.

Corey Bradford - FA YEAR TM GMS CAT CYD YPC CTD CAR RYD RTD
Performance: 44
TD Only: 49
Keeper: 50
Auction: 1%
2003 HOU 15 24 460 19.2 4      
2004 HOU 14 27 399 14.8 3      
2005 HOU 15 34 436 12.8 5 1 -2  
Avg   15 28 432 15.6 4 0 0 0
PROJ FA   52 710   4      

(+Upside) Corey Bradford came over as free agent from Houston and the move by the Lions kept in the theme of the last few years of never having enough wide receivers. Bradford comes from being the #2 in Houston to signing a four-year contract worth $7.4 million. While the Lions already have Roy Williams, Mike Williams and Charles Rogers, only Roy has cemented a starting spot and the others are not "Marinelli" guys. Bradford is the first wideout acquired under the head coach.

His potential this season is higher than perhaps meets the eye because Rogers has proven to be far less than his original drafting spot suggested. Rogers actually worked out with the third team in mini-camps. Mike Williams has worked out with the second team during the preseason and was sent home for a few days by the coaches after missing meetings and not displaying "the Marinelli" attitude. Bradford - already working out with the first team. the Lions would not have paid $7 million for a player they never intended to use.

Watch training camp for developments on this because the #2 wideout in a Mike Martz offense has definite fantasy value. Rogers has been unable to rise and Mike Williams seems more intent on squandering a good thing. That leaves Bradford as a nice "semi-sleeper" type available deeply in drafts this summer.

Jerry Porter - FA YEAR TM GMS CAT CYD YPC CTD CAR RYD RTD
Performance: 45
TD Only: 53
Keeper: 39
Auction: 1%
2003 OAK 9 28 361 12.9 1 1 10  
2004 OAK 16 64 998 15.6 9 1 -4  
2005 OAK 16 76 942 12.4 5 1 -8  
Avg   14 56 767 13.6 5 1 0 0
PROJ FA   62 770   3      

In 2004, Jerry Porter had a career best season when he turned 64 catches into 998 yards and nine touchdowns when the Raiders had no other credible option for Kerry Collins to use. He had his best effectiveness as well, logging 15.6 yards per catch. Times were good while he was the primary receiver. Then in 2005, Randy Moss came along and the popular notion was that it would help Porter to reach the next level since the secondary would be chasing Moss instead of him. That did not really happen.

Porter did have a career best 76 catches but with a pedestrian 12.4 yard average, he only ended with 942 yards - certainly good but not great and not to the level of 2004. His touchdown totals fell from nine to five. Given that Moss was injured for the final 12 games of the season, Porter did not step up quite as much as would be preferred but even in fantasy terms he had a good season.

This year Moss starts the year healthy once again and that should impact Porter downwards in production. In the first four games of 2005 when Moss was not hurt, Porter only had an average of four catches for 50 yards and he never scored. Porter's two big games came when Moss had less than 40 yards in a game. That is not likely this year. Porter remains a good back-up wideout, but he'll more likely see another decrease this season, leaving him to be slightly over-drafted in most leagues.

07-30-06 Update: Porter has openly disagreed with new HC Art Shell and is now asking for a trade even though his contract situation is such that he cannot be moved without taking a major cap hit. Shell is adamant to bring a highly disciplined system into place that all players will buy into if they want to play. Porter has apparently not recognized this fact and as such, has to be devalued in the rankings.

Drew Bennett - FA YEAR TM GMS CAT CYD YPC CTD CAR RYD RTD
Performance: 46
TD Only: 48
Keeper: 48
Auction: 1%
Movement:
2003 TEN 12 32 504 15.8 4      
2004 TEN 16 80 1247 15.6 11 1 12  
2005 TEN 13 58 738 12.7 4 1 3  
Avg   14 57 830 14.7 6 1 5 0
PROJ FA   55 700   4      

Drew Bennett had a fortuitous break out season in 2004 when he ended with 1247 yards and 11 touchdowns which largely came from a three game span when he had eight touchdowns and 517 yards. That was good enough for the Titans to part with Derrick Mason and install Bennett as the starter along with several rookie wideouts. With only 58 catches for 738 yards and four scores, Bennett proved that he truly is nothing more than a good #2 wideout with a penchant for the odd big game. Consider too that the Titans had little else to use for receivers outside of him, the rookies and several tight ends. Bennett had 103 passes thrown to him and barely caught half of them.

The Titans acquired David Givens in free agency and expect him to assume the #1 role. That would allow Bennett to play to his strengths as a complementary wideout instead of being "the man". While Bennett suffered a marked decrease from 2004 to 2005, he may well have lower numbers again this year with Givens there and the hint of a better rushing effort with LenDale White in the mix. Bennett is in the final season of a deal he signed in 2004 and the Titans have not yet made any movement to ensure he remains.

Bennett did suffer from knee problems for much of the 2005 season and underwent arthroscopic knee surgery in January. He is expected to be back to full strength by training camp if not sooner. With a monster - if not "freak" 2004 season and coming off being the #1 wideout last year, it is almost certain that he will be drafted too early by someone in every league.

Reche Caldwell - FA YEAR TM GMS CAT CYD YPC CTD CAR RYD RTD
Performance: 47
TD Only: 40
Keeper: 56
Auction: 1%
2003 SDC 9 8 80 10.0   5 39  
2004 SDC 6 18 310 17.2 3 4 45  
2005 SDC 13 28 352 12.6 1 2 10  
Avg   9 18 247 13.3 1 4 31 0
PROJ FA   48 640   5      

Reche Caldwell becomes the starting split end this year which is a sign of the lack of depth the Patriots have after losing David Givens and David Patten in the last two seasons. Caldwell has never turned in more than 352 yards in his four years in the league and he's never had more than three scores as well. He has upgraded his quarterback in moving from San Diego to New England but after four seasons he only has 14 starts in total.

The Patriots drafted Chad Jackson this spring and he will be moving into that #2 role as soon as he can handle it. That could be sooner than later given the competition he faces. Expect Caldwell to turn in a career year but that still won't be enough to warrant any fantasy consideration. He'll almost certainly lose some playing time to Jackson eventually as well.

08-08-06 Update: While Chad Jackson falls behind and Deion Branch holds out, Caldwell has been the most impressive receiver on a team that needs new players to step up.

Justin McCareins - FA YEAR TM GMS CAT CYD YPC CTD CAR RYD RTD
Performance: 48
TD Only: 56
Keeper: 51
Auction: 1%
2003 TEN 16 45 799 17.8 7 1 13  
2004 NYJ 16 56 770 13.8 4 2 -5  
2005 NYJ 16 43 713 16.6 2 1 8  
Avg   16 48 761 16.1 4 1 5 0
PROJ FA   46 730   3      

The Jets grabbed the restricted free agent Justin McCareins away from the Titans in 2004 and hopefully they are happy with what they got at that time because McCareins has not developed at all in two seasons in New York. He had produced near bookend seasons of 700 yards and about three scores a season. McCareins continues to hold on to the starting split end spot mainly from a lack of credible competition.

With fairly consistent yardage of around 50 yards per game, he has some fantasy value as back-up wideout and bye week filler but after five seasons in the NFL, he is what he is - an average split end that does not make a major difference for his team in either direction.

Amani Toomer - FA YEAR TM GMS CAT CYD YPC CTD CAR RYD RTD
Performance: 49
TD Only: 41
Keeper: 52
Auction: 1%
2003 NYG 16 63 1057 16.8 5 1 5  
2004 NYG 15 51 747 14.6        
2005 NYG 16 60 684 11.4 7      
Avg   16 58 829 14.3 4 0 2 0
PROJ FA   48 600   5      

After 10 seasons in the NFL, Amani Toomer turned 32 years old this year and he has been on a three season slide since his career best year of 2002. Even though the Giants had one of their best passing efforts in years, it just did not include Toomer as it would have in the past. With Plaxico Burress and Jeremy Shockey as the most productive receivers, Toomer has even slid almost behind Tiki Barber in the pecking order.

While Toomer's 684 yards last year was his worst since 1998, he still managed to snare seven touchdowns to boost up his fantasy relevance. Even if he is able to maintain that excellent touchdown ratio, he's remaining around 50 or 60 yards in each game now and never had a 100 yard effort last year. That means a fantasy owner has roughly a 50/50 chance of getting a score from him in any week to prop his fantasy value high enough to warrant starting. The other weeks he is more like a fantasy back-up. There is no reason to assume this will get any better.

Toomer now becomes an excellent player for backing-up your starters during bye weeks but he comes with precious little upside anymore.

Travis Taylor - FA YEAR TM GMS CAT CYD YPC CTD CAR RYD RTD
Performance: 50
TD Only: 50
Keeper: 72
Auction: 1%
2003 BAL 16 39 632 16.2 3 11 62  
2004 BAL 10 34 421 12.4        
2005 MIN 16 50 604 12.1 4 2 3  
Avg   14 41 552 13.6 2 4 22 0
PROJ FA   49 640   4      

Like Marcus Robinson, Travis Taylor left the poor passing game in Baltimore and came to Minnesota but he showed up one year too late. What had been the leagues top passing game with Randy Moss fell apart from the start and after Daunte Culpepper left injured in week eight, the team elected to constantly shuttle in Taylor and the other three receivers for the rest of the year.

Taylor's 604 yards was tops for Vikings wideouts last year but it wasn't enough to guarantee him a job for 2006. With new HC Brad Childress installing his Philly brand west coast offense, Koren Robinson is a definite starter and while Taylor will get playing time, the team is still looking for Williamson to step and make good on his high draft pick last year.

Taylor had a lot of promise last season but so did all the Vikings and none if it was realized. Leave Taylor off your draft plans and consider him only as a free agent if the offense develops "not to plan".

Eric Parker - FA YEAR TM GMS CAT CYD YPC CTD CAR RYD RTD
Performance: 51
TD Only: 55
Keeper: 57
Auction: 1%
2003 SDC 7 18 244 13.6 3 3 21  
2004 SDC 13 47 690 14.7 4 4 53  
2005 SDC 15 57 725 12.7 3 4 55  
Avg   12 41 553 13.7 3 4 43 0
PROJ FA   55 690   3      

Eric Parker enters his fifth season and he is finally the official split end thanks to the departure of Reche Caldwell and the lack of any notable competition. Parker comes off his career best season of 725 yards on 57 catches last year but he remains mired around three touchdowns per season thanks to Antonio Gates and LaDainian Tomlinson taking the lion's share every week.

Parker continues to develop but he actually had a better season in 2004 when he turned in three efforts over 100 yards and scored four times. With the introduction of Phillip Rivers into the mix, consider Parker as wideout depth and only in leagues with deep rosters. There still is a chance he could continue to grow as a receiver and Keenan McCardell is hardly getting any younger, but Parker is a diminutive 180 pounds and likely not big enough for a significant possession role. Expect a season like last year as most likely but he hasn't shown the upside to warrant consideration in most leagues.

Roddy White - ATL YEAR TM GMS CAT CYD YPC CTD CAR RYD RTD
Performance: 52
TD Only: 51
Keeper: 54
Auction: 1%
2003                  
2004                  
2005 ATL 15 29 446 15.4 3 4 12  
Avg   15 29 446 15.4 3 4 12 0
PROJ ATL   48 630   4      

Roddy White played very sparingly in the first half of his 2005 rookie season but in Atlanta terms, he really turned it on for the final eight weeks. He even managed to turn in an actual 100 yard game and scored three times in the final eight games. His play was impressive enough to warrant a move up the depth charts to the #2 wideout, dislodging veteran Brian Finneran.

White made some very nice catches last year and showed more talent than Jenkins. It would be no surprise to see him lead the wide receivers in every category this year but again - that is only in Atlanta terms. White has some sleeper value given his nice progress in 2005 but don't expect that he will be worth more than a bye week filler in the best case. He's worth keeping an eye on once the season begins just in case the unlikely happens, but otherwise most slot receivers in the NFL will be out producing the Falcons wide receivers.

Mark Clayton - FA YEAR TM GMS CAT CYD YPC CTD CAR RYD RTD
Performance: 53
TD Only: 52
Keeper: 53
Auction: 1%
2003                  
2004                  
2005 BAL 13 44 471 10.7 2 8 33 1
Avg   13 44 471 10.7 2 8 33 1
PROJ FA   49 610   4      

(+Upside) Mark Clayton only gained 471 yards on 44 catches in his rookie season, but his progress was just what the Ravens wanted to see. Starting slowly, Clayton had insignificant production in his first four games before turning his ankle against the Browns in week six and missing the next three games. After a few more games with minimal production, Clayton began to make a difference, gaining 305 yards in a four game stretch starting week 13. With Kyle Boller also back from injury, Clayton rang up games of 86, 105 and 90 yards which for a rookie wideout on the Ravens is spectacular.

Entering into his second season, Clayton will welcome Steve McNair this year. While Clayton will remain the #3 option behind Derrick Mason and Todd Heap this year, he is developing at a very nice pace. He won't rank high enough to be considered as a fantasy starter and until he displays more consistency, he's even a risky bet for a fantasy back-up but in a keeper/dynasty league, Clayton is making his mark on a team that should expect to see passing numbers increase.

Brandon Lloyd - SFO YEAR TM GMS CAT CYD YPC CTD CAR RYD RTD
Performance: 54
TD Only: 42
Keeper: 55
Auction: 1%
2003 SFO 11 14 212 15.1 2      
2004 SFO 13 43 565 13.1 6      
2005 SFO 16 48 733 15.3 5      
Avg   13 35 503 14.5 4 0 0 0
PROJ SFO   40 550   5      

(-Risk) Brandon Lloyd improved during each of his three seasons with the 49ers, ending with 48 catches for 733 yards last year with five touchdowns. Lloyd was on the verge of a break out season of sorts after recording four scores and 547 yards after his first ten games but then Alex Smith later took the helm. Through his first four games with Tim Rattay still the starter, Lloyd had three scores and 326 yards.

Lloyd signed a seven year extension when he went to the Redskins worth $25 million and that included a $10 million signing bonus. With David Patten now assuming a #4 spot on the depth chart, Lloyd will be the starting split end for the Redskins this year.

While Lloyd was progressing well last year until the 49ers started playing musical chairs with their quarterbacks, he was the #1 wideout there and that role is already locked up by Santana Moss in Washington. Add in Chris Cooley and Antwaan Randle El and Lloyd will be doing well enough to just maintain the numbers from last year. The Skins will be installing a new offense under OC Al Saunders, but the individual roles will not be changing. Expect Lloyd to be drafted as nothing more than a deep back-up receiver and to remain correctly valued there.

Braylon Edwards - FA YEAR TM GMS CAT CYD YPC CTD CAR RYD RTD
Performance: 55
TD Only: 54
Keeper: 34
Auction: 1%
2003                  
2004                  
2005 CLE 10 32 512 16.0 3      
Avg   10 32 512 16.0 3 0 0 0
PROJ FA   59 660   3      

(-Risk) (+Upside) Braylon Edwards was the third overall pick in the 2005 NFL draft and by week two, he already had his first touchdown and 100 yard game. Two weeks later he developed a staph infection in his right elbow and missed two games. His return in week 7 had him still affected by his arm but he started getting it into gear in week 10 and then had four very nice efforts. Against the tough Jacksonville defense in week 13, he already had five catches for 86 yards and two scores while playing with Charlie Frye but early in the fourth quarter he suffered a torn ACL and was lost for the rest of the season.

The initial prognosis on the injury was that it would require at least eight months of rehab and his surgery was in January after all the swelling had subsided. This delays Edwards until around the start of the season at the earliest and such injuries often take ten or twelve months with the player requiring a full season before getting back to normal. As always, HC Romeo Crennel has expressed optimism that Edwards will make it back in time for the season opener and be none the worse for wear. Then again, no head coach has ever said "I think my star player is screwed this year". Most likely Edwards won't be 100% this season and will miss the initial games of the year.

Edwards has the talent to become one of the elite wideouts in the league but coming off an ACL tear and surgery places major risk on the 2006 season. Since he will likely be gimpy and rusty at best early in the year, he's only worth being drafted as a fantasy back-up this summer but one that could catch fire by midseason once again. Chances are he'll be drafted too early in most leagues.

Brandon Stokley - FA YEAR TM GMS CAT CYD YPC CTD CAR RYD RTD
Performance: 56
TD Only: 59
Keeper: 60
Auction: 1%
2003 IND 6 22 211 9.6 3      
2004 IND 16 68 1077 15.8 10      
2005 IND 14 41 543 13.2 1      
Avg   12 44 610 12.9 5 0 0 0
PROJ FA   40 580   3      

After spending four seasons with the Ravens, Brandon Stokley came to Indianapolis and only had 211 yards and three scores in a very limited role his first season there. Of course he shattered all his personal bests in 2004 when he surprisingly ended with 68 catches for 1077 yards and ten scores but then only managed 543 yards and just one score in 2005. Though those three seasons had widely varying results, last year was the best picture of what to expect from this 30-year old slot receiver. He is not surprising anyone anymore. But he still is a third component to the passing attack.

While 2004 witnessed Stokley producing more than some #1 wideouts and all #2 wide receivers other than teammate Reggie Wayne, he played last year exactly as he really is - just an average slot receiver made very good thanks to riding the Peyton Manning Experience.

Expect a near repeat of 2005 again this year though his touchdown totals should increase at least a little. The loss of Edgerrin James could mandate more passing this year and the schedule is kind once again. But the defense will continue to suppress game scores and that pass happy 2004 season will likely slip into a happy legend.

Doug Gabriel - FA YEAR TM GMS CAT CYD YPC CTD CAR RYD RTD
Performance: 57
TD Only: 57
Keeper: 74
Auction: 1%
Movement:
2003 OAK 1 1 17 17.0        
2004 OAK 16 33 551 16.7 2 2 7  
2005 OAK 13 37 554 15.0 3 1 5  
Avg   10 24 374 16.2 2 1 4 0
PROJ FA   45 570   3      

After three seasons, Doug Gabriel has not particularly developed into anything more than a fast outside receiver in multiple receiver sets and occasionally in the slot. His role has expanded and contracted in relation to the health of Ronald Curry who once again is rehabbing from another torn Achilles injury. While Gabriel had two efforts that reached the 100 yard mark, he fails to offer the sort of consistency needed for a fantasy wideout.

Expect Gabriel to start out as the slot receiver whatever that may mean in the new unseen offense in Oakland but his numbers won't give him enough fantasy relevance to merit drafting. Once Curry is healthy again, Gabriel will likely take a back seat for the several weeks until Curry once again injures his Achilles tendon. Pass on him in your draft and forget about the two big games last year.

Marty Booker - FA YEAR TM GMS CAT CYD YPC CTD CAR RYD RTD
Performance: 58
TD Only: 58
Keeper: 66
Auction: 1%
2003 CHI 13 52 715 13.8 4 3 -7  
2004 MIA 15 50 638 12.8 1 1 -8  
2005 MIA 14 39 686 17.6 3      
Avg   14 47 680 14.7 3 1 0 0
PROJ FA   44 560   3      

The last two seasons in Miami have produced near bookend results - around 650 yards per season but inside those numbers is a reason to expect a better season from Marty Booker. While his yardage remained the same, his number of catches decreased thanks to missing three games. However, in the new offense installed by Scott Linehan last year, Booker went from 12.8 yards per catch to a very healthy 17.6 yards - only Ashley Lelie, Terry Glenn and Santana Moss had a better average in 2005.

Booker also increased his touchdowns from just one in 2004 to three in his injury-shortened 2005 season. Booker will never be more than the #2 wideout in Miami and while he should fulfill that role this season, there is no certainty that he can hold on to it in the future considering the Dolphins used their 3.18 pick on Derek Hagan.

Expect Booker to supply the flanker yards this year and they should be better than last if he can remain healthy all season - something he has only done twice in his seven year career and not since 2002. Use Booker for a bye week filler and wideout depth but his value is less in a dynasty/keeper league. He's just a good #2 who will always be waiting for someone to outplay him for the position.

Chris Henry - CIN YEAR TM GMS CAT CYD YPC CTD CAR RYD RTD
Performance: 59
TD Only: 43
Keeper: 63
Auction: 1%
2003                  
2004                  
2005 CIN 13 31 422 13.6 6      
Avg   13 31 422 13.6 6 0 0 0
PROJ CIN   25 430   5      

(-Risk) Chris Henry had a very promising rookie season when he scored six touchdowns as the slot receiver in Cincinnati. Though he only once exceeded 53 yards in a game, he was becoming a consistent part of the offense when he was averaging three catches a game and had already scored five touchdowns in his first ten games played. Then in December, Henry was arrested on traffic and marijuana charges and was inactive for two games. In January, he sprained his right knee which was described at that time as being a six to eight week rehab. Later in January, he was arrested on gun charges for pulling a gun in a street altercation. The pistol was later determined to be stolen.

In March, Henry pled guilty to the marijuana charge and was fined but avoided jail time. In May, he was being investigated for a sex crime. While he was once considered to be a first round talent, he lasted until the third round for reasons now apparent.

Henry is talented and makes a great slot receiver for the Bengals, but his ongoing legal and personal issues cloud both his immediate and future career. Hopefully by training camp he will be beyond all the problems and can get back to work. Then again, he may have found yet another way to undermine himself. Draft Henry only if he appears to be completely clear of all trouble and even then, hang on for the ride. Antonio Chatman may end up taking over his job otherwise.

Greg Jennings - MIN YEAR TM GMS CAT CYD YPC CTD CAR RYD RTD
Performance: 60
TD Only: 60
Keeper: 58
Auction: 1%
2003                  
2004                  
2005                  
Avg   0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
PROJ MIN   41 520   3      

(+Upside) The Packers entered the NFL draft with a glaring need for more wide receivers and came away with three prospects taken in the second and fourth rounds. That first selection was Greg Jennings out of Western Michigan who should find himself on one of the best rookie wideout situations in the league this year. Donald Driver is the only lock in the line-up and Brett Favre has returned.

Jennings is not as big as desired by the coaching staff since they had indicated they needed tall receivers, but even at 5'11" and 197 pounds, Jennings has been a gem while playing for a mid-major program. He is the 11th player in NCAA history to have three 1000 yard seasons and his strength is not just catching but what he does after the has the ball. He is a polished and complete receiver that has no real weaknesses. He rated out as good in every category though not great in any. He is both quick and explosive with very capable hands.

While any rookie wideout is a major risk, Jennings will be an interesting one to watch given that he has shown good talent and ends up on a team that has a big need for any receiver to step up. Until any depth chart movement is seen, Jennings is likely worth nothing more than a late round flyer as your final wideout but he has more value in a keeper league. Of all rookie wideouts, he has the best situation to become a #2 wideout this year.

08-21-06 Update: Jennings continues to make his push toward being the #2 wideout in Green Bay this year. More so than Robert Ferguson. Jennings has made some impressive catches and is bonding with Favre well.

Michael Jenkins - FA YEAR TM GMS CAT CYD YPC CTD CAR RYD RTD
Performance: 61
TD Only: 61
Keeper: 61
Auction: 1%
2003                  
2004 ATL 8 7 119 17.0   1 2  
2005 ATL 14 36 508 14.1 3      
Avg   11 22 314 15.6 2 1 1 0
PROJ FA   43 500   3      

Former first round pick Michael Jenkins came off a whimper of a rookie year but with the notion that Vick was going to pass more in 2005 and Jenkins would be better, many hoped to see a dramatic increase in his production. Compared only to himself, he did vastly improve. Compared to any other #1 wideout on 31 teams, he still has a long way to go.

The Falcon passing attack under Vick has been anemic at best outside of tight end Alge Crumpler. After two seasons, Jenkins still has yet to gain more than 80 yards in any game and he still averages less than three catches per game. By his production, the most talented wide receiver in Atlanta equates to an average slot receiver. There is no reason to expect a dramatic increase short of Schaub taking over for an extended length of time.

So long as Jenkins is hampered by the lethargic passing game in Atlanta, his fantasy value will be low. He enters his third season when break-outs often occur but this year the Falcons are pitted against a brutal schedule and that is not likely to make Jenkins do anything more than a slight increase to his already mediocre production. Let someone else believe that the sixth season of Vick will suddenly produce a passing game.

08-23-06 Update: No major change but the addition of Lelie to a wide out squad that has minimal use cannot be considered a positive.

Kevin Curtis - FA YEAR TM GMS CAT CYD YPC CTD CAR RYD RTD
Performance: 62
TD Only: 62
Keeper: 47
Auction: 1%
2003 STL 1 4 13 3.3        
2004 STL 14 32 421 13.2 2 3 24  
2005 STL 16 60 801 13.4 6 1 5 1
Avg   10 32 412 10.0 3 1 10 0
PROJ FA   34 490   3      

(+Upside) Kevin Curtis enters his fourth season with the Rams and while he has left Shaun MacDonald behind on the depth chart, Isaac Bruce is not yet willing to step aside for the inevitable. Curtis subbed for Bruce during weeks four through eight last year and had nice results every week. He scored three times in that five game span and recorded two games with 90 or more yards. He continued to contribute when Bruce returned.

Bruce has signed a three-year deal during the off-season so Curtis will once again be waiting for his chance again. The Rams will likely not throw as much as they did under Mike Martz and that should be felt primarily by the #3 and #4 wideouts more than anyone.

Curtis has enough upside to warrant drafting this year but barring an injury to Isaac Bruce again, he likely won't produce enough to warrant consideration as a starter even in the deepest of leagues. With his good play of 2005, he will likely be drafted too early this summer.

Arnaz Battle - FA YEAR TM GMS CAT CYD YPC CTD CAR RYD RTD
Performance: 63
TD Only: 65
Keeper: 70
Auction: 1%
2003 SFO 3         2 14  
2004 SFO 10 8 143 17.9   2 5  
2005 SFO 10 32 363 11.3 3 8 11  
Avg   8 13 169 9.7 1 4 10 0
PROJ FA   41 540   2      

Arnaz Battle entered his third season in 2005 and with a starting position as the 49ers split end, he had the opportunity to look like a potential sleeper. He never woke up. Battle had two scores in his first three games but suffered a knee injury that hampered him for most of the season. That was later diagnosed as a stress fracture in his right knee and Battle's season ended with him playing on it but only logging 32 catches for 363 yards on the season. After week three, he only had 14 more catches.

The 49ers gave Battle a five-year contract extension in the offseason and he returns as the starter again this year. In the 49ers horrible season offensively, Battle did not have a chance to really take advantage of his opportunity thanks to that knee injury and Alex Smith will now be his quarterback for the year. If Smith can show improvement from 2005 and Battle can remain healthy, the 49ers passing game should be looking up this year. Add in new OC Norv Turner and there should be a turnaround this season while the team still will undoubtedly need to throw in most games.

But that is a string of "ifs" that need to occur for Battle to warrant attention in your draft. With new acquisitions Antonio Bryant and Vernon Davis, chances are too great that Battle will just get the leftovers and will not provide any real fantasy significance this season.

Mark Bradley - FA YEAR TM GMS CAT CYD YPC CTD CAR RYD RTD
Performance: 64
TD Only: 67
Keeper: 67
Auction: 1%
2003                  
2004                  
2005 CHI 7 18 230 12.8        
Avg   7 18 230 12.8 0 0 0 0
PROJ FA   37 510   2      

Mark Bradley was taken with the 2.07 pick of the 2005 NFL draft and for a rookie on a team that rarely throws; his short playing time was at least encouraging if not impressive. Bradley was lost for the final nine games when he tore his ACL but his final game had 88 yards against the Lions. That ended up being the second best game by a Bears wideout all season.

Bradley has been rehabbing his knee and is on schedule to participate in training camp. He's been working very hard in the offseason and the coaching staff is confident that he can return for a full 2006 season. With Muhsin Muhammad already 33 years old, Bradley will likely become the primary receiver in a year or two.

While his progress was encouraging last year, he still never caught a touchdown and he enters his second season really with only a half season of experience. And on a team that rarely throws the ball and not particularly well when it does. Bradley is a talent and the team loves him, but this season should consider him as strictly hands-off as he recuperates from his ACL injury.

Chad Jackson - FA YEAR TM GMS CAT CYD YPC CTD CAR RYD RTD
Performance: 65
TD Only: 66
Keeper: 49
Auction: 1%
Movement:
2003                  
2004                  
2005                  
Avg   0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
PROJ FA   38 510   2      

(+Upside) The Patriots likely caught a big break when Chad Jackson fell to them at the 2.04 pick in the 2006 NFL draft. He was the fastest wideout at the combine this year (4.3/40) and brings the complete package despite coming out early as a junior. Jackson brings great hands, good instincts and ability to not only get past coverage, there is no one that will catch him when he hits top gear.

Jackson has landed in an ideal situation since the Patriots have lost David Givens and replaced him with only Reche Caldwell. Other than Deion Branch, this is a squad that has plenty of opportunities for another wideout to step up and make a difference. Jackson will be that man just as soon as he is ready.

Coming out as a junior and playing in a very diverse, complicated offense will likely slow his learning curve down this year but it would be no surprise to see him already starting by mid-season. Jackson has definite upside this year, maybe more than any other rookie wideout but he'll carry a lot of risk as well, making him a late round - but very interesting - pick in your drafts this summer.

08-08-06 Update: Jackson initially was on the PUP list because of his hamstring and now that he has returned to practice he is way behind learning the offense. He downgrades since his learning curve was already big in the complicated NE offense and now he is having a slow start.

Santonio Holmes - CHI YEAR TM GMS CAT CYD YPC CTD CAR RYD RTD
Performance: 66
TD Only: 68
Keeper: 62
Auction: 1%
2003                  
2004                  
2005                  
Avg   0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
PROJ CHI   36 510   2      

(+Upside) The Steelers used their first pick in the 2006 NFL draft to take the first wide receiver drafted. Santonio Holmes runs a speedy 4.38/40 and is considered very athletic with the elusiveness and explosiveness that translates into long gainers. A good route runner with great vision and instincts, Holmes has been a complete wide receiver in college that has his size as his only downgrade. At 5'11" and 187 pounds, he's a bit smaller than ideal and could find problems on the break and even holding on to the ball since there is some concern with the way he handles the ball.

But Holmes goes to a team that continues to search for a replacement for Plaxico Burress. Cedrick Wilson will be the starting flanker this year but he already showed that he's not up to the task of being a full-time receiver. The drafting of Holmes is proof enough of that and already in mini-camps, Holmes has already impressed the coaching staff with his ability to get past cornerbacks and make the tough catch inside or outside.

Holmes has already looked good but until the pads go on, that doesn't mean a lot. The Steelers also drafted Willie Reid in the third round and he will also challenge for playing time though most likely Reid will play special teams. Holmes makes an interesting pick in a dynasty/keeper league but the reality is he plays for a team that will always run first under HC Bill Cowher and Hines Ward is a lock to continue to be the primary wideout for many more years. Undoubtedly the first wideout taken in the NFL draft will be drafted by some fantasy team in every league but the reality is that the scheme in Pittsburgh is not that kind to a #2 wideout and even Burress only had 273 yards as a rookie. Leave Holmes alone in a redraft league and don't overpay even in a keeper scenario.

Sinorice Moss - FA YEAR TM GMS CAT CYD YPC CTD CAR RYD RTD
Performance: 67
TD Only: 63
Keeper: 59
Auction: 1%
2003                  
2004                  
2005                  
Avg   0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
PROJ FA   28 450   3      

(+Upside) Santana Moss' little brother Sinorice comes to the NFL and landing with the Giants is likely to prove an excellent stroke of luck. Moss is only 5'8" on a good day and only weighs 184 pounds (wet) but he comes off a very productive career at the University of Miami that saw him become a very fast playmaker. Moss could take a short pass and turn it into a scorching long run and he has played against quality opponents in college.

With Burress and Toomer there, Moss won't do more than play the slot but that is where his speed could be a major advantage. He'll have time to learn the game this season while receiving enough playing time to make him appear attractive in fantasy drafts but for 2006, he's better off left alone to develop. His style of play could result in some nice long touchdowns but they won't come nearly consistent enough to warrant starting him.

In a dynasty/keeper league, he carries more value but until he shows he can play bigger in the NFL than his physical size suggests, he'll carry the value of a slot receiver and possible returner.

Vincent Jackson - TBB YEAR TM GMS CAT CYD YPC CTD CAR RYD RTD
Performance: 68
TD Only: 64
Keeper: 69
Auction: 1%
2003                  
2004                  
2005 SDC 3 3 59 19.7        
Avg   3 3 59 19.7 0 0 0 0
PROJ TBB   28 400   3      

Jackson is added to the rankings as the likely #3 wideout in San Diego. He has been the most impressive wideout in training camp outside of Keenan McCardell and Eric Parker but suffered a scratched lung which will make him miss the rest of the preseason. Still the team is confident he will be ready for the start of the regular season.

Josh Reed - FA YEAR TM GMS CAT CYD YPC CTD CAR RYD RTD
Performance: 69
TD Only: 69
Keeper: 84
Auction: 1%
2003 BUF 16 58 588 10.1 2 3 38  
2004 BUF 11 16 153 9.6   2 -1  
2005 BUF 16 32 449 14.0 2 1 -3  
Avg   14 35 397 11.2 1 2 11 0
PROJ FA   33 450   2      

Prior to the drafting of Lee Evans, the Bills had already tried to make Josh Reed into a #2 wideout after the departure of Peerless Price and the results had been remarkably consistent - in a bad way. Whether it was as a slot receiver or a split end, Reed has not been able to exceed 600 yards or two scores in a season. True, he was thrown into the fire as a rookie but nothing in his playing since that time suggests that he is soon to breakout.

Unless either Peerless Price or Andre Davis surprisingly steps up to claim the #2 spot, Reed will see a minor increase in production from a higher volume of passes. That still does not mean he will have much fantasy relevance this season or that he will crest the elusive three scores in one season.

Accept that Reed will provide a mediocre yardage role this year with few scores and that he will never be safe from being replaced. A risk better for someone else in your league to take.

08-21-06 Update: Reed is moving closer to claiming the #2 role in Buffalo with the poor game play by Peerless Price.

Mike Williams - FA YEAR TM GMS CAT CYD YPC CTD CAR RYD RTD
Performance: 70
TD Only: 71
Keeper: 64
Auction: 1%
2003                  
2004                  
2005 DET 14 29 350 12.1 1      
Avg   14 29 350 12.1 1 0 0 0
PROJ FA   31 450   2      

Mike Williams completed the trifecta for Detroit by being the third consecutive wideout taken with a top ten overall draft pick. His rookie season leaned far closer to that of Charles Rogers than Roy Williams. Starting in week four, Charles Rogers was bothered by an ankle injury and this allowed more playing time to Mike but the results were lackluster until finally he turned in a good game against the Browns with 95 yards on five catches.

Williams developed a hamstring problem shortly after that and had his foot get stomped in week nine which led to two missed games. He returned to have a six-catch, 84 yard game against the Falcons but then did little the rest of the season, much like the entire team.

While the Lions are installing a pass happy offense with Mike Martz this year, that bonus may not affect Mike Williams. He has been working out with the second team in minicamp and was excused from team activities for a couple of days by HC Rod Marinelli for failing to show up for team meetings and trainer sessions as he was nursing a sore hamstring. This is a big training camp watch since the #2 wideout in a Mike Martz offense has fantasy value and Williams had the talent to warrant a first round pick in 2005. Recall that he did not play at all in 2004 and he is still only 22 years of age. Williams showed up last March overweight but has lost weight. Now he just needs to "get with the program" and wrestle the job away from Corey Bradford.

Deion Branch - IND YEAR TM GMS CAT CYD YPC CTD CAR RYD RTD
Performance: 71
TD Only: 70
Keeper: 38
Auction: 1%
Movement:
2003 NEP 15 57 803 14.1 3 1 11  
2004 NEP 9 35 454 13.0 4      
2005 NEP 16 78 998 12.8 5      
Avg   13 57 752 13.3 4 0 4 0
PROJ IND   32 450   2      

(+Upside) With 78 catches for 998 yards last year, Deion Branch got as close as he could to his first 1000 yard season. Entering his fifth season, he should be a lock to finally reach it barring injury. With the loss of David Givens in the offseason, the Patriots now have only the aging Troy Brown, underperforming Reche Caldwell and the rookie Chad Jackson to help out in the passing game so expect Branch to take the biggest primary role that we've seen in New England in the last several years.

Branch was the lone consistent wideout last season and led all Patriot receivers by at least 260 yards. It could be much more this year since he had more than double any other wideout than the departed Givens. Branch started out with 489 yards and two scores as a rookie and has added exactly one touchdown to the previous season every year. His yardage production has also increased every season if you factor in his per game averages in 2004 when he missed seven games.

The Patriots have long employed a diverse passing game that favored no single player much but this could be the year that Branch gets his 1000 yards, continues his increasing pace with touchdowns and rewards that mid-round draft pick. With Tom Brady locking on that high ranking every year, it is no surprise that almost every year is a career year for Branch and that will not change this season.

08-14-06 Update: Branch continues his holdout and the Patriots certainly need him. It is stil expected that he will be in camp and with the team this year but he's doing himself no favors with the coaching staff.

Bryant Johnson - FA YEAR TM GMS CAT CYD YPC CTD CAR RYD RTD
Performance: 72
TD Only: 84
Keeper: 75
Auction: 1%
2003 ARI 14 35 438 12.5 1      
2004 ARI 15 49 537 11.0 1 2 -6  
2005 ARI 14 40 432 10.8 1 1    
Avg   14 41 469 11.4 1 1 0 0
PROJ FA   60 500   1      

While Bryant Johnson was a first round pick in 2003, he has been eclipsed by Boldin and Fitzgerald to the point where he is little more than just another slot receiver who gets a couple of catches per game. He has scored one touchdown in each of his first three seasons and continues to hang around the 500 yard mark. This is simply his role and level of ability.

With the addition of Edgerrin James to the running game and tight end Leonard Pope, there is no reason to expect Johnson to make any progress to being more than what he already is. He's already had all the opportunity he could want with the games that Boldin has missed and still chugged along at the same pace regardless of what the team needed.

Take Johnson only in the deepest of leagues where you would have some reason to want a player that will likely get you 20 yards in a bye week. Otherwise, his fantasy relevance is almost nonexistent.

Drew Carter - OAK YEAR TM GMS CAT CYD YPC CTD CAR RYD RTD
Performance: 73
TD Only: 73
Keeper: 71
Auction: 1%
2003                  
2004                  
2005 CAR 3 5 103 20.6 1      
Avg   3 5 103 20.6 1 0 0 0
PROJ OAK   29 400   2      

No analysis available.

Dennis Northcutt - FA YEAR TM GMS CAT CYD YPC CTD CAR RYD RTD
Performance: 74
TD Only: 72
Keeper: 89
Auction: 1%
2003 CLE 15 62 729 11.8 2 12 83  
2004 CLE 16 55 806 14.7 2 8 19  
2005 CLE 16 42 441 10.5 2 2 33  
Avg   16 53 659 12.3 2 7 45 0
PROJ FA   34 380   2      

Dennis Northcutt lost his bid to become a starting wideout two seasons ago but even as a slot receiver and kicker returner, the slender speedster has continued to contribute to the offense each season. He stepped for the injured Braylon Edwards last season and he caught 11 passes in the final two games but his yardage per catch only continued to plummet since he is miscast as a split end.

With Braylon Edwards likely limited or even absent earlier in the season, Northcutt could see a bit more action but the addition, finally, of Kellen Winslow to the offense will likely swallow up any passing that might have gone to Northcutt in a starting role. He remains what he really should have always been - a decent slot receiver and a good punt returner.

Peerless Price - FA YEAR TM GMS CAT CYD YPC CTD CAR RYD RTD
Performance: 75
TD Only: 85
Keeper: 86
Auction: 1%
2003 ATL 16 64 838 13.1 3 2 3  
2004 ATL 16 45 575 12.8 3 3 34  
2005 DAL 7 6 96 16.0   1 9  
Avg   13 38 503 14.0 2 2 15 0
PROJ FA   32 430   1      

It almost seems like a campfire story to tell the grandkids now. How Peerless Price exploded in his fourth season when he gained 1252 yards and nine touchdowns. His 2002 season was so impressive, that the Falcons lured him away with a big contract and the chance to become a #1 receiver for a team. And then reality set in. Price was never more than a speedy wideout who could catch deep passes from Drew Bledsoe but he was not, under any terms, capable of being a possession wideout.

The reality to that magic 2002 season was that he gained most of his yards and scores in the first half of the year before defenses began to account for him. After two years in Atlanta, he was sent packing to Dallas where he was used for only six catches.

Now returning to the Bills, Price is a 30 year old journeyman wideout that has one magic year to his credit and three years of recent history to say his time is past. His lone strength was the deep ball while Eric Moulds concerned the secondary. His big weakness is that the Bills already have a better "Price" in Evans and Moulds is gone. Unless his training camp is truly surprising, expect a year more like 2005 in Dallas than 2002 in Buffalo.

08-21-06 Update: Going through two preseason games against less than completely first string defenses has resulted in no catches so far and Price's great third chance at an NFL career is not looking too great.

Troy Brown - FA YEAR TM GMS CAT CYD YPC CTD CAR RYD RTD
Performance: 76
TD Only: 74
Keeper: 90
Auction: 1%
2003 NEP 12 40 472 11.8 4 6 27  
2004 NEP 11 17 184 10.8 1      
2005 NEP 12 39 466 11.9 2      
Avg   12 32 374 11.5 2 2 9 0
PROJ FA   31 360   2      

Troy Brown turns an aged 35 this year and he's not managed to produce more than 472 yards in the last three seasons nor has he actually started a full 16 games in a season during any time in his 13 year career with the Patriots. He missed five games last year and could be off playing cornerback at any moment. Brown has lacked the consistency to warrant drafting since the 2001 season and that obviously is not going to change. You can consider him for a free agent filler, but the chances are too high you'll get nothing in return.

Cedrick Wilson - FA YEAR TM GMS CAT CYD YPC CTD CAR RYD RTD
Performance: 77
TD Only: 86
Keeper: 79
Auction: 1%
2003 SFO 15 35 396 11.3 2 1 -4  
2004 SFO 15 47 641 13.6 3 1 6  
2005 PIT 16 26 451 17.3   1    
Avg   15 36 496 14.1 2 1 1 0
PROJ FA   29 420   1      

The Steelers acquired the restricted free agent Cedrick Wilson last year and signed him to a $8 million, four year contract despite Wilson only having gained around 1000 yards total in two seasons with the 49ers. The hope was that Wilson could replace the departing Plaxico Burress and continue to give Hines Ward a complement that defenses could respect. After catching only 26 passes for 451 yards and no touchdowns, the search continues.

The Steelers used their first round draft pick to secure Santonio Holmes in the hopes that he will be what Wilson was unable to become. Wilson will continue to man the flanker spot but his hold on that job is not all that solid, even with the departure of Antwaan Randle El in the spring.

Wilson has not shown enough potential to warrant much attention in a fantasy draft but he could toss a few fantasy points your way if you need a bye week filler. Chances are he'll be there on the waiver wire just in case you are interested.

Ashley Lelie - FA YEAR TM GMS CAT CYD YPC CTD CAR RYD RTD
Performance: 78
TD Only: 80
Keeper: 82
Auction: 1%
2003 DEN 16 37 628 17.0 2 8 43  
2004 DEN 16 54 1084 20.1 7 3 5  
2005 DEN 16 42 770 18.3 1 5 84  
Avg   16 44 827 18.5 3 5 44 0
PROJ FA   24 360   2      

(-Risk) Ashley Lelie was taken in the first round of the 2002 draft and was only the second receiver taken that year - ironically right before Javon Walker was drafted by the Packers who just sent Walker to Denver in a trade. Lelie had a nice progression in his production for his first three seasons, rising to 1084 yards and seven scores in his "breakout" third season. Rather than continue to improve, Lelie suffered a sharp decline. He only had 770 yards on 42 catches and worse yet, he had only one touchdown. While he had several games of 80 yards or more, his 110 yards in week 16 against the Raiders was the only game keeping the final six weeks from looking like an average slot receiver.

Bottom line is that Lelie has clearly fallen out of favor with the Broncos and yet he was unable to be moved prior to the draft because he is in the final year of his rookie contract. Lelie will remain with Denver but the acquisition of Javon Walker was made to send Lelie backwards on the depth chart. He should hold on to the slot receiver role but after the top two wideouts last year, those other receivers only totaled about 300 yards and one touchdown.

Lelie needs to play out this season and try for a new start elsewhere in 2007. Unfortunately for him, he likely will not get enough passes to beef up his resume or have enough fantasy significance to warrant being taken even as a waiver wire free agent. His biggest value now is in a dynasty/keeper league where he can be acquired for next to nothing and then held to see if 2007 holds anything in store for him. Lelie will also keep pushing for a trade and has threatened a hold out this summer.

08-23-06 Update: Lelie was traded to the Falcons as a part of a three way trade with the Broncos and Denver. He'll compete for the #3 role which is currently not being filled well by Jerome Pathon. How many catches a #3 wideout in Atlanta can have is not an optimistic situation, but Lelie excels at running deep routes which is about the only pass that Vick has shown capable of throwing.

Dante Hall - FA YEAR TM GMS CAT CYD YPC CTD CAR RYD RTD
Performance: 79
TD Only: 77
Keeper: 80
Auction: 1%
2003 KCC 16 40 423 10.6 1 17 66  
2004 KCC 13 25 230 9.2   8 56  
2005 KCC 16 34 436 12.8 3 7 11  
Avg   15 33 363 10.9 1 11 44 0
PROJ FA   28 350   2      

Dante Hall may have only totaled 436 receiving yards last year, but that still was a career best mark for him and his three scores tied 2002 as the highest as well. The lack of productive wideouts beyond Eddie Kennison has helped Hall lock into the slot role and while his yardage was average for a slot receiver - at best - he did manage to catch a pass in all but one game.

Hall's value to the Chiefs will always be as a returner first and foremost, but he has become a somewhat consistent slot receiver. Maybe in a pinch to cover a bye week if nothing better exists, but by no means worth drafting this summer.

Reggie Williams - FA YEAR TM GMS CAT CYD YPC CTD CAR RYD RTD
Performance: 80
TD Only: 82
Keeper: 76
Auction: 1%
2003                  
2004 JAC 14 27 268 9.9 1      
2005 JAC 14 35 445 12.7   2 3  
Avg   14 31 357 11.3 1 1 2 0
PROJ FA   19 350   2      

After a stellar career at the University of Washington, Reggie Williams was taken with the 1.09 selection of the 2004 draft right between Roy Williams and Lee Evans. He's been trying to catch-up to them since. In his rookie season, Williams only had 27 catches for 268 yards and one score. In his second season, the one that had him looking "like a star" in preseason, he upped his production all the way to 35 catches for 445 yards and no touchdowns. While he cannot officially be called a bust until after his third season, the nameplate is currently being prepared.

In fairness, Williams did have a concussion in week eight that made him miss a couple of games. Since he only had 246 yards in his first six games and was losing confidence, the coaching staff benched him for two more weeks after a bad showing in week 11. He lost the starting flanker job to the more productive Ernest Wilford and has yet to get it back.

But HC Jack Del Rio hasn't written off Williams yet (perhaps since he helped pick him). He said, "I do continue to believe in that young man in particular. The third year is a big year for receivers. Historically, that's been a break-out year for the ones that are going to break out." While all Wilford does is catch footballs, apparently Reggie just catches more breaks. Training camp will help ensure the depth chart order this year and regardless of Del Rio's statement, so far Wilford has clearly looked and played like the superior wideout. While Smith's departure has opened up the depth chart, Williams still carries much risk until he proves he belongs.
One note - Williams was caught with a small amount of marijuana and was fined with a misdemeanor. He could be suspended by the NFL but also could just be required to enter the drug treatment program. Know the latest on that situation before drafting Williams.

Patrick Crayton - FA YEAR TM GMS CAT CYD YPC CTD CAR RYD RTD
Performance: 81
TD Only: 75
Keeper: 81
Auction: 1%
2003                  
2004 DAL 5 11 132 12.0 1      
2005 DAL 10 22 341 15.5 2 1    
Avg   8 17 237 13.8 2 1 0 0
PROJ FA   30 340   2      

Patrick Crayton took over slot duties for the Cowboys in 2005 and was having a very nice season through week six. By then he had scored twice and averaged about 45 yards per game. Then against the Giants, Crayton went down with what was initially feared to be a broken ankle but ended up to be a very bad sprain with some ligament damage. Crayton had surgery to repair his ligaments in late November and never returned until the final games of the season.

Crayton is prized not only for being a tough inside runner but also a good blocker downfield. He's one of Parcell's favorite players that he discovered in the seventh round on the 2004 draft. In fact, Crayton was the final wideout drafted that year.

Particularly with Owens in Dallas, there is little hope that Crayton produces much fantasy value this season, at least not with any consistency. Leave him alone in your drafts but remember him if you find the free agent wideout shelves bare during the season. Should Terry Glenn become injured (and he comes off a 16 game season for only the second time in his career), Crayton's stock rises.

Bobby Engram - FA* YEAR TM GMS CAT CYD YPC CTD CAR RYD RTD
Performance: 82
TD Only: 76
Keeper: 83
Auction: 1%
2003 SEA 16 52 640 12.3 6      
2004 SEA 13 36 499 13.9 2      
2005 SEA 13 67 774 11.6 3      
Avg   14 52 638 12.6 4 0 0 0
PROJ FA*   30 340   2      

When the Seahawks finally released Koren Robinson in June of 2005, Bobby Engram found himself as the starting split end and had his best season in seven years. He ended with 67 catches for 778 yards and three scores but that level of production still was lower than desired given that Darrell Jackson missed ten games last year.

Engram turns 34 years old next January and his average yards per reception showed what 10 seasons will eventually do. He only had 11.6 yards per catch which ranked among the lowest in the league for a starting wideout. In the offseason, Seattle acquired Nate Burleson from Minnesota and thus sends Engram back down the depth charts.

Engram will contribute as a slot receiver but there is no guarantee he will hold it for the entire season if Peter Warrick can actually grow into the offense. Leave Engram for someone else to draft thinking that last year means much in 2006.

Antwaan Randle El - FA YEAR TM GMS CAT CYD YPC CTD CAR RYD RTD
Performance: 83
TD Only: 87
Keeper: 85
Auction: 1%
2003 PIT 16 37 364 9.8 1 14 85  
2004 PIT 16 43 601 14.0 3 8 34  
2005 PIT 16 35 558 15.9 1 12 73  
Avg   16 38 508 13.2 2 11 64 0
PROJ FA   30 400   1      

After four seasons in Pittsburgh, the ex-quarterback Antwaan Randle El was never able to rise above being a slot receiver and now goes to the Redskins who already have Santana Moss and now Brandon Lloyd for starters. Randle El agreed to a six-year, $27 million deal with Washington in March that included $11.5 million in guaranteed money. That would seem like a lot of money for a mere slot receiver.

And it would be if that was all that Randle El did. But Randle El's attraction to the Skins stems as much from his special teams play as it does his role as a slot receiver. The Redskins ranked 28th in the NFL last year with a 6.0 yard average on punt returns. Randle El helped the Steelers to rank 3rd best with a 10.2 yard average. Special teams play is often underrated by fantasy fans but not by the Redskins.

Randle El will have a role in the passing game, but as a slot receiver he's unlikely to provide anywhere near the value that his draft spot would indicate. The Redskins literally got about 100 yards total from the slot last year and Al Saunders' offense in Kansas City had around 400 yards from Dante Hall in an unusually high year for the team. Now that Saunders is in Washington, the slot will get much more work than before, but with only a limited number of passes to distribute and Portis, Moss, Cooley and Lloyd ahead of him. Let someone else waste the draft pick on him unless you get special team yardage points from individuals.

Hank Baskett - FA YEAR TM GMS CAT CYD YPC CTD CAR RYD RTD
Performance: 84
TD Only: 78
Keeper: 65
Auction: 1%
2003                  
2004                  
2005                  
Avg   0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
PROJ FA   29 340   2      

(+Upside) Hank Baskett has been the talk of the training camp during a time when everyone is searching for anything to report on. The undrafted rookie has caught the eye of coaches and could end up sticking as the #2 across from Reggie Brown. At 6'4" and 220 pounds, the ex-New Mexico wideout has a big frame that can provide a nice target for Donovan McNabb. Just as important, Baskett is a rookie who was not initially considered talented enough to be drafted among the 33 wide receivers taken last April. He makes for a great story right now when the media is starved for something to write about and he is worth tracking through training camp. But he is an undrafted rookie playing for a team that has never had any #2 wideout have much fantasy significance even for a highly drafted veteran.

08-14-06 Update: The undrafted rookie wideout rises again with two nice catches in the preseason game against the Browns. Other than Darnerian McCants, no other Philly wideout is showing much and Baskett continues to hold on to the #2 spot.

Brandon Jones - FA YEAR TM GMS CAT CYD YPC CTD CAR RYD RTD
Performance: 85
TD Only: 79
Keeper: 77
Auction: 1%
Movement:
2003                  
2004                  
2005 TEN 9 23 299 13.0 2 1 1  
Avg   9 23 299 13.0 2 1 1 0
PROJ FA   28 340   2      

The Titans brought in three rookie wide receivers for a cheap way to replace Derrick Mason and spend the money elsewhere. Of Courtney Roby, Roydell Williams and Brandon Jones, it was Jones who played the best. He topped out with an 82 yard game in week six but later tore the ACL in his right knee and required season ending reconstructive surgery. His prognosis was that he would need nine months of recovery time which should keep him out or limited until around training camp or even beyond.

Jones has no real draft value this season with David Givens and Drew Bennett as starters, but he was considered the "best of the rest" until his knee injury. The slot will offer little value this year regardless who mans the position and early in the season it could well be Williams or Roby. But for a long term view, Jones holds slightly more promise. Forget about any Titan wideouts beyond Givens and Bennett but keep an eye on Jones for a possible keeper selection for almost no cost.

Todd Pinkston - FA YEAR TM GMS CAT CYD YPC CTD CAR RYD RTD
Performance: 86
TD Only: 88
Keeper: 91
Auction: 1%
Movement:
2003 PHI 16 36 575 16.0 2 1 -11  
2004 PHI 14 36 676 18.8 1      
2005                  
Avg   15 36 626 17.4 2 1 0 0
PROJ FA   26 400   1      

Todd Pinkston returns after spending last season on injured reserve thanks to a torn Achilles tendon during training camp. While he is slated to be the #2 wideout this year along with Reggie Brown, his hold on that position is more tenuous than ever before and the split end slot could end up with several players getting a shot before the season ends. Pinkston's best season came in 2002 when he had 798 yards and seven scores but as recently as 2003 (Pre-Owens), Pinkston only had 36 catches for 575 yards and two scores.

At 6'3" but only 180 pounds, this reed-thin wide receiver is much better in a supporting role like the slot or in multiple receiver sets where he can get separation downfield for a long catch. Three times in his six seasons, he has ranked in the top ten for yards per catch largely because he is unable to make a difference over the middle on shorter plays.

Pinkston should be healthy from his injury a year ago but his biggest attraction this season will be from people that think the loss of Owens is going to spark better numbers from Pinkston. Nothing in the past suggests that will happen.

09-01-06 Update: Pinkston joins the Vikings and is reunited with ex-OC Brad Childress who is now the HC in Minnesota. Pinkston already knows the offense but suffered from tendinitis in both Achilles this summer.

Derek Hagan - TEN YEAR TM GMS CAT CYD YPC CTD CAR RYD RTD
Performance: 87
TD Only: 81
Keeper: 68
Auction: 1%
2003                  
2004                  
2005                  
Avg   0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
PROJ TEN   22 340   2      

(+Upside) Derek Hagan was drafted with the 3.18 pick by the Dolphins but he was just the 7th wideout taken in 2006 and the situation he enters could offer him more opportunity than many other rookie wide receivers, even if it takes a season or two to unfold. At 6'2" and 209 pounds, Hagan is the perfect size for a possession receiver and his 4.55/40 time means that he's better suited for working the middle of the field than streaking down the sideline. His strength lies in being a big, physical receiver who uses his size to his advantage and he has tremendous hands to haul down those tightly thrown passes.

Hagan is not particularly fast and has been knocked a bit for not being quite as quick as desired but his size alone will help him beat jams and come down with the ball in situations that a smaller, faster wideout would more likely fail. He has the promise of developing into a good complement for Chris Chambers but his fantasy stock won't likely rise above being a back-up quality even in the best case.

This season will not likely give Hagan enough opportunities for him to show fantasy relevance but in keeper leagues with deep rosters, he's worth grabbing on the premise that he could turn into a decent wideout with average numbers.

Antonio Chatman - FA YEAR TM GMS CAT CYD YPC CTD CAR RYD RTD
Performance: 88
TD Only: 83
Keeper: 87
Auction: 1%
2003 GBP 1              
2004 GBP 13 22 246 11.2 1 4 36  
2005 GBP 16 49 549 11.2 4 8 34  
Avg   10 24 265 7.5 2 4 23 0
PROJ FA   20 310   2      

After spending three seasons with the Packers, this former University of Cincinnati star was given a two year contract by the Cincinnati Bengals. Chatman was pressed into a starting role three times last season thanks to rampant injuries to the Packers and ended the year with a respectable 549 yards and four scores. Hardly the level of a breakout year, but he showed enough to garner interest on the free agent market.

Chatman was taken by the Bengals because he is a returner as well, having fielded 110 punts for 903 yards and one touchdown and bringing back 66 kick-offs for 1460 yards over his three year span in Green Bay. His special teams play ensures his value to the team and his role as a wideout has historically come only secondary.

This could change this season. The Bengals were attracted to Chatman because of his additional return skills but the current slot receiver Chris Henry has been trying to set an NFL record for off-season run-ins with the law. If Henry ends up missing time or even the season due to his legal problems, Chatman is already the most likely candidate to step up and assume the slot role. Unless that happens, leave Chatman alone in your drafts but keep an eye on the situation.

Robert Ferguson - FA YEAR TM GMS CAT CYD YPC CTD CAR RYD RTD
Performance: 89
TD Only: 90
Keeper: 73
Auction: 1%
2003 GBP 13 38 520 13.7 4 1 -8  
2004 GBP 13 24 367 15.3 1      
2005 GBP 11 27 366 13.6 3      
Avg   12 30 418 14.2 3 0 0 0
PROJ FA   22 360   1      

While Robert Ferguson will begin the season as the starting split end, that role comes mostly by default and not by any impressive play. After five seasons in Green Bay, Ferguson has never had more than 530 yards or four touchdowns in a season. The Packers have given him the starting nod on several occasions but he has never risen to the occasion. He had a great opportunity in 2003 before Javon Walker was there to be the starter across from Driver and he only managed to catch 38 passes that season.

Ferguson will get competition from Rod Gardner and a slew of rookie wideouts drafted by the Packers but he will likely hold on to his job unless either Gardner or Greg Jennings can impress the coaches. Expect yet another moderate season from Ferguson who will be week-to-week in job security.

Marques Colston - NOS YEAR TM GMS CAT CYD YPC CTD CAR RYD RTD
Performance: 90
TD Only: 89
Keeper: 78
Auction: 1%
Movement:
2003                  
2004                  
2005                  
Avg   0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
PROJ NOS   29 350   1      

(+Upside) The 7th round rookie has apparently won the #2 wideout spot for the Saints across from Joe Horn. This is one way for the Saints to say that 2006 is just a rebuilding year.

Marcus Robinson - FA YEAR TM GMS CAT CYD YPC CTD CAR RYD RTD
Performance: 91
TD Only: 91
Keeper: 106
Auction: 1%
2003 BAL 15 31 451 14.5 6      
2004 MIN 16 47 657 14.0 8      
2005 MIN 15 31 515 16.6 5      
Avg   15 36 541 15.0 6 0 0 0
PROJ FA   22 270   1      

Marcus Robinson left the Ravens in 2004 and his first season in Minnesota was the best he had done since 1999. Robinson ended that first year with 47 catches for 657 yards and an impressive eight touchdowns during Daunte Culpepper's final big season. Last year Robinson became just one of the four wideouts and only had 31 catches on the season for 515 yards with five touchdowns - three of which all came in one game in week 12 that only had those three catches total only 32 yards. By that point, he was already safely on every fantasy bench on the planet.

Robinson was a part of the four receiver rotation last year but the plan is to settle on just Koren Robinson and Troy Williamson as starters with Marcus being just depth. Forget about drafting Marcus this season and even if one of the starters are injured, it'll more likely be Travis Taylor stepping up.

Travis Wilson - FA YEAR TM GMS CAT CYD YPC CTD CAR RYD RTD
Performance: 92
TD Only: 92
Keeper: 88
Auction: 1%
2003                  
2004                  
2005                  
Avg   0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
PROJ FA   22 240   1      

The Browns used their third round draft pick to snap up this Oklahoma product and were looking at potentially some immediate help when they did. Wilson really only became a starter at Oklahoma last year but he is more quick than fast and brings a great set of hands and leaping ability to the Cleveland offense. He is noted for his ability to catch the ball well in all kinds of situations. He has the size for possession work over the middle and is sure handed with the ball.

With Braylon Edwards at least potentially out until October or November, the Browns will need a replacement and while Dennis Northcutt is the first consideration, he has already proven to be little more than a slot receiver and punt returner. Frisman Jackson is still around but buried in the depth chart for a reason. If Wilson can show enough in training camp and then Edwards is delayed in returning this season, then the starting nod may end up with Edwards. At the least, increased playing time.

Given the other targets on the offense (Jurevicius and Winslow), the absence of Edwards does not necessarily mean that much for Wilson even if he does become the replacement player. He's not likely worth drafting in anything but the deepest of leagues but he has some keeper value since the team was very pleased with his acquisition and has already mentioned that Wilson could get early opportunities. Worth a casual glance at his progress this summer.

Andre' Davis - FA YEAR TM GMS CAT CYD YPC CTD CAR RYD RTD
Performance: 93
TD Only: 98
Keeper: 92
Auction: 1%
2003 CLE 16 40 576 14.4 5 5 28  
2004 CLE 7 16 416 26.0 2 1 -3  
2005 NEP 8 9 190 21.1 1      
Avg   10 22 394 20.5 3 2 8 0
PROJ FA   14 230   1      

Andre Davis fell out of favor in Cleveland in 2004 when his breakout year turned into an injury-plagued dud. He was moved to New England last year where he had only the occasional pass and was released in the offseason. Now the Bills take him onboard but his situation only gets worse. With a lesser quarterback this season, he'll remain behind Lee Evans, Josh Reed and even Peerless Price unless he can regain his more promising form of a few seasons ago.

He's not worth drafting but with a bit of success early in his career, he's worth keeping a casual eye on if only because the Bills no longer have a solid receiver to pair with Lee Evans since Eric Moulds left. There is an opportunity for one of the players to step up but that hasn't been seen from Davis since 2003.

Devery Henderson - FA YEAR TM GMS CAT CYD YPC CTD CAR RYD RTD
Performance: 94
TD Only: 94
Keeper: 99
Auction: 1%
Movement:
2003                  
2004                  
2005 NOS 13 22 343 15.6 3 1 9  
Avg   13 22 343 15.6 3 1 9 0
PROJ FA   19 220   1      

After being drafted at the start of the second round in 2004, the speedster Devery Henderson never caught a pass as a rookie. He shared the slot role with the veteran Az-Zahir Hakim last year and was pressed into increased duty because of the numerous injuries to both Joe Horn and Donte Stallworth. Having catches in 11 games helped Henderson's first year of playing time end with 343 yards and three touchdowns.

Devery will once again man the slot and while Hakim is gone, he'll get some pressure from newly acquired Chris Horn. Given that the Saints are installing a new offense that will use a west coast variant scheme, the slot position is unlikely to be a big contributor this year in the best case. Leave Henderson alone in your drafts this summer.

08-29-06 Update: With the departure of Stallworth to the Eagles, Henderson is next in line to become the #2 in New Orleans now.

Ike Hilliard - FA YEAR TM GMS CAT CYD YPC CTD CAR RYD RTD
Performance: 95
TD Only: 93
Keeper: 93
Auction: 1%
2003 NYG 13 60 608 10.1 6 2 19  
2004 NYG 16 49 437 8.9   3 34  
2005 TBB 15 35 282 8.1 1      
Avg   15 48 442 9.0 2 2 18 0
PROJ FA   21 210   1      

Ike Hilliard contemplated retirement after the 2004 season but opted to return when he was acquired by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. He even caught a break when Michael Clayton was injured for much of last season. He responded by turning in his worst season since his rookie year of 1997, gaining only 282 yards on 35 catches for a ridiculously low 8.1 yards per catch. Running backs and tight ends usually do more.

Hilliard turns 30 years old this season and after nine years in the league he still has never had a 1000 yard season. For reasons somewhat unclear, the Buccaneers re-signed Hilliard to a four-year contract back in March.

There is no reason to expect that Hilliard will suddenly turn into a fantasy starter even if Galloway or Clayton is injured this season. Leave him on the draft board this summer.

Jerricho Cotchery - CAR YEAR TM GMS CAT CYD YPC CTD CAR RYD RTD
Performance: 96
TD Only: 95
Keeper: 94
Auction: 1%
2003                  
2004 NYJ 6 6 60 10.0        
2005 NYJ 11 19 251 13.2   1 4  
Avg   9 13 156 11.6 0 1 2 0
PROJ CAR   19 210   1      

erricho Cotchery won the slot job last year once Wayne Chrebet was lost for the year in week nine. He managed to have at least one catch every week thereafter but only once rose above 50 yards in a single game. He also never scored a touchdown.

Cotchery will likely take slot duty again this year but the offense will more likely become a shorter game under new HC Eric Mangini and that won't involve the slot receiver with any regularity. Add in that Tim Dwight has joined the team and will get some playing time and Cotchery's third season has no marks of being a breakout anything.

Demetrius Williams - FA YEAR TM GMS CAT CYD YPC CTD CAR RYD RTD
Performance: 97
TD Only: 96
Keeper: 95
Auction: 1%
2003                  
2004                  
2005                  
Avg   0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
PROJ FA   18 210   1      

(+Upside) The ex-Oregon standout was expected by most scouts to be drafted during the second round so when he was still on the board when the Ravens used their 4.14 pick, they felt they landed a steal. According to the Raven's Director of College Scouting (Eric DeCosta), Williams was the steal of the draft (though the annual "SOD" so rarely delivers as such).

What Williams is expected to bring is a big-time playmaker that can challenge for and then win the slot role for the Ravens. At 6'2", Williams is 4" taller than either Mason or Clayton. His only knock is that at 197 pounds, he is a bit thin for his height and has already had injury problems in college. That should not be a problem for a slot receiver and with Clayton and Mason there to shoulder the load; Williams will have a chance to develop over the next couple of seasons.
Williams has minimal fantasy value this year but the Ravens are excited to have him on the team. With Mason already 32, a change will likely be needed in a few years - perfect timing for a player like Williams to develop into a starter while gaining valuable experience in the slot.

Brandon Marshall - CHI YEAR TM GMS CAT CYD YPC CTD CAR RYD RTD
Performance: 98
TD Only: 101
Keeper: 98
Auction: 1%
2003                  
2004                  
2005                  
Avg   0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
PROJ CHI   22 260          

No analysis available.

Keary Colbert - FA YEAR TM GMS CAT CYD YPC CTD CAR RYD RTD
Performance: 99
TD Only: 97
Keeper: 96
Auction: 1%
2003                  
2004 CAR 15 47 754 16.0 5      
2005 CAR 16 25 282 11.3 2 1 6  
Avg   16 36 518 13.7 4 1 3 0
PROJ FA   18 200   1      

Keary Colbert was a second round pick in 2004 and the injury to Steve Smith in the first game of the season that year meant that Colbert was thrust into the #2 role across from Muhsin Muhammad. He responded with a fairly respectable 754 yards and five scores. Last year saw Muhsin Muhammad leave and once again, Colbert had a starting spot along with Steve Smith. The expectations on him were that he would continue to produce at least at the same level if not improve with a full season under his belt. It never happened.

Instead, Colbert was inexplicably hit with a severe case of the drops. He struggled to make catches and had six games last year where he did not catch anything despite receiving 21 targets in those games. While he enters his third season that often leads to a breakout season, there is no expectation that it will happen. The Panthers opted to pick up Keyshawn Johnson in the offseason and with that sends Colbert to the slot - at best.

Colbert was upstaged late in the year by the rookie Drew Carter and his hold onto the #3 role is not guaranteed. Short of an unexpected turn-around, Colbert no longer has any reliable fantasy value.

Bernard Berrian - FA YEAR TM GMS CAT CYD YPC CTD CAR RYD RTD
Performance: 100
TD Only: 99
Keeper: 97
Auction: 1%
2003                  
2004 CHI 15 15 225 15.0 2 8 28  
2005 CHI 8 13 246 18.9   2 31  
Avg   12 14 236 17.0 1 5 30 0
PROJ FA   16 200   1      

No analysis available.

Shaun McDonald - FA YEAR TM GMS CAT CYD YPC CTD CAR RYD RTD
Performance: 101
TD Only: 102
Keeper: 102
Auction: 1%
2003 STL 5 10 62 6.2   2 7  
2004 STL 15 37 494 13.4 3 4    
2005 STL 15 46 523 11.4   1 7  
Avg   12 31 360 10.3 1 2 5 0
PROJ FA   20 230          

Shaun McDonald enters his fourth season with the Rams and has increased his production each season, ending with 46 catches for 523 yards last year though he had no touchdown catches. While he was once grouped with Kevin Curtis as equivalents in multi-receiver sets, which is no longer the case since Curtis has assumed a definite and well-earned step up on the depth chart.

The Rams will continue to use four receiver formations under new HC Scott Linehan but there will be less of them than in the previous Martz years. That goes directly against the production and opportunities for McDonald. Leave McDonald on the board in your drafts and even if there is an injury during the season that moves the depth chart back, McDonald will need to have shown that he is involved in the offense more to warrant free agent consideration.

Wes Welker - DEN YEAR TM GMS CAT CYD YPC CTD CAR RYD RTD
Performance: 102
TD Only: 103
Keeper: 100
Auction: 1%
2003                  
2004                  
2005 MIA 16 29 434 15.0   1 5  
Avg   16 29 434 15.0 0 1 5 0
PROJ DEN   16 220          

Wes Welker had a promising training camp last year and while he had action in 14 games of 2005, his final tally still had him without an NFL touchdown other than one kickoff return in 2004. He's under-sized at 5'9" and 185 pounds but plays far bigger than his size. As a slot receiver in the new offense last year, Welker had at least one catch in 13 games but never exceeded 61 yards in a game and over half his efforts came in under 20 yards per game.

Welker's biggest value comes as a kick and punt returner and that won't change this season. With a sound rushing game and a passing game already using Chris Chambers, Marty Booker and Randy McMichael, Welker won't get enough action to warrant a pick in your draft this year and he could lose playing time to the rookie Derek Hagan this season as well.

Brandon Williams - FA YEAR TM GMS CAT CYD YPC CTD CAR RYD RTD
Performance: 103
TD Only: 100
Keeper: 103
Auction: 1%
2003                  
2004                  
2005                  
Avg   0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
PROJ FA   15 160   1      

Knowing that the team needed more help at wide receiver, the 49ers spent their 3.20 and 4.03 draft picks on Brandon Williams and Michael Robinson. Williams will likely vie for the slot role if only because of his speed and the general lack of other competitors headed only by Jason McAddley. Williams will likely never be much more than a slot receiver and his biggest value to the team will likely come on punt and kick returns. The slot in San Francisco has not historically had much fantasy relevance and with new OC Norv Turner wanting to run the ball more, chances are that the slot will be meaningless in fantasy terms even if Williams wins the job outright.

The 49ers also took ex-quarterback Michael Robinson but he'll need to learn a new position and could be used in a number of ways including running back. Consider Williams as just a name for incredibly deep leagues that still should not be called this summer.

Justin Gage - FA YEAR TM GMS CAT CYD YPC CTD CAR RYD RTD
Performance: 104
TD Only: 105
Keeper: 104
Auction: 1%
2003 CHI 9 17 338 19.9 2      
2004 CHI 12 12 156 13.0        
2005 CHI 14 31 346 11.2 2      
Avg   12 20 280 14.7 1 0 0 0
PROJ FA   9 190          

Once Mark Bradley was lost for the season with a torn ACL, Justin Gage stepped into the starting role but his third season in the NFL only managed to produce 346 yards and two scores. He did manage to have catches in all but one game as a starter but rarely had any fantasy significance.

Bradley may be a bit rusty as he returns from his knee injury so Gage may end up with more playing time but in the Chicago offense, that doesn't mean much. If you are relying on Gage for fantasy points, it may be time to consider a new hobby.

Tim Dwight - FA YEAR TM GMS CAT CYD YPC CTD CAR RYD RTD
Performance: 105
TD Only: 104
Keeper: 105
Auction: 1%
2003 SDC 9 14 193 13.8   9 88  
2004 SDC 5 2 31 15.5 1 4 54  
2005 NEP 15 19 332 17.5 3 4 11  
Avg   10 12 185 15.6 1 6 51 0
PROJ FA   14 160          

The Jets lone acquisition of a veteran wideout this year was Tim Dwight. This makes the fourth NFL stop for the eight year player and his 332 yards and three scores was not enough last year to warrant keeping him with the Patriots. Dwight will likely get some use on special teams for punt or kick returns and he will also receive playing time at wideout but there is no expectation that he will become a fantasy factor this year or any now that he is 31 years old.

Bump Dwight up slightly if your league rewards individuals with special team scores but only the deepest of leagues will warrant drafting him.

Greg Lewis - FA YEAR TM GMS CAT CYD YPC CTD CAR RYD RTD
Performance: 106
TD Only: 106
Keeper: 101
Auction: 1%
2003 PHI 6 6 95 15.8        
2004 PHI 14 17 183 10.8   4 16  
2005 PHI 16 48 561 11.7 1 2 13  
Avg   12 24 280 12.8 0 2 10 0
PROJ FA   12 140          

Greg Lewis received a fortuitous bump up the depth charts when Todd Pinkston was lost for the season in early August last year. After two seasons with only 23 catches, Lewis was thrust into the starting role and struggled until Terrell Owens stopped playing and forced Donovan McNabb to look elsewhere for a receiver. While Lewis had four games with 70 yards or more, he balanced them out with four other games with fewer than 30 yards.

With the return of Todd Pinkston, Lewis slides back on the depth chart and is no longer the "sleeper" that some believed he was last season. Lewis is just an average receiver on a team that is searching for wideouts to step up their play. Expect that Lewis has already seen his career best season and leave him on the board in your fantasy drafts.

   
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