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FANTASY FOOTBALL WEEKLY FEATURES

Wide Receiver Report - Week 3
Todd Gray
September 19, 2006
Top Ten Fantasy WR’s to own Comment
1 IND Marvin Harrison Harrison posted seven catches for 127 yards against Houston, and his two-game averages of eight receptions and 120 yards helps to offset the fact that he hasn’t scored a TD.  Indianapolis stays at home on Sunday for its toughest task to date – a Jacksonville squad that has allowed one passing touchdown in two games.  Smith has been held to 45 receiving yards or fewer in six of the past eight games against Jacksonville dating back to 2002, but he’s scored seven touchdowns in those eight contests.
2 CIN Chad Johnson Johnson took a beating in the Bengals’ win against the Browns on Sunday, suffering a bruised shoulder and a concussion that reportedly left him sufficiently dazed to not know who won the game.  Fortunately, his injuries aren’t serious and he’s expected to play at Pittsburgh on Sunday.  He’s caught half of QB Carson Palmer’s TD passes through two games, but that only means that he has only one TD to his credit.  Last season, Johnson had nine catches, 148 yards and zero TDs combined in two games against the Steelers.
3 STL Torry Holt Holt had five catches, 30 yards and a touchdown against the 49ers.  How’s that for a blown opportunity?  The Rams’ upcoming schedule is loaded with teams that are average or poor against the pass, including games the next three weeks against Arizona (away), Detroit (home) and Green Bay (away), respectively.  With a schedule like that, both history and common sense suggest that there won’t be many more missed chances.
4 ARI Larry Fitzgerald Fitzgerald moves up not because of his stats on Sunday (4 catches, 52 yards), but largely due to the fact that others who were above him (Terrell Owens, Steven Smith) are sliding fast.  His 52 yard-performance was the first time in seven games that he didn’t top the century mark, but you have to like the odds of him getting back on track when the Cardinals host St. Louis on Sunday.
5 ARI Anquan Boldin At least he’s been consistent.  Boldin’s six catches and 62 yards against Seattle marked his second straight game with 62 yards, and he’s currently averaging only five catches and half a touchdown per game.  He averaged eight catches, 112 yards and .5 TD against Week 3 opponent St. Louis in 2005.
6 PHI Donte’ Stallworth Stallworth has blown the “third-year-breakout” wide receiver theory all to Hades with a blistering start to the 2006 season, his fifth in the NFL.  He was good in 2005, but based on the early returns in 2006 he has a healthy jump on his first All-Pro campaign.  He stands to gain momentum when the Eagles play at San Francisco in Week 4 before hosting Green Bay in Week 5.
7 IND Reggie Wayne QB Peyton Manning has thrown four TD passes through two games, and Wayne and teammate Harrison have caught none of them.  Wayne’s two-game totals of 10 catches and 202 yards take some of the sting out, and in fact fantasy owners should feel fortunate if he matches his 5-catch, 101-yard average when the Colts play at home against the Jaguars on Sunday.
8 NYG Plaxico Burress It’s hard to catch six balls for 114 yards and a touchdown and get overshadowed by a teammate, but that’s what happened to Burress on Sunday when Amani Toomer outdid him with 12 catches for 137 yards and two TDs.  No matter – with the way QB Eli Manning and this offense are playing, Burress appears to be good for a weekly average of 5-6 catches and 80+ yards, with a TD thrown in at least every other week.
9 GB Donald Driver The number of reliable fantasy options who play for Green Bay can be counted on one finger, and Driver is it.  You almost don’t want the Packers to play well for fear that his production will suffer.  He hasn’t scored, yet, but his 249 yards and 15 catches place him second and third, respectively, in the NFL.  Week 3 opponent Detroit held Driver to eight catches and 80 yards with zero TDs in two games last season.
10 CAR Steve Smith It would be interesting to see what percentage of Smith owners currently occupy the bottom half of league standings following his second straight game on the sidelines with a strained right hamstring.  Even seeing him practice now would be considered a moral victory of sorts.  His date of return is expected to be within a week or two, but Smith owners need to brace themselves for a potentially bumpy ride.

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

Climbing The Ladder

Antonio Bryant (SF) – Bryant was a love-him-or-hate-him fantasy prospect before the season began, and through two games he’s making the pro-Bryant folks look pretty savvy.  He’s piled up 245 yards and a touchdown on only eight catches through the first two games of the season, and the reasons for his success are many: The 49ers appear to be competitive, RB Frank Gore is making defenses respect the run and QB Alex Smith is coming into his own.  Sure, Bryant’s success has come against Arizona and St. Louis, but the 49ers schedule is littered with teams that field suspect defenses so there shouldn’t be too many letdowns.

Terry Glenn (DAL) – Glenn has been a solid low-tier No. 1/upper tier No. 2 wideout in fantasy play thus far with two-game totals of 10 catches, 175 yards and one TD.  He now becomes the Cowboys’ de facto No. 1 wideout for at least two weeks following Terrell Owens’ latest injury, a broken finger suffered against the Redskins on Sunday.  Glenn is also the only Dallas wide receiver to register more than two catches combined in the team’s first two games.  He’ll be no help this Sunday – the Cowboys have a Week 3 bye – but a fantasy owner’s dream awaits at Tennessee in Week 4, followed by matchups at Philadelphia and at home against Houston in Weeks 5 and 6, respectively.  It’s easy to forget that Glenn had a fine 2005 campaign with 62 catches, 1,136 yards and seven TDs.  Don’t be surprised if he duplicates that feat in 2006 whether or not he shares the field with T.O.

Laveranues Coles/Jerricho Cotchery (NYJ) – A quick look at the stats reveals the obvious: these two Jets wideouts are off to blazing starts.  Coles leads the league in receiving yards (253) and is fifth in receptions (14), while Cotchery is eighth in yards (186), tied for eighth in receptions (12) and tied for the league lead with two TDs.  While it’s inconceivable that the pair can continue this pace, both could post nice fantasy numbers throughout the season if QB Chad Pennington stays healthy – a dubious proposition, at best – and the Jets establish even a serviceable running game.  All will be tested the next few weeks when the squad plays at Buffalo, hosts Indianapolis and then plays in Jacksonville, in that order.

Sliding Back

Randy Moss (OAK) – Fool me once, shame on you.  Fool me twice, shame on me.  Fantasy owners who ignored the warning signs and took Moss among the top five or six wideouts chosen on draft day are now paying the price.  Maybe, just maybe, he is the same old Moss.  At least the old version had some help in the past – handy helpers like an NFL-caliber QB, functioning offensive lines and running backs who actually moved toward their own end zone.  Granted, the Raiders haven’t had the easiest row to hoe the past two weeks, but for crying out loud – six points of offense in two games?  Now Aaron Brooks (shoulder) is out 2-4 weeks and Andrew Walter jumps into the fire.  The Raiders get a Week 3 bye to iron things out before hosting Cleveland in Week 4 and playing at San Francisco in Week 5.  Once upon a time, such matchups would have Moss owners drooling.  At the moment, nothing involving the Raiders’ offense is a sure thing.
 

Rod Smith (DEN) – Smith suffered a concussion in the Broncos’ 9-6 win over the Chiefs, but the team received good news on Monday when doctors said that the injury wasn’t serious.  Regardless, it’s Smith’s third concussion in little more than a year, which is reason for concern.  More reasons of concern may be that the 12-year veteran has become the No. 2 receiver of choice in the Broncos’ offense – a role that is being played by Javon Walker – and his two-game totals of five catches and 50 yards.  For the next three weeks, at least, fantasy owners are going to have a hard time squeezing fantasy rewards out of Smith.  The Broncos’ Week 3 tilt in New England precedes a Week 4 bye and a Week 5 home date against Baltimore.  

Chris Chambers (MIA) – Two games into the season and Chambers – along with the entire Miami offense – has been all but invisible during first-half play.  Chambers has two catches and six yards total before halftime in the Dolphins’ two losses, and seven catches, 108 yards and one TD after intermission.  The entire offense is struggling: QB Daunte Culpepper still isn’t his old self, the offensive line lost its matchup two weeks straight, the running game has been okay at best and the wide receivers have been held in check.  There is a silver lining: the Dolphins play at home against Tennessee and on the road against Houston in Weeks 3 and 4, respectively.