| Top Ten Fantasy WR’s to own
||Holt put on a show in the Rams’ 30-28 loss to Seattle on Sunday that included a highlight reel-worthy trio of TD catches. He’s now on pace for 99 receptions, 1,399 yards and 19 TDs over a 16-game schedule following his eight-catch, 154-yard outburst on Sunday. Fantasy owners will have to live without him this week – the Rams face a Week 7 bye.
||Smith claims to feel 100 percent for the first time this season, and that’s easy to believe following his eight-catch, 189-yard, one-TD performance in the Panthers’ 23-21 win at Baltimore. He’s had no peers other than Holt over the past month, a trend that should continue when the Panthers face the struggling Bengals in Cincinnati on Sunday.
||Rookie QB Matt Leinart went to Boldin early and often in the Cardinals’ loss to the Bears on Monday night, and the result was 12 catches and 136 yards – both season highs – and one TD. There’s an outside chance that WR Larry Fitzgerald (hamstring) will return to action when Arizona plays at Oakland on Sunday, but Boldin owners would love to see the Cardinals maintain a cautious approach with the other half of the team’s formidable tandem of wideouts.
||Johnson was targeted 14 times in Houston’s 34-6 loss to Dallas on Sunday, and he’s No. 2 in the NFL with 39 catches through the season’s first six weeks following his nine-catch, 75-yard performance against the Cowboys. Week 7 opponent Jacksonville presents a formidable test for the Texans, though it’s worth noting that two of Johnson’s three best performances in his disappointing 2005 season came at the Jaguars’ expense (16 catches, 210 yards, one TD in two games).
||Harrison and the Colts return from a Week 6 bye to host a Redskins squad among the league’s worst against the pass. Washington lost to rookie QB Vince Young and previously winless Tennessee on Sunday, and the Redskins have now allowed more passing plays of 20 or more yards (25) than any team in the NFL other than Green Bay.
||Coles rebounded from his least productive performance of the season in Week 5 to record five catches, 106 yards and a pair of touchdowns in the Jets’ 20-17 home win against Miami on Sunday. He’s second in the league in yards (537) and tied for second in catches (38), and he should have little trouble padding both of those stats when the Jets host Detroit on Sunday. The Lions bring the NFL’s lowest rated pass defense to town.
||Jackson received one less look than teammate Deion Branch on Sunday (10-11) and he caught one fewer TD (1-2), but make no mistake: Jackson is still QB Matt Hasselbeck’s favorite target. Hasselbeck will share the ball more now that he has a second bona fide No. 1 WR at his disposal, but there should be ample opportunities to go around. Week 7 opponent Minnesota has allowed only three passing TDs through five games, though the Vikings’ pass defense is more average than that stat suggests.
||Williams has been a top-five fantasy wideout to date in most formats despite missing most of Week 5 with a back stinger. He was a questionable play much of last week, but he put the injury behind him in the Lions’ 20-17 home win against the Bills and compiled career-highs in catches (10) and yards (161) while scoring his second TD of the season. Week 7 opponent the Jets have allowed six passing TDs and an average of 224.7 passing yards per contest through six games, both adequate to mediocre numbers.
||Owens upped his season TD total by 300 percent with three scores against the hapless Texans on Sunday – all coming in the second half. His fantasy owners aren’t out of the woods just yet. To date, Owens has been the second-best wideout on his own team (to WR Terry Glenn) and he’s basically been a fantasy asset for only two separate halves of play in the Cowboys’ five games this season. Regardless, his performance against the Texans must be viewed as a sign of big things to come. Expect another nice game from Owens when the Cowboys host the New York Giants on Sunday.
||A lot of fantasy owners are fed up with Johnson – and for good reason. His 24 catches, 300 yards and one touchdown through five games barely qualify him as a top-35 wideout under even the most favorable circumstances. Johnson’s six catches and 99 yards in the Bengals’ 14-13 loss at home to Tampa Bay represented his second-best output of the season. Cincinnati should have its hands full with Week 7 opponent Carolina, but the Bengals’ passing offense should be a bright spot in that contest.
(Note – this listing considers the rankings of WR’s if a draft was held today)
Climbing The Ladder
Reggie Brown (PHI) – Fantasy owners who scooped up Brown after the injury to Eagles No. 1 wideout Donte’ Stallworth (hamstring) haven’t missed a beat. Brown has been a top-five fantasy wideout over the past month and a top-10 or –15 wide receiver for the season following his six-catch, 121-yard, one TD performance in the Eagles’ 27-24 loss at New Orleans on Sunday. He’s now either scored a touchdown or posted 100 yards in five of six games this season. An interesting matchup looms on Sunday when the Eagles’ No. 1-ranked passing offense takes on the Buccaneers’ eighth-ranked pass defense in Tampa Bay. Nevertheless, Brown will remain a must-start every week at least until Stallworth returns to action.
T.J. Houshmandzadeh (CIN) – Houshmandzadeh has played in only three games this season thanks to an early-season injury (bruised heel) and the Bengals’ Week 5 bye. Regardless, he’s been a greater fantasy asset in three games than teammate Chad Johnson has been in five games to date. Housh’s line of 23 catches, 291 yards and three TDs in three outings includes at least 94 yards receiving in each of those contests. The rare fantasy owner who has to choose between Houshmandzadeh and Johnson when the Bengals host Carolina on Sunday faces a difficult choice indeed. Nonetheless, it’s a nice problem to have.
Deion Branch (SEA) – Branch posted six catches, 76 yards and two touchdowns in his first start as a Seahawk. The team’s WR situation at No. 1 (Darrell Jackson) and No. 2 (Branch) may eventually become more of an A1 and A2 situation, and the return of WR Bobby Engram (thyroid condition) should do little to hamper the potential of either wideout. Branch merits consideration as a strong play as a No. 3 WR when the Seahawks host Minnesota on Sunday.
Jerricho Cotchery (NYJ) – Cotchery was a fantasy goldmine in the first two weeks of the season with 12 catches, 187 yards and two touchdowns, but he’s tallied only 11 catches, 153 yards and one TD in the Jets’ past four games. He’s officially lost most of his trade value at this point, and if doesn’t post fantasy worthy stats when the Jets face the Lions’ league-worst pass defense in Week 7, he’ll be banished from a great many fantasy rosters, as well.
Santana Moss (WAS) – Subtract Moss’ blowup in Week 4 and he’s averaged only 4.2 catches and 55.4 yards with zero TDs in the Redskins’ other five games. Sure, he’s a top-10 wide receiver in total fantasy scoring to date, but his all or nothing-type production helps some fantasy owners and hinders others. Smith can break out at any time, but it probably won’t be on Sunday when the struggling Redskins play at Indianapolis.
Randy Moss (OAK) – Moss’ production the past two weeks actually earns him a bump up in the rankings, but it’s now rather certain that he won’t be traded during the season and therefore he’s stuck in an Oakland uniform for the foreseeable future. That means that games like the Raiders’ 13-3 loss to the Broncos on Sunday in which Moss caught five passes for 86 yards may be on the high end of the type of production that Moss owners can expect from him this season. Moss also strained his hamstring against the Broncos, but he returned to the game and the injury doesn’t appear to be serious. Fantasy owners can expect solid production from Moss when the Raiders host Arizona on Sunday, but a return to his glory days remains highly unlikely.