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FANTASY FOOTBALL WEEKLY FEATURES

Wide Receiver Report - Week 11
Todd Gray
November 14, 2006
Top Ten Fantasy WR’s to own Comment
1 HOU Andre Johnson It had to happen at some point: the NFL’s most consistent fantasy wideout yielded sub-par stats for the first time in nine games in the Texans’ Week 10 road win against Jacksonville.  Despite Johnson’s three-catch, 56-yard output against the Jags, he leads the NFL in catches with 68 (12 more than anyone else) and is second in the league with 808 yards. 
It currently appears that starting QB David Carr (bruised shoulder) will be good to go when the Texans host Buffalo on Sunday, and Johnson owners can count on him to resume his early-season pace.
2 CAR Steve Smith Smith posted his third eight-catch, 120-plus-yard outing in four games on Monday night despite vomiting in a trash can multiple times during the Panthers’ 24-10 defeat of Tampa Bay.  He’s the only NFL wideout to average more than 100 yards receiving per game (111.4) and he leads the league – albeit barely – with 7.57 catches per game (Andre Johnson is second at 7.56).
3 NO Marques Colston A month ago, it appeared that Colston was slowing down following his early-season binge.  Since then, the rookie WR has exploded for 27 catches, 455 yards and three TDs in only three games – easily the best receiving numbers in the league over that time.  To date, Colston is the No. 1 fantasy wideout in most formats and should add another big game to his resume when the Saints host a ripe-for-the-picking Cincinnati pass defense on Sunday.
4 STL Torry Holt Simply put, Holt has not even been a No. 2 fantasy wide receiver in mid-sized leagues over the past three weeks.  He did post seven catches and 73 yards in the Rams’ 24-22 loss to Seattle on Sunday, but it was his third straight game without a touchdown following a six-TDs-in-seven-games binge to start the season.  Struggling St. Louis doesn’t get a break on Sunday when the team plays at Carolina.
5 DAL Terrell Owens Owens continued his trend of being one of the least sure-handed wide receivers in the league with two dropped balls in the first half of the Cowboys’ win over Arizona on Sunday, but his fantasy owners were rewarded with five catches, 96 yards and one touchdown nonetheless.  Owens is once again a TD machine with six scores in his past five games and he makes a strong play against Indianapolis on Sunday despite a Colts’ defense ranked No. 2 in the league.
6 IND Reggie Wayne Wayne has out-produced teammate Marvin Harrison in touchdowns (6-5) and yards (774-719) despite catching six fewer passes (48-54) as opposing defenses continue to place just a bit more emphasis on stopping Harrison.  His four catches, 42 yards and one touchdown against Buffalo on Sunday made it six TDs in his past five games.  Week 11 opponent Dallas has allowed only seven passing TDs in nine games, but as with any other team the Cowboys will have a near-impossible time of keeping both Wayne and Harrison in check.
7 DEN Javon Walker Walker has scored four touchdowns in three games following his two-catch, 62-yard, one-touchdown game against Oakland on Sunday.  His 41 catches tie him for 27th in the NFL, but at 17.8 yards per grab he’s turned those catches into 731 yards – 8th best in the league, and his six TDs are bettered by only four other wide receivers.  Week 11 opponent San Diego’s Achilles’ heel is a pass defense that has allowed 10 passing touchdowns in the team’s past five games.
8 GB Donald Driver Driver has ripped off 30 catches, 398 yards and three touchdowns in four games since returning from early season rib and hip injuries and it doesn’t seem to matter that opposing defenses know that QB Brett Favre looks for him all the time.  The surprising Packers host a bend-but-don’t-break New England team on Sunday that has allowed ample yardage (221.4 yards per game) but only seven passing TDs through nine game (No. 2 in the NFL).
9 IND Marvin Harrison Based on stats alone through nine games of the season, Harrison’s No. 9 ranking reflects his to-date value in fantasy leagues that count touchdowns, yards and receptions.  He’s now sandwiched one big game in-between two forgettable outings following his two-catch, 21-yard performance against Buffalo on Sunday.  As the end of the season edges closer and the Colts keep winning, fantasy owners must consider the likelihood that Harrison will grow increasingly irrelevant.  It’s a good reason to root against the Colts when they play at Dallas on Sunday.
10 SEA Darrell Jackson Jackson’s stats have been far from stellar since starting QB Matt Hasselbeck sprained his knee a few weeks ago, but fantasy owners should consider themselves lucky as backup QB Seneca Wallace has connected with Jackson for three touchdowns in four games.  Hasselbeck has been cleared to practice this week, but fantasy owners can count on him not returning until Week 12.  That may be okay, though:  Week 11 opponent San Francisco may have allowed only one passing touchdown over the past two weeks, but it was against suspect competition (Minnesota and Detroit).  The fact remains that the 49ers field one of the softest pass defenses in the league.

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

Climbing The Ladder

Muhsin Muhammad (CHI) – Fantasy owners lost a lot of confidence in Muhammad after he totaled three catches and 12 yards combined in Weeks 5 and 6, but in three games since he’s totaled 14 catches, 230 yards and three TDs.  Muhammad doesn’t make the most consistent fantasy play in head-to-head competition, but the sum of his weekly production should solidify him as a strong play as a No. 2 fantasy wideout when the dust settles at the end of the season.  Better yet, he should continue to get additional looks from QB Rex Grossman for as long as deep threat Bernard Berrian remains on the shelf with a rib injury.  The Bears continue a tough stretch of three straight road games on Sunday against a Jets defense that has allowed only two passing touchdowns total the past two weeks.
 
Donte’ Stallworth (PHI) – Stallworth’s hamstring was finally 100 percent for the Eagles’ Week 10 win shellacking of Washington, and he picked up where he left off in Week 2 with six catches, 139 yards and a touchdown against the Redskins.  His knack for getting hurt should continue to be a concern for fantasy owners, but as long as Stallworth is healthy he’ll make a solid No. 1 fantasy option as QB Donovan McNabb’s favorite target.  Lock him in against Week 11 opponent Washington: the Redskins’ 240.3 passing yards allowed per game and 17 passing TDs allowed are the second and first worst marks in the NFL, respectively.

Sliding Back

Anquan Boldin/Larry Fitzgerald (ARI) – It’s easy to say it now that everyone knows just how bad the Cardinals are, but fantasy owners who plucked Fitzgerald, Boldin or RB Edgerrin James early in their drafts probably should’ve known better.  That trio, along with QB Kurt Warner, was loaded with such promise that it was easy to overlook the team’s porous offensive line, its fragile starting QB and rookie backup, potential for mayhem in the coaching ranks, etc.  Now it appears that not even the No. 2 WR tandem in the NFL will be able to escape a trend of dwindling production.  Fitzgerald made a promising return from his hamstring injury on Sunday with six catches for 80 yards, but he limped off the field in the fourth quarter and his short-term outlook is hardly cause for optimism.  Meanwhile, Boldin has produced only 10 catches, 159 yards and zero touchdowns over his past three games following his season-low two catches along with 53 yards on Sunday.  Despite all of this, and assuming that Fitzgerald plays in the Cardinals’ home game against Detroit on Sunday, neither receiver should be ignored in fantasy play as the Lions are among the league’s worst against the pass.  Don’t be surprised if Fitzgerald and/or Boldin return to elite status by season’s end, but for the time-being it looks like these guys are No. 2 wideouts for fantasy purposes.

Any Wide Receiver in a Jacksonville Uniform (JAC) – Few fantasy owners expected a fantasy goldmine from Jacksonville’s receiving corps when the season began, but most sleeper lists included at least one of the following names: Matt Jones, Ernest Wilford and/or Reggie Williams.  What began as a promising start to the season has become a weekly shell game that is hardly worth playing as poor QB play and injuries have derailed a Jaguars passing game that, if nothing else, looked promising through the first few games of the campaign.  On Sunday, the trio of Jones, Wilford and Williams combined for four catches, 73 yards and zero TDs as starting QB David Garrard completed only 15 of 34 passes with four interceptions against a Houston pass defense that was supposed to be one of the worst in the league.  Things don’t get any easier over the next few weeks as the Jaguars face consecutive matchups against the New York Giants, Buffalo, Miami and Indianapolis.