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FANTASY FOOTBALL WEEKLY FEATURES

Wide Receiver Report - Week 16
Todd Gray
December 19, 2006
Top Ten Fantasy WR’s to own Comment
1 DAL Terrell Owens Fantasy owners dodged a bullet when they learned that Owens won’t be suspended for spitting in the face of CB DeAngelo Hall during the Cowboys’ 38-28 win over Atlanta on Saturday, but now it’s been revealed that he’s been playing with a torn finger tendon for the past six or seven weeks.  The injury may explain some of Owens’ drops this season, but fantasy owners haven’t suffered too much as he now leads the NFL with 11 touchdown catches following his two-TD performance against the Falcons.  Owens makes one of the strongest fantasy plays in Week 16 when the Cowboys seek to clinch their division at home against second-place Philadelphia.
2 IND Marvin Harrison Harrison is peaking at the right time for fantasy owners and has averaged seven catches, 119.7 yards and 1.3 TDs per game in his past three outings following his three-touchdown performance against the Bengals on Monday night.  That doesn’t bode well on Sunday for a Houston defense that seems to be saving its worst for last.  Harrison has averaged seven catches and an even 100 yards along with two touchdowns in his past three games against the Texans.
3 IND Reggie Wayne The only Wayne owners who aren’t pleased with his seven catches, 84 yards and one touchdown on Monday night are those who played Harrison owners.  Like Harrison, Wayne makes one of the strongest fantasy plays of the week when the Colts play at Houston on Sunday.
4 GB Donald Driver Driver caught seven passes for 70 yards in the Packers’ 17-9 win over Detroit, but he failed to score a touchdown for the first time in four weeks.  Fantasy owners who put a lot of stock in trends are drooling over Driver’s potential when the Packers host Minnesota on Thursday.  He’s averaged 7.5 catches, 137.8 yards and 1.3 TDs in his past four games against the Vikings, including a six-catch, 191-yard, one-TD performance in Week 10.
5 CIN Chad Johnson Johnson registered his first fantasy dud in six weeks with only three catches and 37 yards against the Colts on Monday night.  Cincinnati hasn’t had an easy row to hoe over the past few weeks, and that won’t change when the Bengals play at Denver on Sunday. Regardless, fantasy owners seeking a championship have little choice but to ride the horse that’s taken them this far.
6 STL Torry Holt Rams QB Marc Bulger threw for only 137 yards against Oakland as the Rams stuck with a run-first approach, and Holt was limited to 59 yards on four catches as a result.  The competition eases somewhat on Sunday when the St. Louis hosts Washington – the Redskins have allowed a league-high 25 touchdown passes, but they also shut down New Orleans’ top-ranked passing game on Sunday.  Holt is no longer a lock for great production, but it’s hard to come up with 10 receivers who make better fantasy plays on paper in Week 16.
7 CAR Steve Smith Smith logged a pedestrian five catches and 56 yards against the Steelers on Sunday, making it two straight weeks that he’s been held out of the end zone.  Carolina has scored only 16 points in two games since backup QB Chris Weinke took over for injured starter Jake Delhomme (thumb), but there is hope.  The Panthers face an Atlanta squad on Sunday that has allowed 69 points and four passing TDs in its past two home games.  Delhomme may be done for the season, but even without him fantasy owners should feel reasonably confident starting Smith as a No. 1 WR against the Falcons.
8 NYJ Laveranues Coles Coles left Sunday’s game against the Vikings in the fourth quarter with an apparent back injury, but fortunately it’s nothing serious – and fortunately for fantasy owners the injury occurred after Coles racked up 12 catches, 144 yards and one touchdown in the Jets’ 26-13 win.  The Jets continue their pursuit of a playoff bid at Miami on Monday night, and Coles has scored in all three games he’s played against the Dolphins since returning to the Jets before the 2005 season.  If early reports stating that Coles will play against the Dolphins are accurate, then he’s a must-start in nearly all scenarios.
9 HOU Andre Johnson Johnson’s league-leading total of 97 receptions disguises the fact that he’s logged only 13 catches, 105 yards and zero TDs over the past three weeks and that QB David Carr and the Texans’ OL have gone from bad to worse.  Fantasy owners may not have much to look forward to on Sunday when the Texans host a Colts squad that has something to play for late in the season and which just shut down the Bengals vaunted passing game on Monday night.
10 CIN T.J. Houshmandzadeh Houshmandzadeh made a couple of late grabs to salvage an otherwise miserable outing, but his four catches and 49 yards did little to help fantasy owners nonetheless.  Sunday’s matchup against the Broncos in Denver isn’t exactly favorable, but it would be hard to overlook Houshmandzadeh as a very good No. 2 wideout in most settings.

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

Climbing The Ladder

Braylon Edwards (CLE) – Edwards has posted six quality fantasy lines in his past seven games following his five-catch, 68-yard, one-TD effort in the Browns’ 27-17 loss to Baltimore on Sunday.  He’s built a nice rapport with QB Derek Anderson, who is expected to start his third straight game in relief of the injured Charlie Frye (wrist) when the Browns host Tampa Bay on Sunday.  The Buccaneers have allowed 25 touchdown passes in 14 games – tied with Washington for the worst mark in the NFL – including nine passing TDs in their past three road games.
 
Marques Colston (NO) – Colston more than doubled the production of any other New Orleans receiver with seven catches and 84 yards in the Saints’ surprising 16-10 loss to Washington on Sunday, the team’s lowest-scoring game of the season.  His ankle seems to be fine and he can only be considered a strong fantasy starter when the Saints face a Giants defense on Sunday that continues to struggle against the pass.

Ronald Curry (OAK) – Curry was scooped off the waiver wire in many leagues following a strong performance in Week 14, and he rewarded those owners on Sunday with his second straight big game (nine catches, 87 yards).  Now Randy Moss (ankle/knee) may very well be done for the season, and if that’s the case then Curry is positioned to be a respectable No. 3 fantasy wideout when the Raiders host Kansas City on Sunday.

Sliding Back

Roy Williams (DET) – The Packers were supposed to be among the NFL’s worst at defending against the pass, but one look at Williams’ stats on Sunday (one catch for 11 yards) suggests otherwise.  Williams last scored a touchdown in Week 9 and has had 90 yards receiving only once during that span as the Lions entire offense continues to take steps backward.  Detroit has averaged 13.8 points per game in its past six games – all losses – and it’s unlikely that the Lions will surpass that mark when they host Chicago on Sunday.

Marty Booker (MIA) – Booker suffered what Miami head coach Nick Saban called “a pretty good ankle sprain” midway through the Dolphins’ 21-0 loss to Buffalo on Sunday, and his availability for the team’s home game against the Jets on Monday night is in question.  Unfortunately for fantasy owners, he was shut out in the half that he did play on Sunday.  Booker qualifies as a solid No. 3 wideout against the Jets on Monday, but only if he’s given a clean bill of health.

Randy Moss (OAK) – It was no surprise that Moss (ankle) sat out the Raiders’ 20-0 loss to St. Louis on Sunday, but now reports are that he feels a clicking in his knee and that he believes that he has a torn meniscus.  In other words, who knows what’s really going on?  And at this point, who cares?  Moss’ status for the Raiders’ last two games is currently unknown, but in all likelihood we’ve seen the last of him in 2006.  Hard to believe that in two short years Moss has gone from being the best receiver on the planet to the statistical equivalent of D.J. Hackett – only with less short-term potential.