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My Wideout’s Broken, What Do I Do Now?
Tim Van Prooyen
September 22, 2008
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Week three has come and gone and in certain realms of your league – maybe in your house – panic has now officially set in.  Scenarios that three weeks ago were incomprehensible are now proving to be reality, bringing horror into fantasy owner’s lives a month before the annual scare rituals of Halloween.  For the owners of some of the biggest wide receiver names in fantasy football, Braylon Edwards, Randy Moss, Chad Ocho Cinco, Wes Welker, and Tory Holt, questions outnumber the answers it seems.  What is wrong with my receiver?  Should I keep starting him?  Should I trade him?  What on earth am I supposed to do? 

Some answers are easier than others, and some just can’t be predicted with any certainty.  However, this is my best attempt at helping stressed out owners know how to proceed with some measure of possible success.  We’ll break the receivers in question down one by one with analysis and the best advice we can muster.

Randy Moss and Wes Welker

This one is the easiest of the bunch.  This one fell apart when Tom Brady went down and everyone knows it.  Owners held out a ray of hope after he posted respectable numbers in week one even after Brady’s departure, but since then he has been relatively non-existent.  The simple facts are, while Moss has the ability to be successful without Brady, it is all relative, and the type of game New England plays doesn’t benefit him being a stud unless Brady is behind center.  Teams now are learning how Matt Cassel does business and are setting up to stop him to some success.  Welker is a bit different.  Since Moss is still the big target, he still has to draw the heavy coverage, leaving Welker and others relatively open.  Welker has been targeted plenty, but suffers because the passing offense as a whole is suffering…in other words, they’ve become a ‘normal’ team again, not the Brady Express.  Welker will continue to get receptions, but won’t come near the numbers he put up last year.  Moss, on the other hand, will see a significant drop in receptions, yards and touchdowns.  Realistically each could have a hard time finishing in the top twenty-five in most fantasy rankings. 

So What Do I Do? – First, if you have ANY chance of trading Moss, do it now.  Period.  Don’t blink, just get the best value you can for him.  Odds are he’ll have one or two decent games before the end of the season, but let someone else deal with the gamble.  If someone is willing to give you a solid QB, RB, or even another receiver, take it and move on.  Welker is a bit different.  I would hold on to him, as Cassel looks to have need of a safety valve and Welker seems to be filling the bill.  He’s fairly consistent and at worst is solid bench depth.  Hold on to him and hope you’ve picked up one of the surprises of the season elsewhere on your team.

Braylon Edwards

If you drafted Edwards in the first couple of rounds, as many owners did, you are debating jumping off a tall building about now.  Not only has Cleveland seemed to implode, they’ve seemingly forgotten how to play football.  The personnel, for the most part, are the same, but you wouldn’t know it to watch them on Sundays.  Edwards missed time in the preseason and this was used as an ‘excuse’ in the first couple of weeks.  Sure.  Fine.  But at some point you can’t use that as an excuse any more.  Where is the blame?  Who knows.  It can be spread around, this is for sure.  The bottom line though is that Edwards doesn’t look even close to being one of the top receivers in the game.  In fact, if something doesn’t happen soon he risks finishing right there alongside the likes of Brandon Lloyd and Simeon Rice.  You get the picture.

So What Do I Do? – This one is tricky.  First, you may not have people banging down your door trying to take him off your hands, and if you do it could be argued you should hold on to him.  Here are the fundamental problems, however.  This week begins the ‘bye’ season, meaning receivers will be at a premium.  Also, most leagues have either thirteen or fourteen regular season games, meaning by week four or five at the latest you have to pretty much be comfortable that your team will carry you to gold, otherwise you have to move.  So, where does that leave you with Edwards.  In the first three games, Edwards has been thrown to twenty-seven times.  Of those twenty-seven throws, seven have been for completions.  When you take into account that the opponents have been Dallas, Pittsburgh and Baltimore this can be argued away as something that would fix itself soon.  Opportunity is there, execution is not.  Simply put, I would argue that it is worth holding on to Edwards and weathering the storm.  Of course, anytime you’re offered a trade you can’t refuse, you have to take it, but barring that offer, Edwards makes sense to hold on to and trust that getting an opponent or two that don’t rank in the top defenses in the league will go a long way towards curing what ails Edwards and the Cleveland offense.

Chad Ocho Cinco

Where to start.  The resident living soap opera star of the NFL, the player formerly known as Chad Johnson is, at best, an enigma.  You really just never know what you’re going to get.  As I sat watching the game against the Giants this week it amazed me some of the catches he didn’t make.  Honestly, last year and before, he made most of these catches.  Now, is it his fault?  That’s easy.  Yes.  Everyone knows he has the talent, but with all that has happened this past offseason, there is way more to this than meets the eye.  The offense seemed to execute a bit better today, and TJ had a breakout appearance for the year, so the ability is there, the execution is not. 

So What Do I Do? – Wow, this one is tough.  Sure, you can try weathering the storm and get the few bright weeks he’s bound to have, but do you want the headache?  Remember, this is one of the more consistent receivers of the past few years.  This is the guy that has solid performances every week, not big weeks followed by disappearing acts.  What you’re getting this year is pouting; simple, unadulterated, on the field pouting.  What he hopes to gain by playing so poorly is beyond me, but then again, I’m not exactly sure rational thinking has ever been a strong suite for Ocho Cinco.  The likelihood of someone being willing to give you any value for him is slim, so my recommendation is…quite simply…bench him.  Yup, you read it right.  Bench his @#$ until he proves he’s playing right once again…which realistically might be a long way off, if ever.

Tory Holt

It is somewhat sad to watch the decline of a great receiver.  While it isn’t completely his failing ability that is to blame, the offensive struggles the Rams are having in general only serve to highlight it.  His numbers through three weeks, eleven catches for 122 yards and one touchdown, are one game statistics for the Holt we used to know and love.  Now it takes three games?  The days of Tory being one of the best seems to be past.    

So What Do I Do? – If you drafted him, you likely got him a bit lower than you had in past years.  Many saw the writing on the wall and drafted accordingly.  However, if you drafted him high because, well, maybe because you didn’t know any better, you may be out of luck.  For those who drafted him a bit lower, you should just hold on to him, start him every week and be thankful to have a solid mid tier receiver in your lineup.  If you drafted him high, well, you may be plum out of luck as far as having an ‘ace’ receiver, but you could try trading him.  He has solid numbers, and you may find someone else in your league who doesn’t quite pay attention enough…you know, the guy who has drafted Barry Sanders, Emmitt Smith, Jerry Rice and Marshall Faulk the years after they each retired…every time.  That guy may be willing to grab him off you and you may be able to work a steal with a little bit of smart wheelin’ and dealin’.  However, I’ll just say…don’t bank on it.  Just plan to ‘draft younger’ next year.  Oh yeah… and smarter.

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