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2008 Player Rankings: Wide Receivers
Updated: September 2, 2008
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Tier 1
Huddle Rank: 1
Keeper: 1
Auction 10: 30%
Auction 12: 25%
2005 OAK 16 60 1005 16.8 8      
2006 OAK 13 42 553 13.2 3      
2007 NEP 16 98 1493 15.2 23      
Avg   15 67 1017 15.1 11 0 0 0
Proj NEP   90 1520   15      

Maybe the Raiders really were the problem? In his first year with the Patriots, Moss shattered the all-time touchdown record that was supposedly forever set by Jerry Rice. He ended with 23 touchdowns and had 98 catches for 1493 yards (#2 in the NFL). It was basically all the same yards from two years in Oakland but with twice the scoring. It wasn’t even his best yardage year (2003 – 1632) but six more touchdowns than he had ever managed in a season.

Can Moss repeat the feat? Probably not but the question is how far does he fall? Brady goes against a history of every top QB scorer experiencing significant declines the following year but does that hold true for wideouts as well? Consider the only wideouts with 17 or more scores and what happened to them the following year: Jerry Rice (22 down to 9 in strike-shortened year, 17 the next and then 13 following that), Mark Clayton (18 to 4), Sterling Sharpe (18 then retired), Carl Pickens (17 to 12) and Cris Carter (17 to 10). Oh yes, and there is also Randy Moss (17 to 11, 17 to 13). All but one of the eight times a wideout had a 17+ touchdown year, he returned to remain in double digit scores. No effect. They remain nearly as good and likely better than almost all others.

Moss had a sharp decline in the playoffs but during the regular season, he was golden. And Welker ensures that the defenses cannot hope to only worry about Moss. There is no guarantee Moss will be the #1 wide receiver again this year but it’s hard to bet against it.

Huddle Rank: 2
Keeper: 5
Auction 10: 26%
Auction 12: 22%
2005 PHI 7 47 763 16.2 6 1 2  
2006 DAL 16 85 1180 13.9 13      
2007 DAL 15 81 1355 16.7 15 1 5  
Avg   13 71 1099 15.6 11 1 2 0
Proj DAL   84 1290   14      

Owens comes off the second best season of his career with 1355 yards and 15 touchdowns which gives him 28 scores in the two seasons since leaving Philadelphia. Other than his injury-marred 2005, Owens has topped 1100 yards in each of the last eight years. His 129 receiving touchdowns are only one short of Cris Carter which would then make him the second most prolific wideout other than Jerry Rice (and only five ahead of Randy Moss). Owens has been highly productive in Dallas and last year he was never a media issue. He had no ongoing problems with players, coaches, etc.. He just played one of the greatest seasons of his career.

Owens is happy in Dallas and the Cowboys are happy with Owens. The same team returns this year and the schedule is roughly the same difficulty as last year. There is only one caveat that always accompanies Owens – “if he stays healthy”. Owens hasn’t played all 16 games in the last six years and turns 35 in December. Granted – he has only missed one game in each of the two seasons in Dallas and rarely misses more than one or two but then again, he has played injured in many of the recent seasons. His advancing age doesn’t make him any less prone to being hurt or making him heal any faster.

There is no doubt that Dallas is geared up for a playoff run again this year and the passing game revolves around Owens. There is only one reason why he wouldn’t turn in yet another fine season of 1100+ yards and 12+ touchdowns and that is injury. He has risk to be realistic and yet demands to be drafted early by those willing to assume that risk in light of what stats he is sure to generate when healthy.

Huddle Rank: 3
Keeper: 2
Auction 10: 25%
Auction 12: 20%
2005 IND 16 83 1055 12.7 5      
2006 IND 16 86 1310 15.2 9      
2007 IND 16 104 1510 14.5 10 1 4  
Avg   16 91 1292 14.1 8 0 1 0
Proj IND   92 1360   12      

It’s not like Wayne hadn’t been highly productive during his seven NFL seasons, but when Marvin Harrison was out of the way last year, Wayne turned in a career best 104 catches for 1510 yards and ten touchdowns. He led the league in receiving yardage, wresting that title from Chad Johnson. His 14.5 yards per catch was also one of his highest so he didn’t merely turn into a possession receiver. A top ten wideout for years, Wayne became a premier receiver in the league.

Wayne not only excelled, he did it as the only real downfield threat for the Colts. He had 104 catches while the next best was the rookie Anthony Gonzalez with only 37. Wayne scored ten times. Again the next best wideout was Gonzalez with only three. Wayne was main threat and yet opponents still could not shut him down. His stats remained strong throughout the season as a hallmark to what an effective #1 wideout he became.

Harrison is likely back this year to some yet unknown degree and Anthony Gonzalez will have a year of experience to draw from. It is unlikely that Wayne will be called on quite as much but he remains a no-brainer draft pick with almost no risk and upside every week.

Huddle Rank: 4
Keeper: 3
Auction 10: 20%
Auction 12: 18%
2005 HOU 13 63 688 10.9 2 6 10  
2006 HOU 16 103 1147 11.1 5 3 14  
2007 HOU 9 60 851 14.2 8      
Avg   13 75 895 12.1 5 3 8 0
Proj HOU   94 1390   11      

Chances are high that Johnson doesn’t miss his quarterback for the first four years of his career. While Johnson has been productive, he’s never looked as good as when Matt Schaub is under center. Or even when Sage Rosenfels is filling in. Johnson missed seven games with a sprained knee and yet still posted 60 catches for 851 yards and eight touchdowns. Over 16 games, that would be a pace of 106 receptions for 1500 yards and 15 touchdowns. Johnson only had two games without a score and the second time was in the final week of the season. He broke 100 yards in four games and averaged seven receptions per game. He always looked good in the past. He looked great last year.

Entering the second season of the offense installed by HC Gary Kubiak should only help Johnson reach higher heights. As it worked out, he only played in four common games with Matt Schaub and the first three were all over 120 yards and at least one score. This should be a very exciting year for Johnson owners provided he can remain healthy.

Huddle Rank: 5
Keeper: 10
Auction 10: 20%
Auction 12: 18%
2005 ARI 16 103 1409 13.7 10 8 41  
2006 ARI 13 68 941 13.8 6 1 5  
2007 ARI 15 100 1409 14.1 10      
Avg   15 90 1253 13.9 9 3 15 0
Proj ARI   92 1370   10      

Fitzgerald ended ranked 3rd best in passes thrown to him (166) and 4th best in receiving touchdowns with 10 last year and the most remarkable aspect is that it was a mirror to his 2005 season. In both years, literally, he had 1409 receiving yards and ten scores. He recorded 100 catches in 2007 and 103 catches in 2005. In 2006, he missed three games and even had one missing last year but Fitzgerald has already proven himself to be an elite NFL wideout. He’s already averaged over 75 yards per game in his career and comes off his best season of 14.1 yards per catch.

The concern with Fitzgerald this season is that Matt Leinart should be back as starter and Leinart really struggled in 2007 before getting injured. As a rookie, Leinart slightly preferred Fitzgerald over Boldin and was connecting better with him towards the end of the season with three touchdowns over the final four games but this will be a new offense from 2005 and Leinart has to show that he can make it operate at least nearly as good as Warner did last year when the Cardinals schedule proved to be a cakewalk towards the end of the season. Fitzgerald is the primary receiver in this offense with Boldin a close second but so much of what Fitzgerald can do will rely on Leinart’s success on turning the corner in his career.

No doubt that Fitzgerald ranks as one of the most talented wideouts in the league but the schedule will be a little tougher and Leinart will be back behind center. Notable too is that Fitzgerald’s week 16 game comes in New England which could hurt. The worst you will get from Fitzgerald is still pretty good, but 2008 is not shaping up to be a great year unless Leinart takes the next step or the team reverts to Warner quickly enough if Leinart falters. Considering last year, the team may continue to play both in the hopes that Leinart comes around and that could depress Fitzgerald’s numbers.

Tier 2
Huddle Rank: 6
Keeper: 4
Auction 10: 20%
Auction 12: 16%
2005 CLE 10 32 512 16.0 3      
2006 CLE 16 60 879 14.7 6 4 12  
2007 CLE 16 80 1289 16.1 16      
Avg   14 57 893 15.6 8 1 4 0
Proj CLE   88 1300   11      

Reinforcing the axiom that third-year receivers break out, Edwards became part of the set of elite wideouts in the league when he caught 80 passes for 1289 yards and 16 touchdowns – 2nd only to record setting Randy Moss. And while the passing game took off under Derek Anderson, Edwards did more than his share in turning many passes into impressive if not improbable catches. While both Anderson and Kellen Winslow slowed down in the later part of the season, Edwards did not. Almost everything good in the passing game was attributed to Edwards who scored six times over the final six weeks. His yardage decreased a bit but remained around 65 yards per game and - he kept catching touchdowns. Over the season, Edwards turned in four games over 100 yards and four times had more than one score in a game. Once Charlie Frye was gone, Edwards only had four games in the last fifteen without at least one touchdown.

There’s no need to overanalyze here. Edwards has joined the ranks of stud wideouts and is part of a rare breed that actually makes his quarterback look better than he should. His hands are as good as anyone in the league and for whatever the Browns do through the air, it goes through Edwards first. The addition of Donte Stallworth should actually help Edwards who was the only wideout of any concern to defenses last year.

Huddle Rank: 7
Keeper: 6
Auction 10: 16%
Auction 12: 14%
2006 NOS 13 70 1038 14.8 8      
2007 NOS 16 98 1202 12.3 11      
Avg   15 84 1120 13.6 10 0 0 0
Proj NOS   100 1250   12      

Colston had arthroscopic surgery on his left knee that bothered him last year but is expected to be 100% for training camp. He is also healing a hand injury he sustained in the final game of the season and of course he was bothered by his back in 2007 as well. But all those problems didn’t keep him from trumping his fine rookie season – Colston ended with 98 catches for 1202 yards and 11 touchdowns. Not unlike Brees, Colston started out painfully ineffective with only 263 yards on 25 catches with two touchdowns over the first seven weeks. Those teams that stuck by their painfully-high draft pick were rewarded when he turned it on in week eight and had seven games with over 90 receiving yards and three weeks with multiple touchdowns.

The Saints started slowly last year but finally came around with a vengeance thanks in large part to the Brees-to-Colston connection. They ended the season strong and there’s no reason to expect less this year. Colston is a minor watch in the preseason to ensure he is fully healed from all his maladies but the expectations are definitely another fine year.

Huddle Rank: 8
Keeper: 7
Auction 10: 14%
Auction 12: 12%
2005 CAR 16 103 1563 15.2 12 4 25 1
2006 CAR 14 83 1166 14.0 8 8 61 1
2007 CAR 15 87 1002 11.5 7 9 66  
Avg   15 91 1244 13.6 9 7 51 1
Proj CAR   85 1200   9      

No player in Carolina will be happier to see Jake Delhomme return than Steve Smith. In the new offense installed last year by OC Jeff Davidson, Smith exploded in the first two games with a total of four scores and 271 yards. After Delhomme left during week three, it was downhill for Smith as he fielded passes from a never-ending carousel of quarterbacks. He ended the season with only eight touchdowns and 1166 yards on 83 catches – his worst in the last five years (he missed 2004 injured). He still has managed to top 1000 yards in each of his last four full seasons and never had less than seven scores in each.

The new offense was looking great at first last year before the wheels fell off when Delhomme left. This season Smith has the specter of a great rushing game with the addition of Jonathan Stewart and the chance that Muhsin Muhammad, D.J. Hackett or even second year wideout Dwayne Jarrett can actually prompt the secondary to care about anyone other than Smith. Last year with Keary Colbert and Drew Carter didn’t concern anyone, much less with the quarterbacks of Testaverde, Moore and Carr. This year is shaping up to yield the best offense that the Panthers have put together in quite a while and that is bound to help Smith who will always be the preferred receiver.

There is some concern that an improved rushing game will decrease the need to pass but Smith is always low risk to give you at least a very good year – 1000 and seven scores being the absolute worse – and as always the potential for a great season.

08-02-08 Update: Steve Smith has been suspended for the first two games by the team and that shifts the rankings around slightly. Smith could be no less effective when he returns and may even be more motivated, but he just lost 13% of his games this year.

Huddle Rank: 9
Keeper: 11
Auction 10: 12%
Auction 12: 12%
2006 PIT 16 49 824 16.8 2 1 13  
2007 PIT 13 52 942 18.1 8 5 17  
Avg   15 51 883 17.5 5 3 15 0
Proj PIT   70 1200   9      

If year three is the breakout, better watch Santonio Holmes. In only his second season, Holmes turned 52 catches into 942 yards for a very healthy 18.1 yards per catch. He scored eight times and all that while only playing in 13 games due to a hamstring strain and later a high ankle sprain. So long as those injuries are not going to become commonplace for Holmes, he has nice upside this year as he enters his third season and with Hines Ward only getting older and more likely to be injured.

The Steelers have a tougher schedule in 2008 and that should force more passing which would benefit Holmes. With Hines Ward to attract the most attention, Holmes has a chance to turn in the standard big third year – if he can remain healthy this season.

Huddle Rank: 10
Keeper: 12
Auction 10: 12%
Auction 12: 10%
2005 STL 14 102 1331 13.0 9 1 2  
2006 STL 16 93 1188 12.8 10      
2007 STL 16 93 1189 12.8 7      
Avg   15 96 1236 12.9 9 0 1 0
Proj STL   90 1160   8      

Holt had surgery to repair the meniscus cartilage in his knee a year ago and was bothered by balky knees most of the 2007 season. That still didn’t stop him from almost exactly replicating his 2006 season. Both years had 93 catches and his 1189 yards was just one yard more than the previous season. He did fall from ten to seven scores last year but he played every game and remains one of the best fantasy wideouts.

But Holt turns 32 this year and peaked five years ago when he had 1696 yards on 117 catches. Since that season, he has declined in yardage and catches until repeating his 2006 effort. His yards per catch has been declining and the 12.8 YPC of the last two years are the lowest of his career. His knees are a yearly concern but he still has only missed two games in the last four seasons.

Holt remains a solid pick at wideout but his days as the top dog or even a top three player are likely over. The new offense installed by OC Al Saunders will not ignore him, but it will not feature him as have past offenses. He deserves to be drafted as a starting wideout of course, but he’ll be picked by someone in every league going by his name and past rather than his present. He’s a great one to be sure and not done, but he’s not the super star he once was.

Huddle Rank: 11
Keeper: 14
Auction 10: 12%
Auction 12: 10%
2005 CIN 14 78 956 12.3 7 8 62 1
2006 CIN 14 90 1081 12.0 9 3 6  
2007 CIN 16 112 1143 10.2 12 5 14  
Avg   15 93 1060 11.5 9 5 27 0
Proj CIN   105 1080   9      

(-Risk) (+Upside) Houshmandzadeh comes off a career best season where he ranked #2 in the NFL with 169 passes thrown to him and for 112 catches. He gained only 1143 yards and only had a 10.2 yard per catch average from all those passes over the middle. He also scored 12 times to tie for #4 in the NFL last year. In a reception point league, he was a top wideout last year and even without those points he was a tremendous value for where most people drafted him. He scored in each of the first eight games and had three 100 yard games during that stretch.

He is also playing for a big paycheck since he is in the final season of his contract and already the Bengals are concerned they will not be able to afford him next year. After a great 2007 season he will be drafted high in most drafts and even higher if Chad Johnson has left the team or is holding out. There is one reality to accept in that scenario though. Houshmandzadeh has never been a number #1 wideout for the Bengals and has always gotten the benefit from lining up across from the Chad Johnson who defenses commit to stopping. Houshmandzadeh is a possession receiver who has never had more than 13.4 yards per catch and even that has incrementally declined in each of the last three years to only 10.2 yards last year. There are tight ends with a better YPC.

Assuming that Johnson is not a factor on the field, Houshmandzadeh will now command all the extra secondary attention that used to follow Chad Johnson around and in Houshmandzadeh’s case, they don’t have to run very far. Houshmandzadeh only had six catches last year exceed 20 yards gained out of 112 receptions. The good news here is that if Johnson does not play, then Houshmandzadeh could easily become #1 in the league for the number of passes thrown to him. Johnson has not missed a game in the last three years, so how Houshmandzadeh will fare without him has no track record. The Bengals have prepared themselves in case Johnson does not play by drafting three rookie wideouts and acquiring Doug Gabriel which only points more to how often Houshmandzadeh will be the target that Palmer looks for and just how easy the decision is for the defense on who to devote blanket coverage over.

Huddle Rank: 12
Keeper: 13
Auction 10: 12%
Auction 12: 10%
2005 NYG 16 76 1214 16.0 7      
2006 NYG 15 63 988 15.7 10      
2007 NYG 16 70 1025 14.6 12      
Avg   16 70 1076 15.4 10 0 0 0
Proj NYG   65 1020   10      

Burress was hampered with knee, ankle and shoulder injuries last year and yet did not miss a game and turned in a career best 12 touchdowns. He began the season by scoring in each of the first six games and then had no scores and minimal yardage for the next month. Then he turned it back on though inconsistently. He was a relative nonfactor in the first two playoffs games and then caught 11 passes for 151 yards against the Packers and also scored once in the Super Bowl. He was feast or famine after week six of the 2007 season. He’d either turn in a nice game or do almost nothing. All the while playing injured.

After three seasons with the Giants, he has consistently been good for around 1000 yards and ten touchdowns each year as the preferred target for Manning. If he stays healthy (which he almost never does), Burress could be a top ten wideout but with his injury potential and the traditional late season slide of the Giants, he just makes a great second wideout to own.

Huddle Rank: 13
Keeper: 9
Auction 10: 12%
Auction 12: 10%
2005 DET 12 45 687 15.3 8      
2006 DET 16 82 1310 16.0 7 2 2  
2007 DET 12 63 836 13.3 5 2 1  
Avg   13 63 944 14.9 7 1 1 0
Proj DAL   72 1150   7      

Despite rumors, Roy Williams was not traded in the offseason and starts his fifth season with the Lion after missing four games in 2007when his sprained PCL landed him on injured reserve. He averaged around 70 yards per game but only scored once after week three. Williams’ durability has been an issue since he only has only one of his four seasons where he played all 16 games. In 2006, he set his career marks when he caught 82 passes for 1310 yards and seven touchdowns. Williams has been solid in scoring with 28 scores over his four seasons despite missing a total of nine games. If Williams could remain healthy and be in an offense that doesn’t spread the ball around or not have any other weapons, he could easily be top ten in fantasy terms.

The change away from Martz pass-happy scheme won’t necessarily hurt Williams – it may even help. The last two seasons were all about spreading the ball around in the complicated scheme and he was on track to match the 84 catches of 2006 when he was injured last season. And now, again assuming more health issues, that Calvin Johnson is entering his second season, the passing game should be largely limited to just Williams and Johnson. There is no stud tight end here and the new scheme by OC Jim Colleto will offer a balanced attack that will not use the slot much. That leaves Williams and Johnson as the “Boldin and Fitzgerald” of the Lions.

The more balanced attack should help Williams get more looks and Johnson will keep safeties from loading up against him. He is a minor injury risk but only in that “miss a couple of games” sort of way. This could be Williams’ best season yet with Kitna there though that could decrease if the Lions opt to start Stanton near the end of the season.

Huddle Rank: 14
Keeper: 15
Auction 10: 10%
Auction 12: 8%
2006 DEN 10 20 309 15.5 2 2 12  
2007 DEN 16 102 1325 13.0 7 5 57  
Avg   13 61 817 14.3 5 4 35 0
Proj DEN   73 1050   8      

(-Risk) Marshall ranked 5th best in the league with 102 catches last year but no player had more than the 170 passes thrown to him. Denver couldn’t keep Javon Walker on the field and pressed Brandon Stokley into an every down play so that Marshall was the default receiver on virtually every pass play. He even ran the ball five times. Nine times he had ten or more passes thrown to him and three of his last four games had ten or more catches. Starting in week 11, he scored in four of the remaining seven games and averaged around 90 yards on over seven catches per week. He was a huge bonus during those fantasy playoff weeks and had tremendous chemistry with Jay Cutler.

But in the offseason, Marshall required arm surgery and suffered some nerve damage. That puts surprising risk on a player that excelled in the second half of 2007. The team believes that he will be fine and that he could be ready by training camp but with nerve damage it could impact the rest of his career. The Broncos also signed Samie Parker, Darrell Jackson and Keary Colbert in addition to drafting Eddie Royal so there will be no shortage of receivers this year (though “good” receivers has yet to be seen). According to team sources, those moves had nothing to do with Marshall but it all points to him having a lesser 2008 if only because the team has other options now they did not have in 2007. Add in nerve damage to his arm and the risk is greater and the upside even less.

Cutler is obviously very comfortable throwing to Marshall who at 6’4” and yet good speed is a threat over the entire field. Chances are someone will draft Marshall based purely on last year’s numbers which means he will go too early in most drafts.

08-06-08 Update: Marshall's suspension is for three games though it can be worked down to two which should happen. But that hurts Marshall's draft stock not only from losing out two games worth of production, but from the obvious impact his off-the-field antics is causing to his career.

08-30-08 Update: With his suspension lowered to just one game and the obvious chemistry that he and Cutler share, Marshall rises in the rankings and do NOT let the one game dissuade you from getting Marshall.

Tier 3
Huddle Rank: 15
Keeper: 16
Auction 10: 10%
Auction 12: 8%
2005 MIA 16 29 434 15.0   1 5  
2006 MIA 16 67 687 10.3 1      
2007 NEP 16 112 1175 10.5 8 4 34  
Avg   16 69 765 11.9 3 2 13 0
Proj NEP   100 1110   7      

When Welker led the league with 112 receptions last year he officially became the patron saint of all short white guys. He roughly doubled his career best the previous season by turning those 112 catches into 1175 yards and eight touchdowns. His first five games were nothing special and had no scores but starting in week six, Welker was as good as any receiver in the league short of his cohort Randy Moss. In the final 11 games of the season, he had four games over 100 yards and scored eight times. Half of his games contained seven or more catches and three times he exceeded ten receptions. He only scored in a four game block in the middle of the season but in a point per reception league, Welker was money every week.

During the playoffs, Randy Moss only had seven catches for 94 yards and one score. Welker had 27 receptions for 213 yards and two scores. Every time the secondary paid too much attention to Moss, Welker killed them. In the Super Bowl, Welker had 11 catches for 103 yards. He’s grown closer to Tom Brady than Giselle Bundchen on a Friday night.

Remember the days of Holt and Bruce, Harrison and Wayne or Johnson and Houshmandzadeh? Forget them – now it is Moss and Welker. And mostly Welker with receptions.

Huddle Rank: 16
Keeper: 17
Auction 10: 10%
Auction 12: 8%
2005 ATL 15 29 446 15.4 3 4 12  
2006 ATL 15 30 506 16.9        
2007 ATL 16 83 1202 14.5 6 1 -2  
Avg   15 47 718 15.6 3 2 3 0
Proj ATL   80 1100   7      

Following the script, White had his breakout season during his third year and considering that he ended with 83 catches for 1202 yards and six touchdowns is astounding considering those stats came from Joey Harrington, Byron Leftwich and Chris Redman. To illustrate even further, the second best receiver (Michael Jenkins) only had 53 catches for 532 yards. There was no one else in Atlanta worth covering and yet White managed a 1200 yard season. That’s impressive. And he was getting better as the season progressed, catching four of his scores in the final six games and recording three games over 100 yards during that time.

White has to learn a new offense this year just the same as he has the two previous seasons but at some point he will be catching Matt Ryan passes. While that is bound to be an upgrade at least eventually, it may take some time to reach its potential. But two of White’s best games of 140+ yards both came with Chris Redman as the starter. That should maintain his fantasy value and the receiving crew in Atlanta is finally being deconstructed into something more NFL quality and that can only help White. Laurent Robinson is expected to take the starting spot across from White and is developing into the receiver that Jenkins never was and that Horn can no longer be.

There is some risk with White if only because a new offense could have a learning curve and a rookie quarterback is almost certain to step in at some point but Mularkey’s offense typically uses just the two wideouts and that should benefit White the most. For where he will be going in most drafts, he will remain a decent to very good value.

Huddle Rank: 17
Keeper: 19
Auction 10: 10%
Auction 12: 8%
2007 DET 15 48 756 15.8 4 4 52 1
Avg   15 48 756 15.8 4 4 52 1
Proj DET   65 1150   6      

(+Upside) The most hyped player coming out of college last year turned in a disappointing season (of course) but Johnson was hardly a flop. He ended with 48 catches for 756 yards and four scores and only missed one game. But Johnson already had ten catches for 189 yards and two touchdowns in his first three games before suffering a back injury. He continued to play but revealed during the offseason that during the last three months of the season he needed Vicodin twice each game just to deal with the pain. He literally played injured the rest of the season. Johnson’s much anticipated rookie year was a letdown only because he continued to play instead of letting his back heal.

Johnson says he can still feel the back injury but that it no longer causes pain. He took off five weeks after the season ended just to rest his back. With the offense returning to a more balanced scheme, there will no longer be sharing of the passes with the #3 and #4 wideouts nearly so much anymore. This will actually benefit Johnson (and Roy Williams) from being the two primary receivers on every play with little challenge for Kitna’s attention. Johnson will turn in better numbers this year; the question is if they will be incrementally better or exponentially better. He has the talent and claims the back will not be an issue.

08-17-08 Update: Johnson has looked sharp in training camp and preseason games to the point of dominating. He makes a great pick where you can reach him in your draft.

Huddle Rank: 18
Keeper: 18
Auction 10: 8%
Auction 12: 8%
2006 GBP 14 45 632 14.0 3      
2007 GBP 13 53 920 17.4 12      
Avg   14 49 776 15.7 8 0 0 0
Proj GBP   65 1000   8      

Jennings missed the first two games of 2007 but made up for lost time when he instantly became a touchdown machine. Though he only caught 53 passes last year, he gained 920 yards and scored 12 touchdowns. That was ranking 45th in catches and yet 4th best in scoring among all wide receivers. His stock in trade was the long score with six scores coming from 40+ yards. His tendency to be the long ball scorer throws some risk into this year with Favre retiring and the relatively untested Aaron Rodgers taking over but at least in the one game that Rodgers has played during the three years in the league, his only NFL touchdown went to Jennings.

Most of Jennings’ fantasy value stemmed from those constant touchdowns and he only had three games without a score. He’d rank as little more than a marginal WR3 in most leagues without those scores and that has to be considered in jeopardy without Favre there this year. That should cause his draft stock to naturally fall but don’t discount the progress that Jennings has made. He is only 25 years old and just now entering his third season. Jennings will be the primary target on most pass plays and if Rodgers can connect – and he did in the one game they shared last year – then Jennings could end up as a draft day steal again this year.

Huddle Rank: 19
Keeper: 20
Auction 10: 8%
Auction 12: 4%
2005 ARI 14 102 1398 13.7 7 12 45  
2006 ARI 16 83 1203 14.5 4 5 28  
2007 ARI 12 71 853 12.0 9 1 14  
Avg   14 85 1151 13.4 7 6 29 0
Proj ARI   90 1100   6      

Despite trade requests. Anquan Boldin remains a Cardinal this year and most conjecture that it was merely posturing by agent Drew Rosenhaus for his client. Boldin enters his sixth NFL season and comes off his second worst season. Hardly a point of negotiation in salary talks. The problem with Boldin hasn’t been his productivity; it has been that of five seasons played, he has remained healthy only twice. He missed five games last year and 14 games over the last four seasons.

Boldin came on strongly last year when he was healthy enough to play but all but one of his nine touchdowns came from Kurt Warner – not Matt Leinart. In 11 games played with Leinart in 2006, Boldin did score three of his four touchdowns but had only two games exceed 87 yards. When Warner played the final week – Boldin had 112 yards. Not that Boldin has minimal value with Leinart but that his best numbers have always come with Warner at the helm. Add in his propensity to get injured and Boldin carries more risk this year with Leinart re-assuming the starting role. In the final nine games played with Leinart in 2006, Boldin only had one score.

Boldin is a solid fantasy wideout when he plays, but so far he has not posted elite numbers with Leinart playing and has struggled to remain healthy. Last year the Cardinals had a very soft schedule to end the season and Boldin racked up 17 catches for 218 yards and three scores over the last two games. Other than his 181 yard effort in week three when Warner stepped in, Boldin did very little until those final two weeks largely because he was injured. Chances are Boldin will get drafted too highly in your league by someone not recognizing how differently he plays with Leinart and forgetting how often Boldin gets injured.

Huddle Rank: 20
Keeper: 8
Auction 10: 6%
Auction 12: 4%
2005 CIN 16 97 1432 14.8 9 5 33  
2006 CIN 16 87 1370 15.7 7 6 24  
2007 CIN 16 93 1440 15.5 8 6 47  
Avg   16 92 1414 15.3 8 6 35 0
Proj CIN   70 1040   6      

(-Risk) (+Upside) In fantasy terms, Johnson is the #1 problem child for 2008. After leading the league in receiving yardage for 2005 and 2006, he still ended with 1440 yards last year and scored his standard eight times. But Johnson is disgruntled, unhappy and standing by his doorway expecting to be traded. Unfortunately, he has two years on his contract and the Bengals are digging their heels in just as much. Johnson has insisted he will sit out the 2008 season if he is not traded. There is speculation all over the board regarding the situation but regardless of outcome, there will be a negative effect for the Bengals from losing one of the most productive wideouts in the game or somehow convincing him to play the disgruntled martyr role for the Bengals this year. One side is going to have to give and neither will do so willingly.

No trades have transpired and of course Drew Rosenhaus is the agent involved. That makes it more likely that Johnson ends up traded. Any projection for Johnson is meaningless until the situation is resolved. He could be very productive for another team but the Bengals just are not willing to let him go and incur a big financial cost as well.

08-30-08 Update: With his torn labrum and now changing his name, it is obvious that Chad is still the old Chad except he is not as healthy. He'll be a major risk to whomever drafts him.

Huddle Rank: 21
Keeper: 21
Auction 10: 4%
Auction 12: 3%
2005 NYJ 16 73 845 11.6 5      
2006 NYJ 16 91 1098 12.1 6 2 14  
2007 NYJ 12 55 646 11.7 6      
Avg   15 73 863 11.8 6 1 5 0
Proj NYJ   69 1050   5      

2007 was a tough year for Coles when he suffered a concussion, a broken index finger and finally a badly sprained ankle that landed him on injured reserve in week 15. He comes off his worst season since his rookie year in 2000 when he only played in three games. Coles only managed 55 receptions for 646 yards but scored six times. He had the same six scores in 2006 but those came during 91 receptions for 1098 yards. When Pennington was healthy, Coles benefited more than any other receiver.

Every score Coles had in 2007 came from Pennington. He was injured much of the year which skews that a bit, but Pennington and Coles have a good chemistry that Clemens hasn’t developed – with anyone. It is an open competition at starting quarterback during training camp and assumedly Pennington wins since the Jets need to stop losing. But if Clemens wins, lower your expectations for Coles.

08-07-08 Update: Gets a bump in the rankings thanks to Favre joining the Jets.

Huddle Rank: 22
Keeper: 22
Auction 10: 4%
Auction 12: 3%
2005 CHI 8 13 246 18.9   2 31  
2006 CHI 15 51 775 15.2 6 2 5  
2007 MIN 16 71 951 13.4 5      
Avg   13 45 657 15.8 4 1 12 0
Proj MIN   60 910   6      

(+Upside) Evidently the Vikings believed that their anemic passing game last year was the product of not enough good receivers (as Tarvaris Jackson nervously pulls on his collar) and signed Berrian to a six-year, $42 million contract with a $16 million signing bonus. They are committed to him and he will get $23 million over just his first three years. Berrian cashed in on his 2007 season when he caught 71 passes for 951 yards and five scores. He had 51 receptions in 2006 that gained 775 yards and six touchdowns. Berrian is a perfect fit because he comes from one of the other worse passing teams in the NFL in the Bears.

The Vikes are going to run first and throw second (maybe not even then). But Berrian is a nice addition since he has the hands and ability to gain separation that will be needed. Jackson was actually improving as the season was winding up last year and if he surprises, it will be with Berrian over all other receivers. Berrian’s stock in trade was the long score in Chicago and with the defense all freaking out because of Adrian Peterson; Berrian’s style should be a good match here. He’s likely to remain no better than a third starting fantasy wideout for your team but has at least minor upside in this pass starved offense.

Huddle Rank: 23
Keeper: 25
Auction 10: 4%
Auction 12: 3%
2005 PIT 15 69 975 14.1 11 3 10  
2006 PIT 14 74 975 13.2 6 2 30  
2007 PIT 13 71 732 10.3 7 3 11  
Avg   14 71 894 12.5 8 3 17 0
Proj PIT   79 850   7      

(-Risk) Hines Ward underwent arthroscopic knee surgery to correct partial tears in his MCL, PCL and even his right meniscus that he played most of the season with in 2007. He missed three games and played injured in most which gave him his worst output since 2000. Ward had 71 catches but only gained 732 yards with the lowest YPC (10.3) of his career. But he still managed to score seven times and even had 135 yards in the playoff game. Ward is the consummate warrior and team player.

Ward should be ready to go by training camp but he enters his 11th season and hasn’t lasted all 16 games for the past three years. He is 32 years old and should hang on for at least another year or two depending on his health. The concern is that he has declined in each of the last three seasons in both production and yards per catch and has to be considered an injury risk. Make no mistake – he plays injured when he can and the offense relies on him but he is on a definite decline in his career. The question is if it is a gentle slope or a sharp one this year.

Huddle Rank: 24
Keeper: 29
Auction 10: 4%
Auction 12: 3%
2005 NYJ 11 19 251 13.2   1 4  
2006 NYJ 16 82 961 11.7 6 5 25  
2007 NYJ 15 82 1130 13.8 2 5 38  
Avg   14 61 781 12.9 3 4 22 0
Proj NYJ   74 960   5      

Cotchery enters his fifth season and now two years into being the starting flanker with identical results. In both 2006 and 2007, he had 82 catches and last year increased from 961 yards to 1130 yards. His touchdown totals fell from six to only two though. All in all, the same seasons twice in fantasy terms.

Cotchery did have 165 yards on seven receptions in week two when Clemens got his first start but after that he consistently played better with Pennington at the helm. He scored both his touchdowns with him and had a second big game of 152 yards in week 16 in Tennessee. The Jets won’t determine who the starting quarterback will be until during training camp. If Clemens wins the job, knock Cotchery down in your rankings.

08-07-08 Update: Gets a bump in the rankings thanks to Favre joining the Jets. This resolves the question at quarterback and gives Cotchery his best passer yet.

Huddle Rank: 25
Keeper: 26
Auction 10: 4%
Auction 12: 3%
2005 MIN 12 30 328 10.9 1 2 -6  
2006 SEA 14 18 192 10.7 2      
2007 SEA 16 50 694 13.9 9 2 4  
Avg   14 33 405 11.8 4 1 0 0
Proj SEA   68 840   7      

Burleson was a big flop his first year in Seattle when he only had 18 catches for 192 yards and two scores but in 2007, he finally turned it around and became an every week starter. Even more encouraging was his second half to the season when he scored six of his nine scores. From week 11 until the end of the regular season, Burleson he had five games with at least one score. Better yet, his best games always came against divisional opponents.

Burleson did pick up the pace in the second half of the season but he still was inconsistent from week to week. He only totaled 50 catches for 694 yards and just a 13.9 YPC. One week he would have 5 or 6 catches and the following game would have only one. He salvaged his fantasy value with nine scores, but his down weeks would be painful for the fantasy owner. This season Deion Branch is recovering from an ACL injury and may not play until the second half of the season. Bobby Engram was the consistent star but cannot do it alone. The only other wideouts of note are Ben Obomanu, Courtney Taylor and a smattering of rookies and second-year player. The Seahawks need Burleson to come through.

Huddle Rank: 26
Keeper: 27
Auction 10: 4%
Auction 12: 3%
2007 KCC 16 70 995 14.2 5      
Avg   16 70 995 14.2 5 0 0 0
Proj KCC   67 890   5      

Bowe was only the third receiver drafted last year but he played like he should have been the first. In wideout-starved Kansas City, he had a tremendous showing with 70 catches for 995 yards and five touchdowns. All that with a changing quarterback situation going on and with Tony Gonzalez commanding the most attention on passes. Entering his second season, the talented Bowe would seen certain to improve but could have a problem with that in 2008. The Chiefs are aiming to have an open competition for starting quarterback and not including the aging Damon Huard. While that gives the youngsters Brodie Croyle and Tyler Thigpen a shot at starting, that also doesn’t bode as well for Bowe. It doesn’t matter how good he is if his quarterback cannot connect.

When Bowe played with Huard, he scored four of his five touchdowns and averaged five catches for about 70 yards per game. When Croyle was used for five starts, Bowe fell to four catches for 50 yards per game and only scored once. While assumedly Croyle would improve some, it still draws a question as to how well Bowe will do, particularly earlier in the year. If Thigpen wins the spot, there is no way of knowing what to expect since he has almost no playing time in the NFL. Bowe should be drafted and likely will have WR3 value but his upside this year is balanced by even more risk thanks to a quarterback situation he cannot control.

Huddle Rank: 27
Keeper: 30
Auction 10: 2%
Auction 12: 2%
2005 PHI 14 43 571 13.3 4 1 5  
2006 PHI 15 46 816 17.7 8 3 24 1
2007 PHI 16 61 780 12.8 4 5 36  
Avg   15 50 722 14.6 5 3 22 0
Proj PHI   63 890   5      

(+Upside) After scoring eight times and gaining 816 yards on 46 catches in 2006, Brown saw an increased workload last season with 61 receptions but he only gained 780 yards and scored four times. His yards per catch declined from 17.7 down to just 12.8. What actually happened with Brown was that he had a slow start to the year as the Eagles used Kevin Curtis more and then played much better in the latter half of the season – but only when McNabb was the quarterback. All four of his scores happened from week ten onwards and three were from McNabb. He scored twice in the final three weeks and actually turned in bigger numbers than Curtis over the final month with McNabb there.

Brown needs to avoid the slow start this year but could provide a mild surprise for those that have lowered their expectations too much from last year. Those final four months of the season when McNabb returned, Curtis had 21 catches for 206 yards and one score. Brown turned in 22 catches for 262 yards and two scores. They are much more equals than a #1 and #2.

Huddle Rank: 28
Keeper: 28
Auction 10: 4%
Auction 12: 3%
2005 BUF 16 49 743 15.2 7 4 38  
2006 BUF 16 82 1290 15.7 8      
2007 BUF 16 55 849 15.4 5      
Avg   16 62 961 15.4 7 1 13 0
Proj BUF   64 880   5      

As any Evans owner from last year can attest, the speedy wideout was a major disappointment in his fourth year when he turned in just 55 catches for 849 yards and five scores. Problem is that it could be worse this year. The Bills opted to “go in another direction” by starting Trent Edwards last year and in seven common games between them, Evans only scored three times and twice was in the Miami free-for-all when everyone scored. Even then, he only had 79 yards in that game and only averaged around 42 yards per game with Edwards at the helm.

Evans experienced a breakout in 2006 when he gained 1292 yards and scored eight times. His bread and butter was always the long bomb. The new offense though will be a combination of the spread and west coast offenses that will not have as long of passes and Edwards biggest knock is that he doesn’t have as much arm strength as Losman does. There is also the problem with there not being any threat from the #2 wideout for the Bills so that secondaries wisely load up against Evans. The Bills drafted James Hardy who could develop into that player, but it will take some time and the Bills want to focus on the rushing game this year with an easier schedule than they have enjoyed in many seasons.

Evans is talented to be sure, but his surrounding cast doesn’t allow him to meet his full potential. This year a quarterback that doesn’t throw long, an offensive scheme that wants to spread the ball and throw shorter and a nice rushing schedule should make replicating 2007 enough of a challenge. He catches fire in a few games but too many leave fantasy owners grumbling.

Huddle Rank: 29
Keeper: 23
Auction 10: 4%
Auction 12: 3%
2007 IND 13 37 576 15.6 3      
Avg   13 37 576 15.6 3 0 0 0
Proj IND   63 800   6      

The Colts spent their 1.32 pick on Gonzalez last year and the injury to Marvin Harrison made it look like a very appropriate move. The rookie caught 37 passes for 576 yards and three scores as the eventual #2 wideout for 2007. The encouraging part here is that Gonzalez improved throughout the season and had two 100 yard games over the last five weeks along with three scores. In the playoff game against the Chargers, he had 79 yards and a score. Harrison’s absence last year threw Gonzalez into fire as it were but by the end of the season, he was starting to gain chemistry with Peyton Manning. He also had three games with six or more catches during that final stretch.

Gonzalez is ready to take the next step but his role could be impacted by Marvin Harrison. There is some risk in expecting a big leap this year thanks to Harrison but it could happen even with him there. At the age of 36, Harrison is winding down his career and cannot be considered a lock to have significant play this year. But – he may. That should move Gonzalez down the draft board until more about Harrison can be known.

Huddle Rank: 30
Keeper: 31
Auction 10: 2%
Auction 12: 2%
2005 MIA 16 82 1118 13.6 11 12 92  
2006 MIA 16 59 677 11.5 4 8 95  
2007 SDC 16 66 970 14.7 4 3 12  
Avg   16 69 922 13.3 6 8 66 0
Proj SDC   60 800   6      

Chambers left the imploding Dolphins after week six last year and joined the Chargers where he did exactly what he had always done – provide a possession role. Only in this case, there were no occasional monster big games or the every other week scoring. Chambers had 35 catches for 555 yards in those ten weeks and scored four times with around 60 or 70 yards in most games. More encouraging was during the playoffs when both Gates and Tomlinson were banged up and Chambers recorded his only 100 yard game and scored once. Without those two, Chambers does have fantasy value and with either of them healthy, it will be stretch to expect more than just the standard possession role that Chambers has always supplied – only without the higher number of touchdowns. To his credit, he did connect better with Rivers as the season progressed and there are some questions to when and how well Gates will play this year.

Huddle Rank: 31
Keeper: 49
Auction 10: 2%
Auction 12: 2%
2005 IND 15 82 1146 14.0 12      
2006 IND 16 95 1366 14.4 12      
2007 IND 5 20 247 12.4 1      
Avg   12 66 920 13.6 8 0 0 0
Proj IND   60 850   5      

(-Risk) What to make of Marvelous Marvin? One of the most prolific wideouts in the history of the NFL turned in 1366 yards and 12 touchdowns in 2006 and then only managed one score in 2007. He missed all of 11 games and suffered from a knee injury that required off-season surgery. GM Bill Polian has said that Harrison may not be ready to start training camp in July. The only real news on Harrison came when his gun shot someone.

Harrison is 36 years old. He presents a major challenge in evaluating since he is coming off knee surgery and his age is not his friend now. There are a few wideouts that have played at a high level at that age but none of them were coming off knee surgery and actually had issues in both knees. It’s not that hard to imagine Harrison stepping back in and turning it on again but expecting that is a huge risk – ask any Harrison owner from last year. The coaching staff has been fairly adamant that Harrison will be fully recovered in time for the 2008 season. It will take a leap of faith to expect Harrison to return to form and remain healthy and it is guaranteed that every league will have someone happy to take Harrison earlier than warranted on the promise that he may hold.

With the Colts still succeeding last year without him, there is no critical need for Harrison to play. He’s obviously a great benefit when healthy though. He’ll be one of the more interesting players to track this year to see where he is taken. The safest bet is that he plays at a lower level. And that he is an injury risk.

08-03-08 Update: Harrison isn't supposed to play in the HOF game tonight but reports are that he is running and cutting and should be ready to go. He still remains a huge risk with undeniable (if not optimistic) upside. His ranking reflects that he should be anything more than a WR3 on your team but he is being drafted earlier than that by speculative team owners.

Huddle Rank: 32
Keeper: 33
Auction 10: 2%
Auction 12: 1%
2005 SEA 13 67 774 11.6 3      
2006 SEA 6 24 290 12.1 1 1 4  
2007 SEA 16 94 1147 12.2 6      
Avg   12 62 737 12.0 3 0 1 0
Proj SEA   62 830   5      

Engram is holding out currently for a good reason. He caught a franchise record 94 passes last year for 1147 yards and six scores. That was easily the best season of his 13 year career and comes on the heels of 2006 when he had medical problems and only played in seven games. Engram wants more money now that he finally had a good season though he is under contract for this season. The Seahawks coughed up a two year, $3.4 million contract after 2006 when Engram’s thyroid was a major health issue. HC Mike Holmgren was the only reason that Engram wasn’t released then but as always, he had a great season and now wants more money. Problem is that he is 35 years old and in the waning part of his career. And he is under contract that was generous at the time (all things considered).

With the typical bravado of an agent-inspired player trying to cash in on what he already had done, Engram threatens to hold out. Of course he would be 36 years old when he would be back in 2009 (shades of Keenan McCardell) but Engram believes he has three or four good years left. There has been no word when the last time he underwent random drug testing.

Engram thinks he has leverage since Deion Branch has a torn ACL and probably will miss maybe half of the season. There is no argument that Holmgren loves him and that he is the most productive weapon for receivers. These standoffs almost always are resolved so the expectation is that Engram returns as the #1 wideout but if he hasn’t signed by mid August, his ranking will be dropping fast.

Huddle Rank: 33
Keeper: 34
Auction 10: 2%
Auction 12: 1%
2005 TBB 16 83 1287 15.5 10 2 4  
2006 TBB 16 62 1057 17.0 7 2 9  
2007 TBB 15 57 1014 17.8 6 1 1  
Avg   16 67 1119 16.8 8 2 5 0
Proj TBB   54 880   4      

13 seasons and the 37-year old Galloway is evidently ageless. Sure, he usually misses one or two games each season with some injury but he’s topped 1000 yards in each of the last three years. He has never had less than five scores as a Buccaneer but he has declined each year in catches and yards. Galloway has enjoyed being the only notable wideout for the Buccaneers and this year doesn’t appear to be any different in that regard.

When will Galloway hit the wall or get significantly injured? He has declined yearly but only incrementally and his 17.8 yards per catch for 2007 was the second highest of his career. He carries risk of injury and breakdown, but he keeps chugging along and rewarding the faithful for the last five years.

Tier 4
Huddle Rank: 34
Keeper: 35
Auction 10: 2%
Auction 12: 1%
2005 JAC 14 35 445 12.7   2 3  
2006 JAC 16 53 615 11.6 4 6 34  
2007 JAC 15 38 629 16.6 10 1 8  
Avg   15 42 563 13.6 5 3 15 0
Proj JAC   36 600   8      

On a team rife with inconsistent wideouts, Williams is the most enigmatic of them all. The former first round pick in the 2004 NFL draft was a full year starter as a rookie but only had 268 yards and one score. He improved some in year two with 445 yards on 35 carries but no scores. In 2006, they again tried to make him the starting split end and he had 52 receptions for 616 yards and four scores. Last season, Williams was only the starter in six games and only had two or less receptions in ten games including two without a catch. He caught 38 passes but gained a career high 629 yards and had ten touchdowns to tie as #8 among all NFL wideouts. He had a game with 90 yards and another with 128. But nine games had 40 yards or less. He was all over the map in the number of catches and yards and yet caught a touchdown in ten games.

There is no doubt that Jerry Porter will be a starter and Williams is likely the #2 but the Jaguars could opt for the same rotation as last year (though without Ernest Wilford). Williams is 6’4” and has decent speed but the Jags finally found out that he is best used just a few times per game with the endzone in mind. It is no coincidence that Williams success only happened once David Garrard became the starter.

Williams definitely deserves to be drafted but his yardage will be hard to rely on. Jerry Porter should cut into his action or could actually improve Williams by giving the secondary more to worry about than Ernest Wilford. Don’t draft him as a starter, but he could end up being one for you. He just has great chemistry with Garrard.

Huddle Rank: 35
Keeper: 36
Auction 10: 2%
Auction 12: 1%
2005 NOS 16 70 945 13.5 7 2 2  
2006 PHI 12 38 725 19.1 5      
2007 CLE 16 46 697 15.2 3 1 12  
Avg   15 51 789 15.9 5 1 5 0
Proj CLE   59 820   4      

Stallworth signed a seven-year, $35 million contract with $10 million guarantees and $17 million being paid in the first four years. The Browns wanted Stallworth. They really wanted him. He will replace Joe Jurevicius and take the #2 spot across from Braylon Edwards.

Stallworth started with the Saints for four years, and then had one-year stints with the Eagles and Patriots before landing with Cleveland. His injury history has been lengthy and last year missed seven games with a knee injury. Usually he misses games with hamstring strains but the bottom line is that six years in the NFL have never seen him start more than 13 games in a season. His big payday with the Browns is surprising given not only his injurious past but Stallworth has never had a 1000 yard season. Playing with Tom Brady during the most TD-happy pass attack in NFL history only netted him three touchdowns and 697 yards. In Philadelphia when Terrell Owens had just left and he paired with Donovan McNabb, he only scored five times and had 725 yards. Stallworth is seriously miscast as a #1 wideout and there is no danger of him becoming that in Cleveland. The question is if he can be the #2 and remain healthy?

The Browns have a tougher schedule this year and could use the additional help but Stallworth will always be limited in an offense that focuses on Edwards and Kellen Winslow first. And he has to stay healthy. For the first time in his career, he needs to start 16 games.

Huddle Rank: 36
Keeper: 24
Auction 10: 1%
Auction 12: 1%
2005 OAK 16 76 942 12.4 5 1 -8  
2006 OAK 2 1 19 19.0        
2007 OAK 16 44 705 16.0 6      
Avg   11 40 555 15.8 4 0 0 0
Proj JAC   55 800   4      

The biggest splash the Jaguars made in the free agency market was signing Jerry Porter to a six-year, $30 million contract with $10 million guaranteed. That seems like a King’s Ransom for an eight year player who has never exceeded 1000 yards in a season and that has openly had problems with the coaching staff. A six year contract to a player that is 30 years old and has yet to offer much more than average numbers in his career. Both sides are happy to make the deal though and Porter has been locked in Oakland for his entire career. And he did have two good seasons of 942 and 998 yards over 2004-2005.

Porter may be the happiest person on the planet after that deal that not only got him out of Oakland, but landed him with an amazingly rich contract with a team that wants to use him as a #1 receiver and that actually has playoff games every year. The last disaffected receiver to escape Oakland was Randy Moss and he evidently enjoyed the change of scenery well.

It would be optimistic for anyone to draft Porter with the intention of more than a WR3 or WR4 but he’s always carried the “good potential” tag and someone would buy him earlier in your draft. He should be safe enough for a decent season and would be a nice add for your team as a back-up wideout but he’ll go higher than that because he has potential (Part IX).

Huddle Rank: 37
Keeper: 38
Auction 10: 1%
Auction 12: 1%
2005 STL 11 36 525 14.6 3      
2006 STL 16 74 1098 14.8 3      
2007 SFO 14 55 733 13.3 4 2 -4  
Avg   14 55 785 14.2 3 1 0 0
Proj SFO   56 740   5      

With a mishmash of castoff veterans and unproven rookies, new OC Mike Martz had the team make a prudent move by bringing in the 35-year old, 15 year veteran in Bruce. He already knows the offense as well as anyone and can provide critical help in installing the offense and getting the receivers on the same page. He also offers the only wideout on the team that has ever had a truly good season.

Bruce will man the flanker spot but he’s obviously no long-term solution. He’ll likely only play a season – two at most – and offer a possession role as the 49ers decide which quarterback will be the starter. He may have the most catches on the team and yet the lowest yards per catch. Bruce is the only receiver that doesn’t have to worry about his job this year. But that may offer only marginal fantasy value unless the 49ers passing game can immediately exceed expectations. Bruce signed for two years and $5.5 million. He’s going to earn his money here.

Huddle Rank: 38
Keeper: 47
Auction 10: 1%
Auction 12: 1%
2005 GBP 16 86 1221 14.2 5 2 13  
2006 GBP 16 91 1288 14.2 8 7 16  
2007 GBP 15 82 1048 12.8 2 2 4  
Avg   16 86 1186 13.7 5 4 11 0
Proj GBP   80 820   2      

Driver enters his 11th NFL season and comes off his worst year since 2003. That still resulted in 82 catches for 1048 yards bit Driver only had 12.8 yards per catch and only scored two times. And that was with Brett Favre as the starter – not Aaron Rodgers. Driver is always a safe bet for turning in at least decent numbers each week but his big games have been absent for more than a season. On the plus side, Rodgers will need the sure-handed veteran to help him get up to speed so don’t shy away from Driver this season just because of Rodgers. The touchdowns will still lack, but Driver will still continue to be relied on for possession catches.

Huddle Rank: 39
Keeper: 41
Auction 10: 1%
Auction 12: 1%
2005 CHI 14 31 346 11.2 2      
2006 CHI 2 4 68 17.0        
2007 TEN 16 55 750 13.6 2      
Avg   11 30 388 13.9 1 0 0 0
Proj TEN   48 700   4      

After four non-descript years in Chicago, Gage had a very productive first season with the Titans when he caught 55 passes for 750 yards and two scores. He only had one game top 100 yards and that came in week 17 but Gage exceeded 80 yards four times and compared to all other Titan wideouts he was a star (the bar being rather low). Once Brandon Jones left after week five, Gage came to life. There’s no guarantee that Gage will hold onto the job once Roydell Williams and Brandon Jones are healthy, but then again there is no guarantee that TEN will produce any fantasy significant receivers this year. Gage did show better chemistry and had bigger numbers than any other wideout last year which gives him a leg up, but that is not a lock. The Titans also added Justin McCareins during the offseason which is another failed #3 wideout that may look good compared to the rest of this crew.

Huddle Rank: 40
Keeper: 42
Auction 10: 1%
Auction 12: 1%
2005 BAL 16 86 1073 12.5 3      
2006 BAL 16 68 750 11.0 2 1 -4  
2007 BAL 16 103 1087 10.6 5      
Avg   16 86 970 11.4 3 0 0 0
Proj BAL   65 690   4      

Mason enters his 12th NFL season and since he turns 35 at the end of the year, chances are good that he is going to hit “the wall” soon. Mason did have a career high 103 catches in 2007 but only gained 1087 yards for a career low 10.6 yards per catch. He scored five times which fell into his normal range but that came after 103 catches. The Ravens passing attack lost Todd Heap last year and opted to just focus on Mason running very short patterns. By the week eight bye, Mason had averaged eight catches per game before settling down to closer to five receptions per week after the break.

Mason is the only wideout here with a guaranteed spot but his numbers from last season could easily take a slide. Besides his advancing age and decreasing yards per catch, Todd Heap will be back and more importantly there is a new offense with OC Cam Cameron. Recall his offenses in San Diego primarily threw to the running backs and the tight end and the wideouts never had much fantasy value. Gates became the primary receiver and wide receivers rarely had more than 50 catches per season. Throw in a rookie quarterback into the mix at some point and Mason will be very challenged to replicate 2007 if in fact he can produce enough to warrant being a fantasy starter. Mason still has a role and should continue to be the primary wideout, but it is almost certain that he will be drafted too early in most leagues.

Huddle Rank: 41
Keeper: 43
Auction 10: 1%
Auction 12: 1%
2005 DAL 10 22 341 15.5 2 1    
2006 DAL 15 36 516 14.3 4      
2007 DAL 15 50 697 13.9 7      
Avg   13 36 518 14.6 4 0 0 0
Proj DAL   44 600   5      

Crayton certainly enjoyed a career best season when he took the #2 spot in place of Terry Glenn. While he turned in 50 catches for 697 yards and seven touchdowns but was too inconsistent to be considered for a fantasy starter. He only had one game over 66 yards and never scored in the final four games when you would have needed him most. As a bye week fill-in, you could do worse but Crayton is a slot receiver miscast as a flanker with Glenn out. If Glenn returns, then Crayton’s numbers are even lower.

Huddle Rank: 42
Keeper: 46
Auction 10: 1%
Auction 12: 1%
2007 MIA 16 34 420 12.4 2 4 3  
Avg   16 34 420 12.4 2 4 3 0
Proj MIA   48 710   3      

Ginn was the second wideout drafted in 2007 – a surprise to most when he went with the 1.09 pick to Miami. The local sportswriters may spend the next many years bringing up that he could have been Dwayne Bowe but Ginn brought in ability as a receiver and a feared returner as well. He returned 63 kicks for the Fins last year (since they gave up so many touchdowns) but his longest was only 52 yards and he never scored. As a punt returner, he fielded 24 and did score once on an 87-yard return but otherwise only averaged around nine yards per punt. On the fantasy side, he wasn’t worthy of drafting last year. With only 34 catches for 420 yards, his 12.4 yard average was well below what was hoped from the speed demon but he played with sub-standard quarterbacks who had no offensive line and after all, Ginn was just a rookie.

Ginn will start this year thought the competition is supposedly open. His 5’11” and 178 pound size suggests more of a slot receiver where he can best use his speed but he’ll get his shot again at being an every down starter. The new offense won’t be passing any more than absolutely necessary and the starting quarterback won’t even be determined until training camp so downgrade any expectations about Ginn. He’ll make nothing more than fantasy depth this year.

Huddle Rank: 43
Keeper: 40
Auction 10: 1%
Auction 12: 1%
2007 ATL 15 37 437 11.8 1      
Avg   15 37 437 11.8 1 0 0 0
Proj ATL   50 700   3      

(-Risk) Robinson was the 3.11 pick of the Falcons in 2007 and while he only caught 37 passes for 437 yards and one score, there is still plenty to be excited about for this year. He had minimal playing time in the first half of the season though he eventually won a starting spot in some games. Playing with Redman in week 16 in Arizona, Robinson turned in seven catches for 114 yards and his lone score as a rookie. Robinson turned heads in practice as a rookie and worked his way onto the field and for 2008, he is being installed as the starter across from Roddy White. This is a new team now and there are no ties to Joe Horn or even Michael Jenkins. There is a desire to have the best players start.

The new offense of Mike Mularkey will make much more use of the flanker and split end with lesser attention given to the slot receiver or the tight end. That will benefit the developing Robinson who can now grow with Matt Ryan. The Falcons will need to throw this year – make no doubt. And between Chris Redman and Matt Ryan, there should be at least a decent passing game if only out of need. White takes the greatest attention from the secondary so Robinson makes an interesting back-up wideout for your team. In dynasty leagues, this is the time to grab him before he shows up bigger this year.

Huddle Rank: 44
Keeper: 50
Auction 10: 1%
Auction 12: 1%
2007 MIN 13 31 396 12.8 4      
Avg   13 31 396 12.8 4 0 0 0
Proj MIN   44 580   5      

The Vikings used their 2.12 draft pick on the South Carolina star and while his rookie season wasn’t flashy – 31 catches for 396 yards and four scores – he had enough decent showings to give promise to his second season. It was no help to play with the team that threw the least amount of passes in the NFL or that Jackson was the one throwing most of them. Rice caught two of his scores and had two of his biggest games while Jackson was out of the lineup. He will always be limited in this run-first offense but he has shown enough talent to warrant some fantasy attention if only in the final rounds.

Huddle Rank: 45
Keeper: 37
Auction 10: 1%
Auction 12: 1%
2005 GBP 1 4 27 6.8        
2006 DEN 16 69 1084 15.7 8 9 123 1
2007 OAK 8 26 287 11.0   2 -3  
Avg   8 33 466 11.2 3 4 40 0
Proj OAK   58 700   3      

(-Risk) (+Upside) If there has ever been an NFL player who has a great agent, it is Javon Walker. He has played for six seasons in the NFL and only has a total of 30 touchdowns. He has only two seasons with more than 1000 yards and has been a starter for all 16 games exactly once in his career. In the last three years, he has only recorded catches in 24 of the 48 possible games. He’s been healthy in only one of the last three years. And yet the Raiders signed him to a six-year, $55 million contract that is FRONT loaded with $20 million in his first two seasons and an $11 million signing bonus. Now THAT is an agent.

Walker was effective in his first season with the Broncos when he actually played all 16 games and had 69 catches for 1084 yards and eight scores. Last year he struggled with a knee injury and missed nine games. The Broncos cut him loose and the Raiders mysteriously paid him a King’s ransom. No doubt who the #1 wideout is in Oakland. Walker said that he had problems in 2007 because he returned too early from arthroscopic knee surgery but he is healthy now. He did not require surgery this offseason (notable in his case). With only Drew Carter and a host of unproven players behind him, no doubt that Walker will get the bulk of passes from JaMarcus Russell.

The Raiders paid him a fortune and will use him as extensively as they can. But Russell is a first year starter that will have to undergo a learning curve. He also has what should be an improved rushing game as well. Plus more than any other aspect – can Walker remain healthy? Walker looks a bit more attractive in a dynasty league for when Russell gains experience but in a redraft league there will be considerable risk. If Russell excels and Walker remains healthy, he could end up a top ten talent since the Raiders will need to throw in most games. But for this season, Walker is risky to use even as a second wideout.

08-02-08 Update: ESPN reported that Javon Walker wanted to retire but was talked into remaining with the Raiders. He hasn't looked very good so far and this bombshell should spell "leave alone" for fantasy owners.

Huddle Rank: 46
Keeper: 48
Auction 10: 1%
Auction 12: 1%
2005 WAS 16 84 1483 17.7 9 3 -3  
2006 WAS 14 55 790 14.4 6 7 82  
2007 WAS 14 61 808 13.2 3 3 13  
Avg   15 67 1027 15.1 6 4 31 0
Proj WAS   55 700   3      

Moss almost exactly replicated his 2006 season when he caught 61 passes for 808 yards last year but his touchdown totals fell to only three – his lowest since his rookie year in 2001. Even more troubling, two of his scores came in the final two weeks of the season when Jason Campbell wasn’t playing and a 115 yard game against Dallas. When Campbell was playing, Moss only scored once in 13 games and averaged just 50 yards per game.

Throwing more uncertainty into the equation, the Redskins are installing a new west coast offense with HC Jim Zorn and the team drafted two of the best rookie wideouts with two of their second round picks. Moss has his job to be sure, but he has never been anything more than a long ball specialist miscast as a #1 wideout. When he doesn’t catch the long pass, he ends up around 50 yards and even had four games come in with less than 30 yards. The new offense will take some time to come together and the presence of new receivers may take away passes from Moss or it could free him up to get farther downfield where he has his success. Thanks to his one magic year in 2005 when he had 1483 yards and nine scores, he’s always drafted too early. No need to make that mistake. He’s missed two games in each of the last two seasons and not done much when he was healthy. Campbell has just never connected well with him.

Huddle Rank: 47
Keeper: 44
Auction 10: 1%
Auction 12: 1%
Avg   0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Proj NOS   40 620   4      

(+Upside) While Meacham was drafted in almost every league out there last year, the rookie prospectors came up empty when he never played. Meacham suffered a knee injury which robbed him of his rookie season but he has been progressing very well and the coaching staff is excited about the prospect of finally getting him onto the field. The Saints GM Mickey Loomis said “He's had what we would characterize to this point as a great offseason.” Any lingering effects from his knee injury have disappeared and Meacham looks good to go.

The Saints used their 1.27 pick on him last year and Meacham will be given every opportunity to take a starting job as soon as he can. The 34-year old David Patten is all that stands in his way so Meacham is a big training camp watch. Colston has been the only Saints wideout with fantasy significance because Brees spread the ball around to all the other wideouts. Meacham is the only player on the roster that might become that valuable #2 wideout and the Saints paid much to get him onto the roster. Until Meacham is seen in training camp and preseason games, the best assumption here is that he’ll be healthy and kickoff what is essentially his rookie season. Meacham should have little problem landing as the #3 but will have to show up well to displace Patten. By 2009, Meacham would have to really stumble not to end up the #2 wideout.

08-11-08 Update: The first round pick of the Saints in 2007 never played thanks to a host of injuries but he is quickly making his name known again when he had four catches for 129 yards and a score against the Cardinals. He has been impressive in camp and now in a game. David Patten remains the starting flanker but Meachem is wrapping up the #3 and could end up as the #2 which was the intention when he was drafted last year.

Huddle Rank: 48
Keeper: 51
Auction 10: 1%
Auction 12: 1%
2005 SDC 3 3 59 19.7        
2006 SDC 13 27 453 16.8 6 3 16  
2007 SDC 16 41 623 15.2 3      
Avg   11 24 378 17.2 3 1 5 0
Proj SDC   38 680   3      

Jackson entered this third season with the prospect of have a breakout year but in an offense that throws to Tomlinson and Gates first, it just didn’t happen. Add in the mid-season acquisition of Chris Chambers and Jackson’s stock fell even further. He ended with a career best that was only 41 catches for 623 yards and three scores. He had six touchdowns from the slot the previous season but just suffers from being too far down the pecking order now. He never had more than 98 yards in any game and spent most weeks with less than 50 yards. One notable was that when Tomlinson and Gates were both injured in the playoffs, Jackson had his finest efforts of the year with three games all of 93 yards or more and two scores. Jackson can do it, he just isn’t asked to much thanks to better talent on the team.

Jackson has a lock on the #2 spot but it hasn’t counted for much thanks to others taking most of the catches. If Gates was to miss any appreciable time, the 6’5” Jackson could figure in more but even that is risky to rely on.

Huddle Rank: 49
Keeper: 52
Auction 10: 1%
Auction 12: 1%
2005 MIA 14 39 686 17.6 3      
2006 MIA 14 55 747 13.6 6 3 19  
2007 CHI 15 50 556 11.1 1 2 12  
Avg   14 48 663 14.1 3 2 10 0
Proj CHI   50 600   4      

Booker comes back to Chicago after four seasons in Miami and the 31-year old wideout is the only receiver certain of a starting job in Chicago. Muhsin Muhammad and Bernard Berrian are gone and Kyle Orton appears likely to be the quarterback. Booker brings in a possession role to replace Muhammad who only managed 570 yards and three scores in his final season there. That about matches what Booker typically does each year.

To Booker’s advantage, the Bears have a good passing schedule this year but seemingly have little to take advantage of it. Booker is obviously no long-term answer here but with the motley crew left behind, he’s the most reliable of them all. Safest best is to leave Muhammad alone this year because he is unlikely to rejuvenate his career here. He may provide Muhammad-esque numbers, but those won’t be enough for any fantasy starter.

Huddle Rank: 50
Keeper: 54
Auction 10: 1%
Auction 12: 1%
Avg   0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Proj BUF   42 580   4      

(+Upside) Hardy is one of the tallest players in the NFL at 6’6” and makes for an obvious redzone target. The Bills selected the Indiana star with their 2.10 pick and he should develop into a great complement for Lee Evans. James is not only a big guy at 219 pounds, but he still ran a 4.48 at the combine. He closely resembles Plaxico Burress when he entered the league. But it will take time for Hardy to get into the swing of the NFL since most of his work will come in traffic over the middle.

The offense in Buffalo isn’t based on much passing so in the current situation, Hardy doesn’t likely have any elite seasons coming soon but in a dynasty league he makes for an intriguing pick with his size and scoring ability. If the Bills can make use of him as an endzone target, Hardy could turn in fantasy significance as early as this season though it would more likely be later in the year. No need to draft Hardy in most redraft leagues, but he is worth keeping an eye on. If he can secure a starting spot for week one, his draft value increases significantly if only because of his redzone potential.

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