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Sleeper Wide Receivers - 2009
David Dorey
August 27, 2009
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Drafting wide receivers is usually a dicey proposition. No other position has as much inconsistency and yet wide outs can turn in monster games. There is an amazing amount of transition each year as players rise and fall in production and as always, there is a fresh new batch of rookies aiming to start their career at the expense of aging veterans. In most leagues there will be three wide receivers as starters. Those first 36 wide receivers drafted in a league of 12 are all intended to be starter quality. They have whatever magic combination of variables that means they are taken to become weekly starters. But - almost no wideout performs the same each season and some vary wildly. The question is what sort of wideouts should you be looking for once you have your starters? Just continue on scratching off names from the cheat sheet in order?

Using the average draft results as of 8/24/2009 at MyFantasyLeague.com, below are the wideouts that are being drafted from #37 to #90. This is not my ranking or yours, it is the combined results of hundreds of drafts so it is about as close to what you can expect in your league as you can reasonably find (excluding hiring Hooters girls to get all your teammates to divulge their plans but that ends up expensive. Don't ask).

Here is my brief take on those 63 wide receivers with the players I am "hot" on in yellow and the ones I am "cool" on in blue. The yellow can be considered sleepers of sorts though the farther down you go, the less likely they are to become a starter for your team. Fantasy football drafting is not just about statistics and projections. It is an art and I, like each of you, simply have gut feelings and risk assessments outside the numbers that matter a great deal when I draft.

Rank Player Team Comments
37 Breaston,Steve ARI Come on - he had 1000 yards last year and could be top 20 when either Boldin or Fitzgerald get injured. If Boldin ever actually left, Breast probably would be top 20.
38 Ginn Jr.,Ted MIA Ginn is okay, but he just doesn't seem likely to ever offer consistent enough stats to be a fantasy starter. He is getting better though.
39 Harvin,Percy MIN Sure, I am a sucker for a hyped rookie. Probably someone else will always get him first but Harvin is the guy I'd love to have in a best ball league since I bet he has some big games. Just not a lot of them. He spawns much optimism this year.
40 Mason,Derrick BAL Mason is who you get when you wait too long and figure 5 points each week is better than nothing. Consistently average but almost never blanked in a game.
41 Crabtree,Michael SFO Yo, Michael. Get the phone. It's Cedric Benson and he's half laughing, half crying. Rookie wideouts almost NEVER produce starting numbers (yeah, I know, Harvin but he's just exciting) and starting your NFL career out like this is never a good idea. Hopefully he really does holdout, enters the draft next year and the 49ers draft him all again. "YEAH BOY, WHAT UP NOW BIOTCH?"
42 Hixon,Domenik NYG Have to lean towards liking the unarmed version of Plaxico Burress. Giants are tilling the soil the year and Hixon is the tallest new crop out there.
43 Smith,Steve NYG I like Smith probably more than I should since he is replacing Amani Toomer who was largely undraftable lately. But at least Smith does have some experience with Manning. Of course I throw my NYG wideouts away once December comes.
44 Morgan,Josh SFO I do not usually subscribe to the " someone has to catch it" theory because in the end, no one has to catch it really. Morgan is the best bet of a very motley crew but at least he's no Crabtree (a compliment at least for now).
45 Chambers,Chris SDC Not sure about Chambers. He's probably undervalued but his role in SD seems to be less than a fantasy starter in the best case scenario. I'd take him late as a bye week replacement guy.
46 Henry,Chris CIN Though some FF'ers are excited by Henry this year I am really sure he will not be on any of my teams. He may not even be the #3. He sure won't offer any consistency. He has supposedly "got it" now but I won't get him.
47 Maclin,Jeremy PHI Okay, this is the ONLY other rookie WR that holds interest for me. McNabb had fun with DeSean Jackson last year and Maclin has a lot to offer. But he may not be a starter at least at first. This is the guy I often get on my roster and then at the end of the year I look back and try to remember when I dropped him so I could get another kicker.
48 Bennett,Earl CHI I like Bennett though he is not on any of my teams so far. And he has no track record in the NFL so far really. But he knew Cutler in college and I am a sucker enough to think that matters. Bennett is another I know I would not rely on when the weather turned cold.
49 Nicks,Hakeem NYG He is on a team with a depth chart still not set but he's just one rookie too many for me to like. In a dynasty league I'd take him late but he'd already be gone.
50 Clayton,Mark BAL Never had him and so far it has never felt like a mistake. Just do not see him taking the next step.
51 Curtis,Kevin PHI Hate him. Not personally mind you, but he has maybe three good games in his seven year career. His 11 catch, 221 yard and 3 TD fluke against the visiting Lions in 2007 is the only reason anyone cares about him. Hey - half his games last year were less than 50 yards. You take him.
52 Washington,Nate TEN Because eventually a TEN WR will have fantasy significance.
53 Gage,Justin TEN Because eventually a TEN WR will have fantasy significance. (Part 2).
54 Crayton,Patrick DAL Crayton is the #2 in Dallas but that is really the #3 considering Witten too. And Dallas wants to throw less and run more. Crayton is a big old "meh" to me and I live in Dallas.
55 Austin,Miles DAL Seems like Austin is popular to people in this descending order - blood relatives, fervent Cowboys fans, fantasy footballers, his paperboy, Rowdy the Dallas mascot and finally coaches who actually make decisions about who plays.
56 Muhammad,Muhsin CAR Mushie is a great pick for replacing bye weeks. He's going to get something every week. It will never be really small or really big. Here - take your 60 yards and be happy with it.
57 Jenkins,Michael ATL He wasn't that great last year and now Gonzo is bound to take something away from him.
58 Heyward-Bey,Darrius OAK I said it when he was drafted and I will say it now. "Has anyone seen my shoes?" I gotta take a walk clear my mind from trying to figure out why Al Davis picked him. I know, DHB is a speedster but we all know the fastest direction is always down.
59 Burleson,Nate SEA Shhh... maybe they won't notice this.
60 Robiskie,Brian CLE Hmmm... Cleveland rookie wideout. May not beat out Massaquoi who may not beat out Josh Cribbs for the #2 position that won't likely matter anyway. Gosh - give me the full set of 'em!
61 Rice,Sidney MIN I think Rice is better than his stats say. WIth Favre there, this may become apparent. With Peterson there, we'll more likely never know.
62 Branch,Deion SEA Would be interesting if he stayed healthy.
63 Bess,Davone MIA Much ado about nothing to me. While FF'ers argue between Bess and Camarillo, all I can think is that I do not have to own either. This is like the Browns only with a better defense so they can run the ball more. MIA hasn't had a decent WR since Chambers left and he barely limbo'd under the stick of significance. What is the upside of a #2 receiver in Miami?
64 Walker,Mike JAC My guess is that he'll get drafted, dumped, have a big game and get picked up, get hurt and dumped, come back and have a good game and get picked up and then get hurt and get dumped. And that's just for September. He may be good but until he can string together two or more games healthy we will never know. "Potential" has never gotten me a fantasy championship yet. God knows I have tried.
65 Schilens,Chaz OAK I want to like him. I really do. Just when I do, he gets hurt and then I pay more attention on JaMarcus Russell again and that always makes me sad. I just want to be happy and apparently Schilens won't get that for me. Someone else will always draft him before me because they saw the first preseason game.
66 Camarillo,Greg MIA See Davone Bess. Drafting either is like playing that arcade crane thing that drops down and grabs some stuffed animal you never wanted. And you think, "dang, I'd rather be carrying around my coins instead of this crappy thing". No law says you have to draft a Dolphin wideout. At least not yet.
67 Galloway,Joey NEP He turns 38 years old this season. Are you going to believe a Belichick injury report on a 38-year old wideout? I cannot do it. Just can't.
68 Bradley,Mark KCC Does little for me. He should be better than he is according to sporadic play but it never lasts and he's oft injured. Not buying it personally.
69 Britt,Kenny TEN Okay, I say I was done with rookie wideouts and intellectually I know there is no way more than one or two are going to matter this year if that many. Britt plays in TEN where they run too much to worry with throwing to a rookie with any consistency. In a dynasty league, I would snag Britt. Sure, I would probably end up to regret it but that would not stop me in a dynasty league.
70 Bruce,Isaac SFO There are questions just how much he is going to play so I will not touch him. He was a great consistent possession kind of WR for a long time. But no more for me.
71 Meachem,Robert NOS Okay, okay. But burn me THREE times and shame on... doh. Me again. But Meachem has been much more impressive in camp this year and gotten a lot of reps with the first team since Lance Moore missed time. This deep, why not take a swing for a player on the best passing offense? This is his third season... that's all I'm saying... until next year when I amazingly like him all over again.
72 Thomas,Devin WAS Thomas could surprise. He enters his second season with a shot to unseat Antwaan Randle El (which is why he was drafted last year). But the Redskins are unlikely to produce a wideout with much fantasy value given the rest of the offense. I think I am going to like Thomas a lot more next year.
73 Engram,Bobby KCC Engram is the sort of player I take in the final rounds of a draft when I realize I took too many high-upside/huge-downside guys and want someone who might get me 3 consistent points. Then I cut him in week one when I realize how inconsequential three points really is.
74 Nelson,Jordy GBP Too early. I think I will like him next year maybe but would not touch him this year
75 Henderson,Devery NOS Another one of those guys you pick up and eventually drop. He may be worse this year too since, you know, Meachem is going to play more... yeah... really...
76 Sweed,Limas PIT My intellectual side says the Steelers are not going to throw that much and it has to go past Hines Ward and Santonio Holmes first so not enough balls to go around for fantasy purposes. But by really late in the draft my intellectual side has succumbed to my "beer and pizza" side and I think "DID YOU SEE HIM JUMP UP AT CATCH THAT BALL LAST WEEK?". Sweed looks vastly improved and on a dynasty league I want him more than I should. For a redraft league, I like Sweed way more than he'd likely play but he is looking more like he has the goods. He just needs the opportunity.
77 Jones,James GBP I almost like him, but not enough to draft him. He seems more like a player who spends his career on the fringe of significance.
78 Robinson,Laurent STL I liked Robinson in Atlanta and then he was cast aside last year. In St. Louis, he's going to be the #2 and the Rams passing game needs someone - anyone - to step up and do something. This deep, I would jump all over Robinson every time. In fact, I pretty much have so far.
79 Randle El,Antwaan WAS Never had him. Never will. He's a slot receiver miscast as a flanker.
80 Higgins,Johnnie Lee OAK I have a strict no-Raiders wideouts policy this year. Have you seen JaMarcus Russell this year? Why?
81 Iglesias,Juaquin CHI The rookie hype machine mentions this guy who may be drafted in a deep league in Chicago. But not likely outside of Illinois.
82 Johnson,Bryant DET This is the #2 in Detroit and he gets to be "not Calvin Johnson" which should account for something. I mostly want Johnson just because he could surprise and he comes cheaply enough this year. Figure he is the #2 on a team that has a rookie QB and that will need to pass more than run. Michael Jenkins had 50-777 yards and three scores in Atlanta under similar circumstances except in Detroit there is no Michael Turner to shred defenses.
83 Garcon,Pierre IND I never draft players whose names sound like a snooty french chef.
84 Burton,Keenan STL He's fallen from favor in St. Louis and was never in favor with me.
85 Stuckey,Chansi NYJ You could do a lot worse than Stuckey at this point in the draft. I do not have a good feeling for him but I can understand why others do.
86 Clayton,Michael TBB I had him on a bunch of my teams during his rookie season. It was great. I have never had him on a team since. That was even greater.
87 Clowney,David NYJ Mr. August is at it again with impressive play in the preseason. I'd rather bank on him disappearing yet again.
88 Massaquoi,Mohamed CLE I like him better than Robiskie but I still like about 90 other guys more than either.
89 Collie,Austin IND COLTS RECIEVER ALERT. COLTS RECEIVER ALERT. Wait a minute. Even Anthony Gonzalez only had 576 yards and three scores as a rookie #3 and Collie won't be that good. Collie may have two or three games worth noting this year but I would never start him on those weeks anyway.
90 Floyd,Malcolm SDC Seriously - who drafts Malcolm Floyd? Has anyone ever? Why?

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