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FANTASY FOOTBALL IN-SEASON FEATURES

Receivers Movin' Up - Week 12
Tim Van Prooyen
November 24, 2009
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Quarterbacks  |  Running Backs  |  Wide Receivers/Tight Ends

Movin’ Up

Breakdown:  The bye weeks are now beyond us.  The regular season of fantasy football is almost two thirds done in many leagues.  With these things in mind we realize that, minus the opportunity that may arise due to injury, the players with something to bring to the table this fantasy season are pretty much well known to all.  Therefore our perspective must change a bit, leading us to look beyond just this season but to next season as well.  Whether for keeper league purposes, trade purposes, or whatever other purposes may be pertinent, we’ll be taking a weekly look at players and situations that fantasy owners should be aware of in order to be on top of their game moving forward.

Mohamed Massaquoi (CLE) – It is hard to imagine that the Browns would start 2010 with either of the two quarterbacks they currently are rotating as their starter.  Whether they bring in a veteran via trade or free agency, or draft one of the top quarterbacks in next year’s draft, either would be an improvement over what they have now.  With Braylon Edwards gone, this spells only good things for Massaquoi going forward.

Since Edwards was traded away, Massaquoi hasn’t exactly lit the league on fire.  With a couple of exceptions he’s been relatively limited, but I would argue that this is purely a problem with who is throwing the ball, not Massaquoi’s skills.  Here’s why I think as I do.  If you look at the three solid games he’s had, they have come against Cincinnati, Pittsburgh and Detroit, the last two on the road.  These teams don’t have a ton in common when it comes to defensive secondaries.  Detroit’s is very porous, while Pittsburgh’s, in general, is not.  Cincinnati is a team on the rise for sure, but isn’t among the elites yet.  So what does this mean?  It means that Massaquoi’s skills are for real, and when someone starts lining up behind center that can get him the ball on a regular basis he’ll start producing solid numbers week in and week out.  This won’t happen overnight, but will happen before too long.  He’s a keeper league star in the making.

Legedu Naanee (SDC) – Naanee has had an up and down season so far, but he’s definitely made an impact compared to his previous two seasons.  With a touchdown Sunday he’s now had one two weeks in a row, always something worthy of note.  A receiver may not get a ton of grabs, but if the ones they do get are in the end zone, that makes them valuable.  San Diego, primarily a rushing team with a lot of action for the tight end, has had to start relying more and more on their wide receivers in recent years.  The balance they have attained of late is likely to tilt even more toward the passing game in the near future as they enter a transition period trying to replace Tomlinson whenever he officially becomes ineffective.

Naanee figures into this equation due to a couple of things.  Obviously his dramatic increase in use this year makes one of them clear, but to see the other one needs to look at the two primary receivers’ free agent situation.  Vincent Jackson will be an unrestricted free agent after this season, and the team will have to spend big to keep him around after the nice season he’s having this year.  Malcom Floyd, recently moved into the number two receiver spot, will be a restricted free agent after the year, and considering the price the team will have to pay for Jackson and others, it wouldn’t be surprising to see him get an offer from another team that forces the Chargers to let him go.  This would open up the spot for someone like Naanee, who will be a fourth year guy who has earned consideration from the team with good work ethic and performance.  While he’s another year or two away from any chance of serious stats, he’s likely only a year away from solid third or fourth fantasy receiver status.

Steve Breaston (ARI) – Breaston’s star is seemingly in line to shine bright next year regardless of where he plays.  However, at the moment it does seem quite likely that he’ll be playing in the desert still, though his free agent status after the season may affect that when all is said and done.  Either way he’s someone to not just keep an eye on, but grab if you can.

Breaston will be a restricted free agent after this season.  It is very possible that he’ll get an offer the team would have to match, but they might, as there is also a great possibility that Boldin will be traded in the off season.  The kicker here is that the team has Jerheme Urban and Early Doucet waiting in the wings, meaning they have five receivers who are either elite or very good – or have the potential to be very good.  At some point the Cardinals are going to have a bit of a reset, when Warner is done and Leinart becomes the starter, and that point could be here sooner rather than later.  If that happens sooner the team won’t worry as much about trying to keep even four of these guys.  The reality is that they’ll likely keep three, and Fitzgerald and Doucet will be two.  If the third is Breaston he’ll be the second receiver, a great place to be on a passing team.  If he goes somewhere else, he’ll be no worse than the number two guy.

Even with his off week this past Sunday, when he wasn’t even targeted for the first time in a game this year, Breaston is on pace to have a very solid season considering he’s been the number three guy all year.  Last year his nice numbers were due very much to his lengthy time starting due to injuries.  He won’t have a thousand yards again this year unless Boldin or Fitzgerald get hurt, but he’ll come pretty close regardless.  He’s also pretty solid in PPR leagues.  Note that as a third receiver he’s only had less than four catches in two of the games he’s played in this year.  In case you’re wondering…that’s seven games, making it almost a six catch per game average – again, taking only those seven games where he had four or more catches.  His short and long term fantasy value is promising, making him one to watch, and one to lock in on long term leagues.

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