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Pre-Season Positional Battles - Wide Receivers
by Paul Sandy
Updated July 30, 2003

Green Bay Packers

Favorite: Robert Ferguson
Contenders: Javon Walker

Fantasy Impact
Throughout his career, Brett Favre has turned ordinary receivers into extraordinary receivers. Players like Sterling Sharpe, Robert Brooks, Antonio Freeman and Donald Driver have provided fantasy owners with acrobatic touchdown receptions and lofty yardage statistics for more than a decade. Therefore, it should come as no surprise that the battle for Green Bay’s starting position opposite Driver will be among the most highly-discussed competitions in the 2003 preseason. Count on the winner’s name to grace the sleeper lists of fantasy experts across the Internet. And, more importantly, don’t be afraid to gamble a mid- to late-round pick on Green Bay’s number two receiver. Whoever it is will have the potential for 50-60 receptions and seven touchdowns.

The Latest (updated 7/30/03)
Head Coach Mike Sherman has given the early edge in this position battle to Ferguson. "It's Robert's job to lose," says Sherman. "He has an edge because he's been here a year more than Javon and was productive last year. But there's a battle." When Ferguson suffered a minor tailbone injury and missed practice, Walker looked impressive working with the first team offense. Don’t expect this position battle to be settled until the third preseason game. It’s worth noting that Walker plays flanker only, Ferguson is a split end only, and Driver plays both interchangeably. Driver's position will depend on who wins the starting job opposite him.

Miami Dolphins

Favorite: Derrius Thompson
Contenders: James McKnight and Orande Gadsden

Fantasy Impact
With third-year wideout Chris Chambers seemingly entrenched as the Dolphin's primary receiver, the team will use the preseason to determine who will start on the opposite side of the field. The offseason retirement of Cris Carter leaves the door open for veterans James McKnight, free agent acquisition Derrius Thompson and Orande Gadsden, who was re-signed by the team. Because they depend so much on Ricky Williams, don't expect Miami's second wideout to contribute anything more than five or six touchdowns to your fantasy team. However, the winner of this battle will provide an attractive starting option when there's a favorable matchup or when you need an injury or bye-week replacement.

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While McKnight and Gadsden have experience on their side, let's not forget Thompson spent his first two years in the NFL under the tutelage of Offensive Coordinator Norv Turner while the two were together in Washington. Expect the coaching staff to give Thompson and his fresh, young legs every opportunity to win the starting job.