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Wide Receiver Report - Week 5
Todd Gray
October 3, 2006
Top Ten Fantasy WR’s to own Comment
1 IND Marvin Harrison The last time that Harrison went six straight regular season games without scoring a touchdown, we were still in the 20th century.  Fantasy owners can’t complain – he produced another nice fantasy line with seven catches and 79 yards in the Colts’ defeat of the Jets.  No one in the NFL has outgained Harrison in receiving yards (413), and he’s third in the league with 29 catches.  If logic prevails, Harrison will end his TD drought on Sunday when the Colts host the hapless Titans.
2 STL Torry Holt Holt is the only NFL wideout ranked in the top 10 in catches (26), yards (332) and touchdowns (3) following his six-catch, 102-yard, one-TD outing against the Lions.  He’s now scored in three straight games and makes a beautiful play when the Rams air it out against Green Bay on Sunday.
3 CAR Steve Smith Smith limped off the field briefly after taking a hit to his knee, but he returned for the Panthers’ next offensive series and finished with 10 catches, 87 yards and one TD.  Some of Smith’s teammates have suggested that he’s still not his old self, which means two things: one, his best may be yet to come, and two, it should be remembered that he has become something of an injury-prone player, at least in the short-term.  The table is set for a huge performance on Sunday when the 2-2 Panthers entertain the 1-3 Browns.
4 HOU Andre Johnson Johnson could very well have been on this board after his Week 3 performance against Washington, and he catapults up the ladder after catching nine more passes for 109 yards and a touchdown in the Texans’ 17-15 defeat of Miami on Sunday.  Johnson has been productive every week, and he’s currently the No. 1 fantasy wideout in many scoring formats.  It’s a shame that his momentum will be interrupted by the Texans’ Week 5 bye.
5 SEA Darrell Jackson Jackson’s five catches and 62 yards represent something of a moral victory for the wide receiver’s fantasy owners: it wasn’t what they had hoped for, but it was greater fantasy production than any other Seahawks player managed in the team’s 37-6 drubbing at the hands of the Bears.  Seattle gets to regroup during its Week 5 bye before playing at St. Louis on Oct. 15.
6 NYJ Laveranues Coles Coles laid on the ground clutching his shoulder following the Jets’ zany last-second, multi-lateral play in the team’s loss to Indianapolis on Sunday.  The injury looked pretty serious at the time, but after the game Coles said he was fine, and reports suggest that he will be okay moving forward.  His six-catch, 81-yard performance against the Colts was his least productive fantasy output of the season, but nonetheless he’s currently tied for the NFL lead in receptions with 30, and he trails only Harrison in yards (412).  Week 5 opponent Jacksonville was just burned by Redskins QB Mark Brunell and WR Santana Moss, but otherwise the Jaguars have been rather stingy against the pass.
7 WAS Santana Moss Moss has had one huge game and three respectable performances, which is enough to rank him among the top five fantasy wideouts in most scoring formats.  All three of his touchdowns this season came against the Jaguars on Sunday, and he is eighth in the NFL in yardage (326) thanks to a robust 19.2-yard average per catch.  Moss pulled a Jeckyll-and-Hyde performance in 2005 against Sunday opponent the New York Giants, catching only four passes for 34 yards in the first meeting between the two teams, and then exploding for five catches, 160 yards and three TDs in the latter contest.
8 ARI Larry Fitzgerald The Cardinals have a lot of weapons on offense, but the offensive line is not one of them.  That lesson was re-illustrated on Sunday when the Falcons’ pass rush abused the Cardinals’ OL and harassed QB Kurt Warner into a bevy of sacks, interceptions and fumbles.  The Matt Leinart era officially began when the rookie QB replaced Warner with 13 minutes remaining, and Leinart wasted little time picking up right where the under-fire and mistake-prone Warner left off with an interception and a fumble of his own.  As a result, Fitzgerald rewarded fantasy owners with only three catches for 66 yards.
9 ARI Anquan Boldin Like Fitzgerald, Boldin’s value will be diminished a bit moving forward due to having a rookie QB and an offensive line that seems to grow less effective with each passing weak.  Boldin finished with a meager four catches and 42 yards against the Falcons.  On Sunday, the Cardinals will host a Chiefs team that just demoralized the 49ers’ upstart offense.  Kansas City has allowed only 121.7 passing yards per game and has yet to surrender a passing TD.
10 CIN Chad Johnson Johnson bruised his shoulder before halftime against the Patriots, but he played in the second half and finished with a so-so six catches and 64 yards.  Better than a kick in the teeth, but once again, not the type of numbers to which Johnson owners have grown accustomed.  It seems only logical that Johnson will come around soon – he’s currently on pace to accumulate only 72 catches, 804 yards and four touchdowns over a 16-game season.  Whether or not his mouth has finally caught up with him is a matter of debate, but Johnson’s fantasy owners are ready for him to zip it up.  The Bengals have a Week 5 bye.

(Note – this listing considers the rankings of WR’s if a draft was held today)

Climbing The Ladder

Terrell Owens (DAL) – Owens is a top-three receiver when he plays week-in and week-out, but it seems like it’s been a coon’s age since that’s happened.  Sunday’s game against Tennessee was a decent start, but five catches and 88 yards for a top-tier fantasy wideout – against the Titans, no less – will not cause fantasy owners to overlook what might have been.  The plate in Owens’ broken right hand contributed to a dropped pass in the end zone, and that illustrated another good reason why the fantasy world may continue to wait for vintage Terrell Owens.  He did play most of the snaps in Week 4 and – gasp – he appears to be on track to play a second consecutive game when the Cowboys play at Philadelphia on Sunday.  Owens should be started with a relative degree of confidence in all leagues, but he shouldn’t be considered a strong play as a No. 1 fantasy wideout until proven otherwise.  That day may be right around the corner.

Reggie Williams (JAC) – Did someone say ‘bust?’  Williams hasn’t only arrived as a consistent receiving threat, he’s fast becoming the Jaguars’ only such threat due to the disappearance of preseason sleeper favorites Matt Jones and Ernest Wilford.  Williams’ 21 catches, 243 yards and three TDs compare favorably to the combined output of Jones and Wilford through the first quarter of the season (26 catches, 304 yards, zero TDs).  Suffice it to say that the Jaguars will continue to field a passing game that can’t be wholly trusted, and Jones (groin) may re-establish himself as QB Byron Leftwich’s No. 1 target if and when he returns to full health, but for the time-being Williams is clearly the Jaguar wideout to own.  Jacksonville hosts the Jets on Sunday, a game in which Williams makes a fair play as a No. 2 fantasy wideout and a strong play in the No. 3 spot.

Marques Colston (NO) – It’s next to impossible to believe that Colston can maintain his current pace for the rest of the season, but at the one-quarter point of the campaign the rookie wide receiver (and TE in some formats) qualifies as the biggest surprise among fantasy wideouts.  The beauty of it is that Colston has been consistently good, posting No. 2 fantasy wideout numbers at a minimum on a weekly basis.  A garbage-time 86-yard TD on Sunday padded Colston’s stats (five catches, 132 yards and one TD), but QB Drew Brees targeted him heavily throughout the game.  New Orleans’ offense will have its hands full when the Saints host Tampa Bay on Sunday, but Colston remains a must-start for any fantasy owner who doesn’t have a freakishly good stable of receivers.

Sliding Back

Matt Jones (JAC) – Jones caught two passes for 13 yards in Week 4 against Washington and, to make matters worse, he limped off the field late in the game and spent much of the fourth quarter on the sidelines.  Jones has been a non-factor the past two weeks and needs to produce a fantasy-friendly performance before his owners can once again start him with confidence.  Week 5 opponent the Jets surrender a fair number of passing yards, but have allowed only three passing TDs in four games – including only one against the illustrious Colts offense in Week 4.

Antonio Bryant (SF) – Bryant fit the role of a No. 1 fantasy wideout like a glove in the first two weeks of the season, but he’s been an anchor the past two weeks following his two-catch, 29-yard performance on Sunday.  Reality has been re-established: the 49ers offense isn’t going to become good overnight.  Nonetheless, Week 5 opponent Oakland seems ripe for the picking.  Teams tend to not throw often against the Raiders (137.7 passing yards allowed per game), but when they do they’re been pretty good at it (five passing TDs allowed in three games).  For now, Bryant remains a strong start as a No. 2 or 3 wideout in most fantasy settings, but another dud or two and he may become untouchable on weeks in which the 49ers don’t have favorable matchups.

Donte’ Stallworth (PHI) – Monday was not a good night for starting wide receivers in Philadelphia.  Stallworth re-aggravated his injured hamstring and left the game against the Packers with only one catch for 26 yards.  He is scheduled to have an MRI on Tuesday, and fantasy owners can expect to be without his services for at least a couple of weeks.  The team’s other starting receiver, Reggie Brown, injured his shoulder, and the extent of his injury should be revealed on Tuesday.  Fantasy owners of Stallworth or Brown – or owners who simply need another quality receiver – would be wise to grab Greg Lewis.  Lewis caught two passes for 75 yards and two TDs against the Packers, and his role in the offense will expand exponentially until Stallworth and Brown return to health.  The Eagles host Dallas on Sunday.