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Wide Receiver Report - Week 6
Todd Gray
October 10, 2006
Top Ten Fantasy WR’s to own Comment
1 STL Torry Holt Holt’s touchdown catch on Sunday released fantasy owners from disappointing overall output (three catches, 40 yards, 1 TD) and kept alive his season-long streak of producing winning fantasy numbers on a weekly basis.  He’s averaged six catches, 93 yards, and one TD in his past three games against Week 6 opponent Seattle, a team that has struggled against the pass this season.
2 IND Marvin Harrison Harrison posted meager reception (3) and yardage totals (29) as the Colts played down to the level of the winless Titans, but he did tack on his first touchdown of the season.  He’s first in the NFL in receiving yards (442) and third in receptions (32), which helps to offset his 16-game pace for TDs (3).  The unbeaten Colts get a Week 6 bye before hosting Washington in Week 7.
3 ARI Anquan Boldin Boldin accumulated a more-than-respectable four catches, 71 yards and one TD against the Chiefs on Sunday, despite playing with a rookie QB (Matt Leinart), a much-maligned offensive line, against a tough secondary and with teammate WR Larry Fitzgerald out of action for much of the game with an injured hamstring.  Fitzgerald will be out for at least a few weeks, and Boldin will get lots of extra attention as a result.  The problem is, that extra attention will come on both sides of the football.  He’ll need help from No. 3 wideout and 2003 first-round draft pick Bryant Johnson, who showed promise with six catches and 82 yards mostly in Fitzgerald’s absence on Sunday.  Week 6 opponent Chicago is not a team to mess with, but the Bears have shown a tendency to give up big games to No. 1 wideouts.
4 HOU Andre Johnson Johnson’s current pace equates to 120 catches, 1,640 yards and eight touchdowns over 16 games.  Much of the credit for his success goes to WR Eric Moulds, who has been a great second target for top-ranked QB David Carr and a fantasy asset in his own right with 18 catches, 230 yards and one TD.  The Texans are back in action against Dallas following a Week 5 bye.
5 CAR Steve Smith You can feel it in the air – Smith owners sense a breakout game of Santana Moss-like proportions.  It didn’t happen against a patchwork Cleveland secondary on Sunday when Smith posted six catches and 62 yards while dropping three passes, including two passes in the end zone.  Talk of his sore hammy lingers, but overlooked is the fact that the once-winless Panthers are now 3-2 after three straight wins with Smith in the lineup.  Smith owners would be fortunate to see him duplicate his Week 5 performance against Baltimore on Sunday.
6 SEA Darrell Jackson Sporadic cases of dropsitis have surfaced throughout Jackson’s career, and the first quarter of this season is no exception (four drops in four games).  Nonetheless, Jackson ranks in the NFL’s top 10 in catches per game (5.5), yards per game (73.3) and touchdown catches (3).  Seattle returns to action on Sunday at St. Louis following a Week 5 bye.  The Rams have fashioned a middle-of-the-road pass defense playing against the likes of San Francisco, Arizona, Detroit and Green Bay, and they should be ripe for the picking for a Seahawks squad coming off a Week 5 bye preceded by a thrashing at the hands of the Bears.
7 NYJ Laveranues Coles Coles (calf, wrist) played limited snaps in the Jets’ 41-0 throttling at the hands of Jacksonville on Sunday, and he didn’t like it.  Fantasy owners disappointed with his season-worst three catches and 19 yards may want to consider his limited playing time as a blessing in disguise.  Week 6 opponent Miami may be just the medicine for what ails the Jets offense.  In 2005, Coles’ fantasy owners reaped nine catches, 121 yards and two TDs in two games against the Dolphins.
8 WAS Santana Moss After reaching the level of respectability in Weeks 3 and 4, the Redskin’ offense once again looked like a sinking ship on Sunday against the Giants.  Moss followed up his season-best explosion on Week 4 with a dismal Week 5 output that netted his fantasy owners only three catches and 39 yards.  Once again, Moss seemed like another cog in the wheel of an offense that one would think would do more to capitalize on his talents.  His season totals (20 catches, 365 yards, three TDs) stack up well against most other NFL wideouts, but head-to-head owners will tell you that he’s been a relative disappointment in four separate weeks this season.  The good news is that Moss and the Redskins have a lovely matchup this weekend against winless Tennessee.
9 CIN Chad Johnson So you’d be better off at this point with Bernard Berrian, Keyshawn Johnson, Reggie Williams, Marques Colston, Greg Jennings, Jerricho Cotchery, Terry Glenn, Lee Evans…heck, even Mike Furry? Nevertheless, fantasy owners must believe that a string of strong performances are in store for Johnson.  Opposing defenses have committed to making other Bengals beat them, and so far it’s worked.  Another problem is a Bengals’ OL that has allowed QB Carson Palmer little time to throw, and which has yielded 15 sacks in four games after allowing only 19 sacks in all of 2005.  Week 6 opponent Tampa Bay presents a unique challenge.  Despite their troubles, the 0-4 Buccaneers have allowed only 166 passing yards per game and four passing TDs total in four games.
10 NYG Plaxico Burress Burress rebounded from a dreadful Week 3 performance and a Week 4 bye to produce one of the better fantasy lines of the day on Sunday with seven catches, 69 yards and a touchdown.  A handful of wideouts not on this list have turned in better numbers to date than Burress, but who would start Bernard Berrian or Reggie Williams over QB Eli Manning’s favorite target given the same level of competition?  The Giants will have their work cut out for them on Sunday against an Atlanta defense that is the only such unit in the NFL that hasn’t allowed a passing TD.

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

Climbing The Ladder

Keyshawn Johnson (CAR) – Johnson has played the tortoise to teammate WR Steve Smith’s hare through the first five games.  That is, everyone is waiting for Smith to explode while Johnson has been a weekly fantasy asset all along.  Johnson been good for either a touchdown or 100 yards receiving in three of five weeks, and his output in the other two games wasn’t half bad, either.  Like Smith, Johnson is far from a guarantee to post fantasy-worthy numbers against Baltimore in Week 6, but given his experience, his role and the way the Panthers are playing, hard-up fantasy owners could do worse than inserting Johnson into their No. 3 spot.

Lee Evans (BUF) – Chicago trounced the Bills on Sunday, but you wouldn’t know it by looking at Evans’ numbers.  He posted nine catches, 94 yards and a touchdown on a day in which QB J.P. Losman threw for only 115 yards with three interceptions.  Evans has been a top-5 WR in nearly every fantasy format the past three weeks and he should continue his surge when the Bills play at Detroit on Sunday.

Bernard Berrian (CHI) – Is it crazy to not include the No. 1 fantasy wideout in non-points-per-reception leagues in the top-10?  Perhaps, but dang it, this is the Bears offense and it just can’t be for real – not to this extent, anyway.  Then again, maybe it is.  Chicago plays at Arizona in Week 6 and, generally speaking, the Bears have a ridiculously easy schedule the rest of the way, thanks in large part to playing in the NFC North.  As a result, Berrian is a safest bet among this season’s crop of upstart wideouts to become the latest, greatest No. 1 fantasy wideout over the long haul.

Sliding Back

Larry Fitzgerald (ARI) – Whenever a player says, “I heard it pop,” fantasy owners know they’re in for trying times.  A pop is what Fitzgerald heard on Sunday, and the result is 2-4 weeks off with a severely strained hamstring.  As a sendoff, he provided fantasy owners with two catches, 15 yards and a TD against the Chiefs.  No. 3 WR Bryant Johnson immediately becomes a fantasy asset and proved as much with six catches and 82 yards on Sunday accumulated largely in Fitzgerald’s absence.  Grab Bryant, yes, but think two, three and even four times about starting him when the Cardinals host Chicago on Sunday.

Roy Williams (DET) – Williams was carted off the field on Sunday with what’s being described as a back stinger, and he’s currently day-to-day for the Lions’ home game against Buffalo on Sunday.  Williams shared his cart with G Damien Woody as the Lions collapsed in grand fashion against the Vikings and lost half of their team to injuries while doing so.  When healthy, Williams will remain a fantasy asset thick or thin, but if he misses any time fantasy owners desperate for a replacement should grab Lions WR Az-Zahir Hakim or the aforementioned Bryant.  Hakim doesn’t get a lot of respect in fantasy circles, but he’s bailed out fantasy owners more than a few times during his stints with the Lions over the past three-plus seasons.

Drew Bennett (TEN) – Bennett exceeded nearly everyone’s expectations with 16 catches, 235 yards and one touchdown in the first three games of the season, but the well ran dry upon the onset of the Vince Young era in Week 4.  Now Bennett is dealing with both a quadriceps injury that kept him out of action against the Dolphins on Sunday, and an ankle injury, to boot.  Even if he manages to play in the Titans’ matchup against Washington on Sunday, he merits little consideration as a fantasy starter in almost every setting imaginable.