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Wide Receiver Report - Week 8
Todd Gray
October 24, 2006
Top Ten Fantasy WR’s to own Comment
1 STL Torry Holt Holt’s 37 catches and 526 yards through six games place him in the league’s top-10 in both categories, but his unmatched total of seven touchdowns has made him the No. 1 fantasy wideout to date in nearly every format.  The 4-2 Rams’ Week 8 game in San Diego stands to be the team’s toughest contest to date.  The Chargers have allowed only 159.2 yards passing per game (No. 2 in the NFL) and a modest seven TD passes in six games – not that the level of competition matters to Holt owners when they’re submitting their starting lineups.
2 CAR Steve Smith It seems Smith’s numbers will be worth the wait after all.  Since missing the Panthers’ first two games with a hamstring injury, Smith has averaged 7.8 catches and 115.2 yards per game in the Panthers’ past five games.  Carolina hosts Dallas on Sunday – ho-hum.
3 HOU Andre Johnson Johnson’s eight-catch, 106-yard, one-TD performance in the Texans’ 27-7 upset of Jacksonville made it four games this season that he’s had eight or more catches and four games with 100-plus yards.  The Texans’ matchup on Sunday against Tennessee would have looked like a potential fantasy bonanza a few weeks ago, but after a rough start the Titans have allowed only 123.0 passing yards and 1.5 passing TDs per game the past two weeks against Indianapolis and Washington, respectively.  That’s no reason to hesitate starting Johnson.
4 ARI Anquan Boldin Boldin’s fantasy output on Sunday (four catches, 59 yards) was his lowest of the season despite his being targeted 13 times by QB Matt Leinart in Arizona’s 22-9 loss to Oakland.  The one-win Raiders actually field one of the league’s best defenses against the pass, so mediocre numbers from Boldin weren’t entirely unexpected.  The same cannot be said when the Cardinals face Green Bay on Sunday.  An inviting matchup against the Packers coupled with the expected absence of WR Larry Fitzgerald (hamstring) for another week make Boldin one of the most likeable fantasy plays in Week 8.
5 IND Marvin Harrison Harrison caught seven passes for 73 yards and two touchdowns and QB Peyton Manning looked as good as ever as Indianapolis hammered Washington 36-22 on Sunday.  A toughie looms for the Colts in Week 8 in what amounts to an irresistible force/immovable object paradox: a matchup against Denver at Mile High Stadium.  The Broncos have allowed a league-low two passing TDs total sin six games.
6 SEA Darrell Jackson Jackson had arguably his best game of the season with seven catches, 136 yards and one TD in Seattle’s 31-13 loss to Minnesota, but there is a cloud in that silver lining.  QB Matt Hasselbeck sprained his right knee in the third quarter and is expected to miss at least three weeks.  Backup QB Seneca Wallace got off to a rough start in place of Hasselbeck, and while Jackson will be targeted early and often against Kansas City on Sunday, to prognosticate anything more than seven catches, 85 yards and a 50-50 chance to catch a touchdown would be a stretch.
7 NYJ Laveranues Coles New York scored 31 points against the Lions, but the Jets did most of their damage on the ground.  The result was a paltry four catches and 29 yards for Coles, his second fantasy dud in three weeks.  The Jets are more likely to run well than they are to pass well against Week 8 opponent Cleveland, so while Coles should improve on his Week 7 numbers, a return to his early-season dominance is unlikely.
8 DET Roy Williams Williams entered Week 7 as one of the hottest fantasy wideouts going, but his momentum was cooled by a two-catch, 29-yard day salvaged by a second-quarter touchdown catch.  The 1-6 Lions get a bye in Week 8 to try to sort out their problems before facing Atlanta in Week 9.
9 DAL Terrell Owens The Cowboys didn’t look good against the Giants on Monday night, but Owens fantasy owners aren’t complaining.  He caught six passes for 98 yards and his fourth TD in two games in the team’s 36-22 loss.  Week 8 opponent Carolina is playing well as a whole, but not so hot against the pass, giving up five passing touchdowns in the past two games
10 PHI Reggie Brown Brown has been a top-10 fantasy wideout through seven weeks of play and a top-five option over the past month.  There is only one good reason why he can’t finish the season as a No. 1 fantasy wideout in most formats – the expected return of early-season phenom Donte’ Stallworth (hamstring) on Sunday when the Eagles host Jacksonville.  Assuming that Stallworth does indeed return and stays healthy in the process, Brown has established himself as a viable fantasy threat nonetheless.

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

Climbing The Ladder

 Mike Furrey (DET) – Furrey made a splash early in the season, maintained his momentum with a two-touchdown performance in Week 4, and made it clear on Sunday that he’s not going away anytime soon.  He posted career-highs of nine catches and 109 yards along with his third TD of the season in the Lions’ 31-24 loss to the Jets.  Furrey is currently a top-15 fantasy wideout in most settings thanks to his ability to catch every halfway-decent pass and to a Mike Martz-run offense that has conjured up more than a few fantasy-relevant wideouts who were previously unknown.  Furrey won’t help fantasy owners this week due to the Lions’ Week 8 bye, but it’s likely that few if any No. 3 fantasy wideouts will produce more in Weeks 9-12, a span in which the Lions play Atlanta, San Francisco, Arizona and Miami, in that order.

Donald Driver (GB) – All Driver has done is post averages of 85 catches, 1,215 yards and seven TDs the past two seasons, but the knock on him as not being a true No. 1 wide receiver in the NFL seems to cloud his fantasy value, as well.  Driver has even played second fiddle to rookie WR Greg Jennings the past few weeks as he battled through injures, but things returned to normal on Sunday when he produced a season-high 10 catches along with 93 yards and one touchdown against the Dolphins.  Green Bay faces the Cardinals in Week 8, and Driver owners with two or three better options are fortunate indeed.

Joe Jurevicius (CLE) – Jurevicius hasn’t exactly taken the world by storm since returning four weeks ago from a rib injury, but he’s caught a touchdown pass in two of the Browns’ past three games while being one of the few consistent components in the team's offense.  His two TDs-in-three-games pace mirrors his standard from a season ago when he caught 10 touchdowns in 16 games with Seattle.  It’s hard to recommend Jurevicius wholeheartedly as a No. 3 fantasy wideout in mid-sized leagues, but the fact of the matter is that some owners in a pinch may find that he’s the best WR option available on the waiver wire heading into Week 8 play.

Sliding Back

Chad Johnson (CIN) – Johnson caught six passes for the third game in a row in the Bengals’ 17-14 win against Carolina, but he hasn’t seen the end zone since Week 2 and his season high in yards is 99.  Fantasy owners can expect him to break out at some point, but it’s going to take a couple of whoppers for him to once again be considered a true top-tier fantasy wideout from a season-long perspective.  Cincinnati hosts Atlanta on Sunday in what amounts to one of the most interesting Week 8 matchups.  Atlanta didn’t allow a single TD pass in the team’s first four games, but the Falcons surrendered a whopping seven passing TDs against the New York Giants and Pittsburgh in Weeks 6 and 7, respectively.  Maybe this is the week that Johnson makes good on all of that preseason potential…

Reggie Williams (JAC) – Williams posted zeros across the board in Jacksonville’s 27-7 loss at the hands of the mighty Texans on Sunday, the first time in his three-year career that he’s been shut out in a game in which he’s actually played.  His three touchdowns in the past four games disguise averages of 2.5 catches and 38.8 yards receiving in those four contests.  QB Byron Leftwich’s gimpy ankle is affecting his overall play as was evidenced on Sunday when Jaguars wide receivers accumulated exactly 48 yards receiving.  Jacksonville plays at Philadelphia in Week 8, where there are more difficult things to do than to exploit the Eagles’ pass defense.  Williams should be considered as a serviceable no. 3 wide receiver at best until the Jaguars return to their early-season form – when or if that happens.

Chris Chambers (MIA) – The season did not start well for Chambers, and near the midway point things seem far from getting better.  Chambers may have loads of talent, but with the Dolphins stinking and with QB Joey Harrington dumping the ball off all day to wide receivers who aren’t being double-teamed (and usually doing so in a hurry), Chambers is a long shot to live up to his preseason billing as a top-10 fantasy wideout.  The Dolphins should enjoy their Week 8 bye while it lasts – the team faces the Bears in Chicago on Nov. 5.