Friday, July 21, 2006

FANTASY FOOTBALL'S 3 STAR WIDE RECEIVERS!

Once the cream of the pass catching crop has been skimmed from the drafts' surface and guys such as T.O., Randy, Marvelous, Chad and Hines (see? They can all go by 1st names like... Cher, Sting, Arnold, and ... umm, Sadaam) have been drafted, owners will need to dig a bit deeper if they're to select consistent fantasy contributors. And make no mistake my fantasy friends, if there's anything an owner places great emphasis and value upon, irregardless of the sport, it's "consistent consistency."

Sound redundant? In a way it is, but if a player regularly posts positive fantasy points that's consistent. Now, if said player regularly posts (I can't ascribe a point figure as every leagues' scoring system varies) above-average point totals (a locked-in receiver who snares 5+ balls, banks 75+ yards, and notches at least 1 score every other week)... that's "consistent consistency." In Baseball, a guy such as Philly OF'er Bobby Abreu is "consistently consistent." The Philadelphian is always good for a 2 hit/1-2 Run, 1+ Ribbie' night with an Extra Base Hot and/or a Swiped Bag thrown in for good measure. Bobby rarely whiffs' more than once per game, he can hit safely to all fields (24 Doubles, 2 Triples) and is an accomplished base stealer (20). This remarkable confluence of tools manifests itself in one of fantasy Baseball's top 10 Outfielders.
So.... you get the point? There are just a handful of elite Wideouts, but there are a number of 2nd tier pass catchers who are quite capable of making an appreciable fantasy impact.

Grab yer' box of Raisenettes or Non-Pareils, stick a straw in your cola of choice (or discretely pop the 6-pack of Corona into the styrofoam cooler), and let's continue our fantasy journey around our fantasy world!

FANTASY FOOTBALL'S 3-STAR WIDE RECEIVERS!

11. Santana Moss: So small, the dude could pose for trophies! Incidentally, the teeny-tiny Redksin receiver does a helluva' good "Pole Vault" and "Man About to Bowl" pose.
Though many would have slotted Moss (84/1,483/9) much higher, quite probably before Plaxico Burress, newcomers Antwaan Randel El and Brandon Lloyd, plus sure-handed H-Back Chris Cooley and always dangerous RB Clinton Portis will make it impossible for foes to adequately cover Moss. Sure ,they'll be able to place bracket coverage around the 5-10/190 firecracker, but that will leave another 'Skin playmaker wide open.
Operating under the assumption that Mark Brunell remains intact and the offensive reigns don't get handed off to young Jason Campbell, Moss should continue being a dangerous, 1,200+/6-9 vertical threat.
**NOTE: Lloyd and Randel El will certainly poach plays, but Moss is the team's deep threat and Lloyd is more a possession type. I do, however, love what Chris Cooley and TE Christian Fauria bring to the offense!

12. Reggie Wayne: Again, could Wayne (83/1.055/5) have been the #10 pass catcher? Absolutely... but we'd be splitting hairs.
For the most part, Reggie Wayne's production has consistently risen since he entered the league in '01. Taking QB Peyton Manning's all-out '04 assault on the record books aside (Reg' posted a 1,200+/12 that season), Wayne's receptions, yardage totals, and TDs have risen exponentially.
Without veteran RB Edgerrin James toting the rock, this season promises to be one of constant adjustments. The club will trot-out rook' runners Joseph Addai and veteran Dominic Rhodes, but the smart money says Peyton takes command and goes pass heavy, again, with Wayne and TEs Dallas Clark and Bryan Fletcher the most immediate beneficiaries.
I'm not so sure that this isn't the season that sees Reggie supplant Marvelous as the #1 Wide Receiver.

13. Chris Chambers: What'd I say about how tightly grouped the talent at this level is? S'like a Gordian Knot, that's how snug this bunch is.
Anyway, Daunte Culpepper is recovering from 3 torn knee liggies and G-d only gave us 4 per knee. To expect the gargantuan Signal Caller to be on his game would be entirely unreasonable, but the team's got a quandry on it's collective hands. Does Saban give 2nd year man Ronnie Brown a blue-collar workload? If so, he'll be taking a calculated risk since the team is without a credible backup. If, however, Saban places his faith in C-Pepp', the team's new QB will undoubtedly share the love and lean heavily upon Chambers (82/1,118/11) in much the same way he leaned upon Randy Moss when both wore Minny' duds.
Tall and athletic, Chambers is able to track and high-point the ball like few Wide Receivers can... and talk about hops! Chambers' legs are like... PoGo Sticks! With TE Randy McMichael no slouch and helping to alleviate the considerable pass catching pressure, Chambers could enjoy a breakout season now that he's got a real live QB throwing him the ball. For real!

14. Roy Williams: Wow! A Detroit Lion as a high draft pick? What's the fantasy world coming to! I'l tell you, though, for all his faults... and GM Matt Millen's got a wallet full of 'em, Kevin Jones and Roy Williams (45/687/ have been 2 of his best decisions. Then again, Charles Rogers, Joey Harrington, and LB Boss Bailey aren't exactly glowing endorsements of Millen's 9-5 work ethic and assessment skills.
Williams, though, is a breed apart, and this ranking is predicated more upon potential than past accomplishments. Roy the Detroit pass catching toy has been prone to injury and has yet to play a full 16 game complement. On the other hand, with the "Harrington Experiment" now over and proven QB Jon Kitna jammin' hands under C Dominic Raiola's rear... Williams is an excellent "breakout candidate of the year" projection!

15. Derrick Mason: Against my gut, I'm goin' with D-Mase' here. I could just as easily have gone with Seahawk Darrell Jackson or Bronc' Javon Walker.
Mason (86/1,073/3) is exceptionally durable for his size (5-10/190), he could run his typical crisp routes blindfolded, and his toughness is legendary. With the remarkably UNimpressive Kyle Boller calling the shots Mason notched nearly 1,100 receiving yards, with a proven Field General in Steve McNair in command of the Balty' flock? Look for D-Mase's TDs to double, at the least, and his yards to increase by as much as 30%.
**NOTE: Another Raven who should reach new heights? TE Todd Heap. Together, Heap and Mason will keep opposing defensive coordinators lying awake at night... a determined RB Jamal Lewis will cause them to break out into cold sweats.

16. Donald Driver: The Pack' are going to be an interesting club to watch this season, and how QB Brett Favre and the supporting run game fare will be fascinating.
I, for one, thoroughly expected an aging and increasingly worn Brett Favre to stride off into a Wisconsin sunset this past off-season, but I underestimated the lure of the game and the difficulty Brett would have shaking free of its siren call.
Driver (86/1,221/5) has phe-freakin'-nomenal straight-line speed, the vertical leap of a Dingo (A Dingo can jump straight-up, 4'), and is particularly dangerous along the sideline. With Javon's departure to Denver comes Donald's ascension to #1 receiver status. You might actually say, Donald's in the "Driver" seat. Get it" 'Cause Donald's surname's... never mind.
Anyway, much will hinge upon the so-so Offensive line (a mix of young and old) and the Running Backs, all of whom are coming off one injury or another. I do NOT expect Ahman Green to be anything special and Najeh Davenport showed flashes... before breaking his ankle. Sam Gado was the real surprise, but he won't be sneaking up on opponents again this year.
Bottom line? Favre has enough left in the tank to render Driver a 90/1,100/8 pass catcher, worthy of your 5th-ish round attention.

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