Wednesday, July 29, 2009

2009 Fantasy Football Cheat Sheet - WR

Other cheat sheets:
QB | WR | RB | TE
  1. Larry Fitzgerald, Arizona Cardinals - We all knew he was good, but last season he took everything to another level. He was particularly good down the stretch (in what would be the fantasy playoffs), when he had at least 100 yards or a touchdown in each of his last seven games. Of course, he did that in all but three games all season. Only a select few wideouts get you running back numbers; they are the elite, and Fitzgerald is their king.
  2. Randy Moss, New England Patriots - Moss had a ho hum 2008 with 1,000 yards and 11 touchdowns. With Tom Brady back from injury, Moss should be back up to his old tricks. I wouldn't look for another record-breaking season, but 15 TDs seems like a floor.
  3. Andre Johnson, Houston Texans - Johnson was nearly as productive as Fitzgerald last year, except that Fitz found the end zone four more times. But Johnson is a reception machine, which means that he rarely has an off game. Moss and Johnson are close enough that you can pick between them, based on whether you want reliability or the potential for a 3 touchdown game.
  4. Anquan Boldin, Arizona Cardinals - All of the hullabaloo around Fitzgerald overshadowed Boldin's production, which was outstanding. He had a better season than Randy Moss, and played in only 12 games. He may deserve an "injury-prone" label, as he's missed time in four of his six seasons in the NFL, but there's no question he's a stud WR. Just keep your fingers crossed he doesn't stub a toe.
  5. Calvin Johnson, Detroit Lions - You could justify putting Calvin Johnson as high as Andre Johnson, based on talent. The only reason I've got Calvin down here is that he'll be receiving throws from Daunte Culpepper again, which doesn't inspire confidence. But Calvin's talent is transcendent, and he'll be solid regardless.
  6. Roddy White, Atlanta Falcons - White took zero time to get in sync with rookie QB Matt Ryan, and turned in his best season yet. I'm confident that the addition of Tony Gonzalez will only help White, and the Falcons (the Falcons?) could have one of the best offenses in the NFL.
  7. Greg Jennings, Green Bay Packers - Jennings and Aaron Rodgers were a match made in heaven from the start, and fantasy owners have felt the love. Who knew that Green Bay, WI would be home to one of football's great passing attacks? Jennings is something of a home run threat, so you may have to deal with some low production weeks, but the upside is worth the occasional 30-yard game.
  8. Steve Smith, Carolina Panthers - Smith is one of the hardest guys to judge from year to year. Coming off of two solid but unspectacular seasons, Smith recaptured his gamebreaker ability, finishing second in the NFC in receiving yards in just 14 games. But he's constantly missing time, and he's got only one 100-catch season in his career. He's a very good receiver; just make sure you don't draft him as if he were a great receiver.
  9. Brandon Marshall, Denver Broncos - Who knows where Marshall will be when the season opens up. Most likely he'll still be in Denver, but a change of scenery might be more comforting to fantasy owners. I think he'll be equally productive regardless,and I think that production will be delightful.
  10. Reggie Wayne, Indianapolis Colts - This will be Wayne's first season ever without Marvin Harrison on the opposite side. Worth mentioning is that last year, which was Harrison's least productive in a decade, was also a less productive season for Wayne. The hope is that with Joseph Addai back from injury and Anthony Gonzalez getting comfortable as a starter, Wayne will get back to his 2007 ways, but don't overpay.
  11. Marques Colston, New Orleans Saints - The one thing you can say about Colston is that he's going to get chances. The Saints throw the ball as much as any team, and Drew Brees is a fantastic quarterback to have throwing to your receiver. Colston is the best receiver in New Orleans, and while injuries limited his production, they also showed that there are other threats on the team. Lance Moore's development should keep defenses honest, and allow Colston to return to being one of the better wideouts in the league.
  12. Wes Welker, New England Patriots - Perhaps the greatest beneficiary of the new Patriots' offense, Welker has had back-to-back 110+ catch seasons. Brady's return should put Welker back in the end zone a few more times.
  13. Dwayne Bowe, Kansas City Chiefs - Bowe is entering the legendary "third season for a wide receiver," and will likely be drafted higher in many leagues because of it. He's certainly talented, and his quarterback this year (Matt Cassel) should be at least as good as last year's (Tyler Thigpen). But the loss of Tony Gonzalez is big, and I'm wary of saying Bowe is a stand-alone top-tier WR.
  14. Terrell Owens, Buffalo Bills - At some point, Owens will lose a step and become just a big wide receiver without much fantasy potential. Despite last year's drop off in production, I don't think we're there yet. Owens is still an impressive physical specimen, and I imagine he'll be looking to disprove his detractors this season. A motivated T.O. is a sight to see.
  15. T.J. Houshmandzadeh, Seattle Seahawks - Everything was a little worse last year in Cincinnati, but I think you can attribute most of that to Carson Palmer's absence. Housh won't have Chad Johnson (or Chad Ochocinco) opposite him in Seattle, but he should still be able to get close to 100 catches as well as solid yardage and TD numbers.
  16. Braylon Edwards, Cleveland Browns - Many, many people became disillusioned with Braylon Edwards last season, which is exactly why he needs to be on your radar this season. His true skills probably lie somewhere in between his explosive 2007 and his implosive 2008. I'd be surprised if he didn't get double-digit touchdowns this season.
  17. Hines Ward, Pittsburgh Steelers - Despite Santonio Holmes' emergence as a legitimate receiving threat, Ward remained Ben Roethlisberger's favorite target. He may be getting on in years, but I'm not betting against Ward. Like, ever.
  18. Santana Moss, Washington Redskins - Moss always seems to make his hay in a couple of first-half games, then peter off towards the end of the season. I say draft him on his full-season numbers, but if his value goes up again early on (and it will), trade him.
  19. Antonio Bryant, Tampa Bay Buccaneers - Bryant is the poster boy for the phrase, "Any given Sunday." He's got a career of ups and downs that always hinted at talent, but until last season never materialized. Do we buy into one season of production or a career of disappointment? I'm avoiding Bryant unless the draft value is considerable.
  20. Roy Williams, Dallas Cowboys - Williams became the #1 wide receiver in Dallas when Owens left, but he's still behind Jason Witten when it comes to Romo's favorite receivers. He's got a career of explosive play, injuries, and inconsistency. He'll be in the best opportunity of his career this season, which is why I've got him ranked fairly high, but he's still a risky pick.
  21. Vincent Jackson, San Diego Chargers - It's taken a while, but the Northern Colorado product has finally become a legitimate starting wide receiver. He was particularly good in the crunch last season, which could be a sign of things to come. Or it could just be the nature of football.
  22. Chad Ochocinco, Cincinnati Bengals - It was only a year ago that Chad Johnson (as he was then named) was coming off of his 5th straight 1200+ yard, 7+ TD season. Carson Palmer's absence last year was, I believe, the reason for Johnson's weak performance. Ryan Fitzpatrick had trouble hitting him in stride, as evidenced by a drop of more than 50% off of Johnson's career yards-after-catch average. I think he'll bounce back, contingent upon Palmer's health.
  23. Eddie Royal, Denver Broncos - Royal lost his Pro Bowl quarterback, his opposite receiver wants a trade, and defenses have a full year of film on him. All the logic says to be wary of Royal, but I can't shake the positive vibes I got from watching him play last year. I say take him.
  24. Lee Evans, Buffalo Bills - Normally I wouldn't see adding a new #1 receiver as a reason to think more of a receiver, but Evans has always seemed best suited to a Robin role. He's a home run threat, so with defenses having to worry about T.O., I see a lot of opportunities to get downfield and open. His upside is Braylon Edwards from two years ago.
  25. Santonio Holmes, Pittsburgh Steelers - Holmes got a lot of publicity for his fantastic Super Bowl catch, but other than that, his third year in the NFL was fairly pedestrian. I still think he's got the ability to get to another level, hence the ranking, but make sure you don't let his highlight reel affect your judgment.
  26. Lance Moore, New Orleans Saints - He may not be supremely talented, but he's in one of the best spots in football for a receiver. A thousand yards and ten touchdowns is a solid bet.
  27. Anthony Gonzalez, Indianapolis Colts - Another opportunity guy; the Colts will pass, and Gonzo will start, so voila! Statistics.
  28. DeSean Jackson, Philadelphia Eagles - The Eagles haven't ever really had much in the way of receivers, so it didn't come as much of a surprise that Jackson immediately became their best fantasy wideout. No reason to not expect some improvement.
  29. Devin Hester, Chicago Bears - Jay Cutler had a lot of success working with Eddie Royal, who's got a similar skillset to Hester. I fully expect Hester to be considerably better with Cutler in town.
  30. Donnie Avery, St. Louis Rams - With Torry Holt moving on, Avery becomes the best receiver on the Rams. Not encouraging for Rams fans, but it makes him worth a draft pick for us fantasy owners.
  31. Ted Ginn Jr., Miami Dolphins - While the Dolphins' offense will likely be conservative again, there will be plenty of opportunities for him to shine. Even withGreg Camarillo and Davone Bess competing for looks, I believe Ginn will do far more with his chances.
  32. Bernard Berrian, Minnesota Vikings - There's really no good bet on who'll be quarterbacking this team, but it's safe to say Berrian will be going deep. The guy is a twig, but he can make big plays.
  33. Kevin Walter, Houston Texans - He really just seems like a 900 yard, 5 TD guy. He'll be solid, but nothing to get excited about.
  34. Donald Driver, Green Bay Packers - Speaking of nothing to get excited about, Driver is well into his NFL career. He's reliable and not at all flashy, but to fill out your starting roster, reliable is a good thing.
  35. Laveranues Coles, Cincinnati Bengals - I'm expecting a little bit of a bounce back for Coles in his new digs. Nothing fancy, but I wouldn't be surprised at all if he got back to 1000+ yards.
  36. Jerricho Cotchery, New York Jets - With the departure of Coles, Cotchery becomes the Jets' most proven receiver. The QB situation is far from desirable, but Cotchery should still be productive.
  37. Steve Breaston, Arizona Cardinals - Breaston is a real wild card, because he oscillated between great and missing without any apparent rhyme or reason. If Boldin gets dealt, Breaston becomes much more valuable, but if not, I'd be wary of starting him unless you have to.
  38. Domenik Hixon, New York Giants - With Plaxico Burress facing likely jail time, and seemingly not welcome back in New York, someone else will have to step up. Hixon feels like the most likely candidate, but Steve Smith, Mario Manningham, Sinorice Moss, and others all figure to get their shots.
  39. Torry Holt, Jacksonville Jaguars - Holt used to be one of the elite wide receivers in football, but now he's just a default #1 on a team with a crummy passing game. He'll probably be no better than he was last year (800 yards, 3 TDs), but no worse either.
  40. Michael Jenkins, Atlanta Falcons - I'm counting on improvement throughout the Falcons' passing game, but Jenkins figures to benefit the least from the arrival of Tony Gonzalez. His touchdowns will probably stay low, but his yards could get a bump.
  41. Michael Crabtree, San Francisco 49ers - I've never had much faith in rookie wide receivers, but someone will have to catch passes for the 49ers. Crabtree has as good a chance as any to be their biggest producer.
  42. Steve Smith, New York Giants - He and Domenik Hixon figure to be the most likely starting two for the Giants this season. They'll still be a run-first team, but with perhaps the league's best offensive line, there'll be opportunities for receivers to make plays.
  43. Isaac Bruce, San Francisco 49ers - Bruce quietly had a fairly productive season in 2008. While Michael Crabtree will steal some looks, and San Francisco has a very questionable quarterback situation, Bruce will probably fall backwards into 750 yards and a few touchdowns, which is fine for your fourth receiver.
  44. Percy Harvin, Minnesota Vikings - He won't be able to help being a better producer than the Vikings' last highly touted WR draft pick, that bum Troy Williamson. He also doesn't have much competition for looks in the passing game, so the opportunity for a surprise rookie explosion is there...if anyone can get him the ball.
  45. Nate Washington, Tennessee Titans - Washington goes from #3 receiver in Pittsburgh to #1 receiver in Tennessee. His situation got a lot worse, but there's an opportunity for success here. He's worth a flier on your bench.
  46. Darrius Heyward-Bey, Oakland Raiders - The Raiders boasted one of the weakest passing attacks of the decade last season, and they did nothing to inspire much hope for improvement. But it's obvious that Heyward-Bey will get opportunities, and he does have talent. He's the best option on Oakland, which puts him squarely at #46 overall.
  47. Greg Camarillo, Miami Dolphins - Either Camarillo or Davone Bess will get the starting gig alongside Ted Ginn; my guess is Camarillo. He's not much of a candidate for an explosion, but he should be solid.
  48. Justin Gage, Tennessee Titans - Gage was one of my favorite receivers to target in Madden 2001. It's taken him a while to get going, but he seems to have found a nice little niche in Tennessee. He won't be great, but he just might be good for 800 yards and 5-7 TDs.
  49. Deion Branch, Seattle Seahawks - Nate Burleson might be more talented than Branch, but Burleson seems too similar to Houshmandzadeh for them to be on the field together all that often. My guess is Branch will be the better producer.
  50. Jeremy Maclin, Philadelphia Eagles - There's usually a rookie wide receiver who plays really well, and it's not always the first receiver taken (Marques Colston, Anquan Boldin). Maclin comes into a good situation with a talented QB and unimpressive WRs in front of him. Why not Maclin?

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