Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Wide Receivers: Overvalued/Undervalued



Brandon Marshall – WR Miami
I’m not sold on the Henne to Marshall plan just yet in Miami. Henne begins his first season as Miami’s starter after taking over in game three of 2009. Entering his third NFL season, Henne is hardly a franchise quarterback just yet and that will impact Marshall’s numbers. Henne tossed more than one TD in just two games last year and works in a system that runs the ball first. Marshall is a significant upgrade from what the Dolphins had at WR last year, and he’s a guy who can take Henne to the next level. I expect Marshall to have a frustrating first year in South Beach. My advice: Marshall is a #1 WR, but don’t target him. Let him fall to you at around pick #27 (mid third round).

Chad Ochocinco – WR Cincinnati
Ochocinco is a headline grabber, but not always because of his play. Ochocinco will have to share the spotlight – and the ball – with fellow trash-talker Terrell Owens. The duo is intriguing and should make Cincinnati better. However, what the Owens signing does is limit the number of targets Ochocinco will get this year. Ochocinco’s catches dropped significantly last year compared to other 16 game seasons he’s played. Along with Owens stealing catches, the Bengals look very much like a team built to run. Neither scenario will help Ochocinco recapture his status as a #1 fantasy WR. My advice: Ochocinco is a #2 WR in most leagues. Look for him around #47 (late fourth, early fifth round).

Percy Harvin - WR Minnesota
Harvin was absent from my board until last week. Migraine headaches have kept the Vikings WR off the field most of training camp. His return to the field this week was an encouraging sign, but still not a convincing statement that he will be available every week. Harvin's stock rose when Sindey Rice underwent hip surgery, which will keep him out half of the season. Harvin is going to be an active player in the Vikings offense, but don’t expect him to find the same success that Rice had last year. Harvin’s migraines will be an affliction he deals with the entire season, and just because he looked good in one preseason game doesn’t mean he’s healed. My advice: Harvin is a great player, but as a fantasy owner you don’t want to deal with the uncertainty with him every week. Look for him around #79 (mid sixth round).

Donald Driver – WR Green Bay
Driver is an intriguing pick because he plays in the pass-happy Packer offense. For years Driver has been a reliable target in Green Bay, but time may be catching up with him. Driver finished last season on an unproductive note, and he underwent surgery on both knees in the offseason. While Driver says he feels great, he may not be able to run away from a couple of younger Packers ready to take his spot in the starting line-up. James Jones and Jordy Nelson are both expected to play a significant role in the Packers offense and one could unseat Driver as the starter by season’s end. My bet is on Jones, whom finished with 5 TDs on just 32 catches in 2009. My advice: look for Driver around #74 (early sixth round). Also, take a flier on James Jones with one of your last picks.

Hines Ward – WR Pittsburgh
Ward has been a very reliable fantasy WR over the years. He has been good for at least 6 TDs in each of the last five seasons. Unfortunately, all good things must end. Ward is entering his 14th season with Pittsburgh and this might be his last productive year. The Steelers are going to struggle early this season without Ben Roethlisberger, who is suspended 6 games (maybe 4 games) for violating the league’s conduct policy. Roethlisberger’s absence, along with the Steelers commitment to the run, will impact Ward’s fantasy output this year. Ward is still reliable, but don’t expect the same numbers as 2009. My advice: look for Ward around #61 (early to mid fifth round).

Mike Sims-Walker – WR Jacksonville
Sims-Walker went undrafted last year only to find himself on rosters in nearly every league by the end of the season. He was the free agent WR pick-up of the year after his week two 106 yard/1 TD performance. Sims-Walker ended 2009 with 7 TDs on just 63 catches. While Sims-Walker’s breakout season was a welcomed surprise for fantasy owners last year, don’t expect the same production this year. Jacksonville is a run first team that lacks a QB that will challenge defenses. David Garrard will hurt Sims-Walker’s numbers. My advice: Sims-Walker is not a #1 WR. Defenses won’t be surprised by him this year and Jacksonville lacks an established #2 WR. Look for Sims-Walker around #71 (early sixth round).


DeSean Jackson – WR Philadelphia
If you think Jackson is just a speed WR, you’re not watching enough Eagles games. It is true that Jackson is a burner, but have you noticed his ability to get open? Jackson’s route running has improved and he’s fast becoming Kevin Kolb’s main target. Although he’s small (5’10” 175 lbs.), Jackson is not afraid to go across the middle, or catch a bubble screen. Jackson’s ability to make defenders miss after the catch is what makes him so valuable. He can take a simple 5-yard crossing route and turn it into 50 yards. My advice: Jackson will be superb this season. The change from Donovan McNabb to Kolb at QB may help Jackson’s numbers. Look for Jackson around #16 (early second round).

Miles Austin – WR Dallas
Don’t paint Austin as a one hit wonder. The Dallas WR exploded onto the NFL scene last year in a big way. In week 5, Austin had the fantasy world buzzing with a 10 catch/250 yard/2 TD performance. He would go on to have four more 100 yard games and 11 total TDs in 2009. Watching Austin in the preseason this year, he looks like a guy who has improved his route running. This will make him more valuable to QB Tony Romo, who’s been looking for a reliable target at WR. My advice: Austin is a solid #1 WR. Look for him around #15 (early second round).

Dwayne Bowe – WR Kansas City
It’s hard to look at Bowe as undervalued, especially after last season. Bowe was a huge bust in 2009, making just 47 catches for 589 yards and 4 TDs in 11 games. Bowe was lazy last year, and it showed on the field. This year, Bowe’s approach has been different, and he’s taking steps to improve. Bowe spent part of his offseason in Minnesota training with Larry Fitzgerald, Cris Carter and other top NFL players. The Fitzgerald camp is considered one of the best for NFL players, and success usually follows players once they leave. Bowe will be hurt by the play of QB Matt Cassel and the Chiefs commitment to the run. But Bowe is a big target who will see most of Cassel’s passes. My advice: Bowe is a nice #2 WR. Look for him around pick #53 (mid-late fourth round).

Mike Wallace – WR Pittsburgh
I see a changing of the guard among Steelers WRs this year. After watching Hines Ward lead Pittsburgh in WR fantasy points every year for a decade, this year belongs to Wallace. He is fast, he can catch and in his second year he is running better routes. Wallace made fantasy owners take notice last year with his long TD grabs. While he only had 39 catches, he managed 756 yards and 6 TDs. Wallace is a threat to score every play and will find himself the target of many deep throws. My advice: Wallace is a #2 WR, with the potential to score 8-10 TDs. Look for around #51 (mid fourth round).

Bernard Berrian – WR Minnesota
Berrian never made it to 100% healthy last year, and it showed. Bothered by hamstring injuries, Berrian missed out on becoming Brett Favre’s favorite target. That role went to Sindey Rice, who is now out for half of the year. Berrian will need to play a bigger role in the Vikings offense this season. Berrian has the ability to make big plays and Favre likes to throw the deep ball. While I don’t expect Berrian to match Rice’s output from last year, it’s not out of the question for Berrian to catch 10 TDs. My advice: Berrian is little risk, but has a high reward. Look for him around #76 (mid-late sixth round).

Lee Evans – WR Buffalo
Poor Lee Evans. This guy has spent his entire career in Buffalo with no QB. Still, he manages to score TDs. Last year, Evans caught just 44 balls for 612 yards, but he scored 7 TDs. With Terrell Owens now gone in Buffalo, Evans should get more targets. Evans has always had the ability to get behind defenders and score long TDs. He is under appreciated in the fantasy football world only because he plays for the Bills. My advice: make Evans a part of your team. He is a solid #3 WR, look for him around #58 (early fifth round).

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