2007 Fantasy Wide Receivers: Ranking Analysis

As your fantasy season approaches, we break down the top ranked 2007 NFL Fantasy Wide Receivers. The WR Ranking Analysis article continues a week of '07 fantasy ranking breakdowns here on Scout.com.

ELITE

Reggie Wayne - Indianapolis Colts
Superbowl champion Reggie Wayne went sea-saw with fellow Colt
WR Marvin Harrison for the 2006 statistical lead.  As 
opposing defenses guarded Harrison, QB Peyton Manning went 
Wayne's direction (esp. early in the season)...and as 
defenses adjusted back toward Wayne, Manning went toward 
Harrison (as seen later in the season).  For most of the 2006 
year, it was Wayne with the bulk of the fantasy stats.  In 
fact, if not for Harrison's 6 TDs in Indy's final 3 games...
it would have been Reggie Wayne finishing as the number one 
fantasy WR instead of Harrison (Wayne finished 4th).  Wayne's 
size and another year with Manning in Indy's high-power 
offense (and Harrison's increasing age) may be just enough to 
boost Wayne to the top spot over Harrison and the rest of the 
fantasy WRs in 2007.
  
2006 Stats        Rcptns-86       Rec yds-1310    TDs–9 


Chad Johnson - Cincinnati Bengals
Chad Johnson was a preseason top 3 WR last year...but fantasy
owners were left disappointed in Johnson's numbers for most 
of the 2006 season.  As much as I want to rank CJ at number 
one for 2007, it's difficult to elevate a guy who was healthy 
for all of '06 and finished a mere 12th in final fantasy 
rankings.  It was Houshmandzadeh early for the Bengals last 
year (albeit largely due to the presence of CJ).  But Chad 
Johnson did manage to bust out by mid-season and blow things 
open for the Cincy offense.  Johnson's 1370 yards led the 
league (4 yards ahead of Harrison), but CJ was kept somehow 
out of the endzone as he caught only 7 of his 87 passes for 
TDs.  Palmer is still capable of tossing for 35 TDs in any 
given season.  We're going to pretend that the minimal 7 TDs 
caught by Chad in '06 were just a fluke...and rank him 2nd 
while fully believing CJ will have a huge 2007 season.

2006 Stats        Rcptns-87       Rec yds-1370    TDs–7
      

Terrell Owens - Dallas Cowboys
Terrell Owens developed a fine chemistry with replacement 
quarterback Tony Romo in 2006 to finish with a great fantasy
season (esp. since FFLs don't count dropped passes or player
distractions to their NFL teams).  Sticking to the positive, 
Owens scored 13 TDs (to lead all NFL wide receivers), had 85 
grabs, and put up nice yardage in an offense that likes to 
run the ball.  Fantasy owners who trusted in Owens' ability 
weren't disappointed.  And the result was Owens as the #2 
producing fantasy wide receiver on the board.  T.O. has 85 
TDs over the last 7 seasons (and while skipping most of 2005 
in Philly).  Like Owens or not, he's a constant force on the 
football field and will consistently reward his fantasy 
owners with many elite performances.

2006 Stats        Rcptns-85     Rec yds-1180     TDs–13


Steve Smith - Carolina Panthers
Smith  struggled early in '06 with a Carolina team that had 
trouble putting points on the board.  Smith scored just 2 TDs 
through week 9 and had fantasy owners desperate for points 
from the number 1 preseason ranked WR.  Interestingly, SS
picked up where he left off at the end of 2005 (where he 
scored just 3 TDs in his final 8 games after an amazing 1st
half).  But Smith got things together in the 2nd half of 2006
and put up some TDs to match some nice yardage totals.  
Ultimately, Steve Smith finished last season among the top 5 
fantasy wide receivers.  Look for Smith's undeniable ability 
to continue last season's 2nd half run on the stat board.  
Imagine what Smith could do if he put together a full
season! 

2006 Stats        Rcptns-83       Rec yds-1166     TDs–9


Marvin Harrison - Indianapolis Colts
(See Wayne) Harrison can do it all and is now considered as 
one of the best wide receivers to ever play the game. 
Although Harrison didn't score a TD until week 5 last season, 
Marvin's numbers at season's end were enough to finish ranked 
1st of all fantasy wide receivers.  Harrison is on pace to 
set several NFL records as long as he continues to stay 
healthy and play in Indianapolis - esp. with Peyton throwing 
him the ball.  Harrison's all-around statistics (95 grabs for 
1366 yards with 12 TDs) were enough to please any fantasy 
owner last year...esp. with his 6 TDs in his final 3 games 
(the fantasy playoffs!).  And aside from splitting hairs in a 
slight edge to Wayne last season, both Harrison and Wayne are 
ranked in our top 5 for 2007.  Either Colt WR will land their 
fantasy owners elite statistics, but don't be surprised if 
Wayne's numbers edge Harrison's by the end of the season.

2006 Stats        Rcptns-95       Rec yds-1366    TDs–12 


Larry Fitzgerald - Arizona Cardinals
After Fitz and Boldin each put up a 100+ rcptn / 1400+ yard
season in 2005, '06 was a huge letdown for Cardinal fans and 
fantasy owners of the two AZ WR studs.  Quarterback changes 
(Kurt Warner ultimately yielded to rookie Matt Leinart) and a 
poor offensive line seemed to get the most of the Cardinals 
despite expected improvement on offense.  Fitzgerald's stats
weren't terrible last season, but they were nothing near what 
most gurus expected from the talented receiver.  2007 and a 
year under sophomore Leinart should help...as should the 
addition of newly acquired RT Levi Brown.

2006 Stats         Rcptns-69       Rec yds-946     TDs–6


Roy Williams - Detroit Lions
ROY is an amazing talent at wide receiver and finally had an 
offensive coordinator who brought out some of his ability. 
Williams is perhaps the most talented receiver on the board, 
but the lack of offensive support in Detroit didn't allow his
talent to be fully showcased.  Opposing defenses keyed upon 
Williams in '06 and led to a severe red-zone drought (to the 
tune of 6 straight games without a score).  But help has 
arrived in the Motor City.  WR Calvin Johnson (clearly the 
best talent taken in the 2007 draft) fell to the Lions and 
will help keep defenses honest and triple teams off of ROY. 
Jon Kitna may not be the best quarterback to ever take a snap 
from center, but he now has one of the best offensive 
coordinators and best wide receiver tandems in the NFL.  With
just a touch of accuracy, Kitna should be able to deliver the 
rock to Williams and Johnson for some nice fantasy stats.

2006 Stats        Rcptns-82      Rec yds-1310     TDs–7


Torry Holt - St. Louis Rams
Torry Holt is like the "Energizer Bunny".  He just keeps 
going & going & going...you get the idea.  With an accurate 
passer like Marc Bulger in a pass friendly offense - talent 
like Torry Holt will continue to catch close to 100 balls and 
be a leading wide fantasy wide receiver.  Holt did in '06 what
he has done every year...catch the ball, put up yardage, and 
score touchdowns.  Holt missed 1300 yards for the first time
in 7 seasons, but 93/1188/10 wasn't too shabby!

2006 Stats        Rcptns-93      Rec yds-1188    TDs–10



ROCK SOLID      

Randy Moss - New England Patriots
Okay...so Moss mailed it in last year.  Let's just forget 
about 2006 as far as Randy Moss is concerned.  But remember
this, Moss is still one of the best deep ball wide receivers 
in the NFL.  And the move this off season to New England for 
RM was done for one reason - to get to the Superbowl.  Randy 
Moss no longer has a lack of teammate support.  QB Tom Brady 
will give Moss every opportunity to show his skills, and I 
believe Moss may just have a career year on his way to the 
NFL Superbowl.

2006 Stats        Rcptns-42       Rec yds-553    TDs–3


Anquan Boldin - Arizona Cardinals
(See Fitzgerald)...ditto above.  Boldin had nearly identical 
stats to Fitz in AZ for 2005 and suffered a similar 2006 with
Fitzgerald (lackluster considering preseason expectations).  
Boldin and Fitz may not be the same exact dynamic duo they 
were in '05, but expect both to gain close to their former 
selves as Matt Leinart gains another year under his belt.

2006 Stats         Rcptns-83      Rec yds-1203    TDs–4
         

Andre Johnson - Houston Texans
Andre Johnson's dreadful 2005 (with 2 total TDs and minimal 
yardage) was further explained in 2006 - David Carr just 
didn't get it done and the Texans were horrible.  But Andre
Johnson is a top caliber NFL wide receiver (evident by the 
103 receptions last season).  Like Roy Williams, Andre 
Johnson is a sensational wide receiver in need of more 
support...but unfortunately isn't getting a whole lot.  AJ   
gets a top 15 ranking on our list by his sheer athleticism.
If Johnson could grab 103 receptions in Houston's pitiful 
offense last season, imagine what he could do with just a 
little bit of help.

2006 Stats      Rcptns-103       Rec yds-1147     TDs–5


Javon Walker - Denver Broncos
Javon Walker started off looking like a reach in 2006 as 
Jake Plummer put up only 4 TDs through the first 6 games.  About
week 7, Walker and Plummer began to gel...until Plummer fell 
completely apart and was replaced with rookie QB Jay Cutler.  
While showing some signs of brilliance, Javon Walker proved 
in 2006 that the 2004 season was no fluke (injured all of 
'05).  Walker's phenominal ability combined with the cannon 
of sophomore QB Cutler will eventually produce some quality
fantasy numbers for those owners who draft Walker. 

2006 Stats        Rcptns-69       Rec yds-1084      TDs–9        


Marques Colston - New Orleans Saints
Most fantasy owners took several weeks until they figured out 
the name of the leading wide receiver in New Orleans.  With a 
Katrina savaged NFL franchised that wasn't supposed to be 
very good - few were looking at the Saints as a fantasy mecca 
for big points.  On came Drew Brees, Reggie Bush, and a 
desire healthy enough to jumpstart a town.  And on came 
Marques Colston...who finished with some nice totals.  With 
the surprisingly talented offense demonstrated by the Saints 
in 2006, there is no reason to think New Orleans (and 
Colston) won't build upon last year's successes for 2007.
 
2006 Stats        Rcptns-70       Rec yds-1038     TDs–8  
      

T.J. Houshmandzadeh - Cincinnati Bengals
Although Housh missed Cincy's first 2 games, he was the early 
TD target at the receiving end of Carson Palmer's passes. The 
tosses T.J.'s way didn't slow down much (he still caught 90 
for the year), but Housh became more of a possession receiver 
down the stretch...which limited his yardage and TDs.  
Regardless, T.J. Houshmandzadeh was 90 for 1081 with 9 TDs in 
2006...not too bad for a number 2 wide receiver!  With Chad
Johnson on the other side and a talented Palmer at the helm, 
expect Houshmazilla to approach last year's totals...esp. if
head coach Marvin Lewis is successful in getting the Bengals 
to focus less upon misconduct and more upon football.

2006 Stats        Rcptns-90       Rec yds-1081    TDs–9
      

Lee Evans - Buffalo Bills
Lee Evans was often the only bright spot in Buffalo's passing 
game for 2006.  Evans' fantasy owners enjoyed the fact that 
they didn't have to give up much to get the top ten producing
fantasy WR (Evans finished the season ranked 10th).  Perhaps 
the next best thing about Evans for fantasy owners was that 
he scored his TDs in the 2nd half of the season...after 
scoring just once in his first 7 games.  But Evans does come 
with some risks.  With little else in the Bill passing 
offense, opposing defenses will continue to key upon Evans.  
The offensive line was beefed up for the arrival of rookie RB 
Marshawn Lynch...which has fantasy owners hoping some of the 
pressure is taken off of Evans.

2006 Stats        Rcptns-82       Rec yds-1291     TDs–8
      

Plaxico Burress - New York Giants
Plax had only 63 grabs, but he made the most of each and 
every catch.  Known as the "Big Play Guy", Burress had a 
highlight film catch in nearly every game.  The nearly 1000 
receiving yards and 10 TDs were modest for his ability, but 
Burress was still a value for his fantasy owners.  We really 
like Burress and wish we could find a way to elevate him in 
our rankings, but Eli Manning's woes in the Giant offense 
have us guarded a bit.  Burress is a big receiver with a 
chance of putting up elite numbers...provided he finds his 
groove with Manning.  Plaxico isn't exactly a sleeper, but he 
does have an extra high up-side and is worth a significant 
risk on draft day.

2006 Stats        Rcptns-63       Rec yds-988    TDs–10


Donte Stallworth - New England Patriots
For the first time in years (or perhaps ever), Tom Brady and 
the New England Patriots have 2 top-twenty quality wide 
receivers on their roster.  Randy Moss' ability goes without 
saying.  And those who watched Donte' Stallworth in Philly 
last season understand his ability to make some sensational
plays.  If not for Stallworth's history of lingering 
hamstring injuries, Stallworth would be much higher in our 
fantasy rankings.  If he is somehow able to shake the injury
bug in 2007, Stallworth has the skills and the team to finish 
top ten or better. 

2006 Stats        Rcptns-38        Rec yds-725      TDs–5  


Deion Branch - Seattle Seahawks
Maybe it was Tom Brady who made Deion Branch look good in New
England?!?  Or maybe it was that Seattle just had a down year 
in 2006...because none of the Seahawk superstars did much of 
anything (incl. Matt Hasselbeck, Darrell Jackson, 
Shaun Alexander, and of course Branch).  We're going with the 
latter and believe Branch's numbers will increase with the 
departure of Jackson...provided, of course, that the Seahawks
are able to stay healthy in 2007.

2006 Stats        Rcptns-53        Rec yds-725     TDs–4  
 
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