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 ___________________________________________________________ send your fantasy questions to: email@example.com
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