Fantasy preview: Wide Receivers

Kenny Roda from WKNR SportsTalk 850 will be writing a weekly blog on Cleveland Scores covering the sports world both locally and nationally. Check back often for his updates!

With the NFL season just around the corner, that means Fantasy Football season has already begun. Today I’m going to share with you some information I get on a regular basis for Fantasy Football that you can’t find anywhere else. You’ve heard him on my show and he’ll be on the show every Thursday this year throughout the season. His name is Nathan Zagura, better know as “The Fantasy Consultant” at www.thefantasyconsultant.com.

Nathan breaks it down better than anybody and my blog today will give you a sample of what I’m talking about. If you want this type of info to help you in your leagues on an every day basis then go to the website mentioned above and sign up. It’s well worth it, especially at the end of the year when you have bragging rights over everybody and your also putting a little cha-ching in your pockets. This is Nathan’s info on the Wide Receivers for 2006.
ENJOY….

2006 WR Fantasy Preview
Posted on Aug 14, 2006
2006 Fantasy WR Preview: Bounce Back, Breakout Players, Sleepers and Busts

Bounce Back Players

Randy Moss (OAK)

The Freak has been slowed by injuries in each of the last two seasons, but a rigorous off-season regimen has him ready to explode in 2006

New QB Aaron Brooks is a good scrambler who throws a great deep ball, which means that Moss will have plenty of time and chances to make big plays down the field.

Despite injuries last year, still was 12th among WRs with a 53.3% consistency score

Pre-Injury in 2005 (4 Game Totals): 19 catches for 466 yards and 2 TDs.

During that span he had 3, 100 yard games and 86 yards was his lowest output while he averaged 24.5 yards per catch

From 1998-2003, he was a top 5 fantasy WR every year and was #1 3 times!

Moss is falling to the 3rd round, where he is an absolute steal

TFC RANK: #2

Andre Johnson (HOU)

· Johnson has all of the talent and physical attributes to be a dominant NFL WR

· New HC Gary Kubiak called the plays in Denver, where #1 WR Rod Smith has topped 1,000 yards receiving in 8 of the last 9 seasons

· Addition of Eric Moulds gives Johnson a legit #2 WR for the first time in his career. If teams single cover Moulds he will kill them for 10-15 yards every play, which will free up Johnson to get more chances down the field

. Was slowed by injuries and ranked 28th in terms of targets last year. Now he is healthy and will be in the top 15 in targets, which = a big jump in his production.

· TFC RANK: #14

3. Other Bounce Back Candidates: Michael Clayton (TB), Javon Walker (DEN), Muhsin Muhammad (CHI), Joe Horn (NO), Koren Robinson (MIN)

Breakout Players

Torry Holt (STL)

You already know he is great, so I am just going to tell you why this will be his best year ever

New HC Scott Linehan knows how to generate TDs for his #1 WR

Over the last 4 seasons, Linehan’s #1 WR has been the most targeted WR in both the RZ and GL areas

Last year, Chris Chambers broke out with 11 TDs due in large part to the fact that no WR had more opportunities in scoring situations

Mike Martz called the 2nd most running plays near the GL while running the Rams and Holt had just 1 GL target in the last two years combined!

Linehan’s #1 WRs have 19 GL targets during that span and his teams have thrown the ball 4th most up close

Holt may see his yardage totals dip, but that is unlikely as Linehan does not use as many multiple WR sets as Martz did and his #1 and #2 WRs get the bulk of the action

In fact, both of Randy Moss’ 100 catch seasons came with Linehan calling the plays and Chambers’ 82 catches last year were his career high

Bottom Line: Holt has a chance to score 15-16 TDs with Linehan calling his number in scoring situations, which means that he will be the #1 fantasy WR when it is all said and done in 2006

TFC RANK: #1

Roy Williams (DET)

· With new OC Mike Martz calling the plays, Roy Williams will finally get enough chances to become an elite WR

· Still ranked 11th among WRs with a 53.8% consistency score last season

· “Roy’s one of those guys that it doesn’t take very long to be around him to see (he’s special),” Martz said. “If you’ve watched practice out here at all it’s not hard to figure that one out. I think he could be very effective.”

· Martz calls passes on 63% of his plays, highest in the league and his teams have ranked in the top 5 in passing every single year

· Martz’s #1 WR averages 4 targets more per game than Williams did under HC Steve Mariucci, which means 64 more chances to produce over a 16 game season.

· With QB Jon Kitna, a 60% career passer under center, look for Williams to be more consistent than he was with Joey Harrington

· Already a great TD producer: He is one of 6 WRs to have at least 8 TD catches in each of the last two seasons

· His yardage totals will no doubt go up under Martz and his TD production will hold steady in the worst case scenario, which means that Williams has a great chance to be a top 10 fantasy WR.

· TFC RANK: #13

Matt Jones (JAC)

· The retirement of Jimmy Smith opens the way for the Jags #1 pick in 2005 to become something special ahead of schedule as the team’s #1 WR

· At 6’6”, 240 with blazing speed, Jones can beat you deep and kill you in the Red Zone

· A TD machine: As a rookie, 1 of every 7 receptions went for a TD

· Scored a TD on 3 of his 8 targets inside of the opponent’s 10 yard line

· Got better as the year went on and scored a TD in 4 of QB Byron Leftwich’s final 5 games in 2005

· Led the team with 6 catches for 94 yards in playoff loss to New England

· Snagged a 50 yard TD in the team’s 1st pre-season game and is a great steal as your #3 WR.

· TFC RANK: # 20

4. Other Breakout Candidates: Derrick Mason (BAL), Nate Burleson (SEA)

Sleepers:

Reggie Brown (PHI)

· With T.O. off to Dallas, Brown will be the #1 WR for the Eagles

· In 9 games as starter he averaged 51 yards per game and scored 4 TDs…(McNabb was only the QB for one of those games, so you know the numbers will be better this year)

· Other WRs are so weak: Pinkston, Gaffney, Lewis, Baskett, Avant are not threats to take looks away from Brown

· Brown, Westbrook and TE L.J. Smith will be the top 3 options in the Eagles passing game

· Has a 43 inch vertical leap and will be a good Red Zone threat

· McNabb will struggle, but the #1 WR in Philly should be a viable #3 fantasy WR, with #2 WR potential

· TFC RANK: #30

Antonio Bryant (SF)

Bryant topped 1,000 yards as a member of the Cleveland Browns last year and is now the top WR for the awful 49ers

Has developed a great rapport with QB Alex Smith and should get plenty of passes as the 49ers constantly play from behind

“I’ve never played with a guy like him,” Smith said. “I’ve always played with receivers that if they’re winning by half a step, I’ve got half-a-step’s room to throw the ball in there. With him, you’ve kind of got some room for error. He’s going to make you look good.”

In 2004, Bryant led the league by averaging over 10 yards per target and has the ability to put up huge numbers

In the pre-season opener, Bryant and Smith were on the same page and hooked up 5 times for 54 yards in limited action against the Bears

TFC RANK: # 23 – He is currently the 39th WR taken in most drafts and will be a great #3 for your team

Reche Caldwell (NE)

· With the holdout of Deion Branch ongoing and rookie WR Chad Jackson injured, Caldwell has locked up a starting WR job in New England

· Caldwell has a ton of talent, but injuries and circumstances have prevented him from realizing it thus far

· In 2004, he had over 300 yards and 3 TDs in the first 5 games before tearing his ACL

· He is healthy, has good hands (65% target conversion rate last year) and could end up as the #1 WR for half of the year if Branch continues to hold out

· “He’s very athletic, he’s smooth, he’s fast, he’s got good hands, he’s quick, he’s smart…he’s really going to be an asset for us this year,” QB Tom Brady told the Boston Globe. “I’m glad he’s here. He’s an exciting player.”

· TFC RANK: In the 40’s but rising fast. Grab him in the late rounds and you could have a starter on your hands

Other Sleepers: Ernest Wilford (JAC), Kevin Curtis (STL) Troy Williamson (MIN), Eric Parker (SD), Doug Gabriel (OAK), Roddy White (ATL), Michael Jenkins (ATL), Corey Bradford (DET), Mark Clayton (BAL), Greg Jennings (GB), Brandon Lloyd (WAS)

Deep Sleepers: Jerricho Cotchery (NYJ), Chad Jackson (NE), Vincent Jackson (SD), Bernard Berrian/Mark Bradley (whoever starts – CHI), Hank Baskett (PHI)

Busts/Big Downside:

Robert Ferguson (GB)

Ferguson averages 37 yards receiving and has 7 TDs in 24 career starts

He does not have great hands and has caught less than 50% of his targets for his career with Brett Favre as his QB!

Struggles to stay healthy and will lose his job to rookie Greg Jennings (a good sleeper who has been the talk of training camp) before long

TFC RANK: Do not draft

Justin McCareins (NYJ)

· McCareins was dead last among starting WRs with a 42.2% target conversion rank

· He was placed on the PUP list at the beginning of training camp for being out of shape and has already angered the Eric Mangini regime

· One of only two WRs in the NFL to start every game over the last two years and have 6 or fewer TD catches

· 18.8% consistency score last year was 61st among all WRs

· Could lose job to Jerricho Cotchery who has been the star of Jets training camp and a TFC sleeper

· TFC RANK: Do Not Draft!

Other Busts/Big Downside Players: Rod Smith (DEN) – At 36, he has lost a step and Javon Walker will cut into his production; Ike Bruce (STL) – Will have a tough time keeping Kevin Curtis off of the field; Eddie Kennison (KC) – Down year for the Chiefs’ passing game for anyone not name Tony Gonzalez

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