Darrius Heyward-Bey: Fantasy Owners Should Keep Injured Raiders WR

Patrick ClarkeCorrespondent ISeptember 25, 2012

GLENDALE, AZ - AUGUST 17:  Wide receiver Darrius Heyward-Bey #85 of the Oakland Raiders warms up before the NFL preseason game against the Arizona Cardinals at the University of Phoenix Stadium on August 17, 2012 in Glendale, Arizona.  (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
Christian Petersen/Getty Images

Oakland Raiders wide receiver Darrius Heyward-Bey still holds plenty of fantasy value despite suffering a concussion against the Pittsburgh Steelers in Week 3.

Heyward-Bey has been released from the hospital and is expected to make a full recovery, according to ESPN.com (via the Associated Press).

It's only a matter of time before the fourth-year wide receiver gets back to fantasy starter form for thousands of eager owners around the country.

The fact that Darrius Heyward-Bey looks set to make a full recovery from Week 3's scary hit is just one reason why fantasy owners should keep him on their roster this fall.


Improving Talent

The former Maryland Terrapin has become a more dependable target every season since he entered the league in 2009. Heyward-Bey caught just nine balls during his rookie season, but he has nearly tripled his production year after year since. He had 26 receptions in 2010 and 64 in 15 games last season. 

After recording just 124 receiving yards in 2009, Heyward-Bey racked up 1,341 yards over the next two seasons combined. He was off to a slow start this season, having just nine catches for 98 yards and a touchdown before being injured in Week 3.

Heyward-Bey is also one of Carson Palmer's favorite targets. He was targeted 115 times last season; that was 39 more times than Oakland's second-leading receiver in 2011, Denarius Moore. Heyward-Bey has been targeted 18 times through three games in 2012.


Big-Play Threat

Darrius Heyward-Bey's speed makes him a threat to turn out a big play on any down. The 6'2" wide receiver's yards-per-reception average has increased in every season since he was drafted by the Raiders. He averaged 13.8 YPR during his rookie season, 14.1 YPR in 2010 and 15.2 last season.

There is no denying that Heyward-Bey is a reliable down-field threat. Out of his 64 receptions in 2011, 44 went for first downs. Heyward-Bey's athleticism always makes him a risk to break a tackle and extend average first-down plays into game-changing ones. 

Once he makes his way back onto the field fully healthy, Darrius Heyward-Bey will be a coveted fantasy player as the best wide receiver in the NFL's seventh-ranked passing attack. 


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