(Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Ima
Dwayne Bowe, WR, Kansas City Chiefs
I’ve been on the Dwayne Bowe bandwagon since the Chiefs drafted the LSU standout in 2007. As a rookie, he pulled in 70 receptions for 995 yards and five scores. Last year, he improved to 86 catches, 1,022 yards and seven touchdowns. This year, Bowe will be a top five receiver with Matt Cassel under center. The 6-2, 221-pounder will really benefit from the Chief’s new offensive gameplan under former Cardinals guru Todd Haley and the Chief’s absence of a real red zone threat, such as Tony Gonzalez. Bowe will be one of the top fantasy wide outs in the game this year, I wouldn’t be surprised to see him breakout as a top five wideout.
Ted Ginn, Jr., WR, Miami Dolphins
I was on the over-drafted Ohio State product last year and it didn’t pay off, but I think Ginn will really shine in his third season. Chad Pennington is underrated as a quarterback (although his arm cannot keep up with Ginn’s speed) and Chad Henne could develop into a really good NFL quarterback. Regardless, Ginn will be the No. 1 receiving threat in Miami. Ginn caught 56 balls for 790 yards (14.1 average) but only two scores. After scoring only twice in each of his first two seasons, Ginn should really see a spike in both yards and a huge increase in scores this year. The Dolphins were obviously high on him coming out of college and he should become a consistent WR that can be had late in most fantasy leagues. Ginn has yet to play all 16 games in either of his NFL seasons, as well.
Lee Evans, WR, Buffalo Bills
With the no huddle spawning again in Buffalo (maybe) and defenses having to worry about Terrell Owens, Lee Evans should come to the forefront of wide receivers this season and develop into a consistent No. 1 guy. After averaging eight touchdowns per year in his first three years, his scoring average has dipped to only four scores per season in the last two years. He did pull down 63 catches for 1,017 yards and should become a huge factor in an expanded passing offense for the Bills, especially during Marshawn Lynch’s three game suspension to open the season. T.O may take some of the red zone balls away from the 5' 10" Evans, but the burner is an exciting player, once the ball is in his hands and if Trent Edwards can stay as Buffalo’s unquestioned leader for the entire season, Evans should really blossom for his third career 1,000 yard season.
Lance Moore, WR, New Orleans Saints
Thanks to Marques Colston’s injury last season, Moore really thrived last year, while Colston was limited to six starts. Someone has to catch Drew Brees’ spirals and Moore stepped up as the Saint’s top receiver last year in Colston’s absence and expect both to produce, a la a poor man’s Larry Fitzgerald-Anquan Boldin tandem. Although Moore had offseason shoulder surgery, expect the former training camp tryout slot receiver to produce again like last year: 79 catches for 928 yards and 10 touchdowns.
Anthony Gonzalez, Indianapolis Colts
Now that the former Ohio State standout is entering his third NFL season, and Marvin Harrison is out of the picture, expect the sure-handed wide out to become Peyton Manning’s best second-option while Reggie Wayne learns to deal with the double team. Despite only 11 career starts, Gonzalez has totaled 1,240 yards and seven touchdowns in his career while averaging 13.2 yards as the Colts’ main slot man. Gonzalez went over 100 yards, receiving only once last year, but had six catches for 97 yards in the Colts’ opening postseason game, a loss to the Chargers. Expect Gonzalez to really develop into a 1,000 yard receiver after Harrison’s departure and Wayne facing the challenge of producing as the No. 1 man.
The Bonus Nuggets: Whoever emerges as Eli Manning’s favorite target between Domenik Hickson, Mario Manningham or Hakeem Nicks will be someone to keep an eye on.
Hixon led the Giants last year with 596 yards and added two scores and the 6' 2" fifth-year man out of Akron could become Eli’s favorite target. I like Hixon’s ability but I think Eli’s go-to man will either be second-year wide out Mario Manningham (who had only four catches for 26 yards as a rookie) or rookie Hakeem Nicks, the 29th overall pick this year. Steve Smith or Sinorce Moss could even develop as Eli’s favorite target, I think it’s a crap shoot to call the winner but someone will have to catch the second-highest paid quarterback’s spirals and will breakout this year. Which will be anybody’s guess, but I like Nicks really developing as a rookie and becoming a steady contributor.