(Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images)
Anthony Gonzalez is looking to fill some big shoes.
Now that the Colts
have ushered in the post-Marvin Harrison era, fantasy owners will be asking "who will replace Marvin?" Well many feel that it will be more of a committee situation replacing Harrison’s production, but their slot man Anthony Gonzalez will take his starting job.
The third-year receiver moves to the flanker position, starting opposite receiver Reggie Wayne. Familiar with the system and his quarterback, Gonzalez has a great chance to be a very productive number two receiver this season. Any skill player in a Peyton Manning offense always has a chance to produce, but many feel this could be a breakout season for Gonzalez.
Last season, Gonzo finished in the top-50 among fantasy receivers with 57 receptions, 664-yards receiving and four touchdowns, but he was barely a safe WR4 in most fantasy leagues. With so many weapons at the Colts' disposal, Gonzalez enjoyed modest success by fantasy standards,, but as the number three receiver he did show signs of blossoming. Despite a slow finish in 2008, Gonzalez showed some consistency by catching at least four passes in nine games, including five straight (from week six through 10).
Gonzo is not particularly big at 6'0", but the former Ohio State Buckeye has earned his quarterback's trust. Peyton Manning said, "I can throw anything to Anthony Gonzalez with my eyes closed." Playing opposite Wayne, he’s likely to see a lot of single coverage and fantasy owners have to like the fact that Manning has confidence in his new starter.
While there is some hype surrounding Gonzo this season, let's keep things in perspective. It shouldn’t be too difficult for Gonzalez to improve on his 2008 numbers, but with so many playmakers lining up for the Colts this season, Manning is likely to be more inclined to spread the wealth. Gonzalez will be fantasy stock on the rise throughout 2009, but look for him around the middle rounds as a late number two receiver or early number three.
(2009 Predictions: 72 receptions, 830-yards, 7-touchdowns)