Randy Moss. Terrell Owens. Chad Johnson. Reggie Wayne.
These are among the top producing fantasy-football wide receivers.
There are definitely many other top wide receivers in the league. What are you going to do when the top receivers are gone and you still need to fill holes on your roster?
Wide receiver is the toughest position to predict in fantasy football. One reason is because wide receiver is a very dependent position in the NFL. All of those names that I mentioned above are good in their own right, but they also have Pro Bowl quarterbacks throwing passes their way.
Another reason it is difficult to predict the success of a wide receiver is the inconsistency. Let me give you Braylon Edwards as an example.
In 2007, he had consecutive multi-touchdown games and then followed it up with three straight games with eight or fewer fantasy points. This is in no way an indictment against Edwards. I think he’s a phenomenal receiver. This is just the ebb and flow of the position.
Here are some sleepers to consider at the end of your draft or in free agency (in no particular order):
1. Robert Meachem—New Orleans Saints
Robert Meachem was the first-round pick of the Saints in 2007. He played in as many games and caught as many passes last season as my grandmother did.
Meachem showed up to minicamp out of shape and overweight. He then battled a knee injury all offseason. Sean Payton sent a message to him by putting him in the doghouse. Meachem was the only first rounder last year to be inactive for the whole season.
Now, there’s good news for Meachem. For one, he seems to have gotten Payton’s message. There have been numerous media reports that he has been one of the most impressive players in camp. Also, there is a dire need for a second receiver to start alongside Marques Colston.
Don’t count on David Patten, who will be 34 when the season begins, or the maddeningly inconsistent Devery Henderson to be reliable No. 2 receivers.
Meachem will also have Pro Bowler Drew Brees throwing his way.
2. Darrell Jackson—Denver Broncos
Jackson signed with the Broncos in the offseason after playing in San Francisco’s inept offense. Just two seasons ago, he had nearly 1,000 yards and recorded 10 touchdowns with the Seahawks. He has 50 career touchdowns and is still in his prime.
Jackson will be catching passes from Jay Cutler, who is a drastic improvement over anything that the 49ers offer. The No. 1 receiver in Denver is currently Brandon Marshall. Marshall, though, was on the receiving end of a brutal arm injury, and Cutler has been fed up with his antics.
Jackson should be able to beat out Brandon Stokley for a starting spot.
3. Dwayne Bowe—Kansas City Chiefs
Of the receivers listed, Bowe had the best season, but may not get the notice he deserves because he plays for the Chiefs. Outside of Adrian Peterson, Bowe arguably had the best rookie season of 2007. He caught 70 passes for 995 yards and five touchdowns.
Outside of All-Pro Tony Gonzalez, Bowe was the top target for Kansas City. Look for Bowe to get many passes his way as the Chiefs really don’t have a reliable receiver opposite him.
Let’s just hope his second season in the league doesn’t end up like another LSU alum, Michael Clayton.
1. Don’t count on rookies
Rookie wide receivers usually don’t do well in their first year in the league. For every Dwayne Bowe, there’s a Sidney Rice, Ted Ginn Jr., Robert Meachem, and Dwayne Jarrett.
2. Always consider the schedule
Some receivers you will play no matter whom they play against. If a receiver is not a star, you probably don’t want to play him against the likes of the Chargers, Patriots, Jags and Bucs.
On the other hand, you would have been highly rewarded if you started Joey Galloway against the Saints last year. Other bad pass defenses to start receivers against are the Bengals, Falcons, and Cardinals.
3. Avoid third options
As inconsistent as top receivers can be, a team’s third receiver is even more so. Donte Stallworth, who was the third receiver for New England’s record-breaking offense, is a prime example.
If you jumped on Stallworth after he had three straight games (Weeks Five-Seven) with a touchdown, you were sadly disappointed. He didn’t score a touchdown or score more than six fantasy points in any game the rest of the season.