The Pittsburgh Steelers have just been dealt another blow. Limas Sweed, the slow-to-develop receiver drafted out of Texas in the second-round of the 2008 NFL Draft, has had surgery to repair a torn Achilles tendon.
The surgery was reportedly a success, but an injury of this magnitude will easily keep Sweed out for the beginning of the season, and him on the PUP list (physically unable to perform), and could even result in a completely lost season.
However, considering Sweed has just seven career catches, the question here isn't so much about his availability, but more about who will step-up in his place?
Despite being a disappointment thus far in his career, it was still arguable that Sweed had the size and talent to make an impact in the Steelers' offense, especially with Santonio Holmes being traded to the New York Jets.
Instead, it's more likely that he'll miss the 2010 NFL season and fade away as a bust.
The beauty of these ugly situations is that when one guy goes down, a new chance is created for someone else.
So, how does Sweed's unfortunate luck work out for the rest of Pittsburgh's receivers?
Hines Ward and Mike Wallace
He's getting older and slower, but Ward actually had one of his finest seasons in 2009, and no one was ever caught drooling over his speed in the past.
Ward is a gamer and is still the team's number one receiver, so feel free to draft him safely as a high-end WR3 and a relatively mediocre WR2.
Wallace, on the other hand, now has supreme break-out potential in 2010, regardless of who is at quarterback in the first four to six weeks.
He proved his ability with solid consistency as a rookie in 2009, racking up 102 yards off of seven catches in week three against the Cincinnati Bengals, and catching the game-winning touchdown against the Green Bay Packers in week 15.
With Holmes gone, Wallace is a legit fantasy option as the new starter opposite of Ward in Pittsburgh, and doesn't have to worry about getting targets.
Antwaan Randle El
People continue to be down on Randle El, as if he's some big disappointment, but if you accept him for what he is, he's actually a solid receiver.
He went to the Washington Redskins a few years ago and was expected to save their receiving corps. However, he's simply a return man with solid slot-receiving ability.
With Santonio Holmes gone and Mike Wallace starting, that's exactly what he'll be doing again in Pittsburgh.
He's 30 years old now, but he still has the speed and shiftiness needed to succeed in the slot, and once Ben Roethlisberger is back in the saddle, he'll likely be put to even greater use.
Emmanuel Sanders could push for this role (as could Arnaz Battle), but we're going with the veteran. Randle El did manage to catch at least 50 passes in each of the past three seasons, showing us that he has the potential to make a fantasy impact, even if it's only as a high WR4.
Sanders is a small receiver coming out of a spread offense, but with Holmes gone and only Antwaan Randle El and Arnaz Battle in his way, he can't be counted out for 2010.
While Sanders is likely going to be held to just returning punts and kicks in his rookie season, he could take on the role Mike Wallace had in 2009, and do some damage out of the slot.
It may take an injury to Randle El or an explosive off-season, but Sanders has the speed and athleticism to make magic happen across the middle of the field. He currently stands in as a WR5, but if he catches a glimpse of the third receiving spot, he could be a fantasy sleeper for 2010.
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