The consensus is in. Andre Johnson is hands down the dirtiest, filthiest Wide Receiver of 2010 and beyond. But what about the other guys? I mean Randy Moss & Reggie Wayne aren't exactly chop liver. So exactly who is the No. 2 WR in the league?
There has been much written and said about the changes in the NFL. A rushing league has morphed into a passing league; and with it a dramatic shift in fantasy draft strategy.
Five years ago, anything besides a running back/running back strategy would be blasphemy. Today we've flipped the script and a WR/WR strategy might be your best bet.
The reality today is that you need to take a WR within the first three rounds; and you can't blow one of those early picks if you hope to remain afloat (unless you luck out with sleeper hits like last year’s Jamaal Charles or Miles Austin). When picking your No.1 receiver, you want someone consistent with a small downside; avoid drafting Tara Reid and Britney Spears.
This year, the clear cut No.1 WR is Andre Johnson.
In three of the last four seasons Andre has played every game and during those three seasons he’s averaged: 106 REC, 1,430 YDS and seven TD. His age, consistent production and QB situation make him the ideal first receiver off the board (especially in a PPR league).
So the real competition is for that second WR off the board—let’s examine the contenders: Miles Austin, DeSean Jackson, Brandon Marshall, Randy Moss, Larry Fitzgerald, Calvin Johnson, and Reggie Wayne.
First we want someone that has consistently produced. Remember, your top WR is probably coming within the first 30 picks; you screw those picks up and face fantasy death.
Personally, Miles Austin, helped me win a league last year, but the Cowboys have lots of mouths to feed and defenses will key on Austin this year. Plus, I worry about the fact that no other team spotted his talent; I worry about a one-year wonder scenario.
DeSean Jackson is another extremely exciting player, but he relies on hard-to-replicate big plays and receives very few targets in the red zone; nine targets and two TD’s (that’s less targets and TD’s than Laveranues Coles; compare his stats to Fitzgerald’s 23 targets and 10 TD's or Moss’ 21 targets and eight TD's).
To top it off, DeSean is a loose cannon, who could forget his fantasy killing-spike on the one-yard line? If you’re like me and can’t handle that type of excitement, let someone else grab him.
Finally, we have Calvin Johnson aka “Megatron,” unfortunately he hasn’t proven to be as indestructible as his Alien namesake, so I’m not ready to give him the No. 2 slot quite yet.
In the consistent producer category we have Randy Moss, Larry Fitzgerald, Reggie Wayne, and Brandon Marshall.
The test amongst these consistent producing wide receivers is whether they can continue their productivity. Marshall fails this test. He's got the skills, but the fantasy landscape is littered with QB’s who had a nice run and subsequently murdered their owners the following years (um, Derek Anderson).
Needles to say, I’m not ready to buy into the Henne era. I know Marshall has produced with various QB’s, but throw in the fact that he’s moving to a running team and I don’t want that potential headache if I can avoid it.
Larry Fitzgerald deserves a category unto himself. He might be the most talented WR in the league, over the last three years he’s averaged 97 receptions, 1,310 yards and just shy of 12 TD’s per year. BUT, he enters the season with a bad MCL and a completely restructured team. He’ll no longer have God’s favorite player throwing him the ball and he’s lost his running mate, Anquan Boldin.
While Steve Breaston and Early Doucet might prove to be adequate replacements, there is no replacement for Kurt Warner.
Matt Leinart’s most famous completion since college was taking down a three-foot beer bong. Derek Anderson is still dining out on a nice 10-game stretch from 2007.
Talent might shine through for Fitzgerald and it’s tough to call a guy with his credentials a gamble, but we’ve seen what happens when a great receiver is stuck with a mediocre QB (see Randy Moss/Raiders Quarterbacks vs. Randy Moss/Brady/Culpepper).
Unless Warner decides to lace them up one more time, Fitzgerald isn’t the No. 2 wide receiver.
So we are left with a couple of “old-timers” Randy Moss (three year averages: 83 rec. 1255 yds 15 TD’s) and Reggie Wayne (three year averages: 95 rec. 1306 yds, eight + TD’s).
There are questions with these two—they’ve both played a lot of games and in the case of Wayne, looked like they were slowing down (he really faded over the last nine games of last season, scoring eight or LESS points in seven of those games.)
Randy Moss is undoubtedly the man in New England, although there are some age concerns with him and there may or may not be a Wes Welker in the slot to take the pressure off (note: Julian Edelman is arguably a Welker Clone).
Still, both have Hall of fame QB’s throwing them the ball with solid offenses that will provide them plenty of chances to score.
Wayne’s slowdown is worrisome because of the plethora of receivers on the Colts. Remember the subtle shift from Harrison to Wayne…didn’t last year feel like a replay with a shift from Wayne to Garcon?
The Patriots will enter this season motivated; they’ve watched the Jets on “Hard Knocks,” fumed over an epic beat down by the Ravens and they have a disrespected Brady looking for a new contract.
With all that, the Patriots have something to prove and Moss will be a major beneficiary. Couple that with Randy Moss’s Jerry Rice like consistency and longevity, and he’s a better fantasy bet than Fitzgerald and Wayne.
Take Moss as the No. 2 wide receiver and, as he would say, you are “straight cash hommie.”
Written exclusively by Chris Summers for www.thefantasyfix.com. Chris is an attorney, who lives and breathes sports in sunny California. Look for more of his great insight weekly.
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