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NFL Week 4 Fantasy Preview: Is Austin Collie a Legitimate No. 1 Wide Receiver?

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NFL Week 4 Fantasy Preview: Is Austin Collie a Legitimate No. 1 Wide Receiver?
Doug Pensinger/Getty Images
Austin Collie vs. Denver

Austin Collie has been the surprise player of the young NFL season.

In fantasy football leagues across the world, Collie is rewarding those who drafted him with weekly performances you'd expect from Andre Johnson, not a guy who is arguably the third-best receiver on his team.  

His team however, is the Indianapolis Colts, led by Peyton Manning, and the model franchise in terms of passing the ball with yearly success.

After a solid rookie year, Collie was still unknown to many fantasy purists before the season. Those days are now over.

Can we now say Collie is a legitimate No.1 wide receiver in every league?

He Did What? The Stellar Numbers

Those unlucky people who benched Collie to begin the year were shocked to learn he caught 11 passes for 163 yards and a touchdown. They tried to justify their mistake by pointing out most of those numbers came from one play, a 73-yard touchdown catch in the second half.

No such excuse could be made for sitting Collie in Week 2. Against a solid Giants defense, Collie amassed 25 yards and 4 catches with 1 touchdown. Even though the wow factor is missing from that stat line, the Colts did enjoy a lot of success on the ground in Week 2, limiting the amount of passing plays called in the red zone.

Collie's Week 2 performance left many owners feeling he was starting to come back down to earth, but the best was yet to come for Austin in Week 3.

Denver's effort to stop Collie in Week 3 was awful, as the 2nd-year receiver torched the Broncos secondary with 12 catches for 172 yards and 2 touchdowns. 

Analysis: Can We Trust Him to be a No. 1 WR?

People who drafted Collie will explain they chose him because he has so many other quality receivers around him.

A defense can only play 11 guys on the field at a time, and there just aren't enough men to double cover Reggie Wayne and Dallas Clark, never mind Austin Collie.

One stat that shows a receiver’s true worth is the amount of times he is thrown to, which in the stat book is called “targets.”

Collie is the sixth highest targeted receiver in the NFL, but is the by far the most efficient. Manning has connected with Austin 27 times on 32 passes for an amazing 84% completion rate, good for first in the NFL.

Every fantasy league is won on touchdowns, and Collie is tied for the NFL lead with four, while also leading the NFL with 359 receiving yards.

The best thing a receiver can have from his quarterback is his confidence. Manning has full confidence to throw to Collie in any situation, anywhere on the field. Several of Collie’s receptions have been highlight real catches (see video), allowing Manning to trust Collie when the coverage is good.

Collie’s situation is unique yet ideal because he’ll never be the primary focus of the defense, no matter who the Colts play.

Collie’s best performances could come in the next few weeks. The Colts travel to Jacksonville this week, and then play Kansas City and Washington the following two weeks.  These teams have had struggles against the against good quarterbacks, as they rank 29th, 21st, and 31st in the NFL in pass defense.

For all the lucky owners who have Collie on your team, do not trade him! I understand his value is very high right now, but do not sacrifice him for a star player. There is never a good time or circumstance to give up any Colts receiver until the later weeks when they have nothing to play for.

There is absolutely no reason Collie cannot continue his stellar play, and the AFC South is one reason why. Division foes Tennessee, Jacksonville, and Houston are all among the worst defenses in the league, and Houston is having major issues with their secondary so far.

Fantasy football leagues are won and lost on unknown players who breakout and become household names. Last year, that player was Miles Austin of the Dallas Cowboys, and this offseason he was rewarded with a rich new contract, and has continued his excellent play into 2010.

Collie is 2010’s breakout player that will be the difference in thousands of fantasy leagues across the country.

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