Going into the season, I expected a lot from Patriots receiver Wes Welker.
Why 110 receptions?
During the four years since Welker joined the Patriots, a player has finished with 110-plus receptions seven times. Only Welker, who has three 110-reception seasons, has reached that level more than once. Four other players have had a season with 110 or more receptions one time in the past four seasons.
Welker, who is an extra year removed from his torn ACL, is off to an incredible start, especially after last week's record-setting performance. Quarterback Tom Brady targeted Welker 20 times last week and they connected on 16 of them, which tied a franchise record. In addition, Welker set a franchise record with 217 receiving yards and had two touchdowns.
On the season, Welker has 31 receptions for 458 yards and four touchdowns.
So far, the Welker prediction is looking good.
My early season bullishness on Welker may be one of the main reasons why the FantasyPros' accuracy rankings lists me as the most accurate "fantasy football expert" in wide receiver rankings through Week 3.
Here are some notes on wide receivers and passing defenses going into Week 4:
—A lot was made of Chad Ochocinco's dropped touchdown pass last week. However, teammate Deion Branch had zero receptions last week after 15 receptions for 222 yards in the team's first two games. In his two stints as a Patriots receiver, Branch hadn't had a zero-catch game since his rookie season (2002).
—Steelers receiver Mike Wallace has a six-game streak of 100-yard receiving games going back to the final three regular-season games in 2010.
—Giants receiver Mario Manningham, who missed last week's game due to a concussion, was cleared to return to practice on Wednesday. This week, the Giants face the Cardinals, who rank eighth from the bottom in passing yards allowed, even after facing Tarvaris Jackson in one of their three games.
—Saints receiver Robert Meachem has a touchdown in each of his three games this season. From a fantasy perspective, one concern for Meachem is the return of Marques Colston, who may be active for this week's game.
—Like Meachem, Lions receiver Calvin Johnson has scored in each of the past three games. However, Johnson has scored twice in each game.
—Three players that have appeared on our waiver-wire pickup list in successive weeks this year: Tennessee's Nate Washington (27), Denver's Eric Decker (27) and Buffalo's David Nelson (26), who all rank in the top 20 in targets.
—Meanwhile, Washington becomes the Titans' No. 1 receiver as Kenny Britt will miss the remainder of the season due to a torn ACL and MCL. Washington is currently tied for third in the NFL in receptions (21) and 15th in receiving yards (258). In each of his three games, Washington has six-plus receptions and 67-plus yards. This week, however, he faces one of the league's up-and-coming cornerbacks in Cleveland's Joe Haden.
—No team has allowed more touchdowns to receivers than the Rams (six) this season. Of course, they gave up three of them to Ravens rookie receiver Torrey Smith in the first quarter last week. In his last seven games, Redskins receiver Santana Moss has at least five receptions and 60 yards in every game. Plus, I wouldn't be surprised if Moss and Rex Grossman exploit the Rams' banged-up secondary for a big TD play.
—Jabar Gaffney, Moss' teammate, has been consistent (although not spectacular) this season. Gaffney has 50-plus yards in all three of the team's games this season.
Here are our top 50 fantasy wide receivers for Week 4:
1. Calvin Johnson, Lions (at DAL)
2. Andre Johnson, Texans (vs. PIT)
3. Mike Wallace, Steelers (at HOU)
4. Roddy White, Falcons (at SEA)
5. Wes Welker, Patriots (at OAK)
6. Larry Fitzgerald, Cardinals (vs. NYG)
7. Hakeem Nicks, Giants (at ARI)
8. Greg Jennings, Packers (vs. DEN)
9. Vincent Jackson, Chargers (vs. MIA)
10. Brandon Marshall, Dolohins (at SD)
11. Steve Johnson, Bills (at CIN)
12. Santana Moss, Redskins (at STL)
13. Steve Smith, Panthers (at CHI)
14. Dwayne Bowe, Chiefs (vs. MIN)
15. DeSean Jackson, Eagles (vs. SF)
16. Dez Bryant, Cowboys (vs. DET)
17. Santonio Holmes, Jets (at BAL)
18. Reggie Wayne, Colts (at TB)
19. Mike Williams, Buccaneers (vs. IND)
20. Mario Manningham, Giants (at ARI)
21. Jeremy Maclin, Eagles (vs. SF)
22. Lance Moore, Saints (at JAC)
23. A.J. Green, Bengals (vs. BUF)
24. Robert Meachem, Saints (at JAC)
25. Julio Jones, Falcons (at SEA)
26. Percy Harvin, Vikings (at KC)
27. David Nelson, Bills (at CIN)
28. Anquan Boldin, Ravens (vs. NYJ)
29. Mike Thomas, Jaguars (vs. NO)
30. Jordy Nelson, Packers (vs. DEN)
31. Denarius Moore, Raiders (vs. NE)
32. Nate Washington, Titans (at CLE)
33. Sidney Rice, Seahawks (vs. ATL)
34. Brandon Lloyd, Broncos (at GB)
35. Deion Branch, Patriots (at OAK)
36. Johnny Knox, Bears (vs. CAR)
37. Eric Decker, Broncos (at GB)
38. Nate Burleson, Lions (at DAL)
39. Plaxico Burress, Jets (at BAL)
40. Mike Sims-Walker, Rams (vs. WAS)
41. Jabar Gaffney, Redskins (at STL)
42. Davone Bess, Dolphins (at SD)
43. Antonio Brown, Steelers (at HOU)
44. Devery Henderson, Saints (at JAC)
45. Jacoby Ford, Raiders (vs. NE)
46. Brandon Gibson, Rams (vs. WAS)
47. Andre Caldwell, Bengals (vs. BUF)
48. Torrey Smith, Ravens (vs. NYJ)
49. Pierre Garcon, Colts (at TB)
50. Hines Ward, Steelers (at HOU)
If interested, check out our free fantasy football contest for Week 4.
Good luck in your Week 4 matchup(s)!
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