1. Chad Johnson(Bengals)
-Ocho Cinco once again had a brilliant season in 2006 as he caught 87 passes for 7 TD’s. His rapport with QB Carson Palmer is a thing of beauty and they should continue to produce more of the same in 2007. The emergence of WR TJ Houshmanzadeh last year should also help Johnson in that he will mainly see one-on-one coverage. Draft the biggest sure-thing fantasy WR.
2. Steve Smith(Panthers)
-Carolina’s emotional star WR recorded numbers that were a drop-off from his ridiculous 2005 season due to a hamstring injury that caused him to miss two games and affected his running ability for the entire first half of the year. Now fully healthy, Smith is in line to have a very big year once again. Favorite QB Jake Delhomme also is healthy heading into training camp and thus a season of at least 90 catches with 8 scores is a lock. Wouldn’t quibble if you picked him over Johnson.
3. Torry Holt(Rams)
-your truly has owned Holt for the last four seasons and he is as big a reason as any that I have enjoyed great success in this game. The best route-runner in the game, Holt combines sprinters speed and soft hands to habitually turn out 90 catch, 8 TD seasons. Off-season surgery on his knee confirms that he isn’t as young as he used to be but count on another two years of top player out of Marc Bulger’s favorite target. Second round or very beginning of third round is where he will be chosen, hopefully by you.
4. Marvin Harrison(Colts)
-the ageless wonder turned in an incredible 2006 season, hauling in 93 passes with 10 scores at an age(35) where many receivers have started to decline. Of course you can’t ignore Harrison’s age when deciding whether to draft him or not but until he proves otherwise, then you would be foolish to pass on him. The chemistry he has with QB Peyton Manning is possibly the greatest passing show in NFL history and I believe Harrison will put up around the same numbers he did last season. In other words, he is a player you want to own.
5. Larry Fitzgerald(Cardinals)
-Fitzgerald took a little bobble in his development last season as his 69 catches and 6 TD’s were not what fantasy owners expected after his breakout 2005 season. However injuries were the main cause of the diminished production and I look for Fitzgerald to have a big year as he builds his rapport with QB Matt Leinart. The presence of fellow Pro Bowler Anquan Boldin will allow Larry to get single coverage and at his size, he should have no trouble getting open and piling up the catches. While Boldin may have slightly more catches, Fitzgerald is the one who will grab the more TD’s which in fantasy is the name of the game when it comes to scoring points. Draft him by the end of round 3 or if your lucky the top of round 4.
6. Terrell Owens(Cowboys)
-no one at the WR position will give fantasy owners more stress when it comes to deciding whether to draft him or not than Dallas’ mercurial, moody pass catcher. There is no doubt that when healthy and he has his head on right, Owens can flat out dominate a game. He proved that once again in a comeback season(85 catches, 13 TD’s) of sorts after the controversy/injury filled ending to his tenure in Philadelphia. Despite more than occasional drops, Owens is the best source out there for catching TD’s and for boorish behavior. So if you plan on drafting him, just be prepared for both.
7. Reggie Wayne(Colts)
-once again taking a giant step forward in his development, Reggie Wayne is almost running neck-and-neck now with counterpart Marvin Harrison in the value department. Despite still being considered the number two wideout in Indy, Wayne’s 86 catches and 9 TD’s were numbers indicative of a true number 1 receiver. Smack dab in his prime at the age of 28, this could be the year Wayne takes the mantle of top dog in the WR hierarchy. Make sure you get this guy. I certainly will.
8. Anquan Boldin(Cardinals)
-the other half of Arizona’s stud WR duo, Boldin once again was the go to guy in the passing game as far as total receptions are concerned(83 to Larry Fitzgerald’s 69). Boldin will continue to pile up the catches and is thus extremely valuable in point/reception leagues. His lack of top-notch speed has proven to be a non-hindrance and he is ability to run crisp routes will ensure a solid season. Only negative is the fact he is not as big a TD producer as Arizona will look to the much larger Fitzgerald in the red zone. Solid weekly performer will be a great number 2 receiver.
9. Roy Williams(Lions)
-after injuries impacted his production his first two seasons, Roy Williams put it all together in 2006 as he recorded a career-high 82 receptions with 7 TD’s. Williams has incredible size for his position and will win most one-on-one battles so an increase in TD’s is more than likely. The drafting of WR Calvin Johnson will take away most of the double teams he faced last season and thus also has a chance to reach the 90-catch plateau. Draft him for a potentially larger breakout season than the year before. Also don’t be afraid to reach for him as he could put up number one WR numbers.
10. Donald Driver(Packers)
-Brett Favre’s favorite target is in line for another great season as Green Bay tries to venture into the playoffs for possibly the last time with their Hall of Fame QB. Driver has made a nice career for himself despite not having top-notch speed and due to the fact Green Bay lacks another WR of Donald’s ability, another 90 catch season is very possible. Although you would like to see him score more than the 7 TD’s he recorded last season, those in point/reception leagues will especially value the fact that Favre will look to him first on every pass he goes back to throw. Draft him around the 5th round and you have yourself a top number two wideout. One of my favorite receiving options to draft.
11. Javon Walker(Broncos)
-it was a comeback season of sorts in 2006 for Javon Walker after missing almost the entire 2005 season with an injured knee. The great speed and ability to make the deep catch were all still a part of his repertoire and thus all the fears were alleviated about whether he could be the same player he was before he got hurt. There will be some growing pains for sure as second-year QB Jay Cutler will struggle some in his first year as a starter but already Walker is his favorite target when going back to pass. If you’re looking for a 90-catch guy, that Walker is not your man. Denver is a run-oriented offense and so reasonable expectations center on around 75 catches, although he will pile up the yardage and is a better than-average TD source. So overall Walker is a solid number 2 WR you should feel comfortable drafting.
12. Lee Evans(Bills)
-Evans rose to stardom in 2006 with an 82 catch, 8 TD breakout. Probably the biggest home run threat in all of football, Evans had an absolutely incredible 265-yard performance in a win over the Houston Texans. The improvement of QB JP Losman further legitimizes Evans’ long-term potential to succeed and I believe he could make an even bigger leap into maybe even top five status this coming season. If you’re going to reach for one WR in your draft, be sure to make it this guy.
13. Andre Johnson(Texans)
-Johnson is an interesting option in fantasy circles for a number of reasons. No one doubts his ability as he led the NFL in pass receptions last season(alarm sounding point/reception players). Awesome as that total is, the only problem is that they resulted in only 5 TD’s for 1,147 yards. To put it in perspective, Lee Evans of Buffalo piled up 150 more yards with 21 fewer receptions, while scoring 3 more TD’s. So my point in all this is the fact that Johnson will indeed pile up receptions as he is the only legitimate top-notch receiving option on the Texan roster and if you’re in the point/reception leagues, then feel free to draft him as high as round 3. Otherwise, expect a repeat in his 2006 numbers which may not yield enough points to make him worth the effort in TD heavy leagues.
14. Marques Colston(Saints)
-call me naïve, but I still need to see more before I jump on the Marques Colston bandwagon. Sure his performance last season(70 catches, 8 TD’s) was truly one of the biggest out-of-nowhere breakouts in NFL history. Is it possible Colston is the biggest “Rudy” in NFL history or is he another Michael Clayton waiting to happen? I think the answer falls somewhere in between and I believe there are much safer options to choose from than Colston. Let’s see him have another 2006 season before he gains our fantasy respect.
15. TJ Houshmandzadeh(Bengals)
-the other half of the Cincinnati aerial assault, Housmandzadeh showed the NFL world he was much more than a possession receiver as he out-caught his more-hyped teammate Chad Johnson(90 catches to 87). He also recorded 9 TD’s to Johnson’s 7. Although I believe those numbers will reverse themselves this season due to more defensive attention devoted to TJ, I still believe he can have a great season. I expect a slight decrease in his receptions(80 sounds about right) with around 7-9 TD’s. Sounds like a nice pickup to me. If you drafted Chad Johnson, reach for this guy so you can feel cool that you have them both!
16. Darrell Jackson(49ers)
-it was an up-and-down 2006 season for Darrell Jackson as his 10 TD’s were a nice bonus for fantasy owners but his 63 receptions were a disappointment. Much of the latter had to do with an injured toe that made him miss the last three games of the regular season. It seemed the Seahawks were fed up with Jackson’s injuries as they allowed him to skip over to division rival San Francisco where he instantly becomes QB Alex Smith’s top weapon. If he can manage to stay healthy, the still young Jackson(age 28) could have a bounce back season that includes his customary 80-plus receptions and 8-10 scores. Don’t be afraid to draft him but just know he tends to always miss a game or two during the year.
17. Randy Moss(Patriots)
-the biggest NFL off-season transaction without a doubt was the gutsy call by NE to trade for mercurial receiver Randy Moss. Once the top dog at his position while with Minnesota, the star dimmed considerable on Moss during two mostly turbulent, ineffective seasons with the Oakland Raiders. Moss’ petulance wore thin in the locker room and pretty soon it was apparent he was only giving half effort towards the end of last season. Now with a golden opportunity to get his big-play name back with perennial contender NE, look for Moss to be on his best behavior as he tries to coexist with the drill sergeant ways of coach Bill Belichick. Although I believe Moss’ days of catching 100 passes and 12-15 TD’s are long gone, I believe he still can be a big-time player with around 80 catches for 10 scores sounding about right. Of course this situation bears watching since NE traditionally spreads the balls around which may not please the greedy Moss. However I don’t believe Randy will blow this opportunity to win the ring he so desperately craves. Draft him as long as you expect him to perform like a number 2 receiver instead of the 1 he used to be. Be prepared with a good backup in case he finds trouble however. Will sink or swim for you so get ready for the roller coaster ride.
18. Plaxico Burress(Giants)
-New York’s big-play wideout had another good but not great season in 2006 as he scored his customary better-than-average TD’s(10), while securing less than big-time reception totals(63). This makes Burress a frustrating player to own as one week he will have an 8-catch, 2 TD day and than follow it up with a 2 catch whitewash. Still in TD stressed leagues, Burress is a decent number 2 option and thus shouldn’t be ignored. However try to do better before you decide to take him for your club.
19. Hines Ward(Steelers)
-a less-than stellar 2006 season began whispers that maybe the 31-year-old Ward might have lost a step. The real reason however for the seemingly lackluster totals(74 catches, 6 TD’s) was the absence of QB Ben Roesthlisberger for a good portion of the year. Now fully healthy, Big Ben and Ward should be able to rediscover the chemistry they exhibited during 2004 and 2005. Although I don’t foresee a blockbuster season ahead, expect Ward to improve both his reception total and TD’s in 2007. Draft him as your number 2 receiver and you won’t be disappointed.
20. Reggie Brown
-many fantasy owners were predicting a breakout season from Reggie Brown in 2006 but even though it might have happened, the late addition of Donte Stallworth relegated Brown to second-tier status in Philly’s WR hierarchy. Now with Stallworth gone, the number 1 job is Brown’s to lose. HE still put up respectable numbers last season(46 catches) and displayed a nose for the end zone(8 TD’s). With coach Andy Reid historically favoring a pass-heavy offense, it is possible Brown will truly have the breakout year everyone predicted for him with it coming one year later than originally anticipated. Draft him hoping he has that breakout year and serve as your number two wideout.
21. Laveraneous Coles(Jets)
-Coles more than delighted his owners in 2006 as he hauled in a more-than-expected 91 catches and over 1,000 yards. The chemistry he had with QB Chad Pennington before he signed with the free Redskins as a free agent a few years ago was still evident and there is no reason to believe he can’t put up similar numbers. When it comes to the TD department however, Coles takes a backseat to his partner Jerricho Cotchery. Coles was never a TD machine to begin with so this shouldn’t negatively impact him much for those who are aware of this. You still get a nice package here and you target him as a number 2 receiver.
22. Vincent Jackson(Chargers)
-I may be guilty of over ranking this second-year player but he is 2007 potential is that good. 27 catches in 2006 don’t stand out much but the 6 TD’s do. With WR Keenan McCardell no longer with the club and Eric Parker being nothing more than a possession receiver, Jackson has a terrific chance of becoming the number one guy for a potentially explosive offense. QB Phillip Rivers will be that much more comfortable behind center in his second year as a starter and the deep bombs the two seemed to routinely connect on late in ’06 stand a good chance of becoming a weekly trend. HE may not become a star overnight, but the TD’s will cover what he lacks in the reception department. Draft as your number 3 with the potential to be a solid number 2 if things develop correctly.
23. Santana Moss(Redskins)
-after his Pro-Bowl, highlight reel 2005 season, Moss came back down to earth in ’06 as he recorded only 55 catches for 6 TD’s. Not what fantasy owners were expecting. Moss historically has been very inconsistent with his performances and he will alternate good games with bad ones. His ridiculous speed however will provide many big-play opportunities and thus chances for long scoring receptions. Will serve as a good number 3 wideout so make room for him and hope his Pro Bowl year’s alternate.
24. Jerricho Cotchery(Jets)
-what a find this guy was in 2006 as Cotchery exhibited the talent he displayed at Louisville by grabbing 82 passes for 6 TD’s. Blessed with better-than-average speed, Cotchery was the big-play threat in New York’s passing attack. Heading into 2007, Cotchery has the chance to be even better and wrest the mantle from Laveranues Coles as the top man, if that hasn’t happened already. Draft him if he is still available in the middle rounds for possibly a number 2 player.
25. Chris Chambers(Dolphins)
-without a doubt the biggest WR bust in 2006 as Chambers as he went from 82 catches with 10 TD’s in 2005 to 59 catches for 4 Td’s in 2006. The 677 yards were also unacceptable for a receiver of his ability. Some of that could be blamed on the fact the Dolphins were inept in almost every sense last season and having Joey Harrington as your QB definitely won’t help you either. With veteran Trent Green on board, look for Chambers to become his new Tony Gonzalez. I think Chambers will be re-energized to play with someone of Green caliber and thus will lose the concentration lapses that caused him to drop too many easy throws in ’06. Look for a rebound here with potential to get back to number 1 status if all goes smoothly. Draft him as a big bounce-back candidate.
26. Deion Branch(Seahawks)
-without a 1,000 receiving season on his resume, Branch is not someone you target until the middle rounds of your draft. In fact I am going to avoid him altogether because his inconsistency will drive a fantasy owner crazy. The former Super Bowl MVP is talented however and he will have the occasional 8-catch, 125 yard day. The problem with Branch is that his lack of height will prevent him from being a dominant wideout week in and week out. A number three wideout.
27. Terry Glenn(Cowboys)
-Glenn proved in 2006 that he is not done yet as his 70 catch, 6 TD season kept him relevant in fantasy terms. His explosive speed is still his main weapon and if he can avoid the nagging injuries that have always seemed to be a problem for him, Glenn could match last season’s numbers. Risky pick but he always seems to have decent numbers at the end of the year.
28. Mark Clayton(Ravens)
-Baltimore’s best receiving option for 2007 will most likely be TE Todd Heap, by third-year WR Mark Clayton stands a good chance of having a breakout year to give the Ravens a pair of vertical threats. One of the better sleeper candidates overall this preseason, Clayton has the ability and the determination to succeed. Although Baltimore is a run-first offense, look for QB Steve McNair to utilize this deep-ball pass catcher. Draft him for his potentially explosive potential.
29. Braylon Edwards(Browns)
-still waiting for Edwards to fulfill the grandiose expectations he had after being the third overall draft choice in the 2005 draft. Less than ideal workout habits and off-the-field troubles have conspired to prevent Edwards from being the 80-catch, 8 TD receiver everyone envisioned coming out of Michigan. Has tremendous speed with the ability to make the home run catch. The problem here is that weak-armed QB Charlie Frye is expected to be the starter entering the season while rookie Brady Quinn develops. Thus the long-ball will be difficult for Edwards to procure. Draft him for the possible breakout in the magical third season but don’t be surprised if he lets you down again.
30. Bernard Berrian(Bears)
-Chicago’s deep threat caught 6 TD’s and it almost seemed like he had a deep catch just about ever week. With fellow wideout Mushin Muhammud on the downside of his career, Berrian has the chance to grab the majority of the throws from QB Rex Grossman. Will most likely prove on the 51 catches he managed last season and contribute at the very least 5 TD’s. Makes a great number 3 receiver as he could ascend to number 2 status by the end of the upcoming season.
The Rest(Third WR’s Only)
31. Joe Horn(Falcons)
-once a fantasy star, injuries and age have relegated Joe Horn to third WR status. His 37 catches and 4 TD’s in 2006 were about what he would put up in 6 or 7 games while in his prime years so his best days are clearly behind him. He is a solid veteran however who still can make a fantasy contribution to your team so look to him as a third WR.
32. Donte’ Stallworth(Patriots)
-Stallworth was looking like he was going to have a breakout 2006 season with the Eagles until more injuries set him back once again. Blessed with top-notch speed and good hands, Stallworth has everything as star WR needs to succeed. However he never can stay healthy which most likely has to do with his slight frame. Now with the NE Patriots, Stallworth is in a crowded receiving conga line with Randy Moss, Wes Welker and Kelly Washington so his overall numbers don’t stand to improve much from the 38 catches and 5 TD’s he recorded in 2006. Draft him since he is playing for pass-happy NE but have good backups ready for when he gets injured once again.
33. Joey Galloway(Buc’s)
-one one the NFL’s fastest players since entering the league out of Ohio State, Joey Galloway never fully realized the potential many foresaw for him. At the age of 35, Galloway is clearly on the downside of his career but the speed is still there which makes him somewhat appealing. The Buccaneer’s QB situation is a mess however and Galloway has never been one to pile up the reception totals in his career. Pass on him unless you really are hurting for a receiver.
34. Kevin Curtis(Eagles)
-after spending some productive years with the Rams, Kevin Curtis heads east to the City Of Brotherly Love. A blue-collar receiver all the way through, Curtis uses what he has to make himself useful. Those tools include good speed with incredible hands. Picture a poor man’s Ed McCaffrey who wasn’t so bad. A nice player who can contribute for you in a number 3 WR capacity.
35. Greg Jennings(Packers)
-with Donald Driver seemingly being option 1 and 1A for QB Brett Favre when he goes back to throw, many failed to see the decent rookie season put up by Greg Jennings. After making a good impression in training camp, Jennings went on to record 45 catches for 3 TD’s which places him in the number 3 WR vicinity. Still has room to improve so make sure you make an effort to draft him towards the end of your draft.
36. Devery Henderson(Saints)
-Henderson is another LSU receiver(read; Michael Clayton) who just hasn’t made a good transition to the NFL. Has great speed but always seems to vanish for long periods of time each week. Injuries also a problem for him lately. Pass on him and see if he starts to work out his issues.
37. DJ Hackett(Seahawks)
-with WR Darrell Jackson signing with San Francisco in the off-season, DJ Hackett has a chance to further build off his solid 2006 season. 45 catches and 4 TD’s in a crowded receiving corps was more than solid in fact for this youngster and more improvement is expected in 2007. Could be a good number 3 WR but more suited for number 4.
38. Ronald Curry(Raiders)
-despite only recording 1 TD, Ronald Curry had a very good 2006 season for the Oakland Raiders. Grabbing 62 passes for such a pathetic team last year makes his accomplishments much more impressive. With Randy Moss now in NE, the spotlight is all to himself and I expect solid number 3 WR numbers out of him with the chance to move up to number 2 status. If the team wasn’t so bad, would have ranked him much higher. Draft him late however and bask in selecting a nice sleeper.
39. Issac Bruce(Rams)
-clearly on the downside of his career, Issac Bruce is still a solid veteran who can help your team in a pinch. One of the better route runners in the league, Bruce habitually finds the open seam in opposing defenses. The days of 90 catches and 8 TD’s are long over but 70 and 4 sound reasonable. Draft him as your fourth wideout. Always a good performer in this game.
40. Mushin Muhammud(Bears)
-one the wrong side of his prime, Mushin Muhammud’s days as a 10 TD force are over and never will return. HE still is a solid route runner with good hands so he has a place on your bench. Draft him as insurance and that’s it.
41. Derrick Mason(Ravens)
42. Santonio Holmes(Steelers)
43. Eddie Kennison(Chiefs)
44. Brandon Jones(Titans)
45. Amani Toomer(Giants)
46. Reggie Williams(Jaguars)
47. Mike Furrey(Lions)
48. Brandon Marshall(Broncos)
49. Drew Bennett(Rams)
50. Jerry Porter(Raiders)
51. Arnaz Battle(49ers)
52. Hank Baskett(Eagles)
53. Michael Jenkins(Falcons)
54. Marty Booker(Dolphins)
55. Rod Smith(Broncos)
56. Wes Welker(Patriots)