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Week 8 lineup calls: Wide receivers
Fantasy owners spent the early part of the week trolling the waiver wire for viable options at every position.
With six teams taking their bye in Week 8, some owners had to “burn-and-churn” the kicker and defense slots. Others put their heads into their hands while evaluating the available quarterbacks (I’m sorry to remind you of this, Tony Romo owners. We’ll leave it alone now.).
However, the most turnover this week occurred at the wide receiver position. The perfect convergence of injuries, ineffectiveness, the emergence of new options and this six-team bye week have forced owners to reevaluate their investments for the second half of the season.
David Gettis (nine targets in Week 7), Lee Evans (three touchdowns in Week 7) and Nate Burleson (back-to-back touchdowns before the Week 7 bye) led the pack.
Do they rate in this week’s installment of “Lineup Calls.”
Top 10 Wide Receivers
(other than Wes Welker, Calvin Johnson, Miles Austin, Randy Moss, Larry Fitzgerald, Reggie Wayne, Brandon Marshall, Brandon Lloyd, Percy Harvin, Terrell Owens, Andre Johnson and Greg Jennings)
Dwayne Bowe vs. Buffalo
Since the NBA has returned in full force, it’s only appropriate to say that Bowe is “on fire.” He caught four touchdown passes from Matt Cassel in the past two weeks, and narrowly missed a fifth in Week 5.
Bowe and Cassel continue their fantasy magic in Week 8. There’s a date with Buffalo on tap, a defensive unit that surrenders 204.8 yards and 2.3 touchdowns per game. The reins will be loosened on Cassel again. The Bills rank dead-last against the run, thereby opening opportunities downfield against a secondary that has intercepted one pass.
Santana Moss at Detroit
Moss remains the favorite target of Donovan McNabb, having averaged nine pass targets per game through seven weeks. He’s caught five or more passes in six of those seven contests with 77 or more receiving yards in five of seven games. As such, Moss represents a prime receiver play this week against a Detroit secondary that cedes 238.3 receiving yards and 1.7 receiving touchdowns per game. This could be McNabb’s bust-out week, and Moss figures to be the primary beneficiary of his efforts.
Hines Ward at New Orleans
Nobody benefitted from the return of Ben Roethlisberger more than Ward. Ward caught 12 passes in the Steelers’ first four games. He caught 12 passes in two games with Roethlisberger under center and scored in both games.
The Saints rank second in terms of receiving yardage allowed (188.1 yards allowed per game) and have surrendered only six passing touchdowns. New Orleans is still trying to get healthy in the secondary, and the takeaways that defined the 2009 season have yet to be repeated.
Pierre Garcon vs. Houston
Austin Collie and Dallas Clark are out of the mix, thereby putting more targets into the hands of Reggie Wayne and Garcon. Since returning to the lineup, Garcon amassed 10 catches, 160 yards and a touchdown.
I understand that the loss of two trusted options leave some fantasy owners and fans nervous about the Colts going forward. No. 16 is still under center, so the train rolls on in Houston. You can bet that Peyton Manning and the Colts are eager to avenge the Week 1 loss.
Mike Williams at Arizona
Williams has become the go-to receiver for second-year quarterback Josh Freeman. He’s caught four or more passes in five of six games this season while averaging 60.8 receiving yards (three touchdowns). Williams is a top-notch play this weekend against the Cardinals (242.2 yards and 1.6 touchdowns allowed per game). Freeman is coming into his own, and Arizona’s offense isn’t going to help matters.
Lee Evans at Kansas City
Evans has been returned to the fantasy radar by Ryan Fitzpatrick, having caught four or more passes in four games this season. Fitzpatrick is willing to throw the ball deep with regularity, thereby giving Evans a chance (it’s all we can ask after years of mismanagement). The Chiefs rank 25th in receiving yardage allowed (243.8 yards per game and eight touchdowns).
Mike Williams at Oakland
Williams is the white-hot waiver pickup of the week, having posted back-to-back brilliant efforts (21 receptions for 210 yards and a touchdown). However, he’ll square off in man-coverage with Nnamdi Asomugha, who virtually erased Brandon Lloyd from the stat sheet in Week 7 (one reception for 46 yards). Williams still represents a low-end WR2 or WR3 play. I do I believe that the ceiling is lower this week.
Chad Ochocinco vs. Miami
Following a four-week downturn in production, Ochocinco finally got back into the good graces of fantasy owners in Week 7. He started slowly, but caught fire in the second half to finish the loss to Atlanta with 10 receptions, 108 yards and a touchdown.
Terrell Owens’ early-season dominance should continue to afford Ochocinco opportunities (wasn’t it supposed to be the other way around?). Owens has been targeted 73 times this season (second in the NFL). Ochocinco is tied for 11th, averaging 10.2 targets per contest. It’s not a huge spot against the Dolphins, but Miami has surrendered seven touchdowns in the past four weeks and the Bengals’ inability to sustain the run forces Palmer to keep throwing.
Smith caught four passes for 50 yards in Week 7, but missed a portion of the game against San Francisco because of leg cramps. He’s not listed on the early-week injury report, so fantasy owners can keep him slotted in their lineups. Matt Moore appeared more comfortable and confident in his return to the field (that interception returned for a touchdown notwithstanding), and the emergence of David Gettis and Brandon LaFell as viable secondary options should afford Smith better opportunities. The Rams allow 242.9 passing yards and a shade over one passing touchdown per game (1.14).
Gettis caught eight of the nine passes thrown to him in Week 8. He’s most definitely worthy of a WR3 start.
Anthony Armstrong at Detroit
Armstrong has established himself as Donovan McNabb’s top deep threat and complement to Santana Moss. He’s caught multiple passes in three consecutive games, and has recorded a catch of at least 19 yards in five of seven games. Armstrong warrants a solid plug-in consideration as a third wideout against the Detroit secondary (238.6 yards and 1.7 touchdowns per game).
Wide Receiver Sleepers
Roy Williams vs. Jacksonville
Williams quickly provided an endorsement of quarterback Jon Kitna. That’s one way to make sure that red zone targets continue to be thrown in your direction. Williams is anything but a sure thing following Monday’s shutout (he was targeted three times, including a near-miss in the end zone). Given the well-publicized struggles in the Jacksonville secondary, Williams remains a viable WR3 this week. If he fails to produce, he’ll disappear from the fantasy radar just as quickly as he returned.
Anthony Gonzalez vs. Houston
Gonzalez returns to the fantasy radar following an extended absence because of an ankle injury. If cleared for Monday’s game against Houston, Gonzalez could assume a huge role immediately. Austin Collie and Dallas Clark are out, thereby opening up targets for the fourth-year receiver. He’s been returned to waivers in a great number of leagues.
Steve Johnson at Kansas City
Johnson scored for the fourth straight game in the Bills’ game effort against the Ravens in Week 7. He’s also caught three or more passes in every game this season. Despite his high weekly target count, Johnson remains widely available in FOXSports.com fantasy leagues. Owners are just not ready to trust the Buffalo offense.
I have faith in Ryan Fitzpatrick. He may not pile up victories, but he keeps slinging the ball downfield. The Chiefs surrender 255 passing yards and 1.3 touchdowns per game. He may be pressured into a turnover or two. The numbers will be there in the end.
Nate Burleson vs. Washington
Burleson scored in back-to-back games before the Lions’ Week 7 bye. I’m very intrigued to see this unit finally back at full strength with Matthew Stafford back under center. The Redskins rank 31st against the pass, having surrendered 306.4 passing yards and 1.4 touchdowns per game. DeAngelo Hall tries to live up to the post-Week 7 hype against Calvin Johnson, leaving the dominant tight end duo and Burleson to do damage downfield.
Wide Receiver Flops
Marques Colston vs. Pittsburgh
Colston produced his best game of the season in Week 7, amassing 10 catches and 112 yards, including his first touchdown, against the Browns. I’m not anticipating a replication of that effort in Week 8 against the Steelers. The Steelers have ceded 252 passing yards per game, but opponents have generated only four passing touchdowns. With the exception of Roddy White in Week 1, No. 1 receivers have failed to surmount much of an attack (Anquan Boldin had 68 receiving yards, while Brandon Marshall was limited to 57 receiving yards).
Donald Driver at New York Jets
On Sunday night, Driver’s streak of 133 games with at least one reception came to an end. The veteran receiver has been hampered by a thigh injury for several weeks and did not practice Wednesday. If cleared, Driver will likely be limited again and faces a daunting task against Antonio Cromartie. James Jones represents a better option for fantasy owners this week.
Kenny Britt at San Diego
Britt was one of the top stars of Week 7. He caught three touchdown passes from Kerry Collins to extend his scoring streak to five games (with seven total). Britt has caught multiple passes in six consecutive games, although it should be noted that he’s eclipsed 41 receiving yards only twice.
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