StrategyOctober 30, 2004

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Struggling WRs

By Mike Anthony

Heading into the season, fantasy owners had high expectations for Santana Moss, Chad Johnson and Peerless Price. Unfortunately, things haven’t turned out quite that way. Can they turn it around in the second half?

Santana Moss

Although Moss had a strong third-year campaign with the Jets in 2003 with 74 receptions, 1,105 receiving yards, 332 return yards and 10 touchdowns, he faded down the stretch because all of the double coverage and attention he attracted from DBs. Even with the major slow-down in numbers for Moss toward the end of the season, he remained a solid WR option for this year – right?

With a healthy Chad Pennington and the addition of Justin McCareins from Tennessee, things were looking up for Moss. It seemed that playing opposite the big, 6′2″ McCareins, who was expected to become the primary red-zone target, most of the double teams would disappear. Moss aggravated his hamstring during training camp, which was a major letdown for his owners, but he was able to bounce back. Two weeks in, Moss had a 97-yard game, but still no touchdowns. He has struggled the whole year so far, and his hamstring kept him out in the game vs. the 49ers.

Chance of turning his season around: Slim. With Curtis Martin having an unbelievable year for the Jets and McCareins suffering through a disappointing one, nobody expects Pennington throw the ball more than he has so far. As long as C-Mart keeps up the good work, I wouldn’t look for Moss to produce the numbers like he’s capable of.

Chad Johnson

Because of his previous two years in the NFL, Johnson came into this year with expectations joining guys like Torry Holt and Hines Ward among the league’s elite. Chad was impressive as a rookie with 1,166 reception yards and five touchdowns. In his second year, he showed improved skills and more experience with 1,355 reception yards and 10 touchdowns playing with Jon Kitna.

Heading into the 2004 season, there were many doubts about how CJ would perform because of the Bengals’ decision to start Carson Palmer this year. The doubters were right. At first, Palmer and Johnson looked like they wouldn’t have a problem meshing with CJ having 99 yards and a score vs. the Jets on opening day, but his numbers have since plummeted. Chad now has a total of 334 yards and has yet to score since week 1.

Chance of turning his season around: Good. Carson Palmer should be able to get the hang of the Bengals’ offense over time, and should be able to get used to his WRs also. With the Bengals expected to be trailing on the scoreboard in most games, they will be forced to pass and the only threat to throw to is Chad Johnson. It looks like Chad can turn it around, with his talent, making him seem like an excellent buy-low option right now.

Peerless Price

Without Michael Vick in 2003, Price and the other Atlanta receivers struggled. With his quarterback looking like he was ready to go this year in the new West Coast Offense, Price’s fantasy value was expected to rise. With Price entrenched as the #1 WR on the Falcons and Vick being as talented as he is, there would be no reason for Price not to get the ball.

Contrary to expectations, Price has struggled all year due to Vick’s lack of experience in the WCO and Warrick Dunn running better than expected. Price has 269 total yards this year through week 6 with no scores. With only 17 receptions, it may be hard for Price to post respectable fantasy numbers, too.

Chance of turning his season around: Bad. With Dunn running like a top 10 running back this year, Vick still running the WCO his own way for the most part, and Price not getting looks, it’ll be tough to rebound. Alge Crumpler seems to be Vick’s favorite target, as he has 328 reception yards and two touchdowns, and isn’t showing signs of slowing down.

New Yorker Mike Anthony roots for the Giants, Yankees, Knicks and Rangers. You can catch him posting as kanezfan11 in the Cafe forums.

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