"Sometime during the Pats game last week, I decided that Tomlinson was the best overall running back of my lifetime. There's nothing he can't do: deadly receiver, tough inside runner, explosive to the outside, you name it." - ESPN's Bill Simmons
1. Andre Johnson. No question here. Andre Johnson has turned into one of the league's premiere receivers. While he's no Randy Moss, he's playing for a solid pass-based offense and he can put up production despite defenses concentrating on him.
2. Rod Smith. Smith is clearly the go-to guy in the Broncos passing game. While he'll lose out due to their concentration on the running game, and he's not a true 'stud', he'll still put up consistently decent numbers. He's basically a low rent version of Hines Ward in your lineup.
3. Chad Johnson. It's tough to rank Chad Johnson this low, but the Bengals have shown no signs that Carson Palmer is really ready to be a NFL quarterback. Given how difficult it is to develop a decent QB from scratch, I wouldn't be surprised if Palmer's season was pretty terrible - and thus, Chad's season will be pretty terrible. However, he is inarguably the go-to guy in an offense that needs to pass quite a bit (albeit ineffectually).
4. Keenan McCardell. McCardell is almost exactly the equivalent of Johnny Morton. He's the third best receiver on his team - after the tight end and running back. He's coupled with a QB that has difficulty stretching passes all the way to the wideouts. And he's on a team that is enormously effective on offensive despite these flaws. As a result, McCardell will never put up stud numbers, but he'll do pretty well week-in/week-out.
5. Michael Clayton. Clayton has had decent production recently, but don't expect this to continue. He has the disadvantage of a Chad Johnson (playing for an offensively inept team with a weak QB), coupled with the disadvantage of Keenan McCardell (playing for a run-based ball control offense that relies on rushing over passing). This means that despite the fact that he's the go-to guy, there isn't going to be much 'going-to' going on.
Andre Johnson- a stud in the mold of, well, a younger Eric Moulds. He can be a possession guy AND beat you deep and can outrun a guy and out-muscle him. Not at the absolute elite of a Moss or TO (not yet), but not far from it, either. I might put him in with Holt, though.
Chad Johnson- Only thing holding him back is his QB. We know what he can do. It's possible that Palmer will catch on and improve from this point. If that happens, CJ will likely be the biggest beneficiary.
Keenan McCardell- Brees is last year's Kitna and is playing out of his mind right now and quite possibly over his head. I like McCardell's 9 for 120 and a touch in just his 1st 2 games this season, with a new team to boot. He is on the wrong side of 30 (almost 35) but can still play. Was a pro-bowler just last year and should finish strong for a QB trying to prove to the world he can play.
Rod Smith- Another ageless wonder. Has kept Lelie from emerging as the 3rd year wonder he was supposed to be. Is a solid, consistent performer and has been remarkably durable throughout the years. Won't beat you deep, but can catch about anything thrown his way.
Michael Clayton- Has surprised a lot of people this year and shown great upside. His numbers will diminish with the return of Galloway and Jurevicius. Look for great things in the future with this kid.
1. Andre Johnson- Carr and the Texans are on the rise. Andre is a big part of that. He should see most of the catches.
2. Chad Johnson- The studs always get higher rankings, plus Dallas sucks.
3. Rod Smith- Is ahead of McCardell because Gates is the go-to-guy in SD.
4. McCardell- Should get some decent catches, especially if the Chargers air the ball out like last week.
5. Clayton- The return of some injured players should hurt his statline.