If you think about it, you could put a monkey in front of a computer, tell it to pick many people near the top of the screen all the time and that monkey would likely have some impressive players on it’s roster. It’s not very hard to draft the people your supposed to. But it’s after they’re all gone that drafts are won and the massive amount of time you spent researching players that were eventually cut at final cut-downs really pays off.
You can mix and match the top players all you want. If you take out the specific rankings, everyone’s Top 20’s will often have the same 20 players on it. Wouldn’t it behoove us to focus more on lists of players who aren’t on everyone’s lists? Who cares if we end up learning entirely too much about Hank Baskett to warrant utilizing during the season. Should he have a random breakout game during Week 7, you’ll know that it was just that and let some other lemming nearly break their leg trying to get the waiver claim in.
You will likely disagree with some of the rankings, but this list is the very definition of upside. My upside may be different from your upside. So there’s probably going to be some people on here that will make you tilt your head. But that’s okay, because what fun would it be to read a ‘bottom 25 WR’s’ list that didn’t offer some surprises and head-tilters? Correct! Not much fun at all.
As always, enjoy and feel free to question my definition of upside in the replies.
25. Robert Meachem (NO)
Missing the entire 2008 season due to an injury and the team feeling he just wasn’t quite ready yet, Meachem had the opportunity to pick up all of the intricacies of the offense in his time on the sidelines last year. With the learning curve one of the big hurdles for rookie receivers, Meachem got that out of the way without ever stepping on the field. Still, he’ll need to get used to actual game speed but on a team that passes as much as the Saints do, Meachem has a huge opportunity to put up some decent numbers this season.
24. James Jones (GB)
Everyone upgraded the Jets receiving corps with Brett Favre’s arrival, will we wish we had done the same with the Packers unit if Aaron Rodgers stays afloat and ends up being a competent QB? Probably not as much. But James Jones would benefit greatly if Aaron Rodgers proves capable of getting the ball to his WR’s and doing it accurately.
23. Limas Sweed (PIT)
Limas Sweed was my favorite receiver coming out of a draft stocked with them. Come draft day, I eagerly awaited to see if he would go to Eagles or Buccaneers as I had predicted. He didn’t. In fact it wasn’t even close. In what felt like some weird Outer-Limits type scenario, no WR’s were taken in the first round. Not a one. So I was pretty amazed when Sweed fell all the way to round two, pick twenty-two before he was finally selected by the Steelers. Even though he’s a rookie, he should be a favorite end zone target of Ben Roethlisberger and that’s really all that needs to be said, I think.
22. Ben Obomanu (SEA)
With news that Bobby Engram would miss 6-8 weeks with an injury, Seattle’s WR situation just got a lot scarier. At least for fans of the team. If you just care about fantasy potential, it bumped up a bunch of possible sleepers that needed something just like this to happen. Ben Obomanu is young, talented and has the opportunity to become the slot receiver to start off the season. With Matt Hasselbeck always a sure bet to share his throws with his receivers, I’ll take it.
21. Ted Ginn Jr. (MIA)
Surrounded by lackluster wide receiving talent, Ted Ginn Jr. will be the Dolphins WR1 despite probably not making WR4 on most other teams. These are the Dolphins, after all. Although his rookie season wasn’t fantastic, it also wasn’t very bad either. The addition of Chad Pennington is a huge upgrade over who would have eventually been throwing to him and even though Pennington was kicked out of New York in favor of Brett Favre, he’s no wash-up. He can get his receivers the ball and with Ginn being the best receiver on the team, he’ll likely benefit the most.
20. Jabar Gaffney (NE)
After Chad Jackson’s failure of the first part of his entrance exam that would decide whether or not he was ready to be in the starting lineup, Jabar Gaffney appears primed to be New England’s WR3 (Or WR2 if you want to get technical since Welker is essentially the WR3 at the slot). Not many people believe he can put up quality fantasy numbers but if you were going to take a risk on someone you were drafting, wouldn’t you want Tom Brady throwing to him and Randy Moss and Wes Welker occupying most of the defenses attention? Uh, I would!
19. Antwaan Randle El (WAS)
Many people wrote off Antwaan Randle El when the Redskins drafted two rookie WR’s in the 2008 Draft. What they failed to take into account was that both rookies would get injured and Randle El may not take too kindly to reports that he’d be off the field soon. In a West Coast offense that will throw more, Randle El should be able to build upon his 728 yards and 1 TD from last season. Plus, there’s really no where to go for him but up in the TD department.
18. Vincent Jackson (SD)
Despite being the WR2 on a potent San Diego offense, Vincent Jackson isn’t getting much attention. This is probably due to the fact that Philip Rivers throws Antonio Gates the ball 75% of the time. Still, he’s gotten progressively better over the past two seasons and will only stand to benefit from having a full season with Chris Chambers starting opposite him. Having gained 623 yards receiving and 3 TD’s last season, he’s worth a gamble if you think he’s going to continue to progress.
17. Derrick Mason (BAL)
Despite getting up there in age, Derrick Mason put up his best year since 2004 last year. He ended up with 1,087 yards and 5 TD’s despite being thrown to by a rag-tag crew of perennial backup Kyle Boller, a past-his-prime Steve McNair and rookie 5th round pick Troy Smith. Not too bad when you put it in that perspective, I say. With just Boller and Smith likely to throw to him this year, and with both looking a lot better, Mason could very well put up similar numbers to last year yet again. Or dare I say it, improve upon them? He’s only 34 remember, which is precisely 27 years before Jerry Rice ended up retiring.
16. Justin Gage (TEN)
Ah, how we love to refuse to admit that someone who had played poorly in the past year may well end up doing the opposite the next. I for one think Vince Young is going to vastly improve upon last years performance. As the clear cut WR1 Justin Gage would benefit greatly if this proved to be the case. With 750 yards and 2 TD’s in the books for last year, Gage’s stats may grow even more as his rapport with his QB grows. Besides, since when has anyone won a fantasy league without taking some risks?
15. Donte Stallworth (CLE)
Just because he’s never topped 1,000 yards receiving doesn’t mean he never will. Donte Stallworth may also find his presence in Cleveland even more favorable then when he was in New England. In Foxboro Stallworth was essentially the teams third receiver, with Brady’s favorite targets being Randy Moss and Wes Welker. In Cleveland, he’s starting directly opposite Braylon Edwards and could turn out to be a favorite target of Derek Anderson. If Joe Jurevicius can rack up 614 yards and 3 TD’s in the Browns offense then is it out of the question to think Stallworth could have an 800 yard 6 TD season?
14. Bernard Berrian (MIN)
Some have been scared off by Berrian’s football’s being thrown to him by Tarvaris Jackson, but look where he was last year. Bernard Berrian had 951 yards and 5 TD’s last season in Chicago. In Chicago. A la, the team in Illinois who doesn’t seem to mind at all that the entire world thinks there QB’s suck every year. Even their own diehard fans. If Berrian can put up those numbers with Brian Griese, Rex Grossman and Kyle Orton throwing to him, I say we have nothing to worry about his situation in Minnesota. Plus, Tarvaris Jackson could very well improve. We’ve only seen him start 16 total games.
13. Ronald Curry (OAK)
Ronald Curry may find himself on a poor offense, but he’s put up at least 700 yards and 1 TD in each of the last two seasons. It’s worth mentioning that those two seasons saw him on two offenses that were also poor. So poor that sometimes people would ask themselves if it was the worst offense they had ever seen (more so in 2006). With the offense with nowhere to go but up, Ronald Curry might just prove to be the best receiver on the Raiders come years end despite Javon Walker being the actual WR1. And although Walker is believed to have lost a step, his presence on the field can only help Curry.
12. Anthony Gonzalez (IND)
With Marvin Harrison’s 2008 a complete mystery to everyone, Anthony Gonzalez showed last year that he could try and fill the role with 576 receiving yards and 3 TD’s. Even if Harrison ends up being healthy and productive this year, Gonzalez has one NFL year under his belt and can begin to focus on taking advantage of the perks that come with being on the field with so many talented players. Also, Peyton Manning is his QB. Which means he‘s probably taught plays and kept in the loop of Peyton‘s acting career while in the showers.
11. Nate Burleson (SEA)
After a fantastic 2004 season that saw him amass 1006 yards and haul in 9 TD’s, Nate Burleson was just never the same. He took a step in the right direction last year with 694 yards and just as many TD’s (9). With the likelihood of Bobby Engram being absent for the first half of the year due to an injury, Burleson has seen his spot in the starting lineup officially set in stone. He’ll also be the only WR that has chemistry and rapport with Matt Hasselbeck. When all‘s said and done, it’s too crazy to imagine Burleson continuing his move back towards 2004 form.
10. Jerry Porter (JAX)
In Oakland last year, with a quality QB to throw to him nowhere in sight, Jerry Porter had 705 receiving yards and 6 TD’s. In fact, his most impressive year came in 2004 when he finished two yards shy of 1000 receiving yards and had 9 TD’s. His QB for much of that year was Kerry Collins. Yes, the very same Kerry Collins with a career 73.3 QB rating. Porter may very well find his time in Jacksonville his best yet, with a quality QB in David Garrard who is looking for a WR to mark his legacy with in return.
9. Joey Galloway (TB)
Joey Galloway has been consistently solid the past three years, putting up at least 1000 yards receiving and 6 TD’s in each. The only real downside is that he’ll be turning 37 during the season and no one likes to take chances on anyone in their late 30’s in fantasy football. Unless there’s a good reason of course and/or the first name is Brett. Even if Galloway regresses this year, it’s hard to imagine him doing it so suddenly and drastically. If he can stay healthy, Galloway could go ahead and put up his fourth solid year in a row. Hey, he’s a lot safer a pick then some other people taken in the 7th round.
8. Reggie Brown (PHI)
Even though Reggie Brown took a step back in 2007, it wasn’t so drastic and extreme to throw expectations of a turnaround out the window. He was playing on the same field as football machine Brian Westbrook after all. With the Eagles locked into Brian Westbrook for three more years, is it out of the question to think that they may not want to involve him in the offense 80 percent of the time anymore? Unless Westbrook puts up another career-year in 2008, the Eagles may very well focus a bit more on the passing game. Can you see where that was going?
7. Donald Driver (GB)
Even though Brett Favre’s departure has left many unsure about how Donald Driver will respond, he has been so consistent the past six years it’s hard to imagine him just becoming insignificant so suddenly. Barring an Aaron Rodgers busterpiece, Driver should be able to increase his TD total that dipped last year as well as come close to the 1000 yards he’s tallied minimum in each of his last 4 years.
6. Patrick Crayton (DAL)
Patrick Crayton improved in both yards and TD’s last year, finishing with 697 receiving yards and 7 TD’s. Call me crazy but with Tony Romo throwing to him and Terrell Owens starting on the other side of the field, I think he can fill Terry Glenn’s former role and put up at least 1000 this year with just as many TD’s as in 2007. His breakout year if you will. Write it down.
5. Laveranues Coles (NYJ)
Laveranues Coles was one of eleven players on the NYJ offense that benefited from Brett Favre choosing New York. Although Coles yardage numbers went down last year, his TD’s remained the same. With Brett Favre now throwing him the ball and running the offense, it wouldn’t be very surprising if both his receiving yards went back up as well as a couple more TD’s were tacked on. Jerricho Cotchery and Thomas Jones have been getting most of the hype with Favre’s arrival, but Coles could very well turn out to be the gunslingers favorite target on the team.
4. Hines Ward (PIT)
Playing a season injured would naturally cause a decline in your stats for the year and this is what we saw with Hines Ward in 2007. Still, in only thirteen games and with pain surely present many of them, Ward put up 732 receiving yards with 7 TD’s. With an off-season surgery in the books, Ward could very well bounce back healthy and return to sub-1000 receiving yards and 7 TD’s. Or he can fall by the wayside and get injured once again. I just can’t see Hines Ward falling by the wayside.
3. Jerricho Cotchery (NYJ)
Jerricho Cotchery’s value increase was second only to Thomas Jones due to number 4’s arrival. Cotchery broke 1000 yards receiving for the first time in his career despite seeing his TD total drop from 6 to 2 last year. It could even be argued that Cotchery should even be included in the actual top 25 rankings had the author not been skeptical of how well Brett Favre’s 2008 season would go. With the general consensus that Brett Favre > Chad Pennington, it’s safe to assume that Cotchery should put up close to the same numbers even if Favre does indeed have a bad year which would then effectively trigger the end of the world.
2. Santana Moss (WAS)
Santana Moss numbers have fluxuated up and down consistently since 2003 with his TD total finishing at an all-time low in 2007. Depending on how well Jason Campbell reacts to the West Coast offense, Moss could either be a huge beneficiary or a hopeless bystander. Even if it’s a bad year, Moss should still finish with at least 800 yards and an optimistic 5 TD’s. Best case scenario? Well, let’s just say it would be a lot more than that.
1. Roddy White (ATL)
Roddy White put his mark on the league last year, finishing with an impressive 1202 yards and 6 TD’s on what was otherwise an anemic offense. Heading into 2008 White’s QB concerns haven’t changed much, with either a rookie, under-achiever or head-scratcher set to throw him the football. White proved last year though that it didn’t really matter who was throwing to him, he could still put up the numbers. With what hopes to be the real deal in Michael Turner, White should benefit from having an actual threat on the field with him which is something he did not get to enjoy very much last year.
Stay tuned for the Top 25 WR's Actually In The Overall Top 25!