Wide Receiver

Steve Smith 09 Season a Mirage?

Monday, 7 June, 2010


By Zack Cimini


One of the stunning rises amongst sleepers that actually came to life last year was Steve Smith. No not the Steve Smith of the Panthers who could not dispel Jake Delhomme’s horrid continuation of faltering. It was Steve Smith of the Giants. Anticipating his rise amongst the crop of Giants receivers was not predictable. While he backed up Amani Toomer and Plaxico Burress he really showed no signs of being a starting wide receiver. Maybe it was the chemistry of having a player familiar with him that allowed Eli Manning to develop a natural rapport with Smith. Manning looked his way often to the tune of over 100 catches for 2009.

There are reasons to believe that Smith’s 09 season may be his all time high. As the season went on the Giants discovered they have a great young core of receivers. Hakeem Nicks and Mario Manningham began to emerge after battling injury woes. They add a big play element that Smith does not possess. Coming off their solid years where they battled minor injuries, they should both be better prepared to handle a rigorous NFL season. Subtle things that receivers begin to pick up with the amount of talent they have will be second nature.

In years past Eli Manning was never a big threat for huge statistics. Last year was sort of a forced reckless attack with Eli’s arm for the Giants. They’re typically more reliant with their ground attack. With Brandon Jacobs ineffective while playing through injury and getting behind often, the Giants had to let Eli let it fly. They know that is not the approach they can have to get back to their winning ways.

Steve Smith was Eli’s safety net that proportionately would be the leader each game by almost two to one on any other Giants receiver. He actually finished with more catches total (107) than both Mario Manningham (57) and Hakeem Nicks (47) combined. That type of stark contrast is just not typical in this day and age of the NFL. Another key factor to look at is the Giants under utilized their tight end Kevin Boss. Boss did not have a horrible season from a tight ends perspective but we’d expect him to get a little more involved this year. A solid running game opens up the play action and streaks over the middle. Jacobs should be back 100 percent and that means Manning can have another threat to work off of over the middle.

Smith showed strong enough signs that he is a great possession receiver, there is no questioning that. Where we think he’ll lose a bit of luster is touchdown catches. Sure Manning did throw for 27 touchdowns and could equal or improve on that this year. It’s the guys behind him that worry us. Nicks (six touchdowns) and Manningham (8 touchdowns) did strong enough damage with touchdown receptions to figure they should only become a bigger part of the Giants attack in 2010. For the minimal amount of catches they had, dividing even an extra fifteen to twenty catches each would cause a significant fall for Smith.

When it comes time for your fantasy drafts it comes down to drafting Steve Smith as your second receiver, or banking on Manningham or Nicks increasing their play as your third or fourth receiver. For sure you do not want to have Smith as your overall number one but he’ll be safe as your second. The upside with Manningham and Nicks is tremendous. Expect a strong training camp battle to solidify that second wide receiver spot. New York has to be glad about one thing. They were able to shake off the Burress impact rants in less than a year. Their receiver core is young and going to be one of the strongest units in the league for some years to come.

Receivers With Opportunities

Friday, 18 September, 2009

By Zack Cimini

The continued conversations on reducing preseason games has been a hot topic for years. What isn’t is all the early season injuries that happen. Injuries are going to happen but the huge spike at the start of the season has to raise eyebrows. Coaches aren’t allowing their athletes to get enough physical contact during the preseason, with enough quarters to play in. Starters are lucky if they play a complete games minutes during a four game preseason. Thus after week one injuries are rampant and this leaves opportunities galore for players ready to step in.

This week we will focus on a few situations at the receiver position. Seattle, Indianapolis, Arizona, Tampa Bay, and Oakland all have statuses with receivers that will not or likely won’t play. This gives fantasy owners a great chance to sneak in a bench spot receiver or waiver wire pickup for the week.

Out: Antonio Bryant In: Sammie Stroughter

Bryant’s knee still isn’t fully recovered from surgery right before preseason, so in steps Stroughter. Byron Leftwich has had issues with his accuracy but threw over 40 passes week one. Tampa did get down against Dallas’s high octane offense, but expect Leftwich to still throw between 25-30 passes a week.

Out: Anthony Gonzalez In: Pierre Garcon

For now Garcon will try to fill the void with Gonzalez out for an extended amount of time. The Colts did sign Hank Baskett and we will have to see how he is utilized in a few weeks. Peyton Manning is going to make someone besides Reggie Wayne fantasy relevant. Garcon gets his chance, can he make the most of it?

Out: Chaz Schilens: In: Louis Murphy

Murphy stepped in and out did fellow rookie first round selection Darrius Heyward-Bey. We will see how this plays out on a week to week basis, as Jamarcus Russell only completed 12 passes week one. Still the Raiders seem to be more comfortable with attacking through the air with their offense. Schilens is due back within the next few weeks. Until then Murphy and Bey will be positioning themselves for the second spot upon Schilens return.

Out: TJ Houshmanzadeh: In: Nate Burelson
Housh likely will not play making Nate Burelsons value rise for the week. Burelson is already a starter but being the number one option in a west coast offense is going to raise his stock dramatically. He should receive plenty of looks from Matt Hasselbeck, in the area of 12-15 passes his way.

Steve Breaston, Anquan Boldin: In: Jerehme Urban

Both Breaston and Boldin are nicked up but expect Boldin too see some action. Even if both can play Urban should see a significant amount of snaps since neither were able to practice all week. Urban has decent chemistry with Warner, and we’d expect the Cardinals to attack down field much more than they did week one. Fitz was limited to just five catches and their leading receiver was Tim Hightower with 12 catches. That’s not what you want to see from one of the most dynamic offenses last year.

Is Brandon Marshall Serious?

Friday, 28 August, 2009

By Zack Cimini

You can bank on Brandon Marshall’s ADP dropping even more after his latest antics during Wednesday’s Broncos practice. Yes Brandon we all know that you deserve more than your set to make this year, but is this really the way to go about it. Before we delve in and rant on Marshall take a look for yourself at what he was doing during Broncos practice drills.


Drawing attention to yourself this route is absolutely ridiculous. What could the end result possibly be, besides hurting his pockets even more? Then again could he be doing this because of how Jay Cutler got what he wanted after he pouted and was eventually traded?

For those of you that have had your drafts In June and July you’ll all be a part of the best case scenario for Marshall. The best case scenario is that Marshall either wakes up and realizes he’ll have to play his way out of Denver. That he has already showed though with back to back 100 catch seasons, so maybe Marshall will continue the route he is exhibiting. Josh McDaniels is fed up and with Marshall close to free agency anyways maybe they’ll cut their losses and grant him his wish.

This would be the ultimate best case scenario for fantasy owners. Especially for owners that have had their drafts within the last few weeks. Right now Marshall’s ADP according to myfantasyleague.com is early to late fourth round depending on a ten or twelve team draft. That’s probably offset due to him going a lot higher a few months ago. We’d guess he’s probably going in the sixth rounds right now.

The upside to Marshall is what we know he can do. When he is on the field and wants to perform he has showcased being an elite wide receiver. You’d have to put him in the first tier wide receiver class even if Orton was throwing him the ball. The first tier class currently consists of Randy Moss, Larry Fitzgerald, Andre Johnson, and Calvin Johnson.

We all knew about his off the field antics but now that we’re seeing his selfish attitude on the field, it’s almost comparable to being a GM ready for the NFL draft. The talent may be there but talent is easy to find. We’d pass on Marshall and let some other owner worry about knowing what they’re going to get from him on a week to week basis. He’s not worth the hassle until he shows he can mature and do his duty and obligations.

We’d also expect the Broncos organization to think hard about some sort of discipline to Marshall after his absolute mockery of the Broncos practice.

Boldin Wants 1500 Yards

Thursday, 20 August, 2009

By Zack Cimini

While other high profiled wide receivers shone the spotlight on themselves with self promotions on and off the field, twittering, and nagging injuries to keep them out of training camp, Anquan Boldin’s been straight business since leaving Drew Rosenhaus. Here is an athlete that wanted out of his deal and to be traded more than anyone in the NFL. Yet nothing came to a conclusion the way he would have liked. Instead of pouting all summer and holding out, Boldin’s been all about putting his team ahead of himself. He has been working hard with a chip on his shoulder, and has set high expectations for himself.

On local channel 12 news in an interview with Bruce Cooper based from training camp in Flagstaff, Anquan Boldin told Cooper that he has his eyes set on getting 1500 yards receiving this year. It’s an awfully high goal for a receiver, but don’t rule it out of Boldin’s reach.

After all he has came close to 1500 yards twice already in his career. Those years were in his rookie campaign in 2003, and again in 2005 when he had 1,407 yards receiving. Mind you that 2005 year he missed two games, or would have achieved that mark. Missing games is what has been the distinguishing mark between himself and Fitzgerald. Each of the last two seasons Boldin has missed a big stretch of games (4 each).Though at the end of the season Boldin is right there statistically amongst the best receivers in the league.

His physical style of play for a receiver is unmatched by anyone in the NFL. When he makes a catch he is looking to attack with a demolition mentality. He is not going down without busting into a defender or two. Like Boldin has said what receiver in the league would have been back onto the field after basically fracturing his face? We highly doubt many would have been able to return in that quick of time span. He could have also missed part of the playoffs with a serious nagging hamstring that kept him out the last two weeks of 2008. Instead he played through it even when aggravating it against the Atlanta Falcons in the first round of the playoffs.

The finger pointing on Boldin’s contract situation can go right back at the agent that got him into this mess, Drew Rosenhaus. After a strong rookie season Boldin listened to Rosenhaus and held out briefly by skipping mini camp. That strategy did work, but the incentive laden structure of his contract was absolutely pitiful. Rosenhaus set Boldin up well for the first part of the deal with a great signing bonus of $10 million, but his base salaries are atrocious towards the end of his deal. In hindsight, Boldin obviously had his eyes set on the green up front, but now he has to deal with the 2.75 million (2009), and 3 million (2010) he is set to make.

We’d hope the Cardinals will reward Boldin and not be as stubborn as they’ve been in negotiations. Even Larry Fitzgerald just restructured his deal to try to give cap space for a new deal for Boldin.

If he can put together a full healthy season, Fitzgerald and Boldin might be a one-two combination for top fantasy wide receivers in the league. That’d be unprecedented and the closest we can ever think of that happening is back in the 1998 year of Randy Moss and Cris Carter. The Cardinals may keep preaching that they plan on running the football but they’re in poor shape to get that established. They let Edgerrin James and third down back of last year JJ Arrington go. Their decision was to go younger and give the reigns to last years rookie Tim Hightower and the drafting of another in Chris Wells. Hightower will have to show he can be a heavy load back, and Wells has already been hurt multiple times in training camp. The backfield is slim, with huge questions around durability and productivity. The spread it out air attack may be back bigger than ever in 2009.

Top 40 Wide Receiver Rankings

Tuesday, 4 August, 2009

Raymond Ayala’s Top 40 Wide Receivers

1) Larry Fitzgerald (ARZ) – If you did not know who Larry Fitzgerald was, you did after last years Super Bowl. Fitzgerald possesses one of the most impressive leaps in the game, as well as being a smart route runner. I would be shocked if Fitzy was not in the top 3 in receiving touchdowns, as well as receiving yards.
2) Randy Moss (NE) – Last season may have been an off year for Moss, but he still held his own. Now his quarterback of choice Tom Brady steps back into the mix, and expect his numbers to resemble his 07-08 season. Moss finishes the season leading the league in receiving touchdowns. Take that to the bank.
3) Andre Johnson (HOU) – In previous drafts Johnson was a sleeper, but now Houston has put together a much improved defense and I expect the offense to show up this year as well. Matt Schaub will put the ball in Johnson’s hands and the yardage will rack up. Expect Johnson to lead the league in receiving yards, as he pairs that up with double digit touchdowns.
4) Steve Smith (CAR) – Last year Smith misses a couple of games due a club-induced suspension. This season Smith has a clear slate and should continue being the elite Wide-Receiver that he is. His yardage totals may dip a tiny bit, but also expect his touchdowns to increase by at least 3. Smith is still young and his all around numbers could still improve.
5) Reggie Wayne (IND) – The Colts will have a lot on the line this year, and Peyton’s number one target will now be Reggie Wayne. Wayne’s numbers decreased last season, but this season I expect him to flourish. Wayne could easily put up a 1,200 yard-10 Touchdown season this year.
6) Anquan Boldin (ARZ) – Most expected Boldin to be traded in the offseason, but the trade market was unsuccessful and Boldin now returns to a very similar team to last years. This year Boldin is 100% healthy, and he could just as easily jump his teammate, Fitzgerald, in the rankings. Boldin is out to prove something this year and is hoping to get a big pay day in the process.
7) Michael Crabtree (SF) – I don’t care if he has not come into camp yet, and yes this may be an overdraft, but what is there not to like about Crabtree? He has the same jumping ability Moss did when he came out of college, and he dominated at a better school without a good quarterback passing to him. Hill will find Crabtree, who will finish the season as the Offensive Rookie of the Year, and a pro-bowl selection.
8) Roddy White (ATL) – White was the top target of quarterback Matt Ryan, and things will most likely stay the same. The only exception is White is still extremely young, and will continue to improve. If he can find a couple of more openings then he did last year, it could be a great year once again for White.
9) Greg Jennings (SD) – Jennings and his quarterback, Aaron Rodgers, have put the Favre era behind them once and for all. If you think Rodgers found Jennings a lot last year, then expect to be blown away. The Packers have a solid team this year, and I think Jennings benefits from the progress he made with Rodgers last season.
10) Calvin Johnson (DET) – If Johnson put up the same numbers he did last year, on any other team, he would easily be a top 3 pick. Unfortunately he plays for the Detroit Lions, who were held winless last year. While I expect the Lions to improve, I unfortunately expect Johnson’s numbers to drop a bit this year, but increase once rookie quarterback Matthew Stafford gets settled in.
11) Terrell Owens (BUF) – T.O may be the definition of self-centered, but he is also the definition of consistency. Through all his turmoils, Owens has been able to score double-digit touchdowns four of the last five seasons. Now if Owens can shape up his on-field attitude and become a teacher to his younger quarterback, double-digits should not be that hard to achieve in 09-10.
12) Marquis Colston (NO) – Last year Colston only played in eleven games due to an injury. Now Colston is healthy, and will look to not only match his 07-08 numbers, but will also look to increase them. Brees is the best quarterback in the NFL, and soon enough Colston could be the best wide receiver.
13) Braylon Edwards (CLE) – Once he figures out who is quarterback will be, he will be able to improve on last season. I expect a Quinn-led Browns team to give a lot of the offensive load to Edwards. If the Browns fall out of it early, do not be surprised to see Edwards traded away to contender, increasing his fantasy value.
14) Roy Williams (DAL) – Williams has been plagued with injuries, and did not do too much when he was traded last year to the Cowboys. Now that he has had time to settle in with Tony Romo, I expect him to become a top-tier wide receiver, once again.
15) Chad Ochocino (CIN) – Has a nice ring to it…Ochocino. Chad was scolded by international acting sensation Denzel Washington during a Lakers playoff game for his onfield attitude. Ochocinco was apparently affected by this, and I expect a huge season for Ochocino, especially with a healthy Carson Palmer back.
16) Wes Welker (NE) – Probably the best kept secret in the NFL. Welker continued to show why he is here to stay last year, becoming a top target of quarterback Matt Cassell. While the Patriots will once again revert to the Brady-Moss connection, I don’t expect Welker to just watch. He will be the best second wide-receiver in the NFL, and should be drafted earlier then most number ones.
17) Dwayne Bowe (KC) – With an improved quarterback, Bowe’s potential should come to fruition this season. Last year Bowe had trouble hanging onto the ball, but those improvements should increase his touchdowns.
18) Derrick Mason (BAL) – Mason almost retired at the beginning of camp due to the death of his friend Steve McNair. This will become an inspiration to Mason, who is now playing this season in dedication of his close friend.
19) Brandon Marshall (DEN) – Marshall continues to ask for a trade, but will eventually show up to camp and put up his regular numbers. Marshall is beginning to remind me of Ochocino in both play and attitude.
20) T.J. Houshmanzadeh (SEA) – Getting out of Cincinatti was the best thing Houshmanzadeh could have done in the offseason. Once he gets used to the west coast offense, I expect him to flourish and be one of the top wide receivers in the NFC.
21) Chris Chambers (SD) – Lynch could easily have been in the top 10, had he not been suspended for the first three weeks. Including the bye week that is four missed games this season for Lynch. Still he is a top tier RB.
22) Santonio Holmes (PIT) – Barber was somewhat of a disappointment last season, and Felix Jones threatens to take some of his carries. There is no question that Barber will get the goal line runs, which equal easy touchdowns.
23) Antonio Bryant (TB) – Bryant put up big numbers last year and was rewarded with an invitation to the pro bowl. Now he is a known top target for a team that has a big question mark at the quarterback position.
24) Vincent Jackson (SD) – Has been the most consistent Wide Receiver over the past two seasons for the Chargers, but still plays second fiddle to Chambers. Jackson could be the teams number one wide-receiver by seasons end.
25) Lance Moore (NO) – His numbers from last season can’t be ignored, but with Colston back in the mix, he moves back down the depth chart. Still, Moore showed he is capable of a 1,000 yard season.
26) Percy Harvin (MIN) – Whoever ends up starting at quarterback for the Vikings, better just give the ball to Adrian Peterson and let him go to work. When you need an alternative Harvin will be a perfect choice. His big play ability was evident throughout his career at Florida.
27) Lee Evans (BUF) – As a number one wide receiver, Evans struggled to get open. Now as the number two, I expect his full potential to be reached and for Evans to show the league that he is capable of being an elite wide-receiver.
28) Donald Driver (GB) – Expect a resurgence from this once top Wide Receiver. He is a good number two to have in mixed leagues.
29) Desean Jackson (PHI) – Last year Jackson showed the league what he was capable of. Now the question is whether Jackson can adjust to the leagues adjustments.
30) Hines Ward (PIT) – Will not be Big Ben’s top target this season, but still continues to put up consistently good numbers.
31) Eddie Royal (DEN) – If Marshall is traded, Royal instantly becomes more valuable. Royal may skyrocket if he gets in sync quickly with new quarterback Jay Cutler.
32) Hakeem Nicks (NYG) – Put on a show in his last game in Carolina blue. Expect the same show to continue when he suits up in New York Giants blue.
33) Laveranues Coles (CIN) – Will have to play second fiddle to Ochocino, but it’s about that time in his career.
34) Justin Gage (TEN) – Went unnoticed most of last season. This year better get this speedster soon, or risk losing him to another team.
35) Ted Ginn Jr. (MIA) – Once Ginn Jr. learns how to find the endzone, he will be a great wide-receiver in this league. Until then he is only a top flight kick returner.
36) Devin Hester (CHI) – Hester’s ability to run routes, and then run like a running back make him a valuable asset to the Bears.
37) Chris Henry (CIN) – This is my pick to be the best surprise in the AFC this year. While Henry has had troubles in the past, his skill set resembles Randy Moss in both look and feel for the game.
38) Amani Toomer (KC) – Has 10,000 yards on the brain, with an established quarterback giving him the yardage he needs.
39) Josh Morgan (SF) – If Crabtree does not report to camp, Morgan becomes the 49ers number one instantly. He can handle the pressure, and is still valuable as the 49ers second option.
40) Anthony Gonzalez (IND) – Made great strides last season, and is expected to contribute a lot for one of the leagues top offensive units.

Brandon Marshall What Are You Thinking

Friday, 17 July, 2009

By Zack Cimini

Marshall talent wise is one of the best receivers in the game, but continues to hurt his image in several ways. His latest issue happened to be on his appearance on the NFL Network. He responded to most questions in proper manner, saying that his agent is handling all present issues. When it came to reporting to training camp, he stated he will be there because he doesn’t want to get fined daily. On top of it he said Denver wants him there on the 27th when injured players and rookies are too report. Only a few questions later in regards to his off-season hip surgery, he went on to say that he is fine. Just days earlier he was doing 360 and windmill dunks. Wow, Brandon way to put yourself out there as an injured player. This is the kind of nonsense that may be the number one reason why the Broncos don’t want to pay you based off of your stats. Smarten up and do your job.

Impact: While this just continues to show Marshall’s issues, he is still a young and talented receiver. With Kyle Orton being his quarterback an obvious decline in caught balls will happen. Don’t rule Marshall out completely for touchdowns and big plays though. Orton can deliver the football and Marshall will continue to be the main target as a strong, big, and physical receiver.