|07-16-2006, 07:27 AM|
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FoxSports - Ranking the WRs and TEs, team by team
This should piss off the Broncos fans.
The addition of Terrell Owens is a major reason why the Cowboys are ranked first, but this is far from a one-man show. Terry Glenn provides an excellent deep threat, and Jason Witten may be the game's second best tight end. Throw in the intriguing Patrick Crayton, and this is a complete unit that will confound opposing defenses with its depth and versatility. Despite the talent, the Cowboys have three major question marks. The first is age. Will Owens and Glenn start to decline as they turn 32? Second, with so many options, will there be enough footballs to spread around? And finally, how much will these guys be held back by the mediocrity that surrounds them on the Cowboys' offense?
For years, no amount of stick em or special gloves allowed the Seahawks' receiving corps to hold onto the ball. Now, it is one of the best in the game. Darrell Jackson doesn't make a lot of noise in the press, but he's emerged as a legitimate No. 1 receiver. The Seahawks paid too much for Nate Burleson, but he should be productive in his return to the No. 2 receiver. Bobby "The First Down Machine" Engram can then slide back into the slot receiver role where he is more comfortable. Last year, Jackson and Engram each caught 69 percent of intended passes, tied with Steve Smith for second in the league. (Behind whom? The answer is below.) Tight end Jerramy Stevens was very productive in the regular season and proved in the Super Bowl that he knows how to get open. D.J. Hackett may be the best fourth receiver in football: Our stats say he had more value last year than any other wide receiver thrown fewer than 50 passes.
In Peyton Manning's record-breaking season, opposing defenses almost always double-teamed Marvin Harrison. As a result, Reggie Wayne and Brandon Stokley were the NFL's two most valuable receivers on a per pass basis. Last season, defenses played the Colts more honestly. As a result, Harrison's production went up slightly, but Wayne's declined a bit and Stokley's fell steeply. Each year Harrison ages, Wayne will see more and more double teams. One way to free up defenses would be to use Dallas Clark more. Clark dominated the middle of the field when he was not kept in to block. Byron Fletcher was also productive as a second tight end. The loss of Edgerrin James in the passing game could be mitigated by using the talented tight ends.
If Chris Henry is on the field come September, the Bengals may have the best receivers in the league. Chad Johnson is one of the top-five receivers in football. T.J. Houshmandzadeh is one of three receivers to rank in the top 11 in DVOA the past two seasons. Henry is an excellent complement as a deep threat. It often goes unmentioned that he was injured on the same play as Carson Palmer in the playoffs. Without Henry and with the departure of Kevin Walter, the Bengals will have no clear third option. The tight ends provide nothing in the passing game; Matt Schobel was useful on third down, but he's gone to Philadelphia.
5. San Diego
All talk about the Chargers' receiving corps rightfully begins with tight end Antonio Gates, but he is hardly a one-man unit. Keenan McCardell set a career high in touchdowns at the age of 35 and posted a season nearly as impressive as his career-best 2003 campaign. If you are still scratching your head after the Seattle comment, here's your answer: Chargers wideout Eric Parker caught 71 percent of passes thrown to him, leading the NFL's wide receivers in 2005 (minimum 50 targets). The Chargers have no proven third wide receiver: Second-year player Vincent Jackson and former 49er Rashaun Woods (who is coming off a major leg injury) will compete for the job. Nonetheless, Chargers WRs/TEs had more DPAR in 2005 than any other team.
Every team ahead of the Cardinals can put three top weapons on the field. The Cardinals will not be bothered with such trivialities when they feature the top young receiving duo in football: Larry Fitzgerald and Anquan Boldin. Unfortunately, their third young receiver, former first-round pick Bryant Johnson, has been a complete disaster. Last year he ranked 85th out of 89 wide receivers in DVOA, and the year before he ranked 79th out of 84 (minimum 50 passes). The Cardinals have no tight end threat unless rookie Leonard Pope can mature very quickly, and when raiding the Colts' talented receiving corps, Troy Walters isn't a big prize. Still, Boldin and Fitzgerald are studs. Fitzgerald, by the way, already has amassed 161 catches and 18 touchdowns, and he is younger than his "quarterback of the future" Matt Leinart.
7. Kansas City
Tony Gonzalez is the Chiefs' marquee name, but he is no longer their most potent threat. The 30-year-old tight end had his lowest yards per catch since 1999 and only scored two touchdowns. The ageless Eddie Kennison, meanwhile, has become one of the best big play receivers in the league. Samie Parker has developed as a solid third option, and even Dante Hall was useful as a receiver a year ago. The only question with the Chiefs receivers is how much longer Kennison and Gonzalez can remain among the game's elite.
Lovie Smith may have missed the memo, but everyone else who follows the NFL knows the Panthers only had one receiving option a year ago: Steve Smith. Despite the attention paid him, Smith had an amazing season, leading the league in receptions, yards, and touchdowns. He also led the league in DPAR and DVOA, our two primary advanced stats. This off-season, the Panthers added Keyshawn Johnson who may no longer be an upper-echelon receiver but remains an ideal complement to Smith. After those two, however, the pickings are slim. Keary Colbert? Cortez Hankton? Drew Carter? Kris Mangum? No thank you.
9. St. Louis
Five years ago, the "Greatest Show on Turf" featured the most feared receivers in football. Now, the Rams have the still-dominant Torry Holt, and not much else. The venerable Isaac Bruce battled injuries a year ago and turns 34. Kevin Curtis is an asset as a third receiver but a liability as a second. One positive change comes at tight end, where the disappointing Brandon Manumaleuna was sent packing. Rookie Joe Klopfenstein will be an upgrade on the field without sacrificing much in the amusing name category.
10. New England
The Patriots are a testament to quantity over quality. Deion Branch is a legitimate number one, but the departure of David Givens leaves them without a known quantity on the other side. Ben Watson and Daniel Graham form the most dangerous tight end duo in football. Troy Brown is capable of holding down the third receiver position. They simply need Reche Caldwell or rookie Chad Jackson to emerge as the second receiver. Look for Caldwell to get playing time early with Jackson overtaking him as the season goes on.
See New England above, replacing Deion Branch with Hines Ward, and the two tight ends with Heath Miller. Add in Santonio Holmes for Chad Jackson as a talented rookie. The difference is that Troy Brown and Reche Caldwell are more dependable than Cedrick Wilson and Quincy Morgan. Wilson was very productive for San Francisco two years ago, but he caught fewer than half the passes intended for him last season. Also, Holmes has started on the Chris Henry career path, so the tie goes to the Patriots.
Jerry Porter needs to prove he can produce as a starter for the Raiders. (Stephen Dunn / Getty Images)
The Raiders are often considered one of the best wide receiving groups in football. Our advanced stats are not so sure. The main problem is Jerry Porter. After his breakthrough as a third receiver in 2002, Porter has posted a below average DVOA in all three of his seasons as a starter. Randy Moss, for all his amazing gifts, has only ranked higher than 18th in DPAR once in the last five years. Nagging injuries like those he suffered last season affect him more than most receivers because his game is so dependent on speed. Doug Gabriel could be an emerging star, and if Ronald Curry can stay healthy, he would be better than the more-heralded converted college quarterback Antwaan Randle El. The tight end position offers nothing special. With Aaron Brooks as the quarterback and these receivers, expect a ton of yards but not a ton of wins.
Speaking of Randle El, he and Brandon Lloyd were the Redskins' additions to help the splendid Santana Moss. Randle El was stretched as a starter last season and returns to his more comfortable slot position this season. Lloyd shows flashes of brilliance but has yet to perform consistently. What the Redskins do boast is Chris Cooley who, despite technically being an H-back, counts as a tight end for our purposes and he's a talented one at that. In our 2006 statistical projections, he comes out as the second-best tight end for fantasy football purposes, and he's a lot closer to Antonio Gates than you might expect.
The addition of Javon Walker will pay dividends as soon as this year, but he will not be back to 100 percent just one year removed from his ACL injury. Look for better performances from him in 2007. Rod Smith continues to stave off Father Time, but the Ashley Lelie situation is uncertain. The Broncos have an offensive system that features the tight end and yet boasts no tight end worthy of being featured. Stephen Alexander should never leave the line of scrimmage over the past two years he ranked 34th and 40th in DVOA while ex-teammate Jeb Putzier ranked fourth and 11th. Putzier's replacement, rookie Tony Scheffler, may need a year or two to adjust to the NFL from Western Michigan.
15. New York Giants
Plaxico Burress had 1,214 yards last season. Jeremy Shockey had 891. Yards, however, are a poor barometer of quality. Burress was targeted 166 times, tied for the most in football. Shockey was targeted 122 times, second most among tight ends. Combined, they caught fewer than 50 percent of the passes intended for them, and that's not all the quarterback's fault. (We should note that, according to our stats, Shockey's performance is much more in line with his reputation than Burress' is.) Amani Toomer's best days are behind him. Sinorice Moss may hope to be his brother, but that is about as likely as Eli Manning being as good as his brother.
16. Green Bay
Donald Driver has ranked in the top 15 in DPAR in three of his four seasons as a starter, including his shining performance while the rest of the Packers' offense crumbled around him last year. Unfortunately, he will be on his own again this season. Robert Ferguson should be a third receiver. Marc Boerigter and Rod Gardner are lucky to have NFL jobs. Rookie Greg Jennings is unlikely to be ready for prime time. To compensate for suspect receivers, the Packers have acquired a stable of tight ends. Bubba Franks' best days as a receiver are gone. Donald Lee and David Martin's best days will probably not be too memorable.
For proof that head coach Brad Childress learned under Andy Reid, look no further than his decision to try playing the season with little-respected receivers. Travis Taylor, Koren Robinson, Marcus Robinson, and Troy Williamson? The difference between this and Philadelphia is that all four of these players have talent, even if in some cases it has never been fully realized. Meanwhile, Jermaine Wiggins and Jim Kleinsasser form a potent tight end duo, although Wiggins is the one who is a valuable receiver.
Catching passes from Kyle Boller and Anthony Wright can be hazardous for your health. Still, Derrick Mason gained the most yards for a Ravens receiver this decade and ranked a respectable 19th in DPAR. He is likely the least-appreciated great receiver of this generation. Todd Heap is widely respected and deserves some of the praise. It is a steep drop after those two. Everyone is convinced Mark Clayton will contribute simply because he is a first-round pick. Just like Rod Gardner, Charles Rogers, Bryant Johnson, and Reggie Williams are sure to work out some day.
Like the Lions, the Falcons spent three No. 1 picks on receivers between 2003 and 2005. The 2003 pick was used on an ill-advised trade for Peerless Price. The two later selections, Michael Jenkins and Roddy White, may work out better. Both players are serious breakout candidates, although the organization seems to be favoring White as the better candidate for the number one role. More importantly, unlike the Lions, the Falcons developed other options. They have one of the game's top tight ends in Alge Crumpler. They also picked Brian Finneran off the free talent market and watched him develop into a very dependable receiver. The poor supporting cast excuse will not fly for Mike Vick this year, and it is on him to see if he truly belongs among the upper echelon of NFL quarterbacks.
20. Tampa Bay
Imagine if Joey Galloway and Michael Clayton both had good years at the same time. Move this unit into the top 10. Galloway ranked 11th in DPAR in 2005, while Clayton was fourth in 2004. Unfortunately, Galloway was 40th two seasons ago while Clayton was a dismal 84th last season. What happened to Michael Clayton is one of the great mysteries of 2005 a few nagging injuries don't fully explain why he was so entirely dropped from the game plan. Rookie Alex Smith showed some promise at tight end, but Ike Hilliard is ready to be put out to pasture.
21. New York Jets
The Jets really fleeced the Redskins when Laveranues Coles demanded a trade out of Washington. That Santana Moss is way too small. Meanwhile, the Jets acquired a good, but not great, receiver to be paired with Justin McCareins, a good but not great receiver. Chris Baker was very valuable in the few looks he got as a receiver. Jerricho Cotchery is intriguing but far from a sure thing.
In 2004, Andre Johnson gained 1,142 yards and averaged 14.5 yards per reception. Last season, he gained 688 yards and averaged 10.9 yards per reception. Which one is the real Johnson? Expecting a repeat of 2004 may be unreasonable, but Johnson is certainly highly talented and likely destined to stardom. The Texans imported Eric Moulds to be their second receiver. Apparently, Andre Reed was unavailable. The more important acquisition may be Jeb Putzier, who provides a solid tight end threat. Further down the depth chart, Derrick Armstrong has posted impressive advanced stats the past two seasons in very limited playing time.
Chris Chambers is a hard player to evaluate. He hints at greatness but appears hampered by poor quarterbacking. His statistics, both advanced and traditional, have never been impressive. He has had an above-average DVOA only once since his rookie season, and last year was the first time he ever gained over 1,000 yards. He is inconsistent and catches a low percentage of passes intended for him. Chambers gained 460 yards in one three-game stretch and never gained 100 in any other game. Despite his obvious talent, he will need to show more to be considered a top receiver. Marty Booker is adequate but not an asset. Randy McMichael has been passed by Crumpler and Witten as emerging tight ends. Wes Welker posted a solid DVOA as a third receiver.
The Titans' wide receivers were so bad last year that the team threw over 200 passes to tight ends. While Ben Troupe has talent and Erron Kinney is adequate, the pass direction had much more to do with the lack of options on the outside. Drew Bennett at least is a solid receiver. Adding David Givens gives the Titans a tandem that will not embarrass them. Behind those two, however, is a gaggle of unproven players. Rumors of substantial playing time for Bobby Wade owner of the lowest DPAR among receivers two years running speaks to the inadequacy of those options.
Braylon Edwards and Kellen Winslow should form a potent duo in years to come. For 2006, however, both have serious injury concerns. Winslow is ready to play but is one year removed from reconstructive knee surgery. Edwards, who was excellent when on the field in an injury-marred rookie campaign, will be out until mid-season and unlikely to be in form until 2007. Joe Jurevicius is a nice addition, but would fit better as a No. 2 receiver. Dennis Northcutt and Frisman Jackson will not strike fear in opposing secondaries.
Had Jimmy Smith not retired, this group would have ranked in the upper half. Ernest Wilford emerged as an excellent complement to Smith, and Matt Jones had a promising rookie year. Neither is ready to be a No. 1 receiver for a playoff quality team. Reggie Williams, the third receiver, improved immensely in his second season. After being the second worst regular receiver in 2004 according to DVOA, he was 78th out of 89 a year ago. One nice addition is rookie Marcedes Lewis, who will gradually replace Kyle Brady, the second-least productive tight end in football last year (in terms of receiving, not blocking).
After everybody stopped paying attention to the Lions in Week 4, their head coach benched first-round picks Charles Rogers and Mike Williams in favor of Scottie Vines. Vines is an undrafted player out of Wyoming who is the very definition of "replacement level." Dozens of players on practice squads and the CFL are as good as Vines. The Lions determined he was better than two players drafted in the top 10. This off-season, the Lions added Corey Bradford, the erstwhile third receiver for the 2-14 Texans. He too may push ahead of Rogers and Mike Williams on the depth chart. The struggles of Rogers and Williams obscure the fact that Roy Williams is developing into a quality receiver worthy of his draft status.
The good news is that the Eagles made the NFC Championship game multiple times with James Thrash and Todd Pinkston as receivers. The bad news is that the 2006 unit may be worse. Pinkston should show few effects of the Achilles injury that cost him all of last season and will help provide stability. Reggie Brown flashed potential as a rookie. Greg Lewis will be happy to return to number three receiver. This is a big season for L.J. Smith to show he is an elite tight end. To date, he has been mediocre.
29. New Orleans
Some receivers, such as Jimmy Smith, leave before they hit the wall. Others, like Rod Smith, age gracefully. The third option is to be Joe Horn and just absolutely run into and even through the wall. After a brilliant 2004 campaign, Horn was Reggie Williams-bad last season. Donte' Stallworth had the best year of his career, but it was not enough to overcome Horn's decline. To make matters worse, the Saints have no other contributing receivers. Take the over on Reggie Bush receptions.
30. San Francisco
Antonio Bryant has been productive for two teams, but both have been happy to see him move on to other teams. The 49ers drafted the talented Vernon Davis in the first round, but rookie tight ends rarely make huge impacts. After those two, the cupboard is bare. Meanwhile, former 49ers Brandon Lloyd and Cedrick Wilson are starting for playoff contenders.
When Peerless Price is your salvation, your receiving corps is in disarray. Lee Evans' impressive rookie season was followed by a very average sophomore campaign. Josh Reed was supposed to assume the second receiver position in 2003, failed, and will be asked to do so again despite little improvement in his play. It's going to be a long year for the Buffalo passing game.
Everyone agrees that the Bears needed a wide receiver before last season. The mistake was signing a 32-year-old coming off his first 1,000-yard season in four years. The Bears are stuck with Muhsin Muhammad, who led the league in dropped passes according to the Football Outsiders game-charting project. He has to be better this year, but he'll never match his 2004 career year. Mark Bradley will get the inside track to start thanks to his draft position, but Chicago's most promising receiver may be Bernard Berrian. Tight end Desmond Clark is nothing special as a receiver.
|07-16-2006, 08:02 AM||#2|
Join Date: Oct 2005
Casino cash: $27492
well the recievers have to be pretty good for green to put up 4000 every year...nice to see a little respect given to them.
|07-16-2006, 10:59 AM||#4|
Join Date: Dec 2005
Casino cash: $8645
I'm surprised we made top 10. ESPN had us in the 20's didn't they? But i can't remember if that included TEs or not
|07-16-2006, 11:01 AM||#5|
Join Date: Sep 2001
Casino cash: $15941
Oh yeah I'm pissed as hell. Ratings that come out before camp has started carry a lot of weight with me.
I dream of having Kennison and (heh) Parker (heh) on my squad. It would save me the trouble of having to watch playoff games every year.
Oh show me the way to the next whiskey bar