Del Pilar's Digest: Fantasyland WR report

Posted Dec. 26, 2011 @ 8:14 p.m.
Posted By William Del Pilar

It was a heavy week for the WRs with Victor Cruz, Brandon Marshall and Jordy Nelson all performing well above their draft status. However, Hakeem Nicks and Steve Smith, two studs, helped send their fantasy owners home in disgrace after not hurting their teams with poor performances. Make sure you know if your team is going to sit their players, like the Packers, as well as finding some of the hidden gems that are still available on waiver wires such as James Jones and Denarius Moore.

The studs

Packers WR Jordy Nelson (6-115-2 on seven targets) bounced back after a poor performance. This upcoming week, the team may rest him as they prepare for the playoffs, so make sure you have other choices available or pick up someone like James Jones (4-50-2 on six targets) or Randall Cobb (2-22-0 on three targets).

Cardinals WR Larry Fitzgerald (6-105-1 on 11 targets) came alive in the fourth quarter this past week and ends most fantasy seasons with a phenomenal three-game average of 5.3 catches for 106.3 yards and 0.7 TDs. Next week he faces the Seahawks, but is a weekly start regardless.

Giants WR Victor Cruz (3-164-1 on eight targets) was elite in his fantasy numbers. After a Week 15 slump he bounced back with his second-best game of the season and has six games with 110 yards or more and eight TDs on the year. He's a must-start and will be highly ranked going into the season.

Chiefs WR Dwayne Bowe (6-80-1 on 11 targets) seems like a lock to post this week's numbers regularly when he has a QB that can get him the ball. You have to wonder how good Bowe could be in an offense like the Eagles or Patriots. He's a quality start against the Broncos.

Giants WR Hakeem Nicks (1-20-0 on seven targets) — this is just what happens at times. A bad matchup mixed with an emerging WR in Cruz made it easy for QB Eli Manning to move on from Nicks. However, he's a quality fantasy play as teams will focus on Cruz at times leaving him some opportunities.

Steelers WR Mike Wallace (4-82-0 on seven targets) was the only beneficiary of QB Charlie Batch. Wallace may be the go-to-WR for Batch if he starts next week, giving him value against the Browns.

Dolphins WR Brandon Marshall (7-156-1 on 12 targets) blew up against the Patriots in Week One and did so again this past week. He now has three straight games with one TD and despite a poor Week 14 performance for fantasy owners, he's posted four games of 60 or more yards over the past five.  He faces a tough matchup and could see CB Darrelle Revis most of the day in Week 17. However, he did go 6-109-0 against them in Week Six and QB Matt Moore throws to him. He's worth starting.

Eagles WR Jeremy Maclin (5-72-1 on six targets) has improved every game since his return in Week 14 and warrants a fantasy start next week against the Redskins after going 5-101 against them on seven targets in Week Six.

Panthers WR Steve Smith (1-9-0 receiving on three targets and 1-23-0 rushing) collapsed when his fantasy owners needed him most, but you can't blame him as this was a week the Bucs weren't going to let him beat them. You have to start him next week because in Weeks 14-15, he combined for 11-207-1 on 15 targets. He's too good to have this fluke game give you pause to bench him.

Gaining fantasy value or holding steady

Colts WR Reggie Wayne (8-106-1 on 14 targets) had an exceptional game in what could be his last home game for the Colts. He's expected to walk next year and is just four games removed from his Week 12 performance of 5-122-1 and has enough fantasy value in Week 17 to warrant legitimate consideration to start.

Titans WR Nate Washington (4-71-0 on 11 targets) proved many critics wrong by hanging in this season and ending the season strong. He has a three-game average of 5.7 catches for 87.7 yards and 0.7 TDs per game. He has a tough matchup against the Texans next week but warrants fantasy consideration.

Chargers WR Malcom Floyd (6-95-1 on 13 targets) took advantage of Vincent Jackson's groin injury to post his third-best fantasy game of the year and when it counted! If you removed his Week 14 performance (2-29-0) He has a three-game average of five catches for 99.7 yards and one TD and warrants a start going into Week 17. He was inactive earlier this year when the Raiders rolled into town.

Packers WR James Jones (4-50-2 on six targets) was this week's beneficiary of Aaron Rodgers and his gunslinger throws. All Packer WRs warrant a start depending on the size or how deep your league is. The problem is no one knows who will benefit. Jones is a viable start in Week 17 if the team begins to rest its starters.

Cardinals WR Andre Roberts (6-75-0 on 10 targets) now has two straight outstanding fantasy games. He also has two TDs in the last three games, but faces a strong Seahawks defense against opposing WRs in Week 17.

Titans WR Damian Williams (8-83-0 on 11 targets) matched Nate Washington for most targets and for the few that started him provided a solid game, and an outstanding game in PPR leagues with eight catches. If you remove his Week 15 performance (2-15-0), he has a three-game average from Week 13-16 of 4.7 catches for 69 yards and no TDs. However, he faces the Texans in Week 17 and could struggle. His status will be determined by your roster makeup.

Raiders WR Denarius Moore (4-94-1 on nine targets) will have these type of games and this is his third elite performance. However, he also has seven games of twenty yards or less, including two without a catch. He's your classic high-risk, high-reward player, but will have opportunities against the Chargers in Week 17.

Bears WR Roy Williams (6-81-0 on nine targets) made the most out of QB Josh McCown starting, but with a total of 3-31-0 on seven targets between Weeks 13-15, is he someone you want to risk your championship game on? It's a tough call as they face the Vikings in a meaningless game, but the matchup is there.

Minimum or diminishing fantasy value                                                                                          

Bengals WR A.J. Green (2-25-0 on eight targets) saw a high target count but couldn't maximize the opportunities. However, the team was leading by halftime and slowed it down in the second-half. Facing the Ravens next week, he always deserves fantasy consideration, even with his inconsistencies the past four weeks. Part of that is probably the shoulder injury he's been dealing with.

Bengals WR Jerome Simpson (5-42-1 on six targets) had the highlight reel catch of the season with a flip over the defender into the endzone and sticking it like a gymnast would. In fact, I've been watching football since 1975 as a little kid and can't remember such a unique move done that well. It was incredible to me more so than flashy how he literally stopped, flipped and stuck it! Simpson now has two TDs in three games, but his three-game average is three catches for 31.3 yards and 0.7 TDs on 5.7 targets. In larger leagues he warrants consideration.

Panthers WR Brandon LaFell (3-103-1 on three targets) averaged two targets per game and 1.2 catches per game from Weeks Five through 10. However, since Week 11 he's averaged 4.7 targets, so he has improved in the second half of the season. But it's not like you can confidently slot him against the Saints and assume a great game. View this one as a fluke, but his stock is rising with QB Cam Newton entering 2012.

Ravens WR Torrey Smith (2-38-0 on seven targets) wasn't able to capitalize with Anquan Boldin (knee) out. He retains his fantasy value heading into a Week 17 matchup against the Bengals. However, he has a four-game average of 3.5 catches for 48.8 yards but 0.5 TDs. Yardage is slow, but he's a favorite TD target for QB Joe Flacco as his deep speed allows for some potential playmaking bombs.

Bucs WR Mike Williams (4-39-0 on eight targets) has reverted back to his bust-play status after a great three-week run between Weeks 11-13. Since then, he has a three-week average of 2.3 catches for 24.7 yards and zero TDs. You can't trust him next week against the Falcons.