Updated 9:20 p.m. ET, Wednesday, Sept. 5
The PFW staff brings you its late-week fantasy tips for wide receivers, including notes on whether to start Mike Wallace and injuries in the Raiders' receiving corps clearing the way for an undrafted rookie.
Stevie Johnson’s success against Darrelle Revis last season (11 catches for 159 yards and one touchdown) has been a hot topic this week, and it makes Johnson a viable start in fantasy leagues, even against the league’s best corner. But QB Ryan Fitzpatrick may not want to go to him often, and one player to keep an eye on is David Nelson, who will likely be defended by Jets CB Kyle Wilson out of the slot. Nelson turned into a decent PPR receiver last season and has flown under the radar. He’s not worth a start this week, but keep an eye on his performance in Week One, which has the potential to make him a popular waiver-wire pickup next week.
The way the Chargers talked about WR Eddie Royal in the spring would make you believe he was destined for Canton. An injury hampered his training camp, but he will be the team’s slot receiver on Monday night against the Raiders and should help the Chargers exploit a shaky secondary.
There is a chance Raiders undrafted rookie Rod Streater could start Week One vs. the Chargers. Denarius Moore (hamstring) Jacoby Ford (foot) and Juron Criner (ankle) are each dealing with injuries and, at the very least, Streater figures to see significant playing time in the rotation at receiver. He’s quickly established a strong rapport with QB Carson Palmer and is worth adding in deeper formats. If he gets the start opposite Darrius Heyward-Bey, Streater will be worthy of consideration for a start at a flex spot in deep leagues.
As was expected from most daily Niners observers all along, newly acquired Randy Moss and Michael Crabtree will open the season against the Packers as the team’s starting WRs. Although he played only a handful of snaps per game in the exhibition season, Moss stood out in the team's practices. Crabtree, meanwhile, led the 49ers in receiving last season and has been consistently listed as a starter at one of the WR spots throughout the exhibition season. But don’t discount free-agent addition Mario Manningham as a possible fantasy factor this Sunday, when he will be going up against a Green Bay secondary that was terrible most of the time last season. In the Giants’ playoff victory over the Packers last season, Manning had three catches for 31 yards, including a four-yard TD.
Don’t look now, but Braylon Edwards, a former Pro Bowl wideout who failed to catch on with the Niners last season, looks like he will be a starting wide receiver along with Sidney Rice this Sunday in Seattle’s season opener against Arizona. Edwards has looked very good in a Seattle uniform, but the only reason he is starting this week is because Golden Tate has come up with a knee injury that could keep him on the sidelines for a couple of weeks.
Colts WR Austin Collie is a classic boom-or-bust fantasy player this season. He had a tremendous offseason working with rookie QB Andrew Luck before he sustained his fourth concussion in less than two years during the preseason. The good news is that Collie has been cleared to play against a Bears secondary that has its share of issues; the bad news is that Collie could be one concussion away from ending his NFL career. The bottom line for fantasy owners is to get what you can out of Collie now, beginning with a favorable matchup in Week One against a Chicago club that surrendered 254.1 passing yards and 22 TDs through the air last season.
The time has arrived for us to find out if the Texans’ WR corps has any fantasy relevance outside of Andre Johnson, who is a solid No. 1 WR again as long as he is healthy. The best bet from Houston’s revamped young group is rookie Keshawn Martin, who is No. 3 on the depth chart behind Johnson and Kevin Walter and faces an intriguing matchup on Sunday against a Miami secondary that has questions regarding its CB depth. Martin developed a quick rapport with QB Matt Schaub and is the Texans' most explosive receiver after Johnson. It is unlikely he was drafted in many fantasy leagues, but Martin is a name to keep in mind.
Steelers WR Mike Wallace figures to play quite a bit in Week One at Denver now that he’s returned to practice. Even if he doesn’t start — and he may very well be in the lineup — he’ll play quite a bit in multi-WR sets. His rare playmaking ability merits a place in your lineup.
Ravens WR Torrey Smith could emerge as an every-week must-start player if he builds on his rookie season. Right now, he’s a slam-dunk start in three-WR formats and bigger two-WR formats, and he’s tough to sit even in smaller two-WR leagues considering his outstanding speed and the prospect for improvement from the Ravens’ passing game.
It’s hard to strongly believe in any of the Browns' wideouts in Week One vs. Philadelphia. Greg Little figures to be the most targeted Browns wideout, but he’ll have to deal with CBs Nnamdi Asomugha and Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie. Little’s probably best used in three-WR formats this week.