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Joseph Hutchins | Archive | Email
Staff Writer

The Shot Caller's Report - Wide Receivers
Your Weekly Guide To Fantasy Lineups: Week 1
Positions: QBs | RBs | WRs

Bye Weeks:

Grab a Helmet

Lance Moore vs. WAS: A league mate of mine once divulged that, all things being equal, he’d prefer to draft players who play for the league’s best offenses. This seems pretty obvious, in retrospect, but also deceptively brilliant. I mean, would you rather have Greg Little, Cleveland’s top target (“they’ve gotta throw it to someone!”), or Lance Moore, New Orleans’ fourth target most of the time (behind Marques Colson, Jimmy Graham, and Darren Sproles)? You may feel otherwise, but give me Moore. He sports elite quicks, possesses great hands, and has proven himself over several years to be a reliable (three years with at least eight touchdowns) and trusted target for one of the league’s three best quarterbacks. Moreover, this year he doesn’t have Robert Meachem in his way. If Moore stays healthy, I could see him putting up career numbers in 2012.

Darrius Heyward-Bey

DHB has worked on improving his suspect hands.

Darrius Heyward-Bey vs. SD: DHB will never justify his lofty draft position. Period. He was the first receiver chosen (with the seventh pick) in a draft that included Michael Crabtree, Jeremy Maclin, Percy Harvin, Hakeem Nicks, Kenny Britt, and Mike Wallace. Ouch. So that’s the bad news. Here’s the good: He isn’t the total bust people thought he was going to be. Carson Palmer is part of the reason why, but Heyward-Bey deserves some of the credit, as well. He’s worked hard to improve his suspect hands. He’s become a better route runner. He seems to have learned how to translate his otherworldly athleticism into production. Combine all that with the chemistry he and Palmer developed late in 2011 and you might have the makings for a breakout campaign in this, his fourth, season. Late bloomer? Maybe. But bust? Not so fast.

Kendall Wright vs. NE: Conventional wisdom says rookie receivers rarely make much of a fantasy impact. I happen to agree with conventional wisdom in this case, but there are certainly exceptions to every rule. Wright might be it in Week 1. For starters, he is one—a starter, that is. Kenny Britt is serving his league-mandated suspension, so the former Baylor Bear gets the nod opposite Nate Washington. Second, Wright was very impressive in the preseason, notching a team-high nine receptions for 116 yards and a score. Granted, it was preseason, but he seems to have developed a solid rapport with Jake Locker already. This is important because Locker is also a first-time starter and doesn’t necessarily have any established relationships. Might Wright be his first favorite, at least until Britt returns? Why not?

Bench 'Em

Brandon Lloyd @ TEN: Tom Brady and his deep threat du jour have reportedly established a similar rapport in practice, but it sure didn’t manifest itself during the preseason games. Lloyd was targeted a paltry four times in August and connected with Tom Terrific on just one of those passes. Hmmm. No need to panic just yet, Lloyd owners, as he’ll almost certainly be a factor at some point. Right out of the gate, though? I’m skeptical. The Patriots’ complicated scheme places a premium on timing, with its option routes and multiple sight adjustments. Though Lloyd has experienced wild success in Josh McDaniels’ version of the system, he’s never worked with Brady, an avowed perfectionist. I suspect it will take a while for the two of them to connect, especially since Brady already has three established, elite pass-catching options at his disposal in Wes Welker, Rob Gronkowski, and Aaron Hernandez.

Robert Meachem @ OAK: Here’s another guy who’s going to need some time to jell with his battery mate, it appears. Philip Rivers hasn’t looked his way much in the preseason, and on the few occasions he has, the ball has more often ended up in a defender’s hands than Meachem’s. Oops. To be fair, Rivers showed a propensity for forcing balls into coverage last year (hence, the career-high 20 interceptions) but I’m betting the blame can be partially laid at his new receiver’s feet. Simply put, it takes time for quarterback-receiver relationships to mature, and this one is still in its infancy. Be patient but don’t forget that Meachem never really dominated in New Orleans’ high-flying offense. At some point, it might be worth asking why.

Laurent Robinson @ MIN: Robinson also switched teams this past offseason after parlaying his astonishing second half with the Cowboys into a lucrative payday with Jacksonville. Stop me if you’ve heard this before, but…he’s having a hard time getting on the same page with Blaine Gabbert thus far. He’s also probably fallen behind rookie Justin Blackmon in the Jaguars’ pecking order. I gotta be honest: This might be the least surprising development of the preseason. Gabbert, though making strides, struggled mightily in 2011 and probably isn’t ready to be even a top 20 quarterback at this point. Robinson, moreover, had never really done anything prior to last season’s explosion in Big D when he, not coincidentally, played with perennial Pro Bowler Tony Romo. Am I being unfair by asking him to prove it again?

Good luck, folks!