WR tough spot to gauge

  • By Victory Balta / Herald writer
  • Wednesday, October 4, 2006 9:00pm
  • Sports

Wide receiver is the most unpredictable positions in fantasy football.

A buddy of mine, fed up with Santana Moss’ lack of productivity this season, benched him last week and watched him rack up three touchdowns.

Meanwhile, anyone who is still starting Oakland’s Randy Moss is paying the price, and Cincinnati’s Chad Johnson isn’t even the top rated “Johnson” among wide receivers right now. He doesn’t even take second on that list. (See: Andre and Keyshawn, no relation).

It’s a good thing there are some young up-and-coming receivers, and others who were all but written off, who are making up the difference.

Houston’s Andre Johnson, who topped 100 receiving yards just twice all last season, already has reached the century mark three times in the first four weeks while scoring twice and locking up the best start for a receiver.

Laveranues Coles of the New York Jets, who didn’t top 100 yards at all last year, has done it twice.

These guys were great sleeper picks in your draft and certainly have a home in every fantasy league, but there still could be a couple of finds left.

We’ve already talked about youngsters such as Jerricho Cotchery of the Jets and Marques Colston of the Saints, who are becoming solid fantasy starters as the weeks continue. But one name we haven’t mentioned is Doug Gabriel, the former Raider who is quickly becoming a go-to target for a guy who really needs one: Tom Brady.

The New England Patriots have been seemingly hemorrhaging wide receivers the past couple of seasons, particularly watching Deion Branch and David Givens find new homes. Only veteran Troy Brown and chronically disappointing Reche Caldwell returned from last year’s squad.

But Gabriel, who missed the first two games of the season, is emerging the past two weeks as the guy Brady will seek out most and their chemistry should only improve as the season continues. Gabriel often showed flashes in Oakland, but could never seem to grab a consistent spot in the receiver rotation with Randy Moss, Jerry Porter and Ronald Curry in the mix.

In New England, Gabriel has a chance to prove himself and give Brady a reliable passing option. It’s still too soon to count on Gabriel for weekly production, as Patriots receivers have long been difficult to pinpoint in terms of fantasy production, but he’s one you’ll want on your roster, especially if you’re looking for the kind of help Brady needs.

Ex-Washington Husky Reggie Williams is another receiver to watch out for. He let me down two weeks ago, when I recommended him against the Colts and he responded with two catches for 8 yards. But in the other three games, Williams has tallied 19 catches for 235 yards and three touchdowns in what is looking like a more productive Jacksonville Jaguars offense.

Williams is looking to fill the void left by veteran receiver and longtime fantasy football contributor Jimmy Smith, who retired, and he’s doing so admirably, if a bit inconsistently.

Finally, the Seattle Seahawks on Sunday learned all too well what a quick deep threat Bernard Berrian has become in Chicago. Berrian has caught 15 passes, which puts him out of the top 30 receivers in receptions, but he makes them count.

He’s scored three times and racked up 315 yards, which is 15th in the NFL, and three touchdowns, tied for the most among receivers.

Columnist Victor Balta: 425-339-3455 or vbalta@heraldnet.com.

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