Here is the week 2 edition of RotoProfessor.Com's 'Fourth & 1 Debate' fantasy football roundtable featuring some of the best football writers on the net. Each week the participating sites will take turns posing a question.
This week's question:'Every year a handful of receivers emerge from obscurity to become fantasy relevant. This year a few relatively overlooked receivers, such as Earl Bennett, Mario Manningham and Andre Caldwell showed signs that they could be factors in 2009. Who are your 2 or 3 favorite surprise receivers for this season ?'
Eric Stashin of RotoProfessor.Com says:
The St. Louis Rams’ Laurent Robinson certainly has to be among the top two or three 'surprise receivers' who have emerged in the early going this season. The third year receiver had just 42 receptions over his first two seasons with the Atlanta Falcons, yet already has 11 catches. He’s been the prime target for Marc Bulger in the early going and given the state of their receiving corps should continue to be so all year long.
Another breakout receiver is rookie Johnny Knox, who showed last week that he is not just the burner that people expected him to be. He was targeted by Jay Cutler nine times this past week and if that trend can continue, he could emerge as this seasons’ version of Eddie Royal, aka a rookie breakout thanks to Cutler.
Jacob of FantasyFootballFools.Com says:
Laurent Robinson, WR, St. Louis Rams: It might too early to be sure, but Robinson looks like the Rams' No. 1 receiver this year. Undrafted in most leagues, Robinson was traded by the Falcons to the Rams for peanuts -- literally, just peanuts, the honey-roasted kind. Most fantasy footballers didn't even notice he was out of Atlanta with all the Harry Douglas hype this preseason. But in St. Louis, Robinson, the constant sleeper, has finally gotten his shot. He's a better red zone threat than Donnie Avery with his height and leaping ability. As long as the Rams stay well-behind every team they play this season, Robinson should see plenty of garbage time targets and yards this season. I like him better in PPR leagues because they don't require that Robinson actually score -- hard to promise that for the Rams this year.
Devery Henderson, WR, New Orleans Saints: Not possible. It can't be true that Henderson has finally come to the land of consistency. In two games, he's got 174 yards and a touchdown. After being boom or bust from week to week, Henderson has finally cemented himself as a part of the Saints offense, and as long he keeps it up, he could be in line for a big year since Brees can do whatever he wants with a football this season. He makes the Gatorade on the sidelines turn to wine -- or so I am told. I think it's safe for the Saints to cut their punter if they want the roster room.
Percy Harvin, WR, Minnesota Vikings: It's hard to call Harvin a "surprise" with all the praise he got early on this year, but Favre's favoritism towards the rookie WR/RB -- Harvin was made to be a fantasy flex -- was unexpected. Harvin has scored twice already this season, and he could be in line for many more since Favre's looking to him in short-yardage scoring situations early and often. He's no guaranteed fantasy starter, but I like Harvin's chances this year since he's also used in the Vikings' Wildcat formation and trick play sets.
Surprisingly productive receivers so far this season: Santonio Holmes (PIT) and Steve Smith (NYG)
Paul Greco of FantasyPros911.Com says:
The question kind of answers itself. Every year there are those WRs that do seem to step up and Fantasy Owners need to be paying attention to get those that emerge from he scrap heap.
Johnny Knox, Chicago Bears : Everyone was eyeballing Earl Bennett, when all of a sudden here comes Johnny Knox. The fifth round pick out of Abilene Christian has played his way into the starting lineup and has become a favorite of new QB Jay Cutler. With 152 yards and a touchdown, I think anyone saw this coming. The question is, can Knox continue? With a cool name like Johnny Knox, why not.
Mike Sims-Walker, Jacksonville Jaguars : The former third round pick finally has an opportunity to show off his game. Although Sims-Walker did absolutely nothing in week one, he showed Fantasy Owners last week that he's a guy that can be counted on as a No. 3 WR for Fantasy Owners. I'll be more impressed with Sims-Walker if he can do it two weeks in a row. But, lets be honest, who else will compete with him at the No. 2 WR spot in Jacksonville?
Eddie Royal, Denver Broncos : Now he's not an overlooked WR, but sure is a surprise; on the wrong side. Before training camp he was bragging about how he wants to catch 120 balls this year. Hey Eddie, how about you catch more than three in a game first. Right now, to me, he's one of the biggest busts at the position. Hopefully Fantasy Owners didn't take him to early and they can stash him away for another week or two before hopefully he shows us all why we thought he'd be worth a No. 2 spot on our rosters.
Smitty of FantasyFootballXtreme.Com says:
My favorite surprise sleepers at the wide receiver position are currently Julian Edelman, Chaz Schilens and of course Mario Manningham.
Now, Manningham is probably not someone you can currently buy-low, as he was the hottest waiver wire grab exiting that insane Week 2 performance (10-150-1). Will he continue to succeed and play like the Giants' new number one wide receiver moving forward? I think so. Since Week 1, Manningham has climbed the most on our 2009 Fantasy Football Rankings.... he has climbed an FFX record 117 spots in just under two weeks. I wouldn't expect consistency, as he still has some learning to do, but Manningham is in a unique situation and could be forced to mature rather quickly.
In years past, NFL receivers took 2-3 years to develop, but studs like Anquan Boldin and Marques Colston have proven that youngsters at the position can excel if forced into an active role early on in their career. Eddie Royal is yet another example of a young receiver forced to grow up fast, and he was actually a rookie last season. Manningham is in that kind of situation in just his second season... and he could really flourish. Congrats if you own him in dynasty leagues and don't sell-high.... hang onto him and play with the house's money!
As for Edelman and Schilens, watch out for these two players. Edelman was another player people likely scooped up exiting Week 2, but Schilens is probably a free agent in most leagues right now. He is a talented receiver, and while he is currently banged up with a foot injury, he could play in Week 4 or 5. He has the talent to be that No. 1WR in OAK right away.
Ryan Lester of LestersLegends.com says:
Every year there are Wide Receivers that get off to quick starts. The key is sniffing out if they are contenders or pretenders. The obvious choices early on are the Giants duo of Mario Manningham and Steve Smith and St. Louis' Laurent Robinson. I would endorse those three, especially the Giants duo first and foremost, but I decided to dig a little deeper.
A name that comes to mind is Seattle's Nate Burleson. He started the season with a bang with 7 catches for 74 yards and a TD in a win over St. Louis. He followed that up with 4 catches for 46 yards in a loss to San Francisco. Aside from the production, the encouraging aspect was the number of targets. He led the Seahawks in targets both games, with 11 and 10 respectively.
The key for his continued success is his health. Though Matt Hasselbeck is questionable with a fractured rib, Seneca Wallace is a capable replacement. With T.J. Houshmandzadeh and John Carlson receiving most of the defensive focus, Burleson makes a solid fill-in player during the bye weeks.
Bryce McRae of KFFL.Com says:
Jacksonville Jaguars wideout Mike Sims-Walker announced his presence with six receptions for 106 yards and a score in Week 2. The third-year wideout has talent, this much we know, but he has had trouble staying healthy during his short career. He's already one of the top wideouts in Jacksonville. OK, that might not be saying much, but someone has to catch passes when the Jags take to the air. Wide receiver Torry Holt might garner a few more looks, but the team has called Sims-Walker's number often when he's healthy.
The St. Louis Rams' Laurent Robinson had a chip on his shoulder after an offseason trade. Given his early play, the chip must be the size of Texas. Another third-year wideout, Robinson has 11 receptions for 141 yards and one score this year. As fellow starting wideout Donnie Avery gets caught up, his speed should help open up the field, keeping things open for Robinson, the better possession catcher.
Finally, I feel the New York Giants' Steve Smith (as much as Mario Manningham) is a surprising receiver to keep an eye on. Smith has 16 receptions, 214 receiving yards and one touchdown. The third-year receiver has been one of quarterback Eli Manning's favorite targets in the past. Also, defenses could back off the line of scrimmage to try and shut down the passing attack if it continues to perform at a respectable level. However, New York has a potent rushing attack that will have to keep defenses honest. Pick your poison. Don't let Manningham's big game overshadow Smith, though.
Lee of FootballJabber.Com says:
Of course Johnny Knox has got a lot of press this week. I was able to draft him in a deep Dynasty league that I was really hurting at the WR position. I would love to see him keep it going but I'm not very found of the inconsistency that is Jay Cutler.
Being a Saints fan I'm always looking for Devery Henderson to pick it up. In one league where 1/2 a point is rewarded per reception Henderson is at #11 going into week three. Sure, inconsistency is big here because of the way that the Saints spread the ball around...and drops. Henderson should make excellent bye week filler if you are not deep at WR.
Laurent Robinson snuck in and took the #2 WR spot for the Rams and is looking like he may be a consistent point grabber that someone got cheap.
Jake of Junkyardjake.Com says:
Robert Meachem - Meachem has been derailed by injuries and sloppy route-running during his first two years in the league, but still remains a great prospect, with size, power, agility and speed. He has shown glimpes of his potential over the past two seasons, and seems like the ideal #2 receiver for the Saints if he can grasp the mental aspect of his position this year.
Louis Murphy - Murphy was mostly overlooked as the 2nd receiver picked by Raiders in this years draft, but there is reason to believe that he could adapt to the pro game quicker than the Oakland's more heralded 1st round selection, Darrius Heyward-Bey. He's currently listed as Chaz Schilens' backup, and JaMarcus Russell's inconsistent play will seemingly limit the upside of any Raiders receiver, but Louis Murphy has an intriguing size/speed combination and appears to be a better route runner than Heyward-Bey at this point in time.
Andre Caldwell - The Bengals 3rd round pick in 2008, he was used very sparingly last year, not seeing the field until week 12. He opened up the 2009 season with 6 catches for 54 yards, with 8 targets to lead the team in week 1. His value this year will mostly depend on the effectiveness of newly signed Laveranues Coles, but if given the chance, Caldwell can definitely make an impact this year with his great hands, size and homerun speed.