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Overrated Fantasy WRs

This is the second installment of overrated fantasy players from 2005-2010. Last week I focused on the QB position and this week we turn our attention towards the quarterback’s primary target, the wide receiver. Much like the QB position, I examined players starting in 2005 and working my way to 2010 compiling a list of potential players who could make this undistinguished list.

The initial group of wide receivers was cut down, year by year until I finished with 6 wide receivers that made the final list. These players make the list based on their performance over the given time frame and their fantasy draft position. I did not include any total points statistics since scoring varies from league to league.

The list of overrated wide receivers is in no specific order.

WIDE RECEIVERS

ANQUAN BOLDIN (ARI/BAL)

CAREER SYNOPSIS: Anquan did not get off to a solid start in the NFL, posting a slow 40-yard dash time, which saw him drafted in the second round by Arizona. That time was irrelevant when he set an NFL record for most receiving yards by a rookie in his first game (217 yards). He would have a solid rookie year in 2003 with 101 receptions, 1377 yards and 8 TD and would make the Pro Bowl.

In 2004 Boldin would miss the first 6 games due to a knee injury. This missed time would play into his season statistics, finishing the season 623 yards, 1 TD. Heading into the 2005 season, Boldin would be listed as a (high) Tier 3 wide receiver. He would go on to put up career numbers even missing 2 games with 102 receptions, 1402 yards, 7 TD and a league leading 100.1 YPG.

His performance would bump him to a top tier WR prior to the 2006 season. While his numbers would be off the pace of 2004, he would go on to score 4 TDs and 1203 yards while making the Pro Bowl for the second time. His numbers would continue to slide in 2007 (listed Tier 3) as he missed 5 games due to injury. While his TDs (9) would increase his receptions (71) and yardage (853) would be off his previous two years.

He would rebound in 2008 to make the Pro Bowl, again playing only 11 games (due to injury). Boldin posted 11 TD, which would be a career high, as well as returning to the 1000 yard club (1038). 2009 would be his final year with Arizona, (listed as a Tier 2 WR) where he would play in 15 games, and his most since playing all 16 in 2006. His numbers would be similar to 2008 (84-1024 yards), but his TDs would drop to only 4.

Boldin would be traded to Baltimore before the start of the season, where he would be the featured wide receiver. He would play all 16 games for only the third time in his career, but he would continue to be listed as a high Tier 3 wide receiver. His 64 receptions would be a career low (based on a full season of games) and his 837 yards was well off his 1000 yard pace. The 7 TD would help to rescue an otherwise average season for the Ravens.

COMMENTS: For the years he was in Arizona, he played opposite of Larry Fitzgerald starting in 2004 and the duo had Kurt Warner at QB (2007-2009, the big statistic years). Fitzgerald would outshine and outperform Boldin in all those years except 2006. His numbers probably represent his position in the Arizona offense as he posted solid numbers, but always was the second look wide receiver.

Hoping to become the big time, big play wide receiver in Baltimore, Boldin was hot and cold much of the year, starting the 2010 season off very good, but underperforming much of the year after the Week 9 bye week. With a year under his belt in Baltimore and working with Joe Flacco, he could rebound for a solid 2011. My guess is we see Bolding as a high Tier 3 wide receiver prior to the 2011 draft.

TJ HOUSHMANDZADEH (CIN/SEA/BAL)

CAREER SYNOPSIS: Drafted in the seventh round of the 2001 NFL draft, Cincinnati selected TJ, who was former college teammates of Chad Johnson at Oregon State. His rookie season was unimpressive (21-228-0 TD) and in 2002 he was mainly used as a kick returner. Things did not improve in 2003 as he missed nearly the entire season with a hamstring injury. By 2004 he was relegated to a third string WR, but an injury to Peter Warrick give him the starting position, where he had 978 yards, 4 TD.

An early hand injury in 2005 limited his playing time (12 games), he would listed as a Tier 4 wide receiver prior to the year and would finish with solid numbers; 78 receptions, 956 yards, 7 TD. Things would improve in 2006, where he would be listed as a Tier 3 WR and improve on his 2006 numbers. Unfortunately a concussion would see Houshmandzadeh lose playing time but finish the season with 90 receptions, 1081 yards and 9 TDs. All of which were career highs.

2007 would be his first and only Pro Bowl appearance. He would be a pre-season Tier 2 WR, but put up numbers of a #1 WR for Cincinnati. He would play all 16 games, leading the league in receptions (112), 1143 yards and 12 TDs, setting new career bests in those categories.

By virtue of his 2007 performance he would retain a Tier 2 ranking heading into the 2008 season. Much like Chad Ochocinco this would be a down season because of the loss of Carson Palmer at QB. He would struggle and finish well off his 2007 pace, 92 receptions, 904 yards and only 4 TD.

The Seahawks snatched up Houshmandzadeh before the start of the 2009 season as a free agent (Listed as a Tier 2). Stating “a fresh start” and “wanting to win” Seattle went on to finish 5-11 and his numbers would lead his team, but continue to slide, 79 receptions, 911 yards and 3 TD.

This would be his first and only year in Seattle as he signed a one-year contract with Baltimore in 2010. He would only start 2 games, playing behind Bolding and Mason much of the year. His numbers would be his worst since his rookie year.

COMMENTS: TJ might be an odd selection to make the “overrated” list, but based on being a Tier 2 WR from 2007-2009 and only once breaking 1000 yards or double digits in TD in that time frame qualifies him. His numbers did increase from 2005 to 2007, but since that time he has slide the wrong way. At 33 his best days are now behind him and it’s possible he won’t return to the NFL, but no longer does he hold much value.

CHAD “OCHOCINCO” JOHNSON (CIN)

CAREER SYNOPSIS: Drafted in the second round (2001 NFL Draft) out of Oregon State by Cincinnati, then Chad Johnson was unimpressive as a rookie but broke out in his own in 2002. Chad was able to start 14 games for 1166 yards, 5 TDs. In 2003 he would shine even brighter making the Pro Bowl for the first time with 1355, 10 TD (career high).

In 2004 he put up his best season, 1274 yards, 9 TDs in all 16 games. He would go on to make the Pro Bowl again. Johnson would be listed as a tier one wide receiver in 2005 and he would go on to finish as a top 5 WR with 97 receptions, 1432 yards, but only 9 TDs.

The next two years would continue to be listed as a top tier wide receiver. He would go on to lead the league in 2006 in yards with 1369 and follow it up in 2007 with a career best 1440 yards. Unfortunately his TDs declined, 7 and 8 respectively. His performance would still be good enough to see him to the Pro Bowl in both years.

With the off the field problems in 2008, the season got off to a worse start with Cincinnati going 0-8 and Ochocinco experiencing one of his worst stretches statistically (partial due to Carson Palmer going down). His pre-season antics provided many unconfirmed reports and saw his position in many drafts slip to a tier three WR, coming off a very solid 2007 season. He would see a career worst in receptions (53), yards (540) and TDs (4).

He would rebound in 2009 as a tier two WR, where he would record 9 TDs, his most since 2005 and go for 1047 yards. His performance was good enough to see him go back to the Pro Bowl. In 2010 Ochocinco got TO across from him on the offense. Early on it looked as if both receivers would flourish as they got off to very good starts. In the end it would be Ochocinco coming up short with 831 yards and 4 TDs (Tier 3 WR).

COMMENTS: Unfortunate, Johnson’s off the field antics seemed to overshadow his on the field performance; his “list” of who covered him in 2005, as well as Marvin Lewis’s concurrent list. He donned a replica HOF jacket with “Future H.o.F.er 20??” and finally his name change from Johnson to Ochocinco. His on field performance continued to slip after 2007, but his image flourished…off the field. In 2008 he was labeled as “selfish and a cancer” and in 2009 he decided to use Twitter during games, but the NFL thought differently. The fact that Terrell Owens performed better was a factor in the final season statistics for Ochocinco.

RANDY MOSS (MIN/OAK/NE/TEN)

CAREER SYNOPSIS: Drafted by Minnesota in 1998, after numerous teams bypass Moss, he was selected 21st and went on to help the Vikings become the top ranked offense as well as capturing the Offensive Rookie of the Year accolades. His early years (1998-2004) were his most productive, exceeding 1200 yards and double digits TDs in 6 of 7 seasons.

Prior to 2005 he was coming off a down year in 2004, playing in only 13 games due to a hamstring injury. That year he posted lows in receptions and yards, missing out on the 1000 yard mark for the first time in his career.

In 2005 he was traded to the Raiders, where a nagging injury was reflected in his poor play. He did break the 1000 yard mark (1005), but had 8 TDs. The following year was his worst performance and unwillingness to play due to ongoing injuries. He would go on to set (then) career lows. Both years Moss would be listed as a top tier WR, this pre-season ranking would continue with him much of his career due to past year performances.

Randy Moss was reborn in New England when he hooked up with Tom Brady and the offense of the Patriots. This would be reflected in the 2007 season when he set a career best, 23 TDs to go with 1493 yards. He would make the Pro Bowl for his 6th time in his career. At the end of the season the franchise tag was not put on him, but he resigned with the Patriots for 3 years.

Coming off a big season in 2007 he would listed as the #1 overall WR (again!) in fantasy football prior to the 2008 season, but his numbers would be well off the pace, due to Brady being injured in the first game against Kansas City. Still Moss would pull off 1008 yards, 11 TDs.

He would return to shades of his former self in 2009 with Brady back as the starter and would be named to the 2010 Pro Bowl as a replacement. His statistics continued to prove he was still one of the best WRs in the NFL.

Unfortunately 2010 would be a nightmare for fantasy owners, as Moss was once against listed as a top tier wide receiver. Prior to starting the season with New England Moss, “did not feel wanted” but did score 3 TDs in 4 games before being traded back to Minnesota. His return to the Vikings was turbulent at best as he criticized his teammates, head coach and a local restaurant. Less than 4 weeks after arriving he was waived and on the move to Tennessee.

Moss started 4 of 8 games with the Titans and only 6 catches. This would be his worst season of his career and saw many owners dropping the star wide receiver.

COMMENTS: Probably the most controversial players listed, Moss has been amazing when he is on his game, but a complete head case when he is off. While his numbers to present a strong case for not being on the list 2005, 2006 and 2010 (2008 in some respect) make a good case as to why he is on the list. Each of these years he was listed as top tier, but went on to underperform in each of them. His 2007 numbers were amazing, but he has not been the consistent player he was in his early years.

Now 33, he is no longer the “go to guy” and must take on a new role as a wide receiver. I assume he will finally lose that top tier ranking prior to the 2011 season; one has to question his desire or willingness to play this season. We have seen him put up big numbers coming off down years (2002, 2006), but what kind of player will he turn out to be in 2011? We will have to wait and see.

STEVE SMITH (CAR)

CAREER SYNOPSIS: Smith was drafted in the third round by Carolina, where he spent much of his 2001 season as a returner. The following year he earned a starting position, while continuing his kick return duties. He would record his first 1000 yard season in 2003 (1110). In 2004 he would suffer a severe broken leg in the season opener and lose the entire season.

In 2005 Smith would be listed as a tier two wide receiver, partial due to losing the 2004 season to injury. He would go on to set NFL and career highs (103) in receptions (1563), yards and TDs (12) and make the Pro Bowl for the second time. The following year he would be listed as a tier one wide receiver.

Unfortunately Smith got off to a very rocky start in the 2006 season. A hamstring injury and ingrown toenail saw him miss the first 2 games of the season, but he still went on to post 1166 yards and 8 TDs, well off his prior season, but good enough to send him to the Pro Bowl.

His numbers would continue to decline in 2007 despite being a top tier WR, playing and starting 15 games. His decline could be attributed due to the injury to Jake Delhomme and playing with 4 different starting quarterbacks. Smith would record 1002 yards, 7 TDs, but only post 66.8 YPG.

His 2008 season started with a black eye as he had an altercation with a teammate and given a 2-game suspension by the Panthers. He would rebound with a good season, while his receptions continued in decline (78) he posted 1421 yards. Unfortunate 6 TDs would be his lowest since being named a starting WR in 2003. He did comeback to post a 101.5 YPG average, which led the NFL.

His performance was strong enough to list his as a tier two receiver heading into the 2009 season. Smith would miss the final game of the season due to a broken arm and miss out on his 5th consecutive 1000 yard season (982) with only 7 TDs. 2010 would not be much better as Smith lost Delhomme to Cleveland and worked with numerous QBs throughout the season. It would be his worst season since 2002, setting career lows in receptions (46), yards (554) and TDs (2).

COMMENTS: Steve Smith had one good season in the 6 year period, that being 2005. Since that time I believe he has been living off that success. While you cannot deny him the numbers posted the following 3 years (2006-2008) his TDs were well off the pace for a top tier wide receiver. With continuing issues at QB in Carolina, it is doubtful Smith will return to being a top NFL wide receiver. At 32 his game is changing from going to the big play receiver to a more sure handed, possession leader, but has one of the longer members of Carolina is still considered to be a team leader.

ROY E. WILLIAMS (DET/DAL)

CAREER SYNOPSIS: Drafted 1.7 in the 2004 NFL Draft by Detroit, he along with Charles Rogers was set to become a dynamic receiving duo for the Lions. Unfortunately three plays into the season, Rogers went down with injury and Williams was left to be one of the main weapons. He finished the season with 817 yards, 8 TD.

He would be listed as a Tier 2 WR in 2005 and 2006 with huge potential and a big upside. As the Lions top wide receiver he would start 12 games (miss 3 games due to injury) and finish the year with 45 receptions, 687 yards and 8 TDs, matching his rookie year.

In 2006 he would truly show his potential posting 82 receptions, 1310 yards, but only 7 TD. Unfortunately in 2007 he would be listed as a top tier wide receiver but would miss 4 games due to injury and post a career low 5 TDs with 838 yards.

Unfortunately his career went awry in 2008 when he played 5 games with Detroit before being traded to Dallas for the final 10 games. Combined his numbers were abysmal, 36 receptions, 430 yards, 2 TD.

Receiving a fresh start in 2009 would he slide to a Tier 3 wide receiver, he would go on to play in 15 games for the Cowboys and post his best TD number (7) since 2006, but would be well off a 1000 yard season with only 596 yards.

Williams had his moments in 2010, but the play of Bryant and Austin outshined that of Williams. Bryant did go down the remaining 4 games of the season, but Williams was very ineffective, missing one game in that stretch. His numbers were the worst since joining Dallas, 37 receptions, 530 yards and 5 TDs.

COMMENTS: There is a good chance Roy Williams won’t be back with Dallas, as they have younger WRs in Bryant and Austin who both have smaller contracts than that of Williams. He has never lived up to the potential he showed in college, outside of this Pro Bowl season in 2006. Williams is currently the #3 in the Dallas offense, we will have to wait and see if he changes his uniform to start the 2011 season.

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