2010 Fantasy Football: Wide Receiver Scarcity

2010 Fantasy Football: Wide Receiver Scarcity

I’ve always been one to preach the “take the best player available on your fantasy draft board” strategy, but I’ll admit it – I’ve always leaned toward taking two or even three running backs to start my fantasy drafts.

Running backs have always been the most scarce position; if you had two stud backs (or three if you could use one in a flex), you probably dominated your league. On the other hand, if you were forced to start the Earnest Grahams or the Sammy Morrises of the world, chances are that your didn’t make the fantasy playoffs.

I never thought I’d say this a few years ago, but it’s time to change this strategy – at least for this year. The wide receiver position is that incredibly thin right now.

Why is the position so scarce? Take a look for yourself:

Washingon Redskins: Santana Moss has looked great in minicamp, thanks to being paired with the best quarterback of his career. Unfortunately, he might be suspended for four games in the wake of HGH allegations. As of this writing, Roger Goodell is looking into the matter.

Green Bay Packers: Donald Driver, now 35, had not one, but two knee surgeries this offseason. He hasn’t been able to practice at all during minicamp. I really like James Jones to step up, but he’s an unknown. Driver’s career as we know it could be over.

Carolina Panthers: Steve Smith was expected to have a major rebound season before he fractured his forearm playing flag football. Smith could still have a great 2010, but his injury makes him a much more riskier pick.

Arizona Cardinals: Make no mistake about it, Larry Fitzgerald (and Steve Breaston) will have a decline in production with Kurt Warner gone. Early Doucet, a potential sleeper with Warner, is now just a late-round fantasy prospect with minimal upside. Matt Leinart sadly isn’t very good.

Seattle Seahawks: T.J. Houshmandzadeh had sports hernia surgery this offseason. Sports hernias have a tendency to resurface, so it’s probable that Houshmandzadeh will miss some time.

St. Louis Rams: Not that Donnie Avery and Laurent Robinson were on many fantasy radars, but they’ll struggle to put up solid numbers while Sam Bradford adjusts to a pro-style offense. Look what happened with Calvin Johnson last year.

New England Patriots: Wes Welker tore his ACL and MCL in the 2009 season finale. While his recovery has been remarkable, he’s still expected to start the year on the PUP list. Julian Edelman will fill in early on, but it’s unknown how long it’ll be until the Patriots ask Welker to come back. And what if Welker returns too soon and suffers a relapse?

New York Jets: Santonio Holmes, a third-tier fantasy receiver in 2009, is suspended for four games. Even when he returns, he won’t match last year’s numbers, seeing as how he’s in a brand new offense with a raw quarterback. It’s also worth noting that Holmes’ production will decrease Braylon Edwards and Jerricho Cotchery’s.

Cincinnati Bengals: Chad Ochocinco is now 32, and has spent his entire offseason appearing on stupid $10 reality shows. Receivers who are 32 years old can’t just show up to training camp and expect to be in great shape. It’s very reasonable to believe that Ochocinco isn’t 100-percent mentally and physically prepared to play football this year.

Pittsburgh Steelers: Ben Roethlisberger has been suspended for 4-6 games, meaning Hines Ward and Mike Wallace won’t be effective in that time frame. When Roethlisberger comes back, there’s no guarantee things will improve; in the wake of an ugly rape allegation, it’s unlikely that Big Ben has been concentrating on football this offseason.

Indianapolis Colts: I can’t believe some fantasy magazines have Reggie Wayne ranked as high as the No. 2 receiver. Sure, let’s just ignore 1) his horrific finish in 2009, 2) his knee injury, 3) the fact that he turns 32 soon, 4) all of the other talented receivers on the Colts roster who will take targets away from Wayne, and 5) his contract dispute. At this point, I’ll be shocked if Wayne comes anywhere close to matching his 2009 numbers.

Tennessee Titans: Some like Kenny Britt and I did too, until I learned how poor his offseason was (poor conditioning, behavior). Vince Young’s legal problems aren’t helping either.

San Diego Chargers: Vincent Jackson will be suspended to start the year, but that may not even matter if he chooses to sit out due to a contract dispute. General manager A.J. Smith told the San Diego Union-Tribune that he fully expects Jackson to hold out well into the 2010 season.

I just listed 16 receivers who have a high probability of suffering a down year, thanks either to injuries, suspensions and/or a decline at the quarterback position. And speaking of which, I didn’t even list the quality wideouts who will once again struggle because of ineptness at the signal-caller position (Dwayne Bowe, Lee Evans, Eddie Royal).

With all this in mind, if your league starts three wideouts, you almost have to draft two of them in your first three rounds. I would still secure an elite or second-tier running back early on, but there is enough depth at that position to focus primarily on receivers.

Let’s take a look at a fantasy PPR mock draft I conducted with three other people (full results will be posted tomorrow). I made sure to draft a pair of wide receivers in the first two rounds with one team. With another, I ignored the position until Round 4, opting to go with the top player available (and an intentional quarterback in Round 2). Let’s take a look at those two squads:

Randy Moss
Frank Gore
Calvin Johnson
Tony Romo
Knowshon Moreno
Pierre Thomas
Jonathan Stewart
Greg Jennings
C.J. Spiller
Felix Jones
Dwayne Bowe
Jeremy Maclin
Justin Forsett
Michael Bush
Brett Favre
Montario Hardesty
Matt Ryan
Braylon Edwards
Chris Cooley
Demaryius Thomas
Steve Slaton
John Carlson
Devin Hester
Dez Bryant

Of course, the running backs on Team 2 are better, but I have a deep unit on Team 1 with Knowshon Moreno, Jonathan Stewart (slipped because this was a PPR league), C.J. Spiller (great for PPR), Justin Forsett and Steve Slaton. Now, as far as the receivers, there’s no question that Team 1’s starters (Randy Moss, Calvin Johnson, Dwayne Bowe) dwarf Team 2’s (Greg Jennings, Jeremy Maclin, Braylon Edwards/Dez Bryant/Demaryius Thomas).

Now, if this were a real draft, I probably would have gone Jamaal Charles/Randy Moss or Calvin Johnson/Steve Smith in the first three rounds from the No. 8 spot to give myself more balanced running backs and receivers, but you get the picture.

Meanwhile, my friend (and WF.com forum member) Body Burners controlled three teams of his own. He drafted Andre Johnson in the first round with one team, and waited a while to take a receiver with his second team. Let’s compare the two rosters:

Andre Johnson Team
No WR till Round 5
Andre Johnson
Jamaal Charles
DeAngelo Williams
Drew Brees
Steven Jackson
Chris Wells
Chad Ochocinco
Ronnie Brown
Pierre Garcon
Percy Harvin
Jay Cutler
Santana Moss
Jerome Harrison
Laurence Maroney
Visanthe Shiancoe
Steve Breaston
Darren McFadden
Zach Miller
Eddie Royal
Jets Defense
Chad Henne
Matthew Stafford
Tashard Choice
Clinton Portis

** If you’re wondering, Steven Jackson fell to Round 3 because everyone in the room was convinced that he’s going to bust this year. No one wanted him. Round 3 was great value for him though. **

The Body Burners’ running back corps on Team 1 (DeAngelo Williams, Steven Jackson, Jerome Harrison, Darren McFadden) and Team 2 (Jamaal Charles, Chris Wells, Ronnie Brown, Laurence Maroney) are pretty comparable. Team 2 is deeper, but they’re about equal. The disparity comes at the receiver position. Team 1’s starters (Andre Johnson, Chad Ochocinco, Pierre Garcon) absolutely slaughter Team 2’s (Percy Harvin, Santana Moss, Steve Breaston).

And I’m not the only one who thinks so. The Body Burners announced that he hated his Jamaal Charles team, asking me to call it the “Body Warmers” instead.

Looks like I won’t be the only one taking multiple receivers early in our real fantasy draft come August.

More 2010 Fantasy Football Articles:
2010 Fantasy Football: Home

2010 Fantasy Football Rankings:
2010 Fantasy Football Playoff Rankings - 1/5 (Walt)
2010 Fantasy Football: Week 17 Fantasy Rankings - 1/2 (Walt)
2010 Fantasy Football Rankings: Quarterbacks - 8/31 (Walt)
2010 Fantasy Football Rankings: Quarterbacks - 6/6 (Steve)
2010 Fantasy Football Rankings: Running Backs - 9/6 (Walt)
2010 Fantasy Football Rankings: Running Backs - 7/3 (Steve)
2010 Fantasy Football Rankings: Wide Receivers - 9/7 (Walt)
2010 Fantasy Football Rankings: Wide Receivers - 7/14 (Steve)
2010 Fantasy Football Rankings: Tight Ends - 8/31 (Walt)
2010 Fantasy Football Rankings: Tight Ends - 7/20 (Steve)
2010 Fantasy Football Rankings: Kickers - 6/10 (Walt)
2010 Fantasy Football Rankings: Defenses - 6/11 (Walt)
2010 Fantasy Football Auction Values - 9/2 (Walt)
2010 Fantasy Football Rankings: IDP Defensive Linemen - 8/3 (Steve)
2010 Fantasy Football Rankings: IDP Linebackers - 8/7 (Steve)
2010 Fantasy Football Rankings: IDP Defensive Backs - 8/14 (Steve)
2010 Fantasy Football Rankings: Team-by-Team - 6/7 (Walt)
2010 Fantasy Football Rankings: Dynasty Rookie Rankings - 4/30 (Walt)
2010 Fantasy Football Rankings: Rookie Rankings - 4/29 (Walt)

2010 Fantasy Football Cheat Sheets:
2010 Fantasy Football Cheat Sheet: Top 150 Traditional - 9/6 (Walt)
2010 Fantasy Football Cheat Sheet: Top 150 PPR - 9/6 (Walt)
2010 Fantasy Football Cheat Sheet: Top 150 Touchdown League - 9/6 (Walt)
2010 Fantasy Football Rankings: Downloadable Spreadsheets - 9/7 (Walt)

2010 Fantasy Football Mock Drafts:
2010 Fantasy Football Draft: WF.com Free League - 9/7 (Walt)
2010 Fantasy Football Draft: Real Traditional Draft - 9/1 (Walt)
2010 Fantasy Football Draft: Real PPR Draft - 8/26 (Walt)
2010 Fantasy Football Draft: Real PPR Draft - 8/18 (Walt)
2010 Fantasy Football Draft: Real Experts PPR Draft - 8/12 (Walt)
2010 Fantasy Football Experts Mock Draft - 8/12 (Walt)
2010 Fantasy Football Draft: Pros vs. Joes - 7/28 (Walt)
2010 Fantasy Football Mock Draft: PPR Draft with AKA - 7/20 (Walt)
2010 Fantasy Football Mock Draft: Mocking ESPN's Fantasy Mock Draft - 7/7 (Walt)
2010 Fantasy Football Mock Draft: The Four-Man PPR Fantasy Draft - 7/1 (Walt)

2010 Fantasy Football Articles:
2010 Fantasy Football Injury Reports: Week 17 - 1/2 (Walt)
2010 Fantasy Football: Start Em, Sit Em - 12/29 (Walt)
2010 Fantasy Football: Add/Drop - 12/20 (Walt)
2010 Fantasy Football: Stock Index - Week 8 - 10/29 (John)
2010 Fantasy Football Buffet: Week 8 - 10/28 (Steve)
2010 Fantasy Football Stock - 9/7 (Walt)
2010 Fantasy Football Preseason Stock - 9/3 (Walt)
2010 NFL Preseason Recap, Fantasy Football Notes - 9/3 (Walt)
2010 Fantasy Football: High-Upside Late-Round Sleepers - 8/25 (Walt)
2010 Fantasy Football: Top 12 Players to Avoid - 8/25 (Walt)
2010 Fantasy Football: Undervalued Players - 8/13 (John)
2010 Fantasy Football: Buy Low - 8/6 (Walt)
ESPN's 2010 Fantasy Football Magazine Errors - 8/3 (Walt)
2010 Fantasy Football: Defense Strategy - 8/2 (Walt)
2010 Fantasy Football: My Round-by-Round Strategy - 7/27 (Walt)
Lack of 2010 Fantasy Depth: Blame the 2008 NFL Draft Class - 7/26 (John)
2010 Fantasy Football: Why You Should Pass on Chris Johnson - 7/14 (John)
2010 Fantasy Football: Draft Strategies - 7/13 (John)
2010 Fantasy Football: Wide Receiver Scarcity - 6/30 (Walt)
2010 Fantasy Football Sleepers (Late-Round) - 6/2 (Walt)
2010 Fantasy Football Sleepers (Mid-Round) - 6/1 (Walt)
2010 Fantasy Football Busts - 5/31 (Walt)
2010 Fantasy Football Mailbag - 5/29 (Walt)
2010 Fantasy Football: Quarterbacks with New Receivers - 5/1 (Walt)
2010 Fantasy Football: 2010 NFL Draft Stock Up - 4/29 (Walt)
2010 Fantasy Football: 2010 NFL Draft Stock Down - 4/29 (Walt)
2010 Fantasy Football: Free Agency Stock Up - 4/15 (Walt)
2010 Fantasy Football: Free Agency Stock Down - 4/12 (Walt)
Running Backs with Most Carries - 4/10 (Walt)

Fantasy Football Rankings - May 23

2025 NFL Mock Draft - May 21

NFL Power Rankings - Feb. 22

NFL Picks - Feb. 12