Tag Archives: chad johnson

FR: Prima Donnas

Per Carl’s idea, we thought we’d use Football Relativity to compare the biggest Prima Donnas in the NFL. We’ll do this on a 10-point scale, with 10 being the prima-est of the donnas and 1 being a guy just barely worth mentioning with this topic. If you think we missed anyone, leave a comment and we’ll update the post. Enjoy!

10 – WR Chad Ochocinco, Bengals – Endzone celebrations. Holdouts. And now a new name. Is there any doubt that Ochocinco is the ultimate prima donna in the NFL right now? At a position so full of prima donnas that we sometimes call them diva receivas, Ochocinco consistently finds new paths to prima donna-dom.

9 – QB Brett Favre, retired? – Will he? Won’t he? For what seems like five years now, we’ve spent offseasons wondering if Brett Favre will come back. We have to assume at this point that Favre wouldn’t be doing this same old song and dance if he didn’t relish the attention. And relishing the attention is entry one under the definition of a prima donna.

8 – WR Terrell Owens, Bills – Aside from his many antics, this alone is proof of T.O.’s prima donna nature – he has his own reality show. No other NFL player does. But until he becomes Terrell Ochouno, he won’t surpass Ochocinco.

7 – Executive Bill Parcells, Dolphins – Before Favre took over, Parcells had the patent on the will-he-or-won’t-he routine in the NFL. Maybe he wanted out because he wanted to buy the groceries. Maybe he wanted out for more money. But Parcells seems to like to have his name in the headlines – as long as he can control why it’s in there.

6 – none

5 – Head coach Josh McDaniels, Broncos – We’ve talked at length about McDaniels here on the blog – start here and work your way back for a review – so it will suffice here to say that McDaniels’ arrogant grandstanding in both the Jay Cutler situation and now in the Brandon Marshall tete-a-tete qualifies him as a prima donna. He’s probably the leading prima donna among coaches now, although Bill Parcells probably is the career leader in this category among coaches.

4 – WR DeSean Jackson, Eagles – Because Jackson is just a rookie, he could still move up this scale or off of it soon. But for now, the memory of Jackson’s TD celebration turned pre-goalline fumble (which was not the first time for him) is burned in our minds enough to make DeJax an entry on this list.

3- Jets head coach Rex Ryan and Dolphins LB Channing Crowder – The war of words these two opponents had during the offseason wasn’t really bad blood; it was more like prima donna chest-thumping and braggadocio. That makes them a joint entry on this list; they’ll move WAY up it if the words turn into some kind of confrontation in the first Jets/Fins game this year.

2- RB Larry Johnson, Chiefs – It always seems like Johnson is complaining about not getting enough attention or not getting enough carries or something else. (Dick Vermeil was so annoyed by this that he once had to tell Johnson to “take the diapers off.”) He’s also had some legal problems, which shouldn’t factor into this list. For some reason, Johnson seems like the biggest prima donna of the superstar running backs (or of RBs who used to be stars). That’s why we included him.

1 – LB Ray Lewis, Ravens – Lewis is a hard worker, a team leader, and a true superstar on the field. He only gets a mention on this list because of the dance he does during pre-game intros each week. That dance is prima donna, but nothing else about Lewis is. So we’ll mention him and move on.

3 Comments

Filed under Football Relativity

Fantasy Football: Which ’08 busts should you trust?

As we continue our fantasy football coverage, I looked back at my top-100 list from last year. I looked at the guys who were busts last year, and thought it would be interesting to see which of these guys looks to be most trustworthy as a fantasy option in ’09. We’ll do this with a relativity poll, with 10 being the most trustworthy and 1 being a guy to completely ignore. We’ll indicate in each entry where you should consider drafting each player.

As always, before we begin, you can find all of our other fantasy football coverage on the blog by using our fantasy football category tag. In addition, the search feature on the right of each page will help you find info and commentary on individual players quickly.

10 – RB Ryan Grant, Packers – Grant, who was rated as a borderline first-round pick in fantasy leagues last year, had a horrific start because of a contract holdout and then some nagging injuries. But he played all 16 games and ran for 1,200 yards. His low touchdown total (5) and the fact that he failed to break the 100-yard mark in a game until week 7 is what impeded his fantasy value. While Grant isn’t among the elite fantasy backs this year, he’s a good option to be a starting back. He should be on your radar once the top 20 picks are off the board.

9- none

8 – WR Marques Colston, Saints – Colston, who had more than 1,000 yards in both of his first two seasons, was considered a No. 1 fantasy receiver going into the ’08 season. But a broken finger sidelined Colston for five games last year, and he finished with just 47 catches. He turned those catches into 760 numbers and five touchdowns, which are good totals given that number of receptions, but he was not the clear No. 1 target in New Orleans’ offense. While some expect Colston to bounce right back to an elite level, he looks more like a good No. 2 fantasy receiver than a guy you want to build your team’s receiving corps around. The hunch here is that Lance Moore and Colston will have fairly equal fantasy value, instead of Colston being clearly more potent. That’s lower than many experts rate Colston, so take this as a small word of caution against letting his stock artificially inflate.

*This is the break between surefire every-week starters and flex options

7 – RB Joseph Addai, Colts – Addai, who cracked the 1,000-yard mark in his first two NFL seasons, and who had a monstrous 15 touchdowns in 2007, struggled last year, gaining just 544 rushing yards and scoring seven touchdowns in the 12 games he played. That return didn’t merit the top-10 status Addai had entering the year. In fact, Dominic Rhodes ended up being just as good an option from the Colts as Addai was. Rhodes is no longer in Indy, but now Addai must contend with rookie Donald Brown, the Colts’ first-round pick. That’s a major red flag on Addai’s fantasy value. Addai is only marginally more valuable in fantasy leagues than Brown is, which means that both guys are more No. 3 backs and/or flex options than traditional starters in fantasy leagues. Be careful where you rate Addai going into your draft.

6 – WR Chad Ochocinco, Bengals – The artist formerly known as Chad Johnson had been a reliable fantasy option from 2002 to ’07, delivering numbers worthy of a No. 1 fantasy wideout in five of those seasons, before falling apart last year with just 540 yards and four touchdowns in 13 games. Granted, he played much of the year with below-average backup Ryan Fitzpatrick instead of Carson Palmer, but Ochocinco’s preparation and focus was also a problem. Plus, at this point you have to wonder whether Ochocinco, in his ninth year, is starting to decline physically. With all those questions, it’s wiser to have Ochocinco as your third fantasy wideout instead of as a No. 2. He’s still worth starting in most leagues, and if you draft him late enough he still has upside, but rely heavily on him at your own peril.

*This is the break between regular starters and spot starters/backups

5 – RB Rashard Mendenhall, Steelers – Mendenhall, the Steelers’ first-round pick in 2008, had just 19 carries in four games before he fractured his shoulder, which ended his season. That presented a problem for fantasy owners who envisioned him sharing carries with Willie Parker and even seizing goal-line opportunities from Fast Willie. But just because Mendenhall missed time last year, don’t overlook him in your fantasy preparation this year. Parker is a year older, so the door is cracked for Mendenhall to step in and find a role. He could easily be a 500-yard, 5-touchdown guy, which makes him a good backup. And if Parker were to miss some time, Mendenhall would immediately be a fantasy starter. If you can get Mendenhall as your first backup runner, do it and don’t look back.

4- RB Earnest Graham, Buccaneers – Graham broke out of obscurity in 2007 with 1,200 total yards and 10 touchdowns, and he looked to be a starting-caliber fantasy back entering the ’08 season. But injuries limited him to 10 games, and he totaled just 737 total yards and four touchdowns in those 10 games. Now Graham will split carries with import Derrick Ward. When it comes to fantasy, Ward, not Graham, is the Buc back you want this year. Graham is no more than a fantasy backup who is worth having around as a spot starter who could become a starter were Ward to get hurt. But he’s simply not a guy whom you can count on for your starting lineup this year.

4 (con’t) – QB Matt Hasselbeck, Seahawks – Hasselbeck has been a solid if not unspectacular fantasy option for most of his time in Seattle, but last year his stock bottomed out as he played just seven games and threw just five touchdowns. His injuries, plus a ridiculous spate of injuries to the receiving corps, made him a fantasy bust in ’08. But Hasselbeck’s stock should bounce back this year, now that he’s healthy and the Seahawks have a No. 1 caliber receiver in T.J. Houshmandzedah. Hasselbeck isn’t a top-level fantasy starter, but if he’s one of two QBs you play matchups with on a week to week basis, he could deliver nice numbers for you.

3 – none

*This is the break between draftable players and undraftable players

2 – WR Chris Chambers, Chargers – Last year I considered Chambers a sleeper who could emerge as a true No. 1 receiver. Instead, it was Vincent Jackson who emerged in San Diego, while Chambers had 33 catches for 462 yards and five touchdowns. Those numbers sound high for Chambers, in part because all five TDs came in the first five games, and then he was useless from a fantasy perspective. I expect that uselessness to continue in ’09, and as a result I consider Chambers undraftable.

1 – RB Laurence Maroney, Patriots – Fantasy owners have been waiting on Maroney to emerge ever since the Patriots made him a first-round pick in 2007. But after two middling fantasy seasons, Maroney completely disappeared last year, playing just three games and rushing for just 93 yards. While Maroney should be healthy again, he’s not a fantasy option in 2009. Fred Taylor and underrated holdovers Sammy Morris and Kevin Faulk are around to take carries, which leaves Maroney as a sleeper. His fantasy value would only go up if Taylor got hurt or if Maroney got cut and landed somewhere with much less RB depth. All that said, stay away from Maroney in your drafts this year.

Leave a comment

Filed under Fantasy Football, Football Relativity

FR: Best Nicknames

With the unfortunate demise of Smash ‘n Dash – aka LenDale White and Chris Johnson – as a nicknamed dynamic duo, we thought it would be fun to play football relativity with the league’s best nicknames. This is not an exhaustive list, so leave your favorite nicknames in the comments and we’ll integrate them into the list. 10 is the nickname that’s the most fun; 1 is a nickname that’s kind of dumb. Again, we’re rating just the nickname here, not the player or the coach.

Before we begin, a historical note. It seems like there are countless great nicknames for groups in the NFL in the past – Minnesota’s Purple People Eaters; the Rams’ Fearsome Foursome and, later, Greatest Show on Turf; Pittsburgh’s Steel Curtain and Blitzburgh; Washington’s Hogs; and Atlanta’s 1970s Grits Blitz. We also have team-wide nicknames like Carolina’s Cardiac Cats, Atlanta’s Dirty Birds, the Bungles and the Aints. Unfortunately, there aren’t those kind of nicknames anymore. We will definitely take ideas for such nicknames here – who knows, maybe we can start one.

10 – Ochocinco (aka Bengals WR Chad Ochocinco) – This started as a nickname and now it’s a legal name. Yes, it’s bad Spanish, but it’s a heck of a lot catchier than ochenta y cinco, and we have to give Chad props for that. We also have to praise his commitment to the nickname. In the end, this has all the elements a good nickname needs – it’s fun, catchy, and memorable. That’s why it’s atop this list.

9 – Megatron (aka Lions WR Calvin Johnson) – I love this nickname. It’s current – Transformers is a hit movie (if a terrible one, according to Roger Ebert). Megatron is bigger, badder, stronger, and better than all the other transformers, and those same attributes describe Johnson as well. The only hangup I have with this nickname is that Megatron is a bad guy and Johnson isn’t. Oh well – guess we can’t have it all.

8 – none yet

7 – Lights Out (aka Chargers OLB Shawne Merriman) – One of the few defensive players on this list, Merriman gave himself this nickname. It’s in reference to his ability to knock players out – put their lights out, so to speak. This isn’t an all-time classic nickname, but it is one of the better ones out there right now. Give Shawne two points for creativity on the name – even though the Lights Out dance stinks.

6 – Matty Ice (aka Falcons QB Matt Ryan) – This nickname hasn’t completely stuck yet, but if it does, it would be a good thing. It’s catchy, and it describes Ryan’s calm under pressure. Let’s hope Ryan continues to play well so that we get another good nickname into the hopper.

5 – Fast Willie (aka Steelers RB Willie Parker) – This nickname isn’t complicated, but its simplicity is its virtue. Fast Willie is in fact fast, and it’s fun to say. Sometimes we gravitate toward nicknames that are more clever or more complex, but this is an old-school name that works.

4 – Earth, Wind, and Fire (aka Giants RBs Brandon Jacobs, Ahmad Bradshaw, and Derrick Ward) – This nickname was a bit derivative, and it was dated as well. But it did a decent job of describing the running styles of each player. Unfortunately for the nickname game, Ward left for Tampa during the offseason, so Earth, Wind, and Fire is no more.

3 – T.O. (aka Bills WR Terrell Owens) – We won’t include all initials and abbreviations on this list, because those are generally too easy. But in Owens’ case, the initials qualify as a nickname because they tie back to an actual term in the game. It would be like someone whose initials spelled YAC (yards after the catch). Of course, YAC would be a much better nickname, but T.O. ain’t bad.

3 (con’t) – Big Ben (aka Steelers QB Ben Roethlisberger) – Big Ben is tall. Big Ben is alliterative. Big Ben is not a unique nickname. If Roethlisberger didn’t have two rings, this nickname wouldn’t be memorable. But it’s sticky and not stupid, so it stays off the bottom of this list.

2 – Mangenius (aka Browns head coach Eric Mangini) – This New York tabloid nickname became Mangini’s moniker during his time with the Jets. It’s catchy, but the problem is that it’s not so much true, given the fact that Mangini made the playoffs in just one of his three Big Apple seasons. Mangini will need better success at his second coaching stop to prevent this nickname from being used derisively.

1 – The Tower (aka Bears LB Pisa Tinoisamoa) – We can’t rate this nickname all that high, since we’re the only ones using it at the moment. But we shall include it, because we’re on a campaign to spread the word on The Tower.

4 Comments

Filed under Football Relativity, NFL coaches, NFL nicknames

FR: Offseason rumor mill

Per Chase’s request (yet again), and with the help of many (from SC to CO to CA to everyone on this post) we’re going to do a football relativity comparison with the major rumors that have circulated through the NFL this offseason. 10 is the rumor with the most importance AND most substance, while 1 is the rumor with the least importance OR substance. We haven’t addressed every rumor out there this offseason, or every rumor suggested, but we’ve tried to hit the major ones, with a focus on some of the gossip that is still percolating.

10 – Broncos will trade QB Jay Cutler – This rumor ran rampant leading up to the draft, and it ended up being true. The Broncos’ pursuit of Matt Cassel put the team’s new regime at odds with their supposed franchise quarterback, and as both sides dug in, things deteriorated quickly. (Click the link to find out who we blamed for the whole mess.) Before long, owner Pat Bowlen pledged to deal Cutler, and that’s what happened, with Cutler going to Chicago for a King Street ransom. This rumor tops the list because it actually proved to be valid.

9 – Regular season will expand to 17 or 18 games – Commissioner Roger Goodel has expressed his desire to lengthen the season. It makes sense, at least financially. Owners can get full sellouts for an extra home game that will replace a preseason game, and the TV contracts would go up as well. For players, though, money isn’t the only consideration. The cost of two extra games and all those extra snaps could shorten careers, heighten injury risks, and make life more difficult. So this will be an issue in collective bargaining. Extra games could also make international games easier, not only in London and Toronto but also in other locales like Mexico City, China or Japan, Germany, and others. This will be a marquee issue in the upcoming round of CBA negotiations, along with the question of a rookie salary cap and others. We will hear a lot about this over the coming year.

8 – Cardinals will trade WR Anquan Boldin – This is a TBD situation, in part because the Cards really don’t want to trade Boldin and are therefore asking for the moon and a star or two. Boldin wants to be paid like teammate Larry Fitzgerald, who’s pulling down $10 million a year, but Boldin just isn’t quite on that dominant level. Still, Boldin would be a clear-cut No. 1 option for a contender like Tennessee, the Giants, or Philly. A deal seems unlikely now that the draft is over, but Boldin is still holding out hope.

8 (con’t) – Panthers will trade DE Julius Peppers – This is another TBD situation. Peppers, a free agent, was franchised at huge cost by the Panthers, but he’s made it clear that he wants out so that he can play in a 3-4 defense somewhere. The most prominent rumor connected Peppers to New England, but nothing happened before the draft. The Panthers say they are determined to keep Peppers, and so a trade still appears unlikely. But if Peppers declines to report to training camp, the chatter will hit high gear once again.

7 – QB Brett Favre will come out of retirement to play for Vikings – Favre has pulled this retirement-oops-changed-my-mind routine before, and if he comes back with the Vikings this year, he’ll probably do it again next year. The difference this offseason is the Vikings’ admitted interest in Favre, who is free after the Jets removed him from the reserve/retired list. Count on this dragging out at least past some of the team minicamps, because Favre’s desire to stay home in Mississippi during the spring and summer is a tick stronger than his desire to play football. (That doesn’t start winning until the spotlight goes on in September.) This rumor is down on the comparison list because it feels stale after being on the mill for two or three years in a row.

6 – Coaching carousel – There has been an unbelievable spate of Super Bowl winning coaches either pushed out (Mike Shanahan and Jon Gruden) or stepping away (Tony Dungy, Mike Holmgren) this offseason. They join fellow Super Bowl winners-turned-announcers Bill Cowher and Brian Billick off the sidelines. And already, we’re hearing multiple rumors about where people will end up. Shanahan was linked to Kansas City this offseason, and he’s already been attached to Chicago and Dallas for 2010. Holmgren, who is ostensibly retired, could land in San Francisco or elsewhere as a GM or team president. Cowher continues to be linked to Carolina becuase of his roots there, even though John Fox’s job appears stable at this point. Gruden, perhaps noting the coaching market is flooded, is joining Monday Night Football, which will keep him in the public eye until he’s ready to get the job he wants. Regardless, with quality resumes like these out there, the coaching carousel in 2010 will be high-powered and high-octane, as it revolves more rapidly than usual.

5 – QB Michael Vick will return to the NFL – This rumor is gaining steam with Vick’s imminent release from prison. Once he is released, there are two huge shoes that still have to fall. One seems pretty natural — the Falcons will release Vick rather than having him clog up their salary cap over the long term. But Atlanta first must get Vick to repay the signing bonus he has promised (either $6.5 million or $7.5 million, depending on a court ruling). Now that they’ve agreed to the amount, that seems to be a natural, but Vick is so cash poor that this step could take a while. More importantly, Vick must avoid NFL suspension. Commissioner Roger Goodell could let Vick slide, citing the high price (in prison time and money) he has already paid for his mistake. He could sit Vick for an entire season. Or it could be something in between. But this should be a huge NFL story through the otherwise quiet days of June and July.

4 – London wants to host a Super Bowl – This was an interesting business rumor that cropped up during the offseason. London, host of the 2012 Summer Olympics as well as NFL regular-season games the last two years, has expressed interest in bringing the Super Bowl over. The NFL has not shot this idea down, most likely for business reasons. As long as London thinks a Super Bowl is still a possibility, don’t you think ticket sales and sponsorships for NFL projects in the here and now will be brisker? I don’t think it will ever happen, but the NFL has a vested interest (that means $$$$) in making London believe it could.

3 – Browns will trade WR Braylon Edwards – Edwards isn’t as accomplished as Boldin, and his performance in 2008 was well below his standout ’07 campaign. But Edwards’ height, speed, and talent still makes him a potential No. 1 receiver for a contender, and so the fact that the Browns were willing to deal him before the draft (and maybe after) is still important. Edwards’ name was most often connected with the Giants, but the Eagles and perhaps the Titans made sense as well. Of course, all three of those teams picked receivers in the first round, and so chances of a trade now seem slim. The Browns would actually be better served to keep Edwards, especially after dealing Kellen Winslow, because that team has precious few impact guys right now. For all his faults and foibles, Edwards is still a checkmark in the impact category.

2- Bengals will trade WR Chad Ocho Cinco – This was a red-hot rumor in the ’08 offseason, with the Redskins reportedly offering two first-rounders for Chad Johnson. (Can we call him a player to be named later because he soon thereafter changed his name?) There were rumblings again this offseason, in part because so many contenders needed No. 1 receivers. But the Bengals were not inclined to deal 85, especially after his former running mate T.J. Houshmandzadeh left for Seattle via free agency. That meant the rumor never really got traction, and Ocho Cinco will be locked into Cincinnati once again this offseason.

2 (con’t) – A team will move to L.A. – This is a back-burner issue right now, but there are a few teams that still seem to be candidates to move. One is the Chargers, who hold outs and want an upgraded stadium. They face similar challenges building in the San Diego area that the league has tried unsuccessfuly to hurdle in L.A. for years. The other may be the Jaguars, who face declining attendance in a market that has never really caught fire. The Jaguars’ owner denies such a move, but the lack of an ideal situation in Jacksonville means the rumor will persist. A long shot is the Vikings, who are working toward a new stadium in Minnesota but who have an out after the 2011 season.

1- Franchises opting out of league pension plan – This is admittedly very wonkish, but the approval of potential changes to the NFL pension plan led to widespread rumors of veteran assistant coaches either retiring or moving to the college ranks to protect their retirement savings. The rule was credited, at least in part, for the retirements of Colts aides Tom Moore and Howard Mudd. It’s yet to be seen whether this ends up being sound and fury signifying nothing or something that’s actually substantive.

5 Comments

Filed under Football Relativity, NFL Free Agency, NFL trades, Super Bowl

FR: Receivers for 2009 and beyond

When I was writing the post about Terrell Owens going to Buffalo, I mentioned that there were at least 5 receivers I would take before Owens. So that got me to thinking… Exactly where does Owens rate among receivers in the NFL going into 2009? So I compiled a relativity post comparing NFL receivers to each other. (We already did this earlier this offseason with quarterbacks.)

Here are the qualifications I used: Since so many receivers start and/or play in the NFL, I used a statistical benchmark. We’ll rate the 33 receivers who had at least 800 yards receiving in 2008. In addition, we’re including nine of 10 receivers who had 800 yards in ’07 but not ’08 (omitting Shaun McDonald). We’re also including two of the 3 receivers who had 1,000 yards in ’06 but didn’t reach 800 in either of the last two years (omitting Mike Furrey). That leaves 44 receivers, who we’ve compared on 10 levels. 10 is the level for the ultimate receiver, and 1 is a guy who shouldn’t be starting anymore.

10 – Larry Fitzgerald, Andre Johnson, Steve Smith, Calvin Johnson. Fitzgerald is the best receiver in the NFL right now, and his play in the playoffs was at a level we haven’t seen much at all since Jerry Rice was in his prime. Andre Johnson is a physical specimen whose only negative is his inability to stay healthy. Smith is a gamebreaker who is just 5-foot-9, but the Panthers are still able to throw jump balls up and trust Smith to catch them, as if he were 6-foot-5. (The end of last year’s win at Green Bay was a prime example.) Calvin Johnson had terrible quarterbacks and still had an amazing year. If the Lions get a young quarterback who can grow with Johnson, watch out.

9 – Reggie Wayne, Randy Moss, Wes Welker, Hines Ward. Wayne has developed into a true No. 1 receiver in an offense that remains one of the league’s most potent. Moss is a tremendous deep threat who has resurrected his great career in New England. Welker, Moss’ teammate, is the ultimate slot receiver who catches pass after pass and gets first down after first down. He’s impossible to cover inside. Ward isn’t a gamebreaker with the ball, but his ability to block downfield puts him on this level. He remains a great asset, especially on a running team.

8 – Terrell Owens, Anquan Boldin, Roddy White, Dwayne Bowe, Brandon Marshall, Greg Jennings. So there are eight receivers definitely ahead of Owens on my list, and I’d take Boldin and maybe White on this list above him in ’09 as well. (Thinking long term, Bowe and Jennings would move ahead of him too.) Owens is still a gamebreaker, but his hands were spotty last year, and his age (35) says a slow-down is coming before too long. Boldin is a great receiver after the catch, and he could be a No. 1 on most teams. However, he’s not at Fitzgerald’s level. White emerged as a good receiver in ’07 and took another step forward last year. He and Matt Ryan will be a top-flight combo for a long time. Bowe is physically gifted, and he’s put up good numbers in bad offenses the last two years. It’ll be fun to see how he steps up with Matt Cassel at the Chiefs’ helm now. Marshall has the talent to be a 9, but his off the field issues have made him unreliable. He could easily miss some games on league suspension in ’09, and that has to be accounted for. I’m not sure I would gamble on him as a long-term answer at this point. Jennings has developed into a strong threat, and last year he finally passed Donald Driver as the Packers’ No. 1 threat. He and Aaron Rodgers make another good pitch-and-catch combo.

7 – Santana Moss, T.J. Houshmandzadeh, Santonio Holmes, Donald Driver, Lee Evans , Braylon Edwards – Moss is a consistent playmaker for Washington, but his lack of size keeps him from being higher on this comparison. Houshmandzadeh has been a consistently good possession receiver, but he can be a bit more – and will have a chance to prove it in Seattle this year. Holmes emerged as a game-changing receiver in the playoffs, and I expect him to knock down the door and become an elite receiver in ’09. Driver is getting up in age but has been a productive guy under the radar for several years. Evans is a deep threat whose yards-per-catch average is always good and should be better with T.O. in Buffalo now. Edwards struggled with drops last year, which keeps him down on this list, but he has the talent to be on the 8 or 9 level if he improves his consistency.

6 – Antonio Bryant, Vincent Jackson, Derrick Mason, Eddie Royal, Lance Moore, Marques Colston, Bernard Berrian, Roy Williams  – Bryant finally capitalized on his immense talent level last year in Tampa. If he can do it again and stay on the field, he’ll rocket up this list. Jackson is a big receiver who quietly had a monster year in ’08. He and Philip Rivers are a pretty good answer as a pitch-and-catch combo. Mason has lost a step from his Tennessee days, but he’s a solid veteran receiver who still makes more plays than you might expect. Royal had a great rookie season and is an ideal complement to Brandon Marshall because of his speed, shiftiness, and breakaway ability. Moore emerged last year as a big-time player in New Orleans’ offense. He’s the inside receiver who can make big plays, while Colston is the big outside receiver. Both are good, and if Colston gets healthy, that could be an elite tandem in ’09. Berrian has breakaway ability, and he delivered a fair amount of big plays last year after Minnesota brought him over to be their No. 1 wideout. Williams has all the ability in the world but didn’t produce last year after moving to Dallas. He has the ability to move up this ranking, but does he have the will?

5 – Steve Breaston, DeSean Jackson, Jerricho Cotchery, Laveranues Coles, Chad Johnson/Ocho Cinco, Muhsin Muhammad, Torry Holt – Breaston emerged as a legitimate starter in Arizona last year and is ready to step in and produce if Anquan Boldin moves on. Jackson was a big-play source as a rookie, but his size may prohibit him from being a true No. 1. He’s better as the big-play threat than the every-down target. Cotchery isn’t dynamic, but he’s solid and can put up numbers. Coles, who moved to Cincinnati, is not as good as he thinks he is but is still an above-average NFL starter. Johnson (or Ocho Cinco, if you prefer) had a down year last year, and he’s been banged up the last two years. Can he still be a true No. 1 guy? Muhammad had a suprisingly big year returning to Carolina in ’08 and is also a good downfield blocker. He is still a quality complement to Steve Smith. Holt was banged up much of last year, and injuries have slowed him down at least a little, but he can still be an effective starter as long as a team has a speed guy who can draw coverge his way on the opposite side.

4 – Kevin Walter, Kevin Curtis – Walter had a big year in Houston last year and seems to be a good complement to Andre Johnson. He’s good enough to be an above-average No. 2 target. Curtis battled injuries last year but had a big year in ’07. He probably fits better as a No. 3 than a No. 2, but he won’t kill a team if it has to start him.

3 – Plaxico Burress – Burress has worlds of talent, but his off-the-field issues drop him well down the list. The fact that the Giants are at least considering keeping him, though, shows he still has some value.

2- Joey Galloway, Bobby Engram  -Welcome to the has-been haven. Galloway is moving to New England to show he still has value, but he’s a No. 3 there at best. He probably still can succeed in that role. Engram moves to Kansas City, where his possession skills should help take some pressure off of Dwayne Bowe.

1 – Chris Chambers, Javon Walker, Marvin Harrison, Isaac Bruce – Has-been haven continues Chambers went to San Diego in ’07 to be a No. 1, but he’s slipped while Vincent Jackson has stepped up. Now it’s a question whether Chambers can even be an average No. 2 target. Walker has been a major bust in Oakland, but 2 years ago in Denver (before a serious knee injury) he was dynamic. It’s unlikely he can near that form again, but he’s still the Raiders’ best option. Harrison had a decent year last year, but he’s falling off, and he needs to find the perfect situation to keep playing. Bruce wasn’t bad in San Francisco, but he’s in decline too. He’s considering retirement, and if he plays he might not even be starter quality anymore.

4 Comments

Filed under Football Relativity