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Fantasy Football - Are Wr's The New RB's?

NFL Fantasy Football
Thursday September 13th, 2007 - Page updated at 8:00 am

Bodog Fantasy - Week 1 Fantasy Football

2007 NFL Fantasy Football

Are WRs the new RBs?
September 13, 2007

Wide receivers traditionally take the backseat to running backs in fantasy games. But Week 1 blew the doors off the conventional game with RBs racking up fewer points than anticipated. Observe: LaDainian Tomlinson, who was held to 25 rushing yards on 17 carries last Sunday, earned 24 fantasy points. Rams RB Steven Jackson lost two fumbles on consecutive carries (the same number he had total for 2006). He had 58 yards on 18 carries and one catch for three yards, earning a total of eight fantasy points. Larry Johnson finished with 10 carries for 43 rushing yards - but no touchdowns - earning a total of 15 fantasy points. (All of the fantasy points have been calculated using Bodog Fantasy's default league settings, which award six points per rushing TD, six points per passing TD, one point for every 10 passing yards, one point for every 10 receiving yards and one point per reception).

While some may attribute this disappointing performance to the Week 1 jitters, it's not all bad luck. Job sharing, third-down specialists and goal-line specialists have all changed the way backs play the game.

On the plus side, the passing game is on its way up. Last week, the passing game earned about four times as many TDs as the rushing game. So players who stocked up on solid receivers on draft day and filled their flex position with a WR had a lucrative Week 1. The results of the NFL's first week have made it clear: if you have a strong third WR on your roster - such as Darrell Jackson and Ike Hilliard - you might want to consider staring him over your spare RB. The real question is whether WRs will become more important to the game than RBs by continuing to earn more fantasy points. Ok, we get it: WRs usually score fewer TDs than RBs, and as the season pans out, the normal balance of things may return. But, before you scream bloody murder, and say it will never be so, think about it. With more opportunities to score (due to a more prevalent passing game) and points per reception awarded, WRs could end up replacing RBs as the point overlords this year.

Here's a look at Week 1's fantasy heroes, and an analysis of how they will fare in Week 2.

Plaxico Burress - 40 fantasy points
The Giants may have lost the game, but they certainly didn't lose your matchup. WR Plaxico Burress was on fire last Sunday, and teams that were lucky enough to have him starting in their rosters received about 40 fantasy points for their prudence. Burress earned three TDs and caught eight passes for 144 yards. Known for his ability to leap like a gazelle, making one-handed grabs look easy, this one is definitely on the up and up. His weakness is route discipline. But given how well he worked with QB Eli Manning on Sunday (they scored three out of four TDs together), he appears to be improving this aspect of his game. How will Burress do in Week 2? Probably not as well as he did in Week 1. First, his partner in crime (Eli Manning) may not play this Sunday because of a shoulder injury. It's a gamble to assume the chemistry on the field will be the same between Burress and backup QB Jared Lorenzen. Second, they're playing Green Bay this week, and the Packers have a blitzing defensive line. In any event, keep an eye out for Burress in the future. Manning and Burress make a hell of a team, and, with both of them in Week 1's list of top fantasy performers, we can expect to see good chemistry and many fantasy points from them in games to come.

Randy Moss - 33 fantasy points
It's surprises like Patriots WR Randy Moss that keep fantasy football players on the edge of their seats. If you had faith in this colorful character, you would have earned about 33 points from him in Week 1. Moss was the third most valuable fantasy player last week. Don't beat yourself up if you passed on him during your draft. His checkered past and NFL career have left him a wild card. Notable incidents include brushes with the law, leaving the Vikings high and dry after walking off the field when there was still time on the clock, pretending to moon Packers fans during an NFC wild card playoff game, open drug use and criticism of (and a lackluster game with) the Oakland Raiders. Adding to his dubiousness is his absence from the preseason with a hamstring injury. But after catching nine passes for 183 yards as well as getting one TD in Week 1's match against the Jets, it's safe to say Moss is much happier and much more productive playing with the Patriots. This guy has QB Tom Brady's attention, and now he deserves yours. What's next for Moss? He and Brady work well together, and his excellent Week 1 performance has definitely earned him a sweet spot in the QB's mind for future plays. The Patriots are playing the Chargers this week, and the Chargers' defense isn't set up for guys like Moss. San Diego works well against easily rattled QBs, and is not very strong at safety or on the corners. This leaves lots of room for New England's WRs to move around. And, of course, Tom Brady isn't scared of them. Expect Moss to rack up some serious points this week.

Reggie Wayne - 30 fantasy points
Everyone is watching the Colts because Peyton Manning is on the team. But a keen fantasy eye will be focusing on Colts WR Reggie Wayne. The numbers speak for themselves: Wayne, who earned 30 fantasy points, tied with Eli Manning and LaMont Jordan for fourth-most points earned by a player in Week 1. Last week, he caught seven passes in 115 yards and got two TDs. He's another example of a receiver who's going to rake in the good stuff this year, already proving his worth by being a part of the top five fantasy performers this week. Why is he so great? Peyton Manning likes to throw the ball more than ever these days. As if the passing game needed to be more attractive, note that the Colts only have one primary RB, Joseph Addai. Coupled with that, Wayne has earned Manning's attention over the past six years. He's coming off a year where he achieved career highs. He also helped the Colts win the Super Bowl last year through an impressive play, catching a 53-yard touchdown pass in the first quarter. He is splitting time with WR Marvin Harrison, though - but they are both good enough to get equal attention from their QB. The Colts will be up against the Tennessee Titans this week, but that won't be much of a challenge for their offensive line due to the absence of Titans cornerback Pacman Jones. Wayne should have plenty of opportunities this week to score some major fantasy points for lucky GMs.

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