Fantasy Fix: Lonely Wide Receivers


Feb 3, 2013; New Orleans, LA, USA; Baltimore Ravens wide receiver Torrey Smith during the blackout against the San Francisco 49ers in Super Bowl XLVII at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

We’re approaching Week 4 of the fantasy I mean football season, and it’s certainly too early to label any guy a bust.  That being said, I’m a bit worried about someone I hedged big bets on this year, as it seems I may have overlooked an important principle.

Torrey Smith was the guy I had ridiculously high on my draft board and would not tell anyone about out of fear that they would steal my genius.  I took him in the fifth round of both of my drafts, and in one, he even wound up as my top WR.  I should point out, though, that I participate in 12-team leagues which are inherently deep.  Now, Smith has been productive thus far, having cracked the top ten in both yards and targets.  However, his inability to find the end-zone or just make the big play has been frustrating.  After much pondering and self-aggrandizement, it seems I’ve finally figured it out: he’s all aloooone in Baltimore.

Obviously, the departure of Anquan Boldin was going to mean more attention paid to Smith.  But hey, before the playoffs, Boldin was little more than a dominant possession receiver.  Excellent for 3rd downs, but the explosive plays were Smith’s job.  So, it should be easy to fill his job, right?  Wrong.  Very wrong. The Ravens have other good receivers on the team, but none quite reliable as Boldin.

Feb 3, 2013; New Orleans, LA, USA; Baltimore Ravens wide receiver Jacoby Jones (12) celebrates the Ravens victory in Super Bowl XLVII at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome. Mandatory Credit: Jack Gruber-USA TODAY Sports

Oh, and those other good receivers?  Well, emerging Flacco-favorite Dennis Pitta was lost for the year in the first game of pre-season, and Jacoby Jones was well on his way to recovery from a knee injury until a stripper named Sweet Pea smashed a champagne bottle over his head.  Yep.

Their replacements?  Dallas Clark is putting in work, but he’s clearly lost a step; and after being unable to reach a deal with Sweet Pea, Harbaugh elected to go with undrafted rookie Marlon Brown.  The young man clearly has a bright future, but he’s an undrafted rookie starting for the Super Bowl champs.

So, what does all this mean for Smith?  Attention, attention, attention!  CBs and Safeties are like shells on the former Terp’s back.  While some of these circumstances were unforeseeable, this whole ordeal has reminded me of an important lesson: go for the #1 option on a team, but be weary if the #2 is far, far away.

Truly, I should have known better.  This very problem has plagued Dez Bryant during most of his career.  Dez has always had great options around him, but they couldn’t stay healthy.  Beyond the Cowboys, we look at guys like Dwayne Bowe, Wes Welker (with the Pats), Steve Smith, Mike Wallace (Steelers and we’ll see about the Dolphins), and many more.  Don’t get me wrong, each of those guys put up great numbers year after year, but their potential was capped due to the fact that there aren’t many other receivers on their teams that defenses feel are worth paying attention.

There is one more layer to this: a lot of the guys mentioned thrive on one specialty.  Torrey Smith and Wallace are burners, while Welker and Bowe are strong possession receivers.  Steve Smith can do it all, but he’s 5’9 and that’s gotta mean something at some point.  It’s not fair to call any of these receivers one-dimensional, because they’re not.  They are skilled at about every component of a Wide Receiver’s job, but their fantasy value is usually comes from their strong-point.  Guys  who have made it work without great options around them: Calvin Johnson, Brandon Marshall, A.J. Green.  Unfortunately, not everyone can own one of those three guys.

So, what’s the lesson here?  1) If I’m keeping a big player secret, you probably don’t want to know about it anyway, but 2) If your WR is not an elite of the elites, and his #2 is really a #4, then be prepared to deal with migraines each week.  You know, I never allowed myself to draft Julio Jones because “Roddy White would take all his targets.”  Maybe I should re-think that one, too.

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