|Jabar Gaffney could become one of Tom Brady's major targets in 2008. (US Presswire)|
This season, Gaffney enters the year at No. 3 with Stallworth now in Cleveland. It's now Gaffney's turn to hold off No. 4 options in Chad Jackson and Kelley Washington, who are ready to emerge as offensive weapons.
The winner of this battle could be a great sleeper in Fantasy leagues. With defensive coordinators focusing their attention on Moss and Welker, the Patriots third receiver could be a viable reserve and potential starter, especially since New England uses multi-receiver sets a lot during games.
Gaffney is the likely choice, and Brady has proven he trusts Gaffney, which is good enough for me to take Gaffney with a late-round pick in all leagues.
"I just want to do whatever I can to help out the team in whatever way," Gaffney said after the second preseason game at Tampa Bay. "At the end, we'll see what happens. I'm ready to get it started."
Gaffney knows the No. 3 receiver for the Patriots doesn't get a lot of respect. He understands the passing game starts with Moss and Welker and then there are "the other guys." But Gaffney knows playing with Brady gives anyone in the passing game a chance to make an impact.
"He's great," Gaffney said. "He's a great quarterback. He's a guy that you know if you get open, he's going to come to you. He's not locked on one guy. It makes it a lot of fun because you can be a potential target on each play."
Added Jackson: "You never know when you're going to get the ball. Anybody can get the ball. We can all make plays."
That's why Fantasy owners should take a chance on Gaffney. Or Jackson. Or Washington.
Gaffney is the one worth drafting because he has experience with Brady, and it started in the 2006 playoffs. But Jackson could breakout this year if he stays healthy.
The Patriots drafted Jackson in the second round in 2006, but leg and knee injuries have limited him to 14 games in two years. He only has 13 catches for 152 yards and three touchdowns, all during his rookie season, but he feels healthy coming into the year.
This is Jackson's third season in the NFL, so he could be ready for a big year if he gets enough playing time.
"I'm feeling pretty good about myself," Jackson said. "I have a lot of work to do. I'm working hard to get a spot and hopefully everything will turn around for me. I'm getting the opportunity to go out there and make catches. I just hope I can continue to do that and show the coaches I can go out and play.
"I've been waiting my turn, and I want to go out and show everyone what I can do."
Maybe Jackson will outplay Gaffney the way Gaffney outplayed Stallworth. Or maybe Washington will step up this year.
Washington came to New England last year from Cincinnati and appeared in 14 games, all on special teams. He did not have a catch, but Washington is competing for playing time.
He will likely finish as the fifth receiver, but he is making a case for himself. Going into the year, it will probably be Gaffney, Jackson and Washington on the depth chart, which means the choice for Fantasy owners is Gaffney.
If he's there at the end of your draft, take a chance on him. You can never go wrong with one of Brady's favorite targets, especially in this dynamic passing offense.
"When we're really on, it's a thing of beauty," Gaffney said. "We're trying to get it going again. It's a lot of fun."
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