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2012 Draft Prep: Kirwan's WR snapshot

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No fantasy player needs to read a report on Calvin Johnson, Larry Fitzgerald or A.J. Green. With so many wide receivers to choose from it is important that you don't reach for a guy or not see a good bargain when it is staring you in the face. As I wrap up my camp tour, there are a number of interesting wide receivers out there that could be part of a good draft.

Wide receivers with upside in 2012

Demaryius Thomas, Broncos: Now that Peyton Manning is the quarterback and the pseudo offensive coordinator I expect Thomas to explode. Thomas is not only a vertical threat and a true red zone weapon but also a guy that can catch the slant route and break a tackle. Last year Thomas caught 32 passes at 17.2 per reception and scored a touchdown at a ratio of 1:8 receptions. This year with Manning pushing him to run great routes and Manning having a history of working with guys like Marvin Harrison and Reggie Wayne I expect Thomas to catch at least 60 passes at 15 yards per and 8 touchdowns.

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Eric Decker, Broncos: I am all over the Bronco receivers with Manning on the field. Peyton will love the athletic ability and underrated speed of Decker. Last year Decker was at the other end of Tim Tebow and Kyle Orton and still managed to grab 44 balls and 8 touchdowns. With Peyton running the offense Decker should grab over 60 balls and more like 12 touchdown passes. His 2011 13.9 yards per reception may also go up to the 14.5 per reception.

Darrius Heyward-Bey, Raiders: Carson Palmer has used the entire offseason to prepare DHB to get ready for this season and I hear there have been great strides in his development. DHB has had steady growth in his production from 9 to 26 to 64 receptions in his three year career. Palmer now knows this offense and I suspect the Raiders will be playing a lot of catch up ball in the second half of games which increases DHB's opportunities. DHB caught 42 passes from Palmer in the eight games they played together which was on pace for 84 receptions if they worked for 16 games. Barring injury I see DHB grabbing close to 75 passes and nine touchdowns this season. Like him or not he is a good situation for a big spike in production.

Randy Moss, 49ers: Some believe Moss is washed up and should retire. He has a chance for a very good season with Michael Crabtree always battling an injury and Vernon Davis keeping the safeties honest. Moss didn't play in 2011 and wasn't much to talk about in 2010. You have to go back to 2009 with Tom Brady to see great production (83 rec, 13 TD). Moss should be available late in Fantasy drafts but after visiting the 49ers this summer I'm convinced he will rebound from two years of obscurity and have 60 receptions with seven-TD season and is a steal in the late rounds.

Robert Meachem, Chargers: Meachem was a role player in New Orleans and still managed to catch 40 passes and 6 touchdowns last year in 8 starts. Now he's in San Diego as a full-time starter for one of the best deep ball throwers in the NFL, Philip Rivers. Meachem has a lifetime 16.1 yards per reception average and that has a chance to go up for the Chargers. Keep in mind Vincent Jackson is gone to Tampa and was targeted 115 times last year in San Diego catching 60 balls at 18.4 per and 9 touchdowns. Meachem will get most of those opportunities.

Brandon Lloyd, Patriots: The Patriots have a great underneath passing attack with Gronkowski, Hernandez and Welker. Opponents started to pack in the underneath coverage's and Tom Brady realized the need for an outside vertical threat. Lloyd caught 70 passes last year in Denver and St. Louis and as he told me "I have never been around a QB like Brady." Look for Lloyd to average close to 18 yards a reception and wind up with close to 10 touchdowns. In the last two years in inferior offenses to the Patriot offense Lloyd caught 147 balls and 16 touchdowns. The chemistry between Brady and Lloyd was obvious during my camp visit.

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Wide receivers with questions heading into 2012

Pierre Garcon, Redskins: Garcon is an excellent young receiver but he's also a product of Peyton Manning and the Colt offense. Robert Griffin III is the guy throwing him the ball now and the Redskins may protect Griffin with a more intense run game. I also expect RG3 to take off and run many times and struggle to sit in the pocket and find open receivers enough to effect Garcon's production. Garcon did catch 70 balls and 6 touchdowns without Manning last year but I don't see more production in 2012 but rather a slight drop to potentially 60 receptions and 5 touchdowns. Be careful how high you take him in the draft.

Michael Crabtree, 49ers: Injuries are a big reason I'm cautious about Crabtree even though many are calling for a big year from the young former first round player. With Manningham and Moss on the roster the Niners are prepared to work around Crabtree if they have to. The Niners are not a big throwing team but they still call 32 pass plays a game. I just don't think Crabtree even matches his 2011 production when he caught 72 passes in 14 starts. Be careful where you take him in your fantasy draft. If Crabtree is in your top 30 wide receivers you probably have him too high on your draft board.

Mike Wallace, Steelers: Mike Wallace is a very talented young receiver that is missing valuable practice time in a new offense. He has contract on his mind and it may linger all season as an issue. Antonio Brown got the big contract and is developing his own relationship with Big Ben. Also, keep in mind new offensive coordinator Todd Haley is looking to add some more running to the offense which will affect Wallace's opportunities. Mike will still be a solid pick in a Fantasy draft but his 2011 production fell off last year when he caught 22 passes and two touchdowns in his last seven games. I don't think he's a top 10 wide receiver this year.

Santonio Holmes, Jets: Holmes doesn't have Plaxico Burress opposite him. There's a QB controversy brewing, the pass protection is questionable, the team wants to run it more than last year and Holmes has some injury issues that keep him out of practice. He didn't impress his teammates at the end of last season with his complaining and only his contract protects him right now. If Tebow gets time under center it should cause Holmes to sulk again.

Mike Williams, Buccaneers: The Bucs are going to feature a power run game in the Greg Schiano offense and Vincent Jackson is the new featured receiver. Jackson will not have the production he had in San Diego if history of free agent receivers means anything but he will take away from Williams. Williams had the same number of receptions in his rookie season as he did last year (65) but his touchdowns fell from 11 to 3. Right now he shouldn't be a priority for anyone.

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Player News
Redskins CB DeAngelo Hall takes day off Saturday
by Sean d'Oliveira | CBSSports.com
(5:10 pm ET) After participating in the first two days of training camp, the Redskins held cornerback DeAngelo Hall out of Saturday's full-pad practice as a precaution, reports the New York Times.

Hall is recovering from a torn Achilles tendon and the plan is for him to practice for two days then take a day off.

"Not being in football in 10 months, I'm going to need some monitoring, as far as reps and things like that, just to make sure I don't kill myself in the first two weeks," Hall said. "You've got a little bit of anxiety — kind of anxiousness, nervousness, excitement — so it felt a little different. But once you get on the field, it's still football. My leg still worked. Still not quite as explosive as I want to be, and they say that's going to take some time, but I feel good."


Report: Chargers DL Tenny Palepoi fractures foot Saturday
by Sean d'Oliveira | CBSSports.com
(4:59 pm ET) Chargers defensive lineman Tenny Palepoi suffered a fracture to his foot during Saturday's practice, sources told The San Diego Union-Tribune.

Palepoi had to be carted off the field after sustaining the injury. He is expected to need two months to recover from the injury. Palepoi produced 16 tackles in 16 games last season.


Panthers WR Stephen Hill carted off field with knee injury
by Sean d'Oliveira | CBSSports.com
(4:27 pm ET) Panthers wide receiver Stephen Hill had to carted off the practice field Saturday after sustaining a right knee injury, reports the Associated Press. Hill spent the 2014 season on the practice squad.

Falcons sign Pierce Burton; release Harland Gunn
by Sean d'Oliveira | CBSSports.com
(4:16 pm ET) The Falcons signed one offensive lineman and released another, the team announced Saturday. The team signed offensive lineman Pierce Burton and released guard Harland Gunn.

Cowboys' Tony Romo plans to practice Saturday
by Sean d'Oliveira | CBSSports.com
(4:07 pm ET) Despite dealing with an eye issue, Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo is expected to practice Saturday, reports the Star-Telegram. Romo was held out of Friday's practice to receive treatment for a sty in his eye.

"I don't want to get into specifics of what we did, but we don't think it's a major thing, and we do anticipate him practicing [Saturday]," coach Jason Garrett said.


49ers LB NaVorro Bowman anxious to begin practicing
by Sean d'Oliveira | CBSSports.com
(3:49 pm ET) After passing his conditioning test Friday, 49ers linebacker NaVorro Bowman is eager to get back on the practice field Saturday, reports CSNBayArea.com.

Bowman missed the entire 2014 season after a season-ending knee injury in the 2013 NFC Championship game. He is expected to participate in the first training camp practice Saturday and is eager to make his first hit.

"That's probably the only mental thing," Bowman said. "If I deliver the hit I want to deliver, once I do that, I'll be ready."


Report: Jets WR Devin Smith has punctured lung
by Sean d'Oliveira | CBSSports.com
(3:41 pm ET) In addition to suffering from broken ribs, Jets wide receiver Devin Smith is also dealing with a punctured lung, sources told NJ.com.

Smith sustained the injuries while after making a catch during Friday's practice. Coach Todd Bowles said Smith would be sidelined for 4-6 weeks, according to ESPNNewYork.com.


Bengals' Adam Jones says team has discussed contract extension
by Sean d'Oliveira | CBSSports.com
(3:32 pm ET) Bengals cornerback Adam Jones revealed Saturday the team has reached out to his agent to discuss signing him to a contract extension, reports ESPN.com.

"They've contacted my agent," Jones said. "But ain't nothing I can do about the contract right now. I'm not upstairs."

Jones, 31, is entering his sixth season with the Bengals. He registered 63 tackles and three interceptions in 16 games last season. He added that he was not concerned about receiving an extension before the season starts.

"If it happens before the end of camp or after the end of camp, I'll be thankful," Jones said. "But right now, I'm just focusing on competing every day and helping my team win."


Jets CB Dee Milliner begins practicing Saturday
by Sean d'Oliveira | CBSSports.com
(3:19 pm ET) Jets cornerback Dee Milliner was able to participate in his first practice of training camp on Saturday, reports ESPNNewYork.com.

Milliner is coming off a season-ending torn Achilles. Milliner played in three games last season before suffering the injury.


Broncos RB Jeremy Stewart injures hamstring Saturday
by Sean d'Oliveira | CBSSports.com
(3:13 pm ET) Broncos running back Jeremy Stewart suffered a hamstring pull during Saturday's practice, reports 9News.com. Stewart is expected to compete for the No. 3 running back role.

 
 
 
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