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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
Report: Cowboys try out RB Daniel Thomas
by Jason Butt | CBSSports.com
(5/21/2015) The Cowboys are in the market for another running back with Darren McFadden, Lance Dunbar and Joseph Randle as their top three guys at the moment. 

Therefore, Dallas could be looking to add another. According to The Baltimore Sun and National Football Post's Aaron Wilson, the Cowboys worked out running back Daniel Thomas on Thursday. 

Thomas was with the Dolphins the previous four years and totaled 1,480 career yards and 10 touchdowns on the ground. The Cowboys also worked out Ben Tate and Felix Jones. 


49ers' Carlos Hyde unable to practice, Mike Davis does
by Jason Butt | CBSSports.com
(5/21/2015) 49ers second-year running back Carlos Hyde was forced to watch Thursday's OTA practice from the sidelines, according to the San Jose Mercury News

Hyde is dealing with a leg injury that isn't considered serious. 

Rookie running back Mike Davis did practice despite injuring his thumb on Wednesday after catching a pass from Colin Kaepernick. 

“Kap, man, I didn’t know he could throw a ball that fast,” Davis said. “I still caught it.”


Anquan Boldin, five others absent from 49ers OTA practice
by Jason Butt | CBSSports.com
(5/21/2015) Six players were absent from the 49ers' OTA practice on Thursday, according to the San Jose Mercury News.

Those not present were wide receiver Anquan Boldin, fullback Bruce Miller, offensive linemen Alex Boone and Anthony Davis, punter Andy Lee and kicker Phil Dawson.

OTA practices are voluntary and players are not required to attend.

Linebacker NaVorro Bowman was also not present though he was given the day off by 49ers coach Jim Tomsula. Bowman missed the 2014 season after sustaining an ACL tear during the 2013 playoffs. 


Saints WR Andy Tanner back with club on injured reserve
by Jason Butt | CBSSports.com
(5/21/2015) Saints receiver Andy Tanner cleared waivers and reverted to injured reserve with the organization, according to the New Orleans Times-Picayune

Tanner has been with the Saints since 2010 but has never appeared in a game. 


Report: Chargers expect to reach long-term deal with Philip Rivers
by Jason Butt | CBSSports.com
(5/21/2015) A month ago rumors swirled about the Chargers possibly trading Philip Rivers

Now it appears Rivers won't be heading anywhere anytime soon. According to a report from NFL.com, the Chargers are confident in reaching a long-term deal with Rivers. 

Rivers is entering the final year of his contract, in which he is due $15.75 million. 

A year ago, Rivers threw for 4,286 yards, 31 touchdowns and 18 interceptions. 


Report: Jaguars' Dante Fowler to have ACL surgery next week
by Jason Butt | CBSSports.com
(5/21/2015) Jaguars rookie defensive lineman Dante Fowler will have surgery next week to repair a torn ACL sustained in rookie minicamp, according to the Florida Times-Union

Fowler was injured during an 11-on-11 drill during his first practice with the Jaguars on May 8. He'll miss the entire 2015 season. Fowler is still with the team participating in strength and conditioning exercises. 

Fowler is expected to remain in Jacksonville to rehab his knee. 


Panthers WR Kelvin Benjamin out for next week's OTAs
by Jason Butt | CBSSports.com
(5/21/2015) With organized team activities set to begin next week for the Panthers, one notable contributor is likely to be sidelined. 

According to the Charlotte Observer, wide receiver Kelvin Benjamin strained his hamstring a week ago and will probably sit during next week's practices as a result. Benjamin, a rookie in 2014, had 1,008 yards and nine touchdowns for the Panthers. 

With Benjamin sidelined, rookie receiver Devin Funchess has a chance to step in and act as Carolina's No. 1 receiver during the upcoming voluntary practices. 


Falcons' Joplo Bartu's suspension rescinded, fined $50,000
by Ruben Palacios | Staff Writer
(5/21/2015) Falcons linebacker Joplo Bartu had a two-game suspension for an alcohol related offense rescinded but was fined $50,000, per NFL.com.

Bartu pleaded no contest to driving under the influence last season and received a two-day suspended sentence and 12 months of probation.

According to an NFL and NFLPA agreement, players had until Nov. 1, 2014 to resolve DUIs for them to be accepted under the previous policy and for a suspension not to be issued. Bartu needed to submit his plea agreement before November but he did not go in front of judge before the deadline and was suspended in March.

Bartu provided the league with additional information, showing that his plea agreement was actually reached on Oct. 30, resulting in the $50,000 fine and his suspension as rescinded.

Bartu was third on the Falcons last season with 83 tackles.

 


Colts cut former basketball player Demarco Cox
by Shawn Krest | CBSSports.com
(5/21/2015) The Colts released offensive tackle Demarco Cox on Friday, per radio station 1070 The Fan

Cox completed his college basketball career at Georgia Tech in March and was trying to convert to an NFL football lineman after not playing the sport at the college level.


Texans release veteran OT Tyson Clabo
by Jason Butt | CBSSports.com
(5/21/2015) The Texans announced on Thursday that they have released veteran offensive tackle Tyson Clabo

Clabo appeared in all 16 games for Houston a year ago but did not start any of them. This was a departure from what he was used to as a longtime starter in the NFL. 

Clabo entered the NFL as an undrafted free agent out of Wake Forest in 2004. After bouncing around with the Broncos, Giants and Chargers, Clabo latched on with the Falcons in 2005. In 2006, Clabo earned a starting role with Atlanta, the team he stayed with through the 2012 season. 

He ended up in Houston a year ago after starting 15 games for the Dolphins in 2013. 

In total, Clabo has started 116 of the 132 games he's appeared in throughout his career. 


 
 
 
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