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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: Andre Johnson asks Texans to cut him
by Larry Hartstein | CBSSports.com
(11:10 am ET) Andre Johnson's agent asked the Texans to cut the disgruntled wideout, rather than try to trade him, reports Pro Football Talk. Johnson said he was told by coach Bill O'Brien last week that the team envisioned him in a reduced role in 2015.

Johnson, 33, has two years and $21.5 million left on his contract. He has spent his entire 12-year career with Houston.

>> Want more NFL offseason? >> Mock drafts | Free agency tracker


Report: Steelers hoping S Troy Polamalu retires
by Larry Hartstein | CBSSports.com
(11:00 am ET) The Steelers hope 33-year-old safety Troy Polamalu retires so they don't have to cut him, reports the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette's Ed Bouchette.

"That is the elephant in the room,” Bouchette told 93.7 The Fan. “I expect him not to be here by some means. The Steelers are hoping he would retire, but I don’t know if he is going to.”

Polamalu has two years left on his contract and carries an $8.25 million cap hit this season. He's spent his entire 12-year career in Pittsburgh, making eight Pro Bowls.

>> Want more NFL offseason? >> Mock drafts | Free agency tracker


Jaguars, Raiders expected to lead chase for Randall Cobb
by Larry Hartstein | CBSSports.com
(9:58 am ET) Impending free agent receiver Randall Cobb apparently will not be returning to Green Bay, "barring the unexpected," and the Jaguars and Raiders are expected to be his top suitors, reports the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.

Green Bay did not slap the franchise tag on Cobb, and the 24-year-old star believes he can do better than the Packers' offer of five years at $8 million to $9 million annually, the report said.

Other teams can start negotiating with Cobb at 3 p.m. Saturday. The Jaguars, who have $69.3 million in cap room, "are expected to be all over Cobb" as they need a dynamic threat from the slot to help quarterback Blake Bortles, the paper said.

Oakland has $56.6 million in cap room and also is preparing to bid for Cobb, the paper said, adding: "Raiders general manager Reggie McKenzie helped draft Cobb for Green Bay in the second round four years ago and wants to reunite him with steady James Jones."

The Chiefs are over the cap but could create space to make a play for Cobb too, the report added. If Cobb leaves Green Bay, Davante Adams likely would step in as the starter opposite Jordy Nelson.

Cobb set career highs last year with 91 catches for 1,287 yards and 12 touchdowns.

>> Want more NFL offseason? >> Mock drafts | Free agency tracker


DT Darnell Dockett expected to choose team Wednesday
by Larry Hartstein | CBSSports.com
(9:22 am ET) Defensive tackle Darnell Dockett is expected to choose Wednesday between returning to the Cardinals and signing with the 49ers, reports ESPN's Adam Schefter. The Rams and Seahawks also expressed interest in Dockett, who was released by Arizona in a cost-cutting move last week.

Dockett, 33, missed the 2014 season while recovering from a torn ACL. In the 10 previous seasons, all with the Cardinals, Dockett piled up 459 tackles, 40.5 sacks, seven forced fumbles and four interceptions. 

>> Want more NFL offseason? >> Mock drafts | Free agency tracker


Report: C.J. Spiller to be pursued by multiple teams in free agency
by Brandon Wise | CBSSports.com
(12:33 am ET) Running back C.J. Spiller is set to become a free agent soon and made it clear Tuesday he won't be returning to Buffalo.

Spiller is reportedly set to have multiple suitors, including the Cardinals, Jets, Dolphins and 49ers, according to Josina Anderson of ESPN. 

Spiller played in just nine games in 2014 with a shoulder injury, finishing with 300 yards on 78 carries and 125 yards on 19 receptions, scoring just one touchdown.


Report: Wide receiver Ted Ginn to visit with 49ers Wednesday
by Brandon Wise | CBSSports.com
(3/3/2015) Wide receiver Ted Ginn Jr. is reportedly scheduled to visit with the 49ers Wednesday, according to ESPN. Ginn, who was released by the Cardinals last month, reportedly visited with the Titans as well Tuesday.

Ginn Jr. caught 14 passes in 2014 for 190 yards. He was a member of the 49ers from 2010-2012, where he totaled 33 catches for 384 yards and one touchdown. He also averaged 23.5 yards per return in those three seasons.


Report: Kendall Langford visiting Jets, Saints
by Shawn Krest | CBSSports.com
(3/3/2015) Free agent DT Kendall Langford finished his visit with the Lions. The Jets and Saints are the next two scheduled stops on his tour, according to ESPN's Nick Wagoner

Langford was released by the Rams last week. 


C.J. Spiller: 'I won't be returning to Buffalo'
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(3/3/2015) Impending free-agent running back C.J. Spiller said Tuesday that he will not return to the Bills, who reportedly have a deal in place to acquire Eagles running back LeSean McCoy, the NFL Network reports.

"I won't be returning to Buffalo," Spiller said.

Spiller indicated in February in an interview on Sirius XM radio that he wanted to remain in Buffalo but that his fate was up to the team. He played in just nine games in 2014 due to a stint on injured reserve caused by a shoulder injury. Spiller finished with 300 yards on 78 carries and 125 yards on 19 receptions, scoring just one touchdown.


Bills to trade Kiko Alonso to Eagles for LeSean McCoy
by Shawn Krest | CBSSports.com
(3/3/2015) The Bills intend to trade linebacker Kiko Alonso to the Eagles for running back LeSean McCoy, CBSSports.com NFL Insider Jason La Canfora confirms. ESPN first reported the news of the trade, which will be a one-for-one deal.

The trade will become official next week, but the Bills have notified Alonso, who was looking to leave Buffalo, that he will be dealt.

Alonso had 159 tackles for the Bills in 2013 but missed all of last season after undergoing successful surgery to repair a torn ACL in July. He said in late February that he expected to be 100 percent before the beginning of camp. The trade reunites Alonso with Eagles coach Chip Kelly, who was his coach at Oregon.

La Canfora added that McCoy may not be pleased with the deal. The Eagles are looking to clear cap space, possibly for a draft day trade for a quarterback. Kelly was reportedly not a fan of McCoy's contract. The running back has a $10.25-million cap hit for 2015.

McCoy has delivered four 1,000-yard rushing seasons in the last five years, most recently rushing for 1,319 yards and five touchdowns in 2014. The Bills have had just one player top 1,000 yards rushing in the last five years.

>> Want more NFL offseason? >> Mock drafts | Free agency tracker


Titans claim Jonathan Massaquoi off waivers, cut Bernard Pollard
by Brandon Wise | CBSSports.com
(3/3/2015) The Titans have claimed free agent linebacker Jonathan Massaquoi off waivers and released safety Bernard Pollard, the team announced Tuesday.

Massaquoi totaled 22 tackles and two sacks in 15 games for the Falcons in 2014. Pollard was expected to be cut by the team after requesting his release earlier in the week. He suffered an Achilles tear in October, limiting him to just five games in 2014.


 
 
 
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