October 06, 2009

This year ushered in a host of big-name wide receiver prospects, and yet the biggest splash so far was made by a second-round pick that fantasy owners ignored all summer.

Mohamed Massaquoi was the eighth receiver drafted -- the second on his own team -- but that means little now. The University of Georgia star caught eight of the 13 passes thrown to him in the overtime loss to Cincinnati. By game's end Massaquoi had 148 yards -- nearly five times as many as he had collected the first three weeks combined. One of his catches was first ruled a touchdown, then ruled out at the one-yard line -- it was one of several deep passes thrown to the team's emerging weapon in the first half.

Massaquoi could benefit from the fuss being made over Braylon Edwards' alleged late night scuffle, and the Browns' decision to go with Derek Anderson over Brady Quinn seems to favor the first-year receiver, as well.

Playing for a team that will need to air it out each week moving forward, Massaquoi has plenty of upside as a No. 4 receiver for fantasy owners.

Here are a few other waiver wire candidates to consider...

QB Joe Flacco, Baltimore

Hard to believe, but Flacco has remained on the waiver wire in most leagues, even after notching two 300-yard efforts in the first three weeks. No one wanted to believe that a Baltimore quarterback could be viable in fantasy; the Ravens have long been a run-first team built on defense and ball control, and one that gets little excitement out of the quarterback position. On Sunday, Flacco passed for a respectable 264 yards against New England, and threw his seventh and eighth passing scores of the season. Flacco can now be believed, and fantasy owners will need to pounce this week or risk losing out.

WR Austin Collie, Indianapolis

Another week, another Colts receiver to love. Collie made a great touchdown catch on Sunday, and finished with six receptions for 65 yards -- one week after a three-catch, 47-yard effort. He got more looks than Pierre Garcon this week (seven to four) and is every bit as likely to succeed moving forward. Fantasy owners should be cautious of the Colts' ability to spread the football, but Collie is well worth the gamble as a reserve receiver in most leagues.

TE Sean Ryan, Kansas City

Tony Gonzalez he is not, but the 260-pound Ryan has produced some encouraging numbers these past two weeks. He caught four balls against Philadelphia in Week 3, and led all Chiefs receivers with five catches and 58 yards in this week's loss to the Giants. Ryan also notched his second score of the season on Sunday. Fantasy owners cannot count on consistent production from the 260-pound veteran, but his value as a fill-in is on the rise.

Here is a look at this week's buy and sell candidates:

WR Donald Driver, Green Bay

Driver has produced solid numbers in the first month of the season, but his value to fantasy owners is still very low. That said, opposing defenses have left him alone, instead opting to focus on shutting down Greg Jennings. In the next month, Green Bay's schedule will favor the pass and, perhaps, Driver (whose asking price is far less than Jennings'). The Packers have dates with Detroit (have allowed an NFL worst 12 touchdown passes), Tampa Bay (nine touchdowns) and Cleveland (ranked 20th in yards and catches allowed).

WR Sidney Rice, Minnesota

The Vikings' young receiver has gotten better with each passing week of the season -- two catches in Week 1, three in Week 2, and four catches and a score last week. Against Green Bay on Monday night, Rice had season highs for catches (five) and yards (70) and added a second quarter score. He is gaining the favor of Brett Favre, which could mean big things for the 6-foot-4 receiver in the final three months of the season.

K Sebastian Janikowski, Oakland

The Raiders' colorful kicker happens to be the team's lone reliable fantasy weapon so far this season. Janikowski is seven for seven on his field goals, having made one kick from 54 yards. It's the best Janikowski has performed in years, giving him fantasy relevance again. The knock, of course, is that Oakland scores few touchdowns, and thus offers Janikowski few 'gimme' points.

RB Steve Slaton, Houston

Time to cut and run. Slaton has put up good (not great) numbers these past two weeks, suggesting it would be a good time to test him on the market. In the next six games, Houston faces three of the top eight run defenses in football (Arizona, San Francisco and Tennessee). The Texans will rely heavily on the passing game, and Slaton's best totals will come via the pass. He'll struggle to run, and fantasy owners will struggle with him in their lineup.

RB Fred Jackson, Buffalo

Fantasy owners with Jackson needed to see what Buffalo would do once Marshawn Lynch came back. Now they know. On Sunday the two players shared carries, with Jackson out-gaining Lynch 42 to four. Lynch is rusty, but he will get back to full speed soon. He's also the superior receiver out of the backfield (evidenced already on Sunday). It was a nice honeymoon, but Jackson's days of 15-plus touches are numbered in Buffalo.

WR Steve Smith, New York

Not trying to hate on Smith here, but the NFL's top receiver will no longer be able to fly under the radar screen. He leads the NFL in catches, yards and receiving scores, meaning opposing defenses will make him a priority to stop. That and Eli Manning's injury scare might be good reason for fantasy owners clinging to Smith to explore trade possibilities before the good times come to a halt.

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