July 23, 2010

In New Orleans, the problem at wide receiver isn't depth -- as is the case with most NFL teams -- but rather the Saints having too much of it, as fantasy owners must try to figure out which promising target will situate himself next to Marques Colston as the club's second most productive fantasy producer. Will it be fourth-year Robert Meachem, who caught as many touchdowns last season as Colston, Vincent Jackson and Andre Johnson? Or Devery Henderson, who ranked second on the team in both catches and yards?

There really is no job to be won in this case; both receivers will see a significant number of snaps, and both will often be used at the same time. What is of debate is which one will eat up a larger chunk of Drew Brees' mammoth passing totals. It's a question fantasy owners have been debating all summer, with most leaning toward Meachem as the safer pick.

But fantasy owners would be foolish to favor Meachem based solely on last year's totals, as there is far too much talent on this depth chart for any player to get comfortable based on past success.

Why Meachem is the better choice: The former first-round choice showed last year that he can finish the big play -- something Henderson has been unable to do throughout his career. While he only had one 100-yard game (Week 13 against Washington), Meachem was as hot as any fantasy receiver in the pivotal fantasy period of Weeks 9 to 13, during which he scored six touchdowns and posted a personal-best with eight catches in one contest. And because he is the youngest of the will-be challengers, fantasy owners may wish to believe Meachem has the most potential to grow into.

Why it's Henderson: Among all the candidates, he has the longest track record of success in this passing game. He's been a productive element in the Saints attack in each of the past five seasons, and has ranked second in team receiving yards in three of the past four. Henderson showed signs of progress last year, setting personal bests in yards (804) and catches (51). The increase in catches no doubt had an adverse impact on his yards per catch, which from 2006 to 2008 had ranked as one of the highest in the NFL each season.

Don't forget about:Lance Moore

The Robert Meachem of 2008 was Moore, who caught 79 passes for 928 yards and 10 touchdowns. That season he recorded 100 or more receiving yards three times, and caught a pair of touchdowns in Weeks 4, 12 and 17. In 2009, nagging injuries pulled Moore back down to earth, but he did make one of the team's most important catches (a two-point conversion in the Super Bowl) and he enters camp this year in good health. And Moore may offer Brees (and PPR owners) what Meachem and Henderson do not; a steady possession-type with good hands and a willingness to work each and every route.

Who fantasy owners should pull for: Meachem

If there is a "safe" pick of this group it's Meachem, but not because of his numbers. He is the biggest receiver of the three (6-foot-2, 210 pounds) and the player the Saints would most likely care to invest in long-term, all things considered. He is also nearing a new deal and will be motivated by the fact that a good 2010 season will go a long way toward earning him a substantial pay increase. And forget the minor toe surgery Meachem had this offseason -- he'll finish camp in good health and with a full head of steam.

Mike Beacom is a contributing writer for FootballDiehards.com.

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