No matter how receivers are built these days, many of them can frustrate fantasy owners because their production is often inconsistent on a weekly basis. How could we have predicted afterthought Austin Collie would outperform his more-popular Colts counterpart Reggie Wayne in touchdowns (4 to 2), receiving yards (359 to 260) and completions (27 to 18) after Week 3? Or that 5-foot-9 Lance Moore would nab two TDs for the Saints on Sunday while his 6-foot-4 teammate Marques Colston remains scoreless this year?
Not to sound like a child, but it's just not fair!
Though the Colts and Saints have clear-cut No. 1 targets in Wayne and Colston, they also have the annoying habit of targeting multiple receivers in the passing game. Other teams like the Broncos and Bears don't even have a top dog, which further complicates matters for fantasy owners. To help make sense of it all, especially entering the bye weeks, let's start by answering these questions:
Which Broncos receiver do you trust the most: Eddie Royal, Jabar Gaffney, Demaryius Thomas, or Brandon Lloyd?
With Brandon Marshall jettisoned to Miami, there were plenty of questions about who would replace his 101 receptions, 1,120 yards and 10 TDs. After three games, it looks like a team effort. Royal re-entered the slot position this year (some have generously referred to him as Wes Welker-lite) and he has showed glimpses of his '08 self so far (17 catches for 186 yards and a score).
But Royal has been overshadowed by his teammates. Lloyd, who fizzled in San Francisco, Washington and Chicago, is currently ranked second in receiving yards (339) while the first-round rookie Thomas impressed in his first NFL game with eight catches for 97 yards and a score against the Seahawks in Week 2.
As for the veteran Gaffney, a popular sleeper pick in the preseason, he looked like the odd man out until he exploded on Sunday for 12 catches and 140 receiving yards, albeit most of that coming while the Broncos played major catch-up against the Colts.
All of this production is good news for head coach Josh McDaniels and his QB Kyle Orton, as the Broncos are surprisingly ranked first in passing offense at 350.0 per game.
Which receiver can we trust the most?
Final decision: In PPR leagues, I'd still go with Royal. In TD-only leagues, I'm holding on to the rookie Thomas. Gaffney is too bland for my taste buds (career highs of 732 yards and five TDs in a given season) and Lloyd's track record leaves me unconvinced he can build on his early success.
Which Bears receiver do you trust the most: Devin Hester, Devin Aromashodu or Earl Bennett?
With the marriage of passer-friendly offensive coordinator Mike Martz and prolific but error-prone QB Jay Cutler in Chicago this year, fantasy owners were left wondering which Bears receiver would be the one to covet.
Aromashodu received the early hype after the way he finished his '09 season: 22 receptions for 282 yards and four scores in the final four games. That prompted many owners to draft him in the ninth round on average, one round earlier than Hester, according to fantasyfootballcalculator.com.
He looked solid in the opener against Detroit (5 catches for 71 yards on 10 targets) but disappeared the following week at Dallas and was even benched for long stretches of time while Bennett took the field. Martz revealed after the game that Aromashodu didn't feel comfortable playing in the slot position.
Meanwhile, Hester continues to make the transition from one of the game's greatest return men to a competent NFL receiver. Over the past two seasons, he has steadily improved his numbers: from 51 to 57 receptions and 665 to 757 receiving yards (though only three TDs in each season).
Then there is Bennett, who put up similar numbers to Hester in his second season (54 receptions and 717 yards with two scores). A lot of people are hyping his history with Cutler as both played together at Vanderbilt in '05 when Bennett had 79 catches for 876 yards and nine TDs.
Final decision: Stick with Aromashodu as it's too early in the season to give up on him. I'm not sold on the Vandy connection and Hester has still not proven to be a reliable receiver in fantasyland.
Which Saints receiver, other than Colston, is worth your time: Moore, Robert Meachem or Devery Henderson?
Even though Colston hasn't found the end zone in three games, given his size and talent, he's always going to be QB Drew Brees' top option. So who's next?
This week's waiver-wire gem will be Moore after Sunday's explosion. You might remember him from '08, when he replaced the injured Colston and finished with career highs of 79 receptions, 928 receiving yards and 10 TDs. He struggled with injuries in '09, however, playing only seven games and was a non-factor in the Saints offense. He looks healthy and able now.
Meachem is the enigma here. A former first-round pick, he had career highs of 45 catches, 722 yards and nine scores in '09, prompting many fantasy owners to tout him as the second Saints receiver to have after Colston. But after three games, he's done little to justify such faith -- three catches for 33 yards in the opener, no catches last week, and one grab for a measly five yards on Sunday.
Meanwhile, the former LSU standout Henderson has been targeted almost twice as many times as Meachem (13 to 7) though he's been relatively quiet with seven receptions for 89 yards and a score.
Final decision: I'm tired of waiting around for Meachem's potential. Henderson will probably reach his usual mark of 800 yards receiving and three scores, but that's not a big enough fantasy impact. Give me Moore, especially while backfield receiving threat Reggie Bush recovers from his broken leg.