Six Well-Received Dynasty Wide Receivers for 2009 Sleepers and Keepers

We started our dynasty talk with a look at the quarterbacks on benches you may have forgotten as the NFL draft approaches, but now it’s time to refresh your memory about a few receivers that could be valuable for keeper leagues and dynasty leagues. Some even have a shot at fantasy stardom in 2009.

Demetrius Williams – Baltimore Ravens
Despite his flashes as a playmaker since joining the Ravens in 2006, Demetrius Williams hasn’t stayed healthy enough to earn his way out of the slot receiver role in Baltimore. Just as he emerged in 2009 with a 70-yard touchdown grab against the Raiders, Williams had to be shut down for surgery on a bone spur that had limited him all season. The Ravens need to get younger — and better — targets for Joe Flacco, and Williams could be the guy to stretch the field for Flacco in 2009 even if Baltimore addresses the position in the draft.

Lavelle Hawkins – Tennessee Titans
Hawkins was supposed to be the answer to Tennessee fans’ prayers when he was drafted last season even though he wasn’t a first-round receiver selection as many had hoped. Though he outshined college teammate DeSean Jackson in the stats department during his last season at California, he spent his rookie season in the shadows while Jackson played his way into a starting role with the Eagles. To his credit, Hawkins struggled to master the Titan’s playbook with all the distractions and challenges of being a rookie in the NFL. In his second season, he’d prefer that his teammates hold the mayo. With Justin McCareins now a free agent, Hawkins could bring a much-needed infusion of young talent to the passing game for Tennessee opposite newly acquired Nate Washington or Justin Gage.

Earl Bennett – Chicago Bears
Much like Hawkins, many Chicago fans jumped aboard the Bennett train expecting him to contribute early and often in a season where Chicago had no receivers to brag about on their starting roster. Bennett must have missed the memo. In 2009, he finds himself in a very intriguing situation with his former college quarterback, Jay Cutler, in town. Cutler could easily make his favorite target from Vandy into a standout in this offense, so watch for Bennett to find his way into the third receiver role or even the No. 2 spot beside Devin Hester if he can make the jump with this offense.

Mario Manningham – New York Giants
As disappointing as his entrance to the NFL was, Manningham has done a whole lot of nothing on the Giants roster so far. The release of Plaxico Burress and departure of Amani Toomer this offseason will give each of the Giants’ young receivers a chance to climb the depth chart. With Steve Smith quickly becoming Eli Manning’s most trusted target, the Giants would love to see Manningham prove his draft stock and push Domenik Hixon, the No. 1 receiver replacement-of-the-moment. Maybe he can defy that 6 on the Wonderlic and grasp the playbook a little sooner than expected.

Davone Bess – Miami Dolphins
His troubled past in college at Oregon State didn’t stop Hawaii recruiters from picking up on Bess’ talents, and despite going undrafted, he still made the Dolphins roster in 2008. When Greg Camarillo went down with an injury, Bess filled his role as Chad Pennington’s most reliable wide receiver, and Bess finished the season with more receptions than all but two rookies, Eddie Royal and DeSean Jackson. With Camarillo returning from his injury, Bess may find himself back in the slot receiver role, but I wouldn’t be surprised if Pennington looked Bess’ way a little more often in 2009.

Mike Walker – Jacksonville Jaguars
While Matt Jones caught most of the nose candy praise and passes in 2008, David Garrard showed that he had a lot of faith in Mike Walker by looking to him to make a big play when they needed it. If Walker can stay healthy in 2009, he might be a big factor now that Jones and Jerry Porter are out of town. His only major competition for the most looks in Jacksonville is an aging Torry Holt unless the Jaguars take a receiver early in the draft.

And if crazy things happen…

Brad Smith / David Clowney – New York Jets
Without Laveranues Coles, the Jets have a hole opposite Jerricho Cotchery. Chansi Stuckey appears to be at the top of the depth chart, but Brad Smith and David Clowney are two of the lesser-known and possibly more promising wide receivers in the Jets’ arsenal. Smith has talents as both a quarterback and receiver, and Clowney sat out most of 2008 with a broken collarbone after blowing up in the preseason. If either takes hold of No. 2 spot or slot position for whichever quarterback steps into the pocket for the Jets, they stand a chance of becoming a household name. Clowney, in my opinion, is currently the more intriguing of the two.

Early Doucet – Arizona Cardinals
It would take an Anquan Boldin trade for Doucet to become relevant, but the coaching staff praised him and his ability after drafting him just last year. Even though Steve Breaston is ahead of him on the depth chart, it’s a proven fact that the Cardinals passing game produces numbers for everyone who gets involved. Watch for Doucet to earn his spot as the No. 3 receiver if any draft-day deals move Boldin from the sunny desert of Arizona.

Steve Johnson – Buffalo Bills
Unfortunately for Steve, who looked promising in the short time he played near the end of 2008, the Terrell Owens signing in Buffalo limits his potential for at least the 2009 season. Second-round selection James Hardy still sits ahead of him on the Bills’ depth chart, and Johnson will be lucky to lock down the fifth receiver spot behind Lee Evans, Owens, Josh Reed and Hardy if Roscoe Parrish stays in Buffalo. He’s still worth keeping an eye on, but it would take some roster moves for Johnson to make an impact anytime soon.

Fantasy Football Fools Mock NFL Draft 2008 – Part 4 of 4 (First Take)

This post finishes up our first run at the mock NFL draft for 2008. Look for updates after the combines. If you missed any of Parts 1-3, check them out: Part 1 Part 2 Part 3

25. Seattle Seahawks — Rashard Mendenhall, RB, Illinois

Shaun Alexander hasn’t done much since his amazing season a few years ago. He seems to be stuck in that 20 carries and 60 yards per game mentality. The Seahawks could definitely use some new blood at RB, and Mendenhall is their man. He looks to be from the same mold as Alexander with some speed to burn and new tread on the tires.

Jacob’s Fantasy Take: Seattle could be risky and go for a WR or TE here. One thing’s for sure, RB was the greatest problem for Seattle last year and made them a one-dimensional team. They need better production from their RB crew, and a committee with Alexander, Maurice Morris and Mendenhall would definitely be able to get the job done for Holmgren’s last year. We all know Alexander isn’t going to be getting it done much longer.

26. New York Giants — Dan Connor, LB, Penn State

The Giants need a linebacker and can either go with Connor or former USC star Keith Rivers. I would take Connor because he seems to have that Penn State Linebacker U mentality. He is tough, athletic and will make tackle after tackle. This guy will be a great value pick for the Giants.

Jacob’s Fantasy Take: The Giants defense wasn’t on a lot of short lists this draft season, but they certainly ended the season on some. The secondary has stepped up in the playoffs after looking bad early in the season. You can thank Aaron Ross and Webster for that. With the secondary holding together, they could use Connor to reinforce their run and pass defense more at the line. The Giants might just stay near the top of a few draft cheatsheets for fantasy drafts in 2008.

27. Jacksonville Jaguars — Early Doucet, WR, LSU

Jacksonville had a great season this year–especially from QB David Garrard. The best thing the Jaguars could get would be a nice possession guy that can be a downfield threat as well. Early Doucet would be a great addition opposite of Reggie Williams, another young WR.

Jacob’s Fantasy Take: Garrard really needed more targets out there on the field to make Jacksonville the true double threat it should have been this year. Jacksonville has known their wide receivers were a problem for a few years. I apologize if any of you took Matt Jones this year. He looks like he misses the bench every time he gets out there.

Early Doucet should be able to get in there and shake things up. With some good route running, he should replace Matt Jones as the third receiver if he doesn’t land a starting role by the end of preseason. He will be a good possession receiver like Northcutt but will also be able to pull the big plays so that all the hopes and dreams of Jacksonville are not put on the sometimes slippery hands of Reggie Williams. Not sure if I would consider drafting him, but he is definitely one to watch for a waiver wire acquisition in your 2008 fantasy season.

28. San Diego Chargers – Keith Rivers, LB, USC

This pick would be taking the best available player for the Chargers right here. Their defense is already top notch with Merriman and some more young players. Throw in Rivers opposite of Merriman, and that is one scary linebacking duo for years to come.

Jacob’s Fantasy Take: Scary indeed. If Rivers emerges early in 2008 for the Chargers, I would fear NOT having them as my defense and form a prayer group for just the weeks I had to play against them. The Chargers already led the league in takeaways in 2007. Be very afraid of what they can do with Rivers in 2008.

29. Dallas Cowboys — Quentin Groves, DE/LB, Auburn

The Cowboys could go either WR or RB right here. I don’t feel any WRs are worth taking here, and this draft has so many backs that one could easily be found in a later round. What Groves gives Dallas is a great 3-4 defense player that could be a good fit for one of the linebacker positions. He is extremely quick and would be a huge asset to the Dallas D.

Jacob’s Fantasy Take: I lean towards the Cowboys taking a RB here with Julius Jones on his way out. Talk is that Jerry Jones might want Miami’s pick to get McFadden, so I don’t think they leave the first round without a RB.

That said, Groves would be a good call. Dallas’ defense slacked off on stopping the run late in 2007, and depth would certainly help since injuries weakened the unit throughout the season. Groves’ quickness would be welcomed and could possible catapult the Dallas defense from being steadily better to being drastically better. If Dallas takes two defensive picks in the first round, be sure to take a look at them on your fantasy short list in 2008.

30. San Francisco 49ers — James Hardy, WR, Indiana

The 49ers were thought to be a team on the rise, and then last season came and washed that away. What they need is another big man that young QB Alex Smith can use in the passing game. James Hardy is a 6’7″ monster that can go up and get the ball. He carries some off-the-field baggage, but the 49ers can’t be too picky. If they can get his head straight, he will be a great wideout.

Jacob’s Fantasy Take: Arnaz Battle, Ashley Lelie and Darrell Jackson just aren’t doing it anymore for the 49ers. Not with Martz coming in there. Even if he does base the offense around Frank Gore–like he should–he is going to need some talent in the WR spot to keep the defense from loading the box.

Whether Alex Smith returns as QB or not, Hardy would be a great target. His big size would help in the red zone, and maybe, with some new blood, the entire team will finally come together to be a competitor. With Martz at the reigns of this offense, any player on it is worth at least sleeper consideration for your roster in 2008 as Gore should return to form and bring a strong run game.

31. Green Bay Packers — Marcus Griffin, S, Texas

The Packers can do one of two things here. They can go after Fred Davis, TE, USC, who would be a great addition to their team or pick Marcus Griffin and help shore up their defense. Davis would be a great weapon for Favre to throw to, but I believe the Packers need to address their D first. Their pass defense was nothing to write home about this year–especially their safety play. Marcus Griffin can come in and play as well as his brother Michael Griffin did for the Titans this year. He will be an immediate upgrade to the defense.

Jacob’s Fantasy Take: With Bubba Franks returning late in the season and the emergence of Donald Lee, Green Bay probably will look to lock up their defense here. While they had good INT numbers this year, they should have been better with one of the best cornerback tandems in the league.

A quality safety to add to this young defense could increase the number of takeaways they get in 2008 and elevate them to the top tier of fantasy defenses.

32. New England Patriots — No Pick

Cheaters never win, right???

Jacob’s Fantasy Take: Ouch, too soon.

That’s it. The end. Look for an aggregate post of mock drafts from other notorious fantasy football sources later this week, and expect an update of our mock draft after the combines.