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WR Brandin Cooks
WR Wes Welker
Wes Welker still has what it takes to be one of the best in the game today. Last year, Welker missed three games due to concussions but still finished the season as the 20th-best fantasy wide receiver. With the loss of Eric Decker to the New York Jets in free agency, we could see Peyton Manning lean on Welker even more this year.
Last year was Welker's first since 2006 not catching passes from Tom Brady, yet he caught more touchdowns in one year (10) then he ever did with the Patriots. The missed time made his 778 yards receiving the lowest total for Welker since he was with the Dolphins (2006, 687). If he stays healthy for a full season, Welker will put up more receiving yards this year.
Welker can still get open consistently as he's one of the best "jerk" route-runners in league history. He is a trusted target for Manning, and the team likes to use his receiving ability near the end zone and in short-yardage situations. Hitting double-digit touchdowns again this year won't be much of a problem for Welker. In 2013 he scored at least one touchdown for the first six weeks of the season.
The team added Emmanuel Sanders to take Decker's spot, but it's Welker who could benefit the most when the team gets to the red zone. Sanders has only 11 receiving touchdowns for his career, while Decker had 11 just last season alone. While Sanders is not known for his red-zone prowess, Welker is and could be in line for even more targets when the team is near pay dirt.
This one is fairly easy to diagnose for fantasy owners. Welker is one of the most trusted targets on one of the league's most high-powered offenses. He missed three games last year and still put up low-end WR2 numbers. Welker is a valuable WR2 who can be a regular starter for your fantasy team.
Welker suffered a concussion in the Week 3 preseason game against the Houston Texans. The Broncos are evaluating him, and they will follow the NFL's protocol for dealing with concussions. The team was already taking it easy on Welker in practice, and there's a small chance that this concussion could end his career. The chance is small, but there's a greater chance that he could miss time this season because of multiple concussion problems. Keep checking the news wire for the latest on the veteran receiver.
WR Riley Cooper
You couldn't have written Riley Cooper's story if you were a best-selling novelist. A year ago, Cooper seemed to be on the roster fringe and that was before racially offensive remarks surfaced on the internet. When the Eagles sent Cooper home on leave, it seemed a formality that he would be released. Yet, support from some of his teammates and a torn ACL to starter Jeremy Maclin gave Cooper another chance. Fast forward to a year later and Cooper not only made the most of his second chance, he's now a starter with a new 5-year, $23mm deal including $10mm guaranteed. Only in America. What fantasy owners need to decide is just how good Cooper can be, and if he's consistent enough to trust in weekly lineups. For all his accolades, Cooper only finished as WR24 last season and caught just 47 passes. Will he win as many jump balls as he did last year? If not, he may be overdrafted by fantasy owners hoping for another significant step forward.
WR Kelvin Benjamin
Kelvin Benjamin was selected at 1.28 during the 2014 NFL draft. There is a wide range of opinions about Benjamin's readiness to be a pro receiver - some feel his size (6-5, 240 lbs), reach and leaping abilities will make him a favorite target of Cam Newton, while others fret about Benjamin's lack of polished route running and his tendency to juggle or drop catchable balls. He has the potential to be productive at the pro level, but there is a lot of work to be done on Benjamin's part - meanwhile, the Panthers' wide receiving corps needs help NOW. It remains to be seen how much chemistry Benjamin can create with Newton - we'll see how they look working together during preseason. There is definitely plenty of opportunity for Benjamin to shine in Carolina, but his ability to capitalize on the abundant opportunities there is open to question. Benjamin underwent a precautionary MRI on Monday, July 28 after bumping knees with a teammate on July 27. 'We want to be smart with it,' head coach Ron Rivera said. 'It could just be one of those things where if he had iced it right away and not finished (Sunday's) practice, maybe it would have been better... I'm optimistic that is what it's going to be.' The MRI revealed a bone bruise in his left knee - Benjamin is considered day-to-day due to the injury, but may miss a week or so.
WR Dwayne Bowe
Bowe failed to live up to expectations in 2013 for a variety of reasons. The only one of those reasons beyond his control was the performance of the Chiefs defense. Bowe saw a significant reduction in production for the first nine weeks due to the fact that the Chiefs were blowing out bad teams early and had no desire to force the ball into a receiver that doesn't specialize in getting wide open. Bowe's production saw a slight uptick in the second half and he was WR26 from week 11-16. He was even better in the team's playoff loss, putting up an 8-150-1. Historically Bowe has been about a 50/50 bet to hit 1000 yards and other than his anomalous 2010 (15 TD) he's averaged around 5 scores a year. He is good at using his body in traffic, but also has a maddening amount of silly drops. Bowe has struggled with a finger injury in camp and has been suspended for week one of the regular season due to a marijuana arrest in 2013.
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