Faceoff - WR Marvin Harrison, Indianapolis Colts
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Upside - by Marc Levin
I have made no secret about how much I like Harrison in 2005. He has been my #1 fantasy receiver since April. His elite talent and history of putting up stratospheric fantasy numbers is a given. The only reasonable caveat is the question of whether he can put up the same numbers in a Colts offense that now has more than one receiving star. He is the primary receiver on the league’s best offense. He generates excellent production while receiving the most targets from an extremely prolific, and injury-free, quarterback.
Some argue there will be a return to statistical norms for the Colts and Manning – some that WR Reggie Wayne’s increased production will eat into Harrison’s number. In 2004, Harrison had his fewest targets, receptions, and yards since 1998, yet finished as the #5 fantasy receiver. If the team returns to statistical norms, then Harrison will also return to statistical norms that are better than his 2004 numbers. The player most likely to take a hit is not Harrison, but is Stokely. Also, Marcus Pollard’s 30 receptions, 309 yards, and 6 TDs are in Detroit – those numbers are likely split between TE Dallas Clark, Wayne and Harrison. Finally, Harrison’s ADP is 2.09 - often as the WR4 or WR5. Given the high probability of another top-5 WR finish, Harrison is the best value, and least risky, of the top receivers: Moss (new team), Owens (headcase), Chad Johnson (inexperienced QB), and Holt (Bulger has never finished 16 games).
Downside - by Andy Hicks
Marvin Harrison is a terrific competitor and one of the finest receivers of the modern age. He has been a top 5 fantasy receiver for 6 consecutive years and the only top 5 receiver from 2003 to repeat. Why then do I rank him outside the top 5, even currently as low as 8th?
Harrison turns 33 before the season starts. Once a player reaches an age where historically players at his position slow down, I tend to err on the side of caution. Especially from those drafted in the first 4 rounds.
Wayne and Stokley are projected with lower stats this year, but not Harrison? That doesn’t make sense. It is quite foreseeable that Wayne could be the dominant receiver come the end of 2005. Add in other options like Dallas Clark and Edgerrin James and Harrison cannot and will not dominate the scene as in years gone by.
Harrison has clung onto the 5th ranked receiver each of the last 2 years, but that spot is tenuous and the odds of him exceeding his draft slot or even performing to expectations this year are not good.
When Peyton Manning first arrived, Marvin Harrison was the perfect go to guy for the young QB. As Manning has developed he has not needed one reliable outlet and will go to his best read, not Marvin first and then the others. As he gets older Marvin will find that Manning will go to his next read more often and fewer opportunities will force Harrison from the top fantasy hierarchy. 11 games with 5 catches or fewer in 2004 (compared to 4 in 2003 and 1 in 2002) is the start of a new era, one that won’t please those that used a high draft pick on this future Hall of Famer.