Faceoff - WR Jerry Porter, Oakland Raiders
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Upside - by Mark Wimer
Porter came on strong in the second half of last season after he had enough time and repetitions to reach a comfort zone with new QB Kerry Collins. 8 of his 9 TDs came during week 12 and forward, with two 3 TD games providing his owners with some big points. This year, Collins goes into training camp as the clear #1 QB in Oakland, so he and Porter will have a lot more repetitions together by the time regular season rolls around. They should be much more simpatico by the start of this season than they were in the beginning of 2004.
In addition, the team added Lamont Jordan to solidify the running game (which was very weak last season – dead last in number of rushing attempts and the amount of rushing yardage), which will keep defenses from keying on the passing game; and the arrival of fellow WR Randy Moss means that Porter is unlikely to see much double-teaming from the opposition. Porter had his best season ever in terms of yards-per-catch (15.6, almost 2 yards per catch better than his career average of 13.9) and snagged a career high 64 balls last season. He caught more balls for more yards than ever before.
The offensive upgrades in Oakland should mean that Porter will continue to improve. He’s young (born in 1978), but an established NFL veteran now (5 seasons in Oakland), playing in a wide-open offense that emphasizes moving the ball down the field with deep passes. Porter was only 2 yards away from a 1,000 yard season last year, and if he stays healthy (he played in all 16 games last season), there is no reason to suspect that Porter won’t easily surpass 1,000 yards receiving this year, with a very real shot at double-digits in the TD department as well.
Downside - by Clayton Gray
Last season Oakland QBs passed for 4019 yards and 24 TDs, and Porter caught for 998 yards and nine scores (all TDs occurred in the last ten games of the season). Porter’s 2004 statistics were good enough for him to sneak into the Top 20 for fantasy WRs despite him not crossing the 1000-yard mark. Obviously, his TD production was huge for his overall ranking. Since then, Jerry Rice was let go (actually this occurred during the 2004 season), Doug Jolley was traded, and Randy Moss was added. The addition of Moss means Porter’s 2005 season prospects can be summed up by answering a single question: “How good can Kerry Collins be this year?”
We all know that a healthy Moss will get his 1300 yards and 13 TDs (give or take a little). If you believe that Collins can throw for 5319 and 37 (adding the 2004 QB production to Moss’ “give or take” totals), then by all means put Jerry Porter down as a Top 20 WR. However, here on earth, it would be folly to project such gaudy totals for Kerry Collins. A more realistic QB stat line of 4319 and 32 will leave a deficit of 1000 yards and five TDs. Those yards and TDs have to come from somewhere. The departure of Rice and Jolley gives us almost 400 yards and a pair of scores, but the rest will be taken from the likes of Porter and back-up WRs Ronald Curry and Doug Gabriel. There simply aren’t enough numbers to allow Porter to improve. At best, he will meet his draft status. Championships are not won by taking players that simply meet expectations.