Faceoff - WR Reggie Wayne, Indianapolis Colts
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Upside - by Chase Stuart
Reggie Wayne has made significant seasonal improvements in receptions, receiving yards and touchdowns throughout his four year NFL career. After scoring 35 fantasy points as a rookie, he scored 96 FPs in 2002, 126 in 2003 and finally 193 FPs last year. Wayne continued his stellar season by collecting 10 catches for 221 yards and 2 scores in a playoff win over the Broncos.
So has Wayne surpassed Marvin Harrison as the top Colts WR? Harrison had more targets (150 to 128) but Wayne had more receiving yards (1,210 to 1,113). Brandon Stokely had 111 targets and 1,077 yards, which shows how Manning spread the ball around to all three of his favorite targets last year. So what will happen this year?
Wayne ranked just 21st in targets but ranked 8th in fantasy points. Having the best quarterback in the league will make many look better than they are, and Wayne’s in an ideal situation to continue to produce. There’s little reason to think Wayne should be targeted less this year (remember, the Colts actually ranked just 15th in pass attempts last year), and he will still have excellent protection in the lineup. As a result, Wayne has quickly become one of the safest options in fantasy football.
Eventually, Wayne will take over as the Colts top WR. Wayne is six years younger, and already topped Harrison in receiving yards last year. While Wayne may not pass Harrison this year, he seems like a lock for another 1,000 yard season and should challenge 10 touchdowns. With TE Marcus Pollard now in Detroit, the Colts may utilize even more three WR sets, and Wayne has a good chance to even top his career high of 1,210 yards.
Downside - by Clayton Gray
One reason to doubt Reggie Wayne this year is the huge season he put up last year. Going into 2004, opposing defenses knew Marvin Harrison could beat them, but they were not sold on Wayne’s ability. Obviously, Wayne showed everyone that he did in fact have that ability. Of course when Harrison is drawing most of the attention from opposing DBs, it makes it a little easier to perform. Going into the 2005 campaign, defenses know they can not discount Wayne. He’ll draw more attention than he has in the past.
That said, the biggest problem with Reggie Wayne is that everyone expects him to pick up in 2005 where he left off in 2004. The only way that happens is if Peyton Manning does the same. It is shaky logic to bank on a repeat of one of the all-time best seasons in NFL history as the 2004 season was magical for the Indianapolis offense. Our old friend “regression to the mean” points out that Manning and company will likely return to their “normal” pre-2004 level of production
Consider the last three years of Reggie Wayne’s career:
- 2004 – 1210 yards / 12 TDs
- 2003 – 838 yards / 7 TDs
- 2002 – 716 yards / 4 TDs
Last season, Wayne finished as the eighth best fantasy WR. Right now, Wayne is ranked at about #10. At that spot, he’ll have to almost match his career numbers from last year. That’s just not likely to happen. He should regress. It is far more likely to see Wayne grab 1000-1100 yards and score 7-9 times. That’s a good season but not Top 10 material.