Spotlight - WR Javon Walker, Denver Broncos
Posted 8/22 by Jason Wood and Mike Brown,
Exclusive to Footballguys.com
Jason Wood's Thoughts
If you were to make a checklist for the ideal fantasy receiver, Javon Walker would fit the bill better than most.
1) On-field pedigree -- Walker emerged last year as one of the league's best all around receivers, catching 89 passes for 1,382 yards and 12 TDs. He finished 2nd among fantasy WRs and was last year's true "3rd year breakout."
2) Top tier QB -- Brett Favre's resume speaks for himself, but don't forget that he's also made a habit of bringing his receivers along with him when it comes to statistical achievement. Last season was no different as Favre targeted Walker 138 times and will look to him with frequency again in 2005.
3) Physical measurables -- 6'3", 215 lbs and FAST, Walker has the complete physical package to dominate whether he's making catches in tight coverage or getting deep on the outside.
4) Excellent running mate -- Donald Driver has been a top 10 fantasy receiver in two of the last three years himself, and opposing defenses simply can't (and won't) solely commit to shutting down Walker. He'll see his fair share of single coverage, and that should be music to fantasy ears.
5) Perfect ADP for those who prefer to take RBs in the first two rounds -- It's great to talk about the virtues of Randy Moss and Terrell Owens, but the fact is, if you want either on draft day you're going to have to use a 1st or 2nd round pick. Yet, many fantasy owners prefer to take RBs with their first two selections. Walker's current ADP of 3.05 means he should be available in the 3rd round in a majority of leagues, and he could (and should) post stats that rival those taken ahead of him. So you can grab your two RBs in rounds 1 and 2, and then grab Walker in the 3rd and be off to the races.
- Javon Walker was 4th in "Big Catches" (25+ Yards), 9th in red zone receptions, and 6th in TDs a year ago...explosive
- Walker had 100+ yards or a TD in 12 of 16 games last year, in other words he delivered fantasy points week in, week out
- Walker was one of the most targeted receivers in the NFL a year ago, is in his prime, and gets to catch passes from one of the league's all time greats in Favre
- The Packers have weapons at every position (Ahman Green, Bubba Franks, Donald Driver) and there could be games where Walker just isn't the featured playmaker
- Walker has had a propensity to drop passes at times earlier in his career
- If the Packers offensive line replacements don't complete the puzzle, the entire offensive cohesion could be torn asunder
Sometimes you don't have to dig too deeply in your analysis. Walker is big, fast, accomplished and in his prime. He's in an ideal situation to put up big numbers again, is motivated because he wants a new contract, and finished 2nd a season ago yet is available in the 3rd round of 12-team leagues in most cases. That's just about the perfect combination for a savvy fantasy owner looking for a lead receiver to help them contend for a title. Draft accordingly.
Mike Brown's Thoughts
Javon Walker has practically followed a blueprint for NFL success as a wide receiver. Letís see, start off with a fairly quiet first season? Check. Emerge as a solid player with improvements across the board in the second season? Check. Break out and enjoy All-Pro caliber success in season three? You bet.
Walker was simply incredible for the Packers in 2004. He finished as the 2nd-ranked receiver in fantasy football (89-1382-12), and did it with remarkable consistency. He never went more than two games without scoring, and really turned it on in the fantasy playoffs, totaling 324 yards and 2 scores over the seasonís final three games.
During the off-season, Walker was engaged in a very contentious contract dispute with the Packers, a dispute that seemed certain to head for disaster. Fortunately for both sides (as well as fantasy players), Walker reported to camp on time. Perhaps he was simply bluffing, perhaps the harsh words of QB Brett Favre (more on that later) caused him to reconsider. Regardless of the reason, Walker is in camp now and hopes to deliver a repeat performance of 2004. Can he?
- Walker was one of the very best receivers in football last year, finishing up as the 2nd-ranked player at his position. The Packers offensive philosophy remains the same, as do the skill players, which should help continuity.
- Walker plays with one of the best QBs in football in Brett Favre. Say what you will about Favreís turnovers at key moments; he still knows how to deliver the football for big plays. Walker combines an underneath threat with a home-run ability that lends itself very well to being a true #1 receiver for Favre. Favre can get him the ball in small space in close with short bullet passes, or 65 yards downfield for a bomb.
- Walker, despite the holdout threat, reported to camp in time. Itís not so much a positive as it is a non-negative, that heís there on time.
- Walker sounded serious about holding out, and the reason why is because he wanted more money. Well, if itís money that he wants, then another big-time season would go a long way toward getting him that payday. Playing for a big contract tends to bring out the best in players.
- Even though the situation was resolved, Favre had some very choice words for the way Walker went about trying to get a new contract. Whether it was Favreís place to say is debatable, but he certainly didnít mince words when discussing how Walker needed to get in camp and be there for his team. We donít see either Walker or Favre as the type who will hold a grudge, and neither player would sacrifice on-field performance over a petty off-field incident, but itís still important to note when a QB and his top WR were at odds during the off-season.
- Now that Walker has joined the elite crew of receivers, the key is to remain there. Now that heís had that breakout season, fantasy owners will come to expect that from him. That means itíll be that much tougher to live up to his ADP, if only because his ADP is that much higher.
- Walker is clearly the teamís #1 option, and defenses will adjust their schemes accordingly. Walker has the talent to remain at the top of NFL receivers, but itís awfully tough for anyone to put up 1,300 yards and 12 touchdowns even once, let alone twice in a row Ė especially when defenses are game-planning around you.
- While it is a positive that Walker has teammate Donald Driver to help ease the pressure on him, itís also possible that Driver takes some touches away from Walker. Considering Driver will be consistently covered by the lesser defensive back, itís certainly possible.
I wouldnít hesitate to make Javon Walker my #1 receiver. I would expect him to produce at numbers close to what he did last year, and would gladly select him in the third round, comparable to where his draft position is. That said, I wouldnít put him in with the Moss/Owens/Harrison/Johnson class just yet. He needs to do it again before I place him among the super elite, and one cannot be shocked if he drops off (albeit slightly) in 2005.
Quotations from the Message Board Thread
To view the entire Player Spotlight thread (there's a ton of fantastic commentary in there),
Walker and Driver had the same number of looks last year (146). Does this change this year in favor of Driver due to this off season holdout and Favre calling Walker out? I think a little, especially more so in the beginning. Favre will let him know where the money comes from....the QB looking his way!
I don't see how he wouldn't repeat last year's numbers if not even exceed them.
Javon Walker Projections
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