Though the division is devoid of any superstars, Marshall has too many issues, a few of the young receivers are on the door step of announcing their entrance to the upper echelon of fantasy football.
1. Dwayne Bowe
In just his second year in the NFL, and playing for a horrendous 2-14 Chiefs team, Bowe took a big step forward and grabbed 86 balls, for over 1,000 yards, and seven TDs.
This year, playing under new offensive-minded coach Todd Haley, and with the upgrade at the QB position to Matt Cassel, look for Bowe to become an elite fantasy receiver with 90 plus catches, for over 1,200 yards and double digit TDs.
Back when Tomlinson was the league’s premier running back, and Gates was the team’s top receiving option, the Chargers’ receiving corps was barely heard of.
But with Tomlinson now slowed by injury and age, and injuries taking its toll on Gates’ body, they’ve now stepped to the forefront and at the head of that charge is Vincent Jackson.
The 6′5″ third year receiver caught 59 balls for 1,098 yards and seven TDs last year and became Rivers go-to guy late in the season.
This year, in his fifth year in the league, look for Jackson to hit the 1,200-yard mark with double digit TDs.
3. Brandon Marshall
Based on talent alone, this guy tops the list. He has developed into one of the top receivers in the game since 2006 and notched over 1,200 yards and six TDs in 2008. However immaturity, legal issues, and now the loss of Jay Cutler, will all keep him from ranking higher on the fantasy draft charts in 2009.
With the prospects of receiving balls from either Kyle Orton or Chris Simms, look for Marshall’s numbers to take a significant step although he’ll still eclipse the 1,000-yard mark and score nine TDs.
4. Eddie Royal
Marshall’s counterpart, Royal, had an excellent rookie season in 2008. The former second round pick out of Virginia Tech burst onto the season and torched the Raiders for 146 yards and a TD on opening day. Overall, he finished with 91 catches, for 980 yards, and five TDs.
This year, expect McDaniels to utilize Royal in the team’s short passing game as New England used Welker, and for Royal to catch between 75-85 balls for a thousand yards and five to seven TDs.
Johnnie Lee Higgins
For those of you expecting to hear Darrius Heyward-Bey’s name called here, think again. Rookie wide receivers rarely make a significant fantasy impact in year one and certainly not a guy playing on the Raiders.
Higgins on the other hand, began to step up late last season and finished with 22 catches for four TDs. This year, he could double both.
Bowe, Jackson and Marshall should all go between round’s three and four. Royal will be a nice second receiver in round six and beyond, while Higgins, our fantasy sleeper for this division, will be ripe for the taking towards the latter rounds of the draft.