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Catch total gives clue to future success at wideout

Santonio Holmes has been a favorite among fantasy owners this draft season.
Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) - You and I are always looking for that next star, and at the wide receiver position it seems there may be a key to picking out the next "big-time" receiver.

When you look at last year's top wideouts by number of receptions, a solid pattern appears. The best receivers, no matter whether they start with zero receptions in their first year like Wes Welker, or 70 catches as Braylon Edwards did, almost always increase their total in year two.

Of the top-15 receivers by receptions in 2007, 13 had more catches in their second year of play (86.7%). In addition, nine out of 13 (69.2%) increased their total in two or more consecutive years (two players, Brandon Marshall, Marques Colston are just starting their third year).

But we all already know that Marshall and Colston are stud receivers, we are looking for the undiscovered player.

As a side note, Reggie Wayne and T.J. Houshmandzadeh have the longest current string of increasing their catch totals, six years and five years, respectively.

So the question you now want to ask me is - Who has increased their totals from their rookie seasons and is ready to break out in 2008?

There are four players who were ranked no higher than 43rd on the receiving list, who fit our parameters.

1) Santonio Holmes, the Pittsburgh Steelers deep threat, has been a favorite among fantasy owners this draft season and with good reason. He caught 49 balls in his rookie season and 52 last year while improving his yards-per-catch from 16.8 to 18.1. He has taken over from Hines Ward as the team's "home run" threat and seems poised to put up a really big year.

2) Greg Jennings of Green Bay, fits our parameters with 45 catches in year one and 53 in year two. But the change at quarterback from Hall-of-Famer Brett Favre to the inexperienced Aaron Rodgers might hamper his chance to continue his growth.

3) Vincent Jackson came into the league a year ahead of Holmes and Jennings, but played in only two games that first year so he has only been a primary target in the Chargers offense for two seasons. His catch totals have grown from 3-to-27-to-41. He really came into his own in last year's playoffs burning the Titans for 114 yards and a touchdown, then posting seven catches for 93 yards and a TD against the Colts. He had another six-catch, 93-yard game against the Patriots. I'm expecting big things from him in 2008 despite all of San Diego's weapons.

4) The Dallas Cowboys' Patrick Crayton is in his fifth season, but his climb up the charts is unmistakable. His receptions total has gone from 12-to-22-to-36- to-50. Although he is the third option behind superstars Terrell Owens and Jason Witten he will likely continue to improve as teams decide to try and eliminate Tony Romo's preferred targets. A 70-catch, 950-yard season is not out of the question for Crayton and pretty good totals for a man who has an ADP (average draft position) of 90th.

Comments? Criticism? Applause? Contact Steve Schwarz at sschwarz@sportsnetwork.com.

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