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Choosing your No.1 wide receiver

Reggie Wayne is an early second-round pick.
Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) - Everybody seems to know when they will take their quarterback and we have been drilled time and again to take our starting running back tandem early, but it is always interesting to watch when fantasy owners begin to fill their wide receiver positions.

When is the right time to write Randy Moss' name down? Is Braylon Edwards for real? Where should I pick Andre Johnson and will he stay healthy enough to reward me for my faith in him?

Well, here is the answer.

If you are expecting Moss to put up another 1,500 yard, 23 TD season, you will draft the New England Patriots wideout too early. Check my article from August 8th, but the short version says that he and Tom Brady won't be as prolific as they were in 2007. Coach Bill Belichick probably won't try to run the score up on opponents as he did last year while trying to prove a point. If Moss were to repeat his performance, he would be worth the second or third overall pick and in some leagues that's where he will go, but the Marshall University product shouldn't go until the middle of the first round. Certainly Ladainian Tomlinson, Adrian Peterson, Brian Westbrook and Steve Jackson (if he comes to a contract agreement soon) should be ahead of him and possibly Brady and Peyton Manning if you league rewards passing touchdowns with six points.

Moss is clearly No.1 of the receivers even if he doesn't quite reach last year's numbers, but behind him it gets a little muddled. There are a group of five receivers who qualify for the "second tier."

Reggie Wayne, Terrell Owens, Marques Colston, Larry Fitzgerald and Braylon Edwards all should put up similar statistics. I value three of the five (Wayne, Owens, Colston) slightly higher because their quarterbacks have shown more consistency. Fitzgerald has to worry about Matt Leinart and or Kurt Warner while Derek Anderson has only done it for about three-quarters of a season. If you recall, the Browns quarterback was pretty shaky down the stretch.

To me, Wayne, Owens and Colston are early second-round picks while Fitzgerald and Edwards are late second or early third-round choices.

T.J. Houshmandzadeh could also be part of the second tier if I could figure out what Chad Johnson will do this year. Houshmandzadeh scored at least one TD in nine of the team's first 10 contests...the model of consistency. But will he have Johnson drawing double coverage on the other side or will he be the focus of the defense?

We will put Houshmandzadeh in tier "2A."

Below him are some stud receivers, but they are all flawed. Torry Holt has a sore knee, an often injured offensive line and an offensive coordinator who wants to feature running back Steve Jackson.

Steve Smith will miss the first two games because of a team suspension for fighting. If you choose him you will also has to pray that Jake Delhomme's arm stays healthy.

Andre Johnson just has to be able to get on the field. Health issues are the only thing keeping him from being a second-tier star.

Anquan Boldin has to share receptions with the more talented Fitzgerald and Roy Williams has to deal with an offensive coordinator who isn't as "pass-happy" as Mike Martz and an up-and-coming receiver in Calvin Johnson.

That is the first dozen receivers on our rankings and each one should be solid contributors for your team.

If you don't get one of the first or second-tier receivers, I would also suggest you come back with your second wideout right away. And there are a few good ones who will still be left on the board who would certainly give you a solid one-two punch.

How about Wes Welker, Santonio Holmes, Plaxico Burress or Brandon Marshall (minus his three-game suspension). Or you could take a chance that Johnson's ankles are ok and his head is on straight (good luck on that one). I would be careful with any Green Bay receiver since you don't know who will be Aaron Rodgers' favorite. But you might push Laveranues Coles and Jerricho Cotchery up a few spots with the addition of Brett Favre behind center.

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

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