Fantasy

The Ultimate Possession Receiver

Yesterday's 15-catch, 192-yard, 32-fantasy point performance
was just another indicator of how good Wes Welker has become.
Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) - When you talk about the best possession receivers of the current era, you are going to have to start putting New England Patriots wide receiver Wes Welker at the top of your list.

Yesterday's 15-catch, 192-yard, 32-fantasy points performance was just another indicator of how good the 5'9", 190 lbs. former Texas Tech Red Raider has become. He is the best at his profession, the "ultimate drive extender." If it's third down and seven, he'll get you eight yards. Fourth and two...yes Coach Bill Belichick, you should have gone to Welker and you likely would have gotten the first down against Indianapolis and the win.

No, he's not the best receiver who ever lived. That's a debate which Jerry Rice or maybe Randy Moss when he's done playing will win, but ask Tom Brady who he seeks out in a third and five situation?

After his senior year at Texas Tech, Welker went unselected in the 2004 NFL Draft. He made the San Diego Chargers roster out of training camp, but was cut after the first week. The Miami Dolphins signed him to play on their special teams. The following season he was the No.3 receiver in Miami ending up with 29 receptions for 434 yards and no touchdowns. In 2006 he improved those totals to a team-best 67 receptions for 687 yards and one score while continuing to return kickoffs and punts.

The Patriots considered offering Welker a contract when he became a free agent in 2007, but instead let the Dolphins resign him and traded a second and seventh-round pick to get him. It turned out to be a "steal" for New England as Welker nearly doubled his reception total to 112 for 1,175 yards and eight TDs.

Last year, despite the Patriots losing Brady for the season in the first quarter of the first game, Welker continued to prosper. This time he caught 111 balls for 1,165 yards and three scores from first-time starter Matt Cassel.

Brady is back in 2009 and Welker is better than ever. He's leading the league in receptions with 79, fourth in yards despite missing one game and first in yards-per-game at 106.8. He's also returning punts, averaging 13.0 yards-per- return.

If you put Welker's numbers up against some of the great possession receivers of all-time, Fred Biletnikoff, Steve Largent - he's not "there" yet, but given his current pace (he's only started 38 games in his career), he'll be there soon.

However, in a comparison with other current possession receivers, like T.J. Houshmandzadeh, Hines Ward and Derrick Mason, Welker comes out ahead. Over the last three years, since Welker became a starter, he has more catches and more yards in less games than the competition. He's also ahead in 2009 fantasy points and the gap is even bigger in PPR leagues.

In my opinion, Welker is the best "possession" receiver today and will be for years to come. In the fantasy world, he was a fourth-round pick (RapidDraft ADP 32.4) who playing above that. He's a keeper in any league.

Top NFL Possession Receiver Statistics 2007-2009
Player Team Gm Rec RecYds Ave TDs 2009 Pts
Wes Welker NE 35 302 3,194 10.6 15 129
Hines Ward PIT 39 215 2,573 11.9 19 117
T.J. Houshmandzadeh SEA 40 258 2,665 10.3 19 91
Derrick Mason BAL 41 228 2,796 12.2 14 90

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