1. Larry Fitzgerald
Last year’s postseason (546 yards, seven TDs) elevated Fitzgerald into Superman. It also showed who was the most valuable receiver in the desert. Overall, Fitzgerald finished the season with 96 catches, for 1,431 yards and 12 TDs.
And expect for more of the same this year. Warner is back, the offense remains intact, and Fitzgerald is only now entering his prime. So look for at least 90 plus catches, 1,400 yards and 15 TDs.
2. Anquan Boldin
Boldin was the other half of the Cards dynamic duo. Although he missed four games due to injury, he still finished with 89 catches, for 1,038 yards and 11 TDs.
Although he’s been bickering about getting a new deal or being dealt all offseason, it appears that he’ll be back in Arizona in 2009. If he is, look for another 80-90 catch season, with 1,200 yards with double-digit TDs.
3. T.J. Houshmandzadeh
After years of playing second fiddle to Chad Johnson, Housh has moved on to become the number one guy in Seattle. And after totaling 92 catches for 904 yards and four TDs in ‘08, mostly playing with backup Ryan Fitzpatrick, look for him to improve those numbers in ‘09 as Matt Hasselback will be throwing him the football.
I like him to break the 1,000 yard mark and increase his TDs to eight.
4. Donnie Avery
Although playing for a team devoid of passion last season, Avery burst onto the scene and caught 53 balls, for 674 yards and four TDs (one rushing) as a rookie. And this year, future HOF WR Torry Holt is no longer there.
With a healthy Marc Bulger lining up under center, look for Avery, and his blazing speed, to take a big step forward and eclipse the 1,000 yard mark with at least seven TDs. A fantasy sleeper with a lot of upside.
5. Steve Breaston
After catching only eight balls as a rookie, Breaston came out of nowhere in year two and grabbed 77 balls for 1,006 yards, with a majority of those catches and yards coming when Boldin was hurt. While a drop off in production is likely, he should still be a big part of the offense and capitalize in the short to medium range passing game.
And if the Cards do move Boldin, Breaston’s fantasy upside is even greater.
Sleeper – Josh Morgan
Morgan was a real bright spot for the 49ers in the 2008 training camp. And during the season, he showed some of that potential scoring three TDs on just 20 catches. Heading into this year, with the addition of Michael Crabtree and a new offensive coordinator, the Niners have more pieces in place to score points, and we like Morgan to be a guy who steps up and produces a 60 catch season, with over 800 yards and six TDs.
Fitzgerald is a late first round pick and should be the first receiver off the board. Boldin won’t last past round two, while TJ should go between rounds three and four. Avery is a good pick between round’s five through seven, while Breaston and Morgan will be provide value and depth from round’s eight and on.