Monday, July 6, 2009

Two sleeper WRs to watch closely in camp

Every season, a couple of WRs come out of nowhere to have outstanding seasons (Antonio Bryant, anyone?). The shrewd owners who drafted them late, or snared them early in free agency, get to profit from WR1 or WR2 production for the price of a kicker.

While it's still early on -- training camps haven't even opened, for Pete's sake -- it's not too soon to start identifying players in a position to break out in 2009. Today I offer two intriguing candidates for your consideration: Pierre Garcon and Chris Henry.

Garcon, a second-year player with the Colts, is coming off a rookie season in which he caught just four passes for 23 yards. So he's not exactly top-of-mind in fantasy circles. But perhaps he should be. Now that Marvin Harrison is gone, a starting gig is available in Peyton Manning's receiving corps (reason enough to pay attention). Anthony Gonzalez is on everyone's radar, but he could very well remain in his familiar role as the slot receiver, leaving the outside flanker spot to either Garcon or promising rookie Austin Collie. Garcon is big (6'0", 210 lbs), sure-handed and quick, but Collie has a reputation for catching everything near him. Still, Michael Lombardi of the National Football Post has dubbed Garcon "the new Marvin Harrison." The WR3 in Indy deserves a place on your roster. Right now, it looks like Garcon's job to lose.

A few miles east, the Bengals are acting like a team that thinks it can compete for a division title again. While the Steelers and Ravens might have something to say about that, it's not a huge stretch to believe that a healthy Carson Palmer could re-energize the offensive side of the ball. Here too, the lineup has changed. TJ Houshmandzadeh is out; Laveranues Coles is in. And lurking in the shadows is the lanky, lightning-fast, legally challenged Henry, who has tantalized Bengals fans and fantasy players alike over the years with his game-breaking talent. But he just can't seem to stay out of trouble off the field. So far in 2009, everything is hunky dory, and Palmer has been praising Henry all offseason. While most assume Henry is a lock in the No. 3 role, the fifth-year speedster is actually challenging Coles for the WR2 position. Either way, he's always a long-ball threat, and his leaping ability makes him an outstanding red-zone target.

Stash Garcon and Henry in your sleeper file, and keep an eye on them throughout training camp and the preseason. One, or both, could prove to be late-round gold.

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