With Marvin Harrison no longer in Indianapolis, there’s a laundry list of players who will likely benefit. Dallas Clark will get a chance to be a larger part of the offense. Reggie Wayne has clearly taken over the reigns as the top receiver (though you could argue that he already had done that).
Third-year receiver Anthony Gonzalez, however, may be the biggest beneficiary of all. He’s been a third receiver for the past two seasons, developing a rapport with Peyton Manning and growing into his role with the team. He’s shown good progress:
- 2007: 37 catches, 576 yards, 3 TD
- 2008: 57 catches, 664 yards, 4 TD
Harrison’s 60 catches and 5 TD in 2008 have to go to someone, and while one receiver is not going to be the sole replacement, Gonzalez could see the lion’s share of those. Wayne already had 82 catches last season. Clark had 77.
The only other players on this team who reached double-digit receptions were Dominic Rhodes (45), Joseph Addai (25), Gijon Robinson (19) and Tom Santi (10). You would have thought that they would’ve drafted a receiver early on in the 2009 draft to help offset Harrison’s loss, but the first one they took was Austin Collie in the fourth round (127th overall). Either they have a lot of faith in one of the other players on their roster, or Gonzalez is likely to see a huge boost in value.
I’d vote the latter, considering he is going to step into a starting role on the team. There’s no chance that the team shies away from the pass with an All-World Quarterback at the helm.
He’s currently being drafted 52nd overall, on average, the twentieth wide receiver off the board. While he’s the second receiver on his team, he has the chance to emerge as a top option for fantasy owners in that offense. Draft him with confidence if he’s still available in Round 5 of your draft.