As Sunday approaches, it becomes crunch time on who to start and who to sit. Well this week, the answer is not some big name receiver who you took in the 2nd round who isn’t producing (see: Dwayne Bowe, Marques Colston, or Michael Crabtree.) The options I’m proposing this week seem silly or far-fetched, but the following small time receivers should put your team in a position to win if you don’t have three bug studs at receiver or you’re in a four wide receiver league.
- Brandon Tate- This 6’0 195 pound receiver is now the down field threat for the New England Patriots since the Randy Moss trade. Granted, Tate’s frame and skill set do not even come close to that of Moss but Tate has the acceleration to get down field and he won’t have to worry about double coverage like Moss does. The biggest asset Tate brings though is in the return game. He has accumulated 605 return yards with two touchdowns so far and if your league rewards return yards, Tate is your guy.
- Deion Branch- With Moss gone, the Pats looked to an old face to become a stopgap for the pass offense. Branch only has 13 receptions and 1 touchdown this year but he never really did fit in with the ever-changing offensive philosophies in Seattle. Not to mention Branch had his best statistical years while he was with New England with a Super Bowl MVP Award to boot. Branch will instantly assimilate back into the New England offense. After all, it was Tom Brady who campaigned so fiercely for the Pats to retain Branch before he was traded to Seattle in 2006.
- Joshua Cribbs- Cribbs is another guy who get a lot of points front return yards but this week could be a huge breakout for the former Kent State QB. With both Jake Delhomme and Seneca Wallace looking like they won’t be able to play, rookie Colt McCoy will probably get the nod from Eric Mangini. However, with the reigns heavily put on McCoy, look for Cribbs to be conducting the Wildcat Formation more than a few times against the Pittsburgh defense so McCoy isn’t “thrown to the dogs”, so to speak. Cribbs is capable of scoring points through passing, rushing, receiving, and returning kicks. Look for him to be the entire Cleveland offense this week, as dreary as that may sound for Browns fans.
- Mike Wallace – Now this may seem like kind of a reach because of Wallace’s numbers so far. While 9 receptions for 211 yards and 2 touchdowns doesn’t seem worth noting, he did so while Dennis Dixon and Charlie Batch were taking snaps for the Steelers. Now that Big Ben is back under center, look for Wallace’s number to jump up significantly. As a rookie last year, Wallace brought in 39 receptions with 6 touchdowns. Pretty impressive stats for playing behind Hines Ward and Santonio Holmes. Wallace possesses outstanding speed and his route running is beginning to improve. Look for Roethlisberger to take a few shots down field to Wallace against a porous Cleveland defense.
As I stressed before, these may not be the biggest names in the league but they can mean the difference between winning and losing this week. Swallow your pride and bench the busts and begin thinking logically.
About the Author
Written by John Buffone
John was born in Rural Valley, Pennsylvania. He attended Clarion University and received a degree in Mass Media Arts and Journalism. He currently hosts "The Sports Zone with John Buffone" on AM 1380 WTYM in Kittanning, PA. John is also a sports columnist for the Kittanning Paper and a contributor to Examiner.com, and CatholicSportsJournal.com.