Last season there were three wide receivers who came out of nowhere - I'm talking nowhere! - to become fantasy football stalwarts. These three WRs were likely the difference between making your league's fantasy playoffs and staying home. Once thing I like to do each off-season is look back at the previous season and try to figure why unexpected things happened. Who knows, maybe I can learn something.
First up is Jets WR Jerricho Cotchery. Cotchery was your typical 3rd year breakout WR, although many fantasy players missed him since he was only a 4th round draft pick in 2004. But Cotchery exploded onto the scene with 82 catches for 961 yards and 6 touchdowns.
Cotchery played all sixteen games last season, catching at least three passes in all but one of those games. Jets' #1 WR Laverneus Coles also played in all sixteen games and Cotchery had more receiving yards than Coles in half of those games. I find that to be an important stat. While Moss was busy fending off the opponents' best defender, Cotchery was busy catching the ball.
So how was Cotchery missed last season? The primary reason was the Jets quarterback situation. At fantasy football draft time, the QB situation was unsettled. Chad Pennington was coming back from yet another injury and journalists and coaches were raving about backup Kellen Clemons. Would the rookie Clemens be the starter? Would it be Pennington? And if it was Pennington, what were the odds that he'd be 100%? Or that he'd stay healthy? At the time, it looked like the Jets' passing game would be a mess. I thought it would be and I was wrong.
Another reason - and one related to the first one - was the huge improvement in the Jets' offensive line. After giving up 53 sacks for 347 yards in 2005, the number of sacks dropped to 34 sacks for only 199 yards. A lot of that should probably be credited to new coach - and 2006 AFC Coach of the Year -- Eric Mangini.
All of those factors are the same this year as well. Moss is still the #1 WR, Cotchery the #2. Pennington is secure as the starter, though there are still worries he'll get injured again. Every starter on the offensive line is back for 2007.
All signs point to another solid season for Cotchery. He should be a good low #2 or high #3 WR option on your fantasy team.