The last breakout wide receiver I'm reviewing is Marques Colston. Unlike Cotchery and Furrey, this guy was a rookie. No experience. No name. Drafted in the seventh round out of Hofstra, he was the 29th of 30 wide receivers taken in the 2006 Draft. Completely overshadowed by another Saints rookie named Reggie something.
So of course he goes on to 70 catches for 1038 yards and 8 touchdowns.
Colston is a different situation for reasons other than his experience though. Cotchery and Furrey played all sixteen games along with their respective number one receivers. They were able to learn their roles and establish themselves in the offense. Colston only played 14 games, and of those games only played with Horn in eight games. He outgained Horn in four of those games, and was outgained by #3 WR Devery Henderson in two other games.
What I'm trying to say here is that Colston was all over the place. Without a doubt he had a great fantasy season -- he had some huge games including a three game run where he totaled 455 receiving yards and three touchdowns. But Colston was inconsistent and never seemed to find his place in the offense.
Here's a stat that I find significant: In games where Colston, Horn and Henderson were all playing, Colston's best day was four catches for 58 yards. Most weeks Colston seemed to be the target because he was the only guy there, not because the offense/quarterback was tailored to get him the ball.
Now the obvious response to this is: "Great!" Joe Horn has left the Saints and Colston takes over as the sole #1 WR in New Orleans. If he did well when he played the #1 role part time, then he should be fantastic as the #1 WR all this year. Maybe. And that brings up the final difference between Cotchery/Furrey and Colston.
Marques Colston has a different situation than he did last year which makes projecting him tougher. He's now the #1 target, drawing the top cornerback on opposing defenses. Devery Henderson seems like a solid #2 guy, but David Patten should be a poorer #3 than Henderson was last season. Opposing defenses should have less to worry about in 2007 than they had in 2006. Between the pressure of being the #1 WR and the possibility that Brees hit his ceiling last season, I think Colston's fantasy value will be lower than last season. I'm not going to go overboard on Colston based on last year's stats.