Carroll: Offseason Outlook for WRs

Updated: February 28, 2007, 4:18 PM ET
By Will Carroll | ESPN.com
Listening to coaches all weekend did a couple things for me. First, I'm all stocked up on new clichés. Everyone's in great shape, working hard, coming back from injury, excited, a valuable part of the team, somebody we're going to miss, a starter for any team, someone who we're hoping will compete in minicamp, a quality individual or something that has to be addressed. We'll know who the winners and the losers of this weekend's event are eventually. The combine is more of a first step these days with many waiting for their pro day to really work out. Secondly, I'm glad I'm on this side of the podium. I'll let the rest of the ESPN crew sort out who goes where, but I know that I didn't see anyone out there that looked like a fantasy stud. JaMarcus Russell was a bit soft to be the next Vince Young, while Brady Quinn's upside is Matt Leinart and how many of you drafted him high last year? Adrian Peterson would be in this column regularly if I covered college football and that's the worry of many people that have watched him play - that he can't stay healthy.

So instead we move to the returning wide receivers. Because there are so many, we'll do half this week and half next week. There's no real method - I made a list of keepers and took the evens this week. WRs are the sports cars of the NFL, very tightly wound and liable to have problems at the extremities. These days, it seems that wide receiver is too broad a description. We have "hands" WRs and "speed" WR. The possession guys with big bodies, work in some offenses while those speed guys work almost anywhere, as long as they can keep their hamstrings from coming unstrung. How they play, or rather how they're expected to play, factors into how they're affected by injury, so keep a close eye on this. I fully expect this type of specialization to continue to crystallize over the next couple years.

Steve Smith - Is it a positive that he overcame the early season hamstring trouble to have a good season or is it a negative that he had the hamstring issues at all? Smith gets the positives and the negatives here, plus another year of age. Speed receivers with a history of leg problems don't age well. I'm not sure if 2007 is the year he loses that step, but it's coming.


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Will Carroll | email

ESPN Fantasy Games
Will Carroll writes two injury columns per week relating to fantasy football for ESPN.com. Carroll can also be seen on The Fantasy Show Thursdays at 6:30 p.m. ET on ESPN2. He also writes baseball injury articles on www.baseballprospectus.com.

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