Receivers, kickers commodities for upcoming drafts

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    The wait is almost over. The NFL regular season is six days away, so prepare your speed dials for that Tuesday morning post-game smack talk.Last week, we looked at quarterbacks and running backs – the bread and butter of most fantasy teams. With passing games gaining consistency around the league, wide receivers are becoming as pivotal as ever in fantasy football.

    Ask anyone who had the good fortune to take advantage of Marques Colston as a tight end last year how important having a break out tight end can be to title hopes.

    Kickers? Well, they’re just free points if you choose the right one. So let’s go position by position and find out the game-breakers you need to know about this season.

    Wide Receivers:

    Lock – Marvin Harrison: For eight straight seasons, Harrison has tallied more than 1,000 receiving yards and 10-plus touchdowns starting every game along the way. And with the addition of Anthony Gonzalez in the slot, I do not see his production slowing down anytime soon.

    On the Edge – Terrell Owens: When you score 13 touchdowns and rack up 1,180 receiving yards in an “off-year,” you know you are good. Now that his finger and hamstring have healed up, not to mention the privilege of being addressed by name, look for him and his buddy Tony Romo to light it up again this year.

    Avoid – Calvin Johnson: Matt Millen’s plan to field a team of all wide receivers is close to completion. Unfortunately for Johnson, no matter how good his skills are, he’s still a rookie and behind the talented Roy Williams and Mike Furrey.

    Sleeper – Greg Jennings: Brett Favre targeted him early and often during his rookie season, but a high ankle sprain took him out of his stride. Jennings is healthy, and with only Donald Driver ahead of him on the depth chart, it is time for him take advantage of Favre’s arm and gunslinger attitude while he has it.

    Tight Ends:

    Lock – Antonio Gates: He is the premier pass-catching tight end in the NFL, and with the addition of offensive guru Norv Turner, look for his numbers to continue to rise.

    On the Edge – Randy McMichael: He was a fantasy stud once upon a time in Miami, but quarterback woes and legal troubles weighed him down. St. Louis’ dynamic offense and plethora of weapons may be just what McMichael needs for a fresh start and many happy owners.

    Avoid – Jerramy Stevens: Big mouth, small stats. Even a change of scenery won’t help save his career.

    Sleeper – Eric Johnson: When he was passed to in San Francisco he was good , and Sean Payton is King Midas when it comes to offensive players.

    Kickers:

    Lock – Adam Vinatieri: When people think Paris, they think Eiffel Tower. When people think field goals, they think Vinatieri.

    On the Edge – Robbie Gould: He came on quickly last year and is always a candidate to benefit from the Bears’ offense sputtering in the red zone. Can he keep up that same kind of pace he had last year?

    Avoid – Lawrence Tynes: He was the “it” guy in Kansas City, Mo., for a couple years, but a move to the swirling winds of the Meadowlands will no help his accuracy.

    Sleeper – Nick Folk: The Cowboys are looking for a consistent kicker, something they have not had for years, and Folk has been that through training camp and preseason. Now that Martin Gramatica is injured, Folk has the chance to be big in Big D.

    Season Premiere Preview:

    Indianapolis at New Orleans

    As a special extra this week, we are looking ahead to Thursday’s season opener to give some not-so-obvious matchups you will want to consider.

    This will be a high-powered offensive showdown so keep your defenses off the field and watch the skill positions.

    QB: Drew Brees (NO) has looked very sharp after being frustrated in the pre-season opener. He will spread the ball around and keep Indy’s defense off-balance.

    RB: The Colts, who struggled against the run last year, won’t have Anthony McFarland to stop the running game up the middle this year and they will have their hands full trying to defend the pass, Thursday. Deuce McAllister (NO) should enjoy the space up front and the elusive Reggie Bush (NO) will be everywhere, but mostly in the end zone.

    WR: Anthony Gonzalez (Ind.) could make a name for himself in his first pro game thanks to a shaky New Orleans pass defense that will be more than overwhelmed with Harrison and Reggie Wayne already on the field.

    TE: Dallas Clark (Ind.) should stay healthy at least for the opener and is always a good gamble since he’s got Peyton Manning throwing to him.