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Top wide receivers can make you a basket case

The guys at the top of the draft day wide receivers' list aren't necessarily the ones who can bring you a fantasy title.

Sure, Indianapolis' Marvin Harrison, St. Louis' Torry Holt and Arizona's Anquan Boldin are all having great seasons. But what about Oakland's Randy Moss, Dallas' Terrell Owens or Pittsburgh's Hines Ward? If you have one of them on your roster you probably burned a high draft choice and they aren't yielding as expected.

Receiver is the best position at which to find bargains in the middle and late rounds, even in supplemental drafts or through the waiver wire. There are several wideouts making their marks who weren't on every drafter's radar screen -- including these eight, listed alphabetically:

Hank Baskett, Eagles: His 87-yard scoring catch against the Cowboys in Week Five opened America's eyes to the All-Mountain West Conference performer from New Mexico. Philadelphia thought enough of the former MWC outdoor high jump champ to trade Billy McMullen, a four-year pro who had 18 catches last season, to the Vikings for Baskett. Anyone who saw the Eagles play in August knew they were high on this rookie.

Arnaz Battle, 49ers: Had the four-year pro from Notre Dame not missed six games because of a knee injury last season, he'd have been a lot higher on the preseason lists. His two scoring receptions against the Raiders in Week Five nearly duplicated last season's total of three. He's on a pace to blow away last year's career-best totals of 32 catches for 363 yards.

Bernard Berrian, Bears: It took him just five games to double his career touchdown reception total of two, achieved in 27 games during his first two seasons. Who would have predicted Chicago to become an offensive juggernaut this year under the leadership of quarterback Rex Grossman? However, there were signs for Berrian. Coming into this year, 25 percent of Berrian's catches had been for gains of 20 yards or more and six of his 28 catches in 2004-05 went for 34 yards or more.

Marques Colston, Saints: The 6-foot-4, 231-pound former tight end prospect from Hofstra sat out the 2004 season with a shoulder injury and was the 252nd pick in last April's draft, selected in the seventh round. But this deep sleeper scored four touchdowns in his first six NFL games, including an 86-yarder against the Panthers in Week Four. He's become one of New Orleans QB Drew Brees' go-to guys.

Jerricho Cotchery, Jets: His 45-yard reception against the Bills in last year's finale was a sign of good things to come for the third-year man from North Carolina State. Cotchery never started and didn't catch a TD pass during his first two years, covering 28 games. But he scored three times in the first four games this year -- all starts -- and is the clear No. 2 option for quarterback Chad Pennington behind Laveranues Coles.

Mike Furrey, Lions: Became the Rams' starting free safety after the fifth game of last season and led the team with four interceptions, including a 67-yarder for a TD. He caught 20 passes for 189 yards in the first of his three seasons in St. Louis before signing with Detroit as an unrestricted free agent. The Northern Iowa product, who caught the first two TD passes of his career in Week Four against the Rams, is quarterback Jon Kitna's No. 2 option behind Roy Williams.

Wes Welker, Dolphins: Primarily a punt return specialist before this season, the third-year pro from Texas Tech has at least four catches in all six games and is the team's leading receiver (33 catches for 355 yards) -- ahead of even Chris Chambers (2 6/2 7 0/3 TDs). The Daunte Culpepper/Joey Harrington quarterback carousel won't help any of the Miami receivers in the long run, however.

Reggie Williams, Jaguars: The third-year man from Washington had just one scoring catch among his 62 grabs in 2004-05 but has become quarterback Byron Leftwich's favorite target with 24 catches for 297 yards and four scores. It's no surprise to the Jags, who took him with the No. 9 overall pick of the 2004 draft. That's the highest the team has ever drafted a receiver. His 243 career catches in college rank him second in Pacific-10 Conference history behind the Arizona Cardinals' Troy Walters (USC).

e-mail: tborrelli@buffnews.com

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