Holt not done yet, should improve upon '08

April, 21, 2009

Torry HoltAP Photo/Tom GannamTorry Holt posted at least 81 catches and 1,188 yards from 2000 to 2007.
For years, Torry Holt was one of the most consistent wide receivers in the NFL, a reliable touchdown maker and 1,000-yard producer who was, quite obviously, very popular in fantasy football. Of course, advancing age and one down season have changed our perception of Holt, and now he's joining a new team, agreeing to a three-year deal with the Jacksonville Jaguars. I wouldn't call Holt done, but rather someone fantasy owners should be able to count on in 2009. We just can't count on his normal numbers.

As bad as the 2008 season was for Holt and the lowly St. Louis Rams, he still managed to catch 64 passes for 796 yards. No, these weren't the Hall of Fame numbers we had become accustomed to seeing, but Holt wasn't Freddie Mitchell, either. He got caught up in a bad situation in St. Louis, as quarterback Marc Bulger often had little time to throw and often little inclination to look at the double-covered Holt when he did. Plus, Holt didn't always look so motivated to get deep and make big plays, as he supposedly battled a knee injury.

Joining the Jaguars certainly makes Holt relevant, but let's be clear about two factors: Holt will be 33 this summer, and the Jaguars are an obvious running team. Not since the days of Jimmy Smith has this franchise supplied fantasy owners with a truly productive wide receiving option. The defection of running back Fred Taylor wasn't going to change the team's run-first philosophy, but rather turn Maurice Jones-Drew into a superstar. Now the Jaguars can really test defenses, even with Holt a step slower than he used to be.

Nobody has mistaken quarterback David Garrard with Peyton Manning, but assuming Holt has something left in the tank -- I certainly think he does -- this makes everyone on the offense a bit more dangerous. Holt was selected in most 2008 ESPN standard leagues as a top-10 wide receiver, and finished No. 41 at the position in fantasy points, so that's the last image of him. In the prior two seasons, he also provided precisely 93 receptions for 1,188 and 1,189 yards, with 17 total touchdowns. Yes, it's natural to expect decline, but he's not done.

I wouldn't call Holt a safe, top-20 wide receiver at this point, but would slot him in the 25-30 range along with Santana Moss, Hines Ward, Chad Ochocinco and other veteran types who could deliver one last 1,000-yard campaign and around six touchdowns. There's definite value in that, especially if most in your league assume Holt is done. Then again, if someone drafts off name value, Holt could also become overrated.

Garrard's value gets a small boost, since he didn't have very much at wide receiver in 2008, and still managed four 20-point fantasy games and finished No. 10 in fantasy points at quarterback. The Jaguars now have a proven deep threat -- or at least the perception of one -- to stretch defenses, aiding Garrard. I was calling him the No. 13 quarterback for 2009 draft day, just behind Ben Roethlisberger and Matt Ryan and a spot ahead of Donovan McNabb. I'm not adjusting this ranking yet. It was pretty good to start with, even with Dennis Northcutt, Mike Walker and Troy Williamson as the top wide receivers. Matt Jones and Jerry Porter are no longer with the team.

Similarly, there's not much to do about Jones-Drew's already pristine, likely top-five overall ranking. But adding Holt to the mix doesn't hurt him one bit. All in all, adding Holt doesn't make the Jaguars the prohibitive AFC favorites, but it does make things more interesting on offense.

• Odd situation coming from the Cleveland Browns, as it's now being reported quarterback Derek Anderson did not have offseason knee surgery for a left MCL injury. The Browns have danced around this issue for months, but I'm not sure why. Anderson and Brady Quinn are expected to compete for the starting role, with the former boasting the memory of a 29-touchdown season in 2007, and the latter possessing the upside the franchise was searching for when it used a first-round pick to get him. I'm a bit skeptical either of these passers will turn into a statistical monster, though.

With Anderson, I'm probably going to assume -- fairly or not -- that his 2007 campaign was a bit of a fluke, and last season's inconsistency was more like it. Maybe his knee is healthy at this point, maybe not, but he was never the most accurate passer to start with, and his meteoric rise did come unannounced. Anderson has a stronger arm than Quinn, something new coach Eric Mangini reportedly finds the key characteristic, though it wouldn't surprise me if the veteran remained trade bait this summer.

Then again, Quinn could be on the move as well. Or he might stay and make this a true competition. Either way, the Browns could go in many directions with their offense. Jamal Lewis didn't look good in 2008, Braylon Edwards didn't look interested and the tight end spot is up for grabs after Kellen Winslow was moved to Tampa Bay. I don't rank either of the current Browns quarterbacks in my top 20 at the position.

Eric Karabell | email

ESPN Senior Writer



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