Will Dwayne Bowe remain a top-10 fantasy wide receiver this year?
Bowe was a first-round draft choice in 2007, and his 86-catch, 1,022-yard, seven-touchdown season in 2008 had fantasy owners salivating over his prospects entering his third season-often a benchmark year for wide receivers-in 2009.
But then Todd Haley arrived as coach, and Bowe found his way to the doghouse-and the bench. He sulked. His numbers slumped. Then, just when fantasy owners had given up on Bowe, Haley got through to his star pupil in 2010. His breakout season was one year delayed, but Bowe amassed 1,162 receiving yards and led the NFL with 15 touchdown catches. His year included a ridiculous seven-game stretch beginning with Week 5 in which he scored 13 times. That burst helped him rank second only to Brandon Lloyd in fantasy points among NFL wide receivers in 2010.
Now, last year's offensive coordinator, Charlie Weis, has moved on, and fantasy owners are left to guess again how that's going to affect Bowe. Conventional wisdom has it that Weis' departure will have an adverse effect on Bowe's numbers. But while Weis undoubtedly helped the Chiefs' offense reach unexpected heights last season, we'll argue that Haley has been the primary influence on Bowe.
History bears out Haley's touch. Keyshawn Johnson was a 1,000-yard receiver for the Jets in the late 1990s. Marty Booker set Bears' pass-catching records in the early 2000s. Arizona's Larry Fitzgerald blossomed into one of the NFL's premier wideouts later in the decade. Haley was an assistant coach in charge of the receivers and/or the passing game in all those places.
Bowe's 15 touchdowns in 2010 were exceeded only five times in the pass-happy 2000s, and just 16 times in NFL history. Asking for 15 touchdowns again, then, almost certainly is asking for too much. So Bowe's overall fantasy production likely will fall a bit in 2011. But he can fall from No. 2 in the NFL and still rank among the league's best.
Bottom Line: Our best guess is that Bowe remains a top-10 fantasy wide receiver this season.