. One thing that struck me was the section on the size of the slot WR in the WCO:
In the case of the Buccaneers, Joe Jurevicius is the slot receiver, and he is a larger wideout who does not possess game breaking speed. He has good short area quickness and could, in the case of injury, replace either Keyshawn Johnson or Keenan McCardell. Thus its important to remember that players are cogs in the WCO system, and receivers are less specialized and more interchangeable than on a team like the Rams where the slot receiver is a small burner who is meant to exploit nickel- and dime backs.
Now this may be an evolution of the position as it was deemed to be one in which a team would search for the players to fit the positions and at times that would be the mismatch of a quicker smaller receiver (slot receiver) facing a slower defender - usually a safety built like a linebacker. However, with the advent of complex defenses that often use multiple DBs (nickel backs) to counter the slot receiver, fast is nice, but more importantly quick and physical receivers have been key at the slot position.
WCOs still do use some smaller slot receivers. Philadelphia will use Freddie Mitchell (5'1", 184 lbs) in the slot, and he certainly isn't today's prototypical size of a player at his position. Az-Zahir Hakim is not an ideal fit in the WCO, but he'll be put into the Lions version of it again this year. Beware. Generally, though, WCO offenses favor good short area receivers over smurf receivers. Slot receivers in the WCO are on the field a lot and therefore can see a fair number of touches (30-50 catches, 4-6 TDs per year is a maximum). Some can be as productive as a less prolific team's No. 2 receiver. However, for fantasy owners, a slot receiver does pose limitations in opportunities when compared to an every down receiver.
I remember listening to a local radio show a few years ago (during the '02 or '03 season
) hosted by Raider WR Tim Brown. A caller asked him what he thought of the Lions (who as we know were strugleing) Of the several comments he made, the one that stuck with me was the one he had on Hakim. "Name a small WR who's playing slot in a WCO right now and thriveing." he said. I thought about it and couldn't. I'm not saying a smaller guy can never play slot in the WCO. Just that Brown's comment stuck in the back of my mind and I think there may be some truth to it.
I've often thought that Hakim should be more productive than he's been. I know many of us blame it on dropped passes and poor QB play. Could it be he's just a bad fit?