Fast recovery has Welker's value on rise

Updated: June 8, 2010, 4:22 PM ET
By Eric Karabell
As I updated my 2010 rankings recently, it felt weird to give the steady Wes Welker a No. 50 rank among wide receivers. Granted, rankings are always subject to change; Welker could easily move up. But based on what we know about his recovery from a torn ACL and that Welker wrecked his left knee not early last regular season but in the January finale, there's certainly reason for skepticism about the plucky New England Patriots overachiever being ready as soon as Week 1 in September.

Then again, there was Welker out on the field last week during the team's organized team activities running, cutting, frolicking and looking much like the guy fantasy owners have grown to know and love. A few weeks earlier, ESPNBoston.com's Mike Reiss took part in a Q&A with Welker about the speed of his recovery, and everything seemed positive. In good times, Welker is a borderline top-10 wide receiver, a durable catch monster with special value in point-per-reception formats but still darned valuable in standard leagues. I ranked him 50th with some trepidation, assuming, like my colleagues, that he won't get on the field until October at the earliest.