With three games remaining on the schedule, Welker's 2009 reception total is already 30th on the all-time single-season list. If he manages to catch another 10 passes in Week 15 – as he did last week, and the week before – then he'll move into a tie for ninth place in NFL history with two games left to play.
Not bad for a guy who actually missed two weeks due to injury early in the year. Welker has somehow caught 105 passes in just 11 games. Rookie Julian Edelman(notes), a seventh-round draft pick, hauled in 11 receptions in Welker's absence back in September. If you gave Wes credit for the catches made by a vastly inferior substitute, he'd now have 116. He'd be within reach of Marvin Harrison's(notes) single-season record of 143.
But it's not necessary to play the what-if game in order to appreciate the year Welker is having. He'll almost certainly finish with the second highest single-season catch total in league history. He's averaging 9.5 receptions per game and needs only 18 over the final three weeks to tie Herman Moore for second place at 123. He's on pace for 133 catches in only 14 games – and if Welker binges in Week 15, then Harrison's record might yet be in play.
We've paid lots of attention recently to what Randy Moss(notes) isn't doing – beating coverage, trying to beat coverage, pretending to try to beat coverage – but we need to start talking about Welker's historic year. He leads the NFL in both catches per game and receiving yards per game (105.3), and he's clearly having a dominant fantasy season.
Last Sunday, Patriots head coach Bill Belichick described Welker using the rhetoric of scrappiness...
"Wes, he's got a lot of heart. He's a heckuva football player. He shows up every day to work and I know he's been banged up but he fights through it, returns punts, catches the ball, blocks. He gives us into-the-corner-after-the-puck, too. He's not just scoring goals."
...but let's make sure we don't simply toss him on the Eckstein pile. Welker is phenomenally skilled and in the midst of an all-time campaign. Enjoy it. Hopefully you've invested in it in a point-per-reception format somewhere.
If not, then let's hope you avoid him in the playoffs.
(I have not managed to avoid facing Welker in the PPR playoffs. Thus I'm relying on the Second Law of Fantasy Dynamics, which states that an individual player's performance will decline in inverse proportion to praise from fantasy gurus. Here's hoping that works).
Photo via AP Images