Category Archives: Preseason

2014:Random thoughts: Fantasy uncertainty – FA Week 3

All these situations are very fluid as you all know.  Between, the remaining FA, trades and the Draft, things can change in an instant, weakness become strengths.   However, at this point, this is how we see it…

WR’s

Who is catching passes in Carolina?   Beats me.  Beats the Panthers.  As of press time today, the biggest FA that has been signed is Jericho Cotchery.  Let that sink in.   Brandon LaFell is in New England.  Steve Smith has been jettisoned and is now in Balitmore.  Ted Ginn, who had a resurgence last year with the team, was left to test the market and landed in Arizona.   Now I am sure there is some sort of contingency plan in Carolina, but legitimate options are getting slim.  How is Jason Avant not on speed dial?  I mean, fantasy implications aside, he is one of the best slot WR’s in the league and could be a great addition and safety blanket for Cam.  Sidney Rice?  Miles Austin?  Trade for DeSean Jackson?

With Miles Austin still on the FA market and set to not return, look for Terrance Williams to have an increased role.  The salary cap is tight in Dallas.  Only WR’s willing to accept the veteran minimum are options here.

The #2 receiver role in Cleveland, KC, NYJ, Pittsburgh, Jacksonville are still very much up in the air.  In Pittsburgh, Markus Wheaton could be the man to replace Emmanuel Sanders.  Mike Brown might be the guy in Jacksonville with Justin Blackmon suspended indefinitely.  Jeremey Kerley is looking like the #2 WR on the Jets with Stephan Hill in the doghouse.  Greg Little and Donnie Avery are not going to cut as #2’s  in Cleveland and KC respectively.  I could easily see all of these teams drafting at least one WR in a deep WR draft.

Where is DeSean Jackson going to end up?  According to ESPN’s Sal Palantonio, “Jackson’s act has worn thing with Chip Kelly”  A big cap number presents an interesting situation in the city of brotherly love.  If I am Carolina, the Jets, KC or Oakland, I am definitely asking about this guy.

Since the draft is so deep at WR this year,  I  could see some of the older veteran WR’s being signed after the draft.   It would be prudent for teams to try and address needs via the draft and fill in the holes afterwards.   This not only financially beneficial, but it keeps the team young and, in most cases, they retain the rookies rights longer.

RB’s

Chris Johnson- He is being paid way more than his production is worth and is on the trade block.  I don’t think anything happens until after the draft.  I know that fantasy players don’t want to hear this, but I think he will be most effective in a time share situation regardless of where he goes.

Latavious Murray – I really can’t believe that McFadden came back to the Raiders.  He took a very modest one year deal.   He has to prove he can stay healthy.   If Murray can impress in training camp, he could secure the #2 RB role in Oakland and be a very valuable handcuff moving forward.  That, however, is a long ways off.

Maurice Jones Drew- MJD wants more money than the market is willing to bare at this point.  I  have read that he wants 3.5 mill. a year.   I still think he can be an effective player.  Like most players at this point in their career, his situation will have a greater bearing on his value than his skill level.

Giants RB situation – Well, this is an interesting mishmash of players.  Rashad Jennings was signed in FA, played well for the Raiders down the stretch last year, but has been nondescript for much of his career. The Giants still have David Wilson  who is coming off of neck surgery his value and career is up in the air. They also resigned Peyton Hillis. Picking up another RB in the draft would not surprise me at all.   Training camp will be needed to sort this mess out.

Jags back up? – This situation really surprised me.  I did not see Toby Gerhart going there.  As of now Jordan Toddman and Denard Robinson are the top backups.   I cant see the Jags going to the season with such shallow depth.  keep and eye here for opportunity.

Muddled in Phily? – McCoy, the newly traded for Sproles, Chris Polk and Bryce Brown combine for a muddled situation in Phily.  McCoy is one of the best players in the league, but i can see Sproles cutting into some of McCoy’s touches. The back up situation is anyones guess at this point.  If McCoy was to go down, his back up, at this point, is non-defined.  McCoy is still the man, but with four quality backs, his touches could be curtailed.  Good news for McCoy’s career and bad news for fantasy owners.

Back ups in Chicago and in Minnesota – Both teams have top-level starters and both teams have let their back-ups go.  These are handcuff situations to monitor.  Dynasty leagues wise, I would pay attention to what both do in the draft here.

Stefan Taylor Vs Jonathan Dwyer – Who is the power back that replaces Rashard Mendenhall who retired this off season?  These are the two candidates.  Keep taps on this situation throughout the offseason as the winner could garner 10-15 touches once the season picks up.

QB’s

Cleveland – After missing out on Matt Schaub, the Browns seems destine to be drafting a QB early.  Brian Hoyer is the only legitimate QB on the roster.  He played well for the few games he was in last year, but is coming off of a torn ACL.   I could really see them brining in another vet at some point to help fortify a questionable position.

Jacksonville – Believe it or not, there are several scenarios where the Jaguars don’t draft a QB in the first round.  Chad Henne is not a world beater, we know this. The Jaguars brass knows this and will not reach for a QB when the team still has needs all over the place.  Henne is adequate enough for the WR’s of Jacksonville to be draftable at this point in the offseason.

-Ron

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What we learned from Preseason 2013

As the real games get ready to kickoff and your fantasy drafts are completed, it’s easy to quickly close the book on yet another preseason.  To fantasy owners the consternation shifts from hoping that 12th round “sleeper” pick is really available in the 12th round to which WR or RB is best for my flex play?

We’ll have plenty of articles (and a few podcasts) here during the season about who to start or who to add in your leagues.  Understand,  however that before we get there we need to have a grasp of some of the preseason.   The “next man up” from your league’s waiver wire, or from your own team’s bench (if you drafted well)  is formed in the preseason.  So here’s a review of what went down this last month or so….

Things we Know

1.) The Eagles will move the football.  I don’t know how many wins they’ll get, or how many games QB Michael Vick will be healthy for, but overall you have to think they’ll be plenty of productive Eagles in fantasy football this year.  Guys like Vick,  RB LeSean McCoy, and WR Desean Jackson may seem like obvious plays, but as the season goes on and the roles of Chip Kelly’s offense become more defined you may see players like TE Brent Celek, WR Jason Avant, and RB Chris Polk (potential goaline work) emerge as weekly plays. The truth is no one puts their whole playbook on display in the preseason – but the Eagles philosophy was clear in each of their games.  I’m attaching the nickname “pace and space” to it, and I think there will be several Eagles who can help out your fantasy team this season.

2.) The Raiders OL is going to cap fantasy production.  Sure they have some guys hurt who could return during the season, but right now they are selecting their QB because he can run – not so much run as a weapon – but run from the unblocked pass rush.  It is possible that QB Terrell Pryor has some useful fantasy weeks as he breaks off some long runs in garbage time of games the Raiders are behind, but good luck predicting when those will happen.  The guy is throwing jump passes whenever I see him – this is not a successful NFL formula.  Guys like WR Denarius Moore, WR Rod Streater, and WR Bryce  Butler (a rookie with a very nice preseason) could all be weekly teases as well.  The weak offensive line is going to make most of the Raiders struggle this season – and I would advocate looking to deal them after they have big fantasy weeks to owners with short term memories.

Particularly valuable in this regard would be RB Darren McFadden.  I love McFadden and early in the preaseaon was very happy to take a shot on him as a RB2 with stud potential.   But that has changed, and the more I see from Oakland – the OL, the jump pass QB,  the coach not revealing the jump pass QB is officially his week 1 starter for “competitive advantage”…it screams trouble.  So if McFadden has a good game here and there, or hopefully 2 in a row – it might be good to find an owner in your league who still believes in him.  They’ll be one, there always is – and then maybe you can work out a deal for a more consistent player.

3. The Giants don’t currently have a NFL quality backup RB on their roster.  This is one to watch, because of the injury to RB Andre Brown.  Brown who’ll be out at least 8 weeks, was going to play a key part in absorbing touches this year that the Giants didn’t want starter RB David Wilson to carry.  I think the Giants feel Wilson is good for about 15-20 touches a week – he won’t be a grinder and they need to keep him fresh all season.  The current next men up on the Giants are RB’s Da’rel Scott and Michael Cox – a very inexperienced duo.  Personally I like Cox, but I just can’t see the Giants making him a part of the plan – as a playoff contender they’ll want a steadier option.

So, it’s very likely that your league’s 1st waiver feeding frenzy will be for whomever the Giants sign in Week 2 at RB.  In the NFL, if you sign a guy after week 1 the contract you give them no longer becomes guaranteed for the year.  This makes it easier for teams to take chances on veteran players: The Giants could bring in RB Michael Turner or RB Willis McGahee – or lesser talent guys that have experience in their system like RB Tim Hightower or Brandon Jacobs.

As for whether it’ll be worth it for you to get caught up in this frenzy – well it depends on who the Giants sign.  I mean we’ll be talking about a part time job, for only part time – but if it’s a more talented player it could be an indication that Brown’s injury history (he broke the same leg last season) has worried the Giants  enough that his replacement could stick with the team even after Brown returns.

4.) Youth should be served at WR – this rookie class wasn’t very top heavy with super elite talent.  What it did have however was useful NFL depth WR’s for 2013, which makes them useful border fantasy starters.  DeAndre Hopkins, Kenny Stills, Quinton Patton, Robert Woods, Marcus Wheaton, Kenbrell Thompkins , and Cordarrelle Patterson  are the ones I like best.  All of them are worth monitoring to some degree b/c many of them can be found on your average league’s waiver wire.

The noticeable absence of WR Tavon Austin and WR Keenan Allen may raise some eyebrows here….but it’s likely Austin was drafted in your league, and if you did it you likely don’t want to hear me rail against him again.   Allen is a mix of bad situation and brittle body – he may produce in 2013, but it’s likely that you’ll have to put up with a lot of bad weeks of having him rostered – as opposed to being able to add a guy from the above group as solid depth.

What we don’t know

1.) The Denver running game.  If you were hoping the preseason was going to sort this one out, it may have just made things a lot worse.  Oddly enough I think the guy best suited to the gig is RB Knowshon Moreno, but the Broncos seemed to have passed on him awhile ago.  The current “starter” Ronnie Hillman I don’t think is a full time RB, and rookie Montee Ball is a guy of average talent.

To make things completely insane the latest reports out of Denver is that they may rotate these guys in and out series-by-series.   Fantasy owners if you’re looking for one trend to root against with all your might, root against this one – because if this works and becomes a NFL strategy, fantasy football will become impossible.

2.) The Steelers running game Le’veon Bell was drafted so he could be the bellcow 25 carry guy.  He got hurt in camp, then he got hurt 4 plays into his 1st preseason game.  So the Steelers went out and made a semi-surprise Jonathan Dwyer cut (he was their leading rusher last year), and instead went out and picked up Felix Jones (Jones had been cut from Philly).

Jones was a hot name for a few minutes, until it looked like the Steelers had settled on slightly banged up RB Isaac Redman to be atop their depth chart.   It’s a little bit of a mess at this point. Head coach Mike Tomlin has said that they don’t plan on using a running back committee (yay for the oldschool!) and the starter will get 25-30 carries.

But it’s far from clear that Redman is worth a fantasy investment.  For one thing, his injury history is bad- even currently he’s got a pinched nerve.  Then there are the reports that Le’veon Bell is trying to come back in week 2 or 3, which would certainly pose a threat to Redman’s job.  And the capper to these concerns is that the Pittsburgh offensive line has looked terrible in preseason.  Not quite Raiders terrible mind you, but not all that much above it.

I think for now you have to hold whatever cards you have in this game.  If you drafted Bell, you should still feel ok with that- albeit discouraged by injury. If you own Redman start him while you can, and trade him if Bell overtakes him to the Bell owner.  If Redman is on the waiver he’s worth an add based on potential.  Felix Jones is worth an add only if the end of your bench is very weak, and becomes a cut if Bell comes back and he hasn’t surpassed Redman on the depth chart.

3.) The Patriots passing game.  There are some things we do know about this situation QB Tom Brady will be fine.  Maybe, maybe, not super elite in fantasy – but right in that top 5 conversation.  And to do it he’ll get WR Danny Amendola and TE Rob Gronkowski (when he returns from injury) plenty of looks.

Beyond that though, there’s some pretty interesting scenarios.  Most popular is the 2 TE “Patriot Way” idea with rookie TE Zac Sudfeld.  Sudfeld is a large target at 6’7, but they seem to want to use him as the “move” TE to replace Aaron Hernandez.   And this is the plan for him I think from week 1, even without Gronkowski there – which is a little odd to me.   Sudfeld is slower than Hernandez,  and hasn’t demonstrated that he has the same hands (a fumble in preseason temporarily got him benched) – so I wonder if this “move TE” thing is a fit or if it’s a force b/c they’ll have nowhere else to put him when Gronkowski returns.   Sudfeld’s got a lot of hype in fantasy leagues right now, and I think he’ll be a productive player – but you really can’t say whether you’re going to get a guy who’s borderline top 5 at the position (like Hernandez) or borderline top 12 – making him a fringe ffl starter.

Ironically, the rookie Sudfeld might get more looks because of all the rookies at WR vying for time on the outside.   WR Aaron Dobson, Josh Boyce, and Kenbrell Thompkins were all brought in this offseason to contend for playing time.   Right now the winner of the preseason appears to be undrafted FA  Thompkins.  Thompkins targets remain to be determined – Brady has had players on the outside before like Deion Branch, and David Givens who were much better actual football players than fantasy producers, and it’s unknown if any of these rookies can get in-sync enough to be Brady’s 1st read – with all the plays undoubtedly that will be scripted for Amendola, Gronk, and Sudfeld.

Another wildcard is RB Shane Vereen who could take over a good portion of the Pats’ short passing game on screens and passes to the flat.  Vereen is a very talented player and probably worth a flex play in your fantasy lineup.

So there are  a lot of mouths to feed, and several Patriots could be fantasy factors in 2013, being patient and taking chances on a few of them despite week to week inconsistencies may be the best strategy.

 

:by Mike

 

The Dust is Starting to Settle

We will have more detailed analysis of all the roster cuts around Tuesday.   The rosters on most teams will continue to churn until about Tuesday or so.  Most teams install their game plans on Wednesday for that Sundays game.  All roster moves should be complete before then.

-Ron

Preseason 2013 Week #4: Final Cuts – Notes and Nuggets

Preseason Week 4:

Things to look for tonight

• Injuries!!! Its way easier to pick up an undrafted back up now than when the season starts this is essential
o Pay attention to any backups that go down. That 3rd stringer could     become fantasy relevant

• A good majority of the players that get extended playing time tonight usually fall into one of two categories. This is far from absolute, but it can give you an idea

o Coming back from injury and need a week to get some work
o Fighting for a roster spot

• Pay attention to position battles. This game could very well decide the back 5 to 10 roster spots on the final 53.
• Special teams play is essential for most non-starters to make the team. Many great players have cut their teeth here.
• The teams loaded with talent, Seattle, San Fran, Cincinnati, Green Bay, etc… will have several of their 75 to 53 cut players signed elsewhere. Monitor these; you never know when a backup will be a starter down the road.
• Expect a few low level trades for players. Some teams won’t want to wait for a players release and want to secure the player so they don’t hit the open market.
 o Chris Harper 2013 4th round pick of the Seahawks might fall into this category. He might not make the team, but still has shown good potential.
• Cuts like this are agonizing for teams. Wasting a resource (4th round pick) and having the possibility of him being a cut is a real bind. Some teams will cut the better player because of the resource allocation.
Additional notes
• Just because they make the final 53 man roster does not mean they will be on the roster past week 1.
o Veteran’s salaries are guaranteed when signed prior to week 1. Most teams will sign vets after this to avoid guaranteeing the salary. Doing this means one of the players on the back end of the final 53 will get cut.
•Pay attention to who gets signed to the practice squad. Many successful NFL players have spent time here.

 

-Ron

2013 Preseason Week 3: Vikings at 49ers

49ers

  • Colin Kaepernick looked ready to go in this one.  Sure he has less than a season’s worth of starts under his belt, but from what I saw in this game, he looks ready for another successful season.  The only thing I can see holding him back is a lack of weapons on the outside
  • Rookie WR Quinton Patton saw his first playing time of the year and looked like he will be a contributor early this season.  With the lack of weapons in the 49ers passing game, he could be a great late round pick or waiver wire gem. High dynasty and keeper value
  • Though I have a few reservations about the 49ers’ secondary, they look to be an elite defensive unit again this year. Justin Smith, the key to the defense, looked like a honey badger.   He did what he wanted to opposing linemen.   They have one of the best front 7’s in the league.
  • I am not sure why Kendall Hunter is slipping in most drafts.  He is clearly the second best back on this team.   He has great vision and acceleration.  He can be had late in most drafts or as a waiver wire pick up.
  • Former 1st round pick Jonathan Baldwin caught 2 passes for 23 yards.   Maybe he catches on here.  I don’t believe he can contribute much on special teams, so he will have to win a WR job outright.  Little fantasy impact here.

Vikings

  • Christian Ponder hasn’t had the best preseason. That isn’t hard to tell.  However, without all-world RB Adrian Peterson in the backfield, it’s hard to get a read on the offense as a whole because he changes defensive schemes that much.
  • Rookie Cordarrelle Patterson looks like he will be pretty involved in the offense this year.  I would expect his role to grow as the season progresses.   Late round / waiver wire flyer on this guy for now.  Huge upside in dynasty and keeper leagues.
  • Matt Cassel didn’t look very sharp in relief of Ponder.   I’m not sure if there is much of a difference between the two Qb’s aside from Ponders upside.
  • Toby Gerhart does not excite me as a backup to A.P.  He has been productive in the past, but please don’t draft his handcuff too high.   His only value is as a handcuff to A.P.and nothing more.

-Ron

2013 Preseason Week 3: Saints at Texans

Saints

  • Pierre Thomas looked solid in this game.  He started the game and had a long catch and run on a check down.  He may be the defacto starter in this RBBC
  • Nick Toon looks the part at WR.  I am not sure he will be a huge part of the offense, but he will make the roster
  • WR Kenny Stills looks like a 5th round steal.  He beat Jonathan Joseph to the post on a with a great corner move for a TD and made a great catch on a long pass in the second quarter.  He is a player and can be had late in most redraft leagues
  • RB Mark Ingram looks noticeably slimmer and faster.  He will never be a shifty back, but he does look quicker than in the past.  If he gets goal line carries, he could be a factor as a RB3.
  • Lance Moore is always under rated. He always produces and gets more TD chances than most WR’s his size.

Texans

  • Matt Schaub had a good game, but the man is a statue in the pocket.  No mobility whatsoever.
  • Andre Johnson looked healthy.  I think the speculation of his decline might wait another year.  I’m not saying he will put up the number he did last year, but he will not fall off the map.
  • Ben Tate will be able to carry the load if Foster gets hurt.   He looked decisive and quick.  He also took the ugly 3 to 4 yards given to him instead of dancing around.  Showed  patience.
  • Kicker Bullock has a big leg.  Nailed a 55 yarder.
  • DeAndre Hopkins did not play as he recovers from his concussion.

Ron

Preseason Notes

Random Sleeper Notes

  • San Diego TE- Ladarius Green will have a sizable role in the offense.  I like him as a player and his situation.   There are not a lot of weapons on that team
  • Denver TE – Julius Thomas has some potential, but I like him less because of his situation.  There are a lot of mouths to feed in that Denver offense.  Definitely a player to watch.
  • Seattle WR – Stephen Williams.  He is one to monitor on the waiver wire.  Pete Carroll has never been shy on giving guys a chance.  He could be the deep threat Seattle has been looking for.  I would monitor him in deep redraft leagues and dynasty leagues.
  • Assuming Gabbert Plays well, I think the Jaguars offense will be better than most think in 2013.  Keep an eye to the waiver wire for MJD’s backup.  Either Jordan Toddman or Justin Forsett.   At this point in his career you can’t assume health with MJD
  • Kenjon Barner RB Carolina is a rookie out of Oregon, maybe worth a dynasty stash.  Williams, Stewart as well as the coaching staff could be on the outs in Carolina if they play poorly this year.

Random Team Notes

  • Don’t get too crazed watching the Minnesota offense.   Without AP in the backfield in the preseason defenses aren’t paying attention to the run at all.    They won’t be world beaters, but they won’t be as bad as they have looked thus far.
  • Carolina first string offense hasn’t played very well this preseason.   This concerns me more than some of the other offenses that are struggling.

-Ron