Category Archives: Denver Broncos

Post Draft Rookie Positional Rankings: WR

 

nfl-head-hitContinuing our way too soon rankings for you fantasy fans that can’t get enough, and you dynasty leaguers with deadlines to draft very soon.  We’ll tackle the clear marquis position from the 2014 draft:  The WR, lots of good value here – but who makes the best value, who makes the longest term contributions, who is ready to play right now?

Let’s take an initial look, put them in your input file, and let’s watch how they change over the course of the summer.

1.) Mike Evans – Buccaneers – Remember because these are early rankings without having seen this play out, my rankings are heavily influenced by who has the longest term value as a fantasy player over their career.   Evans is the top of a very good group, even though I’m not in love with his initial landing spot.   Evans is a massive target, runs well, and opposite Vincent Jackson will see a lot of single coverages in 2014.  But I think his real value is a few years down the line when Lovie finds a long term answer at QB, and when Jackson has relinquished primary redzone status.  I’m putting Evans at the top, just slightly ahead of Watkins because I really hate Watkins’ situation – and I feel Watkins is overrated to a degree.

2.) Sammy Watkins – Bills – Let’s get this out of the way, I don’t like the Bills giving up a ton to move up to grab Watkins.  It was a deep WR draft, therefore it was a stupid move. You do that for a once in a generational WR talent like Calvin Johnson, you don’t do it for a guy with very similar measurables to his former teammate DeAndre Hopkins.  There is a guy (or two) like Watkins every year. Anyway, a more practical reason to hate the move is for fantasy owners that are now staring at Watkins in Buffalo, with the cold, and the low output offense, and EJ Manuel.  I actually think Manuel could be better than people think, but better than people think doesn’t mean Watkins will be fantasy relevant in 2014.  He should be used a ton since the Bills fully committed to him, but the output of that commitment to me seems very much in flux.  In a few seasons if Manuel stabilizes himself Watkins could be a top 10 fantasy WR – so in rookie drafts I couldn’t blame you for taking him #1, there’s just a little too much hype, and a little too much situational discomfort for me to rank him 1st.

3.) Jordan Matthews – Eagles – This guy might be the best physical prospect in the draft.  I’m not kidding.  It’s tough to rank him over Evans and Watkins because he does need to polish a little bit of his game.  But in 2 seasons, he could very easily be the best WR in this class with some more instruction on route running.  I believe in him, and I definitely believe in the extremely high output Chip Kelly offense.  If he gets a one on one matchup in an uptempo offense he’ll be terrifying.  In dynasty drafts I would not blink if you put this guy as your your 1st pick, I’m higher on him than some – but I really feel in a short time you will see him rise to top 10 fantasy WR status.  In 2014 redrafts however, he’s little more than a late round flier as a WR 4 or 5.

4.) Brandon Cooks – Saints – Another WR with freaky measurables that landed in a fantastic spot.   Cooks actually is probably in the best position of these top 4 to contribute right away – he’s a burner on a nearly legendary passing offense.  But Cooks isn’t just a speedster he’s very strong for his 5’10 frame and should be able to handle press coverages at this level without much issue.    I think he also has a legit chance to pass Watkins during his career, but I’ll temper it with the fact that he may be saddled at some point with a complete change of offense after Drew Brees moves on.  In redraft leagues right now he’s the top guy I’m taking from this class – you could probably do a lot worse than having him as your fantasy team’s # 3 option in 2014.

5.) Odell Beckham – Giants – Beckham’s great combine really helped pushed him onto the charts.  How much so?  Well that the Giants took him 12th overall.  I don’t doubt that Odell can be productive in the NFL and in a jack-of-all-trades type of way if they let him explore his returner capabilities.   I do have some doubts about his explosiveness, as against better SEC competition in college he really struggled.  Ron and Tim would probably have Beckham at the same level, and higher than some of the 4 above.  I have him clearly as number 5.  And there’s nothing really wrong with that – heck for 2014 I could easily see him outproducing everyone from this class except for Cooks.  In redraft leagues right now think more low end WR3 high end Wr4 – in dynasty you’re welcome to take him higher than 5th, but to me he’s not quite there.

6.) Allen Robinson – Jaguars – In many ways I think Robinson the most underrated WR in this draft.  I know putting him above Lee and Benjamin probably seems ridiculous at 1st glance….but I believe he’s better physically than his new teammate Lee (although he is slower), and he’s got better instincts and moves than Benjamin.  The caveat here is Jacksonville – rookie QB, competition with Lee, and overall rookie growing pains on a bad team.  It’s a risk pick in dynasty that many people won’t make because they’ll assume Lee will be given more rope, and Robinson may not get a chance to shine.  So I wouldn’t blame anyone for flipping these 2 selections – but I want it on record that I think Robinson is the better player right now.  In 2014 redrafts you can delay this debate for another year – because Robinson is worth waiver wire consideration only.

7.) Marqise Lee – Jaguars – How the years have changed, last year at this time as people were looking forward to who might be the best WR in the following draft – Lee’s name was mentioned early and often.  Now with how deep the WR class became he’s almost relegated to an afterthought.  Lee’s in a tough spot here for a lot of reasons: my disdain for  Blake Bortles has already been mentioned (not that a rookie QB is usually a good thing regardless),  physically he’s not exceptional – not the biggest, not the fastest, and finally he’s got plenty of competition from Cecil Shorts & Allen Robinson.  Lee is probably a solid NFL WR but I don’t think he ever gets to elite status – and it’s certainly harder to see that in  Jacksonville where they need to define their entire offense for the 4th time in 6 years.  In redrafts for 2014 Lee may have value if the Jags force the ball his way to get him involved…I still let someone else take that risk.  In dynasty it’s not out of the question that Lee becomes a top 25 WR in 2 or 3 years.

8.) Cody Latimer – Broncos – Here’s a risky one that at 1st doesn’t seem like it.  I mean who wouldn’t want to be paired with Peyton Manning?  Well, how about a guy who’s just starting out may have to be eased into his role, and by the time he gets it his team has moved on to a new QB and a new philosophy?  I love Latimer’s strength, speed, and hands – but I’m not sure how big a part of the Broncos offense he’ll be in 2014 – and if you handicap Peyton with a 2 year window or so, I can’t guarantee Latimer will see the field enough with the Manning offense.  If I could do that,  Latimer easily jumps into top 4 of this draft – I believe in his talents that much.  I also believe long term he will make a great “Eric Decker” like prospect over the course of his career.  A solid fantasy #2, but for 2014 you really have to track reports out of Denver to see how he’ll be used.  He’s either a potential rookie sleeper, or a deep stash in dynasty.

9.) Kelvin Benjamin – Panthers – My dislike of how “stiff” a player Benjamin is cannot be overstated.  He’s like Plaxico Burress at 36, not Plaxico in his prime like what he’s been compared to…still he lands in a pretty good situation for himself.  The Panthers, as we discussed numerous times throughout the offseason, were cobbling together a WR corps after cutting Steve Smith.  Drafting Benjamin in the 1st round clearly shows their commitment to building a passing offense around him.  The problem is, for all the progress Cam Newton made last season, he’s largely still a check down, scramble QB leading a heavy run offense.  Benjamin doesn’t have much gamebreaking ability to create for himself and so will be tied very heavily to redzone usage – where his incredible height may give him an advantage – but he may not be top in the pecking order down there.  As he watches Cam run in another draw, I’m sure fantasy owners will appreciate his blocking.  He’s too big to write off completely, so in dynasty mid 2nd round pick, in redraft late flier if you’ve built your team well….but to me he has very high bust potential.

10.) Davante Adams – Packers – Adams initially is probably a fantasy non-factor in 2014.  But man, his landing spot – after this season the Packers will have to come to contract discussions with Jordy Nelson and Randle Cobb.  My guess is they’ll probably only sign one of them, leaving Adams in 2015 with competition from only Jarret Boykin & fellow rookie Jarred Abrederis for the #2 in an Aaron Rodgers’ offense.  Oh sure, the Packers could trade or draft someone prior to 2015 – but Adams is a solid option for them in house and should just be waiting in the wings for more and more playing time.  He’s riskier than guys like Benjamin or Lee, but his payoff if things break right could be very nice.  If you like upside guys dynasty leaguers aren’t out of their minds to draft him in the late 1st, early 2nd rounds of rookie drafts.

THE REST

Donte MoncreifColts – solid but not great measurables, won’t become the coveted future “go-to-guy” for Andrew Luck, but could hang around for years being a productive player.

Paul Richardson – Seahawks – they like his deep ball skill set.  But will they use it?  What overlap does that have with Percy Harvin’s game?

Jarvis Landry – Dolphins – I don’t think he’s special at all, but Dolphins will give him every chance to make it work.

Bruce Ellington  – 49’ers – Above average talent, but will he be buried on that roster?  Even if Crabtree leaves in 2015 and Boldin moves on after that he fits the burner role rather than the possession role the Niners have coveted.

Martavis Bryant – Steelers – Draft stock tumble was probably warranted – average possession level WR, could be useful career fantasy Wr3.

Jared Abbrederis – Packers – Bit of a wildcard good pass catcher, not fast, potentially a #3 in Green Bay which could spike value.  But may not be polished enough to grab gig and get lost in shuffle.

Devin Street – Cowboys – Underrated player chance to supplant Terrance Williams, but certainly no lock to do so.

Michael Campanaro – Ravens – One of my favorite sleepers, but on a traditionally low output offense shifting toward heavy TE use – he may be a story more of never was, than will be…

John Brown – Cardinals – To take this guy in the 3rd round shows the Cardinals must have plans for him.  Doesn’t mean those plans will pan out however.

Josh Huff – Eagles – Same as John Brown on a much better offense.

Quincy Enunwa – Jets – The best of a truly odd trio the Jets brought in to pair with Geno Smith. Long term he might work out….short term betting against it.

Jeremy Gallon – Patriots – There’s just too much competition for him – smallest WR drafted by Patriots since Bellichik took over, likely views him as special team coverage player.

Robert Herron – Bucs – Could carve out a speed role in a land of giant WR, but not confident the Bucs offense will utilize him.

Matt Hazel – Dolphins – I might be among the very few that wouldn’t be shocked by him beating out Jarvis Landry for playing time.

TJ Jones – Lions – I’m not so sure TJ makes the team, I know there is some fantasy teasing with a Lions WR, but not sure he can handle being a 3rd or 4th option at the pro level.

Ryan Grant – Redskins – No, not that Ryan Grant.  Great hands, average measurables, and a very crowded WR crew have him pegged for a preseason cut or practice squad.

Kevin Norwood Seahawks – Long odds to make the team, steady but not any kind of standout player.

Shaq Evans – Jets – Shaq Evans a 4th rd pick?!!  Oh you wacky Jets.

Jalen Saunders – Jets – Jalen Saunders a 4th rd pick even higher than Evans?!!!! Oh Jets….no…

 

:by Mike

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

2013 Week 3 – Waiver Wire Add/Drop

Ok, so win or lose in week one you should always be ready to try to improve your team. The weekly waiver wire/or FA pool in your league will always be monitored by your league mates for gems so you need to do that as well.

It’s tough to make generalizations over who to actually add every week – everything depends on your individual team and the makeup of your league. So what we’ll do here is make recommendations on 3 levels. Level 1 guys are so obvious that they were either drafted in your league on draft day already, or you will have to fight with other owners over them on the wire. Level 2 guys are decent risks that may not always pan out, but more of them may be available in your league to serve your purposes. And finally level 3 guys are more of the longshot homerun guys – but if your need is great, or if you play in a deep league – these might be the only guys you have a chance at….

Level 1

WR DeAndre Hopkins – Even before Hopkins 7 catch 117 yard, game winning TD performance this weekend – he was a trendy late round fantasy draft pick.  Now, if he’s somehow available in more shallow leagues – he will be a top priority add for most.  I would make the pickup if you can, but temper expectations – at best Hopkins is still the 4th target on the team in the redzone.  Better to think of him as a potential Wr3 than anything more if you’re adding him,  but if Andre Johnson’s concussion lingers he could be a WR2 for a few weeks.

RB Knowshon Moreno – Again in your league the window to acquire this guy may have passed, but if not grab him up.  All preseason I have thought Moreno was clearly the best RB option Denver had- and the only question was opportunity. He’ll be an inconsistent performer thanks to the style of offense, but Moreno is finally looking like a NFL starter.  Ronnie Hillman and Montee Ball have been just awful , and the Broncos schedule over the next 6-8 games has some of the softest run defenses in the league on it.

WR Josh Gordon – Josh should be owned in all leagues, but I know he’s not.  Some people don’t like drafting players who are guaranteed to miss time and so in shallow leagues Gordon could be sitting out there.  Gordon is coming off of his 2 game suspension and looks to slide right back into his #1 WR spot in Cleveland.   It’s not all good news, he has to come back to either Brandon Weeden or Jason Campbell at QB – but Gordon had good chemistry with Weeden last season – and you’re just not going to find many #1 targets sitting there on the waiver wire in week 3.

Level 2

WR Eddie Royal  – If I had told you that Eddie Royal would’ve had 5 touchdowns this year – you would have smiled a little in disbelief and then said something like “well, that’s good for him”.  If I had told you he’d have 5 TD’s after 2 weeks you’d probably just walk away from me without saying a word – and probably in a very hurried manner muttering fearfully under your breath.  And yet, here we are – to some degree it makes sense.  Royal is the most veteran WR on the Chargers – heck after the injury to D. Alexander and Malcom Floyd’s horrific looking neck injury – he’s the only NFL veteran WR really on the club.    Is he going to go stretches where you can’t count on him?  Probably.  But right now he has a very good thing going with Philip Rivers – and I’m a firm believer that he will stay in the mix there b/c they simply need his experience.

TE Charles Clay – Everyone’s looking for consistency at the TE position, and while I’m not ready to lock Clay up as the next big thing at the position – he certainly should be in your consideration for an add.   He seems to be a favorite of Tannehill in the short passing game, and they even game him a goal line carry as a sort of fullback hybrid.  If Clay joins your team as a TE2 or a matchup dependent TE there’s a decent chance by year’s end he’s your starter over some of the guys that turn out to be disappointments.  After Clay’s huge game this weekend this will likely be the last week you can even try to get him off the wire – but for those of you struggling at tightend he has to be worth rostering.

RB James Starks – I’m not a huge believer in Starks.  In fact, neither were the Packers to the point where they nearly cut him this preseason.  But this is opportunity that you can’t pass up.  The concussion injury to rookie RB Eddie Lacy isn’t likely to be a long term issue, but Starks is the primary backup even with Lacy healthy – and can work his way into 3rd down looks at worst.  The time to grab Starks may have already passed in your league – but if not, try to pick him up.  In the worst case scenario he’s a flex play for a few weeks.

WR Santonio Holmes – Holmes looked good in the downpour vs New England.  He looked healthy most of all and that alone makes him worth considering in most leagues.  Unfortunately he has a rookie QB on a bad team to work with, along with his own personal mental lapses at points.  He’s worth a gamble as a Wr4 with the hopes that the chemistry between him and Geno can grow over the season.

Level 3

RB Donald Brown – To me, I look at Donald Brown and see talent – NFL starting talent.  The problem is, the Colts don’t seem to share my opinion.  Brown started the year behind the brittle Ahmad Bradshaw, and the underwhelming Vic Ballard.  Now with a season ending  injury to Ballard, it would seem like Brown should be in line for carries and passing game touches while being right behind an injury prone starter in a good offense.  Should be fantasy gold potential right?  Well, it’s the Colts and they don’t like him – word out of Indy is they will look at adding a veteran RB to come in and try out.  For the time being Brown is a tentative add with the hopes that his team doesn’t block him from time.

RB Andre Ellington – The rookie seems to have won the 3rd down running back gig in Arizona.  Ellington is fast, and to me little else….however, he plays behind Rashard Mendenhall who is coming off major knee surgery and his 60 total yards 1 TD performance this weekend may out him on the radar in deep leagues.   Yes, the primary backup in Arizona officially right now is Alfsono Smith – but Smith’s 2.1 YPC has been terrible and there’s no upside to owning him at all.  Ellington by contrast is at least involved in the passing game and again in deep league’s may be worth monitoring while he’s actually on your roster.

WR Robert Woods – A deep league add as a WR5 with a small chance to move up to WR3 this season,  Woods is coming off a nice 4 catch 68 yard day.  As EJ Manuel improves throughout the year Woods is due for an increase in targets, and I like what I’ve watched from Woods so far this year.  Fantasy owners slotted him in behind rookie WR’s like WR Marcus Wheaton or Keenan Allen, but it’s clear early that Woods was more NFL ready than those guys and others.  In dynasty formats Woods was likely drafted and currently owned, but if you’re playing a deep redraft league (especially PPR) and are having WR issues – Woods is looking more and more like a WR add and hold.

Players to Drop

RB Ronnie Hillman – How far down has Hillman’s stock fumbled?  Consider that this past weekend against the Giants, Montee Ball fumbled near the goalline and was benched.  Knshown Moreno came in to take the bulk of the work,  and Montee Ball was even seen in the game again near the goalline late in the game.  All while Hillman got one carry for 3 yards.   It’s time to face the facts if you own Hillman your Denver RB “lotto” pick is bust.

WR Kenny Britt – If you’re in a deep league, or a dynasty league I guess you hold him and bench him for possibly all of 2013 – barring your own personal emergency.  But in redraft leagues of standard size – it’s time to let Britt go.  I know it hurts – he really does have amazing potential. The problem is…Jake Locker does not.  Britt is only going to get more frustrated and then disinterested as the year goes on.

RB Mark Ingram – You can only really cut Ingram in shallow leagues because of his high profile potential and workload but man, if you can…that has to feel good.  No more watching him plod for about 2 yards a carry, no more watching him go down like he took a shot from a cannon every time a defender grazes him, no more sub 5 point days from your fantasy starting RB (or flex RB).  If you can somehow drop him for Moreno, do so and you may never stop smiling.

 

 

:by Mike

 

2013 Week 1 – Waiver Add/Drops

Ok, so win or lose in week one you should always be ready to try to improve your team. The weekly waiver wire/or FA pool in your league will always be monitored by your league mates for gems so you need to do that as well.

It’s tough to make generalizations over who to actually add every week – everything depends on your individual team and the makeup of your league. So what we’ll do here is make recommendations on 3 levels. Level 1 guys are so obvious that they were either drafted in your league on draft day already, or you will have to fight with other owners over them on the wire. Level 2 guys are decent risks that may not always pan out, but more of them may be available in your league to serve your purposes. And finally level 3 guys are more of the longshot homerun guys – but if your need is great, or if you play in a deep league – these might be the only guys you have a chance at….

Level 1

TE Julius Thomas – loved his talent in the last 2 preseasons, and have been waiting for that to translate to the regular season. It finally did with a 2TD performance on opening night. It’s true that with TE’s production can be streaky, and in Thomas’ case he is in an offense that has a lot…and I mean a lot of mouths to feed. However, I believe Julius Thomas will continue to be a redzone guy, and a deep middle look – with Welker handling more of the shallow middle – and Demarius Thomas handling more of the deep outside. Thomas has top 10 TE potential and absolutely has to be rostered – even if some weeks he gets a little lost in the shuffle.

RB Joique Bell – Yes as I thought after we did our 2013 mock draft, Reggie Bush is the man, and a borderline RB1 in this offense. But, there is room for a more traditional RB in this offense as Bell showed us with his week 1 2 TD performance. Some might balk a little and complain that you can’t rely on TD’s week to week for a player’s production, and they would be right. However, Bell is the clear handcuff in a high scoring offense, on top of being the goaline back. He simply runs hard and represents a great value add to your fantasy bench. To be used as a bye week, injury replacement, or flex play – Bell could be one of those guys that sneakily keeps your team afloat.

QB Terrell Pryor – He’s only a “level 1” guy because of the always limited options at QB during the season. He’s a poor real life NFL QB, but that can sometimes lead to big fantasy points. He runs a ton – so you get yards there, plays with a bad defense – so he will always need to air it/run it out, and if you play in a league where you start 2 QB’s he’s a great upside pick. Again, judge your own situation – if you like your QB’s don’t dump one for Pryor b/c he may not keep the job all season – but he could be fun to watch for the 1st half of the season.

WR Kenny Stills – the rookie had a fantastic preseason, and opened with a day of 2 catches for 86 yards. Obviously in a dynasty league this guy should’ve been drafted – and maybe in a lot of other leagues as well. But, if he’s sitting out there you can’t pass on the potential of the Wr3 in the Saints offense. Ignore the fact the Robert Meachem is back on the Saints again. Stills has stolen the role that Meachem and Devery Henderson once had and could be on the way to similar production.

Level 2

WR Julian Edelman – Edelman likely just had his best week of the season with 79 yards and 2Td’s. Then again with the Patriots in complete flux offensively – rookies everywhere and Shane Vereen and Danny Amendola hurt, suddenly tossing your hat in the Pats possession passing game with the veteran Edelman can look appealing. Simply put: Julian is not the most talented guy they have – but going into week 2 he’s the most reliable among the currently healthy. He’s probably a short term add, but you could do a lot worse than taking a chance on him as a WR4 on your team and potential flex play.

RB Jackie Battle – Who the heck saw this one coming? I mean its only one week, but Jackie Battle received 8 carries for 21 yards and a goalline carry in which he scored a touchdown. Now, if this stays the course, that means that Battle is out performing high priced free agent Shonn Greene. I wouldn’t go dropping any proven guys on your team to pick him up, but if you have the roster spot he might be worth a few week trial to see if he maintains the goal line back role.

RB Kendall Hunter – Now there is a chance he could be gone in your league, but if he is there, snatch him up. Regardless if LaMichael James comes back from injury, Hunter is the more complete back and should be the undisputed back up to Gore. With 6 carries for 24 yards last week, I think you could expect more from him as he gets his legs under him(he is recovering from offseason surgery). In addition, Frank Gore is 30 and the 49ers will want to persevere their bell cow back for the stretch run.

RB Brandon Jacobs – I feel guilty typing that, and I also feel like RB David Wilson will get his act together enough to stop fumbling once every 5 carries or so. But, you can’t deny Jacobs will probably be super motivated (he openly pined for the Giants when he was languishing in San Fran), and his only competition for primary backup duties will be the unknown (and not particularly impressive) Da Rel Scott. Andre Brown is out for at least another 2 months – so this is not as temporary a situation as you might think on the surface. In the end he’s probably more hype than help – but you may not be able to pass on a guy that could slide into a primary backup role for a struggling starter.

RB LaGarrette Blount – He has much the same going for him as Jacobs does, only with the added benefit of having practiced with the team and being in football shape. Steven Ridely is in the doghouse for fumbles, Shane Vereen is out for 8 weeks, and Brandon Bolden is still struggling with injury as well. Blount for the moment appears to be a guy that could take a primary backup role, and possibly even some redzone carries.

WR Doug Baldwin –Baldwin was Russel Wilson’s #1 target this week, catching 7 for 91 – you know Seattle’s story – Percy Harvin is out til at best midseason and probably later, Sidney Rice can’t stay healthy, and Golden Tate – well he has a lot of “just a guy” moments. Baldwin is a guy you pickup and wait a few weeks to see if he gets that consistency in targets and production, if he does you may have just scored a solid WR3.

WR Brandon Gibson – 7 catches for 77 yards on 10 targets. His high priced counterpart Mike Wallace, one catch for 15 yards on 5 targets. Gibson directly benefited from Dustin Keller’s injury. He will be looked to early and often as the slot/3rd down option. I liked him when he was with the Rams, but never seemed to get the targets he deserved. Now, I don’t think the is anything more than a WR4 at the most, but he could provide quality depth in deeper leagues.

Panthers Defense – As stated before, we love this team’s talented front 7. They will give teams fits all year. Now their Db’s are weak and may will give up some plays to teams with good passing games, but this defense could be a great matchup play against weaker offenses. If you don’t like your back up D, keep and eye on this up and coming unit.

Level 3

WR Terrence Williams – Now I am not in love with this guy at all, but I like his opportunity. I especially like it if Dez Bryant is out for an extended period of time. He definitely has talent. He also has a case of the dropsies. I am willing to give him the benefit of the doubt being it’s his first game as a rookie. Dynasty leagues should snatch him up now if he wasn’t drafted. He is worth a flyer in most other formats if you have the room, especially is Bryant’s foot keeps him out for a length of time.

WR Leonard Hankerson – lost in a terrible 1st half effort was the role Hankerson played in some garbage time in the 2nd half for Washington. He wound up with 2Td’s and has oyuth and a longer tenured contract on his side over starter Josh Morgan – the team has just been waiting for the light to go on with Hankerson, who can give inconsistent effort to go with inconsistent hands. I’m not sure he’s out of it…but his ceiling could be as high as the #2 WR for Rg3 by year’s end.

RB Jonathan Dwyer – Could go from the real life free agent pool to the Steelers starter, less than 2 weeks after being cut by them. It’s a crazy ride – and it’s also a very uncertain situation. Dwyer was let go for not having focus, and supposedly a lack of effort – I suppose a dash of reality in being released could wake him up. What then of Isaac Redmon who Tomlin says will get another shot to (literally) hang on to the job? What of Le’Veon Bell’s eventual return? What of how terrible the Steelers OL has played in preseason and the last game? Other fantasy advisers might have Dwyer as one of their top adds…but because of all of these questions – I’m doubting against Dwyer having a lot of fantasy significance. The odds are someone in your league will pick him up, the question is will it be you? Depends on what you need…but tread cautiously here.

RB Brandon Bolden – The lesser attractive option in the competition that is the New England backfield, it is possible that once Bolden finally recovers from his injury- which may be very soon – that he could beat LaGarrette for short yardage and primary backup work. It’s a longshot based on talent over current situation.

RB Da Rel Scott – if you liked what you saw from Scott in his time vs the Cowboys, you may believe he will beat out newly signed Brandon Jacobs for work. In theory Scott knows the system better, and should be in better shape physically – it’s a bit of a lotto ticket.

WR Josh Boyce – I liked Boyce most among the Patriots rookie WR’s on paper when he came out of college. And I still think in the future (so he absolutely must be rostered in dynasty leagues) he will be a terrific player for them – possibly even in the coveted slot. The question is, how soon is this future? Well, we’ve seen Amendola’s health – we know Edelman has limitations and some injury history, and we have seen Kenbrell Thompkins and Zac Sudfeld not exactly light it up when the games meant something. So it’s possible Boyce plays this Thursday, does incredible, wins a job and becomes a fantasy asset for 2013 no one saw coming. In all probability though, this is probably someone you pick up ahead of the buzz if you have a roster spot being filled by someone you know is a dud – and you can then wait a few weeks to see if Boyce emerges.

TE Charles Clay – With the injury to Dustin Keller in the preseason, someone had to emerge as a TE for this team and Clay is the man. He isn’t great at any one thing, but he is clearly the #1 TE in Miami’s apparent pass heavy attack. This is mostly due to the fact they couldn’t run the ball against Cleveland’s stout run D. He’ll never be more than a TE2 in most situations, but follow him. He may be worth a pick up if you backup TE is underperforming and could save you on a bye week.

-Ron and Mike

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

 

2013 Preseason Week 2: Broncos at Seahawks

Seahawks

  • Russell Wilson looked much better this week.  Much more efficient.  The oline also played better so that helped tremendously.
  • Robert Turbin looked a little rusty in his first game back of the year.  He was two ankle tackles away from long runs, but still showed good burst north and south.  Laterally, Christine Michael is much more sudden.   The battle between him and Michael might be a little closer than the coaches admit.   Next game will be big for both men.
  • Stephen Williams and Jermaine Kearse both made big plays. Both caught touchdown passes, and Kearse returned a kick back for a score.   It’s hard to imagine either of these guys being left of the roster.  4th round pick Chris Harper may be in jeopardy of being cut.
  • Tarvaris Jackson is looking like the backup QB here.    He again played well in relief of Russell Wilson.
  • Spencer Ware ran the ball well for Seattle. He had 9 carries for 54 yards.   Because he can play FB too, I can see Seattle carrying 5 running backs this year.
  • Rookie TE Luke Wilson continues to get playing time as Zach Miller recovers from his foot injury, he is worth monitoring in dynasty leagues.

Denver

  • Demarius Thomas looks great.  Expect him to build on his strong season last year.   A WR 1 for certain.
  • Ronnie Hillman and Montee Ball both had moments where they looked good running the ball.  However, both had some bad moments as well.  Hillman fumbled on the goal line and Ball missed a block that allowed Manning to get clobbered by a blitzing Bobby Wagner.   Both will need to improve to cement significant carries this season.  Pass protection for Manning is paramount.
  • Wes Welker is going to catch a lot of passes in Denver.  I have a feeling it will come at the expense of one of the TE’s and Eric Decker.    I still like Decker as a WR3, but I think he is a low wr3 this year.
  • TE Julius Thomas continues to get a lot of looks in the passing game.   He could be a weapon this year, but there are only so many balls to go around.
  • I am not a big believer in the Denver defense this year.  I think they will struggle to be a top 15 fantasy defense this year.  Losing Von Miller for 6 games   doesn’t help either.

By Ron

Preseason Week 1: Denver at San Francisco

Denver

As I advised about Week 1 in general, it was too early to truly learn anything about the running back situation in Denver from this game.  RB Ronnie Hillman got the start and to me he looked terrible.  Granted the Niners starting run d is formidable, but Hillman took too many runs outside and for small yardage.  If he was in there as the “veteran” back to help in pass protection for QB Peyton Manning’s one series that’s understandable, but that’s the only reason I can think of that Hillman is topping the depth chart at the moment.

RB Montee Ball who was receiving a lot of fantasy heat after the draft in April looked pedestrian as well going with 5 carries for 9 yards.   And forgotten former 1st round pick RB Knowshon Moreno looked the best of the 3 by far, but this is schewed because he has the most experience and was running against the worst opposition.

While it’s worth fantasy owners of all types (dynasty, redraft, ppr, etc) to keep tabs on the Broncos backfield throughout training camp, I don’t know what to expect that to payout once the season begins.  QB Peyton Manning appears healthier even now than he did last year (on his few attempts he did finally let one fly deep) and if he’s healthy I think Manning outweighs John Fox.   This means that whomever wins the Broncos RB job for 2013 will likely have to be an asset in the passing game 1st (receiver, blocker, change of pace guy) and a RB 2nd.  Manning has had guys like RB Edgerrin James blow up in the past – but has also had committees of lesser guys and with lesser rushing results.  I’m less excited about Denver’s rushing attack than most no matter who wins the job.

TE Julius Thomas stood out for the Broncos in a big way in this one.  Smooth and fast with a large and imposing combination.   He was buried last season behind the veterans Joel Dressen and Jacob Tamme – but now that injuries have slowed those guys – it’s possible he moves into the starter’s role.   If Thomas wins a starter’s share before the season begins he has a chance to be a top 10 TE in redraft leagues.  And if it doesn’t work out for Thomas this season – he absolutely should be owned in dynasty leagues as a stash for the future – which may be sooner than most people think.

San Francisco

QB Colin Kapernick looked very good on his one and only series.  In fact, I’m convinced the only reason it didn’t end with a TD was because the Niners insisted on running the football too much with LaMichael James and other underwhelming RB’s.    Kapernick had some sharp passes and one really excellent short scramble – I am resistant on some of his hype for fantasy because of the scheme, but I think anyone hating on Kapernick and calling him a flash in the pan that the league will adjust to, has it completely wrong.  He will flirt with being a top 8-10 fantasy QB this season.

RB LaMichael James got the start here, with RB Frank Gore getting rest, and RB Kendall Hunter still rehabbing an injury.  James was not particularly impressive – he ran laterally more than downhill, and he nearly lost a fumble near his own goaline.  James could be useful as a 3rd down back, but will the Niners evolve their offseason to the point where that is a fantasy factor?

The WR target battle for the Patriots may be getting all of the preseason attention, but San Fran’s 2nd WR battle in the wake of WR Michael Crabtree’s injury may have some serious fantasy implications, if just one person can lock this down.  Unfortunately nobody at the WR position  in this game had a moment you’d really say stood out.

In fact when you’re waiting to see what WR Mario Manningham and WR Austin Collie are going to bring to the table, well you know the meal must be pretty weak.  The battle for targets after TE Vernon Davis and WR Anquan Boldin may take the entire preseason to sort out.