Category Archives: New England Patriots

Post Draft Rookie Positional Ranks: QB’s

We here at the Art of Score realize the amount of over-saturation and further more, the absurdity of handing out draft grades to players and teams before guys have even played one down of professional football.  However, we also realize the demand for some type of fantasy feedback, particularly for those of you in dynasty drafts who will be drafting players before you get to see any of these guys in pads.

As such, we’re going to give you these positional rankings now – put them in your input file, and let’s watch how they change over the course of the summer.

QB’s

1.) Teddy Bridgewater – Vikings – I’ve felt all along from a talent perspective Bridgewater was the best QB in this draft.   Going to Minnesota is pretty good for him for a few reasons.  First if he struggles in camp and isn’t ready for the season there’s no QB in the NFL that says “stopgap” more than Matt Cassel – so the Vikes shouldn’t feel pressured to start Bridgewater if he’s not ready.  Second, Norv Turner apparently pushed for Ted (I feel weird to keep calling him “Teddy”) so Turner believes in him and will design the offense for him.  And third the Vikings will still emphasis the run game under Adrian Peterson – as anyone will tell you a heavy run game can slow down pass rushers, and give an inexperienced QB more time to make quality decisions.  In redraft leagues, unless Bridgewater clearly wins the job out of preseason, and looks very good doing it – I’m probably not drafting him – even as a low end backup.  He’s going to take some time I predict – but in dynasty drafts he’s one of the few QB assets I’d like to have from 2014.  Probably a mid 2nd round dynasty pick.

2.) Tom Savage – Texans – Ok I know the next two guys on this list have more hype, seem more pro-ready, and have zero chance of not starting at some point in 2014.  But to me with Savage you play the long game here and see if you win.  You’ll hear a lot of buzz about Ryan Mallet coming to Houston and if that happens it probably pushes off Savage’s debut 2 seasons or so (I don’t believe in Mallet).  And in 2-3 years Arian Foster and Andre Johnson could be gone from what was an explosive offense.   However, what makes Savage attractive in spite of this uncertainty is that he has better tools than most at the position – he has better size, better accuracy, and better decision making than Manziel, and he’s got a better arm than Bortles.  In redraft leagues he’s a non draft for 2014 – on the off-chance he comes in as the 2014 starter, a backup to a low risk starter (Manning, Rodgers, Brees, etc) might be feasible.  In dynasty rookie drafts – if you have a development roster spot – spending a 3rd or 4th rd pick on him may yield you a top 15 QB in a few seasons.

3.) Johnny Manziel – Browns – Crazy is as crazy does.  In less than a week, Josh Gordon has started to face the possibility of a year long suspension, reports have surfaced that most of the Browns scouting department and coaches wanted Teddy Bridgewater, and that the owner Jim Haslam apparently overruled everyone on the advice of a homeless dude.  Now, whether that last part is just an urban legend, or a terribly misguided PR move – I don’t know, and I don’t care.   Look Manziel is polarizing, so no matter what I say about him you are going to have your opinion on whether he can play in this league.   I think he’s the type of guy to have 3-4 seasons of a few highlight plays, be generally mediocre – be loved or hated way beyond that level, and then slip into the ether. He’s smaller and slower than RG3, doesn’t seem to have the decision making that Russel Wilson has, and lacks the accuracy of Andrew Luck.   Yet I’m supposed to believe somehow that this guy is the league’s next superstar?  Not buying it.  Assuming he starts this year in Cleveland in redraft formats he may be worth looking at from the perspective of his scrambling – but keep in mind that usually has a shelf life (as RG3 found out) – and he has low end backup value on that.  In rookie drafts, the guy is going to be drafted 2nd round, whether it’s by you depends whether you think Manziel has game beyond his legs.  If I was drafting in dynasty I would pick him if I thought he would have a highlight or two his rookie year and then try to trade him.

4.) Blake Bortles – Jaguars – Well the Jags believe in him so he’ll probably be given the keys to drive asap. Bortles has great height and weight for an NFL QB, and he’s fairly mobile – but I am highly skeptical of his ability to throw the ball. In college he had a ton, and I mean probably the majority of his time in a one read system – complete with extremely short drops of 2 or less.  A lot of QB’s look great in bubble screen systems – but can he throw the ball down the field?  I say not really, but based on a draft position this guy will be a starter in the league for at least 2-3 seasons.  For redraft purposes he is undraftable to me even if he’s the opening day starter, I mean if he heats up you can also try a waiver wire on him.  In rookie drafts, if you’re fairly desperate for a backup QB you can take him in the late 3rd or 4th rounds knowing that at least he’ll start some games this year.

5.) Jimmy Garoppolo – Patriots – A testament to how weak this QB class seems to me is that I’m putting Garoppolo over players that have a much clearer path to starting.  If the Pats hadn’t chosen Jimmy he may well have been the 2nd or 3rd best QB fantasy option in this draft.  As it stands right now Garoppolo is undraftable in redraft leagues, and in dynasty leagues is a high risk pick that depends a lot on how you view him.  I think Jimmy is talented, I think learning under Brady would be good for him, but I also think it’s impossible to know if he’s the next Pat’s QB.  And if he’s not New England’s successor than you have to check the trajectory of guys like Matt Cassel and Ryan Mallet (to be determined) and figure out if you like his FA chances in 3 seasons.   I would take a flier on him in dynasty leagues if you have a developmental spot he seems to be exactly the player you hold that spot for, and unlike Mallet I believe that the possibility of the Pats job may be up for grabs by the end of his rookie contract.  I’d take him over Bortles in dynasty at about the same spot in the draft if my team already had a competent backup QB on the roster.

THE REST

Derrick Carr – Raiders – nobody wants to get involved with the Raiders’ mess do they?

Logan Thomas – Cardinals – The most fascinating of the QB’s to me unpredictable.  A better Cam Newton?  Or out of the league in 2 years?

Zach Mettenberger – Titans – Not a great potential guy, but path to QB may only be blocked by shaky and often injured Locker.

Aaron Murray – Chiefs – Small, lack of arm strength, and recovering from a torn ACL.  May have some intangibles.  May also have been drafted solely for contract leverage with Alex Smith.

David Fales – Bears – Getting to work with Trestman is nice, working with Cavanaugh is even better.  Capable backup player – ironically may have a career a lot like recently departed Josh McCown.

AJ McCarron – Bengals – McCarron seems to have some potential starter traits good arm, size, decision making average.  But he’s missing something elite – and he’s not going to find it in Cincy behind Dalton.

Tajh Boyd – Jets – A run 1st QB 3rd string back up to Geno Smith and Michael Vick. I don’t see Boyd ever starting an NFL game.

Keith Wenning – Ravens – Wenning is probably a better QB than 2 or 3 of the guys that went ahead of him in the draft.  But he’s clearly on track for NFL career backup…although that career may last longer than people think.

Garret Gilbert – Rams – Possible conversion to WR? Either way Bradford has nothing to worry about from QB competition.

 

:by Mike

 

 

2013 – Week 8 Waiver Add/Drop

Last week we warned you for the last time to go out and grab TE Jordan Reed & RB Chris Ivory before it was too late.  Actually we shouted about it for weeks – now wouldn’t Reed be good on your team if say you had Jermichael Finley go down with injury this weekend? Or Ivory as an option if you owned Doug Martin? I’d also like to remind everyone that we advised picking up WR Percy Harvin ahead of the crowd last week as well…you may still have time on him if you didn’t…but time is running out.

And week 7 in the NFL had several significant injuries, but only some of them provide opportunity for you as a fantasy owner.  It’s a cruel reality, but someone else’s misfortune can be your gain. We’ll help you turn those salty tears into gumdrops.

As always 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

RB Ben Tate – Tate may not be owned in more shallow leagues, and though I am hesitant to recommend a player that fumbles, and to over exaggerate any injury to Arian Foster – I need to recommend adding him anywhere you can.  Tate has broken rib issues, and Foster has a bye to help get healthier on his hamstring…but as insane as this sounds rib injuries are better for a RB to be dealing with, and as the Texans fall out of contention they are likely to continue to ease Foster’s workload if they can.  The Texans will have to add someone new to the mix, since they cut 3rd string RB Cierre Wood for pot smoking over the weekend – but it’s tough to see anyone new really challenging a banged up Tate for work.  Tate sometimes lives off of hype so don’t expect clear sailing if you get him, but he could be a great RB2 over the next few weeks for you.

RB Mike James – James is worth a level 1 grade for now, because it’s about to be week 8 and there are really very few options on the waiver wire for starting RB’s.  Doug Martin’s shoulder injury may have him on the shelf for the season – or at the very least significant time, and in that time “someone” has to get the workload.  I think James is fairly talented, but buyer has to beware here – the Buccaneers couldn’t get Doug Martin going, there’s no real reason to believe James will have good success.  Personal favorite RB Bobby Rainey was picked up by the Bucs off of waivers as well – but make no mistake you should be way more concerned about the general offensive challenges of the team rather than the competition.  But fantasy football is a lot about supply and demand at the RB spot, so if you need a RB3/flex type of option…James is worth the add.

Level 2

RB Roy Helu – Even in some average size leagues I suspect Helu is available.  This was with good reason, as the Redskins have been slow to define his role this season.  But, Helu is starting to be used more and more – particularly in the Redskins no huddle offense, and was a huge performer with 3 TD’s over the weekend.  Alfred Morris owners need not panic (although they should pick up Helu if available), but Helu does present another option to teams looking for flex level RB play.  Helu is more talented than Mike James, and probably more than Ben Tate – but his workload going forward will be much more erratic than those two and without a general “touch” number week to week starting him will be a matter of matchup and luck.  Still Helu needs to clearly be owned in all leagues at this point even if just for bench depth.

RB Shane Vereen – Speaking of a guy with talent, Vereen finally took his cast off at practice last week – which may be a sign of him returning in a few weeks.  Vereen’s brittle injury history combined with a logjam at RB in New England – may not scream to you that he should be added weeks before he is announced as being ready to play.  However, Vereen’s outstanding season opener (159 total yards) should put him on track to some sort of significant role in the New England offense when he returns.  The big question here, is when?  So do you pick him up now when he may still be out for 2-3 games?  This depends on your roster space and your team’s need to have producers over the next few weeks, if you can squeeze him on the team do so, because if somehow he is available to play soon he’ll be a level 1 type of guy without question and your whole league might get in on trying to grab him.

WR Brandon Gibson – Gibson was quietly moving up the Dolphins passing pecking order this season (74 vs Balt in Week 5 before the bye) until this weekend’s 2 TD explosion.  With 29 catches on the season Gibson is probably a better PPR start than non, but he has interesting flex value when the Dolphins play teams with weak secondaries (I notice they play NE this week).

WR Marvin Jones –   In each of the last 2 weeks Jones has caught a TD pass and appears to be winning the 2nd WR spot for the Bengals.  I like Jones’ overall game, and the questions only remain for me about his role and targets – but you have to like the fact that they are trending up.  He may not initially have the production of Douglas or Gibson – but to me his upside is much higher.  If he goes out and has a 3rd solid game this weekend he’ll be a no brainer add….get him before then if you need WR help.

WR Harry Douglas – Look, the Falcons don’t have much else at this point so while it’s unlikely Douglas will go 149 yards and a 1 TD every week, he does have weekly flex fantasy starter material written on him.  When Roddy White returns – Douglas will lose some targets perhaps, but he is assured playing time and targets as long as he’s healthy.  He probably just had his best game of the season, but that doesn’t mean he can’t help your team going forward.

TE Coby Fleener – I don’t love Fleener’s talent, and even as TE’s go he can be inconsistent.  But if he’s sitting out there in your league and you need TE help here’s a guy that might see more targets with WR Reggie Wayne being lost for the season to ACL injury.  Don’t drop a good TE2 for him, but if you have an ok TE starter and a questionable backup it may be time to add Fleener.

Level 3

RB Daniel Thomas – Thomas may have been cut by some owner earlier this season, b/c let’s fact it: nobody wants to own or draft Daniel Thomas.  And I am loathe to bring him up here – and only advise this as a desperation add. But, Thomas looked pretty good vs the Bills this weekend with 60 yards on 12 carries, and appears to be in the mix at the RB position.  He’s not very talented and this has to be more of a hurt to Lamar Miller owners than a fantasy option…but should Miller get even a little banged up – it appears Thomas is ready to go.  I mean 12 carries is a lot of work for a “backup” RB….Thomas appears to be creeping into RB committee territory and could be useful to a (very) desperate fantasy team.

WR Darrius Heyward-Bey – Our own Tim Brown championed Bey during the preseason as a sleeper for 2013.  Bey had a tougher time than we expected transitioning to the Colts’ offense, but like Fleener above, Reggie Wayne’s injury should open the door to more looks for Bey.  Bey won’t elevate to WR2 level in all likelihood,  but he could provide your team with some WR3 low level flex play -and gets even a little more boost in a PPR league.

QB Case Keenum – Keenum is the only QB of those thrust into action this week (McCown in CHI, Clemmens in STL, Campbell in CLE?) who will be worth rostering on potential.  It’s not that he’s great.  He’s not – he arguably has a bad NFL arm and may struggle as teams get tape on him.  But he does manage a good offense with weapons and has a bye week to presumably learn more with the 1st team.  I don’t know if he’s won the Texans starting job, but in deep leagues, or 2 QB leagues, or dynasty leagues he’s worth a speculative add – because while he may not have the job for long, or only have it for this season – there’s the slim chance he performs well enough to win the job outright.  And that’s a shot the other “fill-in” QB’s just don’t have.  Dynasty league value here is probably the highest, but if you have a redraft league with QB issues – as a lotto style backup option he may be worth a look.

WR Mike Brown – With Cecil Shorts struggling due to injury, Jacksonville has another WR getting garbage time points.  Brown’s huge 5 catch 120 yard day came out of nowhere and isn’t likely to be duplicated again this season – but if you need WR4/5 depth on your roster he may be worth a flier.  For you PPR players Brown has 9 catches over his last 2 games – and should Shorts continue to nurse injury – I expect Brown’s targets to remain steady.

DROPS

WR Tavon Austin – Austin did finally get behind a defense this week for a big play – but that play was canceled out by a tripping penalty.  The rookie WR, who I felt was terribly overhyped coming out of college has had a rough transition to the NFL game, and now with QB Sam Bradford out for the season there is no reason to own this guy in redraft leagues, even in very deep leagues he’s a questionable keep.  I don’t advise dropping TE Jared Cook just yet, because new QB’s tend to rely on TE’s to dump off the ball to….but Cook may also become a Kellen Clemmens causality drop in a game or two.

RB Chris Ogbonnaya – If you picked him up based off his week 6 80 total yards 1 TD performance it may be time to drop him already. 4 touches coming off of that game? 4?!!  And now he’s in a committee with Fozzy Whittaker behind McGahee?!!  The Cleveland Browns are infuriating for fantasy this year….total wild cards.

: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

Truth or Fiction from NFL Week 1

Before we get into what one can potentially recognize from the 1st week of football.  I want to stress that- just like the real NFL – a week 1 win, or loss does not set up/or ruin your 2013 fantasy season.  Sure some of you may have more work to do than others, but if you follow along with what’s happening in the NFL there’s always waiver work to do, and potentially even trades to make.

The NFL has changed, preseason doesn’t help starters out the way it used to – and as a result some of your fantasy players may have let you down this week.  On the other hand some players may simply have been benefits of unique situations that temporarily inflated their value.

Sure, we’ll have weekly articles on who to grab from your waiver wire, or who to trade for/away – but really the most important part of being a fantasy owner is to evaluate your players and the NFL trends weekly – and then to put those in the proper context.

So for our 1st weekend of NFL football I’m gonna put out there some of the bigger potential fantasy stories and what I think is really going on with them.  Then using this analysis, I’ll attack my league’s waiver wire – or my week 2 starting lineup, or my trade offers (you shouldn’t do a lot of trading early in the year unless you feel like you’re getting overwhelming value).

TRUTH

1.) The Eagles Offense will be a hot spot for everyone as long as Michael Vick stays healthy.   I wrote about this a lot this preseason – and this is a very tough game to truly evaluate if the Eagles will have the league’s best offense or whether several early Washington mistakes inflated the stats.  What is undeniable though is that this offense fits their skill players perfectly.  WR Desean Jackson and TE Brent Celek can now safely be thought of as fantasy weekly starters, while QB Michael Vick and especially RB Lesean McCoy can now be thought of as fantasy MVP caliber players.

2.) QB Colin Kapernick is not a one year fantasy wonder, and the Niners will continue to open up their offense for him.  Sure, it was against the terrible Packers D – but the trend for Harbaugh to allow his QB to throw has to make fantasy owners happy.  And they should continue to do this even against better defenses.  Kap’s chemistry with WR Anquan Bolidn (208 yards!) may have been the story of the day, but I think the story of the 2013 season will be his emerging connection with TE Vernon Davis.  The Niners will not be a pass 1st team by season’s end, but it is safe to throw out the notion that their passing game will be conservative.

3.) Pittsburgh’s rushing attack, if not their whole offense looks headed for disaster.  Again, everything depends on your league size and team needs – but I would be getting out of the Steelers backfield as soon as possible.  The passing game may still provide moments and stars this season – but the running game is going to be dead in the water for most or all of 2013.  Losing their all-pro center Maurkice Pouncey for the season was the deathblow.  A final stroke that was set up for a team that lost RB Le’Veon Bell for 2 months earlier in the preseason, and a team that lost scat back RB LaRod Stephens-Howling in this one also for the season.  Starter Isaac Redmon – got all of about 9 yards before fumbling problems had him on the bench.  How bad is Pitt’s RB situation?  They brought back Jonathan Dwyer – a guy they cut only a few days before b/c he lacked dedication to the job.  Isn’t that inspiring?  If you own a Pittsburgh back in fantasy they are at their lowest value, so you either drop them for a promising player, or you wait til they have a good week and move them…if any one of them ever has that good week.

4.) New England’s offense is still very much in flux.  Paging super sleeper (for some) TE Zac Sudfeld?  Are you awake Zac? Are you alive?  Yeah, after 1 game the next move TE in the New England offense has as many receptions for as many yards as I do.  And now he seems to have hamstring problems.  RB Steven Ridley a very popular RB2 choice for fantasy – and likely a 2nd round pick in most formats – was clearly outplayed, and seemed to have quite literally fumbled away his job – with an early fumble.   Unfortunately for the Patriots when RB Shane Vereen came in and went for an all purpose day of over 150 yards – he broke his wrist and will miss the next 4 games.  Likewise WR Danny Amendola who caught 10 passes, also got hurt for the 1,000th time in his career and looks to be unavailable for week 2.   Nothing is settled for workload or targets right now, and the biggest winners this week are probably Steven Ridley owners who will get a 2nd chance on life.

FICTION

1.) RB David Wilson will lose his starting RB job any time soon.  I know I’m not his biggest fan – and fumbling, especially twice is a good way to get benched.  But when RB Andre Brown went down the reality is the Giants had a bare cupboard behind Wilson.  Now I know the big story is who the Giants will bring in this week (as we mentioned in our preseason articles) – and whomever they bring in is worth a look in fantasy on the waiver wire (depending on the talent of the guy they are bringing in)…but the reality is, whomever comes in will be competing only to take some of the workload away, not the job.  Not yet anyway.  The Giants have been very publicly supportive of Wilson after the game – b/c they know that they need Wilson’s speed in the offense.   For now and for the 1st half of the season he should be safe and is worth a buy low trade offer if you can grab him…..but, it does come with the risk that he continues to shot himself in the le…umm foot.  Sorry I confuse that saying when it comes to the G-men).

2.) The Seattle Offense will under perform vs expectations this year.  Right now, file this under fiction.  People will look at Kapernick, Luck, and Rg3’s (who got most of his in garbage time) stat sheets for week 1 and be ready to dump on Mr Wilson.  Personally, and this is no slight to Russell Wilson, but I think his fantasy ceiling is naturally the lowest of those 4 anyway – and this game did nothing to change that opinion.  And it shouldn’t change anyone’s opinion that Wilson can still very easily be a top 8-10 fantasy QB.  Likewise, owners have to be upset with RB Marshawn Lynch’s 40 something yard effort.  It’s gonna be ok – and believe me you will be able to start them in road games, even on the east coast.  The problem in this one, (aside from opening week rustiness) was the Carolina front 7.  Carolina’s front 7 are very talented and they play the run game especially well – in boxing “styles make fights”- and in this one the Panthers just matched up very well with the things Seattle likes to do.  There will be much bigger fantasy days ahead for the Seahawks.

3.) It’s panic time on RB CJ Spiller, WR Dez Bryant, and WR Calvin Johnson.   I lumped these guys together – 3,2, and 3 would be their week 1 point totals in most leagues, and I really added Johnson to highlight the absurdity of worrying about these 1st and 2nd round fantasy picks.  These guys had bad weeks due to schemes and due to circumstance – no one wants this to happen, but it does.  There are some guys like maybe WR Mike Wallace and WR Kenny Britt that you can start looking for the red flag, but even on them – after one week it’s not time to raise it.

And so these are just a few of the Week 1 fallouts – whether you won or lost in your week 1 matchups, just like the real guys it’s on to week 2 and planning for that.  We’ll have some waiver articles up soon for you to help with that plan.

:by 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