Category Archives: Oakland Raiders

2014 Postcast: Free Agent Review WR’s and TE’s

Check out our second installment of our award winning podcasts.  This episode we talk over the WR and TE signings that have happened thus far.  We also give our worst and best of FA so far.   The recording date was 3/27/14.  Subscribe on iTunes!

 

Intro Music – Carcass – Buried Dreams

Outro Music – Blackalicious – Clockwork  

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2013 – Week 5 Waiver Add/Drop

Another week, another opportunity.  Last week we told you to get out ahead on guys like WR Kenbrell Thompkins, WR Nate Washington and TE Heath Miller – who will all be higher priority adds for teams looking for depth and starting options during the bye weeks. WR Terrance Williams and  WR Robert Woods we advised as a deep buys – ( in Woods’ case 2 weeks ago!!)…to me they both get bumps towards a level 2 guys right now. They are great WR 4 plays (and Williams a potential Wr 3 for a few more weeks) if you need one.  Also, we gave a tentative endorsement to QB Brian Hoyer – I would say you now have to upgrade that endorsement on the back of a 2nd strong game.  Hoyer can be thought of as a borderline “level 1” guy in waivers this week – but if you already have a good fantasy backup QB – target some of the other players 1st – it remains to be seen if Hoyer can sustain this longterm.   We’ve got a great record with our recommendations so far in 2013 so take note and keep reading…

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 Le’Veon Bell – Bell is probably not available in a ton of leagues, but if he’s there he’s a must grab.  I thought Bell would start slow at best, and even recommended sitting him this past weekend to see what he was about.  Well, 57 yards and 2 TD’s later it’s safe to say Bell is an option at RB going forward.  Now the Steelers are on bye coming up this week, and he won’t have the luxury of 2 TD’s bailing out an under 100 yard performance every week either, but Bell has RB2 potential – especially in 12 team standard leagues.   If you need him and he’s free, I hope you’re #1 on the waiver order this week.

WR Justin Blackmon – Just as we saw with Josh Gordon 2 weeks ago, a potential #1 WR is coming off suspension this week and has the potential to be just sitting out there on your league’s waiver wire.  Last year as a rookie and with a subpar QB, Blackmon had 865 and 5 TD’s.  Now, Blackmon doesn’t have as good a situation as Gordon (how does that feel Jacksonville? Hoyer > Gabbert/Henne!)….but Blackmon makes an intriguing add based on the sheer amount of targets he’s likely to see this season.  I warned you about a slow start on Josh Gordon which turned out to be wrong, but I think with Blackmon you really will have to get him now and wait 2-3 games to see a return.  I don’t see him as consistent enough to be a WR2 for you, but WR3 or flex play with high upside is possible depending on the week.

RB Danny Woodhead – Now Woodhead was probably drafted in your leagues, but if you play in a league with a short bench some stupid owner (read as myself) may have let Woodhead go for a gamble elsewhere.  Now Woodhead is nowhere near the priority of trying to get Le’Veon Bell – his production isn’t going to look like 80 all purpose yards and 2 TD’s every week.   Woodhead however can be a valuable flex add and even RB2 if you have injuries or bye week issues.  Unfortunately, based off of Week 4 you will be fighting many owners to get him if you are in a league where he’s free, but you may grab him as a consolation prize to Bell or Blackmon.   If you do, hold him through his ups and downs…

Level 2

RB Roy Helu – When Alfred Morris left the game this weekend with a rib injury, people were briefly reminded why 2 years ago the Redskins thought their RB of the future was Helu.  Helu fits the one cut Shanhan scheme, and adds a pass catching element that may help the Redskins struggling offense even more.  Morris’ injury doesn’t sound too bad, and the Redskins have a bye in week 5 to help – but rib pain can be a lingering and tricky issue so Helu is worth an insurance pick in most leagues.   It’s possible that the Redskins involve Helu even more just to keep Alf a little healthier even in the games where Morris is able to play.  Helu is a grab now, before Morris is ruled out of any action – b/c by then it will be way too late.

RB Rashad Jennings – It may not be that much of a surprise that starter Darren McFadden is dealing with injury.  What you may have missed though is that RB/FB Marcel Reece is also struggling with a knee injury.  This frees things up for a larger temporary workload for Jennings – b/c even if McFadden is able to suit up Jennings will have no competition for spell touches.  In deeper or even average size leagues with bye week issues, Jennings could be a risky flex start to help stop your team from bleeding dry.  Pick him up if you have a need at RB4 on your roster and monitor the injury reports on McFadden coming out of Oakland to determine if you start him.

QB Ryan Fitzpatrick – Jake Locker’s hip injury opens the door for Fitzpatrick for a month or even two.  So, if you have a bad QB situation and want to take a gamble – you could do worse than rostering him and seeing what develops.  Locker was pretty terrible, but it wasn’t due to him having a lack of weapons.  I’m not saying Fitzpatrick is any better (he very well could be though), but anytime you have Nate Washington, Kendall Wright, and Justin Hunter to look at you could stumble into some good fantasy weeks.  Hell, imagine if Fitzpatrick can find a way to involve Kenny Britt?!!  Tennessee has too much invested in Locker not to bring him back as the starter when he’s ready to play again… but in the meantime Fitzpatrick may see action in as many as 8 games enough to have him worth considering should you need help there.

WR Jeremy Kerley – Just as the Jets passing game was starting to solidify a little around Santonio Holmes’ return and Stephen Hill’s promise – both get injured.  Holmes has a hamstring issue – which as we know can be the most troublesome to predict injury a player can have…followed closely by a concussion which is the injury Hill suffered this weekend.  Now Kerley himself had a concussion in week 2 this season, however he passed his test and has played the last two weeks without issue.  I think with Holmes and Hill slowed, or potentially out week to week here, Kerley has a chance to come back to his WR3 fantasy type of potential.  He’s a dependable WR who knows the offense and that can help Geno Smith out – as Smith continues to learn the game.  Kerley isn’t going to wow you in real life often, or in fantasy most weeks – but he can give you that 7 or 8 point ffl production when you have roster issues, and to me he’s worth owning at least until Holmes and Hill are considered back to full strength.

DEF Browns –    This Defense is becoming a good play against most offenses. Now that the offense has shown signs of life it will help put the defense in good position.  Joe Hayden is playing as good as any CB in the league and the strong front seven are a formidable as they come.   Defensive coordinator Ray Horton is underrated and is one of the best in the league. After watching his time with Arizona, he is very creative and has a great scheme.

Level 3

RB Benny Cunningham – He’d be even higher for me if the Rams weren’t an absolute mess right now.  1 year after being drafted as their back of the future – Isiah Pead was a healthy scratch in week 4 (more on this later).  Starter Daryl Richardson averaged 1.3 ypc last week and for the season is well under 4 YPC.  To me Benny Cunningham looks like the most “NFL” rb on the roster, as he runs hard between the tackles and at 5’10 210lbs he’s more built to take punishment than Richardson.  I know this isn’t a great situation for any RB right now, and I know that Richardon’s role in the the short passing game isn’t likely to get him fully replaced in the linuep, but Cunningham’s touches have been increasingly the last 2 games.  I know 5 touches doesn’t sound too exciting…but, consider that it now appears Cunningham is ahead of both Zac Stacey (remember him?) and Pead…you won’t find too many clear backups sitting on your league’s waiver in Week 5.  And if you do, you’re not likely to find a guy with a worse starter in front of him.   Benny could be the Rams 1st and 2nd down rb in a few weeks.  If you have a need at RB, he’s worth a speculative add.

TE Garret Graham – It’s tough to like guys that are the 2 TE on a team (at least those not convicted of murder), but in a year where guys like Fred Davis, Bradon Pettigrew, and many others have dissapointed – the other TE Graham could be a viable option for you.  Graham has caught a TD in 3 out of the 1st 4 games now – so he’s a clear red zone target.  Without the TD’s you can only expect 3-5 pts from him weekly, so he is a gamble – but some of you may be at that point where it’s better to bet on upside than to live with disappointment.

TE Mychal Rivera – Want a deeeeeeeeeeeppppppp TE flier?  Rivera caught his 1st TD pass of his career this past weekend, and as been averaging just 20-30 yards per game.  However, in deep leagues or dynasty leagues Rivera may be worth an add on the speculation that he’ll be the #1 TE receiving threat on Oakland before the midway point of the season.  Now that may not translate to too much fantasy love production, but if you pick him up and he starts to get redzone looks than you may have a solid TE2 in a few weeks.  He’s probably left best on the wire in your league until we see him catch another TD, but if you have needs and are in a deep league you may not be able to afford to wait.  I started him in one league this weekend over Fred Davis, and I was rewarded with a solid 8 points.

WR Keenan Allen –   I loved this guy coming out of college.  I know he had a knee issue going into the draft, but he was great at high pointing balls, running routes and was an explosive player.  He finally looks healthy and has flashed what I saw coming out of college. If you have the roster spot, it might be worth to buy low now and give him a few weeks.  If Rivers continues to play great and if Rivers and Allen remain in sync, Allen could become a viable flex play.

TE Sean McGrath – Firstly, he has a awesome beard. Secondly,  this Seahawks cast off(cut in the last round of preseason cuts) McGrath has made the most of his opportunity in KC. Last week he had 5 catches for 64 and a touchdown.  Now, it will remain to be seen if he keeps getting looks when Fansano and Kelce come back from injury, but he could be worth a look in a deep league.  Probably nothing more than a fill in, but keep an eye on him to see if he keeps getting targets.  Wait and see on him.

 WR- Deonte Thompson –   We are going “balls deep” here. The Ravens are still looking for someone to take over for Jacoby Jones as he recovers from injury  and even  after he returns, they still need a 3rd WR.   D Thompson caught 4 balls for 50 yards against the Bills.   He is probably only worth a spot in a really deep or dynasty league, but he is one to monitor moving forward if he can grab that WR3 job in Baltimore.

Players to Drop

TE Brandon Myers – I liked Myers in Oakland and assumed that the Giants liked him enough as their Martellius Bennett replacement to involve him heavily in the offense this season.  Not only has Myers not been a key figure in the offense, he hasn’t even made an impact in garbage time recently.  And when you get blanked on the stat sheet when your team loses 38-7, as they did this past weekend that’s a terrible sign.  Myers is probably droppable now in standard size leagues – he’s just a victim of the Giants offense collapsing right now.

RB Isiah Pead/Zac Stacey – Face it.  You’ve been holding on to these guys as lotto tickets and they are just about bust for 2013.  Pead was a healthy scratch last game on team that has known RB issues, and Stacey who was supposed to benefit from that scratch got no action in the game either.  It’s possible both Pead and Stacey manage to eek out a start for the 2013 Rams, with the team just trying to find any answers, but neither is likely to do anything with the state of the Rams run blocking.  To top it off to even get these chances they will have to wait til the Rams are done giving Benny Cunningham and Daryl Richardson looks.   Unless you play in a very deep league, or a dynasty league there are better prospects on your league’s waiver right now.  Drop these dudes and move on, the dream is over.

WR Golden Tate – Tate might have a game here and there this season that makes him worth rostering, or even starting – but good luck getting out the ouja board to figure out when that will be.  I’m not saying he’s a clear cut in all formats, but a guy that has under 200 yards receiving and no TD’s in 4 games is not automatically a fantasy bench guy for your team even if he is a starter in real life.  Check your waiver wire, and if a WR with some upside is sitting there that you feel intrigued by – cut Tate without much hesitation.

TE Zach Miller – With all the injuries to Seattle’s O-line, Miller will be blocking quite bit.  I would drop him for just about anyone at this point.  Keep an eye on him later in the season, but as of now, free up that roster spot if you haven’t already and cut him.  Those 2 touchdowns in week 3 were a mirage.

-Ron and 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 3: Chicago vs Oakland

CHICAGO

RB Matt Forte looked great in this one: 6 carries for 76 yards,  2 catches for 33 and a TD.   Forte’s current ADP in 12 team leagues is bottom of the 2nd, top of the 3rd and I feel that’s fair value for a guy who has had health problems.  We discussed Forte a bit on our Mock Draft podcast (https://artofscore.wordpress.com/2013/08/24/podcast-mock-draft/)  where Tim and I go a little back and forth on him vs MJD.  He will lose some TD’s to RB Michael Bush as happened in this game (twice!!), but Forte’s total yardage and and value in PPR leagues make him well worth it.

WR Alshon Jeffery also looked good in this one with 7 catches for 77 yards.  We are all big fans of Jeffery here at artofscore, Ron in particular.  He was tackled at the goaline on one play – where…you guessed it…Michael Bush, instead of Forte ran it in.

OAKLAND

QB Matt Flynn had another bad week – and unlike last week where it was bad b/c he was hit a ton, this week it was bad because he looked lost.  3 of 6 with 2 int’s might be more painful than all the body blows he’s taken lately.   Don’t get me wrong Flynn still got pressured virtually all of his time and took some big shots – but Flynn is seeming to develop “happy feet” even when the pressure is relatively light.  To make matters worse – both of Flynn’s interceptions came from the pocket on badly thrown balls without pressure in his face.  And then we get after the game that Flynn needs to rest because he has some type of “tired arm” or general arm soreness.

Enter the QB Terrell Pyor and the hype that he can unseat Flynn.  Let me break down his 7 for 9  93 yard 1 TD and 4 carries for 37 yards and 1 TD performance for you.   He came in midway through the 2nd quarter – he went 3 and out after nearly throwing an interception that was dropped.   He then ended the half against a soft Bears zone d getting a decent completion.   And then it was Pryor vs the 2nd and 3rd string Bears’ d who were playing with a huge lead.  He made some good plays and some “bad” plays that worked out for him when he scrambled around tossed the ball up for grabs and somehow WR Rod Streeter came down with it despite getting knocked out on the play.

Pryor will not make it as an NFL QB long term – I have my doubts as to whether he can unseat Flynn. But I will say that what’s working in his favor is that it doesn’t seem that the Raiders can put a drop back passer in that offense without getting him killed.  So, Pryor may win this job by the default fact that he can scramble the best.  I don’t know, this whole thing is a mess…if fantasy points are to be found from the Raiders “passing game” they are going to be ugly, ugly points.

In fact, this is getting so bad in Oakland with the OL that I can no longer recommend taking RB Darren McFadden (did not play in this one) in the 3rd or 4th round of 12 team redraft leagues.  I was a tentative “buyer” on him during our “Sleeper” podcast (https://artofscore.wordpress.com/2013/08/25/podcast-2013-sleepers/)…but I cannot do it anymore after watching these last 2 games.  That OL is terrible, as a 5th round pick I could try – and if you’re in a PPR, the 4th round may work out…but right now his value is a little too high.

It was nice to see WR Jacoby Ford healthy enough to handle kick returns – long shot dynasty prospect only, they failed to really (1 carry for 8 yards) get him involved beyond that, but with his health returning who knows?   He’s back at least enough to get WR Josh Cribbs cut, Cribbs a talented player that never got as many chances to play “real” WR as he should have – probably has seen the end of his NFL career.

:by Mike

2013 Preseason Week 2: Oakland vs New Orleans

Oakland

Oakland’s already below average OL was coming into this one missing starters, and it nearly got QB Matt Flynn killed.  In total against all Raiders QB’s the Saints tallied an insane 7 sacks, so what’s even a little more nonsensical is that somehow Flynn finished with a statline of 12 for 16 for 124 yards and a TD.   I don’t believe Flynn is a fantasy starter unless you’re in a league of 15 or more, or you start 2 QB’s….but I will say after privately making fun of this guy’s weak arm…that the rest of his body must be made out of steel to take this kind of abuse and still get something done.

WR Denarius Moore caught the TD from Flynn, and may be the only semi-reliable weekly player in this passing offense.  But the guy standing out over the 1st 2 preseason games is rookie WR Brice Butler.  Butler is 6’3 and 213 and in this one he got a lot of playing time with the starters.  In 2 preseason games Butler has 5 catches for 108 yards and a TD.   I don’t think many Raiders will be very valuable this year, but this guy has me at least watching to see how much he’s involved in the 3rd preseason game.  In re-draft leagues he’s undraftable right now, but in dynasty leagues it is time to put this guy on your radar.

RB Darren McFadden started, got 5 carries, and didn’t get hurt.  That is all you want to hear about him – his draft stock in all formats is lower than it’s ever been, but if he plays even 10 games this season he could win you a league.  Risk/reward thy name is McFadden.

New Orleans

New Orleans was its typical “spread the love and the scoring” offense that fantasy players have come to love and hate.  The players leading the touches with the starters in this one: RB Darren Sproles and RB Mark Ingram.

Sproles got his typical balance 5 carries for 9 yards, and 5 catches for 35 yards.  The numbers aren’t standout “fall in love” with, but it speaks to his involvement in so much of the Saints offense.  Some people see the Saints RB’s as a mess – Sproles, Thomas, and Ingram should all cannibalize each other right?

I see opportunity, and Sproles leads that vision. Sproles is the one with the most unique skill threat of the 3.  He’s fast, catches the ball well, and blocks, and he’s tougher than he gets credit for… sure at the end of the year he’s gotten his numbers atypically for a RB, but if at the end of the season he has 900 total yards and 8-9 Td’s  he’s well worth taking a flier on as a RB2.

The real problem here is for anyone who wants to select one of the 2 remaining Saints RB’s:  Mark Ingram to me has looked like a grade A (or F really) dud since he hit the league.  But he claims he’s healthier this season than ever before and he is still getting those little goaline carries in the preseason.  It seems once again he’s been given the opportunity to lead this backfield- while poor Pierre Thomas- one of the most underrated RB’s in all of football has to settle for scraps.  My usual advice is to pass on Ingram, and then see about a flier on Pierre very late in your drafts- in case Ingram gets hurt – Pierre would then represent RB2 value as well…

WR Kenny Stills 4 catches for 64 yards and a TD – is a rookie looking for that WR3 job.  He ran with the starters and looked pretty good, a productive college player he’s in quite a fight with WR Nick Toon.  Toon – a 2nd year player, caught a 56 yarder in this one to state his case – but it was his only catch.   Both guys got reps with Brees so the battle will continue – redrafters and dynasty players alike should keep their eyes on these 2 to see what develops.   One of them may even have a chance to move up to the WR2 position this season as Marques Colston’s foot injury (chronic plantar fasciitis) has him as a good bet to miss some playing time in 2013.

:by Mike