Category Archives: Philadelphia Eagles

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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DeSean Jackson to the Redskins: Now Gang Sign free

As a Redskins’ fan even I’m not sure how to feel about WR DeSean Jackson being kicked to the curb by the green, only to find refuge in the burgundy and gold.  There are several elements to this new deal – from a reality and a fantasy football perspective -so let’s deal with the early impressions for each.

IN REALITY

This whole DeSean Jackson story is puzzling to those of us outside the NFL’s inner personnel offices.  What was the Eagles real motivation behind releasing the team’s 2013 leading WR?  Was it conflict with the head coach Chip Kelly?  Was it conflict with teammates?  Was it potential contract demands?  Or was it something more sinister?  Like Jackson’s reported gang ties, and other assorted off field behavior?

I have to think by process of elimination that we are dealing more with one of those personality conflicts between coach and player, and possibly player and player – rather than the sensationalized “Crips” association.   Don’t believe that?  Like the soap opera storyline better?  Ok, but let’s examine what’s happened in the last 48 hours.

Washington signed Jackson to a reported 3 year 24mil  (could actually be a 4 year 32mil deal – but the 4th year is team voidable) dollar contract late last night.  The contract has about 16mil guaranteed and breaks out to about 8mil a season.  Those #’s are fairly high, but by no means are they out of a majority of teams’ budgets.  Greg Jennings for Minnesota is making more per season by comparison (ouch Vikings, ouch).  So I think we can rule out contract demands as a source of Jackson’s Philly release.

Also, one has to believe that the Redskins did some due diligence on researching DeSean’s off-field associations, before handing out that contract.  I know they probably didn’t find everything about him, and I know it’s certainly possible he does hang with shady dudes.   But let’s be real about this, every NFL team is willing to deal with some level of “shadiness” if the player can play.  If it helps, the LA Police department came out publicly on twitter to say to their knowledge  Jackson has no official ties to any gang or other criminal activity  in the LA area.

As a Redskins fan I am very familiar with what happens inside organizations when a player and a coach fall out.  I thought Mike Shanahan’s treatment of players was despicable last season -and the relationship between him and Robert Griffin was ugly and public.  In its aftermath, when Shanahan was fired at the end of the year we had Shanahan’s people leaking stories to Adam Schefter and others – while the Redskins organization leaked its own stories to the press to try to counteract the PR damage.  It was a mess full of exaggerations, lies, and stuff that was just better left unsaid.

The point is I see a lot of these types of things happening now with the DeSean Jackson story.  Philly 1st reported clashes between him and headcoach Chip Kelly, then it was his asking for a new contract, then it was going to get worked out, then it wasn’t, then some teammates came out against him, and finally the gang stories surfaced – just as the Eagles were getting ready to tear up his deal.  The root of the  issue is what makes sense – Jackson was no longer a part of Chip Kelly’s philosophy on how to run a team.

And that’s valid – but it probably seems extreme to many football outsiders (fans for example) to just cut a player outright, and that leads to the other “layers” of the story – gang ties and contract demands, but let’s not be fooled here.  At least part of the “other stuff” is a Philly state sponsored story to defend themselves for the move. How much of it is real- is probably somewhere in the middle – missing meetings for example sounds plausible, running with the Crips sounds less so.  Whatever Jackson and Kelly really had conflict with we’ll never know – we just now have a he said/he said thing to sort through and frankly, it may not even mean much in the end.

POSITIVES OF THE DEAL

The positives for Washington in the new arrangement are fairly obvious: Jackson completes a WR overhaul in DC that was desperately needed.   It’s hard to argue for example that Pierre Garcon, DeSean Jackson, and Andre Roberts aren’t a massive upgrade in talent over 2013’s Garcon, Leonard Hankerson, and Aldrick Robinson.

The contract as a 3 year 24mil dollar (or 4 for 32mil) deal is also a win for them – in the sense that if things do go south for DeSean Jackson in DC, the Redskins can at least mitigate their losses to only a season or two.  And if rumors are true – the shorter deal may be better for Jackson – as he may want to re-evaluate what he’s worth after bigger seasons.

For Philly the positives are that Chip Kelly, who remember has only coached one NFL season, has become the “sheriff” in town.  He’s won the battle vs Jackson and has front office, and seemingly lockeroom support for his move.  Kelly had a terrific offense last season, if he keeps it anywhere close to that – the number of Eagle fans who regret losing Jackson will probably vanish.

NEGATIVES OF THE DEAL

For Washington they are assuming risks here.  Jackson in all likelihood does have some rough edges as a team player.  As with most top WR’s there’s a degree of diva in him – but whether this means that he gets in a few minor shouting incidents with teammates or coaches, or whether that escalates into skipping meetings and whining about his payday to the press – we just don’t know.  1st year headcoach Jay Gruden will have to learn how to manage him when he gets temperamental – and we simply don’t know how that will go.

Also, Jackson’s 1332 yards last season was a career high – in previous years he’s been banged up a bit, and has had bouts of wild inconsistency in production. How much of that was a QB problem?  How much of his recent production was a result of Chip Kelly?

And that’s a risk Kelly is taking on his side as well.  If Jackson succeeds in Washington and the Eagles offense falls off a bit – how will Kelly be viewed by the Front Office?  Wining is everything, and if they don’t win – will letting Jackson go be a part of the criticism’s against him? Almost certainly.

IN FANTASY FOOTBALL

WR DeSean Jackson: I expect Jackson’s #’s to come down a bit from last season, but I think that was fair to assume in any case since it was a career high year for him.  Beyond that, it’s tough to forecast – certainly he will fill a similar role in Washington that he did in Philly – he’ll be the deep threat on a team that desperately needs one.  Good news here for Jackson’s fantasy value is that I anticipate Jay Gruden going downfield with passing more than Mike Shanahan did – it just fits Gruden’s profile and now he has the downfield weapon to exploit that.  Fantasy Football players will have to watch preseason to see if we’ll get a hint of Jackson’s new situation – but there’s no serious need to bump him up or down in value at this point.

QB  Robert Griffin III  – RG3 has to be excited by this move, and IMO he’s the only clear fantasy winner in this situation.  Gruden will want him to throw more this season – and instead of being just Garcon and a bunch of dudes – Jackson gives him another prime weapon.  Robert was probably due for a bounceback year as it was, because he’s now more recovered from his knee injury than he was in 2013 – but having a legitimate deep threat will now take the pressure off him a little more.  It may even open up more running room for him, since teams will be less inclined to walk a safety down into the box on non-obvious passing downs.

WR Pierre Garcon – I think Pierre is, from a talent perspective, still the best WR on the Redskins’ roster – and this is a complicated case.  He won’t be getting the same amount of targets with Jackson there, so it’s unlikely he’ll come close to the 113 receptions (which led the NFL) that he had last season.  On the other hand Garcon will no longer have the entire opposing defense making him a priority – and this may help him improve on his TD total ( 5 in 2013). Also, as Garcon tends to suffer nicks and bruises at a higher rate than average – hopefully this will keep him healthier throughout all 16 games.  In PPR leagues his value may suffer a little from what he was projected to be in 2014 before this deal, but RG3 loves looking his way – and he still has fantasy WR1 potential.

WR Andre Roberts – Roberts is probably the Redskins player hurt most by the deal.  And it’s unfortunate as he had an opportunity to play inside and outside on offense before the deal, and now it looks like mainly slot work for him.  As a Redskins fan I love the idea of Garcon, Jackson, and Roberts working together – but as a fantasy owner of Roberts in a dynasty league I feel a little deflated that Roberts won’t get the volume of chances he probably should.  WR3 or WR4 in fantasy now feels like the right place for him – instead of WR2 high WR3 that I previously had him tracking at.

TE Jordan Reed – Reed was target option #2 for RG3 last season and you have to think that changes now.  Reed, who has proven a little fragile thanks to a severe concussion last season that put him on the shelf for over 5 games, has never really gone multiple games without being banged up somehow.  He remains a risk/reward TE choice – flirting with top 5 TE numbers when healthy, but this season it’s safer to assume with added options for RG3 that his ceiling may be a little lower – like top 10 TE and that’s IF healthy.

WR Leonard Hankerson/Santana Moss – one or both of these guys may not make the club now.  Moss is a veteran leader, but is clearly at the stage where that’s his biggest asset to a team.  Potential perhaps to be clutch on 3rd down – but from a fantasy perspective worthless if he remains in Washington.  Hankerson, is a little more difficult – he’s much younger, fits a possession WR mold the Skins could use, but he’s currently recovering from a torn ACL and won’t be ready til mid-preseason at best.  He’d also suffered a serious knee injury 2 seasons ago, and has never really developed sure hands.  He could be a useful NFL player – but he may even get IR’d for 2014 – and if you’re a dynasty owner of him right now it may be time to give up his roster spot if you need the room.

WR Jeremey Maclin/Riley Cooper – Well we were wondering if Maclin coming back from his 2013 season ending injury would impact Cooper’s targets.  With Jackson gone now, there should be plenty of targets for both of these guys – if Maclin’s recovery goes according to plan. It’s safe to assume in a high volume passing attack these guys are both high end WR2 plays that have chances to become WR1’s.   Cooper was a Foles favorite last season, so he may have the early edge on targets here.

QB Nick Foles -There’s a lot we don’t know about Nick Foles – can he repeat his excellent 2013 level of decision making?  Will defenses around the league “catch up” a little to Chip Kelly and Foles tendencies?  What wrinkles will Foles be able to insert with another year of experience in Kelly’s system?  And now what will Foles do without his leading WR from last season?  I have a feeling  he’ll be ok…but there is a risk of an adjustment period and Foles not reaching the stats of 2013.  Regardless I think it’s safe to draft Foles as your QB1 – just don’t overpay for him because he very well could fall out of the top 6 or 7.

RB Darren Sproles – We know McCoy will get his carries and catches, but there had been some debate (listen to our offseason podcasts) over how much usage Darren Sproles will get.  That’s still an unknown, but with an unproven group trying to be Wr3 – it’s possible we see Sproles split out as a WR more – possibly even to compliment increased uses of the TE’s Ertz and Celek.  I think Kelly will find some very creative ways to generate that third passing threat – and Sproles has to be on the list.  Track comments about him over the preseason – wait and watch.

The Rest of the Eagles WR’s: On the Philly side this is to me where it gets interesting.  Your top 2 WR’s are Riley Cooper who has had exactly one year of proven worth, and Jeremy Maclin who has an injury history.  You’ve lost the deep/speed threat on your offense, and out of the remaining guys on the depth chart WR Damarias Johnson and Brad Smith  seem to be the most promising.  This is an important spot as even the 4th or 5th option in a Chip Kelly offense could bring fantasy depth to your team.  Personally I can see the team getting a cheap veteran like resigning WR Jason Avant, and then drafting a speed style WR in the mid rounds of the 2014 draft.   Whatever happens keep an eye on it there’s some great fantasy potential here – particularly if Cooper or Maclin stumble.

FINAL THOUGHTS

There is a lot to think about with this signing as it was clearly one of the biggest moves of the 2014 offseason.  There aren’t many clear answers right now to some of the biggest questions – will DeSean behave himself?  How will Philly replace his speed and production?  What does this mean for DeSean’s production?

For fantasy you will have to monitor everything in preseason, as with any other player – but remember in uncertainty comes opportunity.  We’ll update these players and more as the offseason rolls on.

:by Mike

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

2013 – Week 6 Waiver Add/Drop

2 weeks ago we recommended this WR Terrance Williams and RB Andre Ellington.  (and for the record Jeremy Kerley as well). We saw the trends – hopefully you did too.  Both players move up on the priority list and  are shorter term adds as described below, but they can help you get through the bye weeks.

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

TE Garret Graham– Owen Daniels is out for 4 to 6 weeks with a broken leg.  Even with Daniels in there he was a borderline “get.”  Now he is a top tier get.  Yes, the QB situation could be in flux with Houston, but with daniels out, Graham becomes the defacto #2 target behind Andre Johnson.

QB Nick Foles – Yep, I’m advising the add of a guy that hasn’t won a job yet.  Chip Kelly can give all the endorsements to Michael Vick he wants, but the simple truth is, if Vick doesn’t go this weekend – and Foles plays well – consider the possibility that the Eagles starting QB is on your league’s waiver wire right now.  But, but – Nick Foles isn’t the same player as Vick they won’t tie themselves to him longer than the injury to Vick?  Won’t they?  Can Chip Kelly not adapt if Foles proves a better play to win?   Will Vick struggle with injuries all year?  All I know is this – after being on the outs and being droppable even in medium size dynasty leagues this past offseason – Foles has moved up to dynasty prospect for certain, and in my mind almost a 50% chance at being a fantasy factor in 2013.  Own Michael Vick in a league?  Probably time to grab Foles.  Don’t own Vick, and have a player to drop?  Absolutely take a chance and see how this pans out over the next few games.

QB Brandon Weeden – Listen, I know what you thinking, Brandon Weeden, really?  He is the clear cut #1 in Cleveland now.  Freeman isn’t a threat as he landed in Minnesota and Jason Campbell was the #3 QB a few weeks ago.  He is not a top flight player by any means, but he could end up being a good bye and/or injury replacement.  QB’s are hard to come by at this point in the season if you absolutely have to have a warm body at the QB position currently with a job Weeden is an ok consolation prize to your Foles’ lotto ticket.

WR Vincent Brown- He has 14 catches the past 2 weeks.  Malcom Floyd is out for the year.  Brown and Keenan Allen(who you should have picked up last week)  are the starters.   Rivers is playing well and looking for Brown.  He is a WR3/flex play based on opponent and bye /injury situation.

Level 2

RB Andre Ellington- He is slowly supplanting Rashard Mendenhall at RB.  After this week, I think he is worth a flex play.  If he is still available in your league, he is a great pick up moving forward.  Last week.  7 carries for 52 yards and 4 catches for 31yards.

RB Zac Stacey –  The Rams are a mess, I think Benny Cunningham is a better player, and 78 yards doesn’t normally scream fantasy stud. But all that said, Stacey played well enough to get his turn at the Rams starting job – and as at least the 2nd most talented RB on the team he could very well win the job with 2 solid games in a row. Will that happen? I don’t know, and if it does you’re likely in for a lot of temporary flex play production as opposed to RB2 style returns. However, at this time of year starting RB’s are hard to come by, so take your chances.

DEF Cardinals – Did you see what they did to the Panthers last week?  Darryl Washington is back and he is a monster.  If you don’t know him, watch this guy. He and Dansby had great games last week. They have a good front and Patrick Peterson.  A match up play, but they will match up well against most teams especially at home.

WR Harry Douglas – Ok, Harry, I am sorry. I don’t really like you much. It’s nothing personal.  It’s not you it’s me.  However, you are good pickup this week based on the news that Julio Jones if out for the year and that Roddy White tweaked his ankle again.

WR Terrance Williams – He is probably gone after last week’s performance, but if he is still there grab him.  He will remain a good WR3 until Miles Austin gets back. Then, it will be interesting to see how he is used and how many targets he gets.  He is worth a roster spot for a few weeks, especially if you have the roster space.

DEF Jets – This is another team with a great front seven (Panthers, Browns) that we like.  I don’t think they will be world beaters every week, but if you are struggling on D they are definitely worth the pickup.

TE Jeff Cumberland- Holmes is out.  Winslow is getting phased out and there aren’t a lot of options at TE out there.  He is inconsistent at best with Geno Smith at QB, but if you are desperate, he might be worth a look.

Level 3 Preemptive Strike! Dynasty league or deep redraft pay attention. We are talking to you all here.

QB TJ Yates – Oh Matt Schaub… You know all about his troubles.  The man looks to have lost his confidence.   He soon might lose his job.   If you have the roster space and are in need of a 3rd QB.  You might want to think about grabbing him. Houston still has a great running game and  2 good WR’s.  He would be good insurance moving into the playoff push and you would keep him away from other teams in your league

RB Andre Brown – Andre.  Remember that movie about the seal named Andre?  It reminds me in no way of Andre Brown.  Brown is recovering from his surgery and nearing his return.  Brandon Jacobs is slow and is running that way.  David Wilson has a bad neck and host of other issues. Get him now before the rest of your league catches on.

WR Percy Harvin – He is probably a couple of weeks away from being back. Do not wait until they announce he will be playing to pick him up. If you do, you might get beat out for him.  If you have the roster space and are weak at WR.  He could be just what you need for your playoff push.

Drops

Rams D – The served their use against the Jags this past week.  Aside from that game, they have been awful.   Drop them for a better option.

 

:by Ron & Mike

2013 Week 4 – Waiver Add/Drop

Well, if you’ve been following us and our advice on add drops – you’re going to know that 3 of this week’s higher waiver adds in standard leagues are guys we recommended either last week or the week before.  So if you’re looking for why you should pick up WR Josh Gordon or WR Santonio Holmes after their monster weeks – well, good luck competing with your entire league for them.   I tried to warn you last week 🙂  Similarly, albeit with less authority I am not going to bring up RB Brandon Bolden as a potential add this week – b/c I advocated him in deeper leagues during week 1.  He gets a bump to Level 2 type of guy this week.

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 Fred Jackson – I believed in CJ Spiller more than most, I bought the hype.  Fred Jackson just continues to hang around though and look like the better runner.  Spiller is flash and talent – Jackson is a plodding workhorse – but for the Bills after 3 weeks Jackson seems to be what they need.  Spiller is banged up a little right now (and I’m not advising Spiller owners to panic), but even when healthy Jackson gets meaningful work.  3 games is a large enough sample size for this guy to be owned – so if somehow he’s available in more shallow leagues…pick him up.

RB Bilal Powell – Powell was likely drafted in your league, but maybe some owner got frustrated with him and tossed him out.  This is the time to get him, because with Ivory hurt for the 1,000th time in his career,  Powell has job security and is producing.  Powell is a lot like Fred Jackson – he seems to be a plodder, but unlike the hype for his backfield mate,  Powell is producing quietly and fighting for every yard.  The Jets offense is not going to light teams up most weeks, but Powell could start for your team as an RB2 if you’re having issues at the position.

WR Kenbrell Thompkins – Thompkins appears to have beaten fellow rookie Aaron Dobson for playing time and for targets.  Most importantly he seems to have shaken off an erratic week 2 and will remain in the Patriots’ plans.  He needs to be owned in all leagues, and if someone else hasn’t done it – it should be you based off his future potential as a high end WR3.

TE Heath Miller – Quietly Heath Miller is returning to action for 2013.  His 3 catches for 35 yard debut may have also gone unnoticed in your leagues….just as I’m sure people forgot that in 2012 Miller had over 800 yards receiving and 8 Td’s.  I know Pittsburgh’s offense is bad, Miller is slower, he may have to block more etc…. but the fact remains Miller and Big Ben have a chemistry together over many years and the Steelers will be throwing the ball a lot this season.  Pick Miller up if you need TE help – put him on your bench for a week or two more and then in under a month you may have a top 5-6 TE  week to week.  That’s a good deal.

Level 2

RB Jason Snelling – I’m a buyer of this guy on the news that Steven Jackson may be out another 3 weeks or more.  Snelling is just a better RB than Jacquizz Rodgers and he may get more goalline work than him before long.  Rodgers may be owned in your league, or even higher on some’s waiver priorities – use that to your advantage and take Snelling as a potential flex play.  Then, you can laugh while Rodgers gets tackled for a -1 loss every 3rd time he touches it.  Snelling won’t light the fantasy world on fire, but with Jackson out and older – by year’s end Snelling could become a very viable flex or bench player for you.

RB Jonathan Franklin – Ugh, here we go again with Green Bay’s backfield.  Look here’s what we know – Ed Lacy will be back in the picture as early as this week.  James Starks was slated over Franklin, and Franklin had a late game fumble against the Bengals that pretty much cost Green Bay the game.   Now here’s what works in his favor: he’s healthy.  Starks has a knee sprain and may be out multiple weeks, Lacy will be back but coming off a concussion, so it’s tough to see him getting the lion’s share of the workload right away.   So for at least a few weeks Franklin will have an opportunity to work this thing into a full time split.   So the question you need to ask is do I need to ride this situation long term?  Do you believe Franklin will beat Lacy out for touches by the end of the year?  I don’t – but if you need a flex play for the next 2-3 weeks in a bad way….then you might as well try this lotto ticket.

WR Nate Washington – Washington had a big day in Week 3 with 8 catches for 131 yards, more importantly he seems to have taken the Wr1 role in Tennessee (from Kenny Britt – who we advised you last week to drop in standard size leagues).  The Titans are not going to light it up very often, and Kendell Wright and Justin Hunter are young players the team will want to take looks at (and targets toward) – but Washington clearly has a role and that means some measure of weekly production.  He’s worth an add if you’re currently unhappy with your WR3 or Wr4 situation and are willing to deal with some inconsistency.

WR Davone Bess – We’re big fans of Bess here at the artofscore, but it’s only really this week that he becomes worth consideration for a roster spot. For one thing, Brian Hoyer shocked us all this weekend – and looked a little competent (more on him below), and the bigger factor is that with the Browns supposedly shopping Greg Little and Josh Gordon, Bess could be a defacto WR1 by season’s end.  He has already beaten Little out for the Wr2 job.  Optimism for the real player is capped a little by Hoyer and the rest of the Browns offense which for now includes Josh Gordon and TE Jordan Cameron – who will probably account for 80% of the Browns’ passing scores going forward.  But in the end, Bess could be a very consistent Wr3 especially should Josh Gordon leave town.

Level 3

TE Jordan Reed – Reed may not have officially beaten out Fred Davis for the starting TE job in Washington, but the writing is on the wall.  Reed is currently banged up so check on his status before making the add, but this is more of a long term buy anyway.   Reed has looked much better in the offense than Davis, and while the 2 may oscillate looks for a few weeks – Davis is on the last year of his deal, and as the team falls out of contention Reed should take more and more of the work – as he already seems more dynamic.  He’s an add if you’re desperate for a 2nd TE, and a guy like Heath Miller isn’t available…maybe by the end of the year he’s more than that.

QB Brian Hoyer – Over 300 yards and 3 Td’s.  Shocking.  One of them was a game winner!  Lost in the celebration (rightfully) of Cleveland backers this week is 2 fold..1 Minnesota’s pass defense was awful, they may wind up being in the bottom 5 in the league this year.  And 2ndly, we need to see it again before we add him for fantasy.  Hoyer has no dependable history and despite the performance had some troubling signs – like the 3 Int’s he threw.   If he struggles against better defenses can he even keep the job?  Has he even won it?  Brandon Weeden is not in favor in Cleveland for sure, but will the Browns put him back in to showcase him for other teams, or to give him a last chance to advocate for his roster spot in 2014?  These are questions that are very legitimate and not to be swept under the rug of Hoyer-mania….if there is such a thing.  Anyway, in very deep leagues I suppose Hoyer is worth an add as a backup fantasy QB, especially with guys like Terrel Pryor getting hurt etc..but in most leagues we need to see it at least twice to make him worth a pickup.

WR Ryan Broyles – I love Broyles’ talent and his situation, I just hate his knees.  Broyles was finally used in a game this weekend and is working his way slowly back from injury.   He looked quick and strong, and remains my pick to easily out work Nate Burleson by the time the season ends.  In average leagues you may not need to grab him this week – just monitor him….but in deep leagues the time to grab him is before he’s played too many games and shown too much of his comeback. (Edited on the news that Nate Burleson has broken his arm – Broyles is now a high level 2, or low level 1 add for this week – b/c he will be the 2 WR almost immediately in the wake of this news)

WR Terrance Williams – I don’t particularly like Williams as a talent, but very quickly he could be in a very good situation.  WR Miles Austin is battling again with his hamstring…and even though right now he’s not scheduled to miss time, with his history that’s not a good sign for him.  For Williams if Austin were limited or out that would be pretty fantastic considering Dallas’ upcoming opponents are horrific against the pass:  Chargers, Broncos (the one tough matchup), Redskins, Eagles, Vikings, Saints, Giants, and Raiders.   I mean look at that schedule! You’d start anyone starting against those teams right?  Well Williams may be a starter for some or all of them and this will be a chance to buy low on that speculation.

RB Bryce Brown – McCoy got dinged up on Thursday night, and he came back fine….but the lesson should not be lost.  Bryce Brown is talented and would step into a fantastic situation should McCoy have to miss time.   If he’s not owned in your league based off this speculation, it may be time to add him.  I just don’t know how Chip Kelly’s high volume offense is going to affect his players after say the season mid-point. Will he burn guys out, or expose them to injury risk?  I’m not selling the Eagles short here, I’ve been impressed…but the questions about health will begin to creep in.   Brown could be your insurance or your lottery ticket.

Players to Drop

TE Fred Davis – Jordan Reed has cut into his passing looks, and even Logan Paulsen saw time Sunday as the inline blocker TE over Fred, while Fred was “hurt”.   Davis may be hurt, but I’d say it’s not only due to injury that he’s sliding down in playing time.  Those who drafted him thinking he had top 10 position potential – I agreed with that.  I no longer agree, even if Fred holds his starting job I have a tough time imaging Washington will use him if they continue to lose b/c Davis is on the last year of his deal (something that at the start of the season could’ve been very helpful to him) and they will want to see more of Reed in the attack.   Davis’ shot at even being a top 15 TE this year look bleak and there are likely better options on your waiver.

RB James Starks – From add one week to potential drop the next – these are the days of our Greenbay Fantasy Football Lives.  If you are desperate at RB in a deep league keep him, otherwise it’s time to move on.  Starks is injured (again) and now with Jonathan Franklin emerging and Lacy returning it’s tough to think of him as any more than RB3 on his own team.

TE Brandon Pettigrew – Much like Fred Davis, Pettigrew looks lost and unused in this offense.  Hell, he played this week against Washington and had the same # of catches as Fred Davis who didn’t play.  Think about that.

: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