Part One | Part
Two | Part
Three | Part Four
For many, if not most of us, our drafts have passed. Similarly,
most of the hype has passed as well and now all we have to do is
keep our eye on the waiver wire. Obviously over the last week there
have been some key NFL injuries, but few if any have an impact on
individual fantasy players other than in IDP leagues. Training camps
have long since closed up and information which came from scouring
the local beat writers is now easily observed through our own watching
of preseason games and through numerous sites who can glomb onto
information. Accordingly, there may only be a few juicy nuggets
within this article which you may not have otherwise been privy
to by now.
Baltimore Ravens: I recently reported
was out of the QB hunt. During the week of writing this article
I tracked Kyle
Boller and started thinking to myself that the Ravens are
hush hushing a serious injury in hopes of landing a new QB. The
projected starter played no minutes in week 3. Then on Monday
Boller was observed touching his shoulders a couple of times.
Then on Tuesday he did not practice. When asked if Boller suffered
a season ending shoulder injury, Ozzie Newsome merely responded
it is unconfirmed and he would know more on Friday. With Troy
Smith also out with an “illness,” Flacco has been getting
the reps this week. Finally, on the morning of submission of this
article, the news broke that Boller will probably be out for the
Cincinnati Bengals: “If the
regular season started this week Chris Perry would be the Bengals'
starting tailback.” So says Marvin Lewis. He almost immediately
turned around and said that Rudi Johnson can get his job back.
Then he said Rudi could also be cut. Then there are reports that
the Bengals are shopping Rudi for a receiver. Perry has made everything
of his opportunity to get reps in the preseason, but before you
move him up your draft board to a mid round pick, he is still
number three on the depth chart behind Rudi Johnson [who has not
taken a snap in a pre-season game] and Kenny Watson. The Bengals
passing game is banged up with Carson Palmer breaking his nose
against the Saints, Chad Johnson and T.J. Houshmandzadeh nursing
injuries, but everyone should be back on day one.
Cleveland Browns: Missing from
week 3 were Derek Anderson (concussion), Braylon Edwards (heel)
and Jamal Lewis (hamstring). Brady Quinn did little to instill
confidence as a starting QB in the week 3 dress rehearsal, going
14 of 24 for just over 100 yards and no TDs. It appears that RB
Jason Wright is cemented as the second RB on the depth chart and
his 8 carries for 42 yards makes him look like a solid replacement
for Lewis (whose hamstring issue sounds simply like “let’s
not injure him during the preseason”).
Pittsburgh Steelers: In summer
camp, when we broke the rules, we had to lug around a huge rock
all day long, the kind you need two hands to carry. Apparently,
my camp director is now in Pittsburgh and has issued a bounty
to anyone who can swipe the football out of Rashard Mendenhall’s
hands, which he had to carry everywhere he goes this week, after
fumbling twice against Minnesota.
Buffalo Bills: Trent Edwards has
returned to the practice field. The real issue in Buffalo is what
may be happening to its offensive line. OT Jason Peters is still
a holdout and given how fat his agent just got off of Steven Jackson’s
new contract, there is less incentive to for the agent to get
Peters a new deal. With Langston Walker suffering an alleged forearm
bruise, it could be that Buffalo is down two OTs and will be starting
a rookie 7th round pick Demetrius Bell. Rookie WR James Hardy
has remained nicked up and has only been practicing in individual
Miami Dolphins: Obviously, the
most intriguing battle here is at starting running back. Tony
Sparano has stated that he needs to see more Ronnie
Brown, or we will be seeing Ricky
Williams. Brown is therefore practicing with a cast on his
broken thumb. QBs like Josh
McCown and John Beck, who were recently competing for a starting
role are now on the bubble to even make the cut. Ted Ginn, Jr.
finds his way into every draft I have participated in. But even
by a local Miami beat writer’s assessment, Ginn has turned the
corner on special teams, but he is not there yet in the receiving
game. However, he is one of Miami’s starters along with Derek
Hagan and Ernest
Wilford. Dolphin management has observed that WR Davone Bess
New England Patriots: The battle
of the Matts may just start heating up for the back-up QB position.
Matt Cassel has not been looking all too good against first team
defenses while Brady is out. Meanwhile, Matt Gutierrez went 14
of 20 for 2 TDs in the second half against the Eagles. Although
the Patriots may be acting concerned with their three preseason
losses, we have seen little action from Randy Moss, no time from
Tom Brady and even Welker is out with a rib injury. However, the
four headed running back crew looks to be in tact (Jordan was
held out of week 3 for undisclosed reasons despite allegedly impressing
Belichick and leading the team in rushing during the preseason).
New York Jets: This team epitomizes
how preseason hype can lift players into rounds they just don’t
belong. It happens every year with the Jets and this one just
got worse with the Favre acquisition. The Jets went into training
camp focused on a run oriented offense. Things obviously changed
Favre showed up and it makes sense to re-focus your pre-season
reps on the passing game to get the new(ish) QB familiar with
the system and the players. But Favre has really been getting
familiar with only the system since Laveranues
Coles has been out and Jerricho
Cotchery has missed significant time too. Unfortunately, the
running game has been deafly silent with Thomas
Jones longest carry being only 4 yards and Leon
Washington’s averaging just over 2 yards per carry. Given
all the preseason turmoil with its own QB controversy, a completely
new QB in the system, the media scrutiny associated with the new
QB and a lack of any semblance of a first team working together,
players who should be downgraded in drafts are bumping up in drafts
just because Favre is in town (Jones coming off a 2 TD year has
moved from a5th/6th round pick to a 3rd rounder, Coles and Cotchery
have jumped up a round into the 6th round of many drafts).
Denver Broncos: The most intriguing
issue is no longer on the field. Rather, it is what’s to
be expected of Brandon Marshall’s 3 game suspension? First,
all he has to cut it down to a 2 game suspension is to report
to league appointed counselor and second, not get in any more
run-ins with the law. Denver’s QB and management have virtually
baby sat Baby T.O. and Marshall should get a one game reduction.
Additionally, Marshall and his attorney flew to New York to appeal
the suspension and the Broncos are optimistic that the kinder
and gentler NFL, who reduced Nick Barnett’s suspension to
a fine, will likewise do the same for Marshall. Obviously, the
other issue which presents itself every preseason in Denver is
who will be carrying the rock. This year, the talk has been much
quieter and Selvin Young has done nothing to hurt his probability
of maintaining his label as the starter. Shanahan is able to keep
his undrafted running backs all happy as Andre Hall is comfortable
in his role as a short yardage back since Torain went down, Anthony
Aldridge is plugging away expecting to get time and Michael Pittman
is just happy being 33 and having a job in the NFL still. Eddie
Royal is a definite player to have in return yardage leagues as
Shanahan informed that he will return kicks and punts, as well
as take first team reps.
Kansas City Chiefs: Its not a good
year when your veteran Tony Gonzalez says “we aren’t
going to be blown out by anybody” when trying to convince
that the Chiefs won’t be going 0-16. No offense Tony, but
you probably aren’t going to be blowing out too many opponents
either. Either Miami’s Defense is this year’s unanticipated
juggernaut, or the Chiefs had serious problems pass and run blocking.
Brodie Croyle failed to impress with a 12 for 21 performance,
no TDs and one pick. Caveat Emptor.
Oakland Raiders: Apparently Kiffin
has lost most, if not all confidence in the passing game and has
all but stated that Oakland will lean heavily on the run game.
Accordingly, this sounds like a good reason to downgrade Jamarcus
Curry and Zach
Miller. More important, it appears that Kiffin is frustrated
in Oakland and is becoming moe and more brazen in his challenges
to ownership. Translation: coaching change could be on its way.
I feel it important to mention one thing un-training camp related,
which really goes back to my Sun Tzu and the Art
of Trade Negotiation article. This year I caught myself uttering
the dreaded phrase “Do Not Draft Darren
McFadden.” All I can say to that is that I failed myself and
failed to heed the true art I profess. For in both my leagues,
the Devil who drafted McFadden early, immediately turned around
and packaged him with Braylon Edwards in a trade for Adrian Petersen
in one league and straight up for Larry
Fitzgerald in another. McFadden is laden with great trade
value which should be seized immediately.
San Diego Chargers: Darren
Sproles has locked up the back-up position to LaDainian Tomlinson,
with his 102-yard performance against the Seahawks and should
be seriously viewed as a handcuff to Tomlinson owners. Vincent
Jackson looked every bit like the post-season stud from 2007,
hauling in 3 for 84 yards. Antonio
Gates, who was supposed to participate only individual drills,
returned to full workouts, last Friday. Since all that I have
heard for the last four days is “Shawne Merriman…” I will leave
this for others to discuss.
Houston Texans: Ahman
Green may be back for week one after having worked out in
the team’s conditioning practice. Steve
Slaton is bothered by turf toe but is not anticipated to miss
much time and will probably be splitting carries with Chris
Taylor during week 4 of the preseason. Jacoby Jones is getting
the Mendenhall treatment without the bounty.
Indianapolis Colts: Peyton Manning
is not only back in camp…he is on the practice field. There
is much speculation that Manning had a second knee procedure and
his knee had continued swelling problems, but Manning was back
on the field looking like Peyton Manning and not wearing a knee
brace. But, as the QB comes, so must the center go – Jeff
Saturday is out at least a couple of weeks into the regular season
and according to Dungy may even be season threatening. I’ve
been pushing Marvin Harrison all preseason and apparently Dungy
heard me saying we should expect Marvin to put up his 2006 numbers.
Jacksonville Jaguars: Del Rio stated
that if Jerry Porter does not get two weeks of practice, he will
be on the bench to start the season. In his and Reggie Williams
[who has now returned] absence, guys like Matt Jones and Mike
Walker have been earning their roster spots and getting valuable
reps with David Garrard. Troy Williamson isn’t even assured
a roster spot at this point. Obviously MJD’s ankle sprain
is cause for concern, but appears to be limited concern.
Tennessee Titans: Expect to get
a better read on the Titans’ starting offense going into week
4 of the preseason as they intend to play them into the 3rd quarter
against the Packers. There is nothing much left to speak of here
other than the fact that advice from Tennessee is to not look
past the starting three WR’s [Justin
McCareins and Brandon
Jones] for a sleeper. LenDale
White and Chris
Johnson are allegedly going to split carries 50/50, maybe
60/40 according to Jeff Fisher.
Chicago Bears: Here comes a player
that probably turned very few heads all of his career and even
fewer this season. Coming into his 4th season with little to celebrate
and with the departure of Bernard Berrian, WR Rashied Davis does
not have a lot of competition at the number one receiver slot
[who…Brandon Lloyd, Devin Hester, Marty Booker and Mark
Bradley?]. Bears receiver coach Darryl Drake has been raving about
him all pre-season (which completely flew under my radar) and
in Orton’s first game as starting QB, he hooked up with
Rashied for two and almost 3 TDs. I have participated in 3 league
drafts (I’m done) and in not one have I seen Kevin Jones
sniffed out. Yet in week 3, he showed he still has some burst
with a 34 yard run.
Detroit Lions: John Kitna continues
to put up good numbers this preseason, as do his top two receivers
Williams. During the preseason, Kevin
Smith has run 14 times for 64 yards and one TD, but his numbers
may be inflated by one 35 yard TD run. Absent that (which we can
never discount as long runs are a big part of the game), Smith
ran 13 times for 29 yards and had one catch for negative six yards
during the entire preseason.
Green Bay Packers: Mike McCarthy
intends to reduce Ryan Grant’s workload to 300 carries (which
translates into 18-20 carries a game) and the Packers plan to
work Brandon Jackson into the package. Jackson has proven to be
the Packers most improved player from 2007 to 2008, showing better
vision, patience, hands and blocking skills. With Ryan’s
holdout delay and hamstring injury upon his return, do not be
surprised if we see more of Brandon Jackson then mentioned. Donald
Driver continues to drop balls in practice with frequency and
consistency, but showed up with a TD in game time. Aaron Rodgers
completed nearly 65% of his passes in 11 on 11 drills throughout
Minnesota Vikings: Returning to
practice are Bernard Berrian and Sidney
Rice. However, Tarvaris
Jackson is still out and although he is expected to return
to the line-up (after week 4), he notes that he does not have
his range of motion in his knee just yet, but there is no soreness.
Arizona Cardinals: Lots going on
here. Ken Wisenhunt intimated that Matt Leinart is out and Kurt
Warner is in after Leinart threw three picks against the Raiders.
But now it is being said that Leinart is still the starter. Anquan
Boldin may be unhappy and want to be moved, but the Cardinals
say he is not going anywhere and he posted good numbers in week
three. Tim Hightower is making great strides to be the back of
the future, but more importantly, to steal red zone carries from
San Francisco 49ers: There ought
to be a law. QBs with 8 figure salaries who lose their jobs to
QBs with 6 figure salaries should have to split their salary.
In Part One, I observed that J.T.
O’Sullivan was getting first team reps. In Part Two I observed
that O’Sullivan was best molded for a Martz styled offense. In
Part Three I stated he was rapidly cementing himself as the starter.
Now, in Part Four after a good showing against the Bears, I applaud
the hype and I say “J.T. O’Sullivan has been officially dubbed
by Mike Nolan as the Niners’ Opening QB.” He will still go undrafted
in most leagues. None too soon, Bryant
Johnson finally starts working his way onto the practice field.
Morgan finally is gaining front runner status. Disregard that
Morgan is presently stashed at No.4 on the depth charts as Mike
Nolan stated this week that the toughest position to determine
for the season opener is the split end, which will go to either
Bryant Johnson or Josh Morgan, who used the others injuries to
establish himself as a downfield threat.
Seattle Seahawks: Given that Deion
Branch is a strong possibility to be placed on the PUP list and
Bobby Engram will be out into October, there is a strong possibility
that the Hawks maintain much of their young receiving corps. As
it stands, while Jordan Kent has become a crowd favorite, the
Seahawks are expecting an increased presence from Courtney Taylor
and Ben Obomanu in week 4 and Taylor is in good position to open
the season as the starting flanker opposite Nate Burleson. How
the Seahawks backfield will be used is still a mystery with Julius
Jones running well, Maurice Morris and T.J. Duckett. While I still
have a soft place in my heart for Justin Forsett, if he even makes
the team (which he should), he will be deeply buried.
St. Louis Rams: Steven Jackson
is back in camp but will not likely see any game time this week
[that never seems to bother LT2]. But what of his conditioning.
According to Linehan, Jackson will be on a ramped-up schedule
getting extra work.” The Rams definitely want to get him
“knocked around a little bit.” Linehan says there
is no injury to Orlando Pace, despite his sitting out several
practices over the last week with shoulder soreness. The problem
is that he fell on his shoulder in the San Diego game and woke
up with swelling and an inability to raise his arm significantly.
Pace will be getting knocked around a lot this season, so how
the shoulder will hold-up is pure speculation. Rookie receivers
Donnie Avery and Keenan Burton played well in week 3 of the preseason.
However, neither appear to be looking at anything more than a
slot position with Torry Holt and Drew Bennett in the starting
line-up and Dane Looker and Dante Hall behind them. It would not
be a bad idea to keep your eye on Avery during the season.
Atlanta Falcons: It’s Matt
Ryan’s team now and he is no longer the QB of the future.
With his steady preseason performance, Ryan has officially been
labeled the starter. According to coach Mike Smith, this is a
season long decision and not a game-by-game one. The running backs
are looking impressing, as is the o-line.
Carolina Panthers: Those concerned
Delhomme’s elbow issues should be pleased with his performance
against the Redskins in which he went 11 of 19 for 159 yards and
2 TDs and even over-threw Steve
Smith on a deep pass. Do not read anything into this other
than the fact that his reconstructed elbow did not appear to limit
him. The running game only increases concern over where to draft
these two running backs. Jonathan
Stewart’s toe problems seem to be 100 yards in the past and
he showed no ill effects on a 50-yard TD scamper. But, along came
Williams and surpassed Stewart’s numbers with 1 more yard,
one less carry and one longer TD. In the words of DeAngelo Williams,
“whether I'm out there or he's in there, the other team can't
really tell…the only thing that changes is the numbers [on the
jersey].” Given Fox’s run first mentality, its conceivable that
even a 50/50 split will make these two running backs valuable.
It is appearing more and more that Dwayne
Jarrett (4 for 40 against the Skins) may be a valuable receiver
early in the year, with Steve Smith serving his short suspension
Hackett looking more and more questionable for week one. However,
Hackett is running now and excpects to be ready come the opener.
New Orleans Saints: Look for Jeremy
Shockey’s debut against Miami as well as some more time
from Deuce McAllister. Payton is tight lipped about injuries,
but Brees, Bush and Colston have either been scratched from game
4 or will be. However, Colston has stated he is 100% healthy.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Any lingering
issue regarding Cadillac Williams has been put to rest as he has
been placed on the PUP list. While it was a good movie, Michael
Clayton is still trying to make a name for himself. The Bucs have
been fielding calls from other teams interested in trading for
Clayton. However, Gruden said he is interested in Clayton too,
that he doesn’t care who else is and that Tampa Bay is going
to keep its best players. With a receiving corps of Joey Galloway,
Maurice Stovall, Ike Hilliard and Antonio Bryant (who Gruden also
said great things about), the Buccaneers could be weighing the
options of trading out a receiver like Clayton who has historically
under-performed, is in his contract year and is number four on
the depth charts.
Dallas Cowboys: While I have been
pumping Felix Jones somewhat, it appears that he is falling out
of sharing carries with Marion Barber, but for those in return
yard leagues, may gain some value as he is appearing more and
more likely to be implemented in the kicking game.
New York Giants: Its hard to overlook
that Osi Umenyiora is out for the season and Michael Strahan will
not return despite requests from the front office. However, the
fantasy impact of these facts only effects IDP leagues (which
I have not focused on) and the team defense (sure it has implications
for McNabb, Campbell and Romo who will no longer have to face
the bookends two times a year). Super Bowl hero David Tyree starts
the year on the PUP. TE Kevin Boss has fallen silent over the
last couple of weeks and is not garnering the attention, which
he had at the beginning of training camp. If anything positive
is coming out of Giant camp, it continues out be Domenik Hixon
who has jettisoned from a question mark as to whether he would
make the cut, to a guy who has performed at the highest level
all preseason, playing with the first team offense. While he may
still be behind Toomer and Steve Smith on the depth chart, expect
to hear from Hixon during the season. Ahmad Bradshaw is still
number three on the depth chart, behind Jacobs and Derrick Ward,
but he is still getting drafted while Ward is not. David Carr
appears to have locked up the back-up QB position over Anthony
Philadelphia Eagles: Andy Reid
has labeled DeSean
Jackson a starter and will be sitting him out of week 4 of
the preseason. While Reid is not prepared to say how he will use
Jackson, OC Marty Mornhinweg stated he wants Jackson lined up
in the slot position. While Eagle fans, coaches and players alike
profess their man crushes on DeSean, there are still many targets
to throw to in this offense, including Westbrook, L.J. Smith,
Baskett, Avant and Lewis, not to mention the eventually returning
Add to that Kevin
Curtis, whose recovery to a sports hernia injury has not yet
been prognosed but also has not been placed on PUP.
Washington Redskins: Clinton Portis,
who once vowed never to play in a preseason game again, is primed
and ready to play yet again in week 4 of the preseason for at
least one series with all of the other starters. This suggests
that the team is definitely buying into Jim Zorn and his offense.
The Skins go into week four without any significant fantasy players
To all who have taken the time to read these articles and especially
to those who provided me with some of their own insights, thank
you very much and good luck with your seasons.