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Doug Orth | Archive | Email | Twitter
Staff Writer


NFC Team-by-Team Breakdowns
Preseason Schedule Analysis
8/16/11

AFC | NFC
NFC East: DAL | NYG | PHI | WAS
NFC North: CHI | DET | GB | MIN
NFC South: ATL | CAR | NO | TB
NFC West: ARI | STL | SF | SEA

Since many of you have already treated yourselves to the AFC half of my projections last week, I’ll spare each of you the long intro. In short, my analysis in this column as well as the last one is based on the notion that owners would rather have their running backs facing the likes of the Carolina Panthers than the Pittsburgh Steelers or their quarterbacks and receivers taking on the Jacksonville Jaguars as opposed to the New York Jets; I believe this is particularly important during the fantasy playoffs. While many fantasy owners will question that it is nearly impossible to predict any part of the season – much less the end – when games haven’t even been played yet, I would counter with the argument that the defenses of team like the Steelers, Jets and Green Bay Packers have given us enough over the last few years to earn the benefit of doubt when it comes to avoiding players that must face those teams late in the year.

Before we continue, let me clear up any possible misconceptions. Schedule analysis:

1. is not a strength of schedule metric that relies on 2010 results to predict this season and
2. is part of the method I use to project a player’s performance, but far from the only determining factor I use.

Furthermore, I do not use the PSAs to justify taking a non-elite player over a tier-one player. Tier-one players are “cornerstone players” – players who perform well in just about every situation against just about any defense, in large part because a tier-one player is almost always the centerpiece of his team’s offense. Tier-two players and all the players below them often do not have life quite as easy and, thus, are more affected by factors such as playing time and the schedule. It is for these “other” players that I feel like schedule analysis helps the most, to identify what non-elite players heading into 2010 have a chance to take the next step, especially around fantasy playoff time. While the schedule is far from the only thing that matters when projecting NFL player performance, I feel it is foolish to suggest that it doesn’t play a significant role.

While pondering each of the factors I have already mentioned in my analysis of a player, I also consider factors such as home vs. away and the likelihood of bad weather games late in the season. In the end, however, projecting player performance is an art, not a science. There are many different ways to reach the same (or similar) conclusion; I just prefer to show my homework and have found that it is much easier to project a player accurately when I force myself to evaluate each one on a game-by-game basis. Much like any projection “system”, each year gives me the opportunity to tweak and hopefully improve the product. In my never-ending quest to make my PSAs and Big Boards the best draft preparation guides I can, I have made a few tweaks that I want to share with you. Most notably, I have added a yellow highlight to my matchup-color family to further help drafters make informed decisions about the players and their matchups. Here’s a quick explanation of each:

Red – A very difficult matchup. For lower-level players, a red matchup means they should not be considered in fantasy. For a second- or third-tier player, don’t expect much and drop your expectations for them at least one grade that week (i.e. from WR2 to WR3). For elite players, expect them to perform like an average player at his position.

Yellow – Keep expectations fairly low in this matchup. For lower-level players, a yellow matchup is a borderline start at best. For a second- or third-tier player, they can probably overcome the matchup if things fall right. For the elite players, expect slightly better than average production from them in this matchup.

Grey – Basically, this matchup is one that could go either way. In some cases, I just don’t feel like I have a good feel yet for this defense. Generally speaking, white matchups are winnable matchups for all levels of players.

Green – It doesn’t get much better than this. The stage is basically set for a player with a green matchup to exploit; it’s up to him to take advantage.

Another major change I will mention here is the way I went about labeling red, yellow or green matchups. This year, I went to great lengths to take into account such factors as home field, bad weather and a whole host of other minor factors that might take too long to explain here. Very few defenses (the Steelers and the Jets) have earned the right to warrant reds against almost every offense, but other teams that may not actually have the greatest defense (teams such as the Colts, Chiefs and Seahawks) have been awarded yellows and reds because of the respect I have for their home fields and/or the way their home field suits their personnel. Also, since the Jets’ Darrelle Revis is the only “shadow” CB of note in the league right now, top receivers that used to get downgraded for going against CBs like Nnamdi Asomugha or Johnathan Joseph will no longer receive an automatic red because offensive coordinators often put their best receivers in situations that don’t require them to face another team’s top defensive backs while most defensive coordinators nowadays tend to leave their cornerbacks on one side or the other.

I have also added a column to the right of each player’s name that lists the player’s age as of September 1, 2011, with the idea being that drafters like to have that information at their disposal when making a tiebreaking decision between multiple players. And finally, I feel I have done a good job this year at making sure my game-by-game projections more accurately reflect actual game totals than before. What I mean by this is that even the most elite players will have dramatic fluctuations in their actual numbers from week to week, so my game-by-game projections should reflect that.

As most of you know by now, the purpose of all this work is to arrive at my Big Board, which is the same tool I use in my drafts and should be ready before the weekend. Much like team-by-team breakdowns this year, I believe I have made some positive yet subtle changes to the Big Board that will allow me to rank players easier.

Notes:

1) The grey highlight in each team’s schedule reflects a road game.

2) These are my initial projections and therefore subject to change. In some cases, these changes will be dramatic as I do put a fair amount of stock into preseason action.

3) For all those readers whose eyes gravitate immediately to the player’s final numbers: they are 15-game totals because most fantasy seasons have a Week 16 title game.

4) Because of the abbreviated offseason, a few of these projections may change dramatically as my questions about scheme fits and the like get answered during preseason action; even the color of some of these matchups may change. However, any change I make to the final numbers or color of matchup will be reflected on my Big Boards in the coming weeks.

For those unfamiliar with the way I project player stats and individual week-to-week consistency (or for those who need a refresher), please give this article a read for an introductory course in Preseason Schedule Analysis. (I have made several changes to my PSA since I introduced it back in 2008, but the basis for how I build my player projections is pretty much the same.)

NFC EAST

 Dallas Cowboys
    Age Totals   NYJ SF WAS DET bye NE STL PHI SEA BUF WAS MIA ARI NYG TB PHI
                                         
QB Tony Romo 31 4415 245 325 345 345 235 320 305 285 255 280 305 280 380 275 235
TD 28 2 2 1 2 1 2 2 2 2 2 1 2 3 2 2
INT 12 2 0 0 1 2 0 2 0 0 1 0 1 2 0 1
Ru Yards 110 5 10 5 0 20 5 15 0 0 10 5 10 15 0 10
Ru TD 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 1
RB Felix Jones 24 870 35 60 90 65 30 65 55 75 115 INJ 65 55 35 80 45
Ru TD 5 0 0 1 1 0 0 0 1 1 INJ 0 0 0 1 0
Re Yards 455 20 60 35 50 15 35 50 15 5 INJ 40 30 35 40 25
Re TD 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 INJ 0 1 0 0 0
Rec 46 3 5 3 3 2 4 4 2 1 INJ 5 4 5 3 2
RB Tashard Choice 26 230 15 5 10 5 35 10 0 10 15 65 10 15 5 20 10
Ru TD 4 0 1 0 0 1 0 0 0 0 1 0 1 0 0 0
Re Yards 60 5 0 10 0 0 0 0 5 0 20 0 10 0 0 10
Re TD 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Rec 9 1 0 1 0 0 0 0 1 0 3 0 1 0 0 2
RB DeMarco Murray 23 280 10 25 20 INJ INJ 15 25 35 10 20 15 35 40 15 15
Ru TD 2 0 0 0 INJ INJ 0 0 1 0 0 0 0 1 0 0
Re Yards 215 20 15 15 INJ INJ 35 5 15 25 15 25 10 15 15 5
Re TD 0 0 0 0 INJ INJ 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Rec 26 2 2 2 INJ INJ 2 1 2 4 3 3 1 2 1 1
WR Miles Austin 27 1215 65 80 115 125 50 80 60 110 60 75 120 85 65 50 75
Re TD 9 1 0 1 1 0 1 0 1 0 1 1 0 1 0 1
Rec 86 6 5 7 10 3 6 5 6 6 5 7 4 4 5 7
WR Dez Bryant 22 1020 25 100 75 115 55 95 40 65 85 35 50 75 90 75 40
Re TD 8 0 2 0 1 0 1 0 1 1 0 0 0 1 1 0
Rec 73 2 6 5 7 4 5 3 4 7 3 4 6 6 7 4
WR Dwayne Harris 23 340 45 25 30 15 20 30 40 10 25 15 15 0 40 15 15
Re TD 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Rec 29 2 2 3 1 2 3 5 1 2 2 1 0 2 1 2
WR Kevin Ogletree 24 100 10 0 10 0 20 0 10 0 0 20 0 0 20 10 0
Re TD 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Rec 10 1 0 1 0 2 0 1 0 0 2 0 0 2 1 0
TE Jason Witten 29 905 45 45 50 40 60 40 85 65 45 80 55 70 105 55 65
Re TD 8 1 0 0 0 1 0 1 0 1 0 0 1 1 1 1
Rec 88 5 3 4 3 7 4 10 6 5 8 5 8 10 4 6
TE Martellus Bennett 24 105 10 0 5 0 15 5 15 0 10 20 0 0 10 15 0
Re TD 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 0 0 0 0 0
Rec 11 1 0 1 0 1 1 2 0 1 2 0 0 1 1 0

Impressions: As if it isn’t obvious from the chart above, I believe the Cowboys should be airing it out this season. While the three new starters up front probably represent a sizable upgrade in talent, Dallas probably did more to shore up its pass protection than it did to improve the running game with the changes. But more than that, the team has yet to lean on Felix Jones for an entire season nor does it seem interested in handing Tashard Choice any consistent role in the offense. Since DeMarco Murray’s game is a lot like Jones’ – with his durability in question as well – it would seem that owners would be wise to sell high on Jones if he can put together consecutive solid fantasy performances since consistency may be hard to come by and the final quarter of the schedule doesn’t seem overly welcoming to a team that may not be all that committed to running the ball anyway. On the other hand, the passing game may be the most prolific in the league this season if the starters can stay healthy. Outside of Week 1 (where I believe the Jets’ Revis will match up against Dez Bryant), I don’t see a team on the schedule that has two cornerbacks AND a safety/linebacker capable of holding Miles Austin, Bryant and Jason Witten down for any length of time. As I alluded to earlier, the front five should allow Tony Romo more time than last year’s unit did. Much like the running game, the fantasy playoff stretch would give me a bit of pause, but not so much that I would I sit/trade any of the key four players (Romo, Austin, Bryant and Witten) if I owned them during the second half of the season.

New York Giants
Age Totals WAS STL PHI ARI SEA BUF bye MIA NE SF PHI NO GB DAL WAS NYJ
                                         
QB Eli Manning 30 3975 300 250 325 275 270 220 315 270 275 265 200 300 275 215 220
TD 26 2 1 2 2 3 1 2 1 3 0 0 2 3 4 0
INT 17 0 1 1 2 0 1 1 3 0 1 3 2 1 0 1
Ru Yards 55 0 5 5 5 0 0 5 10 0 10 5 0 0 5 5
Ru TD 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
RB Ahmad Bradshaw 25 1085 85 45 50 75 75 135 60 75 110 75 45 45 75 80 55
Ru TD 7 0 1 0 0 1 1 0 0 1 1 0 1 0 1 0
Re Yards 335 5 30 10 35 20 35 40 25 5 10 30 40 20 5 25
Re TD 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 0 0
Rec 41 1 4 2 2 3 4 5 2 1 2 3 4 3 1 4
RB Brandon Jacobs 29 665 50 60 25 40 50 55 25 40 55 65 35 55 35 55 20
Ru TD 7 1 1 0 0 1 1 0 1 0 1 0 0 1 0 0
Re Yards 55 0 5 5 0 0 10 0 15 0 5 0 0 5 0 10
Re TD 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Rec 9 0 1 1 0 0 1 0 2 0 1 0 0 1 0 2
RB Danny Ware 26 90 10 0 5 0 15 15 0 0 10 0 15 0 0 20 0
Ru TD 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Re Yards 15 0 0 5 0 0 0 0 10 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Re TD 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Rec 3 0 0 1 0 0 0 0 2 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
WR Hakeem Nicks 23 1300 110 70 135 85 75 65 75 90 130 50 70 85 100 120 40
Re TD 12 1 0 1 1 1 0 0 1 2 0 0 1 1 3 0
Rec 91 7 6 10 6 5 4 5 8 8 3 5 6 6 9 3
WR Mario Manningham 25 1040 100 90 25 90 115 60 90 45 80 65 30 125 40 35 50
Re TD 7 1 0 0 1 1 1 1 0 1 0 0 1 0 0 0
Rec 59 5 4 3 5 4 4 6 4 4 5 2 6 2 3 2
WR Victor Cruz 26 530 40 25 65 35 50 25 50 30 15 60 30 10 40 10 45
Re TD 3 0 1 0 0 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 0 0
Rec 44 3 2 5 2 4 2 5 3 1 5 3 1 4 1 3
WR Ramses Barden 25 95 INJ INJ INJ INJ INJ INJ 15 20 10 15 10 0 15 0 10
Re TD 0 INJ INJ INJ INJ INJ INJ 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Rec 9 INJ INJ INJ INJ INJ INJ 1 2 1 2 1 0 1 0 1
WR Jerrel Jernigan 22 180 10 0 35 10 0 10 0 10 0 15 25 10 30 0 25
Re TD 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Rec 17 1 0 3 1 0 1 0 1 0 2 2 1 3 0 2
TE Travis Beckum 24 425 35 30 45 20 10 15 45 25 35 45 5 30 25 45 15
Re TD 3 0 0 1 0 0 0 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 0
Rec 38 3 2 4 2 1 1 5 2 3 3 1 3 2 4 2

Impressions: Unlike the Cowboys above, I do have some level of trust in the Giants’ running game. Not only do I feel the line is better as a run-blocking unit, but the talent in the backfield and commitment to that facet of the game is also better. While I’m not crazy about the Giants’ fantasy playoff schedule, only the Jets’ defense would make me consider benching Ahmad Bradshaw over the final three games of the fantasy season. And since in almost every case he will be his owners’ RB2, it’s not unthinkable that he could ride the pine for a lot of his owners in Week 16. What Bradshaw does in several pivotal matchups – such as the three-game yellow stretch from Week 11-13 - leading up to the fantasy championship game will probably determine just how matchup-proof he is going into that final week. It’s quite possible, however, that owners of Bradshaw will feel he is morphing into a RB1 during the Giants’ six games before the bye since the Giants have a number of winnable matchups before Week 7. I believe this schedule – along with the loss of Steve Smith to the Eagles - will send Hakeem Nicks into consideration with the elite group of WRs in 2012, but his future owners need to ask themselves if they will be willing to bench him that final week after doing such great work getting his owners to the championship round. I also tend to believe Mario Manningham will be inconsistent, but he’ll have ample opportunity to exploit a number of opponents this season with so much focus being paid to Nicks and Bradshaw. With that said, it would not surprise me a bit if Victor Cruz not only became relevant in fantasy this season as well, but also gave Manningham a run for his money at the starting job.

Philadelphia Eagles
Age Totals STL ATL NYG SF BUF WAS bye DAL CHI ARI NYG NE SEA MIA NYJ DAL
                                         
QB Michael Vick 31 3440 245 320 205 325 270 300 265 155 INJ INJ 335 250 270 235 265
TD 24 2 2 1 4 2 3 1 1 INJ INJ 3 2 2 0 1
INT 11 1 0 1 0 1 0 0 3 INJ INJ 0 1 1 2 1
Ru Yards 565 55 70 25 35 80 50 40 20 INJ INJ 35 40 35 30 50
Ru TD 4 1 0 0 0 1 1 0 0 INJ INJ 0 0 1 0 0
QB Vince Young 28 580 50 85 200 245
TD 4 0 1 2 1
INT 3 0 1 0 2
Ru Yards 80 10 15 25 30
Ru TD 1 0 0 0 1
RB LeSean McCoy 23 1035 70 85 110 55 90 50 115 35 50 70 85 50 70 35 65
Ru TD 7 0 0 1 0 1 0 1 0 0 1 0 1 1 0 1
Re Yards 595 30 35 25 40 25 50 35 45 55 40 10 65 75 40 25
Re TD 3 0 0 0 1 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 0 0 0
Rec 65 4 3 3 4 2 5 4 6 4 5 1 8 10 4 2
RB Ronnie Brown 20 255 15 20 15 10 40 10 20 15 30 15 45 20 INJ INJ INJ
Ru TD 5 0 1 0 0 1 0 0 1 1 0 1 0 INJ INJ INJ
Re Yards 125 5 5 0 15 20 15 10 0 10 35 10 0 INJ INJ INJ
Re TD 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 0 0 INJ INJ INJ
Rec 16 1 1 0 2 3 2 1 0 2 3 1 0 INJ INJ INJ
WR DeSean Jackson 24 1015 70 115 40 150 70 130 40 60 35 55 40 INJ 50 20 140
Re TD 8 1 1 0 2 0 1 0 0 1 0 0 INJ 1 0 1
Rec 54 3 6 3 8 4 5 2 2 2 4 3 INJ 3 1 8
WR Jeremy Maclin 23 940 10 35 100 55 85 40 110 45 45 50 120 80 70 65 30
Re TD 7 0 0 1 0 1 0 1 0 1 0 2 1 0 0 0
Rec 74 1 3 8 5 6 3 7 4 5 5 9 5 6 5 2
WR Jason Avant 28 485 40 55 0 15 30 45 15 45 25 15 70 40 20 40 30
Re TD 3 0 1 0 0 0 1 0 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Rec 40 4 5 0 1 2 3 1 4 2 1 6 3 2 3 3
WR Riley Cooper 23 185 10 15 0 20 0 15 25 0 10 10 30 0 15 25 10
Re TD 1 0 0 0 0 0 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Rec 18 1 2 0 2 0 1 2 0 1 1 3 0 2 2 1
TE Brent Celek 26 670 80 60 40 30 40 50 30 45 20 40 55 65 40 45 30
Re TD 5 1 0 0 1 0 0 0 1 0 0 1 0 1 0 0
Rec 58 6 7 4 2 4 4 3 4 2 3 5 3 5 4 2

Impressions: If there is one offense where matchups may not mean a whole lot this season, it could be the Eagles. From DeSean Jackson’s ability to run past coverage to Michael Vick’s ability to turn a broken play into an explosive play, there will few weeks where this team will struggle to score at least 24 points. Outside of the two red highlights that appear for each player in Weeks 9 and 15, I would argue that every other game has a good chance to be a fantasy owner’s dream for this offense. With that said, I would keep expectations low the first three weeks with road games vs. St. Louis and Atlanta and a home game against the Giants – each of which have enough athletes on defense now to give the Eagles some problems. And as good as it looks right now, this Philadelphia offense could lose steam very quickly if Jeremy Maclin is unable to return to camp soon and Steve Smith is forced to start the season out on the PUP list. (In case you are wondering, I’m not ready to include Smith in my projections until I have more information about his recovery.) The Eagles would still have the depth to overcome those short-term losses, but there is no doubt the offense would suffer. As long as Vick is healthy, consider McCoy to be one of the best fantasy backs around. Much like Brian Westbrook became matchup-proof in his later years as an Eagle, McCoy is poised to do the very same thing in his third season. For an owner who wants his RB1 to get a lot of touches, McCoy may frustrate from time to time because HC Andy Reid is so infatuated with the passing game. But it is his value as a receiver – particularly in PPR leagues – that make McCoy a no-brainer every-week play in fantasy for the foreseeable future.

Washington Redskins
Age Totals NYG ARI DAL STL bye PHI CAR BUF SF MIA DAL SEA NYJ NE NYG MIN
                                         
QB John Beck 30 2095 230 275 280 245 75 INJ INJ 290 250 115 260 75 BEN BEN BEN
TD 12 1 2 1 1 0 INJ INJ 3 1 1 2 0 BEN BEN BEN
INT 12 2 1 0 1 0 INJ INJ 1 2 1 2 2 BEN BEN BEN
Ru Yards 70 10 5 10 10 5 INJ INJ 0 10 5 0 15 BEN BEN BEN
Ru TD 1 0 0 0 0 0 INJ INJ 0 0 1 0 0 BEN BEN BEN
QB Rex Grossman 31 1480 125 215 255 65 85 240 235 260
TD 8 1 0 2 0 0 2 1 2
INT 9 2 1 2 0 0 3 1 0
Ru Yards 20 0 5 5 0 0 0 5 5
Ru TD 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
RB Ryan Torain 25 270 25 30 25 INJ INJ INJ 20 25 40 20 70 15 INJ INJ INJ
Ru TD 1 0 0 0 INJ INJ INJ 0 0 0 0 1 0 INJ INJ INJ
Re Yards 45 0 5 0 INJ INJ INJ 10 0 5 10 0 15 INJ INJ INJ
Re TD 0 0 0 0 INJ INJ INJ 0 0 0 0 0 0 INJ INJ INJ
Rec 6 0 1 0 INJ INJ INJ 2 0 1 1 0 1 INJ INJ INJ
RB Tim Hightower 25 730 40 75 70 65 55 100 45 15 50 25 10 20 55 20 85
Ru TD 7 0 1 1 1 0 1 0 0 0 1 0 0 1 0 1
Re Yards 400 25 20 40 25 35 15 5 30 15 10 35 50 30 20 45
Re TD 2 0 0 0 0 0 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 1
Rec 49 3 2 4 4 5 2 1 3 2 2 4 6 4 3 4
RB Roy Helu 22 480 40 5 20 20 INJ INJ 85 45 25 65 INJ 40 20 75 40
Ru TD 3 0 0 0 0 INJ INJ 1 0 1 0 INJ 0 0 1 0
Re Yards 145 10 15 5 25 INJ INJ 20 10 15 0 INJ 5 15 10 15
Re TD 0 0 0 0 0 INJ INJ 0 0 0 0 INJ 0 0 0 0
Rec 18 1 1 1 3 INJ INJ 1 1 3 0 INJ 1 2 1 3
WR Santana Moss 32 950 75 85 110 70 40 55 70 105 40 55 65 15 40 50 75
Re TD 4 0 0 1 0 0 0 0 1 0 0 1 0 0 0 1
Rec 79 7 6 8 6 3 5 5 10 3 5 6 1 4 3 7
WR Jabar Gaffney 30 490 40 20 50 60 55 30 20 10 40 15 40 20 45 30 15
Re TD 2 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 0 0 0 1 0 0
Rec 43 4 2 4 5 4 2 2 1 3 2 4 2 3 3 2
WR Leonard Hankerson 23 610 35 45 40 25 35 45 75 65 30 25 20 60 55 20 35
Re TD 3 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 1 0 0 0 0 1 0 0
Rec 48 2 4 3 2 2 3 4 5 3 4 2 4 5 2 3
WR Anthony Armstrong 28 280 15 30 0 10 10 25 0 55 15 25 0 10 20 40 25
Re TD 2 0 1 0 0 0 0 0 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Rec 18 1 2 0 1 1 1 0 2 1 1 0 1 2 3 2
TE Chris Cooley 29 580 INJ INJ INJ INJ 35 60 45 35 60 40 70 35 50 65 85
Re TD 3 INJ INJ INJ INJ 0 0 1 0 0 1 0 0 0 0 1
Rec 54 INJ INJ INJ INJ 2 5 4 3 6 5 7 4 4 6 8
TE Fred Davis 25 475 55 75 75 55 25 0 15 10 45 10 65 0 15 20 10
Re TD 6 1 1 0 1 1 0 0 0 0 0 1 0 0 1 0
Rec 36 5 6 6 4 2 0 1 1 3 1 2 0 2 2 1

Impressions: There are some of these teams that are fun to project…and then there are teams like the Redskins. In addition to the usual backfield committee approach HC Mike Shanahan seems to hand us each season, he decided to make it even better this season by giving us the same thing at QB. But let’s discuss the runners first. A little over a month after the draft, the Washington Post suggested that Roy Helu reminds Shanahan of a young Clinton Portis. Shortly after the lockout, Washington traded for Tim Hightower, calling him a third-down back upon his arrival. About two weeks later, Hightower has supposedly entrenched himself as the starter. And so it goes with Shanahan and his RBs. Thankfully, owners looking for a reason to avoid Shanahan’s backfield can point to the back end of the schedule as a reason to do so. One could make the case that a Washington RB may not have a good matchup over the final seven games if I end up being wrong about Minnesota becoming just an average run defense in 2011. Hightower should be a nice PPR flex play – for the most part – but owners have a right to be weary of trusting him for due to his past fumbling issues and Shanny’s reputation for a quick hook. If you do roll the dice with him, a good time to sell may be after Week 8 when he has a great chance at posting two solid games vs. Carolina and Buffalo. Moving on to the passing game, the John Beck-Rex Grossman should serve as the ultimate test of Shanahan’s mettle with QBs since he has already stated that he is willing to “stake his reputation” on either player. Chris Cooley’s knee injury further makes this passing attack even more questionable, although Fred Davis is one of the better backup TEs in the league and a viable late-round fantasy option should Cooley miss any time during the season. For the most part though, Santana Moss’ value and role hasn’t changed much from last season and he has the kind of schedule which should allow him to be a strong WR2 performer in PPR leagues (or WR3 in non-PPR). Otherwise, there are just a lot of names to put on fantasy watch lists for now. Given the QB situation, it’s hard to imagine more than two players (Moss and Cooley/Davis) performing at a high-enough level consistently to warrant starting consideration.

NFC NORTH

Chicago Bears
Age Totals ATL NO GB CAR DET MIN TB bye PHI DET SD OAK KC DEN SEA GB
                                         
QB Jay Cutler 28 3425 240 160 210 200 275 250 220 150 290 205 280 190 240 285 230
TD 20 1 0 1 2 1 2 1 1 3 1 2 1 0 3 1
INT 16 1 3 1 0 2 0 1 1 0 2 0 2 1 0 2
Ru Yards 195 20 15 10 5 10 10 0 10 15 20 5 25 35 0 15
Ru TD 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
RB Matt Forte 25 1175 90 65 75 135 70 90 65 50 90 80 65 35 115 75 75
Ru TD 5 0 0 0 1 0 1 0 0 0 0 1 0 1 1 0
Re Yards 505 55 40 75 10 20 15 40 55 35 35 10 35 20 40 20
Re TD 3 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 1 0 0 0 0 1 0
Rec 58 4 5 6 2 3 2 4 7 4 5 2 3 3 5 3
RB Marion Barber 31 265 20 10 10 20 35 15 20 5 25 10 35 15 10 25 10
Ru TD 4 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 0 1 0 0 1 0 0
Re Yards 80 5 10 0 10 5 5 0 5 0 0 15 10 0 5 10
Re TD 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Rec 14 1 2 0 2 1 1 0 1 0 0 1 2 0 1 2
WR Roy Williams 29 870 70 35 40 75 50 80 45 30 75 55 115 40 55 75 30
Re TD 6 1 0 0 1 0 1 0 0 1 0 1 0 0 1 0
Rec 69 6 3 4 6 5 6 4 3 6 4 7 2 5 5 3
WR Devin Hester 28 630 40 15 10 50 80 50 35 5 45 35 60 45 55 60 45
Re TD 3 0 0 0 1 1 0 0 0 0 0 1 0 0 0 0
Rec 41 3 1 1 3 4 3 3 1 4 2 3 4 3 4 2
WR Earl Bennett 24 610 40 45 30 25 50 65 30 50 70 20 45 30 40 40 30
Re TD 2 0 0 0 0 0 1 0 0 0 0 0 1 0 0 0
Rec 53 4 5 3 2 4 5 2 5 6 2 4 3 2 4 2
WR Johnny Knox 24 575 25 15 40 30 55 35 50 0 65 40 25 30 55 65 45
Re TD 4 0 0 1 0 0 0 1 0 1 0 0 0 0 1 0
Rec 33 1 1 2 3 4 1 3 0 4 3 1 3 3 2 2
TE Kellen Davis 25 155 5 0 15 0 15 0 20 5 0 20 10 0 15 0 50
Re TD 2 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 0 0 0 0 1
Rec 17 1 0 2 0 1 0 2 1 0 3 1 0 2 0 4

Impressions: What was already going to be a difficult schedule just got a bit harder since the Bears’ offensive brain trust demoted Johnny Knox to second-string status behind free agent signee Roy Williams. That’s not really meant as a knock to Williams – who has shown he can be effective in a Mike Martz offense – but more as a lack of highlighting players and their strengths. Knox’s deep speed would seem to complement Williams’ physical game underneath the best while Devin Hester’s elusiveness in the open field would seem to be accentuated the most if he worked mostly out of the slot. (In other words, keep an eye on this situation. There’s a distinct possibility the depth chart will be fluid.) For the passing game, none of the first three matchups on the schedule look all that appealing. The next four pre-bye games may be of some use to owners, but I feel there are four more potentially difficult games – and possibly more – for Jay Cutler’s crew, including a chilly date at Lambeau Field in Week 16. Based on my first review of this schedule, I would be hesitant to use any member of this passing game as a regular starter, with the lone exception being Williams as a WR3 in three-WR leagues. Thankfully, Chicago showed itself to be a capable running team during the second half of last season. Matt Forte isn’t quite matchup-proof in PPR leagues since Martz tends to fall in love with the downfield passing game and because he is likely to get replaced at the goal line by Marion Barber, but he’s close. Seeing the Packers in Week 16 isn’t ideal for Forte’s fantasy owners, but Chicago seemed to understand late in 2010 that it is important that he gets his 20 touches. Because the Bears’ defense should keep most of the games close and/or allow the team to hold the lead late in games, it seems fairly certain Forte can hit that mark in most of this season’s games.

Note: Keep an eye out for undrafted free agent WR Dane Sanzenbacher and free agent pickup Sam Hurd. One or both players may be able to carve out some value ahead of Earl Bennett.

Detroit Lions
Age Totals TB KC MIN DAL CHI SF ATL DEN bye CHI CAR GB NO MIN OAK SD
                                         
QB Matthew Stafford 23 3765 325 260 300 310 190 INJ 275 310 245 305 245 125 285 275 315
TD 26 2 1 4 2 1 INJ 1 2 1 2 2 0 3 3 2
INT 15 1 2 0 2 1 INJ 0 1 0 2 2 0 1 2 1
Ru Yards 135 15 5 5 15 10 INJ 5 10 15 0 15 10 15 5 10
Ru TD 1 0 0 0 0 0 INJ 0 0 0 0 0 1 0 0 0
QB Shaun Hill 31 565 35 305 225
TD 3 0 3 0
INT 3 1 0 2
Ru Yards 35 5 15 15
Ru TD 0 0 0 0
RB Jahvid Best 22 1220 110 75 135 55 65 115 100 80 35 130 65 INJ 115 60 80
Ru TD 8 1 0 1 0 0 1 1 1 0 2 0 INJ 1 0 0
Re Yards 565 45 15 60 20 55 20 45 75 25 45 30 INJ 40 40 50
Re TD 2 0 0 1 0 0 0 0 1 0 0 0 INJ 0 0 0
Rec 57 5 4 5 3 3 2 4 6 4 2 1 INJ 6 5 7
RB Jerome Harrison 28 355 25 15 10 35 20 15 20 35 25 10 35 50 20 25 15
Ru TD 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 0 0 0 0
Re Yards 140 10 5 0 15 0 15 5 10 0 10 15 40 5 10 0
Re TD 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Rec 20 1 1 0 2 0 2 1 1 0 2 3 5 1 1 0
RB Maurice Morris 31 85 0 0 10 0 0 0 0 10 10 0 10 30 0 15 0
Ru TD 2 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 0 0 0 1 0 0 0
Re Yards 35 0 5 0 0 0 0 10 0 0 0 5 10 0 5 0
Re TD 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Rec 7 0 1 0 0 0 0 2 0 0 0 1 2 0 1 0
WR Calvin Johnson 25 1360 120 65 75 110 50 115 65 80 65 125 60 130 120 75 105
Re TD 13 1 0 1 1 1 2 0 0 0 2 1 0 2 1 1
Rec 86 6 5 5 8 3 7 4 4 6 7 4 10 6 5 6
WR Nate Burleson 30 745 55 60 55 60 20 45 55 60 45 50 80 50 30 35 45
Re TD 5 0 0 1 1 0 0 0 1 0 0 1 0 0 1 0
Rec 65 5 5 4 6 2 3 5 5 3 5 7 4 3 4 4
WR Titus Young 21 490 45 20 60 25 35 50 40 20 50 25 0 35 20 15 50
Re TD 3 0 0 1 0 0 1 0 0 1 0 0 0 0 0 0
Rec 29 2 1 3 1 2 3 2 2 2 2 0 3 2 1 3
WR Derrick Williams 25 75 10 0 0 10 0 5 0 0 10 5 10 15 0 10 0
Re TD 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Rec 9 1 0 0 1 0 1 0 0 1 1 1 2 0 1 0
TE Brandon Pettigrew 26 530 25 40 30 45 20 35 25 15 40 10 45 70 50 35 45
Re TD 4 1 0 0 0 0 0 1 0 0 0 0 0 1 0 1
Rec 44 2 3 3 4 2 3 3 2 4 1 2 5 4 3 3
TE Tony Scheffler 28 390 15 50 20 25 45 20 30 50 10 35 INJ INJ 20 50 20
Re TD 2 0 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 INJ INJ 0 1 0
Rec 32 1 3 2 2 4 2 2 5 1 3 INJ INJ 2 4 1

Impressions: This Lions’ offense may be very well turn out to be the fantasy equivalent of an old flame – riddled with imperfections but so tempting because when the “warts” are not present, it has the potential to be so good. What do I mean? The warts of which I speak are the durability concerns of just about every key player on this offense (Matthew Stafford, Jahvid Best and even Calvin Johnson – to a lesser extent) and an offensive line that was weak last season and inexplicably not addressed this offseason. On the other hand, this team is built to play indoors on turf and will be lethal when everybody is healthy for a home game at Ford Field. Let’s first discuss my early favorite for fantasy breakout player of the year – Best. In the two games where he was healthy last season, Best was simply amazing. Much like Arian Foster last season, Best will have very little real competition for backfield touches since promising rookie Mikel Leshoure was lost for the season. Of the teams on this schedule, only the Bears (Weeks 5 and 10), Saints (Week 13) and Chargers (Week 16) figure to have the speed and athleticism to bottle him up, but two of those games are at home. And let’s not forget that despite being healthy for just those two games, Best still managed to catch 58 passes last season. Just about everything I just stated about the running game carries over pretty well to the passing game, where Johnson doesn’t have a matchup that he can’t defeat. And if Johnson isn’t being shut down, then it would seem obvious Stafford will have a good day as well. I can say with some certainty that I am likely going all in – remembering the old flame analogy above – on this offense in 2011 and that if I have a chance at landing Johnson in the second round, Best in the third and Stafford as my QB2 in the middle rounds in my high-stakes PPR leagues, I will do it.

Green Bay Packers
Age Totals NO CAR CHI DEN ATL STL MIN bye SD MIN TB DET NYG OAK KC CHI
                                         
QB Aaron Rodgers 27 4365 320 240 260 315 290 245 315 380 295 200 350 305 330 250 270
TD 31 2 2 1 3 2 1 2 3 2 2 3 2 3 1 2
INT 12 1 0 2 0 0 1 2 1 0 0 2 1 0 1 1
Ru Yards 330 35 5 20 35 20 30 5 25 30 15 25 40 5 15 25
Ru TD 4 0 0 1 0 0 1 0 0 1 0 1 0 0 0 0
RB Ryan Grant 28 1035 65 85 35 80 70 55 80 50 110 65 40 55 70 105 70
Ru TD 10 0 1 0 1 0 1 1 0 2 1 1 0 1 1 0
Re Yards 165 0 10 15 0 5 15 10 20 5 5 25 25 10 15 5
Re TD 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Rec 23 0 1 2 0 2 2 1 3 1 1 2 3 1 2 2
RB James Starks 25 355 20 30 55 INJ INJ 25 35 20 10 25 35 20 45 10 25
Ru TD 2 0 1 0 INJ INJ 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 0 0
Re Yards 35 5 0 0 INJ INJ 0 0 5 0 5 5 0 10 0 5
Re TD 0 0 0 0 INJ INJ 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Rec 7 1 0 0 INJ INJ 0 0 1 0 1 1 0 2 0 1
RB Alex Green 23 135 0 10 5 30 25 0 0 15 0 10 15 0 10 15 0
Ru TD 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Re Yards 250 20 15 25 5 25 10 20 35 20 0 15 25 10 15 10
Re TD 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 0 0 0 0 0 0
Rec 35 3 2 3 1 4 2 2 4 2 0 2 3 2 3 2
WR Greg Jennings 27 1100 75 55 35 60 100 65 125 45 80 55 140 30 100 55 80
Re TD 9 0 1 0 0 1 0 1 0 1 1 2 0 1 0 1
Rec 73 6 4 3 5 5 4 7 4 5 3 8 2 7 4 6
WR Donald Driver 36 555 35 40 30 60 30 70 40 10 45 INJ 35 40 75 30 15
Re TD 3 0 1 0 0 0 0 1 0 0 INJ 0 0 1 0 0
Rec 44 3 2 3 4 2 6 3 1 4 INJ 3 4 5 3 1
WR James Jones 27 675 65 35 15 50 25 60 80 100 40 10 45 50 30 45 25
Re TD 5 1 0 0 1 0 1 0 1 0 0 1 0 0 0 0
Rec 44 4 2 1 3 2 4 6 5 3 1 3 4 1 3 2
WR Jordy Nelson 26 650 40 50 65 30 75 25 40 45 25 35 40 60 25 55 40
Re TD 4 0 0 1 0 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 0 1 0
Rec 52 3 5 5 2 5 2 4 4 2 3 3 4 2 5 3
TE Jermichael Finley 24 935 80 35 75 110 30 INJ INJ 120 80 90 45 75 70 35 90
Re TD 9 1 0 0 2 0 INJ INJ 2 0 1 0 1 1 0 1
Rec 73 5 4 5 7 2 INJ INJ 9 6 7 5 7 4 4 8

Impressions: The Packers are one of about a handful of teams whose key fantasy players at every position need to be in the lineup every week, almost regardless of the matchup. Aaron Rodgers will get tested right away in the season opener against the Saints’ improved defense (which should return to its ball-hawking ways this season), the Chargers (Week 8) and twice against Chicago (Weeks 3 and 16). With that said, Rodgers could explode for 250 yards and three TDs in any of those matchups and should be expected to hit those marks regularly with Green Bay’s ridiculous receiving corps. I’ll say the same thing this year as I did last year around this time – if all of his receivers and linemen stay healthy this season, we could be on the verge of witnessing one of the best individual fantasy seasons from a player, maybe ever. No defense has five defenders that can take away each of the Packers’ top four receivers and Jermichael Finley AND still account for Rodgers’ ability as a runner. The running game will likely take on a slightly different look than it has in years past since James Starks has emerged as worthy competition for Ryan Grant’s job. Recent speculation suggests that Green Bay will ride the “hot hand” in the backfield, but since Mike McCarthy became the head coach back in 2006, the team has featured one primary RB in every season. (Vernand Morency’s 91 carries in 2006 still qualifies as the most carries a Packers’ RB2 has received.) Whereas the passing game is too dynamic to be saddled with any red matchups, Green Bay will likely have difficulty establishing the run in the four aforementioned contests and may not be the best bet in a few others such as Atlanta (Week 5), Detroit (Week 12, assuming the Lions’ young DT duo is still healthy) and Kansas City (Week 15).

Minnesota Vikings
Age Totals SD TB DET KC ARI CHI GB CAR bye GB OAK ATL DEN DET NO WAS
                                         
QB Donovan McNabb 34 3285 175 215 225 205 290 195 120 INJ 235 270 315 250 300 175 315
TD 17 0 1 1 0 3 2 0 INJ 2 1 2 0 2 0 3
INT 12 1 0 0 2 0 1 0 INJ 2 0 0 1 2 2 1
Ru Yards 120 5 10 0 25 0 5 5 INJ 5 0 0 30 15 15 5
Ru TD 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 INJ 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
QB Christian Ponder 23 415 50 65 85 215
TD 1 0 0 0 1
INT 3 1 0 0 2
Ru Yards 30 10 5 5 10
Ru TD 0 0 0 0 0
RB Adrian Peterson 26 1380 80 125 115 70 75 60 115 170 55 120 60 105 80 90 60
Ru TD 13 1 1 1 0 1 0 1 3 0 2 0 1 1 1 0
Re Yards 450 30 25 50 15 45 25 20 5 30 40 15 20 65 35 30
Re TD 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Rec 49 4 3 5 3 3 2 3 1 4 4 2 3 5 5 2
RB Toby Gerhart 24 235 15 10 20 5 0 15 10 25 15 10 30 10 15 20 35
Ru TD 2 0 0 0 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 0
Re Yards 160 15 10 0 5 15 15 5 0 5 10 20 25 5 10 20
Re TD 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Rec 26 2 2 0 1 2 3 1 0 2 2 4 2 1 1 3
WR Percy Harvin 23 120 0 10 0 5 15 0 10 0 0 5 0 25 15 0 35
Ru TD 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 0 0 0
Re Yards 1040 65 55 115 60 75 55 40 55 55 80 110 40 90 40 105
Re TD 7 0 0 1 0 1 1 0 0 0 1 1 0 1 0 1
Rec 76 5 4 9 4 5 5 3 3 5 6 8 4 5 3 7
WR Bernard Berrian 30 455 30 35 30 45 70 0 30 15 15 40 30 0 60 20 35
Ru TD 2 0 0 0 0 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 0 0
Re Yards 30 2 3 2 3 4 0 3 1 1 3 2 0 2 1 3
WR Devin Aromashodu 27 360 20 15 0 30 15 35 25 40 0 20 50 35 0 15 60
Re TD 2 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 1
Rec 20 1 1 0 2 1 3 1 2 0 2 3 1 0 1 2
WR Greg Camarillo 29 450 30 25 45 20 25 20 40 30 55 25 35 45 20 25 10
Re TD 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 0 0 0 0 0 0
Rec 42 3 3 4 2 2 2 4 3 4 2 3 4 2 3 1
TE Visanthe Shiancoe 31 415 20 20 40 10 40 10 30 25 50 15 40 25 35 20 35
Re TD 4 0 0 0 0 1 0 0 0 1 0 1 0 0 0 1
Rec 41 3 2 3 1 4 1 4 2 5 1 4 2 4 2 3
TE Kyle Rudolph 21 370 15 30 10 20 5 35 15 45 25 40 15 60 25 10 20
Re TD 2 0 1 0 0 0 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Rec 32 1 3 1 2 1 2 2 4 2 4 2 4 2 1 1

Impressions: Since new OC Bill Musgrave stated that his offense would “major” in feeding Adrian Peterson the ball, I’ll start out talking about the running game. This season may be the toughest challenge in Peterson’s career as the offensive line promises to be the worst he has run behind since he joined the Vikings. For starters, the left side of his line is no longer what it once was with LT Bryant McKinnie no longer on the team and LG Steve Hutchinson starting to act his age; the rest of the offensive line is average at best. Still, the sheer volume of touches he will receive in 2011 should help Peterson come pretty close to hitting the numbers I have projected for him above despite the fact that San Diego (Week 1), Chicago (Week 6), Green Bay (Weeks 7 and 10) and New Orleans (Week 15) all have potential to keep him in check. It wouldn’t surprise me at all if Peterson lacks the consistency this year that he has provided fantasy owners in the past, but he will also have ample opportunity to post healthy numbers against some of the poor run defenses of the AFC West and a team like Carolina. It will also help his cause that Musgrave plans to use two tight ends regularly. When it comes to McNabb and his receivers, expect a fairly basic passing game with Percy Harvin a pretty solid bet to finish the season with about twice the number of catches that any of his fellow receivers will manage. As such, this schedule will be a difficult one for this passing game to overcome. While the overall number of decent vs. difficult matchups is about even, only Harvin will be remotely dependable in the five games I mentioned earlier plus the Chiefs (Week 4), Falcons (Week 12) and maybe even the Broncos (Week 13).

NFC SOUTH

Atlanta Falcons
Age Totals CHI PHI TB SEA GB CAR DET bye IND NO TEN MIN HOU CAR JAX NO
                                         
QB Matt Ryan 26 3740 225 235 245 295 195 245 285 295 255 240 260 290 200 245 230
TD 25 1 1 2 1 1 3 4 0 1 3 1 1 2 3 1
INT 10 2 1 0 1 1 0 0 2 0 0 0 1 1 0 1
Ru Yards 95 10 5 0 5 10 5 0 10 5 0 10 5 10 5 15
Ru TD 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
RB Michael Turner 29 1020 45 70 105 60 85 110 70 55 45 120 65 INJ INJ 110 80
Ru TD 11 0 1 1 1 0 2 1 0 1 2 1 INJ INJ 1 0
Re Yards 95 0 20 0 15 5 0 5 15 0 5 15 INJ INJ 5 10
Re TD 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 INJ INJ 0 0
Rec 12 0 2 0 2 1 0 1 2 0 1 1 INJ INJ 1 1
RB Jason Snelling 27 395 15 5 40 15 5 10 10 40 10 15 40 70 100 10 10
Ru TD 4 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 0 0 1 0 2 0 0
Re Yards 300 20 35 10 25 30 5 20 15 30 10 20 15 35 10 20
Re TD 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Rec 43 2 3 2 3 4 2 3 2 4 2 3 3 4 2 4
WR Roddy White 29 1360 85 75 110 85 60 85 140 110 75 105 60 120 65 135 50
Re TD 11 1 0 1 1 0 1 2 0 1 1 0 1 0 2 0
Rec 98 7 6 8 8 5 6 9 10 6 6 4 7 5 7 4
WR Julio Jones 22 925 55 65 55 80 25 120 75 50 35 70 100 35 50 65 45
Re TD 7 0 1 0 0 0 1 1 0 0 1 1 0 1 1 0
Rec 60 3 4 3 6 3 6 5 4 2 4 6 2 3 5 4
WR Harry Douglas 26 320 20 10 25 40 20 15 0 40 25 10 25 45 10 0 35
Re TD 1 0 0 0 0 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Rec 28 2 1 2 3 2 1 0 3 2 1 3 4 1 0 3
WR Kerry Meier 24 130 10 0 0 10 15 0 15 15 10 0 20 15 0 0 20
Re TD 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Rec 13 1 0 0 1 2 0 2 1 1 0 2 1 0 0 2
TE Tony Gonzalez 35 610 35 30 45 40 40 20 30 50 80 40 20 60 40 30 50
Re TD 6 0 0 1 0 0 1 1 0 0 1 0 0 1 0 1
Rec 60 3 2 4 4 5 3 3 4 7 5 2 5 5 3 5

Impressions: More than any other season I can remember, there seems to be a growing divide between the number of high-powered offenses in this league and the average ones. With the addition of explosive rookies like Julio Jones and Jacquizz Rodgers, this offense belongs to the former group. It is with that in mind, however, that I get to present one of the benefits of doing predictive schedule analysis. As explosive as the Falcons will be on offense this year, owners will be more apt to expect production early on and may not get it when Atlanta faces Chicago and Philadelphia over the first two weeks of the season. For those of you in leagues that have owners with quick trade triggers when a player isn’t meeting expectations right away, the week leading into Week 3 would be the right time to see if Matt Ryan or Jones can be had at a discount. From that point on, only the Packers (Week 5), Colts (Week 9) and Saints (Weeks 10 and 16) should have the scheme and personnel necessary to keep this offense from posting huge fantasy numbers. As far as I’m concerned, owners will want a piece of this passing game during the second half of the season. Turning our attention to Michael Turner, his yardage numbers could be somewhat inconsistent before the bye since only Carolina figures to own a poor run defense. However, since Turner is the clear-cut option at the goal line in such a powerful offense, he will have a good shot at scoring TDs in most of the yellow matchups and even in some of the reds. Much like the passing game, Turner (or Jason Snelling if Turner gets hurt) could be a joy to own over the post-bye schedule. Certainly, the yellow matchups following the bye will test him, but I don’t see a reason why Turner cannot average 100 yards and a score over the final eight games of the season.

Note: My preference would have been to include Rodgers as the complementary back, but early indications are that Snelling will return to his old role.

Carolina Panthers
Age Totals ARI GB JAX CHI NO ATL WAS MIN bye TEN DET IND TB ATL HOU TB
                                         
QB Jimmy Clausen 23 900 185 140 205 95 125 150
TD 5 1 0 2 1 0 1
INT 9 1 2 1 2 2 1
Ru Yards 30 5 10 0 5 10 0
Ru TD 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
QB Cam Newton 22 2115 10 75 20 45 45 70 210 165 215 245 185 145 215 260 210
TD 11 0 0 0 0 1 0 2 0 1 1 1 0 1 2 2
INT 13 0 0 0 0 1 0 2 1 1 2 3 1 1 1 0
Ru Yards 250 15 10 5 20 15 5 30 10 5 25 25 40 20 5 20
Ru TD 4 0 0 0 1 0 0 1 0 0 1 0 1 0 0 0
RB DeAngelo Williams 28 1120 50 65 80 45 70 55 65 90 100 65 80 100 70 85 100
Ru TD 6 0 0 1 0 1 0 0 1 1 0 0 0 1 0 1
Re Yards 270 30 20 0 10 35 15 40 5 0 30 15 5 15 40 10
Re TD 2 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 0
Rec 29 3 2 0 2 3 2 2 1 0 4 3 1 2 3 1
RB Jonathan Stewart 24 710 30 35 55 35 25 40 25 40 110 75 35 40 75 35 55
Ru TD 7 0 0 1 0 0 1 0 0 2 0 1 0 1 0 1
Re Yards 65 0 5 0 5 0 15 10 0 5 0 0 0 10 10 5
Re TD 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Rec 9 0 1 0 1 0 2 1 0 1 0 0 0 1 1 1
RB Mike Goodson 24 100 5 15 0 0 10 10 0 5 0 10 5 0 10 20 10
Ru TD 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Re Yards 275 20 25 15 15 10 0 25 40 20 15 25 10 25 30 0
Re TD 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Rec 35 2 4 3 2 2 0 2 5 2 2 3 2 3 3 0
WR Steve Smith 32 860 50 35 75 30 40 60 80 65 100 65 30 45 65 30 90
Re TD 5 0 0 1 0 0 0 1 0 1 1 0 0 0 0 1
Rec 60 4 3 5 3 3 6 4 5 4 4 3 4 5 2 5
WR Legedu Naanee 27 210 20 15 25 0 0 15 0 10 20 35 10 0 40 20 0
Re TD 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 0 0
Rec 17 2 1 2 0 0 1 0 1 2 3 1 0 2 2 0
WR Brandon LaFell 24 460 20 45 40 20 35 35 15 15 35 40 20 55 10 50 25
Re TD 2 0 0 0 0 0 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 0
Rec 37 2 3 4 2 3 2 2 1 3 3 2 4 1 3 2
WR Armanti Edwards 23 125 0 15 0 0 30 15 0 0 0 0 30 0 15 0 20
Re TD 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Rec 12 0 2 0 0 3 1 0 0 0 0 3 0 1 0 2
TE Greg Olsen 26 640 45 40 55 60 15 50 40 30 30 45 55 30 25 60 60
Re TD 5 1 0 1 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 0 0 0 1
Rec 59 4 5 5 6 2 5 5 2 4 3 5 3 2 3 5
TE Jeremy Shockey 31 110 10 15 15 0 5 15 INJ INJ 5 15 0 INJ 10 20 0
Re TD 1 0 0 0 0 1 0 INJ INJ 0 0 0 INJ 0 0 0
Rec 14 1 2 2 0 1 2 INJ INJ 1 2 0 INJ 1 2 0

Impressions: Anyone bold enough to invest in the Panthers this season will do so for a few reasons: 1) the potential of the running game, 2) Greg Olsen or 3) Steve Smith. With the return of RT Jeff Otah – one of the better run blockers in the NFL – DeAngelo Williams and Jonathan Stewart have a legitimate shot at revisiting the fantasy value they possessed in 2009. However, “Double Trouble” could come close to revisiting the success of 2008 once QB Cam Newton joins the lineup. I have become a firm believer in the value of a running QB to the running game, so Newton’s insertion into the starting lineup should be just what the owners of Williams and Stewart are hoping for in short order. The pre-bye schedule should present Williams and Stewart with plenty of challenges – especially with Jimmy Clausen under center – with no projected “easy” matchups until the Vikings come to town in Week 8. (And even that is a matter of some debate.) Following the break – at which time I expect Newton in the lineup – only a road game against the Colts figures to be a difficult obstacle. Other teams like Houston, Detroit and Tampa Bay should have improved defenses, but a fully healthy Panthers’ running game with a run threat like Newton at QB should be able to post some solid fantasy numbers almost regardless of the competition. The same cannot be said for the passing game, which is almost certain to be the league’s least productive. (Clausen and Newton have next to no chance to succeed over the first half of the schedule with Jacksonville and Washington appearing to be the two least challenging opponents. If there is value to be had here, it might be Olsen. Not only do young QBs tend to lean on their TEs, but new OC Rob Chudzinski will not be shy about featuring the same position he coached for four seasons in San Diego.

Note: I believe this coaching staff will have the foresight to start Clausen to get through the difficult early schedule in order to get Newton more up to speed with the offense and will throw the rookie into the lineup at the beginning of the three-game “homestand” the Panthers have starting in Week 7.

New Orleans Saints
Age Totals GB CHI HOU JAX CAR TB IND STL TB ATL bye NYG DET TEN MIN ATL
                                         
QB Drew Brees 32 4495 275 260 375 300 225 280 270 300 375 315 310 365 245 280 320
TD 32 1 2 3 3 0 2 3 2 3 1 2 4 2 2 2
INT 11 1 1 0 0 0 1 0 2 0 2 1 0 1 1 1
Ru Yards 0
Ru TD 0
RB Mark Ingram 21 1190 60 70 120 85 115 75 45 INJ 70 85 75 85 110 90 105
Ru TD 9 1 0 1 0 2 0 1 INJ 0 1 1 0 1 1 0
Re Yards 140 15 10 5 5 0 10 10 INJ 20 5 20 15 0 10 15
Re TD 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 INJ 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Rec 20 2 1 1 1 0 2 1 INJ 3 1 2 2 0 1 3
RB Pierre Thomas 26 440 25 30 15 35 50 20 65 70 20 30 25 INJ INJ 30 25
Ru TD 3 0 0 0 1 1 0 0 1 0 0 0 INJ INJ 0 0
Re Yards 190 15 10 15 5 10 15 20 25 10 15 15 INJ INJ 10 25
Re TD 2 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 INJ INJ 0 1
Rec 26 2 2 3 1 2 2 3 3 1 2 2 INJ INJ 1 2
RB Darren Sproles 28 350 15 15 5 25 15 45 10 60 15 15 30 15 65 10 10
Ru TD 3 0 0 0 0 0 1 0 1 0 0 0 0 1 0 0
Re Yards 565 35 30 75 50 25 20 25 15 30 55 45 70 25 45 20
Re TD 3 0 0 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 0 1 0
Rec 62 4 5 5 5 3 3 4 2 3 5 6 7 2 5 3
WR Marques Colston 28 770 45 80 40 70 INJ INJ INJ 85 105 55 105 INJ 50 60 75
Re TD 6 0 1 0 1 INJ INJ INJ 1 1 0 1 INJ 1 0 0
Rec 54 4 5 4 5 INJ INJ INJ 6 6 4 7 INJ 3 5 5
WR Robert Meachem 26 845 55 45 110 75 45 80 40 35 70 45 50 70 30 35 60
Re TD 6 0 0 1 1 0 1 0 0 1 0 0 1 0 0 1
Rec 54 4 3 6 4 3 4 3 4 4 3 2 5 2 3 4
WR Lance Moore 28 700 40 45 25 35 55 60 70 40 30 80 10 50 65 40 55
Re TD 5 0 1 0 0 0 1 1 0 0 0 0 0 1 1 0
Rec 65 4 5 4 3 5 6 7 4 2 6 1 5 6 3 4
WR Devery Henderson 29 480 30 15 50 20 50 25 25 65 40 0 20 60 25 35 20
Re TD 3 0 0 1 0 0 0 0 1 0 0 0 1 0 0 0
Rec 28 1 2 2 1 2 3 2 4 2 0 1 3 2 1 2
TE Jimmy Graham 24 805 40 25 55 40 40 70 80 35 70 60 45 100 50 45 50
Re TD 7 1 0 0 1 0 0 2 0 1 1 0 1 0 0 0
Rec 62 4 2 4 3 4 6 5 3 5 4 4 7 3 4 4

Impressions: Much like the Titans last week, the Saints were the last team I projected this week due to all the moving parts and injuries – especially at WR. However, assuming most of the receiving corps is intact for most of the season, it would be nearly impossible to bench Drew Brees, with the only red-worthy opponents coming in the first two weeks. After that, Brees has a great chance at 250-300 yards and at least 2-3 scores each week the rest of the way. Marques Colston is a poor bet to remain healthy with five known knee surgeries to his credit. As good as he can be in fantasy, Colston is enough of a headache to count on when he is healthy due to Brees’ ability to spread the wealth in the passing game, so the setbacks Colston has already experienced in this training camp are enough to make him a WR3 in fantasy. Much as is the case with Brees, the schedule suggests that Colston – or any other receiver for that matter – could explode on any given week. Jimmy Graham gets a pass on reds on this schedule because he has the best combination of talent and durability in the passing game and will likely be the closest thing to a consistent top receiver this offense will have. The Saints made it an offseason priority to get their ground game back to the way it was when they won the Super Bowl in 2009. With the schedule playing out almost the same way it does for the passing game matchup-wise and the renewed commitment to the running game, Mark Ingram has a great shot at holding RB2 value all season long with a shot at low-end RB1 status. However, I do expect Pierre Thomas to serve as a nuisance to Ingram’s owners assuming the veteran can stay healthy, thereby leaving the rookie as a top 15 fantasy RB instead of a top 10 RB. The biggest shocker above is mostly likely Darren Sproles, but with the ex-Charger essentially a more durable version of Reggie Bush, I don’t see a reason why he won’t be on the other end of a number of swing passes and screens that HC Sean Payton likes to use. And while his weekly numbers may be inconsistent, Sproles could turn out to be an excellent mid-round value pick for owners wanting to fill their flex spot.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Age Totals DET MIN ATL IND SF NO CHI bye NO HOU GB TEN CAR JAX DAL CAR
                                         
QB Josh Freeman 23 3595 265 255 290 215 255 200 210 275 205 155 235 250 290 255 240
TD 21 1 1 2 1 3 0 2 1 3 0 1 1 3 1 1
INT 11 0 1 1 1 0 0 1 2 1 2 1 0 1 0 0
Ru Yards 310 40 30 15 25 0 20 50 10 15 30 5 25 0 35 10
Ru TD 2 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 0
RB LeGarrette Blount 24 1250 80 110 75 55 105 50 65 90 115 45 125 110 85 60 80
Ru TD 7 0 1 0 0 0 1 0 0 1 0 2 1 0 0 1
Re Yards 65 0 5 0 15 0 10 0 5 0 0 5 0 5 20 0
Re TD 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Rec 11 0 1 0 2 0 2 0 1 0 0 1 0 1 3 0
RB Earnest Graham 31 240 15 20 10 10 25 15 15 5 15 25 15 15 5 15 35
Ru TD 2 0 0 0 1 0 0 0 0 0 1 0 0 0 0 0
Re Yards 180 15 10 25 5 15 20 0 25 10 5 0 10 20 15 5
Re TD 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Rec 32 3 2 4 1 2 3 0 5 2 1 0 2 3 3 1
WR Mike Williams 24 1040 105 70 80 40 60 55 80 60 85 40 75 70 110 65 45
Re TD 9 1 0 1 0 2 0 1 0 1 0 0 1 2 0 0
Rec 75 6 4 5 3 4 5 7 4 6 5 5 4 8 5 4
WR Arrelious Benn 22 675 40 45 30 65 70 25 30 55 35 70 55 20 60 35 40
Re TD 3 0 0 0 0 1 0 0 0 1 0 0 0 1 0 0
Rec 51 3 4 3 4 6 1 4 4 3 5 4 2 3 2 3
WR Sammie Stroughter 25 405 20 40 35 30 25 45 40 30 INJ INJ INJ 45 15 55 25
Re TD 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 INJ INJ INJ 0 0 1 0
Rec 34 2 3 3 2 2 4 4 2 INJ INJ INJ 4 1 5 2
WR Dezmon Briscoe 22 500 30 45 60 25 35 20 50 35 40 0 25 15 40 30 50
Re TD 3 0 0 1 0 0 0 1 0 1 0 0 0 0 0 0
Rec 33 2 3 5 2 2 1 2 2 3 0 2 1 3 2 3
TE Kellen Winslow 28 730 55 40 60 35 50 25 10 65 35 40 75 90 40 35 75
Re TD 5 0 1 0 1 0 0 0 1 0 0 1 0 0 0 1
Rec 61 5 4 6 2 5 2 1 6 2 4 5 6 4 3 6

Impressions: One season after showing impeccable decision-making against the AFC North and NFC West, Josh Freeman figures to have similar success against some of the questionable secondaries of the AFC South and NFC North. His six INTs from a season ago is unlikely to be repeated, but just about every other key fantasy number could be matched or eclipsed since he will be the unquestioned leader of the offense this season. And with his ability as a rusher (364 yards in 2010), he goes from a top-end QB2 in 12-team leagues to a low-end QB1 with the potential for another step up this season. Despite owning a pretty difficult first-half schedule, Tampa Bay’s passing game should feel fortunate that each difficult matchup – Falcons (Week 3), Colts (Week 4), Saints (Week 6) and Bears (Week 7) – is at home. The Bucs get two more tough games with road dates in New Orleans and Green Bay (Weeks 9 and 11, respectively), but players like Freeman, Mike Williams and Kellen Winslow should be very useful at fantasy playoff time with the Cowboys defense (Week 15) likely the stoutest opposition they will face. While LeGarrette Blount is reportedly being eased into the passing game a little bit more this season, his one-dimensional game will lock him into fantasy RB2 status until further notice. And just like the passing attack, Blount could struggle a bit trying to run a few of the defensive fronts he will face before the bye since teams with weaker run defenses last year like the Lions and Saints should be much-improved in 2011. Two of the first three games coming out of the bye continue the same theme, but after the Packers’ game, Blount could close the season with a bang since I feel the Titans (Week 12) and Panthers (Weeks 13 and 16) will be two of the weaker run defenses in the league this season.

NFC WEST

Arizona Cardinals
Age Totals CAR WAS SEA NYG MIN bye PIT BAL STL PHI SF STL DAL SF CLE CIN
                                         
QB Kevin Kolb 27 3655 240 290 220 275 275 170 200 215 290 210 265 225 245 310 225
TD 23 2 2 0 1 2 2 2 1 2 2 1 0 2 3 1
INT 15 0 1 2 2 0 1 0 0 2 0 2 0 1 1 3
Ru Yards 180 0 15 20 10 10 10 20 10 15 0 20 25 15 0 10
Ru TD 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 1
RB Chris Wells 23 830 85 75 65 50 65 50 60 80 INJ 75 60 40 25 60 40
Ru TD 7 1 0 0 1 1 0 1 1 INJ 1 0 1 0 0 0
Re Yards 70 0 0 15 5 0 10 0 15 INJ 10 0 0 5 10 0
Re TD 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 INJ 0 0 0 0 0 0
Rec 11 0 0 3 1 0 2 0 1 INJ 2 0 0 1 1 0
RB Ryan Williams 21 765 45 35 50 25 35 20 INJ 45 75 50 70 75 90 40 110
Ru TD 6 0 0 1 0 0 0 INJ 1 1 0 1 0 1 0 1
Re Yards 280 20 15 15 25 35 10 INJ 35 0 40 30 15 10 25 5
Re TD 2 0 0 0 0 1 0 INJ 0 0 1 0 0 0 0 0
Rec 35 4 2 3 4 3 1 INJ 3 0 4 3 3 1 3 1
RB LaRod Stephens-Howling 120 0 10 0 20 0 10 30 0 15 0 0 5 10 20 0
Ru TD 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Re Yards 145 0 10 0 15 15 5 10 0 30 0 20 10 0 20 10
Re TD 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Rec 17 0 1 0 1 2 1 2 0 3 0 2 2 0 1 2
WR Larry Fitzgerald 28 1360 85 125 90 110 135 45 80 90 65 80 90 70 130 90 75
Re TD 11 1 2 0 0 1 0 1 1 0 0 1 0 2 1 1
Rec 100 7 10 6 8 8 3 6 7 5 8 6 5 8 8 5
WR Andre Roberts 23 555 40 50 25 30 40 20 45 30 45 25 30 45 55 35 40
Re TD 2 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 0 0 1 0 0 0 0 0
Rec 37 2 3 2 2 3 1 4 2 3 1 2 3 4 2 3
WR Early Doucet 25 310 30 45 25 INJ INJ INJ INJ INJ 40 30 40 25 15 30 30
Re TD 1 0 0 0 INJ INJ INJ INJ INJ 1 0 0 0 0 0 0
Rec 29 3 3 2 INJ INJ INJ INJ INJ 5 3 3 2 1 3 4
WR Demarco Sampson 25 395 10 10 20 35 20 25 35 INJ 40 25 55 20 10 65 25
Re TD 2 0 0 0 0 0 1 0 INJ 0 0 0 0 0 1 0
Rec 31 1 1 2 3 2 3 2 INJ 3 2 3 2 1 4 2
TE Todd Heap 23 540 55 35 30 55 30 55 30 45 70 INJ INJ 40 20 35 40
Re TD 5 1 0 0 1 0 1 0 0 1 INJ INJ 0 0 1 0
Rec 45 4 3 3 5 2 4 2 4 6 INJ INJ 3 2 3 4

Impressions: The much-anticipated duo of Kevin Kolb and Larry Fitzgerald could not have asked for a much better schedule layout. There’s no reason why the duo cannot connect for scores in each of the first five games (not expecting it to happen though) with four of the secondaries woefully unprepared to handle the Cards’ top receiver. Pittsburgh (Week 7), Philadelphia (Week 10) and maybe Cincinnati (Week 16) will likely present the stiffest challenges this passing game will see all season, but if owners are looking for a PSA all-star, Fitzgerald may be their man. Likewise, the schedule doesn’t appear to be all that difficult for Todd Heap with many of the defenses he will face in 2011 a bit lacking at safety or coverage linebacker. The running game won’t have life quite so easy with a number of opponents possessing the capability of finding holes in an offensive line that is still a work in progress despite the addition of new LG Daryn Colledge. The Cardinals can reduce some of the effects by installing the explosive rookie Ryan Williams into the lineup sooner than later, but it may take another injury to Chris “Beanie” Wells to force the coaching staff to see what Williams can do in a feature-back role. Unless Wells and Williams come out of the starting blocks fast, however, this may be a running game owners want to play matchups with until one RB clearly takes on the featured role. Over the first nine games of the season, I would not be surprised at all if Wells and Williams were held in check in about seven of them – especially in the four after the bye. After Week 10, owners may catch a break and get a small bump in production down the stretch with the competition not quite as challenging, but again, an average o-line could very well hold back the potential in the backfield.

St. Louis Rams
Age Totals PHI NYG BAL WAS bye GB DAL NO ARI CLE SEA ARI SF SEA CIN PIT
                                         
QB Sam Bradford 23 3650 235 255 270 250 315 250 170 220 250 260 275 270 205 265 160
TD 21 2 0 1 3 2 2 1 1 2 2 2 1 0 1 1
INT 12 1 2 0 0 1 0 1 2 0 0 0 1 2 0 2
Ru Yards 65 5 0 10 5 0 5 10 0 0 0 5 0 10 5 10
Ru TD 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
RB Steven Jackson 28 1120 80 65 75 90 65 85 60 105 40 75 75 110 50 90 55
Ru TD 6 0 1 0 0 0 1 0 1 0 0 1 1 0 1 0
Re Yards 350 25 15 10 30 10 50 35 5 20 40 15 25 45 15 10
Re TD 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Rec 48 4 2 2 5 2 5 4 1 3 4 2 4 5 2 3
RB Cadillac Williams 29 290 25 15 5 15 20 25 10 15 30 10 40 10 40 15 15
Ru TD 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 0 0 0 0 0 0
Re Yards 170 10 20 20 0 15 10 5 15 0 10 20 10 10 25 0
Re TD 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Rec 26 2 3 2 0 2 1 1 3 0 2 3 2 1 4 0
WR Danny Amendola 25 775 55 45 35 65 85 30 15 65 90 40 60 85 50 35 20
Re TD 4 0 0 0 0 0 1 0 1 1 0 1 0 0 0 0
Rec 89 7 5 4 7 10 4 3 7 11 3 7 8 5 4 4
WR Brandon Gibson 24 625 40 50 60 45 20 50 60 20 55 40 70 30 10 30 45
Re TD 3 0 0 0 1 0 1 0 0 0 0 1 0 0 0 0
Rec 48 3 3 5 4 2 4 5 1 3 3 6 2 1 2 4
WR Mike Sims-Walker 26 575 30 45 30 55 45 55 65 INJ 20 70 25 50 0 50 35
Re TD 4 0 0 0 1 0 0 1 INJ 0 1 0 0 0 0 1
Rec 45 3 2 2 4 3 5 4 INJ 2 7 2 3 0 5 3
WR Austin Pettis/Greg Salas 23 385 15 30 25 15 35 20 0 60 25 35 10 30 40 20 25
Re TD 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 0 0 0
Rec 33 1 3 2 1 3 2 0 4 2 3 1 2 4 3 2
WR Danario Alexander 23 250 INJ INJ 40 15 60 35 INJ INJ INJ INJ 20 15 30 35 0
Re TD 1 INJ INJ 0 0 1 0 INJ INJ INJ INJ 0 0 0 0 0
Rec 17 INJ INJ 3 1 5 3 INJ INJ INJ INJ 1 1 2 1 0
TE Lance Kendricks 23 595 70 40 50 40 55 40 0 55 30 55 70 10 25 55 0
Re TD 5 1 0 1 1 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 0
Rec 38 3 3 2 4 3 3 0 4 2 3 4 1 2 4 0
TE Michael Hoomanawanui 23 275 15 25 10 15 0 10 25 5 30 10 0 40 40 15 35
Re TD 3 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 1 0 0 0 0 0
Rec 25 1 2 1 1 0 1 2 1 3 2 0 3 4 1 3

Impressions: Owners who were hoping for big things from the likes of Sam Bradford and Steven Jackson may want to petition the league so they can start playing in Week 4 and end in Week 15. All that is to say is that the schedule is a lot friendlier in the middle than it is at the beginning or end. Perhaps no RB will have a more challenging first month than Jackson, who may struggle to find any kind of success until the Rams meet the Redskins – even that is a questionable assertion – and then not again maybe Week 7 (Dallas) or Week 10 (Cleveland). While Jackson may catch a break in the few weeks after the Browns, the fantasy playoff schedule is also daunting. I expect the Seahawks to have a solid run defense this season and the home field will certainly help their cause in Week 14 while the Bengals should be slightly better than average vs. the run in Week 15. But it is the Steelers in Week 16 that virtually guarantees Jackson will not be on my roster at fantasy playoff time this season. The signings of injury-prone RBs Jerious Norwood and Cadillac Williams suggest that St. Louis will continue handing the ball to Jackson as much as possible, so my projection (which is optimistic considering his schedule) is more of a reflection of the fact that I expect him to touch the ball 350 times again this season than anything else. The future for Bradford is a bit brighter than it is for Jackson since new OC Josh McDaniels has shown an ability to get the most out of the passing game. With each of the first four opponents likely to key on Jackson, it’s not unthinkable that Bradford will post some high yardage numbers. While the pre-bye slate isn’t much easier for Bradford than it is for Jackson, the Rams now have some weapons with which to exploit all but the best defenses in the league, assuming Mike Sims-Walker and rookie Lance Kendricks make the impacts I feel they will. Each of the first three contests coming out of the bye could present strong challenges as well, but St. Louis should fare well from that point on until the fantasy playoffs.

San Francisco 49ers
Age Totals SEA DAL CIN PHI TB DET bye CLE WAS NYG ARI BAL STL ARI PIT SEA
                                         
QB Alex Smith 27 2270 255 215 165 230 190 205 175 225 250 160 200
TD 12 1 1 0 2 0 1 2 1 2 1 1
INT 12 0 1 2 2 0 2 0 1 1 1 2
Ru Yards 85 15 10 0 10 5 10 10 0 5 10 10
Ru TD 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
QB Colin Kaepernick 23 1150 55 105 205 285 165 255 80 INJ INJ INJ INJ
TD 7 0 1 2 1 0 3 0 INJ INJ INJ INJ
INT 8 1 0 1 2 2 0 2 INJ INJ INJ INJ
Ru Yards 180 15 30 40 25 35 20 15 INJ INJ INJ INJ
Ru TD 2 0 1 0 0 1 0 0 INJ INJ INJ INJ
RB Frank Gore 28 1060 75 120 90 55 105 70 115 85 30 INJ INJ 105 80 45 85
Ru TD 6 1 0 1 0 1 0 1 0 0 INJ INJ 1 0 0 1
Re Yards 435 55 15 35 45 10 30 25 50 15 INJ INJ 40 65 15 35
Re TD 2 0 0 0 1 0 0 0 0 0 INJ INJ 0 1 0 0
Rec 54 6 2 4 5 1 5 4 5 2 INJ INJ 5 8 3 4
RB Kendall Hunter 22 195 0 10 10 10 0 15 0 5 40 60 25 0 5 15 0
Ru TD 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Re Yards 165 0 15 5 0 0 25 10 0 15 45 20 15 0 5 10
Re TD 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 0 0 0 0 0
Rec 18 0 1 1 0 0 2 1 0 3 5 2 1 0 1 1
RB Anthony Dixon 23 185 0 5 10 0 5 15 0 15 25 35 40 10 0 15 10
Ru TD 3 0 1 0 0 1 0 0 0 1 0 0 0 0 0 0
Re Yards 35 0 0 0 0 0 5 0 5 0 10 0 0 0 5 10
Re TD 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Rec 6 0 0 0 0 0 1 0 1 0 1 0 0 0 1 2
WR Michael Crabtree 23 840 40 65 45 80 50 55 40 20 60 50 80 75 65 40 75
Re TD 6 0 0 0 1 0 0 1 0 0 1 1 1 0 0 1
Rec 65 3 5 4 6 3 4 3 2 5 4 7 6 4 3 6
WR Braylon Edwards 28 895 65 75 30 50 65 80 85 70 20 100 35 45 75 60 40
Re TD 5 1 0 0 0 0 1 0 1 0 1 0 0 1 0 0
Rec 51 4 5 3 3 3 5 4 4 1 6 3 2 4 2 2
WR Josh Morgan 26 210 5 10 20 10 20 25 0 35 0 5 25 20 20 15 0
Re TD 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Rec 20 1 1 1 1 2 2 0 3 0 1 3 2 2 1 0
WR Ted Ginn 26 180 0 25 10 0 20 20 0 40 25 0 10 0 15 0 15
Re TD 1 0 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Rec 12 0 1 1 0 2 1 0 1 2 0 1 0 2 0 1
TE Vernon Davis 27 940 75 80 55 100 70 60 45 65 30 45 75 65 105 15 55
Re TD 7 1 0 0 0 1 1 1 0 0 0 0 1 1 0 1
Rec 76 5 6 4 9 5 6 5 6 2 4 7 5 6 2 4
TE Delanie Walker 28 230 15 10 20 0 25 10 15 0 40 15 5 30 10 20 15
Re TD 2 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 0 0 1 0
Rec 24 1 1 2 0 2 1 2 0 4 3 1 2 1 2 2

Impressions: For a franchise that has such a decorated history at the QB position, it must be difficult for its fans to experience this extended transition period. While Colin Kaepernick could be the answer one day, his rookie season figures to be better remembered for the highlights he will produce running the ball as opposed to throwing it. And judging by the layout of the schedule, strong fantasy numbers will be hard to come by for this unit. Early success in possible in Weeks 1 and 2, but each of the next four opponents either have high-scoring offenses, stout secondaries or both which may force the Niners to air it out in order to keep up – which will not be a strength of theirs. After the bye, there could be some solid performances over the next month by the receiving corps, but starting with the Ravens in Week 12, consistency may be a hard thing to find with this passing game for the rest of the season. Thankfully, most of this does not apply to Vernon Davis, who has a strong connection with Alex Smith and should only be downgraded if Kaepernick becomes the starter or when San Francisco faces the Ravens or Steelers (Week 15). As gloomy as the outlook is for the passing game, there’s significant value in the running game in my opinion. One of the key points of the previous regime was building a power running attack, so the offensive line’s ability to open holes will be a strength of the offense. Shortly after his hire, new HC Jim Harbaugh told Frank Gore that he intends to get his RB “out in space” and “show the world (that Gore is) the best back in the league”, which means Gore should be expected to produce in a big way for his owners until he suffers an injury. Because he is so important as a receiver, there is almost no matchup that he should not hold his own against this season, meaning he could produce RB1 numbers even against the likes of Pittsburgh in the fantasy playoffs. Only his injury history keeps him from being a sure-fire first-round pick in fantasy..

Seattle Seahawks
Age Totals SF PIT ARI ATL NYG bye CLE CIN DAL BAL STL WAS PHI STL CHI SF
                                         
QB Tarvaris Jackson 28 1700 210 140 195 250 145 275 190 215 80 BEN BEN BEN BEN BEN BEN
TD 9 2 1 1 1 0 1 2 1 0 BEN BEN BEN BEN BEN BEN
INT 11 1 3 0 1 2 0 1 1 2 BEN BEN BEN BEN BEN BEN
Ru Yards 205 25 10 20 20 35 10 30 40 15 BEN BEN BEN BEN BEN BEN
Ru TD 1 0 0 0 0 1 0 0 0 0 BEN BEN BEN BEN BEN BEN
QB Charlie Whitehurst 29 1550 60 65 115 245 280 215 190 195 185
TD 7 0 0 0 1 2 1 1 1 1
INT 6 0 0 0 0 1 2 0 3 0
Ru Yards 45 5 5 0 5 5 10 5 10 0
Ru TD 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 0 0
RB Marshawn Lynch 25 845 60 30 80 40 25 90 80 65 45 75 55 20 85 40 55
Ru TD 6 0 0 1 0 1 1 1 0 0 0 0 1 0 1 0
Re Yards 245 15 0 25 15 15 0 15 15 10 15 25 45 30 0 20
Re TD 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Rec 33 2 0 3 2 3 0 2 3 1 2 3 6 3 0 3
RB Justin Forsett 25 430 30 35 15 60 50 15 35 20 30 35 15 55 10 10 15
Ru TD 2 0 0 0 1 0 0 0 0 0 1 0 0 0 0 0
Re Yards 285 25 35 5 20 35 40 15 25 0 20 5 10 10 25 15
Re TD 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Rec 34 3 2 2 1 4 5 2 3 0 3 1 1 2 3 2
RB Leon Washington 29 145 10 0 0 0 10 0 15 30 0 0 20 25 0 20 15
Ru TD 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Re Yards 105 10 0 0 15 20 0 0 10 20 0 15 10 0 5 0
Re TD 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Rec 12 1 0 0 1 2 0 0 1 2 0 2 2 0 1 0
WR Sidney Rice 25 695 50 10 70 35 15 50 25 85 35 65 90 30 40 50 45
Re TD 5 1 0 1 0 0 0 0 1 0 0 1 0 0 1 0
Rec 49 3 2 4 3 1 4 2 4 3 5 6 2 3 4 3
WR Mike Williams 27 645 40 60 25 55 35 120 60 40 45 30 15 30 15 35 40
Re TD 3 0 1 0 0 0 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 1