East: DAL | NYG | PHI
CHI | DET | GB
ATL | CAR | NO
ARI | STL | SF
With many drafters either in the middle of drafting their teams
or about to start, some of my loyal readers asked for updated projections
they could use to either complement their use of the Cheatsheet
Compiler/Draft Buddy or maybe just to impress their friends.
Whatever the reason, many of the projections below have changed
for my initial release (AFC
and NFC) earlier this month.
So, in an effort to help your draft-day experience a successful
one, let’s get right into the updated projections.
Note: My final Big Board will hit the site on Thursday.
If you have any questions regarding the color-coding below, please
refer to my last Big Board.
Otherwise, the key to the stats is below, in case they are not
PYd – Passing Yards
PTD – Passing touchdowns
RuYd – Rushing Yards
RuTD - Passing touchdowns
ReYd – Receiving yards
ReTD - Receiving touchdowns
Rec - Receptions
Thoughts: One of the most impressive
players I have seen this preseason is Jones, who appears to have
added a lot of muscle to his frame. Long considered a speedy complementary
back, Jones has transformed himself into an every-down back and
the Cowboys are viewing him as one as well, which is the most
important thing. Because Austin has sat out the preseason, we
haven’t been able to get any hint on how much of an effect
Bryant will have on Austin’s final numbers. Until further
notice, Romo appears to trust Witten the most, followed by Austin
and then Bryant. Expect Bryant to be on the receiving end of a
lot of short passes until Romo gets fully comfortable with him,
with the idea being that Bryant’s YAC ability will serve
as an extension of the running game.
Thoughts: It’s unclear whether or not Manning is treating
this preseason like most fans do, but he is hitting less than 50%
of his passes and has yet to throw for a score in 55 attempts. Despite
his penchant for turning the ball over, Manning has become a low-end
QB1 in recent years thanks to consecutive 4,000-yard, 27+ TD pass
seasons and his durability (103 straight regular-season starts).
Still, Manning is a divisive player in fantasy because for all his
good games, he never appears all that far away from a bad one either.
Be that as it may, my opinion on Manningham’s outlook this
fall has skyrocketed recently. With Kevin Boss and Steve Smith gone
and Manningham likely to move in the slot when the team goes three-wide,
the chances he has a huge season are pretty good. Consider him a
top-notch WR2 in 12-team leagues with the potential to out-produce
Nicks this season.
Thoughts: Anyone that has caught a glimpse of the Eagles this preseason
has to be a bit concerned with the less-than-stellar protection
Vick is getting from his offensive line. Even with two rookie starters
(C Jason Kelce, G Danny Watkins), it’s an issue that figures
to get ironed with respected OL coach Howard Mudd. Still, it is
troubling that HC Andy Reid – a former OL coach himself –
seems to have this problem with his line every year, although Vick’s
tendency to extend plays does increase the number of pressures and
sacks the Eagles allow. The biggest change is to Maclin, who will
probably start the season a bit slow after dealing with his mysterious
illness over the summer. Since he is practicing now, it can be assumed
that he will contribute sooner than later, however. I cannot seem
to bring myself to add Steve Smith to the projections yet. One would
assume he would overtake Avant, but Avant is one of the better slot
options in the league himself and a trusted receiver in this offense.
Cooper is the one big WR Philly has, so his role as a potential
red-zone option appears safe as well.
Thoughts: Make fun of the preseason all you want, but the Redskins
have been quite impressive so far. Beck and Grossman have both
looked good enough to make HC Mike Shanahan appear prophetic for
staking his reputation on his QBs. Davis is enjoying a fine training
camp and preseason as well, helping ease the potential loss that
a completely healthy Cooley would have on this offense. But the
most impressive player so far has been Hightower, who may be the
first RB with a bit of staying power under Shanahan in some time.
He doesn’t have the explosiveness of Helu, but he has been
sound in just about every other facet of the game so far and avoided
his biggest bugaboo to this point – fumbles. At this point,
that might be the only thing that keeps Hightower from keeping
a stranglehold on this job all season long.
Thoughts: On my final Big Board, Forte is the first player I have
listed outside the 14 “studs” in PPR. His durability
and contributions to the passing game are the primary reasons for
that, but the presence of Barber will likely drive his owners crazy
when it comes to touches at the goal line. Since Williams decided
to show up to camp out of shape – and disappoint his biggest
fan (OC Mike Martz) in the process – I have dropped him significantly
from my initial projections. Why the Bears have decided to go this
far into the preseason with their two best WRs third and fourth
on the depth chart is beyond me.
Thoughts: I have made significant changes to my team projections
here, but not because of what I have seen in the preseason. Instead,
I realized that Best probably isn’t going to do exceed 4.5
YPC or receive 20 carries in all that many games this season.
However, OC Scott Linehan is fond of using his RBs heavily in
the passing game – and does a particularly good job at getting
Best out in space – so I believe I may actually have hit
the floor (and not the ceiling) for his potential in that regard.
At TE, I stole a significant of Scheffler’s catches and
gave most of them to Pettigrew, whose abilities as an all-around
TE help keep him on the field on just about every down.
Thoughts: Although I have made a few minor changes here, the
most notable is my belief that Starks will overtake Grant at some
point this season. HC Mike McCarthy has never been a RBBC coach,
so if Grant’s lack of burst continues into the regular season
– and there’s no reason to think it won’t –
then Starks can be expected to carry the load sooner than later.
(Think Cadillac Williams-LeGarrette Blount from last year.) Starks
has shown himself to be a capable receiver in the preseason and
is running with all the toughness one would expect out of a 6-2,
218-pound RB looking to stay healthy for the first time in years.
Thoughts: I’ve played around with Peterson’s final
numbers a lot since my initial projections, but I believe I have
finally settled on a good range for him now. With OC Bill Musgrave
adding more plays to get the RB the ball in the passing game,
Peterson could push 50+ receptions, although a final determination
on whether he, Gerhart or Lorenzo Booker will get the most passing-game
work hasn’t been made public yet. Otherwise, Berrian gets
a nice bump as McNabb has not only shown faith in him so far,
but the team also feels as if they need him to be the field-stretching
element to make this offense more explosive. He’s worth
a look for owners rounding out their WR corps late in the draft.
Thoughts: My opinion of Ryan has spiked over the last few weeks
(and that was before he posted 42 first-half passing attempts
in the team’s third preseason game), but it isn’t
for the reasons you might think. A healthy Douglas makes this
offense almost unstoppable most weeks as defenses will already
be stretched to defend White, Jones and Gonzalez as it is. While
Turner may not turn in his usual gaudy rushing numbers, I believe
it will have less to do with an age-related decline and more to
do with the level of production that will be coming out of the
Thoughts: Jimmy Clausen basically gift-wrapped the starting
job for Newton, who hasn’t exactly torn up the preseason
himself. Because he is a thick-built QB like Ben Roethlisberger,
Newton may be able to last the season physically even though he
will likely take some shots when he tries to make things happen
outside the pocket. I understand 3,000+ yards is a high number
for Newton, but he only needs 200 yards/game to hit that mark
over 15 games. I have come way down on Stewart, but that is only
because it is impossible to predict if/when Williams will get
hurt. Stewart has decent stand-alone value, but with Williams
and Newton likely to steal the few scoring chances the Panthers
will get each game, he might need a D-Will injury to be fantasy-relevant..
Thoughts: While Ingram’s totals have slipped a bit, it
is only because I was admittedly low on Thomas’ initial
projections (and still might be if he puts together a full season).
Ingram’s ceiling is probably 12-13 TDs, but projecting that
high total for a part-time back with goal-line duties –
even in this explosive offense – is a bit more than I want
to do at this point. I believe Sproles is greatly undervalued
– especially in PPR leagues – in the 10th round or
later as a more durable player in the Reggie Bush role. With Colston’s
continued knee problems, Moore and Graham have been two of the
hotter topics in Saints’ camp. Graham’s role appears
pretty solid – a high-upside TE1 candidate who may take
over as Brees’ top red-zone target if Colston is unable
to stay healthy. Moore is a bit different, because his likely
final reception numbers this season figure to come as a result
of Colston’s health and Sproles’ ability to fill Bush’s
former role. His preseason groin injury is a bit of a concern,
so owners should draft him no higher than a WR4.
Thoughts: Tampa Bay has remained relatively unchanged since my
Thoughts: The loss of Ryan Williams greatly changed the outlook
of this offense as a whole. As a whole, fantasy owners have long
memories when players “burn” them, but Wells is looking
more like the RB we saw at Ohio State this preseason. He isn’t
going to impress the masses with his huge weekly fantasy totals
or contributions in the passing game in all likelihood, but my
projections for him are definitely attainable with no realistic
competition for carries. Stephens-Howling appears to be the next
in line and warrants a roster spot in deeper PPR leagues. I like
what I have seen from Roberts, but there is a strong belief that
he will be part of a committee attack opposite Fitzgerald.
Thoughts: Last year, Bradford scored seven times (six passing,
one rushing) from the 3-yard line or closer. If Jackson can steal
half of those this year and return to a 4.0 YPC on 300 carries
with his customary 40+ receptions, I think he makes a strong case
for a very good RB2, if not a low-end RB1 in all leagues. Now
seen as a mid-level RB2 in fantasy, he has a shot to exceed expectations
for the first time in years. The biggest mover here is Kendricks,
who has shot up my most recent Big Board and stands to benefit
the most from OC Josh McDaniels’ offense, especially since
he is far and away the second-most dependable receiver in this
passing attack already.
Thoughts: I made minor changes to most of the RBs and WRs, so
I’ll simply say that Gore’s contract issue could make
this season a rough one for his owners (and that’s not even
considering he is one of the bigger injury risks around at his
position). Hunter needs to be on the radar for owners in small
or deep leagues, because it figures to be a matter of when, not
if, he’ll see the field. He isn’t likely to be a feature-back
anytime soon, but he’ll be usable in fantasy in the event
Gore gets hurt. The new offense is TE-friendly, so Davis’
only concern is the same as it has been since he became a strong
fantasy option – the accuracy of his QB. Expect him to remain
the team’s top receiver.
Thoughts: So far this preseason, this passing game has struggled
just about as much as I expected it to before the preseason started.
Surprisingly, Jackson hasn’t been the main cause of the
struggles since he has been more accurate than expected when given
the chance to set his feet in the pocket. The biggest problem
has been the amount of pressure his rebuilt offensive line is
allowing. As long as this remains the case, everyone suffers.
As a result, players like Rice, Williams and Miller are all late-round
selections at best. On the bright side, Washington is slated to
eat into the RB timeshare more this season, so he has some low-end
appeal in deep PPR leagues. Expect the running game to be just
about as frustrating as the passing game from a fantasy perspective.
Suggestions, comments, musings about the article
or fantasy football in general? E-mail
Doug Orth has written for FF Today
since 2006, appeared in USA Today’s Fantasy Football Preview
magazine in each of the last two seasons and served as a weekly
fantasy football analyst for 106.7 The Fan in Washington, D.C. this
past season. He is also a member of the Fantasy Sports Writers Association.
You can also follow him on