Fantasy Football Strategy, Advice, and Commentary
By: Dave Stringer — April 28, 2010 @ 10:11 am
The NFL rookie draft generally produces a few solid fantasy performers each year but it also has a big impact on veteran players. Dynasty league keepers can lose their value in a hurry if the draft is used to bring competition in at their position.
This year, there were some major surprises in the draft with some teams ignoring major needs and others loading up on certain positions unexpectedly. The Bills chose to ignore the quarterback position while the 49ers loaded up along the offensive line which has to make Frank Gore owners a happy bunch.
There’s one team that is heavily represented here and if you guessed it’s because their general manager ignored his team’s obvious needs, you hit the nail on the head.
Frank Gore, RB, San Francisco—Not only did the 49ers address the right tackle position with the addition of Anthony Davis, they went one step further and added guard Mike Iupati. Gore’s fantasy prognosis was looking good but now it’s looking even better. Put him down as your fifth rated running back.
Jason Campbell, QB, Oakland—Campbell was going to sit behind Donovan McNabb in Washington and his trade to the Raiders will likely result in him starting in Oakland with JaMarcus Russell likely being released, possibly this week.
While all Raiders offensive players are justifiably viewed with scepticism by fantasy footballers, it’s worth noting that Bruce Gradkowski averaged 21.5 points per game during the three starts that he played the entire game and Charlie Frye had a nice game and a half run before inexplicably getting yanked at halftime of the Ravens game during Week 17. Just saying it’s worth filing away. Campbell could surprise.
Trent Edwards, QB, Buffalo—Edwards lucks out with Buddy Nix and Chan Gailey being the only two people on the face of the earth not agreeing that the Bills need an upgrade at quarterback. Unless, of course, a seventh round pick can be expected to contribute right away. Remarkable.
Pierre Thomas, RB, New Orleans—The Saints never got around to taking a running back like many had thought they would so Thomas is entrenched as the starter with Lynell Hamilton likely spelling him and maybe getting some of the goal-line work.
LenDale White, RB, Seattle—Rather than fight for scraps behind Chris Johnson, White gets reunited with his former college coach Pete Carroll with the Seahawks. He will likely get the early down and goal line work with Justin Forsett handling the receiving role until Leon Washington is healthy.
Mike Wallace, WR, Pittsburgh—The Steelers waited until the third round to take a wide receiver, settling on Emmanuel Sanders who doesn’t have the size to play outside. Translation—Wallace doesn’t have any competition for his starting spot.
David Garrard, QB, Jacksonville—We keep hearing about how Garrard’s not good enough to win with, but the Jaguars would rather draft defensive tackles that most people haven’t heard of. To each their own.
Michael Jenkins, WR, Atlanta—Jenkins hasn’t done much of anything and yet the Falcons never seem too interested in replacing him. Fifth round pick Kerry Meier is a possession receiver who is likely better suited to backup duty.
Mohamed Massaquoi and Brian Robiskie, WR, Cleveland—Massaquoi was decent last year while Robiskie was a disaster. However, the Browns failed to acquire any veterans through free agency and then waited until the sixth round to take Carlton Mitchell from South Florida. Of course, they still have Jake Delhomme chucking it in 2010 so even though Massaquoi and Robiskie are “winners” for this article, all Browns receivers should be avoided.
James Hardy and Steve Johnson, WR, Buffalo—Despite the fact these two players have combined for 22 receptions, 208 yards and four touchdowns in two years, the Bills didn’t draft a wide receiver until the fourth round when they took Marcus Easley. Of course, they still have Trent Edwards chucking it in 2010 so all Bills receivers except Lee Evans should be avoided. The Bills-Browns don’t entirely understand the whole NFL is a copycat league concept.
Fred Jackson, RB, Buffalo—Gailey to Nix: “Let’s check out the offensive depth chart. No quarterback, no left tackle, no second receiver, a veteran retread at right tackle and two solid running backs in Jackson and Marshawn Lynch.” Nix: “Okay, let’s draft C.J. Spiller.” The wheels on the bus go round and round, all the live long day…
Roy Williams, WR, Dallas—The Cowboys give up a first, a third and a sixth to get Williams and then draft Dez Bryant in the first round. So, their number two wide receiver will end up costing two firsts, a third and a sixth. Sound decision-making. Unless Williams is traded, he isn’t worth owning long-term in fantasy leagues.
Steve Slaton, RB, Houston—The Texans were expected to take a running back in the draft but Slaton owners were hoping it was a lower round selection without the pedigree of Ben Tate. No such luck.
Kevin Smith, RB, Detroit—With Smith coming off a late season torn ACL and the Lions not enamored with his big play ability, the pre-draft line was that they would look to acquire a scatback in the mid-rounds. Unfortunately for Smith, they decided to trade into the back end of the first round in order to select Jahvid Best, who would have been taken much higher if he didn’t have injury concerns.
Jerome Harrison, RB, Cleveland—I was never sold on Harrison and the Browns weren’t either, hence the trade up in the second round to acquire Montario Hardesty. Let others take the veteran in your fantasy drafts while you use a late round pick on Hardesty.
Matt Moore, QB, Carolina—The Panthers told anybody who would listen they were comfortable with Moore as their starter. Then they went out and drafted not one, but two quarterbacks in the draft adding Jimmy Clausen and Tony Pike.
Julius Jones, RB, Seattle—With LenDale White and Leon Washington joining the depth chart and Justin Forsett earning a minimum salary, there’s no reason for the Seahawks to keep Jones and his bloated contract on the roster.
Darren Sproles, RB, San Diego—Sure, he’s a loser with the addition of Ryan Mathews but the addition of a running back in the draft came as no surprise.
Jabar Gaffney and Brandon Stokley, WR, Denver—Demaryius Williams and Eric Decker were added in the draft and head coach Josh McDaniels has said Eddie Royal will have an increased role in 2010. One of these guys is likely to be cut with the other relegated to keeping a seat warm for the younger guys.
By: Dave Stringer — April 26, 2010 @ 2:20 pm
The NFL Draft is over and it’s time to turn our fantasy football focus to the impact the rookies will have in 2010 and beyond. With dynasty leagues growing in popularity, several leagues have rookie-only drafts.
Let’s mock it up with a three round, 10 team version. In general, rookies don’t have a huge impact in fantasy leagues in their first year, and even considering that, this is a lacklustre rookie draft from a fantasy perspective.
Most of the running backs will enter committees and the wide receivers are raw, have personal issues or are entering bad situations. There are no stud tight ends and the only quarterback guaranteed to start will do so for the St. Louis Rams, the worst team in the league.
Add it all up, and it might be worth moving your picks for veteran fantasy help, other than if you own the first pick, that is.
A future article will focus on veteran winners and losers from the NFL Draft, including Fred Jackson and Roy Williams.
1. Ryan Mathews, RB, Chargers—Mathews will start on opening day in the Chargers high powered offense and Darren Sproles will serve as the pass catching, change of pace option. Look for 15-20 touches a game, giving Mathews RB2 status with upside.
2. C.J. Spiller, RB, Buffalo—Topped 200 touches only once in college and Fred Jackson isn’t chopped liver so expect RBBC in Buffalo. He’s going to need touchdowns to hit RB2 status but that’s wishful thinking with Trent Edwards at quarterback. He’s a backup, but admittedly with upside, in 2010.
3. Ben Tate, Houston— Texans get their running back to compliment Steve Slaton but perhaps not to supplant him. The Texans’ offense is loaded and he will be the goal line back. That’s why he’s here.
4. Jahvid Best, RB, Detroit—Either Kevin Smith isn’t ready on opening day or he struggles from his injury recovery so Best will get opportunities early. Unfortunately, Smith is a starting calibre back best suited to early down work and Best seems to fit best as the third down guy.
5. Dez Bryant, WR, Dallas—Has a chance to supplant Roy Williams this year and, barring any issues, will almost certainly be starting in 2011. Huge upside in a solid Cowboys offense.
6. Montario Hardesty, Cleveland—Jerome Harrison did nothing for three years and then put up 150 fantasy points last year with 89 coming in three games against the Chiefs, Raiders and Jaguars. Hardesty’s going to challenge and nobody should be surprised he beats out Harrison.
7. Golden Tate, WR, Seattle—Great situation for Tate with T.J. Houshmandzadeh and Deion Branch aging and Seattle in rebuilding mode. Tate could be starting on opening day.
8. Demaryius Thomas, WR, Denver—He’s going to start but might be catching passes from Tim Tebow by midseason and in future years. Sorry—I’m not that excited.
9. Rolando McClain, ILB, Oakland—Tackle machine and the top IDP player in the draft. Road to the starting line-up was cleared with the trade of Kirk Morrison to the Jaguars. Doesn’t have Patrick Willis potential in IDP leagues but he isn’t far off.
10. Arrelious Benn, WR, Tampa Bay—With Josh Freeman entering his second year, Benn won’t be a starting calibre fantasy starter this year but has upside in 2011.
1. Sam Bradford, QB, St. Louis—Don’t expect much in 2010 but he’s the only quarterback in the draft likely to start next year. The Rams’ receivers offer potential but remain raw.
2. Toby Gerhart, RB, Vikings—Tough to slot him in. If Adrian Peterson gets hurt, he’s gold. Otherwise, he’s 4-6 touches a game at most. It’s like the lottery—at $2 a ticket, I’m in. At $10, forget about it. This spot seems about right.
3. James Starks, RB, Green Bay—Measures and collegiate production don’t jump out at you but Ryan Grant’s backups to date have been a bust and it’s not likely Grant is overly talented himself. Plus, the Packers offense is great which makes Starks worth the gamble.
4. Brandon LaFell, WR, Carolina—Steve Smith isn’t getting any younger and Dwayne Jarrett isn’t getting any better.
5. Daryl Washington, ILB, Arizona—Cardinals take Washington to replace Dansby and he will likely start from day one. He could be a tackle machine in the Cardinals defensive scheme.
6. Jermaine Gresham, TE, Cincinnati—A solid prospect who might catch enough touchdowns to be fantasy useful in 2010.
7. Jonathan Dwyer, RB, Pittsburgh—Won’t likely get to play much but does figure to start ahead of Mewelde Moore if Rashard Mendenhall gets hurt.
8. Mike Williams, WR, Tampa Bay—It might seem odd to have two Buccaneers rookie wide receivers in this mock but it’s not like any of the current crop of veterans are sure fire starters. Opportunity trumps character concerns at this point.
9. Marcus Easley, WR, Buffalo—Huge hole opposite Lee Evans with only the disappointing James Hardy and former seventh round pick Steve Johnson to compete with Easley. He has solid size which is what the Bills want opposite Evans.
10. Eric Decker, WR, Denver—Let’s see, Josh McDaniels clearly likes his own guys. Eddie Royal isn’t one of them and he was a bust last season. Jabar Gaffney and Brandon Stokley aren’t the long-term answers so Decker will get a shot at some point and don’t be surprised if it’s this year.
1. Jordan Shipley, WR, Cincinnati—Chad Ochocinco isn’t getting any younger, Antonio Bryant and Matt Jones aren’t getting any smarter, Andre Caldwell’s best suited as a backup and Jerome Simpson will be starting his second career soon. Shipley’s got an opportunity, just not this year.
2. Damian Williams, WR, Tennessee—Kenny Britt is locked in at one starting position but Justin Gage and Nate Washington have been marginally disappointing for the Titans.
3. James Graham, TE, New Orleans—Jeremy Shockey is injury prone and David Thomas has played well but has limited upside. Graham’s opportunity could come sooner than many think.
4. Eric Berry, S, Kansas City—Safeties excel in IDP leagues when there’s pass rush help, which the Chiefs lack. However, if Berry is as good as advertised, he’s worth a shot here.
5. Jimmy Clausen, QB, Carolina—Matt Moore’s the incumbent. Do I need to go on?
6. Rob Gronkowski, TE, New England—Alge Crumpler’s the starter but Gronkowski could take over by midseason.
7. Kareem Jackson, CB, Houston—Expect him to get picked on plenty which should provide opportunities for tackles, passes defensed and maybe the odd interception.
8. Colt McCoy, QB, Cleveland—Slotted behind Clausen since the Panthers have a solid running game and Steve Smith. The Browns’ offensive line is above average but the receivers and running backs don’t match up to Carolina’s.
9. Andre Roberts, WR, Arizona—Likely will be used in the slot. If Early Doucet’s late season play was a mirage, Roberts could get a shot earlier than expected.
10. Joe Haden, CB, Cleveland—Rookie cornerbacks get picked on plenty but Haden may be the Browns best corner on opening day. Nonetheless, expect him to rack up solid numbers in IDP leagues.
By: Dave Stringer — April 23, 2010 @ 12:51 am
Let’s take a look at how the first round of the NFL draft impacts fantasy leagues in 2010.
1. Sam Bradford, QB St. Louis—With A.J. Feeley and Craig Null at quarterback, there is little doubt Bradford will start on opening day. With the team’s current crop of receivers, there is little doubt Bradford will be a fantasy bust in 2010.
2. Ndamukong Suh, DT, Detroit—Suh will improve the Lions defense and help recently signed Kyle Vanden Bosch in the sack department. However, it’s doubtful he will be useful in IDP leagues or vault the Lions defense into the top 15.
3. Gerald McCoy, DT, Tampa Bay—Ditto for McCoy in Tampa.
4. Trent Williams, Washington—The Redskins get their left tackle for the next 10-12 years. Unfortunately, there are major question marks along the offensive line and at running back and wide receiver. He helps, but Donovan McNabb likely remains the only Redskin to own from a fantasy perspective.
5. Eric Berry, S, Kansas City—Big time playmaker immediately improves the Chiefs defense but they aren’t worth targeting in fantasy leagues. Berry is, however, a great candidate in IDP leagues.
6. Russell Okung, OT, Seattle—Seahawks have to be ecstatic to get Okung. He immediately improves the outlook for Julius Jones, Justin Forsett and whoever they add at the position in the draft.
7. Joe Haden, CB, Cleveland—Rookie corners are targeted early and often, making them great IDP candidates. Browns D could surprise in 2010 if Shaun Rogers can stay out of trouble.
8. Rolando McClain, ILB, Oakland—Top linebacker in the draft goes to the Raiders and will either accompany Kirk Morrison in a 3-4 alignment or supplant him in the 4-3. Top IDP rookie in the draft and in Oakland, where he’ll be on the field a lot trying to stop the run, he could be a top ten LB.
9. C.J. Spiller, RB, Buffalo—Just about anywhere else, Spiller had a shot to be the top player taken in fantasy rookie drafts. Considering the anaemic offense Spiller has to work with, he will likely to slot in as the second rookie taken.
10. Tyson Aluala, DT, Jacksonville—Bit of a shocker with John Henderson and Terrence Knighton on the roster, this pick does nothing for the Jaguars defense in fantasy leagues.
11. Anthony Davis, OT, San Francisco—Davis solidifies the right tackle position for the 49ers and makes the team’s young offensive playmakers all that more attractive, provided Alex Smith is solid at quarterback, of course.
12. Ryan Mathews, RB, San Diego—Meet the top pick in rookie fantasy drafts in 2010. Playing in the Chargers high-powered offense, Mathews is a solid RB2 candidate with upside in redraft leagues.
13. Brandon Graham, DE, Philadelphia—Eagles add to a deep defensive line rotation which likely makes Graham little use in IDP leagues. His presence should result in more fantasy points for the Eagles D, however.
14. Earl Thomas, S, Seattle—Solid pick to revamp a secondary that got burned repeatedly in 2009. Thomas figures to be a great player but with the weak pass rush in Seattle, he isn’t a great candidate in IDP leagues.
15. Jason Pierre-Paul, DE, New York Giants—Pierre-Paul seems to be the consensus boom or bust pick in the draft. Unless Osi Umenyiora is moved, he isn’t useful in IDP leagues but should add to the Giants sack totals in 2010.
16. Derrick Morgan, DE, Tennessee—Morgan figures to replace Vanden Bosch but net result is fewer sacks for the Titans next year.
17. Mike Iupati, OG, San Francisco—49ers are apparently doing everything in their power to help the O in 2010. This could be a solid overall offense for fantasy, especially with six games against the Rams, Seahawks and Cardinals.
18. Maurkice Pouncey, C, Pittsburgh—Pouncey will replace Justin Hartwig and solidify the Steelers offensive line. His presence improves the prospects of Rashard Mendenhall next year.
19. Sean Weatherspoon, OLB, Atlanta—Mike Peterson put up solid numbers playing on the outside last year and Weatherspoon figures to be even better.
20. Kareem Jackson, CB, Houston—Plenty of cornerbacks in Houston, all of them suspect so Jackson will likely start from day one and get picked on plenty. Target him in IDP leagues.
21. Jermaine Gresham, TE, Cincinnati—Gresham improves the offense but it’s hard to imagine him being anything more than a backup TE in fantasy leagues.
22. Demaryius Thomas, WR, Denver—Broncos move way back and then surprisingly make Thomas the first wide receiver off the board. If Dez Bryant pans out, the Broncos will look silly for years to come. Thomas, however, does have decent fantasy prospects, especially in dynasty leagues.
23. Bryan Bulaga, OT, Green Bay—Bulaga sinks like a stone to the Packers disbelief. Great pick for the Packers. Bulaga should improve the running game in 2010.
24. Dez Bryant, WR, Dallas—Cowboys get their man and it’s anybody’s guess what’s next for Roy Williams. Bryant doesn’t figure to do much if Williams is around but he’s a great player for dynasty leagues.
25. Tim Tebow, QB, Denver—Check back in a few years to see how this pans out. From a fantasy perspective, the name recognition alone is enough to almost guarantee he’ll be drafted too high, especially considering the uncertainty about what role he will play in the offense out of the gate.
26. Dan Williams, DT, Arizona—Great pick for the Cardinals but their D has likely lost too much to be fantasy relevant in 2010.
27. Devin McCourty, CB, New England—Somehow I don’t see a rookie cornerback playing a big role in the Patriots secondary. Just a hunch.
28. Jared Odrick, DT, Miami—Dolphins add to their defense, as expected, and Odrick will likely move to defensive end. In the Dolphins scheme, he isn’t worth owning in IDP leagues.
29. Kyle Wilson, CB, New York Jets—With Darrelle Revis and Antonio Cromartie on the scene, Wilson won’t have much opportunity. Avoid him in IDP leagues unless Revis or Cromartie gets hurt.
30. Jahvid Best, RB, Detroit—Best figures to have a solid chance to supplant Kevin Smith, with Smith recovering from a torn ACL. However, there are questions about his durability so this could be a RBBC in 2010 and perhaps for years to come.
31. Jerry Hughes, OLB, Indianapolis—Figures to start from day one but don’t expect much from him in IDP leagues in 2010.
32. Patrick Robinson, CB, New Orleans—Saints end the first round by adding to their depth at cornerback. Robinson won’t start in 2010 and may not for a few years.
By: Dave Stringer — April 21, 2010 @ 11:22 pm
The NFL announced that Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger will receive a six game suspension for violating the league’s personal conduct policy.
The suspension comes as a result of Roethlisberger being involved in two separate police investigations alleging sexual assaults within a nine month period. The league ordered Roethlisberger to undergo a comprehensive behavioural evaluation and the outcome of that evaluation as well as his conduct prior to the season will determine whether to reduce the suspension to four games.
The suspension is a huge blow to a Steelers team that was expected to compete with the Cincinnati Bengals and Baltimore Ravens in the AFC North. Without Roethlisberger available for at least four games, a Steelers squad that came within a game of a playoff berth in 2009 faces tougher odds of qualifying for a 2010 post-season berth.
In addition, reports indicate that the Steelers are willing to listen to trade offers for Roethlisberger provided they receive a top ten pick in the upcoming rookie draft. Of the teams that possess those picks, only the Oakland Raiders and Jacksonville Jaguars might consider pursuing a trade with the Steelers. The Cleveland Browns would likely have interest but a trade between the AFC North foes is a remote possibility.
Roethlisberger is coming off his best season as a pro and finished as the eighth-ranked fantasy quarterback in 2009. The Steelers moved to a more pass-based offense last year with three solid wide receivers in Hines Ward, Santonio Holmes and second year speedster Mike Wallace.
However, Holmes was traded to the Jets and the team is expected to move to more of ground based attack in 2010.
Nonetheless, his fantasy prospects for 2010 were still solid but are now clearly diminished with the suspension. Assuming a four game suspension, drafting Roethlisberger becomes costly considering he offers zero in return to start the season, and risky unless you plan on having three quarterbacks on your roster during the suspension.
The biggest winner from a fantasy perspective is running back Rashard Mendenhall, who figures to see an increased workload early in the season. He moves up a few spots and into the top ten at running back, ranked ninth.
The biggest fantasy loser from the suspension is obviously Roethlisberger but Ward, Wallace and tight end Heath Miller also move down in the rankings with backup quarterback Dennis Dixon the likely replacement.
Dixon doesn’t have Roethlisberger’s accuracy or touch on deep balls. Expect teams to play the Steelers wide receivers tight on short and intermediate routes, at least until Dixon proves capable of hitting his wideouts deep.
Wallace was considered a breakout candidate and still should be but he moves to WR4 status given his bread and butter is big plays. Ward isn’t expected to see much of a drop but fantasy owners should be leery of drafting him as a WR2. With concerns about his age and now the quarterback play for at least four games, he looks much more attractive as a WR3.
Miller is coming off a career year in which he finished with 789 yards and six touchdowns, good enough to be the ninth ranked fantasy tight end. He moves from being a borderline starter to a solid backup for fantasy purposes.
By: Dave Stringer — April 20, 2010 @ 10:06 am
After posting my initial wide receiver rankings for the 2010 fantasy football season, there was a lot of feedback from fellow owners in my fantasy leagues that Cardinals wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald was ranked far too low at 11th.
Subsequently, my one-man mock draft came out and it had Fitzgerald being selected with the 12th pick in the third round. Since it was only a three round mock, he was the last player chosen.
More negative feedback followed although some of it did admit that at least my reasoning made a little sense, a backhanded compliment to be sure.
Let’s examine the case that was made for moving Fitzgerald down the wide receiver rankings.
The wide receiver ranking article commented that:
Talent wise, he is definitely higher. Rankings wise, you have to move him down based on the departures of Kurt Warner and Anquan Boldin.
The mock draft article commented that:
He’s a bargain at this spot but hard to move up given the doubts about Matt Leinart’s ability to produce at quarterback. [Fitz] had the 15th most receiving yards in the league in 2009 but was the fourth ranked fantasy wide receiver courtesy of his 13 touchdowns.
Here are Fitzgerald’s statistics over the last three years with Warner largely at the helm of a potent Cardinals offense:
| Larry Fitzgerald
In examining Fitzgerald’s performance in 2009, it’s clear that his fantasy production was largely based on the number of touchdowns he scored. His average yards per reception suffered because defenses played a lot of cover two against the Cardinals. Opponents feared the team’s passing attack, not its ability to run the ball.
Looking forward to 2010, with Boldin now in Baltimore, defenses will likely commit more to stopping the running back tandem of the emerging Chris Wells and Tim Hightower. However, with Steve Breaston not worthy of as much attention as Boldin, Fitzgerald will likely be double covered on almost every play.
Talented wide receivers are able to beat coverage but it is more difficult for them to get open and they need an accurate passer to get them the ball. With Warner at the controls, Fitzgerald had an accurate passer, but Leinart has not yet proven able to match Warner’s accuracy and is unlikely to develop to that level in 2010.
In his four years in the league, Leinart compiled a completion rate of 57.1%. Last year, in 77 attempts, he completed 66.2% of his passes but his yards per attempt was a lowly 5.6, indicating that he was throwing a high number of short and intermediate passes.
Warner’s career completion percentage was 65.7% and his yards per attempt was 7.8.
Although some fantasy enthusiasts may have taken solace in Cardinals head coach Ken Whisenhunt recently proclaiming that Leinart was the team’s starting quarterback, it’s worth noting that a week prior to this proclamation he had remarked that Leinart would be anointed the starter once he goes to three Pro Bowls and wins the Super Bowl.
More likely than not, Whisenhunt was sending a statement to Leinart, the recently signed Derek Anderson and the team about the anticipated depth chart. Still, the earlier comment by the head coach does give us a lot of confidence in Leinart as the projected starter.
Over the last three years, the Cardinals offense scored 41, 45 and 43 touchdowns. With Leinart at the controls, it’s easy to predict that the Cardinals will score less. With the team now likely to shift to more of a ground based attack, it’s also easy to predict that a higher percentage of their offensive touchdowns will come on the ground.
Fantasy football success is based on drafting for value and the value equation includes a risk component. With Warner at the controls leading a passing based attack, Fitzgerald was a high reward, low risk option.
With Leinart at the controls of a more ground based attack, Fitzgerald will still produce but his upside is less and he is a far riskier option in 2010. For that reason, he’s currently my 11th ranked wide receiver for fantasy purposes, behind receivers with much more established quarterbacks, such as Greg Jennings (ranked 9th) and Marques Colston (10th).
By: Dave Stringer — April 19, 2010 @ 9:12 am
The Miami Dolphins made a significant move to bolster the team’s anemic passing game by trading for troubled wide receiver Brandon Marshall. In exchange, Miami sends their second round pick in the upcoming rookie draft and a 2011 second round pick to the Denver Broncos.
The acquisition of Marshall immediately upgrades the Dolphins offense and gives third-year quarterback Chad Henne a true number one receiver, something the team has lacked in recent seasons. Although Marshall doesn’t possess outstanding deep speed, he has shown the ability to get past defenders and has excellent ability after the catch due to his size.
The team’s passing attack finished 20th overall in 2009, averaging just under 200 yards per game. Opposing defenses weren’t required to double team any of the team’s receivers last season and Marshall’s presence should benefit whoever lines up opposite him in the starting line-up.
The move comes on the heels of the New York Jets acquisition of wide receiver Santonio Holmes from the Pittsburgh Steelers, and could be regarded as the Dolphins response to keep pace with an aggressive Jets front office.
Reports indicate that Marshall subsequently signed a four-year contract extension that will make him the highest paid wide receiver in the league.
In Marshall the Dolphins are getting an enigmatic player but one who has excelled on the field despite accumulating a lengthy list of off the field discretions that have landed him in trouble with the law, the league, his teammates and Broncos management. They are taking a risk on a player whose next transgression will likely result on a one-year suspension from the league.
Suffice it to say, there will be mixed feelings in Denver regarding his departure.
From a fantasy perspective, there is a clear winner and a clear loser with this trade and they are the respective quarterbacks on each team. Henne comes out on top as he acquires a player who recorded over 100 catches and 1,000 yards in each of the last three seasons.
Simply put, Marshall is head and shoulders above any receiver the team had last season. Henne was the 25th ranked quarterback in my initial rankings but he moves up to 19th overall and is a decent option in dynasty leagues.
In Denver, Marshall was a lock for 100 receptions, 1,100 plus yards and seven to ten touchdowns and was my fifth ranked wide receiver. However, the Dolphins have an outstanding running attack and are not going to change the team’s offensive identity to accommodate Marshall.
In Miami, he is unlikely to top 100 receptions although he may get more shots down the field due to the dual threat at running back in Ronnie Brown and Ricky Williams. Although I previously commented that he wouldn’t fall out of the top ten wherever he landed, I have moved him down to 12th overall.
Look for Miami to move Davone Bess to the slot with Greg Camarillo and Brian Hartline battling for the starting spot opposite Marshall. Bess figures to see a huge drop in production in the slot but my previous ranking of 53rd assumed he was destined for the slot anyway so his prognosis doesn’t change much.
None of the three players is worth owning except in deep leagues.
The Dolphins subsequently traded Ted Ginn Jr. to the San Francisco 49ers for a 5th round draft pick.
Broncos quarterback Kyle Orton gets the short end of the stick as he loses his top target and now has a receiver depth chart consisting of Eddie Royal, Jabar Gaffney, Brandon Stokley and Brandon Lloyd. He drops down to 25th in the quarterback rankings.
Of the four receivers, only Royal is considered a talented player and he is coming off a hugely disappointing second season with 37 receptions for 345 yards and no touchdowns. That came on the heels of an outstanding rookie campaign in 2009 when he finished with 91 receptions for 980 yards and five touchdowns.
Royal moves up to 33rd in the wide receiver rankings from 57th previously but is currently a high risk, high reward option. If the Broncos fail to take a receiver in the first or second rounds of the draft, he becomes a more intriguing option.
The team now has three selections in the first two rounds of the draft and will likely use one of those selections on a wide receiver. If that transpires, whoever they select figures to have some potential in dynasty leagues.
By: Dave Stringer — April 12, 2010 @ 11:41 am
With recent legal issues engulfing two of their team’s biggest stars, the Pittsburgh Steelers decided today to reduce the negative publicity surrounding the team by trading wide receiver Santonio Holmes to the New York Jets. In return, the Steelers will reportedly receive the Jets fifth round pick in the upcoming rookie draft.
Holmes is coming off a career year in 2009 and caught the game winning pass in the team’s Super Bowl Championship season in 2008 so this move is clearly not based on his ability on the field.
With quarterback Ben Roethlisberger recently involved in a second sexual assault investigation since last July, the move by the team’s management to trade Holmes would seem to be an attempt to help clean up the team’s public image, an important consideration for an organization long considered to be one of the most respectable in all of pro sports.
Despite his considerable talent on the field, Holmes has had numerous legal difficulties since entering the league. This month, a woman in Florida claimed he threw a glass at her in a nightclub resulting in a cut above here eye. He has also been arrested for marijuana possession and domestic violence.
Although the Steelers only received a fifth round pick in the trade, the deal is not as one-sided as it appears to be. Holmes faces suspension given his latest legal troubles, suspected to be a four gamer, and he is entering the final year of his rookie contract and will be looking for a lucrative long-term extension from the Jets.
In New York, Holmes will likely assume a position in the starting line-up alongside Braylon Edwards with Jerricho Cotchery moving to the slot. There is also an outside chance Cotchery is moved at the draft.
The Jets now possess one of the better wide receiver depth charts in the league and this trade positions them as the team to beat in the AFC East.
Holmes topped 1,000 yards for the first time in his four-year career in 2009, finishing with 79 receptions for 1,248 yards and five touchdowns. In New York, however, his fantasy prospects dim due to the Jets focus on running the ball and the number of talented veteran wide receivers now on the roster.
Assuming Holmes receives a four game suspension, look for him to finish with about 800 yards and six touchdowns through 12 games. Edwards projects to stay at around 800 yards with the same number of touchdowns. However, neither player can be considered to have great upside unless Cotchery is traded.
Cotchery is now only worth owning in deep leagues.
Holmes presence on the Jets certainly helps the fantasy prospects of quarterback Mark Sanchez, who now has three solid wide receivers to throw to as well as pass catching tight end in Dustin Keller and running back LaDainian Tomlinson. He moves up to the 20th spot in the quarterback rankings from 26th previously.
However, the biggest winner of this trade from a fantasy perspective is Steelers wideout Mike Wallace. The third round pick dazzled as a rookie, making several big plays on his way to catching 39 passes for 756 yards and six touchdowns.
Wallace has excellent speed and Steelers management is showing they are confident he is ready to step into the starting line-up to replace Holmes’ production. He becomes a high end WR3 or low end WR2 in larger leagues but one with tremendous upside. Look for him to hit 950-1,000 yards with 7-8 touchdowns in 2010.
I was big on Wallace as a dynasty league candidate already due to Hines Ward’s age and Holmes’ troubles. He becomes much more attractive in those formats now.
Roethlisberger takes a slight hit with this trade moving from the sixth ranked quarterback to ninth overall, mostly because the Steelers don’t have great options to replace Wallace: Antwaan Randle El, Limas Sweed and Arnaz Battle. Diminutive returner Stefan Logan is also an option given the team’s musings about getting him more involved on offense.
By: Dave Stringer — April 8, 2010 @ 11:06 pm
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With the recent acquisition of Donovan McNabb from the Eagles, the Redskins have solidified the quarterback position and increased their flexibility in the upcoming NFL rookie draft. And with that extra flexibility, it appears the team is now putting up various smokescreens in order to maximize their return from the draft picks they currently have.
Due to previous personnel moves, the Redskins currently have only four picks in the draft and there is plenty of speculation the team will attempt to make trades at or before the draft to increase their overall number of picks.
Their second round pick was moved to the Eagles as part of the McNabb trade, their sixth round pick was part of the Jason Taylor trade and the team used their 2010 third round pick to take defensive end Jeremy Jarmon in the third round of the 2009 supplemental draft.
The easiest avenue for the Redskins to pick up extra draft picks would be to trade Albert Haynesworth, who reportedly does not want to move to nose tackle in the team’s new 3-4 defensive alignment. However, few teams are likely to want to take on his massive contract.
Redskins head coach Mike Shanahan indicated the team was still considering taking a quarterback with the fourth overall selection in the draft, reasoning that some of the best quarterbacks in the league benefitted from being a backup during their first few years in the league.
Then came reports that the team was interested in acquiring former Cowboys left tackle Flozell Adams to shore up that position on the offensive line. Even for a Redskins team famed for its reputation for acquiring aging veterans, this potential free agent signing seems to be a stretch.
More likely, these moves are an attempt to create a smokescreen in an attempt to influence teams lower in the draft to increase their offers for the Redskins first round selection.
Numerous teams have needs at tackle and may be willing to move up to acquire the consensus top offensive tackle in the draft, Oklahoma State’s Russell Okung.
However, the real target of this smokescreen is likely the Buffalo Bills. The Bills have a need at quarterback and at left tackle and may be willing to move up to acquire Notre Dame quarterback Jimmy Clausen.
If the Bills are convinced the Redskins are ready to sign Adams to play left tackle and take Clausen fourth overall, they would need to entice the Redskins to move the pick in order to get one of the top two quarterbacks in the draft.
Alternatively, if the Bills were convinced Clausen was going to the Redskins, they might be willing to increase a potential offer for Jason Campbell.
Either way, the Redskins would increase the number of picks they have in the draft as well as receive extra value in any potential Bills trade. Whether or not the Bills and rookie general manager Buddy Nix bite is anyone’s guess.
Here’s a look at the Redskins roster needs as the draft approaches.
With the McNabb trade, the free agent signing of Rex Grossman and second year player Colt Brennan on the roster, the team seems set at quarterback. Look for Campbell to be moved at the draft.
Shanahan has a history of using lower round picks on the running back position but that may have to wait until the 2011 draft given the team’s overall needs. With aging veterans Clinton Portis, Larry Johnson and Willie Parker occupying the depth chart, this position needs an upgrade but that may not happen unless they can move the fourth overall selection.
Santana Moss returns as the team’s top wide receiver but he leaves something to be desired as a true number one receiver. With Devin Thomas and Malcolm Kelly entering their third years, the team is hopeful that one or both of them will finally start producing consistently. The team also has hopes for 2009 seventh round pick Marko Mitchell who has good size and speed. There isn’t a need at tight end with the duo of Chris Cooley and Fred Davis.
With Chris Samuels’ retirement, the Redskins have a gaping hole at left tackle and figure to address that at some point in the first round of the draft assuming the Adams interest is a smokescreen.
Right tackle Stephon Heyor hasn’t impressed and could be challenged by Artis Hicks. Derrick Dockery returns at left guard but Randy Thomas was released creating a vacancy at right guard. Casey Rabach is solid at center but is entering his tenth year in the league.
The Redskins need to address two starting positions as well as the overall depth along the offensive line.
The Redskins are moving to a 3-4 defense but don’t figure to have the difficulties in doing so that many teams have faced. The team has significant depth along the defensive line so it will be a surprise if any selections in the draft address this position.
With Andre Carter moving to outside linebacker to start alongside London Fletcher, Rocky McIntosh (who is expected to move inside) and emerging star Brian Orakpo, the Redskins figure to have a solid starting unit. There is little depth behind the starters other than H.B. Blades and converted defensive end Chris Wilson.
The Redskins are set at cornerback with DeAngelo Hall, Carlos Rogers, Philip Buchanon, Justin Tryon, Byron Westbrook and Kevin Barnes. However, the situation at safety is a little unsettled due to the struggles last season of LaRon Landry, Chris Horton and Reed Doughty. Kareem Moore could push for playing time there but the team would likely address the safety position in the draft.
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