1. The Steelers announced that Isaac Redman has won the role as the team’s short-yardage back. This has implications for both starter Rashard Mendenhall and rookie sixth-round pick Jonathan Dwyer. Mendenhall’s fantasy value is clearly negatively impacted, as he will likely lose four to six touchdowns with Redman getting the goal-line carries. As for Dwyer, he will not even dress on game day because the Steelers will use Mewelde Moore as their third-down back.
2. Don’t read too much into Derrick Ward signing with the Texans. With Steve Slaton nursing a toe injury, Ward was signed as insurance for the first couple of weeks of the season in case of an injury to starter Arian Foster. As a four-year veteran, Ward’s yearly salary is guaranteed if he is on the roster on opening day, so while he may be in Houston for the year, he’s unlikely to have much fantasy appeal.
3. Keeping with the Texans, it appears that Jacoby Jones has done enough in the preseason to warrant significant playing time. There are even rumblings that he may have unseated Kevin Walter in the starting lineup. Jones is clearly the more explosive of the two players, and even if he doesn’t start, Jones is going to eat into Walters’ playing time considerably.
4. Entering the preseason, it was expected that Pierre Garcon, Austin Collie, and Anthony Gonzalez would battle it out for the two starting positions at wide receiver opposite Reggie Wayne. However, Gonzalez voiced his frustration at how he was used during the preseason. Based on the tone of his comments, it appears that for the Colts base offense in Week 1, Garcon will line up outside with Collie in the slot.
5. Keep your Week 1 expectations for Broncos running back Knowshon Moreno realistic. On opening day against the Jaguars, the Broncos may start three offensive lineman who have yet to take an NFL snap, and Moreno is apparently not fully recovered from the hamstring injury that kept him out for part of training camp.
6. Similarly, Houston head coach Gary Kubiak announced that tight end Owen Daniels would be limited to 15-20 snaps in Week 1 against Indianapolis. With the Texans high-powered offense, that may be enough snaps for Daniels to register decent fantasy production. However, if you have another quality option at tight end, Daniels should be on your bench.
7 Remarkably, the Rams will enter the season with veteran journeyman Kenneth Darby and undrafted rookie free agent Keith Toston backing up Steven Jackson at running back. Despite frequently stating that they wanted to get Jackson a quality backup to reduce the wear and tear on their franchise player, the Rams have apparently failed to do so. In 2010 Jackson is likely to once again be the league’s most overworked running back, which is good for his fantasy prospects but not so good for his career longevity.
8. Entering training camp, the consensus was that the Bengals would again use a heavily run-based offense in 2010. However, with rookie third-round pick Jordan Shipley exceeding expectations as a slot receiver and the team impressed with the play of tight end Jermaine Gresham (their first-round pick) as well as free agent pickup Terrell Owens, there are rumblings in Cincinnati that the team will throw more this year than previously expected. If so, that bodes well for the fantasy prospects of Carson Palmer. Palmer has thrown for 300 yards just once over his last 21 games, so expectations should be tempered—but there may be a light at the end of the tunnel for the Bengals passing attack.
9. You have to love the way Broncos head coach Josh McDaniels has either blown or thrown away draft picks since becoming the team’s head coach a year and a half ago. This week, he traded seldom-used cornerback Alphonso Smith to the Lions for tight end Dan Gronkowski, who has one career reception. At the 2009 rookie draft, McDaniels traded the Broncos’ 2010 first round pick to San Francisco for the opportunity to take Smith with the fifth pick in the second round. The 49ers subsequently traded the pick to the Eagles, who used it to select defensive end Brandon Graham. End result: the Broncos end up with a third string tight end instead of a potential star pass rusher.
10. While we’re with McDaniels, let’s recap the team’s quarterback situation. The Broncos traded for Brady Quinn, giving up fullback/running back Peyton Hillis, a 2010 sixth round pick, and a conditional pick in 2012. At the 2010 draft, they traded second-round (43rd overall), third-round (70th overall), and fourth-round (114th overall) picks to select project Tim Tebow with the 25th pick in the first round. Subsequently, they signed incumbent starter Kyle Orton to a long term contract extension. To sum it all up, they have given up a versatile back in Hillis plus second-, third-, fourth-, and sixth-round picks, as well as a conditional pick, all while tying themselves to two large contracts—and their quarterback play in 2010 will almost certainly rank in the bottom third of the league.
11. The Seahawks made it official this week, announcing that Justin Forsett will be the team’s starting running back on opening day. With Julius Jones forced to take a substantial pay cut in order to remain on the roster, Leon Washington is clearly Forsett’s backup. While Forsett performed well in 2009 when given the opportunity, it remains to be seen whether he can hold up for an entire season, making Washington an intriguing option. Since the Seahawks depth chart was a question mark for much of the preseason, Washington is likely available in a good number of leagues and is worth grabbing if that’s the case in your league.
12. There is lots of excitement over another waiver wire candidate, new Cardinals starting quarterback Derek Anderson. While Anderson was once a Pro Bowl–level performer, he has looked dreadful over his last two years in Cleveland, completing 48% of his passes despite playing in one of the league’s most conservative offenses. The Cardinals like to take more shots down the field, and Anderson’s poor accuracy is likely to be exposed quickly in Arizona. It wouldn’t be a surprise if Max Hall is starting before the end of 2010.
13. The Redskins are currently listing Joey Galloway as the team’s starting receiver opposite Santana Moss. If that holds up, look for quarterback Donovan McNabb to frequently target Moss—as well as tight ends Chris Cooley and Fred Davis—in the passing game. With Galloway clearly over the hill and running backs Clinton Portis and Larry Johnson not quality receivers out of the backfield, Moss, Cooley, and Davis figure to get the bulk of the work in the passing game.