Fantasy Football Strategy, Advice, and Commentary
By: Dave Stringer — September 9, 2010 @ 10:00 am
Losing TDs as we speak.
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.
By: Dave Stringer — September 8, 2010 @ 6:12 am
With many leagues drafting in early or mid-August and plenty of player movement since then, many fantasy football leagues allow waiver wire pickups prior to week one of the regular season.
Since mid-August, the major NFL headlines have focused on Brett Favre’s announcement that he will play in 2010 (surprise, surprise), the ascension of Arian Foster to starting running back of the Texans, the shocking release of T.J. Houshmandzadeh, the Bucs decision to give up on Derrick Ward and a trade sprinkled in for good measure (Mark
Clayton to the Rams).
Add it all up and there are plenty of intriguing options on the waiver wire in most leagues prior to week one.
– With Ward getting chopped, Huggins shot up fantasy football draft boards on the assumption he would take over as the team’s top backup behind Cadillac Williams. Huggins is a small, shifty player with excellent speed but he may be best suited to third down duties.
It is debatable whether the Bucs would turn to Huggins or Earnest Graham in the event of a Williams’ injury. If Huggins won the nod over Graham, he would be a tempting option but the recent signing of LeGarrette Blount tempers my enthusiasm a wee bit. Cadillac does have an extensive injury history, although he did play 16 games in 2009.
Fantasy Outlook: Handcuff to Williams and worth owning in all leagues except small roster, redraft formats.
– The rookie fourth round pick has won a spot in the starting line-up with an impressive preseason and only tight end Kellen Winslow figures to get more targets early in the season. Williams has good size and speed and has already established himself as the Bucs top wide receiver.
The Bucs passing game was a mess in 2009 but quarterback Josh Freeman figures to be much improved in 2010. The Bucs are likely to be playing from behind often so Williams will be targeted plenty this year, provided he can hold off second round pick Arrelious Benn.
Fantasy Outlook: I’m sold, especially in dynasty leagues. Grab Williams in all formats but don’t draft him as a fantasy starter.
– Just traded to the Rams, Clayton goes from being a complete non-factor in Baltimore to a potential number one wide receiver in St. Louis. He possesses excellent speed but has been inconsistent, which can be partially attributed to his use almost exclusively as a deep threat.
Incumbent top wide receiver Laurent Robinson has missed plenty of time with injuries during his three years in the league and DannyAmendola is best suited to playing out of the slot.
Fantasy Outlook: Starting on the outside by week two or three with the potential to be Sam Bradford’s top target shortly thereafter. The Rams offense is ugly but they figure to be behind early and often so Clayton should see plenty of targets in 2010. Grab him in larger leagues as a WR5.
– Jones is a speedy player who has struggled at times with consistency and drops. However, with 12 receptions for 131 yards and a touchdown in the first three preseason games, Jones has outplayed Kevin Walter and likely earned a spot in the starting lineup.
With the Texans expected to boast one of the league’s most explosive passing attacks in 2010, Jones is an attractive option and should be considered a potential breakout player.
Fantasy Outlook: Jones is worth owning in all formats. His stock will rise after Week One so grab him now if you can.
– That’s right – your eyes aren’t deceiving you. There are two Mike Williamses on the list and yes, the second one is the former Detroit Lions first-round bust.
Now that you’ve picked yourself up off the ground, consider this. The Seahawks cast of wide receivers features a rookie caught stealing donuts (Golden Tate), a 2009 third-round pick who did nothing as a rookie (Deon Butler), a fifth-year player with 16 career receptions (Ben Obamanu) and a veteran on his last legs who has averaged 41 receptions per year over the last three years (Deion Branch). Plus, the Seahawks chopped T.J. Houshmandzadeh to create a spot in the starting lineup for Williams.
Williams was the Seahawks best receiver in the preseason and the Seahawks don’t figure to be very good so expect the pass-run ratio to be weighted in Williams’ favor.
Fantasy Outlook: Hey, I’m not sold on him and you shouldn’t be either. However, at the moment, he ranks as the Seahawks top wide receiver so he figures to get plenty of opportunities unless he proves unable to take advantage of them. Grab him in larger leagues.
– Rookie running back Montario Hardesty will miss the entire 2010 season with a torn ACL and the Browns dropped 2009 backup Chris Jennings. Hillis will compete with 2009 sixth-round round pick James Davis for carries behind Jerome Harrison.
Hillis received extensive playing time for the Broncos in 2008, gaining 480 total yards and six touchdowns in five games. With the selection of Hardesty in the second round and the trade for Hillis, the Browns clearly are not sold on Harrison.
Fantasy Outlook: Hillis will be dressed on game day due to his ability to play fullback, running back and contribute on special teams. Look for him to get short-yardage work and earn the backup spot over Davis.
Other Players to Consider
– Back in early August, it appeared Vincent Jackson would come to his senses and get a deal done with the Chargers or the team would acquire a solid veteran to play alongside Malcolm Floyd. Josh Reed (since released) and Patrick Crayton were the only additions so Naanee will start on opening day in one of the league’s high-powered offenses. Nice upside on your bench.
– Excellent preseason and, continuing the theme, the Rams will need to throw it plenty in 2010. Might be a decent fantasy backup during his rookie season.
– Bills cut 2008 second round pick James Hardy and Chad Jackson leaving Johnson fighting for targets with Roscoe Parrish and two undrafted rookie free agents. Plus, at tight end, Shawn Nelson is hurt and Derek Schoumann was released leaving recently signed David Martin the team’s best receiving option at the position. Johnson could be a surprise in 2010.
– Bengals management and quarterback Carson Palmer have raved about Shipley’s play in the preseason. He has locked up the slot receiver role and could be a decent option in large leagues that use the flex position.
– The Dolphins shipped Greg Camarillo to the Vikings leaving Hartline fighting for Brandon Marshall’s leftovers with Davone Bess and a pair of undrafted rookie free agents. Will go overlooked in most redraft leagues but he shouldn’t.
By: Dave Stringer — @ 4:55 am
The Baltimore Ravens continued their efforts to rebuild their talent base at wide receiver, signing Seattle Seahawks castoff T.J. Houshmandzadeh to a one-year contract.
The signing comes on the heels of the offseason trade for Anquan Boldin and the free agent signing of Donte Stallworth. With Mark Clayton subsequently being dealt to the St. Louis Rams, the Ravens have turned over half of their depth chart at wide receiver since the end of the 2009 season.
Reports indicate the 32-year old Houshmandzadeh will sign a one-year contract for the veteran minimum.
Despite signing a lucrative free agent contract with Seattle during the 2009 offseason, Houshmandzadeh was let go by new head coach Pete Carroll despite the team’s lack of proven players at the position. He had 79 receptions for 911 yards and three touchdowns in his only season in Seattle.
With Stallworth expected to be out for the first five or six weeks of the regular season with a broken foot, Houshmandzadeh provides the Ravens with veteran insurance behind Boldin and Derrick Mason. The Ravens also have third-year player Marcus Smith and rookie fifth-round pick David Reed at the position.
Known more for his route running ability, good hands and willingness to go over the middle, Houshmandzadeh is a possession receiver at this point of his career. He has averaged just 10.5 yards per reception over the last three years.
Houshmandzadeh’s prospects in Baltimore are clearly less favorable than being the number one receiver in Seattle were he shaped up as a WR3 in most formats. But in Baltimore, he is waiver wire fodder in all leagues other than extremely deep leagues that utilize the flex position. His signing has more fantasy implications for Baltimore’s other offensive players than for Houshmandzadeh himself.
Quarterback Joe Flacco, a high quality fantasy backup with upside prior to the signing, should move up draft boards a couple of positions with Housh on board. He gains an excellent option on third downs and should help the Ravens keep drives alive. Houshmandzadeh is also an excellent receiver in the red zone, although the Ravens favor running the ball when inside the 20-yard line. Flacco moves up to borderline fantasy starter.
Boldin and Mason should be dropped a few notches at wide receiver. In effect, Boldin, Mason and Houshmandzadeh are all very similar receivers with each player better at running short and intermediate routes at this point in their careers.
Boldin is clearly entrenched as the Ravens top player at the position so his fantasy outlook isn’t impacted as much as Mason’s. Mason figures to come off the field when the Ravens want to target Houshmandzadeh and he may see far fewer targets in the red zone.
Boldin and Houshmandzadeh are excellent red zone receivers, with Boldin using his strength and cutting ability to find the end zone and Houshmandzadeh relying on his height on fades and size on quick slants.
Therefore, the biggest fantasy loser with the Houshmandzadeh signing is Derrick Mason.
By: Dave Stringer — September 7, 2010 @ 11:43 pm
Looking to bolster a wide receiver depth chart lacking proven playmakers and veteran experience, the St. Louis Rams have acquired Mark Clayton from the Baltimore Ravens. ESPN reports the Rams gave up a 2011 sixth-round draft pick in exchange for Clayton and the Ravens seventh-round pick in 2011.
Clayton became expendable when the Ravens signed former Seahawk and Bengal receiver T.J. Houshmandzadeh to a one-year contract over the weekend.
The acquisition of Clayton replenishes the talent base at wide receiver for the Rams and provides the team with a solid replacement for Donnie Avery, who suffered a torn ACL and is out for the year. Clayton possesses excellent speed and is a talented player whose production has yet to match his abilities.
In St. Louis, Clayton figures to quickly ascend up the depth chart and should be amongst the team’s top three receivers as soon as he learns the playbook. He will compete for playing time with Laurent Robinson, Danny Amendola and Brandon Gibson. The Rams also have rookie fourth-round pick Mardy Gilyard, Keenan Burton and Dominique Curry on the roster.
While the Rams previously stated that Amendola would replace Avery in the starting line-up, he is better suited to the slot where he can utilize his quickness. Gibson had a disappointing preseason, largely the result of a hamstring injury that caused him to miss significant time.
Clayton enjoyed a breakout season in 2006, catching 67 passes for 939 yards and five touchdowns. However, he failed to build on that season and his reception totals dropped in each of the last three years, from 48 to 41 to 34 in 2009.
In Baltimore, Clayton was cast as a deep threat with Derrick Mason running short and intermediate routes. However, in the Rams version of the west coast offense, Clayton will be used on more short and intermediate routes and his reception totals should increase.
Look for Clayton to earn the starting spot opposite Robinson given the Rams preference to have Amendola play out of the slot and the team’s other options at the position.
Gilyard struggled in the preseason and is also better suited to the slot. Gibson and Burton are best suited to playing outside but neither player has the pedigree or playmaking ability that Clayton possesses.
While it’s hard to get excited about a wide receiver coming to a team that struggled as bad on offense as the Rams did in 2010 and who will be starting a rookie quarterback, Clayton’s fantasy prospects shouldn’t be dismissed.
He has an opportunity to earn significant playing time and the Rams figure to be behind early and often so Clayton will earn garbage time fantasy points in 2010. His fantasy outlook was persona non grata in Baltimore but in St. Louis, he has the potential to be a solid backup for your fantasy squad with decent upside.
By: Mike MacGregor — September 5, 2010 @ 9:10 am
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It might seem excessive to argue about fantasy backup quarterbacks, especially when neither side is touting a player as “must have.” Then again, this is the thick of fantasy football draft season. What better time is there to go for excess. RapidDraft.com’s Matt Schauf went to the panel of Mikes at FFToday.com about the site’s low ranking for Matt Moore and found Mike MacGregor willing to back it up.
Schauf: Hey Mike, quick question: I’m going through your site’s QB rankings right now and am just wondering if you remember that the Carolina Panthers are still in the league? Oh, wait, just found Matt Moore buried way down at 28th … beyond Mark Sanchez, Matt Leinart (guess that’s about to change), Jason Campbell, Kyle Orton, Josh Freeman and I guess just about everyone else. I’m ready to state my case for Moore once again, but first let me ask: Did he used to steal Mike Krueger’s lunch money in school?
MacGregor: Mike Krueger always seemed like more of a brown-bag lunch guy to me instead of buying his lunch at the cafeteria. As far as I know he has no personal vendetta against Matt Moore, but we just think he is a subpar QB option, fantasy and otherwise. In terms of receiving options Moore has Steve Smith and … and … and not much. The Panthers have a potentially great running game and a decent enough defense. Even if Moore had more than one above average receiver, there is little need or opportunity for him to pass enough to accumulate worthwhile passing stats. If a game manager is what you are looking for in a fantasy QB, by all means, Moore is your man.
Schauf: Smith alone gives Moore more (smooth sentence construction) at receiver than at least Campbell, Orton and Freeman among those guys I mentioned above, and he has seemed to be plenty for Moore to this point. Between two separate NFL seasons (last year and 2007), Moore has started eight games and produced 1,554 yards, 11 touchdowns and just three interceptions in only 205 pass attempts. Without adjusting the number of passes up (because every team but the Jets attempted well more than the 410 that would project to over 16 games), the numbers come out to 3,108 yards, 22 touchdowns and six picks over a full season.
Now, I’m not saying we can simply take that projection and put it forth as the expectation for Moore’s first full season of starting, but it does tell us plenty. It tells us that Moore performed WAY better than the erratic veteran he finally replaced (and that began late in 2007, when Moore was an undrafted rookie). It tells us that he has been more protective of the ball than can reasonably be expected of any young quarterback. The next time he throws two interceptions in an NFL game will be the first. We’re talking about fantasy backups here, and in that spot, I’m looking for a guy who can give me a good game while also not presenting the risk that he’ll lose me the week with three picks. That’s Matt Moore.
MacGregor: So you want a QB afraid to take chances and throw it down the field more than once in a blue moon? I thought you were more of a risk taker than that. Personally I’d rather a QB who is going to attempt closer to 30 passes a game (i.e. Campbell, Orton, Freeman) than less than 20 (Moore). Steve Smith isn’t that much better he can help Moore put up stats equivalent to these other guys on ten fewer pass attempts on average.
And about the superior receiving talent at Moore’s disposal versus the law firm of Campbell, Orton and Freeman, I disagree with that. It really is Steve Smith and nothing on the Panthers depth chart. The jury is out on rookie Brandon LaFell. The Raiders and Broncos at least offer up decent receiving options for the QB, between McFadden, Miller, Murphy, Moreno, Buckhalter, Gaffney and Royal. I’ll admit, the Bucs receivers short of Winslow and Caddy leave a lot to be desired, but Freeman makes up for it making plays with his legs. Matt Moore? Moore had twelve rushing attempts last year for minus three yards. Yep, he’s a statue back there.
Schauf: If it’s more downfield action you need, then might I interest you in a quarterback who finished 2009 with more yards per attempt than Kurt Warner, Joe Flacco and the three passers we both just mentioned, as well as at least a full yard more per attempt than Jay Cutler, Carson Palmer and Matt Ryan? Perhaps you’d prefer the guy who produced six pass plays of 40 yards or more, which tied or beat half of the 32 qualified quarterbacks in the league last year, despite not qualifying himself? (“Qualifying” means having thrown at least one pass in at least 14 games, the league standard to qualify for passer-rating rankings.)
I can’t argue that Carolina will throw a whole lot. It won’t. And I won’t talk up Moore’s rushing. I will, however, point out that of quarterbacks 13-24 in total points last year (backups in 12-team leagues), six failed to score a rushing touchdown. Running certainly helps, but I won’t overrate it. What helps more is touchdown throws, and my simple projection for Moore based on previous starts comes to 22 of those over a full season in just 410 pass attempts. That would’ve tied him for 13th in the league last year, and 410 attempts is even fewer than the Panthers tried while finishing last in the league in that category in 2008. All told, even if you don’t expect 22 touchdowns, it seems pretty clear that level is at least realistic.
Now, in RapidDraft scoring, we have no negative points. So, interceptions don’t matter. Of course, in leagues where they do, the aforementioned ball safety would have to make one more comfortable with inserting Moore for a week here and there.
MacGregor: My point on the rushing, or Moore’s lack of rushing, was a counterpoint in reference to you comparing Moore favorably to Josh Freeman.
Okay, so what we’ve concluded here is that Moore doesn’t throw a lot of passes. He will chuck it down field you say, or at least did in a small sample size of games in which defenses had little background from which to game plan for this guy, and teams likely took the Panthers for granted since they were so dismal and out of the playoff race thanks to their early season swoon. He has one legitimate receiving threat.
Surprisingly, you haven’t even countered that the RB pairing of Jonathan Stewart and DeAngelo Williams are decent pass catchers, to which I would say they are okay. About average. Can we expect 500 yards combined from these guys? If I generously (very generously) give Steve Smith his career best 1,500, Moore needs to carve out another 1,000 yards amongst a rookie and some very mediocre receiving talent just to get to a mundane 3,000 yards. I see no upside with this guy and a struggle to be even a low-end backup (top-24 QB).
You know, I think you should draft Moore this season. Enjoy looking for a better option than Moore off waivers every week as you’ll be constantly trying to replace him.
Schauf: Well, I’m certainly not touting Moore as the best backup option on the market but do think he makes immediate sense for owners of Joe Flacco, Jay Cutler and Eli Manning. Moore faces St. Louis when those three starters are on bye. Both matchups with New Orleans and Tampa could prove favorable as well, and overall, I think there’s some spot starter potential.
I’ve gone on long enough about a mid-level backup, though, so we’ll just have to see how he handles a fuller sample size.
Matt Schauf is the senior football writer for RapidDraft.com. Mike MacGregor is the creator of FF Today’s Cheatsheet Compiler and Draft Buddy software. Compete with them and nine other sets of Fantasy Pros in free fantasy football at RapidDraft.com for a guaranteed $100,000 grand prize.
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