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Projections & Rankings Update – 8/8

By: — August 8, 2011 @ 12:25 pm
Filed under: Forecast

Player Projections, Rankings & Cheatsheets
Change Log – 8/8


Running Backs

Wide Receivers

  • Dwayne Bowe (-2) slides a couple spots. More weapons this season in the Chiefs passing game.
  • Johnny Knox (-3) is losing reps to Roy Williams (+20) in practice. Why doesn’t Martz play them at different positions?
  • Derrick Mason (-30) signing is basically Plaxico (-2) insurance. Mason goes from a starter to option #3.
  • Malcom Floyd (+12) resigns in SD and returns to a starting role.
  • Michael Crabtree (-3) can’t stay healthy and Braylon Edwards’ (+3) arrival is an ominous sign.

Tight Ends

  • Flip-flopped Rob Gronkowski (+6) and Aaron Hernandez (-6). It’s too bad these two have to share targets.
  • Jared Cook (+10) becomes Hasselbecks pass-receiving option now that Bo Scaife (-4) has moved on.
  • Travis Beckum (+21) takes a big leap as he becomes the starting tight end now that Kevin Boss (-5) has moved on to Oakland.
  • Ed Dickson (-3) may be the starter but it appears the Ravens like Dennis Pitta (+7) enough that he will share in the pass-receiving responsibilities.


Player Outlooks – Carolina Panthers

By: — @ 2:51 am

QB Cam Newton
As former San Francisco head coach and renowned offensive guru Bill Walsh liked to opine, quarterbacks that can run are nice, but ones that can pass are better. With Newton coming from a simplistic offense at Auburn, the Panthers are going to have to turn him from a thrower into a passer who is capable of reading defenses. That’s going to take some time. While Newton has special athletic gifts, he is far from a polished product and is not expected to contribute much in his rookie season. Newton may emerge as the starting quarterback early in 2011, but that will be due more to the Panthers’ lack of options at the position than to Newton’s readiness to lead a pro-style offense. If Newton is under center, look for the Panthers to protect him with a run-based offense featuring short passes and rollouts that give him the option of running. That recipe won’t result in much fantasy production. Frankly speaking, his dynasty prospects beyond this season can’t be considered great either, given the poor accuracy he displayed in college.

QB Derek Anderson
With Jimmy Clausen struggling early in training camp and the Panthers not expecting Cam Newton to be ready by opening day, they signed Anderson. He was a bust last year in Arizona despite being surrounded by some proven receiving talent. So how is he going to produce in Carolina with far less receiving talent? He’s not. And he’s not going to keep the starting gig for too long, assuming he beats out Clausen to start with.

QB Jimmy Clausen
Clausen was so bad last year that the Panthers gave up on him just one season after using a 2010 second-round pick to acquire him. He was asked to throw short and avoid turnovers, yet he completed just 52.5 percent of his passes with only three touchdowns and nine interceptions. In his ten starts, he averaged 145 passing yards a game even though the Panthers were regularly playing from behind. Despite all that, Clausen was expected to open the 2011 season as Carolina’s starter and keep the job warm until Cam Newton, the first overall selection in the 2011 draft, was ready. But Clausen was so bad that the Panthers signed Derek Anderson, who apparently will start on opening day. And we all know that Anderson’s ridiculously poor 2010 campaign basically torpedoed the Cardinals’ playoff chances. Don’t draft Clausen, and if you own him in dynasty formats, it’s time to move on.

RB DeAngelo Williams
As the most sought after free agent running back on the market, there was strong speculation that Williams would leave Carolina for greener pastures. However, he reportedly spurned offers from the Dolphins and Broncos, choosing instead to return to the Panthers despite the franchise being in a rebuilding mode. He is coming off a disappointing, injury-plagued season during which he rushed for 361 yards, had 61 receiving yards, and scored just a single touchdown, all career lows. In 2011, Williams will once again split time with Jonathan Stewart, and while committee approaches often result in two running backs being productive (such as what occurred in 2008 in Carolina), it’s rare for that to happen in one of the league’s worst offenses. And that is likely in store for the Panthers this coming season. Both Carolina running backs have had a difficult time remaining healthy, and Williams has now missed 13 games over the past two seasons. It’s also worth noting that Mike Goodson played well in Williams’ absence and would likely get significant playing time if Williams or Stewart went down. Don’t expect Williams to return to his 2008 glory. He’s an RB3 with upside if Stewart goes down, but Goodson’s presence limits that upside.

RB Jonathan Stewart
Despite having a lackluster 2010 season in Carolina, Stewart was expected to ascend to the lead back role with DeAngelo Williams entering free agency. The only problem is that Williams re-upped with the Panthers, relegating Stewart to a timeshare role once again. In hindsight, Stewart has only himself to blame since he struggled mightily for the first half of 2010, failing to top 43 yards in any of the first eight games and gaining just 208 yards over that stretch on a paltry 3.0 yards per carry. Hardly lead back production, which the Panthers surely took note of. Worse yet, with Williams and Stewart out of the lineup with injuries in Weeks 10 and 11, third-string running back Mike Goodson stepped into the fray, gaining 264 total yards in those games. Stewart returned to the lineup in Week 12 and finished the season strong, gaining 580 total yards and a touchdown over the next six games. For 2011, Stewart enters the season as no better than an RB4, and his only prospect for a breakout season would come if he were traded prior to opening day.

RB Mike Goodson
With both DeAngelo Williams and Jonathan Stewart injured in Weeks 10 and 11 last year, Goodson shined in his two starts, the first significant playing time of his career. He gained a surprising 264 total yards in games against the Bucs and Ravens and had a nice five-game stretch during which he averaged a healthy 13.5 fantasy points per game. Unfortunately—and unjustifiably—the Panthers handed the starting job back to the disappointing Stewart, who went on to finish the season strongly. With both Williams and Stewart back for 2011, Goodson will once again be relegated to just a handful of touches per game, if that. His fantasy prospects hinge on either a trade to a new team or the Panthers’ deciding to move Stewart. Goodson is a deep sleeper for dynasty leagues but not recommended in redraft formats.

WR Steve Smith
Offseason speculation had Smith being traded to a contender as the Panthers begin the rebuilding process with rookie quarterback Cam Newton. That didn’t happen—whether because of the Panthers’ decision to keep Smith to help ease Newton’s transition to the NFL or because the market for Smith’s services never heating up, courtesy of his poor outing in 2010. Accumulating only 554 yards and two touchdowns on 46 receptions, the 32-year old suffered through his worst season (other than his injury-shortened 2004 campaign) since his rookie season in 2001. The issue now is whether he can bounce back in 2011—but what has changed in Carolina to help make that happen? He’s a year older, the quarterback situation figures to improve only marginally, and the team’s duo of running backs may actually remain healthy for 16 games. Smith ranks as a backup fantasy wideout for this season, but it’s almost assured that somebody will draft him as a starter. Make sure it’s now you.

WR David Gettis
The Panthers used a sixth-round pick in the 2010 draft to acquire Gettis and he put up solid production as a rookie, gaining 508 yards and three touchdowns on 37 receptions. A closer look reveals, however, that most of his production came in two games against the 49ers and Ravens, where he caught 10 passes for 217 yards and all three of his touchdowns. This year he will battle fellow second-year receiver Bandon LaFell for the opportunity to start opposite Steve Smith. Unfortunately, the Panthers will likely suffer from poor quarterback play once again, and the team has added talented pass-catching tight end Greg Olsen, who figures to get plenty of targets. Gettis is worth taking a flyer on in larger leagues, but that’s about it.

WR Brandon LaFell
LaFell was expected to start as a rookie last season, but the third-round pick struggled mightily in that role, losing the job to fellow rookie David Gettis. Of his 23 targets over the first four games, LaFell caught just five for 72 yards. That was all the Panthers needed to see, and LaFell quickly found his way to the bench. He finished the season with only 38 receptions for 468 yards and a touchdown. LaFell has good size and better-than-average speed but doesn’t figure to produce much even if he beats out Gettis for a starting spot. You can do better.

WR Legedu Naanee
Naanee showed big-play potential out of the gates last season, accumulating 110 receiving yards in his first game, which included a 59-yard touchdown reception. Plagued by injury and inconsistency, however, he mustered just 261 yards the rest of the way. With 2010 rookies David Gettis and Brandon LaFell showing signs of promise, Naanee will likely have to settle for fourth on the Panthers’ wide receiver depth chart.

TE Greg Olsen
Entering 2010, the line of thinking on Olsen was that he would suffer with the addition of Mike Martz as the Bears’ offensive coordinator. While Martz and the Bears told anyone who would listen that Olsen would be an integral part of the offense, history suggested otherwise, with no tight end ever topping 380 receiving yards in a Martz offense. Right on cue, Olsen’s targets plummeted from a career-high 108 in 2009 to just 69 last season. His production dropped from 60 receptions for 612 yards and eight touchdowns to 41 receptions for 404 yards and five touchdowns. Olsen gets a new lease on life with his trade to Carolina, but he goes from a nominal role in Chicago to a team that had the worst passing attack in the league in 2010. And they will challenge for that dubious distinction once again this season. He is waiver wire material for 2011.

TE Jeremy Shockey
It’s all about opportunity in fantasy football, and Shockey’s move from the powerful Saints offense to a weak Panthers passing game appeared to actually improve his fantasy stock, since he was going to lose his starting job to talented youngster Jimmy Graham anyway. Oops. Then the Panthers acquired Greg Olsen, and Shockey now figures to be a glorified blocker in Carolina in 2011.

Player Outlooks – Atlanta Falcons

By: — August 7, 2011 @ 11:54 am

QB Matt Ryan
Is this the year Ryan realizes his potential and becomes the top-notch starting quarterback many anticipated when he was taken with the third overall pick in 2008? Well, top-notch fantasy starting quarterback, I should say. As a starting NFL quarterback, Ryan has been nothing short of magnificent, turning the moribund Falcons into a perennial winner during his three-year stay in Atlanta, which included last year’s conference-leading 13-3 record. As a fantasy starter, he’s left something to be desired, however, with the Falcons’ conservative approach holding him back. At the 2011 draft, the team traded multiple picks to move up to the sixth spot so they could grab wide receiver Julio Jones. Jones should provide the Falcons with a nice compliment to Roddy White after the underperforming Michael Jenkins was shipped out. That bodes well for Ryan, as does the return of tight end Tony Gonzalez and the situation at running back—where the team has lost depth with the departure of Jerious Norwood. The question is whether Ryan and the Falcons will change their stripes. Head coach Mike Smith prefers a conservative offensive game plan, and offensive coordinator Mike Mularkey doesn’t abandon the run quickly. In addition, Ryan hasn’t taken many risks downfield. Ryan ranks as a top-quality QB2 with upside if the chains come off, but that isn’t as likely as some believe.

RB Michael Turner
The fantasy shine has come off Turner a little bit since his outstanding first season as a Falcon in 2008, when he rushed for 1,699 yards and scored 17 touchdowns. That was quarterback Matt Ryan’s rookie year, and the team chose to lean heavily on Turner and the running game. Over the past two seasons, Turner has been good, averaging 83 rushing yards and 0.81 touchdowns per game. Last season, he finished as the ninth-ranked fantasy running back with 1,371 rushing yards and had his third consecutive season with double-digit touchdowns (12). The concerns with Turner are the heavy workload he has endured as a Falcon (averaging nearly 21 carries per game) and the team’s addition of wide receiver Julio Jones. While Jones is the shiny new toy, Turner is the proven producer, and the Falcons love to run. With Jason Snelling, Gartrell Johnson, and scatback Jacquizz Rodgers (the team’s fifth-round pick) behind Turner, look for him to once again top the 20-carry-per-game mark. Unfortunately, the heyday of 2008 isn’t likely to return, and Turner’s poor receiving skills limit him somewhat. Consider him a solid, low-end RB1 in 2011, and move him down a couple of notches in PPR leagues.

RB Jason Snelling
After testing the free agent waters and getting a lukewarm response from St. Louis, Kansas City, and the New York Giants, Snelling has returned home, signing a one-year contract to be Michael Turner’s backup. Snelling is a decent inside runner and possess better receiving skills than Turner but he is destined to be handcuff material unless injury provides him an opportunity.

RB Jacquizz Rodgers
I’m going to be honest, I don’t like scatbacks. Never have, never will. For fantasy purposes, that is. But what’s not to like about watching a Darren Sproles scoot by frustrated, burly defenders on his way to the house? Unfortunately, these guys are never trusted by their coaches to handle a big role in a team’s offense because of injury concerns. Rodgers is a sexy pick; he had some great production at Oregon State and he will likely make some highlight reels in the NFL. But he won’t make enough of them. He replaces Jerious Norwood as the team’s change-of-pace, third-down back, and Norwood’s production when he was healthy is Rodgers’ upside. Norwood’s best season saw him post 8.0 fantasy points per game. At best, Rodgers may emerge as a decent flex option in larger leagues.

WR Roddy White
You know what’s tough? Trying to find something interesting to write about the best fantasy producers, guys like Roddy White. I don’t need to convince you that White is a trustworthy pick and a great addition to your roster. You know that. You know that some rookie hotshot isn’t going to have a major impact on his targets. You know that tight end Tony Gonzalez really slowed down as the 2010 season wore on. You know that White led the league in targets in 2010 after finishing second in 2009. You know that he was the third-ranked fantasy wide receiver last season and that the two guys ahead of him (Brandon Lloyd and Dwayne Bowe) aren’t likely to repeat their performances. And you know that Michael Turner doesn’t have a proven backup on the roster, he can’t catch, and he has to come off the field at some point. What’s left to know? Barring injury—and White has never missed a game in his six-year career—he’s a lock to finish in the top five at wide receiver, and it will be no surprise if he finishes number one.

WR Julio Jones
With a hole opposite Roddy White, the Falcons gave up a bundle of 2011 and 2012 draft picks to move up to the sixth spot to select Jones. That tells you that they think he is good and that they need him. It might be assumed that, having given up so many picks, the Falcons are planning a big role for Jones this season, and that he shapes up as a solid fantasy wide receiver. Not so fast. The Falcons love to run, they have arguably the league’s best wide receiver in Roddy White, and tight end Tony Gonzalez remains a great option on short routes and as an outlet valve. In addition, Atlanta is coming off a 14-2 season and aren’t very likely to be playing from behind much in 2011. And we haven’t even gotten to the “rookie wide receivers rarely produce” angle. You need opportunity to rack up fantasy points, and Jones isn’t likely to get much of one. While he looks like Tarzan and may play like Tarzan one day, it won’t be in 2011. Consider him a great addition to your dynasty league roster, but he’s worth nothing more than a late-round pick in redraft leagues.

WR Harry Douglas
Douglas is expected to open the season as the team’s slot receiver, but he is coming off a disappointing 2010 season where he caught just 22 passes for 294 yards and a touchdown. The really disappointing stat, however, was that he caught a woeful 41.5 percent of his targets despite being targeted mainly on short and intermediate routes. Look for him to have a similar or reduced role in 2011, provided he holds on to his roster spot.

The writing is on the wall.

TE Tony Gonzalez
Gonzalez has been a dynamic tight end throughout his career and is clearly headed to the Hall of Fame, but the writing on the wall can’t be ignored. He is in serious decline. Sure, he caught 70 passes for 656 yards and six touchdowns last season, but if you watched the Falcons play, it was obvious he’s no longer the player he once was. His reception and yardage totals were the lowest since his second season in the league (14 years ago), his yard per reception was the lowest of his career, and his targets were his lowest since 2006. Of the 24 tight ends in the league with 40 or more receptions, Gonzalez had the third-lowest yards per reception. He’s a backup, folks, and probably a low-end one at that.

Edwards Jets to the 49ers

By: — August 6, 2011 @ 12:45 pm

Set adrift by the New York Jets, Braylon Edwards has finally found a new team. With the free agent market for his services not matching his expectations, Edwards will reportedly sign a one-year deal with the 49ers.

Is Edwards a good fit for Jim Harbaugh's west coast offense?

In San Francisco, Edwards will immediately move into the starting line-up with Michael Crabtree out with a foot injury. If Crabtree is out for an extended period of time, Edwards will start opposite Josh Morgan, who will likely move to a reserve role when Crabtree returns.

Given their salary cap situation, the expectation entering free agency was that the Jets would have a difficult time re-signing Edwards and that proved to be the case.

With Edwards after a lucrative long-term extension, the Jets moved quickly to sign Plaxico Burress, agreeing to a $3-million, one-year deal with the former Giant. Reports indicate Edwards will receive just $3.5-million from San Francisco.

Fantasy Impact

Edwards decision to sign a short term contract with the 49ers in hopes of having a solid season and hitting the market as a free agent in 2012 is a curious one. While his size and speed would seem to indicate that is a good fit in the West Coast offense new 49ers head coach Jim Harbaugh will run, Edwards has not proven adept at running short patterns, in part because of his questionable hands.

In New York, he was used almost exclusively on intermediate and deep routes. After a pair of disappointing seasons, he played well in 2010, making several big plays on his way to a 53-reception, 904-yard, seven-touchdown performance.

The issue for Edwards is that 49ers starting quarterback Alex Smith has never proven capable of connecting with his wide receivers on deep patterns. His preferred option on those plays is tight end Vernon Davis and that is not expected to change in 2011.

Edwards’ upside in 2011 is similar to what he produced in 2010 and that would make him a WR3. However, the more likely scenario is a reduction in big plays and touchdowns. Grab him as a low end WR3 if you have to but feel more comfortable with him coming off your bench as a bye week fill in and injury replacement.

Player Outlooks – Tennessee Titans

By: — @ 1:04 am

QB Matt Hasselbeck
Unable to come to terms with the Seahawks on a new contract, Hasselbeck found a willing suitor in Tennessee. With the Titans, Hasselbeck will keep the starting quarterback job warm until rookie first-round pick Jake Locker is ready to take over. Hasselbeck is coming off a trying season in Seattle, where he put up the worst production of his career (when healthy for the majority of the season), throwing for 2,998 yards with 12 touchdowns and 17 interceptions. In 2011, look for him to retain the starter’s job as long as he is healthy and productive and the Titans remain in playoff contention. With his 34 touchdown passes and 44 interceptions over the last three years, and his having missed time due to injury in each of those seasons, and with the Titans not expected to challenge for a playoff spot, his time as Tennessee’s starting quarterback figures to be a short one. Furthermore, the team’s crop of receivers and tight ends hardly inspires confidence. If he can somehow overcome all of that, he may be suitable as your QB2. Otherwise, hands off.

QB Jake Locker
The future looked bright for Locker when the Titans used the eighth pick in the draft to acquire him; it looked even brighter when Kerry Collins announced his retirement. But things got decidedly darker when the team signed former Seahawk Matt Hasselbeck, who will open the season as the starter. The book on Locker coming out of Washington was that he possessed all the necessary measurables and intangibles to be an NFL quarterback but he had an issue was his accuracy. So it was no surprise when Hasselbeck was signed. Given Hasselbeck’s injury history, however, look for Locker to end up under center at some point this season and to start by season’s end if the Titans are out of the playoff picture.

Even with contract concerns, Johnson is a top-three fantasy RB.

RB Chris Johnson
After his historic 2009 season in which he set the NFL record for most yards from scrimmage (2,509) and became just the sixth running back to rush for over 2,000 yards, there was strong sentiment that Johnson would see his production decline because of his heavy workload from the previous year. Sure enough, Johnson wasn’t as dynamic, and his production also suffered due to Tennessee’s poor quarterback play. His numbers dropped to 1,364 rushing yards and 245 receiving yards with 12 total touchdowns, bumping him down to fifth place in the fantasy running back rankings. Entering 2011, there are two concerns with taking Johnson at the top of fantasy drafts: his contract situation and the team’s passing game. CJ2K is holding out for a new contract, but that situation figures to get resolved since his salaries for the next two years are incommensurate with his production. The passing attack will be lead by former Seahawk Matt Hasselbeck, but there are major question marks at wide receiver and tight end. It’s almost a foregone conclusion that Johnson will be facing eight- and nine-man fronts on rushing downs. That means another otherworldly season is unlikely, but he is definitely a top-three fantasy running back, assuming he shows up for Week 1.

RB Javon Ringer
Ah, life is lonely as the top backup for the most dynamic running back in the league, and that is Ringer’s lot in life. The 2009 fifth-round pick played behind Chris Johnson and Lendale White in his rookie season before being elevated to Johnson’s main backup last year. Ringer carried the rock just 51 times but was solid in his limited touches, scoring two touchdowns and gaining 239 yards for a 4.7 yards-per-carry average. That makes him a must-have handcuff for owners of CJ2K. The Titans did use a fourth-round pick on Jamie Harper, however, so Ringer has competition for the spot. Keep that in mind on draft day.

WR Kenny Britt
After a solid 2009 rookie season with over 700 receiving yards, Britt was on the verge of establishing himself as one of the top receivers in the league when a hamstring injured sidelined him last year. He ended the season with 42 receptions for 775 yards and nine touchdowns despite playing in just 12 games. Even more impressive was that he put up most of his production in just ten games (he failed to get a target in Week 1 and had only one target in the game in which he was injured). In those ten games, he averaged 13.1 fantasy points per game, which would have ranked him third in the league in that category behind only Brandon Lloyd and Hakeem Nicks. The talent is clearly there. Unfortunately, what’s not there is common sense. Since entering the league, Britt has missed OTAs because he was so out of shape, been ticketed for driving without a license, been arrested for outstanding traffic tickets, been accused of not paying a bail bond he obtained for a friend, been investigated for being in a bar fight, pleaded guilty to careless driving, and was charged for resisting arrest after plainclothes police officers suspected he was in possession of marijuana because they smelled it on him and saw him holding what appeared to be a marijuana cigar. The last incident occurred a day after he appeared in court on traffic charges. This all begs the questions: how did he get into Rutgers, and how did he manage to keep up his grades there? Or, why do I want a guy with this much risk (in addition to Tennessee’s risk at quarterback) on my fantasy team? I’m here to help answer those questions. I can’t speak for Rutgers, but as for the rest: You don’t want the risk. At this point, a suspension seems likely. Let others go there.

WR Nate Washington
The Titans acquired Washington as a free agent two years ago with the expectation that he would blossom in Tennessee with additional playing time. Suffice it to say, that hasn’t happened. And after five years in the league, it’s not about to. Washington had 40 receptions for 631 yards and three touchdowns in his last year with Pittsburgh and has averaged 44.5 receptions for 628 yards and six touchdowns with Tennessee. This guy is the quintessential definition of a one-trick pony. Run straight, Nate, clear out for CJ2K, and maybe we’ll chuck it to you deep. Yawn. Is that not enough evidence to avoid him in your draft? How’s this? Of his 104 fantasy points from last year, 44 came in three games. In the other 13 games, he averaged 4.6 points per game. Don’t be surprised if the rebuilding Titans go with one of their youngsters ahead of Washington in the starting lineup.

WR Damian Williams
Williams didn’t do much to excite fantasy owners in his 2010 rookie season, posting modest totals of 16 receptions for 219 yards. The former third-round pick rarely saw the field other than when injuries struck, but he has a decent chance of earning significant playing time this season. Randy Moss is gone, Kenny Britt could be suspended, Justin Gage hasn’t done enough to justify his 2011 salary of $3.5 million, and Nate Washington hasn’t done enough to justify his starting position. Williams figures to be the team’s top backup, at worst, and perhaps their go-to if Britt is suspended. He rates as a deep sleeper but one worth monitoring in the preseason.

WR Justin Gage
Coming off of two disappointing seasons, there’s a decent chance Gage will be on the unemployment line by opening day. In fact, barring a renegotiation or a suspension or an injury to Kenny Britt or Nate Washington, it’s almost a guarantee. The Titans will look to get 2010 third-round pick Damian Williams more involved this season, and that will likely spell the end of Gage’s run with the Titans.

TE Jared Cook
The Titans are not expected to re-sign Bo Scaife in 2011, so Cook will get his first chance for significant playing time. He possesses good size at 6’5” and 246 pounds and is one of the faster tight ends in the league. That’s why he was touted as an athletic tight end coming out of South Carolina in the 2009 draft, and that’s why the Titans used a third-round pick to acquire him. Unfortunately, he rarely saw the field until the tail end of the 2010 season. The results were promising, however, with Cook catching 15 of his 21 targets (a tidy completion percentage of 71.4) for 196 yards and one touchdown, averaging 8.5 fantasy points per game during that stretch. Quarterback Matt Hasselbeck likes throwing to tight ends, and you can expect the same from rookie Jake Locker if he is inserted into the starting lineup. Cook is definitely worth a look in dynasty leagues and as your TE2 in redraft leagues.

Player Outlooks – Jacksonville Jaguars

By: — August 5, 2011 @ 1:00 am

QB David Garrard
Garrard has been a model of consistency as a fantasy quarterback, posting point-per-game averages of 18.5, 17.8, 18.1, and 20.5 over the past four years. In 2010, he posted career highs in completion percentage (64.5 percent), touchdown passes (23), and rushing touchdowns (5). The problem is that he’s a solid yet unspectacular quarterback who has a nasty habit of throwing interceptions at key moments. And it doesn’t help that the team’s depth chart at wide receiver is looking a little thin with the departure of Mike Sims-Walker, who, although not very good in 2010, was still the team’s top threat at the position. The use of a first-round pick on Missouri quarterback Blaine Gabbert made it clear that Jacksonville does not envision Garrard as someone who can take them into a deep playoff run. So the issue is whether you think the Jaguars will remain in playoff contention, which would keep Gabbert planted on the bench. Don’t bank on it. That means you can’t bank on Garrard as your fantasy backup.

QB Blaine Gabbert
Recognizing David Garrard’s limitations, the Jaguars used their first-round pick to select Gabbert. The book on Gabbert coming out of college was that he is an athletic quarterback with a solid arm who struggled when under pressure and when forced to throw out of the pocket. Look for him to sit for most of the 2011 season, with a small number of starts possible near season’s end if the Jaguars are out of playoff contention. He’s not recommended for redraft leagues, but he’s a good option in dynasty formats.

RB Maurice Jones-Drew
Despite dealing with a lingering knee injury last season and watching Rashad Jennings develop into a legitimate backup, MJD remained productive, gaining 1,323 yards on the ground to go along with 317 receiving yards and seven total touchdowns. It’s hard to complain about 14.7 fantasy points per game, but that represented a drop-off from his first full season as a starter in 2009 when he averaged 17.0 points per game. The drop-off was the result of both his missing two games with injuries and Jennings’ occasional short-yardage work. The issue for MJD in 2011 will be his recovery from offseason surgery to repair a torn meniscus. He apparently was cleared to begin running in mid-June, but he has stated that he has been running since early April. The mixed signals are a bit of a red flag. If healthy, he’s a lock to finish in the top ten at running back, so monitor his injury status and adjust accordingly.

RB Rashad Jennings
After barely seeing the field as a rookie, Jennings earned a decent amount of playing time in 2010 while subbing in for Maurice Jones-Drew. His touches doubled from 55 to 110 and he made the most of them, averaging 7.1 fantasy points per game on 459 rushing yards, four rushing touchdowns, and 223 receiving yards. Better yet, with MJD coming off a knee injury, the Jaguars are concerned about his workload and have indicated that they plan to increase Jennings’ touches even more in 2011. If that happens, Jennings could be a decent flex option in 12- and 14-team leagues that use that position. One thing is for certain: Jennings is a must-have handcuff for MJD owners given his production and MJD’s knee issues. It was also nice to see that Jennings can be productive in the starting lineup in his two starts in Weeks 16 and 17, where he posted 140 rushing yards, 63 receiving yards, and a touchdown.

WR Mike Thomas
With Jacksonville’s decision not to retain Mike Sims-Walker, Thomas becomes their de facto, No. 1 wide receiver. That isn’t to say that he’s a typical No. 1 receiver, but he is Jacksonville’s top option. Thomas has been productive during his first two years in the league, improving on his rookie stats of 48 receptions for 453 yards and a touchdown to 66 catches for 820 yards and four scores in 2010. Entering his third year, his career trajectory seems to indicate that a breakout season is coming. And it is possible, but it’s not likely. Thomas is on the smallish side at 5’8” and 198 pounds, and while he is shifty, he doesn’t have tremendous deep speed, he isn’t a great option in the red zone, and he has averaged a modest 11.2 yards per reception over his career. With more targets, Thomas should produce more, but he doesn’t have the talent to consistently beat double coverage, so he could be inconsistent. Consider him a WR3 and move him up a few notches in PPR leagues. Be excited but not too excited.

WR Jason Hill
How sad is the Jaguars’ situation at wide receiver? It’s so sad that Hill is projected to open the season as a starter based on his 2010 year-end production in which he caught 10 passes for 233 yards over the final four games. Prior to that, Hill had a total of 42 passes for 430 yards and four touchdowns since entering the league in 2007. I guess averaging 166 receiving yards a season gets you a spot in Jacksonville’s starting lineup. I know it doesn’t get you a spot in my fantasy team’s starting lineup. In fact, it won’t even come close to getting you a roster spot.

WR Jarett Dillard
The Jaguars liked Dillard coming out of Rice and used a fifth-round pick on him in the 2009 draft. He struggled as a rookie, catching just six passes for 106 yards before suffering a season-ending ankle injury. He then missed all of 2010 with a stress fracture in one of his toes. Remarkably, he has a chance to produce in Jacksonville in 2011 because the Jaguars’ wide receiver depth chart is the worst in the league. Monitor him in training camp. There’s an outside chance he earns a starting job—and possibly a spot on your fantasy roster as a late-round draft pick (as in last-round draft pick).

WR Tiquan Underwood
He’s done virtually nothing in two years, failing to catch a pass in his rookie season and then making a mere eight receptions last year. If he were on any other team, I could stop writing now because he wouldn’t even have a shot at making the roster. But he’s a Jaguar, and their top two receivers are Mike Thomas and Jason Hill, so I need to add some more commentary on him. Is that enough? Can I stop now? Maybe he wins a starting spot over Hill. If he does, maybe he’s worth the last pick in your draft. Done.

TE Marcedes Lewis
There were a number of tight ends who put up surprisingly solid production in 2010, from the pair of rookies in New England (Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez), to Jacob Tamme replacing Dallas Clark with the Colts, to Ben Watson having a career season in his first year with Cleveland. However, the biggest surprise was Lewis, who came out of nowhere to finish as the third-ranked fantasy tight end in his fifth season in the league. Entering 2010, he had career highs of 41 receptions, 589 yards, and two touchdowns (that’s right, two!). He blew those numbers away by catching 58 passes for 710 yards and ten touchdowns. Can he do it again in 2011? With Mike Sims-Walker out of the picture and the current starters at wide receiver being Mike Thomas and Jason Hill, Lewis will get plenty of targets. However, banking on another ten touchdowns is unrealistic. While he should remain a top-ten fantasy tight end, another top-three finish isn’t in the cards.

Player Outlooks – Indianapolis Colts

By: — August 4, 2011 @ 3:11 am

QB Peyton Manning
There’s consistency and then there’s Peyton Manning consistency. Peyton Manning consistency as in over 4,000 passing yards in 11 of 13 seasons (missing the mark in his rookie season and in 2005 when he was rested at the end of he year), at least 26 touchdown passes in every pro season and no missed starts over his entire career. Not good enough for you? How about 66 touchdown passes over the last two years with Manning throwing for a career-high 4,700 passing yards in 2010 and the third most yards of his career (4,500) in 2009. Is he getting better with age? Probably not but the Colts are throwing it more than ever with Manning throwing a career-high 679 times last season and 1,250 times over the past two seasons. The same cast of receivers and tight ends returns with the added bonus of tight end Dallas Clark and Austin Collie returning to health. That’s good news and so is the fact that the running game figures to struggle once again in 2011. Sure, a neck injury has caused him to be placed on the physically unable to perform list but does anybody doubt he will be ready on opening day? Manning is money in the banks, folks.

RB Joseph Addai
After posting a respectable 1,164 total yards and 13 touchdowns in 2009, Addai’s 2010 season was derailed due to a neck injury that caused him to miss eight games and post career lows in all the major offensive categories. While his history injury and modest production in a solid Colts offense would generally decrease the chances of him returning, Indianapolis chose to re-sign him as a free agent for two reasons: he is solid in several areas including pass protection and they don’t have another proven performer at the running back position. Donald Brown has been a bust, Mike Hart is too small and not very dynamic, Jarvarris James has a limited skill set and they aren’t about to hand a significant role to rookie 4th round pick Delone Carter and watch him blow a blitz protection. And when your passing game is as proficient as the Colts is, it’s not like you need a top tier running back to make the offense go. Before you turn Addai away, consider he has averaged 81 total yards and 0.71 touchdowns per game over his five-year career. Sounds like a solid RB3.

RB Donald Brown
After a disappointing rookie campaign in 2009, the Colts former 1st round pick got a chance to prove his worth in 2010 when Joseph Addai was out for eight games with a neck injury. Unfortunately for Brown, in those eight games, he topped 70 rushing yards once, had just 558 total yards and scored one touchdown. All Brown proved was that he wasn’t ready for prime time. Addai was re-signed as a free agent and the Colts used a 4th round pick on Delone Carter, who figures to get the short yardage work. While the Colts aren’t likely to give up on Brown after two seasons, the odds of him supplanting Addai or earning a significant role in the team’s offense are unlikely. He’s a good handcuff for Addai owners due to his injury history, provided he wins the job, of course.

Is Wayne close to the fantasy cliff?

WR Reggie Wayne
Entering 2010, there were some concerns that the talented wide receiver had slipped some due to his lack of production over the latter part of the 2009 season when he had just 385 yards and two touchdowns over the final seven games of the seasons. Those concerns were ill-founded as Wayne had another excellent season in 2010, catching a career-high 111 passes for 1,355 yards and six touchdowns as the Colts relied on the pass more than they ever had during Wayne’s career. However, once again, there are concerns about how much Wayne has left due to his mediocre production at the end of 2010. Over the final three games of the regular season, he caught 17 passes for 142 yards and a touchdown before being completely shut down by Darrelle Revis and the Jets in the Colts wild card playoff loss (one reception for one yard). However, this year, we won’t place so much stock in his end of season swoon. Consider him a mid-tier WR1 for 2011.

WR Pierre Garcon
Let’s run the numbers for Garcon’s first three seasons in the league. His receptions have increased from 4 to 47 to 67. Receiving yards have went from 23 to 765 to 784 and touchdowns have went from zero to four to six. I guess that means he’s due for another uptick in production in 2011. Unfortunately, Garcon’s actual play on the field doesn’t support such a conclusion. He has caught just 55.1% of his targets (56.7% in 2010, lowest amongst Colts receivers and tight ends) and could see a reduction in targets in 2011 with tight end Dallas Clark and wide receiver Austin Collie in the line-up. On the plus side, Garcon’s talent is undeniable, save for his questionable hands, and he caught five touchdowns passes in the final five games of the 2010 regular season and added another score in the team’s wild card game. Consider Garcon a low-end WR3 or high-end WR4 and a player with tremendous upside if he can improve his route running and reduce his drops.

WR Austin Collie
Collie was on an incredible role for the early part of 2010, near the league lead in several categories, before injuries ruined what was looking like a breakout season for the 2009 4th round pick. Over the first six weeks of the season, he caught 44 passes for 503 yards and six touchdowns. Concussions and a thumb injury caused him to miss of the Colts final ten games and there has to be real concern whether Collie can remain free of concussions for an entire season. That makes him a huge risk. On the plus side, Collie is productive when healthy and is one of quarterback Peyton Manning’s favorite targets, catching 80.5% of his targets last season and 66.7% in 2009. High risk, high reward. Bank on Collie missing time in 2011 and that drops him down to WR4 status.

WR Anthony Gonzalez
Entering the Colts 2010 training camp, Gonzalez was in a battle with Pierre Garcon to start outside and with Austin Collie to start in the slot position. Entering 2011, he’s in a battle with Blair White to be the team’s fourth wide receiver and it is likely a 50/50 proposition whether he even makes the team given that he’s been in the line up for three games over the past two seasons and suffered a season-ending knee injury last November. The 2007 1st round pick’s future looked bright after his first two years in the league as he caught nearly 72% of his targets over that period. However, his Colts future looks done and it is doubtful other teams will take a shot on a player with his lengthy injury history.

TE Dallas Clark
After posting a career year in 2009, Clark was solid again in 2010 before a wrist injury ended his season in Week 6. Prior to the injury, he had 37 receptions for 347 yards and three touchdowns. Although Jacob Tamme had an incredible run subbing in for Clark last year, he is clearly the backup and unlikely to steal significant playing time. Clark along with Austin Collie are quarterback Peyton Manning’s preferred options out of the slot and with Collie’s concussion issues, Clark could have that role to himself for much of 2011. Throw in the team’s questionable running back situation and an offensive line that often struggled to maintain blocks for deep passes and Clark figures to get plenty of looks. Outside of Antonio Gates, Clark is as solid of an option as you can find at tight end provided he can stay healthy.

TE Jacob Tamme
It’s all about opportunity and Tamme got his in 2010 when Colts starting tight end Dallas Clark suffered a season-ending wrist injury. Tamme entered the team’s starting line-up in Week 7 and the offense never missed a beat, catching 67 passes for 631 yards and four touchdowns over the season’s final ten games. He averaged 8.7 fantasy points per game over that stretch, which placed him third in that category amongst tight ends who played ten games and more, behind only Antonio Gates and Jason Witten. So, we know Tamme can produce but we also know that Clark so Tamme’s not going to get an opportunity to produce in Indianapolis. And we also know that if he gets traded, it will be to an offense that’s not as productive as the one the Colts have. Tamme’s not worth drafting but he’s definitely worth grabbing if Clark goes down.

Projections & Rankings Update – 8/4

By: — @ 2:52 am
Filed under: Forecast

Player Projections, Rankings & Cheatsheets
Change Log – 8/4


  • Kyle Orton (+12) rises from the ashes as he runs well ahead of Tebow in camp. Trade to Miami, all but dead.
  • Jason Campbell (-100 yds), A banged up Ford and losing his top target (Miller) can’t help.

Running Backs

  • Beanie Wells (+4), gets first crack at starting job keeping him ahead of Ryan Williams.
  • LaDainian Tomlinson (-8), reduced role and salary has L.T. on the slide.
  • Shonn Greene (+75 yards), should get around 240-250 carries if he remains healthy.
  • Tim Hightower (+3), Torain already banged up. Hightower is next in line for starting job.
  • Thomas Jones (-5), could and should lose carries to Le’Ron McClain.
  • Jalen Parmele (+29), backing up Rice until the Ravens sign a veteran RB.
  • Ronnie Brown (-8), nice pickup for the Eagles, but not so nice for Brown’s fantasy value. Handcuff to McCoy.

Wide Receivers

  • DeSean Jackson (-2), working out the kinks as I ponder Jackson’s and Jeremy Maclin’s (+3) value.
  • Dez Bryant (+1) I keep bumping him up with up with every update. Kid’s got big upside.
  • Mike Williams (SEA) (-14), first Rice, now a pass-catcing TE; Williams is falling into a fantasy wasteland.
  • Patrick Crayton (+30), would start opposite Jackson if the Chargers played today.
  • Emmanuel Sanders (-8) Everyone’s sleeper wideout can’t get his feet healthy.

Tight Ends

  • Zach Miller (-16) Uggh. Moving to Seattle does nothing for Miller’s fantasy stock. Tarvaris Jackson and sharing targets with Carlson? No thanks.


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