Fantasy Football Strategy, Advice, and Commentary
By: Dave Stringer — July 22, 2013 @ 12:42 am
QB Matt Flynn
(2012 QB Rank – #58, 1.5 FPts/G)
A sought-after free agent following his four-year run with the Packers, Flynn signed on in Seattle prior to the 2012 season with the expectation of starting at quarterback. Russell Wilson had other ideas. With the Raiders looking to clear salary cap room, they traded for Flynn and then jettisoned incumbent starter Carson Palmer off to Arizona. While Palmer wasn’t spectacular in Oakland, you would be hard-pressed to find many who consider Flynn an upgrade. He may have looked good in a few games for the Packers with their wonderful array of offensive weapons, but in Oakland he will play behind a mediocre offensive line with an injury-prone running back, no true No. 1 wide receiver and major question marks at tight end. That doesn’t sound like a recipe for fantasy success. We don’t expect Terrelle Pryor or a rookie fourth-round pick to supplant Flynn on opening day, but there is certainly a chance that one of them will take over at some point in 2013.
A switch back to a power running game should help McFadden.
RB Darren McFadden
(2012 RB Rank – #28, 9.5 FPts/G; #25 PPR, 13.0 FPts/G)
Quick: after five seasons in the league (didn’t know it was that many, did you?), how many 1000-yard seasons does Darren McFadden have? If you said one, bingo! After five injury-marred seasons during which he has missed 23 games, it is fair to wonder if McFadden will ever put together a season in which he comes close to realizing on his immense potential. A change in running schemes hurt him in 2012, but the Raiders will move back to a power running attack in 2013. Unfortunately, that won’t lessen his injury risk. After struggling badly in 2012 , amassing just 80.4 total yards per game and setting career lows in yards per carry with 3.3 and yards per reception with 6.1, Run-DMC should be drafted as no better than a mid- to lower-tier RB2. But we all know that some owner will see some game tape prior to your auction and draft him much higher than that, based on his upside. Just don’t let it be you.
RB Marcel Reece
(2012 RB Rank – #41, 5.5 FPts/G; #31 PPR, 9.0 FPts/G)
Fullbacks don’t get much glory in the NFL these days, but there is little denying that Marcel Reece is a talented weapon for the Raiders. He contributes both as a blocker and a runner and has proven to be productive in one-back sets, as evidenced by his career averages of 4.8 yards per carry and 10.8 yards per reception. But what fantasy pundits want to know is whether he would be productive in an extended stay in the starting line up if Darren McFadden were lost to injury. Why not? He can run the ball and caught 52 passes last season, a remarkable number for a fullback. He also piled up 456 yards in four starts subbing in for McFadden. Consider Reece worthy of a flier, particularly if he enters the season as the Raiders’ main backup behind McFadden, which seems likely.
RB Rashad Jennings
(2012 RB Rank – #60, 5.3 FPts/G; #56 PPR, 7.2 FPts/G)
After a four-year run with the Jaguars, Jennings joins the Raiders in 2013. Jennings has good size and enough speed to have generated some big plays while in Jacksonville, but a sprained ankle caused him to miss all of 2011 and he was largely ineffective in 2012 despite being given four starts after Maurice Jones-Drew was lost for the season. Jennings lost the starting job as he averaged just 2.8 yards per carry. While he gets a fresh start in Oakland, he will need to beat out fullback Marcel Reece, as well as rookie sixth-round pick Latavius Murray, to earn the backup role behind McFadden. Whoever earns the job has a chance for significant playing time, given McFadden’s injury history, but there is no guarantee that Jennings will be that player.
RB Latavius Murray
(2012 RB Rank – N/A)
The more things change, the more they stay the same. Or so seems the case with the Raiders’ decision to select Murray in the sixth round of this year’s draft. The Central Florida product has solid size and ran a sub 4.4 40-yard dash but wasn’t even invited to the combine. While Murray isn’t worthy of a selection in redraft leagues, he makes for an intriguing prospect in dynasty formats, given Darren McFadden’s contract situation and his inability to stay healthy.
WR Denarius Moore
(2012 WR Rank – #32, 7.7 FPts/G; #37 PPR, 11.1 FPts/G)
There is a lot to like about Denarius Moore. He has decent size, outstanding speed and has been a big-play threat and surprisingly productive 2011 fifth-round pick for the Raiders. Entering his third year in the league, and with both Darrius Heyward-Bey and Brandon Myers having left Oakland, Moore should be in line for a big workload, making him an obvious candidate for breakout status in 2013. Here’s what’s not to like: Strong-armed quarterback Carson Palmer has been replaced by not-so-strong-armed Matt Flynn. What is perhaps even more disconcerting is that Moore caught just 44.7 percent of his targets last season, an improvement from the 43.4 percent completion rate he had as a rookie. Add it all up and there is little reason to suggest Moore will see a major improvement on his 51-reception, 741-yard, seven-touchdown performance from 2012. Consider him a high-end WR4 with upside.
WR Rod Streater
(2012 WR Rank – #62, 5.1 FPts/G; #63 PPR, 7.7 FPts/G)
As an undrafted free agent last year, Streater had a strong training camp, not only earning a spot on the Raiders roster but also getting targeted 10 times on opening day. Not bad. He finished the year with decent numbers (39 receptions for 584 yards and three touchdowns) and should earn a starting spot in 2013. Streater finished his rookie season strongly with 18 receptions for 351 yards and a touchdown over his final five games. While the Raiders figure to go deep less often in 2013, that could benefit Streater who, despite averaging 15.0 yards per reception, is more adept at running short and intermediate routes. Consider him a strong WR5 in 2013.
WR Jacoby Ford
(2012 WR Rank – N/A)
After displaying some promise as a rookie in 2009, Ford has endured a pair of injury-plagued seasons, missing eight games in 2011 and all of 2012 after undergoing foot surgery. While Ford has outstanding speed and big-play ability (career average of 17.0 yards per reception), he has caught just 50.8 percent of his targets and isn’t exceptional playing out of the slot. With Denarius Moore assured of a starting spot and Rod Streater the front-runner to start opposite him, that doesn’t bode well for Ford’s fantasy prospects in 2013. He might be worth a flier if he wrestles a starting job away from Streater but is likely waiver wire material in most leagues and is a middling dynasty prospect.
WR Juron Criner
(2012 WR Rank – #123, 2.6 FPts/G; #122 PPR, 4.6 FPts/G)
The Raiders’ fifth-round pick in 2012, Criner failed to emerge as a rookie despite Oakland’s middling group of wide receivers and an injury to Jacoby Ford. Criner has solid size at 6’2” and 221 pounds but he caught just 16 of his 33 targets last season, with a far less than stellar average of 9.4 yards per catch. So, he didn’t catch many of his passes and when he did he didn’t get many yards. Criner’s only saving grace is that Jacoby Ford, his main competition for the top backup spot at receiver, isn’t much of a threat out of the slot. Criner doesn’t offer much to get excited about.
TE Nick Kasa, Mychal Rivera, Richard Gordon and David Ausberry
(2012 TE Rank – N/A)
The Raiders’ situation at tight end looks like a black hole. But that’s what we thought entering 2012, and Brandon Myers piled up 79 receptions for 806 yards and four touchdowns. Not bad. With Matt Flynn and his lack of big-time arm strength under center in 2013, there is a chance that whoever emerges at tight end could see plenty of targets. Kasa and Rivera are rookie sixth-round picks but Gordon and Ausberry have done little during their first two years in the league, so this position battle is wide open. If one player emerges after the first couple of weeks of the season, they may be worth a waiver claim at that point.
By: Dave Stringer — July 20, 2013 @ 1:25 pm
QB Peyton Manning
(2012 QB Rank – #6, 23.9 FPts/G)
If you gambled on Peyton Manning last season due to his low ADP, you hit the jackpot. After missing all of 2011 with a neck injury, Manning had a tremendous year with 4,659 yards and 37 touchdowns, both totals being the second highest of his 15-year career. At 37 years of age, can Manning put together a repeat performance in 2013? Why not? While his neck issues remain a concern, and he threw more than a few wobbly ducks last year, Manning has a tremendous supporting cast in Denver with Wes Welker—the league’s top slot receiver—and rookie running back Montee Ball joining the cast this season. In Welker, Demaryius Thomas and Eric Decker, the Broncos might just possess the league’s top group of receivers, if not the deepest. Ball should bolster a rushing attack that was productive but somewhat inconsistent in 2012. With Manning, you are getting a quarterback that has topped 4,000 yards in every season he’s been healthy (except for his rookie campaign and in 2005, when he was rested at the end of the season) and has averaged over 30 touchdowns each of those years. Manning should be the third QB taken in your league, after Aaron Rodgers and Drew Brees.
RB Montee Ball
(2012 RB Rank – N/A)
Shortly after they acquired Ball with a second-round pick in this year’s draft, the Broncos released incumbent starter Willis McGahee. With second-year player Ronnie Hillman lacking the size to handle a heavy workload and the team not sold on veterans Knowshon Moreno and Lance Ball, the rookie Ball has a clear path to a starting position and solid fantasy value in 2013. The Wisconsin product has good size at 5’11”, 215 pounds and was a workhorse back in college with close to 1,000 touches. A solid pass protector, Ball seems destined to be the Broncos starter on opening day, provided he proves he can hang onto the football during the preseason. He should be under consideration for the first overall pick in rookie-only drafts, and he rates as a low-end RB2 with upside in redraft formats.
RB Ronnie Hillman
(2012 RB Rank – #64, 3.2 FPts/G; #66 PPR, 3.9 FPts/G)
The Broncos used a 2012 third-round pick to acquire Hillman and he will be given an opportunity to earn a significant role in the Broncos backfield this season. Coming off a disappointing rookie year in which he ran for 330 yards and caught just 10 passes while finding the end zone once, Hillman will open training camp as the Broncos top backup behind rookie second-round pick Montee Ball. At 5’10”, 190 pounds, he is more of a change-of-pace, pass-receiving back than a true backup, and comments from the Broncos organization this offseason seem to confirm this. If Ball falters in the lead role, there is a solid chance that either Knowshon Moreno or Lance Ball would leapfrog Hillman into the starting lineup. That limits Hillman’s upside. Consider him an RB5 and potential flex option if he earns 10-12 touches a game in 2013.
RB Knowshon Moreno
(2012 RB Rank – #34, 11.7 FPts/G; #36 PPR, 14.3 FPts/G)
The good news is that Moreno had an extended run of solid play in 2012 and the Broncos released Willis McGahee in the offseason. The bad news is that the team acquired Montee Ball in the second round of this year’s draft and by all accounts he will be given the first chance to earn the starting role. With 2012 third-round pick Ronnie Hillman expected to be the team’s main backup, Moreno’s playing time in 2013 will likely be based on how well the team’s young backs play. While head coach John Fox has been known to favor veterans over younger players, Moreno’s salary could see him jettisoned from the roster in the preseason. The Broncos backfield is one to watch in the preseason.
RB Lance Ball
(2012 RB Rank – #77, 3.4 FPts/G; #83 PPR, 4.1 FPts/G)
Ball is a name you need to know for a couple of reasons. One is that the Broncos plan to start rookie Montee Ball, and the other is that the team may not be willing to pay Knowshon Moreno’s hefty salary to be a backup. Those factors could lead to a role for Ball in 2013, but the chips need to land the right way for it to happen. Monitor the Broncos running back situation in the preseason and adjust accordingly.
He’s still a WR1, but another mouth to feed may limit Thomas’ upside.
WR Demaryius Thomas
(2012 WR Rank – #5, 12.8 FPts/G; #5 PPR, 18.6 FPts/G)
While Thomas was expected to top 1,000 receiving yards in 2012, he blew past that mark, finishing the season with 1,434 yards and 10 touchdowns as he enjoyed a breakout season catching passes from Peyton Manning. After hauling in just 45.7 percent of his targets in 2011, Thomas upped that rate to 66.7 last season while averaging a very solid 15.3 yards per reception. At 6’3” and 229 pounds with outstanding speed, Thomas is a matchup nightmare for opposing cornerbacks, but there are questions about whether he will replicate his 2012 workload this season. There is another mouth to feed in the Denver offense with the acquisition of Wes Welker, and the team shored up the running game by using a second-round pick on Montee Ball. Thomas is such a superior talent that the coaching staff will ensure he gets plenty of looks in 2013, but a drop-off from his 141 targets last season is expected. He still rates as a mid-tier WR1 but his ultra-high potential isn’t likely to be reached in 2013.
WR Wes Welker
(2012 WR Rank – #12, 10.8 FPts/G; #7 PPR, 18.2 FPts/G)
After averaging 10.0 targets, 7.2 receptions, 80 yards and 0.4 touchdowns per game during his six-year stay in New England, Welker brings his superlative slot receiving skills to Denver for 2013. Just don’t expect him to bring his Patriots production with him. While Welker was clearly Tom Brady’s security blanket, that won’t be the case with Peyton Manning, as the Broncos have a pair of wide receivers in Demaryius Thomas and Eric Decker, both of whom enjoyed breakout seasons in 2012. The pair combined to accumulate 2,498 receiving yards last season, so Manning will have plenty of mouths to feed in 2013. While that limits Welker’s upside and ensures he won’t replicate the 1,354 yards and six touchdowns he put up last season, there’s no reason the Broncos can’t have three 1000-yard receivers in 2013. It’s not like a Manning-led offense hasn’t accomplished that before. Consider Welker a low-risk, lower-tier WR2.
WR Eric Decker
(2012 WR Rank – #7, 11.5 FPts/G; #9 PPR, 16.8 FPts/G)
The Broncos’ 2010 third-round pick, Decker has increased his reception total, yards, and touchdowns during each of his first three seasons. In 2012, he had a breakout year with 85 receptions on 122 targets for 1,064 yards and 13 touchdowns. At 6’3” and 218 pounds and with solid speed, Decker has been a big-play threat and solid red zone option with 21 touchdowns through the past two seasons. Unfortunately for Decker, Wes Welker joins the Broncos offense in 2013, creating a crowded depth chart at receiver. Playing alongside one of the league’s most talented wide receivers in Demaryius Thomas and the league’s top slot receiver in Welker, Decker isn’t likely to approach his target count from last season. A reduction in targets ensures that Decker won’t approach low-end WR1 or upper-tier WR2 status in 2013, but his red zone pedigree makes him a solid lower-tier WR2, and a second consecutive 1000-yard season wouldn’t be a surprise.
WR Andre Caldwell
(2012 WR Rank – #166, 1.1 FPts/G; #172 PPR, 1.4 FPts/G)
Ah, Andre Caldwell. If only he were remotely close to being as good as he thinks he is. This offseason he wondered why he hadn’t been invited to work out with Peyton Manning and some of the team’s wide receivers and tight ends. Here’s a hint, Andre. Because you’re not a big part of the team’s plans in 2013.
TE Jacob Tamme
(2012 TE Rank – #26, 4.5 FPts/G; #22 PPR, 8.0 FPts/G)
While it might be hard to fathom, this season there really isn’t any point to owning the pass-catching tight end in a Peyton Manning offense. That is the case with Tamme, who was a bit of a fantasy disappointment in his first year in Denver in 2012. We told you not to reach for him on draft day and that proved to be sound advice, as he caught just 52 passes for 555 yards and a pair of touchdowns splitting the tight end role with Joel Dreesen. In 2013, the targets and playing time will be spread even thinner with the addition of Wes Welker to the Denver offense. Tamme’s just not talented enough to warrant a bigger slice of the pie. He is waiver-wire material in almost all formats.
TE Joel Dreessen
(2012 TE Rank – #27, 4.1 FPts/G; #27 PPR, 6.7 FPts/G)
Splitting time with Jacob Tamme, Dreesen had minimal value as a fantasy TE in 2012. Despite catching just 41 passes, Dreesen proved a useful red zone option for Peyton Manning, hauling in five touchdown passes. Unfortunately for Tamme and Dreesen, Wes Welker will get the majority of the targets out of the slot in 2013, killing any fantasy value the TEs had.
By: Damon Autry — July 18, 2013 @ 1:24 pm
It’s not always a given in the NFL that with age comes declining productivity. Indeed, there are countless players each year that defy Father Time and remain viable options in the fantasy world well into their thirties. But there are some—and dare I say, quite a few—that fall completely off the map every season due to the physical attrition of getting older. In fact, production declines with relative quickness for some players and it has nothing to do with getting older.
This list highlights several players whose best days are in the rearview mirror. Either through their getting older, fighting injuries, or production falling off for no apparent reason, these players—although still roster-worthy—should not be counted on for much heading into the 2013 season.
The 49ers are rolling the dice with Boldin as their No. 1 wideout.
WR Anquan Boldin – Boldin’s stellar playoff run from the 2012 season increased his value, leading the Baltimore Ravens to send him to San Francisco for a sixth-round pick. In the short term, perhaps the Niners got the better end of that bargain. But Boldin has clearly seen better days, and if San Francisco is counting on him to be their No. 1 wide receiver option, with Michael Crabtree most likely done for the year, they may be disappointed. In spite of missing only four games over the last four years, Boldin has tallied only 18 receiving touchdowns across that span.
The Niners are hungry for an outside threat in the wake of Crabtree’s Achilles injury. Some may look at Crabtree’s absence and say, “well, somebody’s gotta catch the ball,” giving Boldin increased value by default. I’m not buying that. While Boldin’s a superb route runner, his lack of quickness and speed, coupled with the offense’s apparent plan to feature more tight end sets—evidenced by the Niner’s selection of tight end Vance McDonald as their second pick in this year’s draft—should give owners pause about expecting Boldin to pick up where he left off during last year’s Super Bowl.
RB Fred Jackson – Jackson turned 32 in February. That alone should prompt you to remain cautious about Jackson heading into this season—C.J. Spiller’s exploits notwithstanding. Jackson has had a really nice late-career emergence, surprising many fantasy owners in the process. But sharing carries and—you guessed it—injuries have hampered his ability to put up the kind of numbers he put up during the 2011 season. Now throw in the prospect of playing behind a rookie quarterback and it’s a mere certainty that Jackson’s fantasy-relevant days are over.
With his nasty-looking injury last season, many thought Jackson’s season was done. It’s a testament to his work ethic that he was able battle back; he even had a 25-carry, 109-yard effort against Jacksonville late in the season. That performance aside, Jackson is no doubt heading to the conclusion of his career, and his production in 2013 should make that painfully obvious.
TE Antonio Gates – I, for one, believe the San Diego Chargers will be a dumpster fire in 2013. New offensive approach, new coach, questionable running game (I’ll touch on that shortly) and a passing game that is devoid of any top-notch options all spell doom for the Lighting Bolts. Sure, Gates hasn’t scored fewer than seven touchdowns since his rookie season in 2003, but a simple eyeball test will provide you with all the proof you need to evaluate whether or not he has lost a step (or three).
Gates will be in the crosshairs of defensive secondaries all season long, what with the likes of Vincent Brown, Malcom Floyd and Danario Alexander lining up alongside him. Yeah, I know. Gates has had to battle being the defense’s focus his entire career. But he’s now 33 years old with a history of lower leg issues. Some publications still list him as a top 10 TE. I don’t see it. Keep your expectations in check with him.
RB Ryan Mathews – Mathews is only 26 years old. Far from “over the hill,” right? Sure. But take a look at this guy’s production over his first three seasons in the league. He was fairly productive in 2011, reaching 100 yards rushing in four of the 14 games in which he played. But last year’s performance was abysmal, as he didn’t gain more than 95 yards in a single game and scored only one touchdown all year. And keep in mind that was with running back-friendly head coach Norv Turner roaming the sideline. It’s anybody’s guess how new head coach Mike McCoy will use him.
Keep in mind, too, that the Chargers signed running back Danny Woodhead. He should be just enough of a nuisance to Mathews’ owners as Mathews’ lack of production will be in 2013. So while Mathews can’t be considered a old timer by age standards, his struggles so far in his NFL career should make fantasy owners temper their expectations of the four-year veteran.
QB Michael Vick – The bloom disappeared from this rose pretty quickly. After a jaw-dropping re-entry into the league once he replaced Kevin Kolb early in 2010, Vick’s production has been anything but spectacular. His turnovers have come by the truckload the last two years, and his once-feared running ability seems to be no more. Vick has only scored two rushing touchdowns over the last two seasons.
Further, not only will Vick have to learn a fast-break type of offense with new head coach Chip Kelly, he’ll have to fight off competition from Nick Foles and rookie Matt Barkley. Some have pointed to Vick’s superior running ability over Foles’ and Barkley’s when trying to decipher who’s better equipped to run the new Philly offense. But over the past two seasons Vick has shown nothing that gives me optimism about his ability to recapture the magic he unearthed in 2010. Only those with a serious man-crush on Vick will rely on him in 2013.
QB Carson Palmer – There are some who may point to Palmer’s 4000-yard passing season last year in Oakland—his highest yardage total since 2007. Others may look at teaming with Larry Fitzgerald as an optimistic component for Palmer. Both of those observations are duly noted. But excluding his breakout seasons of 2005 and 2006, Palmer has been one of those players that does very little for me. Sure, he’ll have big games throughout the year (6 games of over 300 passing yards in 2012), but those big games are almost always accompanied by a ton of turnovers, which, depending on your league’s scoring system, negates most of his productivity. In my estimation he’s not a trustworthy QB—the most trustworthy-necessary position in fantasy football. Look at the Fitzgerald factor if you must; I’m looking elsewhere for QB depth this year.
By: Mike Krueger — @ 10:23 am
Player Projections, Rankings & Cheatsheets
Change Log – 7/18/13
A few minor adjustments to the rankings this week.
- Jay Cutler (+1) – Still a QB2 but with a better receiving option at TE I’m more optimistic.
By: Dave Stringer — July 17, 2013 @ 10:53 pm
An improved o-line hasn’t moved locker out of QB2 territory.
QB Jake Locker
(2012 QB Rank – #29, 16.7 FPts/G)
The Titans’ 2011 first-round pick has pretty much everything a team wants in its starting quarterback: size, mobility, speed, and a big arm. Missing is accuracy and the ability to read NFL defenses. Locker struggled with his mechanics and completion percentage in college at Washington and that has continued in Tennessee, where he has completed just 55.5 percent of his passes. A shoulder injury caused him to miss five games in 2012 as he threw for 2,176 yards with ten touchdowns and 11 interceptions. This past offseason the Titans added wide receivers Justin Hunter and Kevin Walter but lost Jared Cook in free agency, so Locker’s weapons have not improved significantly. Perhaps more importantly, the team addressed its deficiencies along the offensive line, and that should provide Locker with more time to throw as well as additional opportunities on play action. With head coach Mike Munchak in a must-win situation, he won’t wait long to pull Locker in favor of offseason addition Ryan Fitzpatrick. Consider Locker waiver-wire material in redraft leagues and a marginal prospect in dynasty formats.
QB Ryan Fitzpatrick
(2012 QB Rank – #17, 18.3 FPts/G)
Having been cut by the Bills in the offseason, Fitzpatrick joins the Titans in 2013 in a clear backup role behind Jake Locker. While Fitzpatrick played well at times during his stay in Buffalo, he suffered with his decision-making at key moments. Locker hasn’t played well enough to be entrenched as the team’s starter, so there is a chance Fitzpatrick will see the field at some point in 2013. If he does, he would be nothing more than a stopgap starter on your fantasy squad.
RB Chris Johnson
(2012 RB Rank – #12, 11.4 FPts/G; #12 PPR, 13.7 FPts/G)
It’s hard to find a more polarizing running back in fantasy than the Titans’ Chris Johnson. Contract holdouts and a lack of consistency have accompanied his outstanding production over a five-year career, and this past offseason the team acquired a proven backup for the first time in his career in Shonn Greene. That came on the heels of Johnson’s second consecutive subpar year as he struggled early in the season (45 rushing yards, 63 receiving yards and no touchdowns in his first three games) and finished the year with 1,475 total yards and six touchdowns. Although Johnson too frequently bounces runs outside and fails to follow his blocking, the fact is that he has been a remarkably productive back and his speed and ability to make tacklers miss remain unchanged. This is a player who has 8,546 total career yards and has averaged 1,709 total yards and 9.6 touchdowns per season. Throw in the fact that the Titans bolstered their offensive line in the offseason and that CJ2K’s perceived fantasy value is at an all-time low, and you could have a potential bargain for your 2013 fantasy squad. While Greene will likely vulture some touchdowns, Johnson is a fairly safe option as an upper-tier RB2 with upside if you can accept the inconsistency.
RB Shonn Greene
(2012 RB Rank – #15, 10.6 FPts/G; #19 PPR, 11.8 FPts/G)
With Chris Johnson struggling in short-yardage situations and the Titans lacking a big back to fill that role, the team signed former Jet Shonn Greene to a hefty contract ($10-million over three years) in the offseason. The amount of money they gave him may seems to suggest that they have big plans for Greene in 2013, but it seems more likely that they simply misread the market. One thing is more certain: Tennessee wants to run the ball more this season. They added Andy Levitre in free agency and Chance Womack in the first round of the draft to bolster the offensive line, and those additions will help the run game. While Greene is coming off a pair of 1000-yard rushing seasons and posted career highs in carries (276), yards (1,063) and touchdowns (eight) in 2012, we anticipate that he will be more of a change-of-pace and short-yardage back than part of a committee with Chris Johnson. Consider Greene a decent handcuff to Johnson and a potential flex option in 12 and 14 team leagues. Perhaps most importantly, he is likely going to be a touchdown vulture in 2013.
WR Kenny Britt
(2012 WR Rank – #59, 5.9 FPts/G; #60 PPR, 9.1 FPts/G)
This is the season where the rubber needs to hit the road for Britt. The talented Titans receiver enters the final year of his rookie contract after four mostly frustrating seasons in Tennessee. While Britt has all the tools required to be a dominant NFL receiver, his lack of maturity, poor off-the-field decision making, and lack of consistency on the field have been the hallmarks of his career. Not to mention his inability to stay healthy (19 missed games over the last three seasons). Returning from tears to his ACL and MCL that ended his 2011 season in Week 3, Britt struggled in 2012, topping 60 receiving yards just three times and finishing the season with 45 receptions on 90 targets for 589 yards and four touchdowns. The Titans took his potential replacement in Justin Hunter in this year’s draft and also spent a 2011 first-round pick on Kendall Wright, so the writing is clearly on the wall for Britt: Produce in 2013 or find a new home for 2014. However, with the Titans having a deep depth chart at wide receiver and Britt having never strung together more than five or six solid performances in a row, there is little reason to expect a breakout season in 2013. Consider him a WR4 with upside.
WR Kendall Wright
(2012 WR Rank – #55, 5.8 FPts/G; #45 PPR, 10.1 FPts/G)
Tennessee used a 2012 first-round pick to acquire Wright, and expectations were high that he would bring the playmaking ability he displayed at Baylor to the Titans offense. However, a subpar 40-time prior to the draft raised some concerns about whether he could replicate his college success in the pros. The naysayers were proven correct. While Wright hauled in a very respectable 64 passes as a rookie, he averaged just 9.8 yards per reception and found the end zone only four times. It remains to be seen whether his lack of big plays was the result of poor play calling, poor quarterback play or his physical limitations. Offseason reports indicate that Wright has had a solid offseason, but he faces healthy competition for targets in a deep Titans wide receiver depth chart. Combine that with quarterback Jake Locker’s poor accuracy, and Wright appears to have limited upside in 2013. Consider him a WR4 and move him up in PPR leagues.
WR Nate Washington
(2012 WR Rank – #47, 6.1 FPts/G; #52 PPR, 8.9 FPts/G)
With Kenny Britt out of the lineup for much of 2011, Washington posted career highs in all receiving categories with 74 receptions for 1,023 yards and seven touchdowns. In 2012, Britt returned and the Titans added Kendall Wright in the first round of the draft, relegating Washington to more of a secondary role, and Washington’s targets plummeted from 121 to 90. While he played reasonably well with 46 receptions for 746 and four touchdowns, he faces even more competition for targets due to the addition of second-round pick Justin Hunter and free agent signee Kevin Walter. There were even whispers that the Titans could release or trade him rather than pay his hefty salary, given his declining usage, but that will only happen if Hunter or Walter play well in training camp. Washington is waiver-wire material everywhere but in the deepest of leagues.
WR Justin Hunter
(2012 WR Rank – N/A)
With Kenny Britt seemingly unable to fulfill his vast potential, Tennessee used an early-round draft pick for the second year in a row to address the wide receiver position. After taking Kendall Wright in the first round of the 2012 draft, the team used an early second-round pick this season to acquire Justin Hunter. The Tennessee product has outstanding speed and solid size at 6’4”, 200 pounds but is considered a raw prospect as he enters the pros. Given his lack of playing time in college, Hunter isn’t expected to contribute much as a rookie, and an offseason hamstring injury puts him further behind the learning curve. Since Britt is entering a contract year and the Titans are unlikely to re-sign him, Hunter is an excellent prospect in dynasty formats. He is waiver-wire material in redraft formats.
WR Kevin Walter
(2012 WR Rank – #72, 4.0 FPts/G; #71 PPR, 6.6 FPts/G)
The Texans spent years trying to replace Walter in the starting lineup, and this past offseason they finally chose to jettison him from the roster. He brings his talents to Tennessee in 2013 and figures to provide insurance for the seemingly inevitable Kenny Britt mishap or injury. Coming off a 41-reception, 518-yard, two-touchdown campaign in 2012, Walter is unlikely to approach that production in his first year with the Titans. With the team looking for more playmaking ability at wide receiver, Walter will enter camp fifth on the depth chart behind Britt, Kendall Wright, Nate Washington and rookie second-round pick Justin Hunter. Walter isn’t worth owning in 2013.
WR Damian Williams
(2012 WR Rank – #103, 2.5 FPts/G; #97 PPR, 4.8 FPts/G)
After three years in the league, it appears the Titans have given up on Williams, their 2010 third-round pick. After contributing little as a rookie, Williams stepped into the starting lineup in 2011 after an injury to Kenny Britt and played reasonably well, catching 45 passes for 592 yards and five touchdowns. However, he lost playing time last season with the addition of Kenny Wright in the draft and with Britt’s return. This offseason the Titans used a second-round pick to acquire Justin Hunter and added former Texan Kevin Walter in free agency. With Nate Washington also still around, Williams seems pretty entrenched as the team’s sixth wide receiver, putting his roster spot in jeopardy.
TE Delanie Walker
(2012 WR Rank – #32, 3.5 FPts/G; #35 PPR, 4.9 FPts/G)
Wanting to avoid going to arbitration regarding Jared Cook’s status, Tennessee chose to sign former 49er Delanie Walker as their new starting tight end. While Walker is a useful player capable of contributing in many ways, the fact is that he has started only a handful of games in his seven-year career. Sure, he was stuck behind the wonderfully talented Vernon Davis, but if Walker were starting material, he would have found a taker earlier his career. And let’s be honest. If Cook, whose talent level far exceeds Walker’s, didn’t become a star during his four years in Tennessee, why exactly do we think Walker will? You can do better.
By: Dave Stringer — July 15, 2013 @ 10:11 am
QB Blaine Gabbert
(2012 QB Rank – #33, 12.5 FPts/G)
Entering his third year in the league after being taken in the first round of the 2011 draft, there are serious doubts as to whether Gabbert will ever emerge as a bona fide starting quarterback in Jacksonville. While the former Missouri signal caller has the athleticism required to succeed in the league, he lacks pocket presence, has displayed poor accuracy, doesn’t step into all of his throws and often makes poor reads. Perhaps new offensive coordinator Jedd Fisch’s offense will benefit Gabbert, with Fisch expected to rely on a heavy amount of runs to set play action. The truth of the matter, however, is that the Jaguars offense ran much more smoothly with Chad Henne under center after Gabbert was lost for the season with a shoulder injury in Week 11. At that point in the season, he had thrown just nine touchdowns, and that pretty much tells you all you need to know about his fantasy prospects for 2013.
QB Chad Henne
(2012 QB Rank – #30, 16.1 FPts/G)
In the “life isn’t always fair” category, we present Chad Henne. Entering his third year in the league in 2011, Henne was attempting to solidify his hold on the Dolphins’ starting quarterback position, only to suffer a season ending shoulder injury after three solid outings. After joining the Jaguars in 2012 as Blaine Gabbert’s backup, Henne took over under center in Week 11 and directed the offense much better than Gabbert had, despite the absence of running back Maurice Jones-Drew, Jacksonville’s top offensive player. Henne’s reward? A likely spot on the bench behind Gabbert once again in 2013, at least to open the season.
Coming off a Lisfranc injury, MJD is hanging around RB2 territory.
RB Maurice Jones-Drew
(2012 RB Rank – #52,10.3 FPts/G; #52 PPR, 12.7 FPts/G)
For the second consecutive season, Maurice Jones-Drew figures to be one of the most polarizing fantasy running backs in the league. In 2012 a contract holdout clouded his fantasy value, and this season he returns from a Lisfranc fracture that ended his 2012 campaign in Week 7. At just 28 years of age, the fantasy consensus seems to be that MJD is a spent force. He has carried a heavy workload during his first seven years in the league, plays in a dreadful offense, and the team is switching to a zone-based blocking scheme in 2013. On the other hand, he averaged 98.8 total yards per game last season (removing the game in which he was injured) and the Jaguars don’t have a backup capable of challenging him for the starting role. While his return from the Lisfranc injury increases his risk and the Jaguars’ offensive futility limits his upside, he rates as a mid- to lower-tier RB2 in 2013. Monitor his ADP and see if he can be a value add to your fantasy squad.
RB Denard Robinson
(2012 RB Rank – N/A)
With running back Maurice Jones-Drew having contract or injury issues in recent years, the Jaguars used an early fifth-round selection on Denard Robinson. The former collegiate quarterback will be converted to a running back in Jacksonville. While Robinson has decent size at 6’0”, 197 pounds and the speed and agility to make defenders miss, expecting him to contribute much as a rookie is a stretch because of his lack of experience at running back. With MJD having piled up the touches over the years, however, Robinson is a solid prospect in dynasty formats. MJD owners should grab him as a handcuff, provided he beats out Justin Forsett for the top backup spot.
RB Justin Forsett
(2012 RB Rank – #63, 4.3 FPts/G; #71 PPR, 4.6 FPts/G)
With Ben Tate suffering through an injury-plagued season in Houston, Forsett stepped up as Arian Foster’s backup and had a surprisingly solid year, rushing for 374 yards and a touchdown while averaging 5.9 yards per carry. Signed by the Jaguars in the offseason, Forsett will compete with rookie fifth-round pick Denard Robinson for the main backup role behind Maurice Jones-Drew. While Jacksonville may prefer to hand that role to Robinson so he can gain experience, if MJD were once again lost to injury, it is doubtful the rookie could handle a workhorse role. In fact, given Forsett’s experience in the Jaguars’ new zone-blocking scheme, it won’t be a surprise if he wins the backup job outright during training camp. If that happens, he would be a must-have handcuff for MJD owners.
WR Cecil Shorts
(2012 WR Rank – #22, 10.0 FPts/G; #25 PPR, 13.9 FPts/G)
A fourth-round pick of the Jaguars in the 2011 draft, Shorts was considered a raw prospect coming out of Mount Union. His rookie season proved that speculation correct, as he caught just two of 12 targets for 30 yards and a touchdown. He proved to be a quick study, however, hauling in 55 passes for 979 yards and seven touchdowns in 2012 despite missing two games and not opening the season in the starting lineup. Shorts displayed solid big-play ability, averaging 17.9 yards per reception, and finished second in the league in that category. Entering his third year in the league, there is little reason to suggest that Shorts won’t continue the tremendous growth he has shown since entering the league. This guy is a playmaker, able to haul in deep passes and turn short and intermediate throws into long gains. However, the Jaguars quarterback situation prevents him from being a WR1candidate in 2013. Concussion issues also raise his risk profile, but Shorts should be considered a high-end WR3 with upside. He is also a solid dynasty prospect. And if you’re looking for consistency, Shorts hit double-digit fantasy points in nine of 14 games last season.
WR Justin Blackmon
(2012 WR Rank – #28, 7.4 FPts/G; #29 PPR, 11.4 FPts/G)
Taken fifth overall in the 2012 draft, Blackmon struggled over the first half of his rookie season with just 250 receiving yards and a single touchdown through the first nine games. The 6’1”, 215-pound Oklahoma product caught fire in a Week 11 matchup against the Texans, with 236 receiving yards and a touchdown on his way to averaging 87.9 yards and 0.57 touchdowns per game over the season’s final seven games. That’s the good news. Where do we start with the bad? How about a four-game suspension to open the 2013 season for violating the league’s substance abuse policy (his next suspension would cause him to miss 16 games). Or should we go with his offseason groin surgery. Or that he did most of his damage with Chad Henne under center last season, and Henne is expected to open the year behind Blaine Gabbert. Or that he caught just 48.5 percent of his targets. Or that 27.3 percent of his receiving yardage came in one game. And in the “statistics can mislead” category, removing the Texans game, Blackmon averaged 63.2 yards and 0.5 touchdowns per game over the season’s final six games (still impressive, mind you). While he has the ability to be a 1000-yard receiver, he needs to show far more maturity in order to consistently approach that level of production. Blackmon rates as a WR4/5 in 2013 because of his suspension.
WR Jordan Shipley
(2012 WR Rank – #107, 4.3 FPts/G; #104 PPR, 7.6 FPts/G)
After a solid rookie year in 2010 with 52 receptions for 600 yards and three touchdowns, Shipley suffered a torn ACL that ended his 2011 season in Week 2. Since then, he has failed to land a meaningful role in Cincinnati or in short stints with the Bucs and Jaguars. He gets another shot in Jacksonville in 2013 on a Jaguars team desperate to find a solid receiving threat behind starters Cecil Shorts and Justin Blackmon. In six games with the team last season, he hauled in 23 passes for 244 yards and a touchdown. Look for Shipley to hold off rookie fourth-round pick Ace Sanders to open the season as the team’s main receiving option out of the slot. Just don’t look for Shipley to become fantasy relevant in 2013.
WR Mohamed Massaquoi
(2012 WR Rank – #117, 2.8 FPts/G; #117 PPR, 4.7 FPts/G)
After four disappointing seasons in Cleveland, Massaquoi, the Browns’ 2009 second-round pick, was signed this past offseason by Jacksonville. While he is a likely starter for the first four games of the season, while Justin Blackmon serves a suspension, there isn’t much evidence that Massaquoi will grab hold of the opportunity. With the Browns, he caught an absolutely dreadful 42.7 percent of his targets (118 out of 276), and it’s not like the Jaguars’ quarterback situation in 2013 is much different than what Massaquoi had to deal with in Cleveland.
WR Ace Sanders
(2012 WR Rank – N/A)
The Jaguars used a fourth-round pick to acquire Sanders this offseason and he is expected to challenge Jordan Shipley for playing time as a slot receiver and to contribute as a returner. While Sanders has the ability to make defenders miss, his diminutive size (5’8”, 175 lbs.) could cause the Jaguars to limit his reps in the base offense. He is waiver wire material in redraft leagues and doesn’t offer much upside in dynasty formats.
TE Marcedes Lewis
(2012 WR Rank – #18, 5.2 FPts/G; #18 PPR, 8.7 FPts/G)
After posting a career year in 2010 with 58 receptions for 700 yards and 10 touchdowns, Lewis’s reward was a pair of seasons of neglect, as the Jaguars’ previous coaching staff chose to feature their mostly inept wide receivers over their talented tight end. After a dreadful 2011 campaign, Lewis bounced back somewhat in 2012 with 52 receptions for 540 yards and four touchdowns. If there is hope for Lewis in 2013, it is that new offensive coordinator Jedd Fisch plans to utilize him more this season. Unfortunately, the team’s quarterback situation remains as dire as ever, and that limits Lewis’s fantasy potential. Consider him a TE2 with some upside in 2013.
By: Dave Stringer — July 13, 2013 @ 1:22 pm
Luck: A low-tier QB1 with upside.
QB Andrew Luck
(2012 QB Rank – #8, 22.9 FPts/G)
The Andrew Luck era started off with a bang in 2012 as the rookie signal caller led the Colts to an 11-5 record and a playoff berth. Despite being saddled with a leaky offensive line, no proven starting running back, a pair of rookies at tight end and a pile of question marks at wide receiver behind Reggie Wayne, Luck set an NFL rookie record by throwing for 4,374 yards and 23 touchdown passes. He also displayed plenty of mobility, rushing for 255 yards and five touchdowns. If there was any knock on Luck’s performance, it was his 54.1 percent completion rate, which could be at least partially explained by former offensive coordinator Bruce Arian’s downfield passing attack. Look for that to improve with the Colts’ employing Pep Hamilton’s version of the West Coast offense. With improved weapons out of the backfield and young receiving options Dwayne Allen, Coby Fleener and T.Y. Hilton having a year of experience under their belt, Luck should be a more efficient quarterback in 2013, cutting back on his turnovers (18 interceptions and five fumbles last season) and extending drives. Consider him a lower-tier QB1 with plenty of upside.
RB Ahmad Bradshaw
(2012 RB Rank – #16,11.6 FPts/G; #20 PPR, 13.2 FPts/G)
Despite being just 27 years old and having a moderate salary for a starting running back, the Giants gave up on Ahmad Bradshaw this offseason, choosing to release him and hand the team’s running back duties to the largely unproven duo of David Wilson and Andre Brown. The Colts waited a long time after Bradshaw’s release before signing him to a very modest one-year deal for $1.35-million, an absolute bargain for a player that rushed for 1,015 yards in 14 games last season, has two 1000-yard rushing seasons in the last three years and has averaged 7.5 touchdowns over the past four years. The caveat, of course, is Bradshaw’s inability to stay healthy. While he has only missed eight games over the past five years, he is constantly nicked up and may not even be ready for the opening of training camp due to offseason foot surgery. In Indy, Bradshaw will compete with second-year player Vick Ballard for the starting role, and it seems a foregone conclusion that he will win the job but be relegated to a platoon role, as the Colts will try to keep him healthy for an expected playoff run. That limits his fantasy potential but also lessens his injury risk. Consider Bradshaw a lower-tier RB3 in 2013.
RB Vick Ballard
(2012 RB Rank – #27, 7.2 FPts/G; #33 PPR, 8.2 FPts/G)
As a fifth-round pick in 2012, Ballard’s scouting report highlighted his ability to gets what is blocked, and last season that was good enough to land him the Colts’ starting running back job by midseason. By season’s end, Ballard had amassed 814 rushing yards, 152 receiving yards and three touchdowns. Unfortunately, his average yards per carry of 3.9 and lack of upside convinced the Colts to sign former Giant Ahmad Bradshaw in the offseason. The 27-year-old Bradshaw is expected to earn the starting role, but his lack of durability is what caused the Giants to release him. Look for Ballard to share the running back duties with Bradshaw, but the fact is that staying healthy is the only thing Ballard does better than Bradshaw. Consider Ballard an upper-tier RB4 since he should get at least a few starts because of Bradshaw’s injury issues.
RB Donald Brown
(2012 RB Rank – #56, 5.7 FPts/G; #59 PPR, 6.6 FPts/G)
A first-round pick in the 2009 draft, Brown has proven to be a near complete bust in the Colts backfield, failing to earn a starting role or even prove consistently capable as part of a backfield committee. After being usurped by rookie fifth-round pick Vick Ballard (a player with far less natural ability) in 2012, Brown’s poor showing convinced the Colts to sign former Giant Ahmad Bradshaw this past offseason. That sounded the death knell for Brown’s fantasy value in 2013 and quite possibly his career as a Colt. While Brown has provided some highlight reel plays over the years, his inconsistency will be remembered as his main calling card.
RB Delone Carter
(2012 RB Rank – #82, 4.5 FPts/G; #92 PPR, 4.6 FPts/G)
Taken in the fourth round of the 2011 draft, the 5’10”, 215-pound Carter has had an opportunity to emerge as a key part of the Colts backfield in each of the past two seasons. However, injuries and a lack of talent have held him back. At this point, his calling card is his short-yardage ability (three touchdowns in 32 carries last season), but free agent signee Ahmad Bradshaw has proven effective in that role, so Carter may have a difficult time beating out Donald Brown or rookie seventh-round pick Kerwynn Williams for a roster spot in 2013. Carter is only worth owning in the deepest of dynasty leagues.
WR Reggie Wayne
(2012 WR Rank – #14, 10.3 FPts/G; #8 PPR, 16.9 FPts/G)
Coming off a 2011 campaign in which he failed to reach 1,000 receiving yards for the first time since the 2003 season, expectations for Wayne were at an all-time low in 2012. Despite his advancing age (he turned 34 last November) and playing with a rookie quarterback, Wayne put together an outstanding season, hauling in 106 of a whopping 195 targets for 1,355 yards and five touchdowns. The Colts couldn’t have expected more and Wayne returns in 2013 as the team’s lead receiver. While his age is certainly a concern, he has proven to be a durable performer during his 12-year career, having appeared in 16 games for 11 straight seasons. Although the Colts are moving to a West Coast based offense, Wayne figures to once again approach 100 receptions, although another 1,300-yard season is likely a stretch. Consider him a mid- to lower-tier WR2 with little risk in 2013.
WR T.Y. Hilton
(2012 WR Rank – #25, 8.7 FPts/G; #31 PPR, 12.1 FPts/G)
As a 5’10”, 180-pound third-round pick playing with a rookie quarterback, not much was expected of Hilton in 2012. With Austin Collie unable to stay healthy, the Florida International speedster proved to be a quick study, however, hauling in 50 of his 90 passes for 861 yards and seven touchdowns in the Colts’ vertical passing attack. Those are impressive numbers for a rookie wide receiver and would generally lead you to expect more in future years. However, Bruce Arians has taken his playbook to Arizona and been replaced by Pep Hamilton, who will run a West Coast based offense that will maintain only some of Arians’ deep plays. That dampens Hilton’s fantasy prospects somewhat, but since the Colts are expected to remain a pass-heavy offense, he rates as a lower-tier WR3 in 2013. Just don’t expect much improvement on his production as a rookie.
WR Darrius Heyward-Bey
(2012 WR Rank – #50, 6.1 FPts/G; #56 PPR, 8.9 FPts/G)
After a disappointing four-year run in Oakland, Heyward-Bey, the seventh overall selection in the 2009 draft, brings his considerable athletic ability to the Colts. While DHB may be the fastest player in the league and has never averaged less than 13.8 yards per reception, he never developed into a consistent deep threat with the Raiders and does his best work on intermediate routes. He comes off a disappointing 2012 season in which he caught just 41 passes for 606 yards and five touchdowns after a career-year in 2011 with 975 yards. However, the Colts are expected to throw it plenty in 2013, and DHB’s good size and outstanding speed seem to be a solid fit in new offensive coordinator Pep Hamilton’s West Coast offense. Heyward-Bey is worth taking a flier on with a late-round pick in your fantasy draft.
WR LaVon Brazill
(2012 WR Rank – #119, 2.2 FPts/G; #124 PPR, 3.2 FPts/G)
While the Colts are high on their 2012 sixth-round pick, Brazill will miss the first four games of the season as a result of his suspension for violating the league’s substance abuse policy. That pretty much kills his fantasy value in 2013 since he was going to have a difficult time beating out free agent signee Darrius Heyward-Bey in training camp anyway. He is only worth owning in deep dynasty leagues.
TE Dwayne Allen
(2012 WR Rank – #23, 4.7 FPts/G; #25 PPR, 7.7 FPts/G)
As a rookie in 2012, Allen surprised league observers by hauling in 45 of his 66 targets for 521 yards and three touchdowns. Considered a pro-ready blocker but needing polish as a receiver, he supplanted fellow rookie Coby Fleener as the Colts’ main weapon at tight end even though Fleener was taken earlier in the draft. Since Allen is the superior blocker, he is expected to once again earn more playing time in 2013. With new offensive coordinator Pep Hamilton installing a West Coast based offense that features more passes to the team’s tight ends, Allen rates as a mid-tier TE2 with upside.
TE Coby Fleener
(2012 WR Rank – #39, 3.3 FPts/G; #38 PPR, 5.5 FPts/G)
Considered the premier pass-catching tight end prospect in the 2012 draft, Fleener was a disappointment as a rookie, missing four games and hauling in just 26 of his 48 targets for 281 yards and a pair of touchdowns. The truth is that he was on the verge of losing playing time to fellow rookie Dwayne Allen when a shoulder injury sent Fleener to the sideline starting in Week 9. Prior to the injury, he averaged 5.1 targets per game, but that declined to just 2.5 post-injury. And while Fleener was a big-play receiver at Stanford, he averaged just 10.8 yards per reception as a rookie. The only good news is that the Colts are moving to a West Coast based offense that should feature the team’s tight ends more in 2013. However, since Fleener will be splitting targets with Allen, he rates as a TE3 this season.
By: Mike Krueger — July 11, 2013 @ 8:28 am
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Player Projections, Rankings & Cheatsheets
Change Log – 7/11/13
It’s summer vacation time for the NFL so news remains stagnant. A few minor adjustments to the rankings this week.
- EJ Manuel (+1) – I still expect Kolb to be the starter Week 1 but starting to get the vibe Manuel will be on the field sooner rather than later.
- Jeremy Maclin (+1) – A slight uptick. I think he nudges out Jackson for receptions and yards in Philadelphia.
- Donnie Avery (-2) – Receiving yardage swap with Avery and McCluster.
- Travis Benjamin (+44) – Leader in the clubhouse to start first two games while Josh Gordon sits.
- Owen Daniels (+1) Daniels use in the red zone gives him a bump over Finley.
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