Fantasy Football Strategy, Advice, and Commentary
By: Dave Stringer — July 10, 2013 @ 3:09 pm
4000 passing yards won’t make you a fantasy elite QB.
QB Matt Schaub
(2012 QB Rank – #20, 18.0 FPts/G)
It has been three long years since Schaub’s career season in 2009 when he threw for 4,770 yards and 29 touchdowns. Since then, the Texans have morphed into the league’s top rushing team and Schaub has seen his passing statistics plummet. While in 2012 he topped 4,000 passing yards for the third time, he threw for just 22 touchdowns while averaging a pedestrian 18.0 PPG. With a dominant rushing attack and Schaub’s lack of mobility, he doesn’t contribute much in the way of rushing stats, with just four rushing touchdowns in his nine-year career. With both Andre Johnson and Owen Daniels advancing in age and the lack of a proven threat opposite Johnson, Schaub’s fantasy prospects for 2013 are lukewarm at best. Consider him a mid-tier QB2 with little upside. Remember that even if running back Arian Foster were to be lost to injury, super-sub Ben Tate would take over.
RB Arian Foster
(2012 RB Rank – #2, 16.6 FPts/G; #3 PPR, 19.1 FPts/G)
After totaling 1,114 touches over the past three years, including 391 last season, there are concerns that Foster is a candidate for a subpar, injury-riddled campaign in 2013. The naysayers will point out that his yards per carry have declined from 5.0 in 2010 to 4.4 in 2011 and to a career-low of 4.1 in 2012. Perhaps that would dictate more touches for backup Ben Tate. With the team having used a first-round pick to acquire wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins and with Andre Johnson posting a career-high 1,598 receiving yards in 2012, the Texans may decide to open things up in the passing game. Of course they’d have to ignore the fact that they have enjoyed most of their success using a run-based offense featuring Foster. To put it another way, would you put your Super Bowl aspirations on the shoulder of Foster or Matt Schaub? The bottom line is that the Texans will ride Foster as long as he remains healthy, and he has missed just three games over the past three seasons. A calf strain suffered in the offseason is cause for concern, but he will be ready for opening day. With 5,700 total yards and 47 touchdowns over the past three seasons, Foster’s upside is well known, and given his ability to remain healthy, his injury risk seems to be overstated. After Adrian Peterson, there is no better fantasy running back than Foster.
RB Ben Tate
(2012 RB Rank – #65, 4.1 FPts/G; #65 PPR, 5.1 FPts/G)
It has been a roller coaster ride for Tate during his first three years in the league. After missing all of his rookie season to an ankle injury, the Texans’ 2010 second-round pick burst onto the scene in 2011 with 942 rushing yards and four touchdowns. With expectations high in 2012, Tate crashed, missing five games to injury and earning double-digit touches in just two games all season. His production plummeted to 279 rushing yards, 49 receiving yards and just two touchdowns. Motivation should be high in 2013 as he enters a contract year and the chance to earn a starting spot with another team in 2014. That makes Tate a solid addition to your dynasty squad. In re-draft formats, Tate rates as a lower-tier RB3 and a must-have handcuff for Arian Foster owners. In leagues that use the flex option, Tate is a decent, if inconsistent, option.
WR Andre Johnson
(2012 WR Rank – #8, 11.5 FPts/G; #6 PPR, 18.5 FPts/G)
Entering 2012, expectations for Johnson were lowered due to a pair of injury-riddled seasons and his advancing age. He proved his skeptics wrong, topping 100 receptions for the fourth time in his career while reaching a career-high in receiving yards with 1,598. If there was blight on his season, it was his lack of touchdowns, as he found the end zone just four times, his lowest total in any season in which he played every game. Johnson will be 32 by opening day, so age and injury concerns will likely prevent him from being taken among the top five at WR in fantasy drafts. Those risks are somewhat offset by his lack of competition for touches in a Houston offense that has been unable to develop a solid threat opposite him. Johnson rates as a mid-tier WR1 because of his outstanding rebound season in 2012.
WR DeAndre Hopkins
(2012 WR Rank – N/A)
Because the Texans spent years trying to replace journeyman Kevin Walter, it’s easy to be skeptical of their offseason assertions that 2013 first-round pick DeAndre Hopkins is up to the task of providing a consistent threat opposite Andre Johnson. The Clemson product has good size at 6’1”, 214 pounds and displayed good hands in college, but he is more of an intermediate threat due to a lack of great deep speed. While that may limit his upside, he will see plenty of single coverage and has a clear path to a starting spot as a rookie with only the disappointing Lestar Jean in his way. That should mean plenty of opportunity for Hopkins, but the fact is that rookie receivers often struggle and the Texans are one the best rushing teams in the league—if not the best—and that limits his upside. With Andre Johnson not getting any younger, Hopkins is a solid option in dynasty leagues, but he is little more than a WR4 or WR5 in redraft leagues.
WR Lester Jean
(2012 WR Rank – #124, 3.0 FPts/G; #132 PPR, 3.9 FPts/G)
Given an opportunity to battle Kevin Walter for a starting spot last season, the 6’3”, 215-pound Jean fell flat, catching six passes for 151 yards and a touchdown while starting one game. The path to a starting spot isn’t so kind in 2013 with first-round pick DeAndre Hopkins the Texans’ likely starter opposite Andre Johnson. If there is any saving grace for Jean’s fantasy prospects, it is that second-year player DeVier Posey could be headed to the PUP list to open the season. Look for the speedster Jean to open the season as Houston’s top backup wideout with Keshawn Martin the main option out of the slot. Unless injury strikes one of the Texans starters early, Jean isn’t worth owning in most leagues.
WR Keshawn Martin
(2012 WR Rank – #128, 1.5 FPts/G; #127 PPR, 2.3 FPts/G)
Martin was mildly productive as a slot receiver for the Texans as a rookie in 2012. The 5’11, 190-pound Michigan State product caught 10 passes for 85 yards and a score despite not seeing regular playing time. Unfortunately, it took him 28 targets to haul in those ten passes, and that’s an unconscionably bad completion percentage for a slot receiver. More shifty than fast, Martin has little potential playing in a Texans offense that doesn’t regularly utilize a slot receiver and is loaded with plenty of young wide receiver prospects that possess more upside than he does.
WR DeVier Posey
(2012 WR Rank – #147, 1.4 FPts/G; #145 PPR, 2.4 FPts/G)
The Texans’ 2012 third-round pick was mostly a bust as a rookie until coming on somewhat late in the season, catching at least one pass in Houston’s final four regular-season games, as well as a touchdown in the playoffs. Unfortunately, a ruptured Achilles suffered in the playoffs makes him a candidate to open the 2013 season on the PUP list. With solid size and better-than-average speed, Posey has the potential to emerge as a weapon for the Texans, but with first-round pick DeAndre Hopkins now on board, he isn’t worthy of a spot on your fantasy roster.
TE Owen Daniels
(2012 WR Rank – #8, 7.2 FPts/G; #9 PPR, 11.3 FPts/G)
Last year we told you that it was time to give up hope that Daniels would regain the elite form he displayed over the first half of the 2009 season before suffering a torn ACL. While it seems pretty certain that Daniels, at 30 years of age, won’t regain that form, he played surprisingly well in 2012, hauling in 62 receptions for 716 yards and six touchdowns, a career high. With the Texans once again having issues at wide receiver opposite Andre Johnson, Daniels was targeted a career-high 104 times. While the team is high on first-round pick DeAndre Hopkins, the truth is that Houston still does not have a proven threat to play alongside Johnson, and that makes Daniels a lower-tier TE1 in 2013.
By: Dave Stringer — July 8, 2013 @ 12:56 am
QB Joe Flacco
(2012 QB Rank – #15, 18.7 FPts/G)
While Flacco may have added Super Bowl winning starting quarterback to his resume during the 2012 season, he has been a bit of a fantasy football tease over the past several seasons. Breakout seasons have been predicted for him but that has failed to materialize with Flacco failing to top 4,000 passing yards during his five-year career and managing a career-high 25 passing touchdowns back in 2010. With Anquan Boldin now in San Francisco and his spot being taken over by Jacoby Jones and an assortment of middling prospects, Flacco isn’t headed towards that elusive breakout season in 2013. While he had a wonderful playoff run under the tutelage of Jim Caldwell, who took over for Cam Cameron with three games left in the regular season, you would have to be wearing rose colored glasses to take him as your QB1. Given the lack of receiving weapons in Baltimore, Flacco is a mid-tier QB2 this season.
Rice ranks #2 in consistency among RBs over the last two years.
RB Ray Rice
(2012 RB Rank – #6, 13.9 FPts/G; #4 PPR, 17.7 FPts/G)
Despite having topped 2,000 total yards twice in four seasons with the Ravens and having never missed a game during that span, Rice’s fantasy value is taking a hit in 2013. That is because of the emergence of his backup, Bernard Pierce. Pierce had a healthy 115 touches as a rookie in 2012, including 77 in the Ravens last six games (counting the team’s four playoff appearances). While Rice may not be a candidate to be a top five fantasy back or to top 2,000 yards this season, he does has a very high floor. Last season, he totaled 1,143 rushing yards and 478 receiving yards while scoring a total of ten touchdowns and with question marks at wide receiver, he should approach that production once again in 2013. That would translate into mid-tier RB1 production, not to mention a very safe option given his lack of injury history.
RB Bernard Pierce
(2012 RB Rank – #50, 4.3 FPts/G; #58 PPR, 4.7 FPts/G)
The knock on Pierce coming out of Temple as a 3rd round pick in 2012 was that, despite having good size at 6’0” and 218 pounds, he too often avoided contact and that he couldn’t stay healthy. Becoming a Raven apparently changed all that. Pierce was a force as a rookie, gaining 532 yards and scoring once on 108 touches as he muscled a decent number of opportunities away from one of the league’s top running backs (Ray Rice). Pierce put a stranglehold on the backup running back position in Baltimore and off-season whispers were that he could carve out a larger role in 2013 provided he improves as a receiver and pass protector. Consider Pierce a mid-tier RB4, a must have handcuff to Rice and a potential flex option in 12-team leagues in 2012. We also like his dynasty potential.
RB Anthony Allen
(2012 RB Rank – #113, 2.2 FPts/G; #118 PPR, 2.6 FPts/G)
While the Ravens may be fond of Allen, their 2011 7th round pick, he lost the battle to Bernard Pierce to be the team’s backup running back in 2012 and let’s just say that Pierce has an iron grip on that job. One thing Pierce did prove is that the Ravens are willing to lighten Ray Rice’s workload provided there is a competent backup in place and that means that Allen has some value if either Rice or Pierce were to miss extended time. He is a 230-pound bowling ball who could be productive in short yardage situations if given an opportunity.
WR Torrey Smith
(2012 WR Rank – #23, 8.4 FPts/G; #28 PPR, 11.5 FPts/G)
It didn’t take Smith long to emerge as the 2011 2nd round pick out of Maryland hauled in 50 of his 95 targets for 841 yards and seven touchdowns as a rookie. That put him on the map for a true breakout season in 2012 but that failed to materialize as he caught just 49 of his 110 targets for 855 yards and eight touchdowns. Blessed with blazing speed, the 6’0”, 205 pound Smith takes over in 2013 as the Ravens lead receiver with Anquan Boldin having left town. It remains to be seen whether that will cure Smith of the maddening inconsistency that has been a hallmark of his first two years in the league (16 games with five or fewer fantasy points). Given his size, there are serious concerns about his ability to be a consistent threat on intermediate routes but the upcoming season should provide answers given that the next most talented wide receiver on the roster is Jacoby Jones. That should translate into plenty of targets for Smith. Consider him a mid-tier WR2 with upside.
WR Jacoby Jones
(2012 WR Rank – #86, 3.0 FPts/G; #84 PPR, 4.8 FPts/G)
If Ravens general manager Ozzie Newsome had played fantasy football for a few seasons, you can bet your bottom dollar that he wouldn’t have allowed Jones to enter the season as the Ravens starter for the departed Anquan Boldin. Jones has top end athletic ability and outstanding speed but he has never proven to be a consistent threat as a receiver during his six-year career. He had a career-year with Houston in 2010, catching 51 passes for 562 yards and three touchdowns. His athletic ability may hint at the potential for a breakout season but his 2010 production is more likely what fantasy owners can expect in 2013. Considering there is a chance that the Ravens may limit his reps on offense in order to keep him fresh as a returner, Jones is waiver wire material in most leagues and it won’t be a surprise if he lost his starting spot at some point in 2013.
WR Tommy Streeter
(2012 WR Rank – N/A)
Streeter, a 2012 6th round pick, is a physical beast at 6’5”, 219 pounds and capable of running a 4.40 40-yard dash. Unfortunately, he missed all of his rookie season with a sprained foot and if that seems a little odd, it is because we can safely conclude that the Ravens used that training camp injury as an opportunity to stash the raw Streeter on injured reserve. The University of Miami product is one of a cast of thousands fighting to become the Ravens lead backup receiver in 2013. Provided he wins that role, he is worth stashing on your dynasty roster given Jacoby Jones’ limitations as a starting receiver.
WR Deonte Thompson
(2012 WR Rank – N/A)
A 2012 undrafted free agent out of Florida, Thompson appeared in three games as a rookie, hauling in five of his six targets for 51 yards. The 6’0”, 200 pound speedster, who has been timed at under 4.3 in the 40-yard dash, will battle Tommy Streeter, Tandon Doss, David Reed and rookie 7th round pick Aaron Mellette for a spot on the Ravens depth chart at wide receiver in 2013. While offseason reports indicate that the Ravens are high on Thompson, he will need to have an impressive preseason to lock down the lead backup role behind starters Torrey Smith and Jacoby Jones. If he does that, he is worth grabbing for your dynasty roster.
WR Tandon Doss
(2012 WR Rank – #132, 2.3 FPts/G; #137 PPR, 3.2 FPts/G)
Doss, the Ravens 2011 4th round pick, has done precious little as a receiver during his first two years in the league, failing to catch a pass as a rookie and hauling in just seven of his 17 targets for 123 yards and a score last season. While offseason reports indicate that Doss ran as the team’s third receiver, it won’t be a surprise if he is relegated to a special teams role in 2013 given the superior upside of his competition for a roster spot.
WR David Reed
(2012 WR Rank – #153, 6.9 FPts/G; #152 PPR, 5.8 FPts/G)
In three seasons, the Ravens 2010 5th round pick has hauled in five receptions for 66 yards – all of it in 2012. Why is this guy even worthy of a player outlook, you are asking? Well, it’s not like the Ravens have a proven backup amongst their wide receiver depth chart other than Jacoby Jones but Jones is penciled in to start. That opens the door a tiny crack for Reed to emerge.
TE Dennis Pitta
(2012 WR Rank – #7, 6.8 FPts/G; #8 PPR, 10.6 FPts/G)
It took the Ravens a while but in 2012 they finally figured out that Pitta should be their preferred option as a receiving tight end ahead of the higher drafted Ed Dickson. While Pitta is hardly the athletic marvel that some of the league’s top tight ends are, he had a solid season as a secondary receiving option, hauling in 61 of his 94 targets for 669 yards and seven touchdowns – all career highs. With Anquan Boldin in San Francisco and the Ravens starting a pair of speedsters at wide receiver in Torrey Smith and Jacoby Jones, look for Pitta to do the heavy lifting on short and intermediate routes and that should lessen the inconsistent usage he had last season. With his target count almost assuredly to rise, Pitta ranks at the upper tier of the second wave of fantasy tight ends with very good upside.
TE Ed Dickson
(2012 WR Rank – #49, 2.0 FPts/G; #48 PPR, 4.0 FPts/G)
If there is any hope for Dickson’s fantasy prospects in 2013, it is that the team will move to using two-tight end sets as their base formation. Otherwise, it is pretty clear that Dickson has been usurped by Dennis Pitta as the Ravens main receiving weapon at tight end. After a solid 2011 season with 54 receptions for 528 yards and five touchdowns replacing Todd Heap, Dickson crashed landed in 2012, seeing his production plummet to 21 receptions for 225 yards and no touchdowns. He is best left on the waiver wire in 2013 redraft leagues but could be worthy of a roster spot in larger dynasty leagues given his talent level.
By: Dave Stringer — July 5, 2013 @ 11:00 am
QB Ben Roethlisberger
(2012 QB Rank – #21, 21.3 FPts/G)
Roethlisberger: On the decline?
With Big Ben, the question is which story do you believe? Is he the 31-year-old entrenched superstar coming off a superb season in which he threw for 3,265 yards with 26 touchdowns and just eight interceptions in only 13 games? The one who would have put up even greater numbers if not for three missed games, subpar play along the offensive line, Mike Wallace’s holdout and Antonio Brown’s injury issues? Or is he the declining veteran who has failed to play all 16 games since the 2008 season and who figures to struggle in 2013, given Wallace’s departure and tight end Heath Miller’s questionable health as he returns from a torn ACL suffered late last season? While Roethlisberger figures to benefit from having a year of experience in offensive coordinator Todd Haley’s offense, there is no denying that the team has major issues at wide receiver and tight end, and an improved depth chart at running back. Pittsburgh’s talent level would seem to dictate a more balanced run/pass ratio in 2013, and that doesn’t bode well for Roethlisberger’s fantasy prospects. While he has been rated as a lower-tier QB1 or upper-tier QB2 for several seasons, he enters 2013 as a lower-tier QB2 because of his injury issues and the question marks among his receiving core.
RB Le’Veon Bell
(2012 RB Rank – N/A)
With Rashard Mendenhall having played and talked his way out of Pittsburgh and Isaac Redman and Jonathan Dwyer having failed to prove themselves worthy of handling the lead running back role, the Steelers chose Michigan State’s Le’Veon Bell in the second round of this year’s draft. The 6’1”, 244-pound Bell had a productive collegiate career, excelling both as a rusher and a receiver with the Spartans. Although he has solid size, the knock on Bell in college was that he too often tried to dance his way around defenders rather than just running over them. He will need to correct that to succeed in the NFL given his lack of ideal speed. However, there is no denying that Pittsburgh was an ideal landing spot for Bell because of their propensity for relying on large running backs that can move the pile, and their lack of talent on the depth chart at running back. Bell should land the starting spot on opening day and, given the young talent on the offensive line and the question marks among the receivers, he should be considered an upper-tier RB2 in 2013.
RB Isaac Redman
(2012 RB Rank – #44, 5.5 FPts/G; #44 PPR, 6.9 FPts/G)
Much like Jonathan Dwyer, Redman failed to make the most of a solid opportunity in 2012. After looking like a potential starter while backing up Rashard Mendenhall in 2011, Redman spent 2012 proving that he wasn’t worthy of fulfilling that role. With rookie Le’Veon Bell tabbed to start, Redman will need to fend off Dwyer to earn the backup role. Given his superior pass-catching and blocking ability, look for Redman to earn that job; but his 2012 production makes him one of the league’s lower-rated handcuffs. His yards per carry dropped to 3.7 and he managed just two touchdowns despite his solid size. Consider Redman a RB4 or RB5 in 2013.
RB Jonathan Dwyer
(2012 RB Rank – #40, 6.5 FPts/G; #40 PPR, 7.9 FPts/G)
After earning just 25 carries in his first two seasons, Dwyer, the Steelers sixth-round pick in 2010, opened 2012 in a timeshare with Isaac Redman while Rashard Mendenhall recovered from a torn ACL. That move failed to pay off for the Steelers as Dwyer continued to confound the organization with his inconsistency. While he looked the part at times, he failed to lock down a starting position and the organization used a second-round pick to acquire Le’Veon Bell in the 2013 draft. With reports indicating that the Steelers were looking to trade Dwyer, it’s clear his roster spot is in jeopardy. He will need to beat out former Cardinal LaRod Stephens-Howling—provided he isn’t traded before opening day.
RB LaRod Stephens-Howling
(2012 RB Rank – #46, 6.5 FPts/G; #47 PPR, 6.2 FPts/G)
After they jettisoned scatback Chris Rainey, the Steelers signed Stephens-Howling to provide receiving depth out of the backfield. In his four years in the desert, Stephens-Howling provided a few big plays but failed to earn consistent playing time. He’s not big enough to be a successful inside runner and his 17 receptions in 2012 were a career-high. There’s no upside here, folks.
WR Antonio Brown
(2012 WR Rank – #37, 8.5 FPts/G; #32 PPR, 13.6 FPts/G)
Forced to deal with a tight salary cap situation, the Steelers chose to let Mike Wallace sign with the Dolphins, thereby elevating Antonio Brown to their lead receiving position despite his struggles during the 2012 season. Their decision to sign Brown to a lucrative contract extension when they had not yet done the same for the more talented Wallace could be a decision the team regrets for years to come. In Brown the Steelers have a 5’10”, 186-pound receiver who excels in running intermediate routes and can gain yards after the catch but lacks Wallace’s deep speed. After a breakout season with 1,108 receiving yards in 2011, Brown’s production plunged this past season, as he hauled in just 66 receptions for 787 yards and five touchdowns. That isn’t the type of production most teams expect from their lead receiver, although a high ankle sprain did cause Brown to miss three games and likely hindered his play in several others. Looking forward to 2013, Brown’s production will be impacted by the extra attention he will receive from opposing defenses and his ability to outplay the league’s top cornerbacks. He shapes up as a lower-tier WR2.
WR Emmanuel Sanders
(2012 WR Rank – #64, 4.3 FPts/G; #66 PPR, 7.1 FPts/G)
After three largely lackluster seasons, Sanders will move into the Steelers starting lineup for the first time. The 2010 third-round pick will take over for the departed Mike Wallace, and Pittsburgh is hoping his deep speed can deliver some big plays and keep opposing defenses from stacking the box on early downs. While Sanders has the speed, he lacks ideal size at 5’11” and 180 pounds and has scored just five touchdowns in his career. His best season came in 2012 as he was healthy for all 16 games for the first time and set career highs in receptions (44) and yards (626) while finding the end zone once. The Steelers are hoping he can build on that production as his targets take a leap upward from the 74 he had last season. The opportunity is there for Sanders, but it feels like it found him more than he found it. Consider him a lower-tier WR4 in 2013.
WR Markus Wheaton
(2012 WR Rank – N/A)
Having failed to re-sign starting wide receiver Mike Wallace, the Steelers used a third-round pick to acquire Wheaton, the 5’11”, 182-pound Oregon State product who is expected to open the season backing up Antonio Brown and Emmanuel Sanders. Wheaton has outstanding speed and the ability to make defenders miss, making him an excellent fit in offensive coordinator Todd Haley’s passing attack. To earn playing time as a rookie, Wheaton will need to unseat a pair of veterans in Plaxico Burress and Jerricho Cotchery. While that may not happen by opening day, look for Wheaton to become the team’s top backup by midseason—although Burress will likely fill that role in the red zone, provided he makes the team. While Wheaton isn’t worth owning in redraft formats, he is an excellent dynasty league prospect given that Sanders is working on a one-year contract.
WR Plaxico Burress
(2012 WR Rank – N/A)
If there is one thing that Randy Moss’s 2012 comeback with San Francisco taught us, it’s that aging wide receivers that have missed extensive time don’t produce. While Burress may earn some red zone time and snag a few touchdowns, he has very little fantasy value in 2013.
TE Heath Miller
(2012 WR Rank – #4, 8.6 FPts/G; #4 PPR, 13.4 FPts/G)
After a pair of middling seasons in 2010 and 2011, Miller appeared to be a spent force entering 2012. However, at age 29, he proved his doubters wrong by having the best season of his eight-year career. Miller had career highs in yards (816) and touchdowns (8) while hauling in 71 receptions, the second highest total of his career. While that production would generally make for a mid-tier TE1, Miller suffered a torn ACL two days before Christmas and is unlikely to be ready for opening day. A spot on the PUP is possible, perhaps even likely, and it may take him much of 2013 to get back to where he was last season, if it happens at all. The truth is that Miller is only worth owning in larger leagues as a TE2 or TE3. He might be worth stashing on your roster in dynasty formats if the price is right.
By: Mike Krueger — July 4, 2013 @ 9:55 am
Player Projections, Rankings & Cheatsheets
Change Log – 7/4/13
Not a lot of changes in this update as news has been slow in the NFL world this past week. Training camps are scheduled for the end of the month.
- Michael Vick (-1) – The Eagles continue to play up the QB competition between Vick and Nick Foles, but I’d be shocked if Vick doesn’t get the starting nod in Week 1.
- Danny Woodhead (+3) – Woodhead has sleeper PPR value and should play in the majority of third-down situations for the Chargers.
- Dexter McCluster (+1) – Head coach Andy Reid has always been a fan of McCluster.
- Montario Hardesty (+5) – Hardesty heads into training camp as the backup to Richardson in Cleveland.
- Larry Fitzgerald (+2) – Getting more optimistic about Fitz’s return to WR1 territory.
- Donnie Avery (-2) – Receiving yardage swap with Avery and McCluster.
By: Dave Stringer — July 3, 2013 @ 10:18 am
QB Andy Dalton
(2012 QB Rank – #12, 20.5 FPts/G)
The truth of the matter is that during his two years in the league, Dalton has proven to be a much better player in real football terms than as a fantasy player. With two straight trips to the postseason under his leadership, the Bengals can’t be disappointed with having used a second-round pick to acquire the Texas Christian product in the 2011 draft. The question is whether he is ready to make a fantasy leap forward in 2013. Comments from the team’s management and coaching staff clearly indicate they want Dalton to take more chances this season in hopes of propelling the team deeper into the postseason (they have lost in the wild card round in each of their playoff appearances). With the superlative A.J. Green at wide receiver, as well as numerous young players that could emerge, a pair of pass-catching tight ends, and a new pass-catching option at running back in rookie second-round pick Giovani Bernard, Dalton has plenty of options to throw to. Include one of the league’s better offensive lines, and it’s clear that Dalton is surrounded by plenty of talent in Cincinnati. We’re just going to have to see it happen before we draft him as a QB1. Consider Dalton a mid-tier QB2 with upside in 2013.
RB BenJarvus Green-Ellis
(2012 RB Rank – #19, 10.4 FPts/G; #22 PPR, 11.9 FPts/G)
Having moved on from Cedric Benson, the Bengals signed BenJarvus Green-Ellis prior to the 2012 season and he had a solid first season in Cincinnati. Green-Ellis topped 1,000 rushing yards for the second time in his five-year career, finishing with 1,094 yards and six touchdowns. He doesn’t offer much wiggle as a rusher and also lacks top-end speed, but he gets what is blocked and rarely fumbles (the two fumbles he had in 2012 were the first two of his career). Given Green-Ellis’s limitations, it was no surprise when the Bengals used a second-round pick on Giovani Bernard, but his acquisition didn’t torpedo Green-Ellis’s fantasy value since they are completely different runners. Look for Green-Ellis to retain his starting role but see his touches drop to the 250 range from the 300 he had last year. That should be good enough for him to finish 2013 as a mid-tier RB3.
RB Giovani Bernard
(2012 RB Rank – N/A)
Lacking playmaking speed out of the backfield, the Bengals used the 37th pick in the 2013 draft on Giovani Bernard, making him the first running back taken. The 5’10”, 205-pound North Carolina product is expected to open the season working as a change-of-pace back and as the team’s main receiving weapon out of the backfield. However, BenJarvus Green-Ellis’s limitations are well known, so Bernard figures to have an opportunity to earn an increased role as the season progresses. For that to happen, Bernard will need to avoid turning the ball over and become a more physical runner between the tackles. Look for him to earn a bigger split of the work in the Bengals backfield as the season progresses but to remain in a complimentary role to Green-Ellis for all of 2013. That makes him a great flex option with upside as a low-end RB3.
RB Bernard Scott
(2012 RB Rank – #135, 1.8 FPts/G; #139 PPR, 1.8 FPts/G)
During the 2012 offseason, the Bengals signed free agent running back BenJarvus Green-Ellis from the New England Patriots. During the 2013 offseason, Cincinnati used a second-round pick to acquire North Carolina speedster Giovani Bernard. Do you think the writing is on the wall for Scott? After four largely non-descript seasons in Cincinnati and a 2012 season in which injuries forced him to miss 14 games, Scott was forced to re-sign with the Bengals after failing to receive a decent offer from one of the league’s other 31 teams. He will battle Cedric Peerman and sixth-round pick Rex Burkhead for a roster spot in 2013.
RB Cedric Peerman
(2012 RB Rank – #69, 4.0 FPts/G; #72 PPR, 4.9 FPts/G)
Peerman has kicked around the league for the last four seasons, contributing mostly on special teams. While he has looked good in preseason contests, he failed to earn much playing time until last season when he stepped in for an injured Bernard Scott to back up BenJarvus Green-Ellis. He was surprisingly solid, gaining 258 yards and a touchdown on just 36 carries while averaging 7.2 yards per carry. He also caught all nine of his targets for another 85 yards. While Peerman isn’t worth drafting, there is an outside chance he could emerge as a flex option if starter Green-Ellis were lost to injury.
RB Rex Burkhead
(2012 RB Rank – N/A)
While Burkhead lacks the athleticism to emerge as a starting running back, the Nebraska product has solid chance to earn a position on the Bengals roster as a rookie. The sixth-round pick will battle the disappointing Bernard Scott and veteran journeyman Cedric Peerman for a roster spot. If he wins a spot, he might be worth grabbing in dynasty leagues given BenJarvus Green-Ellis’s limitations as a rusher. If rookie second-round pick Giovani Bernard emerges as a starter, the Bengals may not wish to pay the tab required to keep the Law Firm around as a backup, and Burkhead’s game very much resembles his.
A candidate for the second best wideout behind Calvin Johnson.
WR A.J. Green
(2012 WR Rank – #4, 12.8 FPts/G; #3 PPR, 18.9 FPts/G)
After putting together a Pro Bowl season as a rookie in 2011 with 65 receptions for 1,057 yards and seven touchdowns in 15 games, more was expected of A.J. Green last season, and it’s safe to say the Bengals weren’t disappointed. The 24-year old Georgia product scored ten touchdowns in his first ten games on his way to a 97-reception, 1,350-yard, 11-touchdown season. The sky is the limit for Green and he is in the conversation as the league’s second best wide receiver behind the Lions’ Calvin Johnson. In fact, if not for the other contenders having more proven quarterbacks throwing them the ball, there might not be any conversation as to who is Johnson’s heir apparent as the league’s next top receiver. Unfortunately, Andy Dalton’s arm strength and lack of deep ball accuracy hold Green back a bit. Consider Green a lock to be a top five WR in 2013, and don’t be surprised if he winds up second.
WR Mohamed Sanu
(2012 WR Rank – #94, 6.8 FPts/G; #101 PPR, 9.5 FPts/G)
The book on Sanu coming out of Rutgers as a third-round pick in the 2012 draft was that he was an outstanding possession receiver with good hands. With 16 receptions for 154 yards and four touchdowns in nine games, Sanu proved he was a solid red zone target before a stress fracture in his left foot ended his season. While Sanu hauled in 11 passes for 98 yards and four touchdowns in his final four games as the Bengals made a clear decision to get him more involved, it is hard to get very excited by a possession receiver who is big but not that big (6’2”, 210 pounds), lacks speed and playmaking ability (9.6 yards per receptions) and plays in an offense that added skill position players in the first and second rounds of the draft (tight end Tyler Eifert and running back Giovani Bernard). Did we mention that his starting position isn’t even guaranteed? There are many mouths to feed in Cincinnati, and since one of those mouths is A.J. Green’s, we feel there are better players worth taking a flier on in 2013 than Sanu.
WR Marvin Jones
(2012 WR Rank – #106, 3.9 FPts/G; #110 PPR, 6.1 FPts/G)
Entering the league as a fifth-round pick in the 2012 draft, Jones had a good opportunity to earn significant playing time due to the lack of experienced options to play opposite A.J. Green. Unfortunately, the 6’3”, 200-pound California product was largely disappointing, hauling in just 18 receptions for 201 yards and a score through eleven games, which included five starts. Jones finished the season strongly, however, catching 10 passes for 110 yards and a score in his final two games. He has more upside as a receiver than his main competition, fellow second-year player Mohamed Sanu, but the Bengals seem content to roll with a possession receiver at that No. 2 spot. Monitor Jones’ preseason progress, but at this point he is waiver-wire material in redraft leagues.
WR Andrew Hawkins
(2012 WR Rank – #61, 5.7 FPts/G; #57 PPR, 9.4 FPts/G)
While Hawkins took a circuitous route to the NFL, spending a pair of seasons in the CFL, he has developed into a solid slot receiver during his two years in Cincinnati. After a decent rookie season, Hawkins emerged in 2012, hauling in 51 receptions for 533 yards and four touchdowns, totals good enough to rank second among Cincinnati’s wide receivers. Unfortunately for Hawkins, the odds are stacked against his replicating those numbers in 2013. The team added pass-catching tight end Tyler Eifert in the first round, and they are looking for second-year wide receivers Mohamed Sanu and Marvin Jones to take a step forward. Hawkins isn’t worth owning in 2013.
WR Brandon Tate
(2012 WR Rank – #112, 2.3 FPts/G; #119 PPR, 3.3 FPts/G)
Despite flashing his playmaking skills on the practice field and as a returner during his time in Cincinnati, Tate has failed to earn consistent playing time in the team’s offense. With a pile of first- and second-year players to compete against for playing time, look for Tate to once again be relegated to a return-game role in 2013.
TE Jermaine Gresham
(2012 WR Rank – #10, 6.5 FPts/G; #10 PPR, 10.5 FPts/G)
Entering 2012, expectations were high for the Bengals’ 2010 first rounder, with Jay Gruden bringing his version of the West Coast offense to Cincinnati. While Gresham increased his receptions and yardage totals for the third straight season, finishing the year with 64 catches for 737 yards and five touchdowns, there remains a lingering feeling that he is capable of much more. Unfortunately, with the addition of first-round pick Tyler Eifert to bolster the position, Gresham’s outstanding athleticism doesn’t seem likely to translate into solid fantasy production in 2013. While the Bengals lack a proven threat opposite A.J. Green at wide receiver, and while Gresham has the talent to emerge as an upper-tier TE, he is best drafted as a TE2 once again in 2013.
TE Tyler Eifert
(2012 WR Rank – N/A)
With Germaine Gresham having failed to elevate his game during his first three years in the league, the Bengals used a first-round pick on pass-catching tight end Tyler Eifert. The Notre Dame product has solid athleticism and the speed to get deep and has excelled in the red zone in college, making him a worthy selection for a team looking to add playmakers on offense. While Eifert is a solid pro prospect and an outstanding addition to your dynasty squad, the fact is that Gresham has played well enough to retain his starting job. In addition, neither player can be considered an upper-tier blocker, which means there are no guarantees they will spent the majority of the time on the field together. Don’t expect Eifert to establish himself as a fantasy option in his rookie season.
By: Dave Stringer — July 1, 2013 @ 10:49 am
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QB Brandon Weeden
(2012 QB Rank – #25, 15.8 FPts/G)
After a middling rookie season in which he threw for 3,385 yards with 14 touchdowns and 17 interceptions, Weeden will enter training camp in a fight to keep his starting job. New head coach Rob Chudzinski and offensive coordinator Norv Turner will run a vertical passing attack, which should play to Weeden’s strengths. However, he will need to display better decision-making skills if he is to beat out veteran free agent acquisition Jason Campbell. In fairness to Weeden, the Browns lacked consistent playmakers at the skill positions last season and Pat Shurmur’s West Coast offense wasn’t suited to his skill set. In 2013, the Browns will feature better weapons on offense as a result of the addition of Davone Bess and the continued development of players such as Josh Gordon, Greg Little and Jordan Cameron. Weeden shapes up as a QB3 on draft day.
QB Jason Campbell
(2012 QB Rank – #43, 4.8 FPts/G)
After a second consecutive offseason with no starting jobs on offer, Campbell decided to join the Browns where he will compete with Brandon Weeden to be the team’s starting quarterback. Unfortunately for Campbell, he is little more than a fallback option at this point of his career. Look for the Browns to hand the starting job to Weeden, with Campbell in reserve if he falters. While Campbell may earn a couple of starts in 2013, he isn’t likely to be much of a fantasy factor.
Richardson stayed productive despite knee and rib issues in 2012.
RB Trent Richardson
(2012 RB Rank – #9, 13.6 FPts/G; #8 PPR, 17.0 FPts/G)
While most rookie running backs haven’t lived up to their offseason billing over the past few years, Trent Richardson certainly bucked that trend in 2012. The Browns runner had a solid rookie season, rushing for 950 yards and 11 touchdowns while catching 51 passes for 367 yards and another score. He managed to stay productive while playing through knee and rib injuries—issues that caused him to average a somewhat disappointing 3.6 yards per carry, although Cleveland’s porous offensive line also contributed in that regard. The injury issues continued this offseason with Richardson missing time with a shin injury that should be fully healed by training camp. Just one year into his career, Richardson has already proven that he has the potential to be an elite, workhorse running back, provided he can stay healthy. He excels as a short-yardage runner, is already one of the league’s better pass-catching backs and is obviously a solid runner, both inside and outside the tackles. Let’s just hope his career doesn’t parallel that of Steven Jackson, another do-it-all, workhorse back who was saddled with an inferior team for the majority of his career. Consider Richardson a mid-tier RB1 who is a bit of an injury risk.
RB Montario Hardesty
(2012 RB Rank – #75, 3.5 FPts/G; #89 PPR, 3.7 FPts/G)
A 2010 second-round pick, Hardesty suffered a season-ending injury during the preseason of his rookie year and produced little in 2011 and 2012. He was marginally more productive last season, averaging 4.2 yards per carry on 65 rushes and scoring once. But of course the injury bug bit him again, causing him to miss the first five games of the season as well as another contest. In his three years in the league, he has played in 20 games and missed 28 due to injury. There are no guarantees he will earn a spot on the Browns’ roster, let alone get significant touches behind Trent Richardson. If he wins the backup job, he rates as a lower-tier handcuff.
RB Dion Lewis
(2012 RB Rank – #109, 2.6 FPts/G; #117 PPR, 2.9 FPts/G)
The Browns traded for the Eagles’ 2011 fifth-round pick this past offseason to provide some competition for the backup running back spots behind starter Trent Richardson. Lewis saw precious little playing time during his two years in Philadelphia and isn’t a lock to be on the Browns’ roster come opening day. He will likely need to earn a spot on special teams in order to beat out one or more of Montario Hardesty, Chris Ogbonnaya and Brandon Jackson.
RB Chris Ogbonnaya
(2012 RB Rank – #94, 2.0 FPts/G; #75 PPR, 4.2 FPts/G)
After a pair of solid performances subbing as a starter in 2011, Ogbonnaya was an afterthought in 2012 with just 32 touches. He subbed on third downs and was reasonably productive as a receiver with 24 receptions for 187 yards. Ogbonnaya has decent size at 225 pounds but he doesn’t posses good speed and has little ability to make defenders miss. He will battle Montario Hardesty to be Trent Richardson’s backup, but that’s not a role that will provide many touches. He is only worth owning in large leagues, provided he wins the backup role.
RB Brandon Jackson
(2012 RB Rank – #122, 3.7 FPts/G; #130 PPR, 4.7 FPts/G)
Yep, Brandon Jackson is still kicking round. After four mostly subpar years in Green Bay, Jackson signed with Cleveland prior to the 2012 season but he barely saw the field. Jackson is little more than injury insurance at this stage of his career.
WR Josh Gordon
(2012 WR Rank – #38, 6.9 FPts/G; #40 PPR, 10.0 FPts/G)
The Browns used a second-round pick in the 2012 supplemental draft to acquire Gordon, and the expectation was that he would spend most of his rookie season in a complimentary role. Considered a raw prospect coming out of Baylor, the 6’3”, 225-pound Gordon had a surprisingly productive rookie season, hauling in 50 of his 95 targets for 805 yards and five touchdowns. His 16.1 average yards per reception was impressive and Gordon appeared on the verge of providing the Browns with their first true No. 1 wide receiver since they re-entered the league. However, a two-game suspension damped those expectations and clouded his future in Cleveland since another positive drug test will result in a 16-game suspension. While that may prevent the Browns from offering a lucrative long-term deal when his rookie contract expires, it doesn’t have a major impact on his 2013 fantasy prospects. With the Browns moving to a vertical passing attack that suits his physical abilities, Gordon could still top 1,000 receiving yards despite the suspension. Consider him a high-end WR with major upside this season.
WR Greg Little
(2012 WR Rank – #51, 5.6 FPts/G; #50 PPR, 9.0 FPts/G)
At 6’2” and 231 pounds with solid speed, Little looks the part of a potential No. 1 wide receiver. Unfortunately, he hasn’t produced like one despite being given ample opportunities. This is likely his last season to prove to the Browns that he is a worthy starter. After a rookie season in which he caught just 61 of his 120 targets for 709 yards and a pair of scores, Little showed little improvement in 2013, hauling in 53 passes for 647 yards and four touchdowns. He has displayed inconsistent hands and very little impact as a deep receiver. And that’s a relevant factor since new head coach Rob Chudzinski and offensive coordinator Norv Turner run a vertical passing attack. Little has the physical abilities to be a solid receiver and he is entering his third year in the league, so he is definitely worth taking a flier on. Consider him a WR4 with upside in 2013.
WR Davone Bess
(2012 WR Rank – #58, 6.4 FPts/G; #50 PPR, 11.1 FPts/G)
After five years in the league, Bess’s upside is pretty well known. If you’re looking for 50 receptions, he’s accomplished that feat every year. If you’re looking for over 500 yards, he’s done that every year. Unfortunately, his career highs of 820 receiving yards and five touchdowns aren’t enough to get anyone excited. He brings his act to Cleveland this season and we can expect more of the same in 2013. Bess is a solid slot receiver but he lacks speed and playmaking ability. He rates as a WR6 in 2013, and you can move him up a tad in PPR leagues.
WR David Nelson
(2012 WR Rank – #167, 3.1 FPts/G; #167 PPR, 5.1 FPts/G)
After a solid second season in the league in 2011, with 61 receptions for 658 yards and five touchdowns, Nelson appeared to have a good future in Buffalo. A torn ACL in Week 1 ended his 2012 season, however, and the Bills chose not to tender him as an RFA. He joined the Browns this offseason and will enter training camp fourth on the depth chart at wide receiver. A big target at 6’5”, 215 pounds, Nelson has the size to play outside but was used mostly in the slot by the Bills. In Cleveland, he will likely back up both outside receivers as well as Davone Bess out of the slot. Fantasy translation: barring injury, there isn’t much upside here.
WR Travis Benjamin
(2012 WR Rank – #84, 4.0 FPts/G; #90 PPR, 5.5 FPts/G)
A fourth-round pick in 2012, Benjamin’s future in Cleveland looked bright as he was expected to carve out a role as a slot receiver alongside Josh Gordon and Greg Little. After a year in which he caught 18 passes for 298 yards and a pair of scores, and with a new coaching staff in town, Benjamin shapes up as the fifth receiver on a crowded depth chart with the additions of Davone Bess and David Nelson, both of whom have been productive working out of the slot. At this point, Benjamin will likely be using his blazing speed (4.34 40-yard dash time) returning kicks or delivering pizzas.
WR Jordan Norwood
(2012 WR Rank – #136, 6.9 FPts/G; #134 PPR, 13.4 FPts/G)
A preseason star in 2011, Norwood was mostly a bust when the lights came on, hauling in only 23 receptions for 268 yards and a score. In 2012, Norwood lost playing time to rookies Josh Gordon and Travis Benjamin, and he will be in a dogfight to earn a roster spot in 2013. There’s no fantasy appeal here, folks.
TE Jordan Cameron
(2012 WR Rank – #47, 2.2 FPts/G; #45 PPR, 3.7 FPts/G)
The good news for Cameron is that incumbent starter Ben Watson wasn’t re-signed and new head coach Rob Chudzinski and offensive coordinator Norv Turner have been very proficient at getting production out of the tight end position (see Antonio Gates and Greg Olsen). The not-so-good news is that Cameron, the Browns fourth-round pick in the 2011 draft, hasn’t produced much during his first two years in the league (just 26 receptions for 259 yards and a touchdown on his 53 targets). Cameron clearly has the ability to be a solid pass-receiving tight end, but his poor blocking ability doesn’t help keep him on the field at all times. Consider him a mid-tier TE2 with upside.
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