Fantasy Football Strategy, Advice, and Commentary
By: Mike Krueger — August 28, 2014 @ 1:19 am
Player Projections, Rankings & Cheatsheets
Change Log – 8/28/14
- Shaun Hill (+5) – It appears the Rams are comfortable with Hill as their starter for the foreseeable future.
- Cam Newton (-1) – Getting bad vibes about this team the closer we get to the start of the season.
- Jamaal Charles (-2) – Speaking of bad vibes… I still love Charles but the injuries to the o-line, poor play by Eric Fisher and multiple injuries throughout the team have the Chiefs trending downward. Just a slight bump down for Jamaal.
- Doug Martin (+3) – Rookie Sims is out and addition of Mankins should help every so slightly.
- Reggie Bush / Joique Bell – A slight shift in distribution between the Detroit RBs.
- Pierre Thomas (-8) – Ingram and Robinson are ready to be the main runners on first and second down. Thomas stays as a receiving threat and is a better value in PPR leagues.
- Josh Gordon (dropped) – His appeal was lost. Gordon will miss the entire 2014 season.
- Brandin Cooks (+7) – Tacked on some yardage to Cook’s receiving totals.
- Rob Gronkowski (+2) – Sure would be nice to see Gronk get some quality practice time in next week.
- Tim Wright (+23) – Wright improved his fantasy stock by landing in New England. He’s on the back-end of the TE2 radar until his usage in the offense becomes clear.
By: Mike Krueger — August 25, 2014 @ 10:13 am
Player Projections, Rankings & Cheatsheets
Change Log – 8/25/14
Unscheduled updated for WR Wes Welker (concussion) K Matt Prater (4-game suspension) and QB Sam Bradford (ACL).
- Sam Bradford (dropped) – Tough break for the Rams as they lose their signal-caller for the second-straight year.
- Shaun Hill (#28) – Hill be the Week 1 starter but isn’t even a QB2 at this point. He will be available on your waiver wire if he shows well during Weeks 1 and 2.
- Wes Welker (-20) – Welker has three concussions in 10 months. Even if he’s ready for Week 1, his injury risk pushes him below Sanders.
- Emmanuel Sanders (+14) – Sanders will have a bigger role inside and out if Welker misses any time.
- Danny Amendola (-10) – I still think Amendola is a decent value at his current ADP (10.09) but he’s not on the field in two-WR sets, limiting his opportunity.
- Allen Hurns (#101) – Inserted the UDFA receiver in Jacksonville.
- Matt Prater (-20) – Four-game suspension makes Prater undraftable in re-draft leagues. There are plenty of kickers and no reason to carry two on your initial roster.
By: Mike Krueger — August 21, 2014 @ 10:36 am
Player Projections, Rankings & Cheatsheets
Change Log – 8/21/14
Note: No change to Le’Veon Bell or LeGarrette Blount until we get a better idea of the punishment they may or may not receive as a result of their dope arrest last night.
- Matthew Stafford (+1) – Added a passing TD to Stafford’s totals.
- Jay Cutler (+1) – I really like Cutler’s ceiling this season. Health will be the only thing that keeps him out of the top ten.
- Cam Newton (-2) – Personnel concerns are enough to kicked him down a Tier.
- Doug Martin (N/A) – No change as Sims’ injury reflects more on backups Rainey and James.
- DeMarco Murray (-2) – Been debating all season how heavy Murray’s use will be in this offense. Still like him a lot but decided to scale him back as I expect Dunbar’s role to more than just change-of-pace.
- Christine Michael (-7) – Robert Turbin has the trust of the coaching staff. If Lynch goes down, a committee approach will likely be used.
- Chris Polk (-10) – There is no handcuff for McCoy right now. Polk’s hamstring injury is such a concern the team acquired Kenjon Barner from Carolina.
- Jordy Nelson (+1) – Slight bump for the Packers’ receivers as it appears no true threat at tight end is going to emerge.
- Randall Cobb (+2) – See above.
- Jeremy Maclin (-4) – I love Maclin’s ceiling but his injury concerns are growing.
- Markus Wheaton (+8) – Ranked too low originally. The kid has upside value if he can hold onto the No.2 receiving spot.
- Vernon Davis (-2) – The more I study, the more I like Crabtree to steal the show in 49ers passing game this season. Davis is TD-dependent and will be hard-pressed to notch double-digit scores this season.
- Antonio Gates (-2) – Adjusted the distribution between Gates and Green.
By: Colby Cavaliere — August 14, 2014 @ 10:58 pm
The Manziel hype machine is out of control. He’ll be a fantasy QB2 at best.
QB Johnny Manziel
(2013 QB Rank—N/A)
As one of the most polarizing players in the NFL, Johnny Manziel provides a similarly tantalizing dilemma for fantasy owners. He has undeniable physical gifts, but does he have enough between the ears to win the starting job and run with it? A dynamo on the ground and in the air, Johnny Football dazzled the college ranks for two years at Texas A&M. He showed improved development as a pocket passer in his short collegiate career, but enters a pro system that will undoubtedly test his discipline and maturity.
A positive for Manziel is the presence of offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan. Shanahan knows a little something about getting the most out of fleet-footed rookie quarterbacks. Expect Shanahan to employ Manziel on a bevy of rollouts and bootlegs to give him the throw/run option. No matter who is under center, the Browns will use a running-based offense, especially considering the potential loss of All-Pro receiver Josh Gordon. Manziel will be a part of that attack and with enough playing time, he could approach 100 carries.
Any potential fantasy impact that Manziel might have will be tied to playing time. If he can win the job in camp, he should start all 16 games. Manziel’s cocky attitude, reckless play style and sinewy rocket arm harken back to a young Brett Favre. In his first year as a starter for the Packers, Favre put up 3,000+ yards passing and had a respectable 18-14 touchdown to interception ratio. With a limited offense, experience and weapons to throw to, Manziel’s full-season stats are most likely capped at QB2 potential. Keep a close eye on his development, as Manziel could be a valuable spot starter late in the season for a needy fantasy owner.
QB Brian Hoyer
(2013 QB Rank—#44, 17.5 FPts/G)
Lacking the physical gifts of his rookie competition, Brian Hoyer is a backup-level talent that will struggle to put up numbers in this Cleveland offensive system. While Hoyer has the chops to lead and brings a two-game spark to a Cleveland team that was again spiraling out of control, he’s a career journeyman quarterback. Hoyer’s upside is limited by a run-based offense and the presence of Johnny Manziel. Hoyer will battle for the starting gig in the preseason, but remember that Manziel remains the franchise’s future. Unless Hoyer plays lights out and the Browns win games, Manziel is going to siphon starts away at some point this season. While his work ethic and leadership are admirable, Hoyer simply doesn’t bring enough to the table to be a valuable piece of your fantasy roster and is nothing more than a QB3.
RB Ben Tate
(2013 RB Rank—#33, 8.2 FPts/G)
Injuries and playing time have prevented Ben Tate from ascending into the upper tier of young runners. Given a one-way ticket to starter’s snaps in Cleveland, Tate has a chance to showcase the skills that made him a fantasy darling in 2012. Back in the zone-blocking scheme of Kyle Shanahan, Tate will benefit from a familiar scheme and strong Cleveland offensive line. Sporting a great 4.6 yards per carry average for his career, Tate seems primed to climb the rankings and be a fantasy centerpiece. But before you go and make Tate a high draft pick, consider some of the red flags, the biggest being his injury history. In just three seasons Tate has missed eight games because of injury, and played hurt and ineffective in several more. He simply hasn’t displayed the ability to stay healthy for an entire season and is a good bet to break down with too voluminous of a workload. His durability was most likely a reason why his free-agent reception was very lukewarm. The bigger roadblock to Tate’s success could be his teammates. Terrance West, the third-round pick out of Towson has been impressive this offseason, as has undrafted free agent and former five-star recruit Isiah Crowell. If West’s successful exploits continue into preseason action, look for Tate to cede a large volume of touches to him. Timeshare and injury concerns figure to limit Tate, but in an offense built to run the football, look for Tate to approach the 200-yard carry range and be a low-tier RB2 for your fantasy squad.
RB Terrance West
(2013 RB Rank—#52, 4.1 FPts/G)
Stoutly built at 5’9’’, 225 lbs. with quick feet and good vision, Terrance West has a chance to carve out a large role in the Cleveland running game. Capable of heavy workloads, the Atlantic 10 prospect from Towson also has a nose for the end zone with 84, yes 84 touchdowns in three college seasons. As he continues to develop as a pass catcher (only 36 career college receptions) expect West to get the bulk of his work inside the 20. West is going to challenge Tate for playtime as soon as the opening weekend and is a must-handcuff for anyone drafting Tate as a starter. Should Tate miss time during the season, West could quickly pick up RB2 value, but for now, add West as a high-upside RB3 and hope he sees the field early and often.
WR Josh Gordon
(2013 WR Rank—#1, 16.2 FPts/G)
Overflowing with talent and unfortunate decision-making, Josh Gordon is at a career crossroads. At the time of this writing, 2013’s fantasy monster at wide receiver is appealing his yearlong suspension. If he somehow wins any measure of his appeal, whenever he steps onto the field he will be a fantasy stud no matter if Brian Hoyer or Johnny Manziel are tossing the rock. It seems as though Cleveland won’t give up on him, so dynasty leaguers can still take a flier on the elite wideout, but redraft owners will have to hope he wins his appeal to get any value.
WR Miles Austin
(2013 WR Rank—#118, 2.2 FPts/G)
Relegated to the fantasy scrap heap because of balky legs after a once promising career, former Cowboy Miles Austin has been thrust into the spotlight for the Cleveland Browns. Under the looming suspension of Josh Gordon, Austin instantly becomes the most experienced wideout on the roster and will shoulder the burden on the outside. Austin is part of a complete overhaul at the Browns receiver position, and with health, he could approach 50 catches and 700 yards. Stuck in what is sure to be a committee approach, Austin will be limited as a low-upside WR4/5.
WR Charles Johnson
(2013 WR Rank—N/A)
If there is one receiver who offers a glimmer of fantasy hope on the Cleveland roster, it’s the 6’2’’ speed demon Charles Johnson. The 2013 seventh-round pick from Grand Valley State didn’t see the field last year. Reports out of camp, however, indicate he could push for playing time in 2014. With middling talents ahead of him on the depth chart, Johnson could earn enough playing time to make fantasy owners interested. Keep a close eye on his early season snap count and don’t wait to scoop him up off the waiver wire should you sense a breakout looming.
TE Jordan Cameron
(2013 TE Rank—#4, 8.9 FPts/G)
There was hardly a better fantasy player after the first four weeks of the 2013 season than Jordan Cameron. The athletic tight end that was expected to break out under tight end guru Norv Turner started off blazing hot with a 30-360-5 line by Week 5. But as the season wore on, Josh Gordon began to impose his will and the passing game was siphoned through him. Cameron tallied only two more touchdowns in the final 12 games and exceeded 10 targets only once. With Gordon suspended, Cameron immediately becomes option No. 1 in the Cleveland passing game. As the only threat running around in the secondary, Cameron is going to get plenty of attention. Expect defensive coordinators with lockdown corners to deploy them to cover Cameron when he goes out wide, much like the Patriots did with great effectiveness with Jimmy Graham last year. Luckily not many teams have corners able to cover Cameron’s size-speed combination, and despite the loss of Turner, scheming tight ends open is something offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan has experience doing. Even with the added defensive focus and unsettled quarterback position, Cameron has the talent, scheme and opportunity to approach his season totals from last season, even with less overall variance in scoring on a weekly basis. Plug Cameron in as an upper-tier TE1 and don’t look back.
By: Nick Caron — @ 10:39 am
A regression is to be expected, but Peyton is still the top QB in fantasy football.
QB Peyton Manning
(2013 QB Rank—#1, 25.4 FPts/G)
Coming off of the greatest fantasy football season in history, it should be no surprise that Denver Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning is the top quarterback on almost all lists heading into the 2014 season. Words truly cannot explain just how ridiculous Manning’s season was, so let’s just look again at the numbers: 5,477 yards, 55 touchdown passes and just 10 interceptions. Simply unbelievable. Even if you were one of the brave few who had Manning as your top-ranked quarterback heading into 2013, there’s no way that anyone could have predicted that kind of fantasy output. Manning threw multiple touchdown passes in 15 of his 16 regular season games, including nine games with four or more touchdowns. While losing Eric Decker is certainly a concern, the addition of Emmanuel Sanders and rookie Cody Latimer, along with the healthy return of bookend left tackle Ryan Clady could mean that the Denver passing game has a chance of coming close to what it did in 2013. The numbers don’t look at all sustainable on the surface, but if there’s any quarterback who can engineer that kind of offense again, it’s Peyton Manning. Those looking to be contrarians might look at Aaron Rodgers or Drew Brees as the top quarterback going into this fantasy season. Don’t be steered away by the likely regression in Manning’s numbers, though. Even if Manning saw a 20 percent reduction in his fantasy numbers, he would finish with 4,382 yards and 44 touchdowns. That yardage total would put him at sixth among quarterbacks from the 2013 season, while the touchdowns would still put him five ahead of any other quarterback. Understand that regression does not mean that Manning isn’t still the best fantasy quarterback for 2014.
RB Montee Ball
(2013 RB Rank—#42, 5.0 FPts/G)
When the Broncos selected Montee Ball with a second-round draft pick in 2013, it appeared as if the writing was finally on the wall for former first-round pick Knowshon Moreno to be worked out of the offense. That didn’t happen, however, as concerns in pass protection and fumbling problems led to Ball playing second fiddle to Moreno throughout the year. Ball finished with just 120 carries for 559 yards and four touchdowns during the regular season and he had just one game all year with over 100 rushing yards. Now with Moreno out of the picture, the door appears to be wide open for Ball to come rolling in and take the job in one of the most prolific offenses in NFL history. The team appears to be fully invested in him and this is his chance to shine. There is no question that Denver is a pass-first offense, but that doesn’t mean that there isn’t still plenty of room for fantasy production from the running back position. Moreno finished as a top-five scoring running back in 2013 and that was with Ball still taking a significant number of carries. If Ball is given a more full workload, there’s no reason to think that his upside couldn’t mirror or even be better than what Moreno did a season ago. An emergency appendectomy has some worried that Ball won’t be in football shape by the time the regular season rolls around. That’s exactly the kind of thing you should warn other fantasy owners in your league about, effectively lowering Ball’s stock before you swoop in and draft him. Appendectomies are considered “major surgery” but they do not require a long recovery time. Barring some unforeseen setback that would likely have nothing to do with his appendix, Ball will be out there in Week 1. He is about as much of a lock to hit 10 touchdowns this season as any player in the league. He is a perfect No. 2 running back or even low-end No. 1 for the owner who opts to snag a top player at another position in Round 1.
RB C.J. Anderson
(2013 RB Rank—#124, 0.2 FPts/G)
The appendectomy procedure that has removed Montee Ball from training camp has given an unexpected opportunity to Broncos backup running back C.J. Anderson. Anderson, an undrafted free agent who also made his NFL debut alongside Ball in 2013, has not yet won a competition against Ronnie Hillman to be the team’s lead tailback until Ball returns, but appears to be the more well-rounded back, which will likely mean that he gets the majority of snaps for the time being. Anderson could hypothetically show some amazing flashes that force the Broncos’ hand in giving him more playing time. The most likely scenario, however, is that he and Hillman will split carries in the preseason before conceding the lion’s share of touches to Ball once the regular season begins. Both Anderson and Hillman’s value is essentially tied to the success of Ball. If Ball puts the ball on the ground too often for head coach John Fox’s liking or if he sustains an injury that puts him out for a long period of time, Anderson and Hillman could have value. Until then, though, both players will likely remain relatively useless for fantasy purposes.
WR Demaryius Thomas
(2013 WR Rank—#2, 13.8 FPts/G)
Back-to-back 1,400-plus yard campaigns have fantasy owners’ mouths salivating heading into the 2014 season with fourth-year wideout Demaryius Thomas. Thomas, who showed flashes of brilliance even with the likes of Tim Tebow and Kyle Orton behind center, has become the top target in the best passing attack in the history of the league. Needless to say, his fantasy value is immense. In addition to his incredible yardage totals, Thomas has produced in the other important categories for receivers with 94 and 92 receptions in 2012 and 2013, while adding 10 and 14 touchdown receptions, respectively. Thomas is the ideal combination of size and speed and the crazy thing is that the best may be yet to come from this incredible physical specimen. If it weren’t for Calvin Johnson, Thomas would be the unquestioned top fantasy wideout at the beginning of the 2014 season. In fact, many fantasy experts are flat out recommending Thomas as the No. 1 receiver on their lists. Either way, Thomas is a rare breed of a receiver who should and does crack the first round of most fantasy drafts. Another monster season is on the way for this talented young wideout. Make sure you don’t miss out.
WR Wes Welker
(2013 WR Rank—#21, 8.1 FPts/G)
Not known for being a particularly excellent red zone threat, Wes Welker lit the fantasy world on fire in 2013 when he started the season with nine touchdown receptions in his first eight games. Welker’s incredible first half had many owners scrambling to acquire the former Patriot, but that kind of pace was simply unsustainable. Welker would go on to catch just one more touchdown in the second half of the regular season, while never eclipsing the 10 reception or 100 yard mark in any single game. Those numbers were skewed by the fact that he missed the final three weeks of the regular season, but it’s still worth noting the incredible drop-off in production. Welker did return for the playoffs where he caught a total of 18 passes for 160 yards and a touchdown over three games, but that isn’t enough for us to be highly optimistic about his fantasy outlook for 2014. Given the loss of Eric Decker, Welker should see more targets come his way in 2014 than he did in 2013, but there’s a serious question of durability and simple degradation of physical skill at this point. Welker is 33 years old and while there’s still gas in the tank, it would not be surprising to see him slowly start to fade away over the next couple of seasons. Still, Welker remains a top-20 receiver in standard scoring formats and a top-15 receiver in PPR formats. Drafting him could pay huge dividends, but make sure to have a reliable option on your bench should things start off looking like they did near the end of 2013.
WR Emmanuel Sanders
(2013 WR Rank—#21, 8.1 FPts/G)
As the newest addition to the Denver offense, Emmanuel Sanders steps into a situation that could not possibly be better for the fifth-year receiver coming off of his best season yet. Sanders’ 67 receptions for 740 yards and six touchdowns with the Steelers in 2013 were all career bests as he played opposite Antonio Brown for the majority of the season. On a new roster, Sanders will have to learn a highly complicated offense that requires tremendous focus and execution if he wants to see any looks from Peyton Manning. The Broncos run more three-wide sets than just about any team in the league, which means Sanders will see plenty of playing time. That does not necessarily mean that he is going to simply slide in and replace Eric Decker’s 87 receptions for 1,288 yards and 11 touchdowns. While Sanders possesses big play ability, his 5’11”, 180-pound frame is not a comparison for the 6’3”, 215 pound Decker. Sanders will be used differently in the Denver offense than Decker was and that should both excite and worry potential fantasy owners. Don’t expect to see anywhere near as many targets go Sanders’ way as did Decker’s, but look for those opportunities to be potential huge plays. It would not be surprising to see Sanders improve on his yardage and touchdown totals from 2013 while actually seeing a small dip in total receptions. The hype train on Sanders has been strong this offseason with him being drafted as a WR3 in most leagues. While the hype may be warranted, having Sanders as a WR4 would be much more palatable given the strong possibility of some serious inconsistency from him this season, especially early in the year while he’s still gaining Manning’s trust.
TE Julius Thomas
(2013 TE Rank—#3, 9.0 FPts/G)
The fantasy breakout star of 2013 had to be tight end Julius Thomas, who burst onto the season in Week 1 with a monstrous five catch, 110 yard, two touchdown performance. He didn’t look back from there, as Thomas would go on to catch a total of 65 passes for 788 yards and 12 touchdowns on the year. After being a training camp darling in both 2011 and 2012, Thomas finally put that talent to use in 2013 and is now considered one of the elite tight ends as we head into 2014. Peyton Manning has been known to make the careers of wide receivers, but the same could be said for his tremendous success in throwing the ball to tight ends. Thomas is now the beneficiary of that success and there’s little reason to believe that he won’t be one of the top-scoring players at the position again. If it weren’t for a knee injury that kept him out a couple of games and seemed to slow him down a bit in the surrounding games, Thomas could have very well finished close to New Orleans’ Jimmy Graham as the top-scoring tight end in all of fantasy football. A natural regression in the touchdown category seems likely, but like Manning and the other players in this offense, even a significant reduction in stats would still mean a big fantasy season for Thomas. He’s currently being drafted as a high-third round pick, but Thomas could see that stock rise over the next month, especially if reports continue to be less than stellar regarding Rob Gronkowski’s likelihood of playing in Week 1. If Gronkowski is out, look for Thomas to move up a few spots as the tight end position becomes even thinner heading into 2014.
By: Mike Krueger — @ 2:59 am
Player Projections, Rankings & Cheatsheets
Change Log – 8/14/14
Lot’s of minor tweaking this week as camp news and notes starts to solidify my opinions on how the offenses across the league are shaping up. Here are some of the biggest movers as week head into Week 2 of preseason action.
- Robert Griffin III (-1) I removed some of RGIIIs rushing yardage as I get this sense he’s going to attempt to stay in the pocket more this season.
- Johnny Manziel (+7) Even if Hoyer starts the season, it won’t be long (likely Week 5 after Cleveland’s bye in Week 4) before Manziel takes the field as the starting QB.
- Doug Martin (-4) – Won’t be the workhorse like he was back in 2012.
- Jonathan Grimes (+33) – Release of Andre Brown, gives Grimes a good shot be Foster’s backup.
- James White (+7) – Still holding sleeper status for the casual ff owner.
- Wes Welker (-5) – Love Welker in his swan song season in Denver but initial yardage total was too high.
- Eric Decker (+5) – Original projections were a touch too low.
- Terrance Williams (+6) – The Cowboys are going to be throwing a ton, making up inefficiencies on defense.
- Brandin Cooks (+9) Want to hear more from practice and watch the next two pre-season games, but Cooks may climb into WR30 area by late August.
- Kenny Britt (+20) – Running as a starter, but you can’t help but think Britt is teasing us fantasy owners again.
- Travis Kelce (+10) – Great talent and speed for a TE, but needs to prove he can stay healthy. He’s an upside pick as a TE2.
By: Jake Gordon — August 13, 2014 @ 1:55 pm
It won’t be easy for Cam Newton to retain his top-five fantasy quarterback status.
(2013 QB Rank—#5, 22.5 FPts/G)
Cam Newton set the bar high as a rookie and he has yet to reach that same level of fantasy production in the past two years. Newton has matured as a passer, posting gains in completion percentage and passing touchdowns during the 2013 season. As his confidence as a passer rose, his need to run decreased. The dip in rushing stats was enough to knock him down a peg or two from the position’s elite. More troubling for those considering him for the 2014 season is his lack of proven options in the passing game. Losing a future Hall of Fame receiver in Steve Smith would hurt any quarterback, but when a quarterback who has struggled to maintain a completion percentage above 60 percent loses his most dynamic threat the loss is even more significant. Furthermore, Newton’s other starting wide receiver from the 2013 season, Brandon LaFell, signed with New England during the offseason. In the wake these losses the team added a pair of veterans Jericho Cotchery and Jason Avant as well as rookie Kelvin Benjamin.
Not only does Newton need to develop chemistry with an entire set of new targets, he will have to do it on a left ankle that was surgically repaired this offseason. Carolina has been cautious with Newton so far and he will likely need the entire preseason before feeling fully healed. This may have a direct impact on Newton’s rushing totals this season, placing increased pressure on his ability to perform in the pocket to be a viable fantasy starter. This uncertainty keeps Newton outside the top five at the position and depending on your risk tolerance it is perfectly reasonable to drop him further down into the last tier of QB1s. Derek Anderson will be ready if called upon as the team’s backup quarterback but does not offer much upside in an already ordinary offense.
(2013 RB Rank—#21, 9.4 FPts/G)
Although Carolina has ranked in the top third of the NFL in rushing yards per game over the past three seasons it has also declined for three straight years. The guy leading the way during that stretch has been DeAngelo Williams. Over the years, Williams has been given almost every label possible in the fantasy realm. Elite, bust, bargain and injury risk – at some point or another the Panthers lead back has both intrigued and soured potential fantasy owners and 2014 is no different. This year he finds himself a value play as a starting running back being drafted outside the top 100 players in redraft leagues. Now on the wrong side of 30, the veteran running back enters his ninth year having never seen his yards per carry average dip below 4.0 in any single season. Jonathan Stewarts continued presence on the roster will take a few carries away, but he isn’t a major threat to usurp the starting job away from Williams unless an injury occurs. He will have a few touchdowns vultured so his value tops out as a RB3/4 depending on the depth of your league’s rosters.
(2013 RB Rank—#90, 3.7 FPts/G)
For all the talent Jonathan Stewart has flashed since coming into the league as a first-round draft choice in 2008, he has only surpassed the 1,000-yard rushing plateau once. Whether it was the presence of DeAngelo Williams or injuries, the fact remains that Stewart is a long shot on draft day. He’s already dealing with a minor hamstring injury that occurred in training camp that will also keep him out of early preseason action. At this point in his career, Stewart is no longer the threat to steal carries that he once was, but his injury risk should have his fantasy stock bottomed out leading into the busiest fantasy draft weeks.
(2013 RB Rank—#40, 6.0 FPts/G)
Mike Tolbert’s decision to leave San Diego for Carolina in 2012 has resulted in a steady decline in fantasy production. Even though the fireplug back nearly doubled his rushing attempts in 2013, he only had one game with more than 40 rushing yards. The team values Tolbert as a quality choice in short yardage situations but unless he is given every carry near the goal, it will be hard for fantasy owners to trust him on a consistent basis in 2014.
(2013 WR Rank—N/A)
The team’s top selection in the 2014 draft, Kelvin Benjamin brings a huge 6’5” frame and plenty of hope to a passing attack that lost franchise leader Steve Smith. Concerns over Benjamin’s rawness, propensity for drops and lack of optimal speed do not trump the fact that he is a physical mismatch for just about any single defensive back in the league. In this capacity, the Panthers are hoping he can quickly emerge as one of the league’s deadliest red zone targets while also giving Cam Newton a much larger window to complete his passes. Positive reports from training camp have raved about his ability to digest the playbook and make plays in the red zone. For fantasy purposes, his touchdown potential alone gives him WR3/flex upside but he likely won’t see enough volume to crack the top-40 receivers in 2014.
(2013 WR Rank—#30, 8.3 FPts/G)
Jerricho Cotchery’s name atop the depth chart is akin to seeing a huge red “X” flashing over the rest of the Panthers list of receivers on draft day. He is slated to be used in the slot as a possession type of receiver while rookie Kelvin Benjamin develops on the outside. With Greg Olsen a more preferred and proven target for Cam Newton, Cotchery’s fantasy appeal is severely narrow. In 2013, Cotchery had the fewest receiving yards of any receiver with more than seven touchdowns. He will be worth far more to Carolina as a mentor and reliable third down target than he will as a WR4 in the fantasy game.
(2013 WR Rank—#82, 3.8 FPts/G)
As if Carolina could slow the game down any more, they added Jason Avant to the mix at wide receiver. A steady contributor for eight seasons in Philadelphia, Avant was unsurprisingly one player that failed to benefit from Chip Kelly’s up-tempo offense. He should be a better fit with the Panthers but remains a bland choice for fantasy owners. With only Tiquan Underwood, Marvin McNutt and Tavarres King as competition, Avant’s experience should give him an edge on being the team’s third wideout heading into 2014.
(2013 TE Rank—#8, 7.4 FPts/G)
The guy who should benefit most from Carolina’s decision to let Steve Smith leave and not replace him with another proven talent is Greg Olsen. The 29 year old is quietly coming off his best year as a pro despite the fact that Carolina threw the ball fewer than all but two teams during the 2013 regular season. Fantasy owners should look to his consistent increase in opportunity and production over the past three years as signs he is ready to take another step forward as Cam Newton’s top receiving threat. During the 2013 regular season only four other tight ends caught more balls than Olsen: Jimmy Graham (going in Round 1), Tony Gonzalez (retired), Jordan Cameron (averaged 4.4 receptions and 45.9 receiving yards over final seven games in 2013) and Antonio Gates (in decline at age 34 with Ladarius Green emerging). A few more touchdowns would give Olsen a shot at the position’s top five, offering plenty of value and upside as the eighth tight end off the board according to recent ADP information. The oft-injured Ed Dickson was added this prior to camp. He is likely to see the field in two TE formations while adding depth behind Olsen.
By: Nick Caron — August 11, 2014 @ 1:42 am
Older Posts »
Russell Wilson has been a low-end QB1 the last two seasons… yes he has.
QB Russell Wilson
(2013 QB Rank—#8, 16.0 FPts/G)
Only two years removed from upsetting free agency acquisition Matt Flynn for the starting job in Seattle, Russell Wilson is now a Super Bowl winner and is one of the most secure players in the entire league at his position. Wilson’s combination of speed and mistake-free football has also made him a top-10 fantasy quarterback over that two-year span. This is very impressive, considering that Wilson’s Seahawks have run the ball more times and passed the ball fewer times than any team in the NFL since he took over behind center. This sounds ugly on the surface, but the coaching staff in Seattle continues to insist that the team will see a greater balance in its offense in 2014, which could mean great things for Wilson’s fantasy outlook. Wide receivers Golden Tate and Sidney Rice did leave in the offseason, but they will not likely be missed if (and I mean if…) Percy Harvin is able to stay on the field. Harvin is the kind of dynamic playmaker who could give Wilson the kind of target that he has not had so far in his NFL career, one who can turn the short passes into big gains. Wilson is currently only being drafted as a borderline top-12 quarterback in many leagues, which combined with the fact that he could pass the ball upwards of 100 more times in 2014 than he did in 2013, means that he could represent one of the highest upsides and safest downsides of all fantasy quarterbacks this season.
RB Marshawn Lynch
(2013 RB Rank—#4, 14.0 FPts/G)
An offseason contract holdout – which occurred during the same time that he made news for the unique way he parks his Ferrari, mind you – has some skeptics questioning Marshawn Lynch’s commitment to playing football, but there haven’t been many backs as consistent as “Beast Mode” since he arrived in Seattle back in 2010. In each of his past three seasons, Lynch has surpassed 1,200 yards on the ground while scoring double-digit touchdowns in each of those seasons. Combine that with the fact that he has only lost five fumbles over that span and you have a player who most would believe is very safe in his role within the Seahawks’ Super Bowl-winning offense. That might not be the case, however, as reports from camp have been that the team is looking to find ways to get 2013 second-round draft pick Christine Michael on the field more often this season. If there is one area where Lynch has not been superb, it has been in the pass-catching department. His 36 receptions in 2013 were his highest total since 2008 and he had failed to reach even 30 receptions during between those years. Still, Lynch has to be considered one of the safest bets to be a top-10 running back this season. Seattle does seem committed on passing the ball more often, but that could still mean 275-plus touches for Lynch.
RB Christine Michael
(2013 RB Rank—#112, 0.4 FPts/G)
Training camp standout Christine Michael has been a hot name this offseason, particularly in dynasty leagues where he is being drafted as the perceived long-term ball-carrier for Seattle once Marshawn Lynch eventually slows down. Michael possesses a unique combination of size and strength, but still has the burst to break into the secondary when given a chance. His bruising running style has been compared to the likes of Adrian Peterson and of course his teammate, Lynch, which makes sense as to why the Seahawks used a second-round pick on him in 2013. While Michael is unlikely to see substantial enough carries on his own to warrant a weekly starting position on your fantasy roster, his situation makes him enticing as a RB5 or RB6 late in drafts, even in redraft leagues. If Lynch gets hurt at some point during the season, Michael could instantly become a top-10 fantasy back in this Seattle offense. That seems unlikely given that Lynch has only missed one game during his entire tenure in Seattle, but the tremendous number of carries that he has taken during that span doesn’t necessarily bode well for long-term health.
WR Percy Harvin
(2013 WR Rank—#169, 0.1 FPts/G)
Perhaps no player in the entire league is more polarizing for the 2014 fantasy football season than wide receiver Percy Harvin. Harvin, who was Seattle’s headline-grabbing offseason acquisition prior to the 2013 season, came very close to never playing a snap for the entire season. He joined the team already injured, but would then see setback after setback before finally getting on the field in Week 11 against his former team, the Minnesota Vikings. Harvin would make one catch for 17 yards before coming off the field again. Harvin would not see the field again until the postseason when he played against New Orleans, making three catches for 21 yards. Another injury would keep him out of an extremely important NFC championship game against the 49ers, but he did finally get back out there in the Super Bowl. Harvin made only one catch for five yards in the big game, but added 45 yards on two carries and made one of the highlight plays of the game with a kick return touchdown. Harvin’s playmaking abilities are unquestioned at this point, but his inability to stay on the field has some experts saying that they would not even bother drafting him. While the risk is certainly involved, Harvin could also be the kind of player who wins an owner his league if he is able to kick the injury bug and stay on the field. Reports in Seattle say that the team is hoping to target Harvin over 100 times, so the opportunities should be there if he can stay healthy. This is the ultimate risk/reward proposition.
WR Doug Baldwin
(2013 WR Rank—#38, 6.3 FPts/G)
As a reliable, but uninspiring receiver, Doug Baldwin became one of Wilson’s favorite targets in 2013 when he caught 50 passes for 778 yards and five touchdowns. While Golden Tate is now gone, a healthy Percy Harvin would mean even less attention going Baldwin’s way this season. Of course, Harvin not seeing the field could also work in Baldwin’s favor in terms of total number of targets. Those targets wouldn’t be quite as high quality given that the defense would be able to focus on him a bit more, but an increase in total targets is always a good thing to see. It’d be hard to expect Baldwin to suddenly become a fantasy force, but a 65-catch season is not out of the question, especially if the Seahawks do live up to their statements of becoming a more balanced offensive attack.
TE Zach Miller
(2013 TE Rank—#22, 3.9 FPts/G)
While he was third on the team in total targets in 2013, tight end Zach Miller represents about as exciting of fantasy prospects as a box of rocks. He made just 33 receptions a season for only 387 yards. While he did make five touchdown receptions, Miller’s 20 total touchdowns in seven seasons shows us that he is not exactly Rob Gronkowski or Jimmy Graham when it comes to being a red-zone threat at the tight end position. Worse yet, Miller will compete with Like Willson for snaps at the position. While Miller is certainly a better blocker, Willson is younger, a better athlete and a more dynamic pass-catcher. Miller is unlikely to be drafted in most fantasy leagues, but could be utilized from time-to-time in bye weeks when the Seahawks are playing against a particularly vulnerable defense.
| Powered by