Fantasy Football Strategy, Advice, and Commentary
By: Dave Stringer — September 25, 2013 @ 10:08 am
Matt Flynn, Raiders
Nothing to get excited about this week, so with Terrelle Pryor possibly out with a concussion, Flynn gets the nod.
Josh Freeman’s days in Tampa Bay are numbered.
Mike Glennon, Buccaneers
Out with Josh Freeman and in with Glennon. The coaches want Glennon to start this week so they can have video to work with during the Bucs bye in Week 5. Glennon won’t be a potential fantasy start until Week 6 but his supporting cast is talented enough to provide him value over the second half of the season.
Colin Kaepernick, 49ers
After his sublime performance in Week 1, when he threw for 412 yards and three touchdowns, Kaepernick has hit the skids hard with a pair of sub-200-yard performances and no touchdown passes. We can forgive him for the Week 2 dud against a strong Seahawks defense, but there are no excuses for his getting run over by a shoddy Colts defense. With no Vernon Davis and a group of wide receivers that lack big-play ability, Kaepernick isn’t worth starting unless he gets some yards on the ground.
Brandon Weeden, Browns
Brian Hoyer was pretty awful but the Browns did pick up a win. That likely leaves Weeden on the outside looking in when he returns to the lineup.
DeMarco Murray, Cowboys
One week after getting called out by an ESPN analyst for his inability to make tacklers miss, Murray ran roughshod over the Rams with 203 total yards and a touchdown. That’s the good news. The bad news is that it was his first 100-yard game since Week 1 of last season. Yeah, this is a lukewarm endorsement.
Johnathan Franklin, Packers
Another “good news, bad news” scenario. When James Starks went down, the Packers had no other running backs available other than Franklin, and he looked dynamic with 103 yards and a touchdown on 13 carries plus 23 yards on three receptions. Then he fumbled on a key fourth-down play late in the game, which the Bengals returned for the game-winning touchdown. We don’t know when Eddie Lacy or James Starks will return, but with the Packers on a Week 4 bye, Franklin’s time in the spotlight could be short.
Jason Snelling, Falcons & Joique Bell, Lions
Both player were very competent fill-ins this week and are worthy of RB2 status until they head back to the bench. Grab these guys with the byes starting this week.
Fred Jackson, Bills
Jackson is Moving Up two weeks in a row, this time courtesy of C.J. Spiller’s knee injury. If he can’t go this week, FJax is a low-end RB2.
Brandon Bolden, Patriots
With Shane Vereen out, Bolden looks like New England’s most explosive runner. The Patriots backfield is a fantasy mess, but odds are that Bolden is either on the wire in your league or available for a song.
Bilal Powell, Jets
I’ll be honest. I thought Chris Ivory was going to have his coming-out party this week against a soft Bills run defense, but he went down early with a hamstring injury, leaving Powell to chalk up 149 yards on 27 carries. Powell is clearly an average running back but he could emerge as a workhorse for the next few weeks if Ivory misses time, which seems likely. Only Alex Green is in reserve, which leads us to…..
Chris Ivory, Jets
This guy looks great in a part-time role but has proven to be injury-prone throughout his four-year career. Move on.
Stevan Ridley, Patriots
With just 121 yards on 36 carries, Ridley has been pretty much awful. Full stop. He’s useless as a receiver, with only 10 career receptions through 33 games, so he needs to earn a living as a runner. And there is now competition for touches in the New England backfield.
Trent Richardson, Colts
Just a gentle reminder that coaches don’t just take away a pile of touches from players who played as well as Ahmad Bradshaw did this week.
Antonio Brown, Steelers
If you whine, apparently you get rewarded. Brown complained about his targets after only getting nine looks in Week 2. Anyway, he went off against the Bears this week with nine receptions for 196 yards and a pair of touchdowns in the first multi-touchdown game of his career. With the Steelers’ running game in shambles, Brown figures to get plenty of targets going forward.
Cecil Shorts, Jaguars
Speaking of targets… quick—who leads the league in them? It’s Shorts, with 40. Early-season fantasy production can be skewed by touchdowns, and sometimes that is fair, given the offense a player plays in. However, even though Shorts is stuck on a bad Jaguars team, he managed seven touchdowns in 14 games last season.
Josh Gordon, Browns
Back with a bang, Gordon had a whopping 19 targets this week against the Vikings, hauling in ten receptions for 146 yards and a score. He won’t get the Vikings’ porous secondary every week, nor will he likely have another 19 target game, but it’s nice to know he can be productive even when Brian Hoyer is under center.
Donnie Avery, Chiefs
Coming off a career year in 2012 with the Colts, Avery had his coming-out party as a Chief in Week 3, catching all seven of his targets for 141 yards. He showcased his blazing speed, a trait that seems to be absent from the Kansas City offense outside of Jamaal Charles.
Santonio Holmes, Jets
This one’s kind of like beating up on your little brother, but it’s worth noting that Holmes caught five passes for 154 yards and a score this week against the Bills. He’s not a player that anybody loves, but he could be useful as a WR3 the rest of the way, provided he can stay healthy and keep his head screwed on straight.
Nate Washington, Titans
Meets the Titans’ new No. 1 receiver with Kenny Britt now residing in the doghouse. Eight receptions for 131 yards this week.
Ryan Broyles and Patrick Edwards, Lions
Nate Burleson is out with a broken arm. Neither of these guys has done much, but opportunity is knocking.
Steve Smith, Panthers
With just 143 yards and one touchdown on 26 targets, could Father Time be catching up with the 34-year-old Smith? Get off this train before it rolls off the tracks.
Dwayne Bowe, Chiefs
Against a sad sack Eagles secondary, Bowe caught one of his three targets for four yards. Entering the season, there were two trains of thought on Bowe. Either he would thrive as a big receiver in Andy Reid’s West Coast offense or he would struggle with Captain Checkdown, Alex Smith, being under center and reluctant to pass the ball into tight areas. Looks like those who advocated for the latter were correct.
Michael Floyd, Cardinals
After putting up 82 yards in Week 1, Floyd got the hopes up of his owners, who were banking on a breakout season. Since then, he has caught seven of his 13 targets for 71 yards and looks much like the struggling rookie he was last season.
Jordan Cameron, Browns
Even with Brian Hoyer at quarterback, Cameron was lights out with 66 yards and three touchdowns on six receptions. I don’t own him but if somebody thinks he’s the next coming of Jimmy Graham, I’d be selling high. Note that one of his touchdowns came on a trick play (a fake field goal) and the Browns offense won’t get the sad sack Vikings defense every week.
Charles Clay, Dolphins
Clay didn’t do much this week (four receptions for 40 yards) but he is quietly emerging as a consistent threat in a solid Dolphins offense. He has caught 14 of his 19 targets on the season for a surprising 203 yards.
Kellen Winslow, Jets
The comeback was fun but short-lived. After a three-reception, 16-yard performance in Week 2, Winslow wasn’t even targeted this week. And you all know the state of the Jets’ group of wide receivers.
By: Dave Stringer — September 20, 2013 @ 3:38 pm
Our sympathies to Browns fans everywhere.
1. The big news of the week was the Browns trade of running back Trent Richardson, the 3rd overall selection in the 2012 draft, to the Indianapolis Colts for a 2014 1st round pick. First off, we should all send our condolences to long suffering Browns fans who have had to endure some of the worst football the NFL has to offer over the past 15 years. Now this. While the trade was amongst the worst the league has seen in decades (to be fair, there aren’t that many blockbusters in the NFL so the sample size is small and usually inconsequential), Browns management added insult to injury by claiming that they hadn’t given up on the 2013 season. Then they promptly announced that Brian Hoyer and not Jason Campbell would start for the injured Brandon Weeden at quarterback this week against the Vikings. Let’s be clear about what president Joe Banner, general manager Mike Lombardi, head coach Rob Chudzinski and offensive coordinator Norv Turner are telling Browns fans. Folks, we’re not only not good enough to develop Weeden, we’re also not smart enough to use a sure fire top 10 pick in this year’s draft as well as all of our other picks and additional 3rd and 4th round picks and our 2015 1st round pick to acquire a franchise signal caller in the 2014 draft. Of course, let’s not jump to the conclusion that Browns owner Jimmy Haslem ever considered that thought when he allowed his newly hired management and coaching staff to jettison Richardson. Or whether he considered that his new staff might just be buying themselves another year or two of employment by extending the rebuilding process. While the team’s local columnists and some national writers can justify this move as the team doing what is necessary to find a franchise quarterback in a passing league, don’t be fooled. The new brain trust has already proven they aren’t going to be up to the task of putting together a team that can contend. If their personnel evaluation concluded that the consensus top running back in the 2013 draft, a player the former regime felt the need to move up one spot to acquire, is worth a 1st round pick near the bottom of the 2014 draft, then Browns fans had better close their eyes not just for the balance of this season but for years to come.
2. Every year, teams make personnel decisions that give fantasy owners comfort to acquire those players in their drafts and auctions. And then they get burned. In Washington, the Redskins seem to have moved on from tight end Fred Davis even though they signed him to a one year contract worth up to $3.75-million. Davis was benched this week against the Packers and has been targeted just six times this season compared to nine targets for rookie 3rd round pick Jordan Reed. Other than very deep leagues, Davis is no longer worth owning.
3. With Ryan Broyles sitting out the first two weeks of the season, the assumption has been that the receiver is not fully recovered from the torn ACL that ended his 2013 season. However, Lions coach Jim Schwartz stated this week that health wasn’t the only reason Broyles hasn’t played. Patrick Edwards, another speedy second-year player, and Kris Durham have played the outside wide receiver position opposite Calvin Johnson with Nate Burleson operating out of the slot. Broyles will likely dress this week with Edwards likely out with an injured ankle and he needs to play well in order to earn back a spot on the active roster on game day.
4. If you’re desperate for help at running back, you might want to take a flyer out on Saints running back Pierre Thomas. While Darren Sproles has played well, the diminutive back has accumulated 27 touches in two games, putting him on pace to finish the season with 216 which would easily surpass his career high of 176. In addition, Mark Ingram has struggled with just 31 yards rushing on 17 carries as he continues to prove that the Saints erred in selecting him late in the 1st round of the 2011 draft. If Ingram continues to struggle and Sproles sees his touches reduced, Thomas will see his fantasy value rise. Over the balance of the season, the Saints face six run defenses that are ranked 21st or lower.
By: Dave Stringer — September 19, 2013 @ 8:25 am
Richardson changes uniforms and gets a nice fantasy value bump.
In one of the most shocking trades in the NFL in years, the Cleveland Browns have traded second year running back Trent Richardson to the Indianapolis Colts.
In return the Browns will receive the Colts 1st round pick in the 2014 draft.
Just one year and two games after using the 3rd overall selection in the 2012 draft to acquire Richardson, the Browns chose to go in a different direction as first year general manager Mike Lombardi continued his remake of the team’s roster. Richardson had quickly emerged as a team leader and the face of the franchise and trading him away so early in the 2013 season is not going to viewed favorably by the team’s rabid fan base.
In Indianapolis, the acquisition of Richardson solidifies a shaky backfield that lost second year player Vick Ballard, the team’s leading rusher as a rookie in 2012, to a season-ending knee injury prior to Week 2. The trade signifies that the team’s management is convinced that a run deep into the playoffs is possible just one year into Andrew Luck‘s reign as the team’s starting quarterback.
Reports indicate that the Browns will bring Willis McGahee to Cleveland for a physical. If signed, he will compete with Chris Ogbonnaya and Bobby Rainey to replace Richardson in the starting line-up.
The Colts entered the season envisioning a backfield led by Ahmad Bradshaw and Vick Ballard.
Two games into the season, it will be led by Richardson with Bradshaw in a supporting role.
Richardson proved to be a true workhorse back as a rookie in 2012, rushing for 950 yards and 11 touchdowns while catching 51 passes for 367 yards and another touchdown despite playing much of the season with injured ribs. Simply put, he has the talent to emerge as a top-five fantasy running back playing in a solid offense and this trade affords him that opportunity.
Assuming the Colts are in the hunt for a playoff spot at season’s end, they will have acquired a franchise running back for a late 1st round pick. Stunning.
In just a week, Bradshaw goes from being in a timeshare with Ballard, to a starter with little proven depth behind him, to a pure handcuff to Richardson. Fantasy owners that acquired him are left with little value just two weeks into the season.
In Cleveland, quarterback Brandon Weeden has been put on notice that anything short of a spectacular finish to the season will cost him his job. It’s also possible, and maybe even likely, that nothing can save Weeden’s job as the team’s starter. Look for the Browns to use their bevy of draft picks to acquire a quarterback in the 2014 draft.
At running back, McGahee is the odds on favorite to assume the starting job but it is fair to question how much he has left to give as he approaches his 32nd birthday. Although he rushed for 731 yards with four touchdowns in just 10 games with Denver last season, he suffered a season-ending knee injury and remained unsigned throughout the preseason. With the Browns offense struggling and having lost its most dynamic playmaker, McGahee rates as low end RB3 or high end RB4 over the balance of the season.
Of course, that is based on his holding off Ogbonnaya and Rainey. Ogbonnaya is a fifth year veteran journeyman will little upside while Rainey is a second year player who has yet to register a carry. The running back situation in Cleveland has very little upside.
By: Dave Stringer — September 17, 2013 @ 9:15 pm
Michael Vick, Eagles
Two games into the season, we can safely conclude that Vick has an opportunity to put together a career year in 2013. Provided he can stay healthy of course. With the Eagles taking their foot off the gas in Week 1, Vick amassed 29.6 fantasy points, and in Week 2 he put up 37.7 on 428 passing yards and a pair of touchdowns, as well as his second rushing touchdown of the season.
Rivers has 7 TD passes in 2 games.
Philip Rivers, Chargers
Rivers is protecting the football (one interception and no lost fumbles through two games) and elevating the play of his receivers, something that was missing from his game over the past couple of years. With seven touchdown passes and 614 passing yards in two games, Rivers has emerged as a low-end starter after two weeks. The schedule isn’t horrible, so this could be a situation where you can move your starter for help elsewhere and roll with Rivers.
Sam Bradford, Rams
This isn’t the St. Louis offense of yesteryear, dominated by Steven Jackson. The Rams are chucking it because of a subpar rushing attack, with Bradford second in the league in pass attempts. He has throw for 299 and 352 yards and multiple touchdowns (three and two, respectively) in each game. And the young weapons he has on offense will only get better as the season progresses.
Tom Brady, Patriots
I coach 8-year rep hockey, so I am well aware that what you start the season with isn’t what you finish it with. Unfortunately for Brady owners, they are going to have to endure more games like this week’s effort against the Jets, in which Brady completed 19 of 39 passes for 185 yards and one touchdown, before the light at the end of the tunnel gets brighter. Simply put, this is the worst collection of receivers that he has ever had to work with.
Josh Freeman, Buccaneers
Two games into his free-agent year, it appears that Freeman is destined to make this a “break it” year rather than a “make it” one. He was abysmal this week against the Saints, going 9 of 22 for 125 yards and a touchdown with one interception. He wasn’t much better in Week 1, and control freak head coach Greg Schiano isn’t going to waste much more time before he inserts rookie third-round pick Mike Glennon into the lineup.
Robert Griffin III, Redskins
Ugh. It was another ugly performance for RGIII this week, although he still managed to pad his fantasy stats with 320 passing yards and three touchdown passes. At 0-2 and with the season on the line, there is a small chance that head coach Mike Shanahan will put him on a short leash if the turnovers keeping coming (three interceptions so far in 2013). The truth of the matter is that RGIII hasn’t produced other than in garbage time.
James Starks, Packers
Starks came off the bench this week to become the first Packers player in 44 games to top 100-yards rushing. With Eddie Lacy out with a concussion, Starks had the finest game of his four-year career with 132 yards and a touchdown on 20 carries, while chipping in four receptions for 36 yards. He entered training camp fifth on the depth chart but pushed aside Alex Green (released) to keep his job. With rookie fourth-round pick Jonathan Franklin struggling, DuJuan Harris out for the year, and Lacy questionable for next week, Starks now sits atop the depth chart for a Packers offense that is humming. It’s worth mentioning that reports out of Green Bay in the preseason noted that Starks was having the best training camp of his career and that he looked like a different player.
Knowshon Moreno, Broncos
At this point, you can feel comfortable inserting Moreno into the starting lineup. He has outshined his two younger backups with 172 yards and a pair of touchdowns on 28 touches. There is simply no reason why the Broncos would give rookie second-round pick Montee Ball more touches in Week 3.
Fred Jackson, Bills
With FJax getting 33 touches over the first two weeks of the season, it looks like the plan to give C.J. Spiller the rock until he pukes isn’t going to be put in place. Jackson hasn’t even done a lot to warrant the work, averaging 3.9 yards per carry and 8.0 yards per reception, but his 11.1 PPG average looks pretty solid.
Joique Bell, Lions
Reggie Bush is having an MRI on his knee and Bell has made the most of his opportunities thus far in 2013, with 164 total yards and a pair of touchdowns on 24 touches.
Brandon Jacobs, Giants
Although he is destined for the bench when Andre Brown returns, Jacobs could prove useful for a few weeks. He had seven rushes this week, many of them as a short-yardage runner, scoring once. He even had a pass thrown his way, although the Giants presumably had the wrong personnel in the game on that play.
Jordan Todman, Jaguars
After a first-half ankle injury, Maurice Jones-Drew never returned. Rather than turn to Justin Forsett or Denard Robinson, the Jaguars inserted Todman, who carried five times. For seven yards. No, not pretty, but worth noting that he—not Forsett, as most expected—is MJD’s handcuff.
Arian Foster, Texans
I’m not pulling the plug yet because I think better days are ahead, but Arian is averaging 3.7 yards per carry against a pair of run defenses that aren’t exactly considered upper-tier.
Trent Richardson, Browns & DeMarco Murray, Cowboys
These guys aren’t chopped liver but the offensive lines they run behind sure are. Richardson is averaging 3.4 yards a pop while Murray is at 3.5. Let’s call these buy-low situations.
Mark Ingram, Saints
Stick a fork in this dude. He’s done. Unless the Saints offensive line becomes dominant, Ingram will never be a consistent fantasy producer. There is too much competition for touches in the Saints backfield and he just doesn’t deserve to get enough of them to make him fantasy relevant. This guy needs volume touches to put up decent numbers.
DeAndre Hopkins, Texans
With Andre Johnson out with a concussion, Hopkins hauled in the winning touchdown in the Texans overtime win over the Titans, finishing the day with seven receptions for 117 yards and the score. He was also instrumental on the Texans’ game-tying scoring drive in the fourth quarter with three receptions for 64 yards. It looks like Hopkins will get his in the Texans offense, but he will get even more if AJ is out for any length of time.
Eddie Royal, Chargers
Sometimes tone is important. You’re not here with me and these words are being typed, so let me spell it out for you: This is lukewarm endorsement. Sure, Royal has five touchdowns in two games and the Chargers passing offense looks surprisingly potent. But it won’t be a surprise if Royal doesn’t find the end zone over the rest of the season, since his five scores match his touchdowns production over the past four seasons combined.
Steve Johnson, Bills
Just in case anybody was doubting his fantasy relevance with rookie EJ Manuel at quarterback, Johnson has touchdowns in each of his first two games and topped 100 receiving yards this week.
Lance Moore, Saints
With four targets in each of his first two games (three receptions for 38 yards), Moore is starting to look like an afterthought in the Saints offense.
Vincent Brown, Chargers
Brown is averaging a respectable 5.0 PPG but that is padded by his Week 1 touchdown. With just six receptions on 11 targets for 39 yards, he has had a rather underwhelming start to a season in which he was considered a breakout candidate by many (not here, BTW—ahem).
Kenny Britt, Titans
After a one-reception, 15-yard performance in Week 1 in which he had only two targets, Britt was more involved in the Titans’ Week 2 matchup against the Texans. Unfortunately, he caught just four of his nine targets for 28 yards before getting benched.
Martellus Bennett, Bears
Bennett put together a career year last season in his first year with the Giants, despite playing through an early-season knee injury, and it looks like he will have another career year with another new team in 2013. Two games into his Bears career, Bennett is clearly a key cog in Chicago’s passing attack, with ten receptions for 125 yards and three touchdowns. He appears headed for mid-tier TE1 status.
Fred Davis, Redskins
Two games into the year, Davis has been targeted just six times compared to nine for rookie third-round pick Jordan Reed. While Reed has shown little playmaking ability, averaging 7.0 yards per reception, it appears there is a changing of the guard occurring at the tight end position in Washington.
Brandon Pettigrew, Lions
After a two-reception, six-yard performance in Week 1, Pettigrew was marginally better this week against the Cardinals, catching three of his six targets for 32 yards. After watching Rams tight end Jared Cook scorch the Cardinals safeties in Week 1, Pettigrew owners were hoping for more. Unfortunately, with the addition of Reggie Bush, his role in the Lions offense appears to have been marginalized.
By: Dave Stringer — September 14, 2013 @ 6:04 am
1. With news that Vick Ballard is out for the year with a torn ACL, fantasy owners will be heading to the waiver wire to add the previously forgotten Donald Brown. With Ahmad Bradshaw not yet ready to handle a heavy workload (and perhaps not ever), Brown figures to get 10-12 touches this week against the Dolphins. However, it won’t be a surprise if the Colts add a veteran running back to the roster since they were only carrying three players at the position. With Bradshaw’s health always in question and the inconsistent Brown not being relied upon, Indianapolis is likely to add veteran insurance at the position rather than a young street free agent.
2. In Atlanta, news broke after the Falcons Week 1 loss to the Saints that wide receiver Roddy White was suffering from a high ankle sprain. Fantasy owners weren’t likely expecting that little tidbit to surface and more than a few likely posted a loss due to White’s meagre stat line of two receptions for 19 yards. Since White isn’t practising this week, he will likely be a game time decision for Atlanta’s Week 2 home game against the Rams. Even if White goes, he will likely be used as a decoy once again since St. Louis has two solid corners in Cortland Finnegan and Janoris Jenkins. That makes diminutive slot receiver Harry Douglas a sneaky play in Week 2 and maybe longer. He is coming off a four-reception, 93-yard performance in Week 1.
3. Down in Dallas, Dez Bryant suffered a sprained foot late in the Cowboys Week 1 win over the Giants. With Bryant limited in practice this week, there is a chance he won’t get a full workload this Sunday against the Chiefs. With the Giants relegating his targets through the use of double teams, look for Tony Romo to make full use of Miles Austin and Jason Witten this week. There is also an outside chance that rookie 3rd round pick Terrance Williams could see his usage increased. Unfortunately for Williams, he displayed shaky hands and poor route running in Week 1. The Cowboys are high on him, however, so Dwayne Harris seems unlikely to supplant Williams, at least not so early in the season. If Bryant’s injury lingers, Williams could be worth an add in deeper leagues.
4. In St. Louis, Isaiah Pead returns to the line-up this week after serving a one-game suspension. While the Rams quickly installed him at number two on the depth chart ahead of rookie 5th round pick Zac Stacy, all indications are that Daryl Richardson has a stranglehold on the starting position. With St. Louis basing their offensive philosophy on having as much speed as possible at the skill positions, Richardson is a better fit than Pead, who displayed little playmaking ability as a rookie despite being taken in the 2nd round of the draft. While Richardson wasn’t stellar in the team’s Week 1 win over the Cardinals, he displayed plenty of speed in open space and a willingness to get the tough yards between the tackles.
5. After Geno Smith’s three interception performance in the Jets Thursday night loss to the Patriots and his uneven performance during the preseason, there is little wonder why former starter Mark Sanchez is delaying having surgery on the torn labrum in his throwing shoulder. While the Jets appear to be committed to Smith and he was reasonably solid in their Week 1 win over the Bucs, it is also abundantly clear that he is not currently an NFL calibre starting quarterback. Sanchez deserves kudos for sticking out to help the maturation process of the player that took his job, rather than mailing it in by having season-ending surgery, even though his career in New York will almost certainly end following the season. At just 26 years of age, Sanchez will have an opportunity to resurrect his career elsewhere in 2014 and it won’t be a huge shocker if that happens. His career floundered in New York as the quality of the players at the Jets skill positions decreased over the past few seasons.
6. Sticking with the Jets, it seems only a matter of time before Chris Ivory supplants Bilal Powell in the team’s starting line-up. While Powell has some shiftiness and is clearly a superior receiver, he can’t match Ivory’s explosiveness as a runner. Ivory is clearly a faster, more powerful runner and would appear to be exactly the type of threat the team needs to help open things up in the passing game. Look for Ivory to get more extensive work beginning in Week 3 against a Bills defense that has played poorly against the run for the past several seasons.
7. After a strong preseason, Christine Michael failed to get a single touch during the Seahawks Week 1 win over the Panthers. With Marshawn Lynch getting the early down work and Robert Turbin playing on passing downs, Michael was persona non grata in the Seattle game plan. While his inability to supplant Turbin as a receiving option isn’t a surprise and removes any chance of him being a solid flex option, Michael is likely the handcuff to own in the Seattle backfield. If Lynch were to go down, Michael would likely step into the role as the team’s early down back although he would not be likely to receive as many touches.
By: Dave Stringer — September 10, 2013 @ 6:02 pm
Manning is making his case for the top fantasy QB in 2013.
Peyton Manning, Broncos
The Broncos’ talent at the skill positions is just ridiculous, and with Manning orchestrating it, Denver has a good shot to have the most potent offense in the league in 2013. With tight end Julius Thomas emerging as a weapon, Manning threw for 462 yards and a career-high seven touchdown passes in Week 1. This isn’t a sell-high option. It’s a sit-back-and-enjoy-the-show scenario.
Colin Kaepernick, 49ers
Kaepernick shed any concerns that he would struggle without his top wide receiver in Michael Crabtree, topping 400 yards for the first time in his career (he topped 300 yards only once previously, in last year’s Super Bowl loss to the Ravens) while throwing for three touchdowns. This cat is ready to join the elite fantasy QBs in the league.
Terrelle Pryor, Raiders & Geno Smith, Jets
Giving you a heads up that these guys weren’t as bad as advertised and they have some hope of emerging as decent QB2s in 2013. That’s more than we thought a week ago.
Blaine Gabbert, Jaguars
Can somebody please put this man out of his misery? And end the misery of the Jaguars fans who have to watch him. Totaling just 121 yards on 35 pass attempts (3.5 yards per attempt) is pathetic.
Brandon Weeden, Browns
Weeden showed some promise in the preseason but he reverted to form in Week 1, holding on to the ball too long (six sacks) and making poor decisions (three picks). The truth is that Weeden absolutely has to be surrounded by solid talent, and he is guaranteed to struggle until Josh Gordon returns in Week 3.
Reggie Bush, Lions
I was all in on Bush even as his ADP grew during the preseason, and he didn’t disappoint in Week 1 with 191 total yards and a touchdown. He also had another score overturned. With the Vikings defense focused on shutting down Calvin Johnson, Bush had space to do his thing and he seems a perfect fit in Detroit. If only we could guarantee full health for 16 games.
Joique Bell, Lions
Meet Reggie Bush’s real handcuff and a guy who totaled 92 yards and a pair of touchdowns in Week 1. Mikel Leshoure owners can now safely move on.
LeSean McCoy, Eagles
After McCoy’s 32-touch, 189-yard, one-touchdown performance, we can put to rest any concerns about Chip Kelly’s offense being a success in the NFL and the impact Bryce Brown would have on Shady’s touches.
LeGarrette Blount, Patriots
Stevan Ridley was benched for bumbling (er, fumbling) and Shane Vereen is apparently out with a broken wrist. Blount looked very ordinary against the Bills this week (seven carries, 15 yards) but he just might be in the starting lineup in Week 2. I’m not calling it, but there is a chance.
David Wilson, Giants
The worst nightmare for Wilson owners came to fruition on Sunday night as he managed to lose two fumbles on his first seven carries, finding himself nailed to the bench. The Giants haven’t given up on him but that’s because they don’t have any other viable options. That is, until they sign one, which seems likely.
Lamar Miller, Dolphins
Another preseason breakout candidate flopped big time in Week 1 with Miller being limited to just three yards on 10 carries. No, that’s not a typo.
Montee Ball, Broncos
Dude’s going to get his turn at some point in his rookie season, but it looks like it’s going to be later than most of us expected. Even with Knowshon Moreno looking clearly average in a blowout win, Ball had only eight carries.
Shane Vereen, Patriots
Yet another blow to the Pats offense as Vereen (wrist surgery) has been placed on the IR / designated for return list which means he’s going to miss eight weeks. Given the Patriots have a bye in Week 10, he’s not likely to see the field until Week 11. It’s a shame as Vereen was one of two running backs (LeSean McCoy) to top the 100-yard rushing mark in Week 1.
Anquan Boldin, 49ers
Boldin led all receivers this week in targets (17), receptions (13) and yards (208). We all knew he was going to have a major role in the 49ers offense this season, but his output in Week 1 was ridiculous. Apparently he has something to prove to the Ravens, who shed his $6-million salary in exchange for a sixth-round pick. An angry Boldin is not a man to be messed with. Ask the Packers’ defensive backs.
Julian Edelman, Patriots
Turns out Edelman, not one of their prized (joking!) rookies, is the Patriots second best fantasy WR. He hauled in seven of his nine targets for 79 yards and a pair of scores. And with Danny Amendola nicked up after Week 1, Edelman has a shot to emerge as their leading receiver, at least until Rob Gronkowski returns.
Leonard Hankerson, Redskins
Could the light finally stay on for the Redskins’ 2011 third-round pick? Hankerson has plenty of talent but has been a tease during his first two years in the league. With the Redskins playing from behind this week, he managed five receptions for 80 yards and a pair of scores. Washington values Josh Morgan for his blocking but there is a decent chance Hankerson supplants him as a starter early in 2013.
Brian Hartline, Dolphins
I was ready to write him off as a fantasy backup, but Mike Wallace’s pout job and Hartline’s nine-reception (15 targets), 114-yard, one-touchdown performance puts him back on the map as a viable WR3 in 12-team leagues.
Jerome Simpson, Vikings
Seven receptions on eight targets for 140 yards. Just saying.
Marlon Brown, Ravens
Jacoby Jones is going to miss some times, the Ravens tight ends were awful and Torrey Smith just isn’t a target hog. Meet Marlon Brown, a 6’5”, 216-pound undrafted rookie free agent who had four receptions for 65 yards and a score this week against the Broncos. Sleeper? Or, sleeper no more?
Mike Wallace, Dolphins
Losah!!!!!!!!!!!! Whining and needing to be escorted off the field by the general manager that signed you to a five-year, $60-million contract after your new team won its first game of the year. Clueless.
Roddy White, Falcons
There were whispers late in the preseason that White’s ankle injury was worse than the Falcons were revealing, and his use as a decoy in Week 1 (two receptions, 19 yards) confirmed it. And then he totally let the cat of the bag by confirming that he has a high ankle sprain.
Kenbrell Thompkins, Patriots
The Patriots’ undrafted rookie free agent had the fourth most targets among wide receivers this week, but he hauled in just four receptions for 42 yards, blew a couple of routes and eased up on a throw to the end zone. Some guys need shades when the lights come on.
Jared Cook, Rams
The Rams signed Cook to a massive contract this offseason and they had no intention of underutilizing him the way the Titans did during his first four years in the league. With Patrick Peterson taking away Chris Givens and with Yeremiah Bell ill-equipped to handle him, Cook caught seven passes for 141 yards and two touchdowns. Unfortunately, he was stripped just before hitting the end zone on another play or he would have had another score. Cook is clearly poised to have a breakout season in St. Louis.
Julius Thomas, Broncos
Another athletic tight end arrived on the scene in Denver, where Thomas, a barely used 2011 fourth-round pick, had a career day with five receptions for 110 yards and a pair of scores. His performance reminded me of Dante Rosario’s three-touchdown opening day a number of years back, but Thomas looks like he will have more staying power. With all of the options in Denver, defenses will have to pick their poison, and Thomas isn’t a player than many linebackers and safeties will be able to handle.
Jordan Cameron, Browns; Kellen Winslow, Jets; Brandon Myers, Giants
Does it seem like it was the week of the tight end? All of these players had plenty of catches and plenty of targets, plus they found the end zone.
Ed Dickson, Ravens
It seems like I pile on Dickson early every year, so I might as well get it out of my system in 2013. With Dennis Pitta out long term, Dickson has an opportunity to earn a big role this season, but things started out poorly in Week 1 as he hauled in just one of his five targets for 13 yards. The four targets he failed to bring in were all catchable balls. Meanwhile, recently signed backup Dallas Clark caught seven of his 12 targets for 87 yards, although he failed to haul in an easy touchdown catch.
Zach Sudfeld, Patriots
Preseason starlet. Week 1 dud.
By: Dave Stringer — August 29, 2013 @ 12:14 pm
Even with additional weapons (Cook & Austin) Bradford remains a QB2.
QB Sam Bradford
(2012 QB Rank – #19, 18.0 FPts/G)
Entering 2013, Rams quarterback Sam Bradford faces a pivotal year as he attempts to establish himself as an upper-tier quarterback. Hopes are high that Bradford, with a bevy of speed receivers and a second consecutive year under the tutelage of offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer, will put together a career year in 2013. Of course, he will have to accomplish that without the services of Steven Jackson and Danny Amendola, both of whom departed in free agency, and Schottenheimer has never been mentioned as one of the league’s top offensive minds. Despite a leaky offensive and a cast of receivers that was among the league’s worst in 2012, Bradford set career highs with 3,702 passing yards and 21 touchdowns with just 13 interceptions. However, he threw for less than 200 yards five times and had just three 300-yard passing games. The lack of explosive games (partly caused by a lack of playmakers at the skill positions) caused him to finish the season as a mid-tier QB2, but he could be in for a breakout season in 2013. Rookie Tavon Austin offers plenty of potential at wide receiver, Chris Givens will look to establish himself as a big-play threat, and tight end Jared Cook is one of the league’s most athletic tight ends. If the Rams can get solid production from their running backs, Bradford could emerge as a low-end QB1. But that’s a lot of ifs. Consider Bradford a mid-tier QB2 once again this season.
RB Daryl Richardson
(2012 RB Rank – #51, 4.0 FPts/G; #46 PPR, 5.5 FPts/G)
A rookie seventh-round pick in 2012, Richardson got off to a fast start as Steven Jackson’s backup, racking up 451 rushing and 117 receiving yards over the Rams’ first 11 games. Then he crumbled like a cookie, with 16 rushes for 24 yards and eight receptions for 46 yards over the team’s final five games. The Abilene Christian product will enter 2013 as the Rams’ starting running back, but there are serious concerns whether his 5’10”, 196-pound frame is built to handle the lead role in St. Louis, or whether he would be best utilized as a change-of-pace back. While the speedy Richardson proved to be effective running outside the tackles, he struggled mightily once opposing defenses coordinators figured out he wasn’t much of an inside runner. However, with disappointing 2012 second-round pick Isaiah Pead and rookie fifth-round pick Zac Stacy as his only competition, Richardson has the starting role almost by default. We expect the Rams backfield to be a fantasy mess in 2013, with the hot hand getting the touches. Richardson rates as a low-end RB3.
RB Isaiah Pead
(2012 RB Rank – #126, 15.4 FPts/G; #126 PPR, 1.3 FPts/G)
Many felt the Rams finally addressed the backup running back spot behind Steven Jackson with the 2012 selection of Isaiah Pead in the second round of the draft. However, seventh-round pick Daryl Richardson stole that backup role and is expected to be given the first chance as the Rams starter in 2013. Pead rarely saw the field as a rookie, rushing just ten times for 54 yards and catching three passes for 16 yards. He didn’t endure himself to the Rams coaches with his lack of knowledge of the playbook, and then he was suspended for the opening game of the 2013 season for violating the league’s substance abuse policies. Looks like he has a lot of learning to do both on the field and off. While that might be the case, Richardson struggled at the end of the 2012 season and there are doubts that he can hold up as a starter. Don’t be surprised if Pead gets a shot in that role at some point in 2013, making him worth taking a flier on.
RB Zac Stacy
(2012 RB Rank – N/A)
The Rams used a fifth-round pick in this year’s draft to acquire Stacy, and he will be given an opportunity to earn a role in 2013. With neither Daryl Richardson nor Isaiah Pead having done much to establish themselves as consistent producers, Stacy could even earn the starting role at some point in his rookie season. While the 5’9”, 210-pound Vanderbilt product lacks upside because of his lack of speed and shiftiness, he was an effective inside runner in college, and neither Richardson nor Stacy have proven efficient in that role as pros. At worst, Stacy figures to get some yardage looks, so that makes him worthy of a late-round flier in your fantasy draft. Just don’t go mistaking opportunity for talent if you are thinking about grabbing Stacy in your dynasty league. He doesn’t have the feel of a long-time NFL starter even if he earns a few starts in 2013.
WR Tavon Austin
(2012 WR Rank – N/A)
With a lack of playmakers at the offensive skill positions and Danny Amendola having departed in free agency, St. Louis moved up in this year’s draft to select Austin with the eighth overall selection. The West Virginia product displayed outstanding playmaking ability during his collegiate career, effectively utilizing his shiftiness and 40 speed of 4.34, mainly working out of the slot. He will fulfill that role in St. Louis, and with quarterback Sam Bradford having shown an affinity for utilizing slot receivers, Austin could be a PPR demon in his rookie season. He figures to be a tough matchup out of the slot, with opposing defenses having to respect his blazing speed. Unfortunately, the Rams offense could struggle with no proven threat at running back and an offensive line that has been trouble for years. While that dampens our expectations for Austin in his rookie season, he is an outstanding dynasty league prospect and a player that should produce as a WR3 with upside in his rookie season.
WR Chris Givens
(2012 WR Rank – #52, 5.9 FPts/G; #58 PPR, 8.7 FPts/G)
The Rams hit a home run with the acquisition of Chris Givens with a fourth-round pick in the 2012 draft. The Wake Forest product used his blazing speed to emerge as St. Louis’s top receiving weapon, catching 42 passes for 698 yards and three touchdowns, with 689 of those yards and all three touchdowns coming in his last 12 games. At this point of his career, Givens is a less-established version of the Dolphins’ Mike Wallace but with plenty of upside. A one-trick pony for the first half of his rookie season, Givens was effectively used on intermediate routes over the latter part of 2012. In 2013, he may have even more room to operate due to the acquisitions of Tavon Austin and Jared Cook. Look for Givens to improve on his rookie season and make for a solid WR3 this year.
WR Austin Pettis
(2012 WR Rank – #82, 3.9 FPts/G; #81 PPR, 6.2 FPts/G)
Entering his third year in the league, Pettis figures to open the season in the Rams starting lineup for the first time in his career. A third-round pick out of Boise State in 2011, Pettis needs to beat out disappointing second-year player Brian Quick, but that appears to be a mere formality. Given that Pettis has averaged 9.1 yards per reception, he’s going to need plenty of targets to be a decent fantasy option. Unfortunately, he will rank as quarterback Sam Bradford’s fourth best receiving option behind Jared Cook, Chris Givens and rookie first-round pick Tavon Austin. Even though Pettis was a solid red zone option with four touchdowns on just 30 receptions last season, he isn’t worth owning in the majority of leagues.
WR Brian Quick
(2012 WR Rank – #111, 2.0 FPts/G; #121 PPR, 2.8 FPts/G)
After being taken with the first pick in the second round of the 2012 draft, Quick was a major disappointment as a rookie, catching just 11 of his 27 targets for 156 yards and one touchdown. After being targeted four times in Weeks 7 and 8, Quick became a forgotten man in the Rams offensive game plans. And that doesn’t figure to change in 2013. With the Rams taking Tavon Austin with the eighth selection in this year’s draft, Chris Givens locking down a starting spot after an impressive rookie season, and Jared Cook signing in free agency to start at tight end, Quick will need to beat out Austin Pettis to become the fourth best receiving option on the team. And offseason reports indicate that battle isn’t going Quick’s way. Quick isn’t even worth a late-round flier, and his dynasty prospects are sinking like a stone.
WR Stedman Bailey
(2012 WR Rank – N/A)
The Rams used a third-round pick to acquire Bailey in this year’s draft, and the expectation is that the West Virginia product will open the season buried deep on the team’s depth chart. Bailey lacks size at 5’10” and 195 pounds but has solid speed, having been clocked at 4.4 seconds in the 40-yard dash. He will open the season fifth on the depth chart with a chance to unseat the disappointing Brian Quick. He rates as a lower-tier prospect in dynasty formats.
TE Jared Cook
(2012 TE Rank – #19, 5.9 FPts/G; #21 PPR, 9.3 FPts/G)
Even after a disappointing four-year run with Tennessee, Cook was one of the most sought after free agents on the market this offseason, signing a lucrative multi-year contract with the Rams. In St. Louis, he figures to be a key cog in an up-and-coming passing attack that has struggled to find a consistent big-play presence for years. Now, with Cook and wide receivers Chris Givens and Tavon Austin, the team now has the ability to line up plenty of speed across the board in the passing game. As the most proven of that trio, Cook figures to reach a career-high in targets (his previous was 81 during the 2011 season), after being underutilized in Tennessee. As well as being one of the fastest tight ends in the league, Cook has solid size at 6’5” and 248 pounds, so a career year seems to be in order in 2013. The question is whether he will blow away his previous production or merely take it a notch higher. Consider Cook a mid-tier TE1 with upside.
TE Lance Kendricks
(2012 TE Rank – #20, 4.7 FPts/G; #23 PPR, 7.4 FPts/G)
A second-round pick in the 2011 draft, Kendricks struggled as a rookie but showed marked improvement last season, catching 42 passes for 519 yards and four touchdowns in 14 games. However, a closer look revealed that outside of his four-reception, 119-yard, one-touchdown performance in Week 16 against the Buccaneers, Kendricks was only marginally productive, failing to top 50 receiving yards in any other game. The Rams upgraded the tight end position this offseason with the signing of former Titan Jared Cook, and that will move Kendricks to a backup role in 2013. His fantasy prospects are looking pretty dim.
By: Dave Stringer — August 26, 2013 @ 1:32 pm
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QB Colin Kaepernick
(2012 QB Rank – #27, 15.6 FPts/G)
After taking over for a concussed Alex Smith in Week 10 against St. Louis, Kaepernick never relinquished the starting position, leading the 49ers to a Super Bowl loss to the Ravens. He established himself as a solid playmaking quarterback, capable of winning games both with his arm and his legs. Despite playing in the 49ers’ conservative offense, he topped 200 passing yards in six of his seven starts while throwing for ten touchdowns and three interceptions in those games. Even more impressive was his rushing ability, as he gained 415 yards with five touchdowns on just 63 carries. And that’s not counting the playoffs where he ran for a quarterback playoff record of 181 yards against the Packers in a Divisional Playoff win. Entering the offseason, Kaepernick appeared on the verge of being a top five fantasy QB, a prognosis that grew even more sound with the trade for wide receiver Anquan Boldin. Shortly after that, Michael Crabtree suffered a torn Achilles tendon that could cause him to miss all of the 2013 season. While that dampens Kaepernick’s outlook somewhat, he remains a solid option as a mid-tier QB1 for the upcoming season.
Frank Gore: He keeps on ticking.
RB Frank Gore
(2012 RB Rank – #11, 12.4 FPts/G; #10 PPR, 14.2 FPts/G)
Gore is like a Timex—he just keeps on ticking. There was little difference between his production in 2011 and 2012 other than one key area: receptions. He ran for just over 1,200 yards for the second year in a row. with eight rushing touchdowns, but he was more involved in the passing game in 2012, catching 28 passes for 234 yards and a touchdown. And that wasn’t just because Kendall Hunter missed five games due to injury, since Hunter caught only nine passes on the season. At 30 years of age, Gore is bound to hit the wall at some point, but it doesn’t appear this will be the season that occurs. He averaged a solid 4.7 yards per carry last year, although part of that was aided by running behind arguably the league’s best run-blocking offensive line. The bigger concern is whether the offensive game plans will call for Gore to approach the 286 touches he had last season. With Hunter back from injury and 2012 and second-round pick LaMichael James due for a larger role, the 49ers could limit Gore’s regular-season workload in order to keep him fresh for a playoff run. That would prevent him from hitting double-digit fantasy points in 14 of 19 games, which shows just how consistent he was in 2012. With so much talent surrounding him in the backfield, Gore should be considered a mid-tier RB2 with little upside in 2013.
RB Kendall Hunter
(2012 RB Rank – #58, 5.0 FPts/G; #60 PPR, 5.8 FPts/G)
It has been an interesting two-year run in the NFL for Hunter. After an impressive rookie season in which the 2011 fourth-round pick ran for 473 yards and two touchdowns while chipping in 195 receiving yards, the 49ers chose another smallish back in the 2012 draft to challenge him, using a second-round pick to acquire LaMichael James. Hunter not only held him off but was even more impressive, rushing for 371 yards in 11 games while averaging 5.2 yards per carry. Unfortunately, a ruptured Achilles tendon ended his season in Week 12. That was followed up with the 49ers drafting Marcus Lattimore in the fourth round of this year’s draft. While it doesn’t appear Hunter is in the 49ers’ plans as a starting option down the road, James has done little to warrant taking his backup job away, so Hunter should enter the season as Frank Gore’s main handcuff. With Gore hitting the magical age of 30, Hunter rates as a solid handcuff and one who could be worthy of flex consideration in larger leagues.
RB LaMichael James
(2012 RB Rank – #108, 3.9 FPts/G; #114 PPR, 4.6 FPts/G)
After playing in Oregon’s spread offense in college, James was expected to have a redshirt season in 2012 as a rookie second-round pick, playing behind Frank Gore and Kendall Hunter. And that’s exactly what happened, with James not even dressing until Hunter was lost for the season in Week 12. After that, James played reasonably well with 125 yards on 27 carries and three receptions for 29 yards. However, the backup job appears to be Hunter’s to lose in 2013, with all indications that James will need a great preseason to unseat him. That makes James nothing more than a late-round flyer in 2013 and a dubious one at that. In addition, his value in dynasty leagues took a hit with the fourth-round selection of Marcus Lattimore, further crowding the team’s backfield.
RB Anthony Dixon
(2012 RB Rank – #100, 2.5 FPts/G; #111 PPR, 2.5 FPts/G)
If there’s one thing you can say about Dixon, it’s that he’s a survivor. Despite seeing his production decline in each of the last two years after he ran for 237 yards and a pair of touchdowns as a rookie sixth-round pick in 2010, Dixon should hold on to a roster spot once again in 2013, provided rookie fourth-round pick Marcus Lattimore doesn’t make a miraculous recovery from his knee issues. While Dixon has done little, he is worth knowing about because both of Frank Gore’s main backups, LaMichael James and Kendall Hunter, lack the size necessary to handle major touches. If Gore goes down, Dixon could be a solid flex option as a short-yardage and close-out runner.
RB Marcus Lattimore
(2012 RB Rank – N/A)
The 49ers took a flier on Lattimore in the fourth round of this year’s draft even though he has little chance of playing in 2013 due to the horrific knee injury that ended his collegiate career. The South Carolina product would have otherwise been a first-round selection given his solid size, speed and athletic ability, and there is a chance he could take over for Frank Gore in the 49ers starting lineup at some point down the road. And it’s worth noting that San Francisco has some experience going this route, having acquired Gore in the 2005 draft despite his injury issues. Even though there are no assurances that Lattimore will fully recover, he is worth stashing on your dynasty league roster because of his potential.
WR Anquan Boldin
(2012 WR Rank – #31, 7.8 FPts/G; #30 PPR, 12.1 FPts/G)
The 49ers’ decision to acquire Boldin for just a sixth-round pick turned out to be a great move after the team lost Michael Crabtree to a torn Achilles tendon in May. That opens the door for Boldin to take over as the team’s lead wide receiver, but the question is how much gas the 32-year old Boldin has left in the tank. While he was lights out during the Ravens’ four-game march to a Super Bowl victory last season, he has failed to top 1,000 receiving yards over the past three seasons, despite being Baltimore’s leading receiver. And there are warning signals on the horizon. Even though he’s a possession receiver at this point in his career, he caught just 58 percent of his targets last season, hauling in 65 receptions for 921 yards and four touchdowns. However, since the 49ers have major issues on the wide receiver depth chart below him, Boldin is expected to have a major role in the team’s passing offense in 2013, along with tight end Vernon Davis. Consider Boldin a WR3 but one who is a bit risky and could be in line for an inconsistent season while facing the solid cornerbacks that reside in the NFC West.
WR Michael Crabtree
(2012 WR Rank – #15, 10.3 FPts/G; #15 PPR, 15.6 FPts/G)
In 2012, Crabtree finally showed the league that he was worthy of being the 10th overall pick in the 2009 draft. With a full training camp and solid play from his quarterback, Crabtree emerged as a true lead receiver, hauling in 85 of his 127 targets for 1,105 yards and nine touchdowns. That is impressive production considering San Francisco’s offense is based heavily on the run. Unfortunately, a torn Achilles tendon suffered in May cast a major cloud over Crabtree’s prognosis for the 2013 season. Rather than being a candidate to emerge as a WR1 for fantasy purposes, he is not expected to be available until mid-November. And by available, we mean available to begin practicing. Since a torn Achilles is a major issue for a wide receiver, we don’t see Crabtree being startable in any fantasy format in 2013. Consider stashing him in your dynasty league.
WR Mario Manningham
(2012 WR Rank – #76, 4.8 FPts/G; #73 PPR, 8.3 FPts/G)
While Manningham has more talent than he is given credit for, he made a major blunder when he signed with the 49ers prior to the 2012 season. Rather than being a key contributor as a backup with the Giants, he went to San Francisco in order to secure a starting position but ended up sharing that role with Randy Moss in a 49ers offense that relied heavily on the run game and rarely threw deep. Or not to Manningham, at least. Torn ACL and PCLs ended his season in Week 16 but by then he had done little, with just 42 receptions on 57 targets for 449 yards and a touchdown. While there is an opening for a larger role in 2013, with Michael Crabtree expected to miss much of the season with a torn Achilles tendon, Manningham’s slow recovery casts doubt on his ability to open the season in the starting lineup. He isn’t worth drafting but could be a worthwhile one-week fill-in if he can return to health early in 2013.
WR Austin Collie
(2012 WR Rank – N/A)
With a major hole in the depth chart at wide receiver, the 49ers signed Collie early in training camp and he will have an opportunity to carve out a role in the team’s passing attack in 2013. A torn patellar tendon ended his 2012 season in Week 1, and concussions have plagued him throughout his four-year career, although he did manage to remain healthy for 16 games in 2011. While Collie is just two years removed from a 2010 season in which he had 649 receiving yards and eight touchdowns in just nine games, we don’t expect him to put together a bounceback season in 2013. He fits best working out of the slot, and slot production just hasn’t been a major factor in San Francisco’s offense during Jim Harbaugh’s two years leading the team. Collie might be worth taking a flier on in deeper leagues, but that’s about it. And keep in mind that he isn’t even a lock to be on the 49ers opening-day roster.
WR Quinton Patton
(2012 WR Rank – N/A)
The 49ers used a fourth-round pick to acquire Patton and the plan was to relegate him to a minor role as a rookie. However, Michael Crabtree’s torn Achilles tendon, Mario Manningham’s slow recovery from a torn ACL, and the lack of development of 2012 first-round pick A.J. Jenkins have given Patton a path to playing time in 2013. The Louisiana Tech product has solid size and, provided he can learn the team’s playbook and show some dependability in the preseason, he has a decent chance to open the season in the starting lineup. With Jenkins looking like a bust and Manningham and Kyle Williams both coming off knee injuries, we won’t be all that surprised if Patton starts in Week 1. Of course, there is no telling if he can produce. Monitor the 49ers’ situation at wide receiver and consider grabbing Patton off the waiver wire early in 2013.
WR A.J. Jenkins
(2012 WR Rank – N/A)
Despite possessing a depth chart featuring Michael Crabtree, Mario Manningham, and Randy Moss, the 49ers used a 2012 first-round pick to acquire A.J. Jenkins. While he displayed excellent speed and playmaking ability at Illinois, he was considered a raw prospect, and that proved to be prophetic when he failed to catch a single pass during his rookie season. In fact, he barely played. With offseason reports indicating that Jenkins had done little to impress the 49ers brass despite Crabtree being out with a torn Achilles tendon, he got shipped off to Kansas City in exchange for Jonathan Baldwin. Perhaps the change in scenery will do him some good, but he won’t do any good for your fantasy team this year.
TE Vernon Davis
(2012 TE Rank – #15, 5.7 FPts/G; #20 PPR, 8.4 FPts/G)
Is this the year Davis reemerges as an upper-tier fantasy TE? After a monster year in 2009 with 965 receiving yards and 13 touchdowns, Davis once again topped 900 receiving yards in 2010 while scoring seven touchdowns. Since then, he has been a major disappointment; especially last season when he hauled in just 41 passes for 548 yards and five touchdowns. With Colin Kaepernick taking over for Alex Smith at quarterback in Week 9, Davis went AWOL from the 49ers offense. He was targeted just 12 times over a six-game stretch from Weeks 12 to 17, catching six passes for 61 yards and no touchdowns. The good news is that he topped 100 receiving yards in both of the 49ers’ playoff games, and he should figure prominently in the team’s passing attack in 2013 with wide receiver Michael Crabtree expected to miss most of the season with a torn Achilles tendon. Anquan Boldin will help fill the void left by Crabtree’s injury, but he is no longer a true No. 1 receiver and the team lacks quality depth behind him. Add it all up and Davis should be line for a solid season in 2013. Just remember that we’ve said that before.
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