Fantasy Football Strategy, Advice, and Commentary
By: Dave Stringer — August 11, 2013 @ 2:36 pm
QB Aaron Rodgers
(2012 QB Rank – #2, 25.6 FPts/G)
After a string of five consecutive seasons in which he has finished as the first- or second-ranked fantasy QB, Rodgers enters 2013 as the safest elite QB you can grab on draft day. And after a season in which he was considered a bit of a disappointment, the cost of adding him to your roster won’t be as punitive as it was last year. With defenses taking away the Packers’ ability to generate big plays by playing their safeties deep and using plenty of zone coverage, Rodgers was forced to throw underneath more than in previous seasons, finishing the year with just 4,295 yards despite attempting 552 passes. That’s a far cry from the 4,643 he put up in 2011 on just 502 attempts. His touchdown passes declined from 45 to 39 and he tacked on a pair of touchdowns and 259 yards on the ground. While Greg Jennings left as a free agent and Donald Driver retired, the Packers still feature one of the league’s best trio of receivers in Randall Cobb, Jordy Nelson and James Jones, in addition to enigmatic tight end Jermichael Finley. With opposing defenses certain to replicate the strategies they used last season, Rodgers is unlikely to approach the 5,000 passing yards that some quarterbacks could hit this season. However, his rushing prowess and ability to avoid turnovers and keep the chains moving should ensure he finishes as the first- or second-ranked fantasy QB once again in 2013.
RB Eddie Lacy
(2012 RB Rank – N/A)
After struggling to run the ball over the past few seasons, the Packers loaded up on running backs in the draft, taking Eddie Lacy in the second round and Johnathan Franklin in the fourth. Lacy, a 5’11”, 230-pound bowling ball of a runner out of Alabama, will get the first crack at earning the starting spot. Lacy fell to the second round of the draft due to injury concerns, but he was highly productive when healthy in college. Unfortunately, the Packers have been content to use a committee approach since Ryan Grant’s heydays ended, and that limits Lacy’s fantasy upside. Also not helping matters are reports that he came in to camp out of shape and carrying additional weight. There is potential here, especially as a short-yardage runner, but it’s unproven, so Green Bay seems likely to once again use a committee approach. Consider Lacy a lower-tier RB3 and flex option in leagues that use that position, provided he sends DuJuan Harris, James Starks and Alex Green to the bench or off the roster.
RB Johnathan Franklin
(2012 RB Rank – N/A)
Taken in the fourth round of this year’s draft, Franklin faces an uphill task in his attempt to earn a significant role in the Packers backfield as a rookie. The 5’10”, 205-pound Franklin may lack the size necessary to handle the lead role and appears best suited to handle a backup role. However, since the Packers love to throw the ball, he could emerge as a decent fantasy option in a change-of-pace, receiving-back role. Of course, he needs to show that he can handle pass protection duties, and that has been an issue early in training camp. Given the lack of a proven runners on the depth chart, Franklin does have an opportunity to emerge as a starter, but that seems unlikely. Consider him worthy of a flier in the later rounds of your fantasy draft.
RB DuJuan Harris
(2012 RB Rank – #104, 8.8 FPts/G; #112 PPR, 9.8 FPts/G)
Harris seemingly came out of nowhere to land the Packers’ starting running back gig by the end of last season. He started the final two games as well as both of Green Bay’s playoff games, scoring three touchdowns with his strong, determined running. While Harris ran hard and showed some decent chops as a receiver, it was clear that he lacks great speed and isn’t very shifty. While he will enter training camp third on the depth chart, don’t be surprised if he is overtaken by James Starks or Alex Green by opening day. Unless one of Green Bay’s running backs is injured or traded, Harris could be on the outside looking in by Week 1.
RB Alex Green
(2012 RB Rank – #55, 5.4 FPts/G; #51 PPR, 7.1 FPts/G)
Taken in the third round of the 2011 draft, Green suffered a season-ending ACL tear in Week 7 and was slow to recover from the injury. Although he led the team in rushing last season, he failed to top 70 rushing yards in any game and averaged a subpar 3.4 yards per carry. He failed to show much instinct as a runner and didn’t display any big-play ability. With a loaded depth chart at running back, Green will need to display his pre-ACL explosiveness to land a roster spot. He shapes up as a pass-receiving, change-of-pace back, but DuJuan Harris or rookie fourth-round pick Johnathan Franklin could snag that role. Even if Green earns a roster spot, we’re not excited by his fantasy prospects.
RB James Starks
(2012 RB Rank – #76, 5.8 FPts/G; #85 PPR, 6.4 FPts/G)
In the category of “the NFL stands for Not For Long,” we present James Starks. One year after entering training camp atop the Packers’ depth chart at running back, he is in a dogfight to win a roster spot. And most don’t expect him to make the cut. The Packers used second- and fourth-round picks on Eddie Lacy and Johnathan Franklin, and DuJuan Harris may have been the team’s most effective running back in 2012, albeit in limited playing time. Alex Green also returns, and the Packers view him as a potential playmaker. Meanwhile, Starks hasn’t been able to replicate the string of solid games he put together as a rookie when he helped Green Bay roll to a Super Bowl victory. After three injury-plagued seasons during which he hasn’t always run with determination, Starks’s Green Bay career will likely come to an end some time this summer.
Randall Cobb is locked in as WR1.
WR Randall Cobb
(2012 WR Rank – #17, 10.4 FPts/G; #16 PPR, 15.8 FPts/G)
After a breakout season in which he caught 80 of his 104 targets (a remarkable completion percentage of 76.9) for 954 yards and eight touchdowns while chipping in 132 yards on the ground, Cobb has risen to the top of the Packers depth chart at receiver. A dynamic playmaker, the Packers’ 2011 second-round pick could be in line for an even better statistical season in 2013 with the departure of veteran Greg Jennings. Of course, Cobb will also have to deal with the extra attention that comes from being a team’s top threat. At 5’10”, 192 pounds, Cobb has the ability to line up outside but does his best work out of the slot, using his speed and elusiveness to generate big plays. Cobb rates as a low-end WR1 with upside in standard scoring leagues; and move him up slightly in PPR formats, as he has an outside chance of hauling in 100 receptions if the Packers curtail his use on special teams.
WR Jordy Nelson
(2012 WR Rank – #30, 9.7 FPts/G; #38 PPR, 13.8 FPts/G)
After a remarkable breakout performance in 2011 in which he caught 68 passes for 1,263 yards and 15 touchdowns, Nelson crashed back to earth last year as an assortment of injuries derailed his season. Starting around midseason, Nelson caught the injury bug and couldn’t make it go away, missing four games and receiving just a single target in another contest. By season’s end, he had accumulated 49 receptions for 745 yards and seven touchdowns, an impressive haul given the number of full games that he appeared in (11). While the impression seems to be that Nelson wasn’t very effective in 2012, the numbers show otherwise. The biggest reasons for his lack of production were his low target count (just 73) and injuries. Nelson’s 2013 preseason is already cloudy, as he’ll miss the entire preseason after undergoing a procedure to correct a nerve issue in his knee. The team is hopeful Nelson will be ready for Week 1 but there’s no guarantee. While a return to his 2011 form is unlikely, a season of 1,000 yards and double-digit touchdowns could be in the offing, thanks to the departure of Greg Jennings. Consider Nelson a solid WR2 in 2013 is he’s able to step on the field to start the season.
WR James Jones
(2012 WR Rank – #16, 10.8 FPts/G; #17 PPR, 15.1 FPts/G)
After putting together five solid seasons as a backup, Jones morphed into a nice fantasy producer in 2012. He reached career highs in targets (98), receptions (64), yards (784) and touchdowns (14) as he stepped into the starting line up for an injured Greg Jennings and never left it. By season’s end, he had amassed a very solid 10.8 PPG. Now that Jennings has signed with the Vikings, Jones figures to start once again in 2013, and he should reach a career high in targets. However, another 14-touchdown season is highly unlikely, so he is going to need to increase his yardage total to once again approach 10 PPG. While it is nice that Jones is in a contract year and should be motivated, he rates as a lower-tier WR3 since his 2012 season looks as though it might have been the pinnacle of his career.
WR Jarrett Boykin
(2012 WR Rank – N/A)
An undrafted free agent in 2012, Boykin failed to catch a pass despite appearing in 10 games. Of course, when you sit sixth on the depth chart, you aren’t going to generate many targets. Boykin has a chance to leapfrog to fourth on the depth chart with the departures of Greg Jennings and Donald Driver. While the Packers like his potential, he will have to beat out rookie seventh-round picks Charles Johnson and Kevin Dorsey. Since this is the Green Bay offense, there is a chance that their fourth receiver could have some fantasy value in 2013.
TE Jermichael Finley
(2012 TE Rank – #17, 4.9 FPts/G; #14 PPR, 8.7 FPts/G)
Five years into his career, Finley has failed to reach his potential despite playing in one of the league’s top-rated offenses in each of those seasons. He disappointed once again in 2012, catching a career-high 61 passes but failing to deliver much in the way of big plays. He averaged a career low 10.9 yards per reception and caught just two touchdown passes, after emerging as a solid red zone option in 2011 with eight touchdowns. With Greg Jennings having left town, there is one less mouth to feed in Green Bay, but that positive is offset by the fact that the team seems ready to re-dedicate itself to the running game, having used two draft picks to replenish the position. Perhaps the truth is that the Packers’ offensive scheme just doesn’t utilize the tight end position enough for Finley to maximize his immense potential. Or maybe he’s just an enigma. Either way, he rates as a lower-tier TE1—one who will drive you mad with his inconsistency (consider his five-game stretch in which he failed to top 3 fantasy points).
By: Dave Stringer — August 8, 2013 @ 9:50 am
QB Matthew Stafford
(2012 QB Rank – #10, 22.8 FPts/G)
Stafford enters 2013 coming off a subpar season in which he had to battle issues at wide receiver and along the offensive line. With Nate Burleson lost to a broken leg and Ryan Broyles suffering a torn ACL, the desperate Lions were forced to acquire Mike Thomas from the Jaguars. You know you’re hurting when that happens. The truth is that Stafford’s play didn’t warrant the criticism he received. When you’re down in the fourth quarter, you need to try to make things happen, hence his high interception total. His touchdown-to-interception ratio dipped to 20-17 after being a solid 41-16 in 2012, but his yardage total remained solid, dropping only slightly from 5,038 to 4,967 as he came close to being just the second quarterback in league history to top 5,000 passing yards in consecutive seasons. In 2013, the Lions still have issues at wide receiver but have added another playmaker in former Dolphin Reggie Bush. If Calvin Johnson can push a few more receptions into the end zone, Stafford could re-emerge as a solid mid-tier QB1. We like the chances of that happening.
RB Reggie Bush
(2012 RB Rank – #14, 11.0 FPts/G; #14 PPR, 13.2 FPts/G)
When the Lions signed Bush this offseason, it seemed like a great pairing of an explosive, multi-dimensional running back in a heavily pass-oriented offense. It seemed like fantasy cha-ching. The only issue is that the entire fantasy world seems to be in agreement that Bush could be fantastic this year in Detroit, and that is causing his ADP to go through the roof. He was underutilized as a receiver during his two years in Miami, but Bush now has a chance to approach the 89 receptions he had as a rookie back in 2006. Mikel Leshoure and Joique Bell combined to catch 86 passes last season and Bush should get most of those looks. Not hurting matters is that the Lions have issues at wide receiver opposite Calvin Johnson. As a runner, Bush is coming off his finest two seasons as he remained healthy throughout and last season came within 14 rushing yards of topping 1,000 for the second consecutive season. Consider Bush a solid mid-tier RB2 with major upside in 2013.
RB Mikel Leshoure
(2012 RB Rank – #20, 11.1 FPts/G; #18 PPR, 13.5 FPts/G)
After being taken as a second-round selection in the 2011 draft, Leshoure suffered a torn Achilles tendon, ending his year in the preseason. Last season he had another golden opportunity, playing in 14 games and amassing 798 rushing yards while catching 34 passes for 214 yards and scoring nine touchdowns. Solid numbers to be sure… unless you actually watched him play. He averaged a pedestrian 3.7 yards per carry and 6.3 yards per reception and really only excelled as a short-yardage runner. With Reggie Bush in town, Leshoure will be relegated to more of a backup role, provided he beats out Joique Bell. While there are some pundits who are touting Leshoure as a solid flex option, we’re not going there. In fact, it won’t be a surprise if Bell beats him out. Still, consider Leshoure a respectable handcuff if he wins the backup job.
RB Joique Bell
(2012 RB Rank – #29, 6.7 FPts/G; #23 PPR, 10.0 FPts/G)
Here’s a little secret. The fantasy world seems to have handed the Lions backup role to Mikel Leshoure but there is a solid chance that Joique Bell steals it, making him an attractive late-round pick. The 2010 undrafted free agent failed to earn a single touch during the first two years of his career but came on strong last season with 414 rushing yards, 485 receiving yards and three touchdowns. While he had 52 receptions, those touches will mostly go to Reggie Bush in 2013. Bell’s value lies in his ability to offer the playmaking ability that Leshoure failed to provide, other than at the goal line. If Bell improves his chops as a short-yardage runner, there is little doubt that he will unseat Leshoure. Look no farther than his solid average of 5.0 yards per rush, which was considerably more impressive than Leshoure’s 3.7.
The unquestioned leading receiver in fantasy football.
WR Calvin Johnson
(2012 WR Rank – #1, 14.2 FPts/G; #1 PPR, 21.8 FPts/G)
Well, what is there to say other than “Wow!”? Johnson was absolutely amazing in 2012, having the best season of any wide receiver in league history. He shattered Jerry Rice’s record for most receiving yards in a season, hauling in 122 passes for 1,964 yards and five touchdowns. Unfortunately for Johnson and his fantasy owners, the five touchdowns were a bit of a disappointment because he was regularly hauled down inside opponents’ five-yard lines. Hey, the fact of the matter is that had Johnson scored 10 touchdowns yet gained “only” 1,600 receiving yards, he would have come close to matching the 226 fantasy points he had last season. Sure, that’s nitpicking, but Johnson’s amazing real-life season didn’t translate as a truly amazing fantasy season. The Lions will throw it plenty once again in 2013, and there are question marks opposite Johnson with an aging Nate Burleson returning from a broken leg and Ryan Broyles coming off a late-season ACL tear. Johnson will be the first WR off the board in all drafts this season. The only question is whether he will blow away the next best WR.
WR Nate Burleson
(2012 WR Rank – #96, 6.8 FPts/G; #87 PPR, 11.3 FPts/G)
At 31 years of age (32 on opening day), it is safe to say that Burleson’s best days are behind. Always more hype than actual production, Burleson has topped 800 receiving yards just twice in his 10-year career and 1,000 yards just once, way back in 2004. A broken leg ended his season after just six games last year, but he was marginally productive before the injury with 224 yards and a pair of touchdowns. In 2013, Burleson figures to be an opening day starter with Ryan Broyles returning from a torn ACL suffered last December. That gives him an opportunity. Just don’t expect him to do much with it. There are younger options with more upside.
WR Ryan Broyles
(2012 WR Rank – #92, 5.4 FPts/G; #94 PPR, 8.1 FPts/G)
The Lions used a second-round pick on Oklahoma wide receiver Ryan Broyles in the 2012 draft even though he had torn his ACL in November of his final college season. While that looked like a questionable move, Broyles heated up in Week 7, catching 21 passes for 307 yards and a pair of touchdowns over the next six games. Unfortunately, he suffered another torn ACL in Week 13, clouding his outlook for 2013. While offseason reports indicate that Broyles has had a solid recovery, there are no guarantees that he will be fully recovered by opening day, even if he is able to suit up. At 5’10” and 188 pounds, Broyles isn’t a great option outside, but he figures to get plenty of targets in the league’s most pass-oriented offense once he’s healthy. That gives him upside. If you’re willing to wait for him to get healthy, Broyles is worth a late-round flier.
WR Mike Thomas
(2012 WR Rank – #121, 1.6 FPts/G; #119 PPR, 2.9 FPts/G)
Hard to believe the Jaguars handed Thomas a $19-million, three-year contract extension with $9-million in guarantees in 2011, and almost harder to believe that a sinking Lions team traded for him last season. By season’s end, Thomas had proven to be a complete non-factor with only 18 receptions for 108 yards and a score. No matter that the Lions need increased production opposite Calvin Johnson. Thomas got paid and went in the tank.
TE Brandon Pettigrew
(2012 TE Rank – #21, 5.7 FPts/G; #16 PPR, 10.3 FPts/G)
Although the Lions were the league’s most pass-oriented offense, Pettigrew’s role decreased as his targets dipped from a career-high 126 in 2011 to just 102 in 2012. And he caught just 59 passes for 567 yards and three touchdowns, a pretty low figure given his 6’5” frame. Come to think of it, Pettigrew has been a bit of a disappointment in the red zone during his four-year career with just 14 touchdowns. Part of that lack of production is explained by his solid blocking ability. That counts when your team has three new starters along the offensive line as the Lions do in 2013, but it doesn’t make for nice fantasy numbers. Also not helping matters is the presence of backup tight end Tony Scheffler, who had 85 targets last season. Pettigrew rates as a low-risk, low-end TE1.
TE Tony Scheffler
(2012 TE Rank – #30, 5.7 FPts/G; #29 PPR, 6.6 FPts/G)
The Lions utilize two–tight end formations as much as any team in the league, providing Scheffler plenty of playing time in an offense that threw the ball 740 times in 2012. If there is one thing you can say about Scheffler, it’s that he seems to be more productive the less work he gets. In 2010, he was targeted 72 times and scored 2.9 PPG, due to his catching just one touchdown pass. He averaged a respectable 4.7 PPG with 42 targets in 2011, mostly because he scored six times. With a career-high 85 targets last season, he averaged just 3.8PP because he again found the end zone just once, although he had 504 receiving yards. What’s that mean? Even if Brandon Pettigrew were to get hurt, we have our doubts that Scheffler would see his production increase.
By: Dave Stringer — August 6, 2013 @ 11:23 pm
QB Christian Ponder
(2012 QB Rank – #22, 16.0 FPts/G)
Two middling seasons after being taken with the 12th pick in the 2011 draft, Ponder faces a make-or-break season in 2013 with the Vikings. Entering training camp, reports indicated that the Vikings weren’t going to allow Ponder to play through the growing pains he experienced during his first two years in the league, making him a candidate to be replaced at some point during the season. While he threw for a respectable 2,935 yards with 18 touchdowns and just 12 interceptions, Ponder offered little in the way of big-play ability and had several poor performances, throwing for fewer than 150 yards five times and topping 250 yards just four times. Although the Vikings added Greg Jennings in the offseason, the team still possesses one of the worst wide receiver depth charts in the league, and that will hinder Ponder’s ability to keep free agent signee Matt Cassel nailed to the bench.
QB Matt Cassel
(2012 QB Rank – #32, 14.9 FPts/G)
Cassel’s four-year run as a starter in Kansas City ended this offseason, leaving him to sign on in Minnesota to ostensibly back up Christian Ponder. The eight-year veteran suffered through his final two years with the Chiefs, completing less than 60 percent of his passes (he failed to top that mark in any of his four years there), missing 14 games due to injury, and compiling a combined 16–21 touchdown-to-interception ratio. His reward? Perhaps the best backup job in the league, with Ponder having shown a clear inability to connect on deep passes. It won’t be a surprise if Cassel ends up starting at some point in 2013, but even if that happens, he’ll rate as one of the leagues’ worst fantasy QBs.
So, this guy is pretty good.
RB Adrian Peterson
(2012 RB Rank – #1, 19.3 FPts/G; #1 PPR, 21.8 FPts/G)
Peterson entered 2012 as the biggest fantasy question mark at RB and finished the season as the indisputable top-ranked player at his position. What a difference a year makes! AP put to rest any concerns that he would not be fully recovered from a torn ACL suffered in Week 16 of the 2011 season, coming within just nine yards of breaking Eric Dickerson’s all-time single-season rushing record. With Percy Harvin out for much of the year and the Vikings’ passing attack among the league’s worst, Peterson ran for 2,097 yards and 12 touchdowns on 348 carries while chipping in 40 receptions for 217 yards and another score. It was his finest season and it left little doubt that AP is the league’s premier player at his position. Better yet, at just 28 years of age, he has a few more years of elite productivity left. If you land the first overall pick in your fantasy draft, you won’t have to ponder long over which player to take.
RB Toby Gerhart
(2012 RB Rank – #70,2.6 FPts/G; #63 PPR, 3.9 FPts/G)
When you back up the most dynamic running back in the league, you are basically the equivalent of the Maytag repairman. And that is Gerhart’s football fate in backing up Adrian Peterson. With Peterson coming off a torn ACL suffered late in the 2011 season, Gerhart was expected to get his most extensive workload last season, but those hopes evaporated as Peterson had a miraculous recovery on his way to one of the best single seasons a running back has ever had. Gerhart is a worthy handcuff but he offers no value unless Peterson is lost to injury.
WR Greg Jennings
(2012 WR Rank – #74, 7.6 FPts/G; #76 PPR, 12.1 FPts/G)
Unable to agree on a long-term contract with the Packers, Jennings chose to sign with their NFC North rival, the Minnesota Vikings. While that may hurt Packers fans, it also hurts his fantasy value, since catching passes from Aaron Rodgers in Green Bay’s high-powered offense is light years from catching balls from Christian Ponder or Matt Cassel. In Minnesota, Jennings will assume the lead receiver role left vacant by the offseason trade of Percy Harvin to Seattle. The 29-year old Jennings (30 on opening day) is coming off an injury-plagued two-year stretch in Green Bay where he failed to reach 1,000 receiving yards after topping that mark for three consecutive seasons, from 2008 to 2010. Jennings is a solid route runner with deceptive deep speed and some ability to make tacklers miss. Unfortunately, the big plays that he generated in Green Bay are unlikely to follow him to Minnesota with Ponder at quarterback. Jennings rates as a mid-tier WR3 with some upside.
WR Jerome Simpson
(2012 WR Rank – #112, 2.3 FPts/G; #106 PPR, 4.5 FPts/G)
After a disappointing first year in Minnesota, the Vikings re-signed Simpson to a one-year deal this offseason. Let’s not mistake this as an endorsement for Simpson’s ability to produce in the Vikings offense. It’s more of a stopgap signing since the team had no proven options to step into the starting lineup. A three-game suspension hurt Simpson’s ability to get on the same page as quarterback Christian Ponder last year, and he finished the season with just 26 receptions on 52 targets for 274 yards and no trips to the end zone. While Simpsons has freakish abilities, his average of just 10.5 yards per reception was a major disappointment. After five seasons of mostly mediocre, inconsistent play, there is little reason to suggest Simpson will establish himself as a solid fantasy producer in 2013, especially with Ponder throwing him the ball. Fill out the bottom of your roster with a player who has more upside than Simpson.
WR Jarius Wright
(2012 WR Rank – #89, 6.3 FPts/G; #25 PPR, 9.4 FPts/G)
While Wright may not be capable of doing everything that Percy Harvin can, he is expected to replace him as the Vikings’ main slot receiver in 2013. The Vikings’ 2012 fourth-round pick, at 5’10” and 182 pounds, Wright barely saw the field until Harvin was lost to injury. However, he made the most of his limited opportunity, hauling in 22 receptions for 310 yards and two touchdowns while averaging 14.1 yards per reception over seven games. With Greg Jennings fulfilling the lead wide receiver role and the inconsistent Jerome Simpson battling raw rookie first-round pick Cordarrelle Patterson to play outside, Wright has a solid opportunity to establish himself in 2013. Consider him a potential waiver-wire pickup based on his early-season usage, especially in PPR leagues.
WR Cordarrelle Patterson
(2012 WR Rank – N/A)
Looking to replace Percy Harvin, the Vikings traded into the back end of the first round to acquire Patterson. The Tennessee product has solid size at 6’3” and 205 pounds and also possesses blazing speed and excellent run-after-the-catch ability. While the Vikings lack a proven threat to play opposite free agent signee Greg Jennings, Patterson is considered a raw prospect, which limits his fantasy upside in 2013. Look for Jennings to help mentor Patterson, perhaps allowing him to take on a more significant role later in the season, but don’t expect the Vikings to throw their full playbook at him early in the year. While not worthy of a selection in redraft formats, Patterson is an excellent prospect in dynasty formats.
WR Greg Childs
(2012 WR Rank – N/A)
After struggling in college while recovering from a torn patella tendon, Childs suffered a devastating injury in training camp last season, injuring both patella tendons and putting his career in jeopardy. While the Vikings’ 2012 fourth-round pick was once regarded as a solid pro prospect, the fact is that the injury he suffered is not one in which any professional players have truly recovered him. Unless the science has advanced, Childs’ career is over.
TE Kyle Rudolph
(2012 TE Rank – #11, 6.5 FPts/G; #11 PPR, 9.8 FPts/G)
After catching 53 passes for 493 yards and nine touchdowns while averaging 6.5 PPG, there is a good chance that Rudolph will be getting some fantasy love in this year’s draft as a potential third-year breakout candidate at TE. We’re not buying it. While the Vikings’ 2011 second-round pick has solid size at 6’6”, 259 pounds and is a good route runner on short and intermediate patterns, he lacks the speed necessary to become a truly elite tight end. Not helping matters is the presence of quarterback Christian Ponder, who is clearly more of a game-managing check-down artist and not the gunslinger who could propel a player like Rudolph to fantasy stardom. Where Rudolph excels is in the red zone, having caught 12 touchdown passes in his last 23 games. And we all know it’s foolhardy to chase touchdowns, even if the Vikings lack a big receiver to steal Rudolph’s red zone looks. Consider him an upper-tier TE2 in 2013.
TE John Carlson
(2012 TE Rank – #78, 0.5 FPts/G; #73 PPR, 1.4 FPts/G)
Carlson enters the season coming off a concussion that ended his 2012 campaign after nine games, a miserable stretch of play during in which he caught just eight passes for 43 yards. His 2011 season, his first in Minnesota, came to a conclusion in the preseason when he suffered a torn labrum. It seems a long time ago that Seattle took him early in the second round of the 2008 draft and watched him begin his career with two promising seasons. At this point, Carlson isn’t even a lock to make the Vikings roster, given his poor blocking ability and diminishing skills as a receiver.
By: Dave Stringer — August 5, 2013 @ 4:06 pm
QB Jay Cutler
(2012 QB Rank – #23, 16.7 FPts/G)
Is this the year Cutler emerges as a solid starting fantasy QB while with the Bears? In four years in Chicago, he has put up pedestrian numbers for the most part. But he faces a make-it-or-break-it season in 2013 as he enters the final year of his contract with no extension in sight. While Cutler has had to deal with an assortment of offensive coordinators, poor offensive line play and a lackluster group of wide receivers during his stay in Chicago, the bottom line is that he must produce this season or new head coach Marc Trestman will go in a different direction next year. The offensive line has added reinforcements in veteran left tackle Jermon Bushrod and guard Kyle Long, the team’s first-round selection in this year’s draft. Improvement is expected from second-year wide receiver Alshon Jeffery (last year’s second-round pick), and Martellus Bennett, coming off a career year with the Giants, is a major upgrade at tight end. It was an impressive offseason haul for the Bears, but there are also a lot of new pieces that need to fit together. That makes us a bit wary of declaring Cutler a QB1 in 2013. Grab him as a mid- to lower-tier fantasy backup with sneaky upside.
Forte should deliver PPR goodness in Trestman’s offense.
RB Matt Forte
(2012 RB Rank – #13, 12.0 FPts/G; #11 PPR, 14.9 FPts/G)
After five years in the league, the Bears know what they have in Forte. He is among the league’s top 10 running backs, capable in every facet of the game except for one, as a short-yardage runner. He has also been remarkably consistent, reaching 1,400 total yards every year and reaching 1,000 rushing yards three times and just missing twice, falling 71 yards short during an injury-plagued 2009 season and a yard short in 2011, when he missed four games. Last season, he was once again a key cog in the Bears attack with 1,094 yards and five touchdowns on the ground while chipping in 44 receptions for 340 yards and another score. The reception and receiving yardage totals were the lowest of his career, but new head coach Marc Trestman has vowed to increase Forte’s usage in the passing game, so a return to the 50-plus reception totals in each of his four years seems likely. Basically, Forte would rate as a top-five fantasy RB if he were a solid goal-line option, but backup Michael Bush will steal those looks. Consider Forte a safe, low-end RB1.
RB Michael Bush
(2012 RB Rank – #43, 6.1 FPts/G; #45 PPR, 6.8 FPts/G)
Expected to garner plenty of suitors entering free agency after the 2011 season, Bush didn’t generate much interest, leaving him to sign a four-year, $14-million contract with the Bears. His first season in Chicago was a bit of a bust, as he struggled with injuries on his way to career lows in rushing yards (411), receptions (9) and receiving yards (83) before going on injured reserve after Week 14. Bush is a talented back, capable of handling a full workload if starter Matt Forte were to be lost to injury. He excels in short yardage, has some wiggle and decent speed and caught 37 passes in 2011 with the Raiders. While that all sounds nice, we are a bit skeptical of his fantasy prospects given his lack of production last season and uncertain role in new head coach Marc Trestman’s offense. If the Bears offense gets rolling in 2013, Bush could emerge as a solid flex option, but that’s not something you want to be counting on during your draft.
RB Armando Allen
(2012 RB Rank – #99, 2.2 FPts/G; #106 PPR, 2.4 FPts/G)
Allen enters training camp third string on the Bears depth chart at running back. Unfortunately, he is stuck behind two players capable of playing workhorse roles in the Chicago backfield. Both Matt Forte and Michael Bush can handle more than 300 touches in a season, leaving little opportunity for Allen even if one of them were to be lost to injury. While Allen is a speedy option out of the Bears backfield, he lacks the size to handle a large workload and isn’t worth owning for fantasy purposes.
WR Brandon Marshall
(2012 WR Rank – #2, 13.5 FPts/G; #2 PPR, 20.9 FPts/G)
Reunited with quarterback Jay Cutler during the 2012 offseason at the bargain basement price of a pair of third-round picks, Marshall was expected to provide the Bears with a true No. 1 wide receiver and ignite the team’s passing attack. Well, at least his acquisition accomplished one of those goals, as he set team records in receptions (118) and receiving yards (1,508) while scoring a whopping 11 touchdowns. Unfortunately, Marshall loaded up on his production by hogging all of the team’s targets in the passing game with Cutler looking his way 192 times, the third most in the league. Can you say lack of balance? While the Bears plan on spreading the ball around more in 2013, the truth is that the team’s wide receiver depth chart offers little in the way of upside outside of second-year player Alshon Jeffery. That should mean plenty of work for Marshall once again, justifying his ranking as that of a top five fantasy WR and a pretty low risk one, given that he has missed just five games during his seven-year career.
WR Alshon Jeffery
(2012 WR Rank – #79, 5.5 FPts/G; #82 PPR, 7.9 FPts/G)
In an attempt to get their offense into the 21st century and revitalize their wide receiver depth chart, the Bears used a second-round pick in last year’s draft to acquire Jeffery. After a solid performance in Week 1 with three receptions for 80 yards, he was a disappointment as injuries and ineffectiveness held him to just two more games in which he topped 50 receiving yards. By season’s end, the 6’3”, 216-pound South Carolina product had amassed just 24 receptions for 367 yards and three touchdowns. While he displayed some decent playmaking ability and put the character concerns that followed him out of college to rest, the bottom line is that the Bears need him to take a major step forward in 2013. With little competition, Jeffery is assured of a starting position, but he will need to earn quarterback Jay Cutler’s trust to increase his production. With Martellus Bennett a solid receiving option at tight end and running back Matt Forte expected to get increased looks as a receiving target out of the backfield, Jeffery looks like the fourth option in the Bears passing attack. That limits his upside to that of a WR5 or perhaps a WR4.
WR Earl Bennett
(2012 WR Rank – #83, 4.1 FPts/G; #83 PPR, 7.9 FPts/G)
Sometimes you should just trust your eyes. Unless you’re new to the NFL, Earl Bennett probably just looks like some average dude running routes. And if that’s your conclusion, then trust it. Bennett doesn’t have great size (6’0”, 206 pounds), he lacks speed, he doesn’t have much wiggle and his career year came back in 2009 when he caught 54 passes for 717 yards and a pair of touchdowns. After five years in the league, a breakout season doesn’t seem to be on tap. In fact, if he wasn’t Cutler’s teammate at Vanderbilt, he might not even be on the Bears roster. But Cutler trusts him and that counts. We will see if new head coach Marc Trestman thinks that is enough to keep him on the roster. Don’t have him on yours.
WR Eric Weems
(2012 WR Rank – #169, 0.9 FPts/G; #169 PPR, 1.6 FPts/G)
Despite appearing in all 16 games during his first season in Chicago last year, Weems barely had a cup of coffee in the team’s base offense, catching two of his four targets for 27 yards. He gets his bread buttered on special teams but may get an opportunity as a slot receiver if the Bears new coaching staff decides they want a quicker option than Earl Bennett in that role.
WR Devin Hester
(2012 WR Rank – #106, 2.4 FPts/G; #104 PPR, 4.1 FPts/G)
In case of you weren’t paying attention this offseason, the Bears let it be known that Hester would be focusing on special teams in 2013. That makes him an emergency or gadget-play option in the team’s base offense, so you can officially stick a fork in the prospect of his ever emerging as a solid fantasy option at WR.
TE Martellus Bennett
(2012 WR Rank – #14, 5.8 FPts/G; #12 PPR, 9.2 FPts/G)
Signed by the Giants during last year’s offseason on a prove-it, one-year deal, Bennett had the best season of his career playing alongside Eli Manning, catching 55 passes for 626 yards and five touchdowns. A knee injury suffered early in the season prevented him from having a true breakout season, but he has a decent chance of making that happen this year. Bennett joins the Bears for the 2013 season, and with a lack of proven playmaking ability at the wide receiver position, he could earn a large role in new head coach Marc Trestman’s West Coast–based offensive scheme. He certainly has the talent to emerge as a TE1 if given the opportunity, but because of the uncertainty regarding his role, he is best taken as a mid- to upper-tier TE1.
By: Dave Stringer — August 2, 2013 @ 10:43 am
One of most exciting players in the league comes with huge injury risk.
QB Robert Griffin III
(2012 QB Rank – #9, 24.4 FPts/G)
Sometimes trades work out for both teams. Washington head coach Mike Shanahan moved heaven and earth (okay, not quite, but three first-round picks and a second is close) in order to move up in last year’s draft to select Baylor quarterback Robert Griffin III, and Redskins fans weren’t disappointed with the move. Not even after he tore his ACL in the Redskins playoff loss to the Seahawks. In RGIII, the Redskins have one of the game’s most exciting players. As a passer, he hits his receivers in stride so they can rack up yards after the catch, he has a strong arm and can throw the deep ball, his pocket presence and mobility allows him to sidestep oncoming rushers, and he is adept on rollouts and when forced out of the pocket. His ability to run the ball also stresses defenses, freeing up space for the team’s running backs. Then there’s the downside. RGIII is as close to superhuman as they come, and he’s just too young to know how valuable he is to the team. His willingness to learn when to be smart instead of going all out on every play is what will determine his longevity in the league. Is he ready to throttle it down a bit in 2013? It seems doubtful, but if he can and if he is ready on opening day (not a long shot by any means), he seems likely to improve on a rookie season in which he threw for 3,200 yards with 20 touchdowns and just five interceptions while completing 65.6 percent of his passes and running for 815 yards and seven touchdowns. If you’re willing to accept the risk and get a solid backup QB, RGIII is your man. If not, let somebody else grab him. And as we all know, there is usually one owner in every league that loves the players getting hyped. RGIII is certainly one of those players.
QB Kirk Cousins
(2012 QB Rank – #39, 13.8 FPts/G)
When RGIII is the man in front of you, you need to keep your helmet by your side. Cousins, a fourth-round pick in last year’s draft, got into four games last season and was impressive, completing 33 of 48 passes for 466 yards with four touchdowns and three interceptions. If you need a bye-week fill-in and Cousins is on the wire with a decent matchup, he just might help win you a game.
RB Alfred Morris
(2012 RB Rank – #5, 15.4 FPts/G; #7 PPR, 16.1 FPts/G)
Redskins head coach Mike Shanahan worked his running back in 2012, turning rookie sixth-round pick Alfred Morris into the league’s second-ranked rusher, with 1,613 yards on the ground. The Florida Atlantic product propelled himself into a workhorse role in the Redskins backfield with 335 rushes, 13 of which resulted in touchdowns. Morris was good at taking what the defense gave him, with a propensity for running over defenders when necessary but displaying decent agility as well. While Morris has only a couple of holes in his game (pass blocking, receiving and a lack of blazing speed), questions remain as to how much he benefitted from playing alongside Robert Griffin III at quarterback. While it is easy to remain skeptical of Morris’s ability to once again top 1,600 yards, it is difficult to dismiss him as a one-year wonder. Consider him a mid-tier RB1 and a player you just might get as a bargain on draft day.
RB Roy Helu
(2012 RB Rank – #130, 1.6 FPts/G; #124 PPR, 3.9 FPts/G)
After showing some promise as a rookie fourth-round pick in 2011, Helu suffered a turf toe injury that landed him on injured reserve early in the 2012 season. At 5”11” and 216 pounds with solid speed and the ability to make tacklers miss, Helu has the potential to bring some playmaking ability to the Redskins backfield, but he hasn’t been able to shake the injury bug since college. Talent and upside don’t matter if you can’t stay healthy. With Alfred Morris entrenched as the team’s starting running back, Helu will need to beat out Evan Royster and rookie fifth-round pick Chris Thompson to earn a backup role. Provided he can stay healthy, we expect Helu will earn that role. And if that happens, Morris owners should grab him as a late-round handcuff.
RB Evan Royster
(2012 RB Rank – #81, 2.1 FPts/G; #73 PPR, 3.1 FPts/G)
Truth be told, Royster just hasn’t impressed during his two-year stay in the Washington backfield. Not fast, not shifty, not overly powerful, he does everything just well enough to stick around on an NFL roster. Sure, he averaged 5.9 yards per carry as a rookie in 2011, but that was smoke and mirrors since a lot of that production came during the final two weeks of the season against an Eagles defense that couldn’t stop the run and a Vikings defense that had already lain down to die. He averaged just 3.8 yards per carry in limited action last season and rates as one of the league’s worst backup running backs. He will need to beat out Roy Helu and rookie fifth-round pick Chris Thompson to retain that role, but we would be surprised if that happens.
WR Pierre Garcon
(2012 WR Rank – #53, 8.9 FPts/G; #55 PPR, 13.4 FPts/G)
I just love guys that make me look bad. Guess that means I love Garcon. After panning the former Colt and dismissing his ability to establish himself as anything more than a low-end WR3, mostly based on a reception-to-target rate of just 54.0 during his first three years in the league, Garcon was actually surprisingly good in 2012 despite having to play through a foot injury. He established a solid connection with Robert Griffin III, hauling in 44 of his 67 targets (ahem, 65.7%, grrrr) for 633 yards and four touchdowns. Had injuries not held him back, it is safe to say he would have topped 1,000 receiving yards for the first time in his career. RGIII’s injury issues might be a cause for concern but it’s worth noting that Garcon was targeted 12 times during Kirk Cousin’s only start of last season. Garcon has plenty of talent and it looks like the light has turned on. Now if only he can make the foot injury a thing of the past. Consider him a solid, mid-tier WR2 with major upside.
WR Josh Morgan
(2012 WR Rank – #69, 4.1 FPts/G; #64 PPR, 7.1 FPts/G)
I’m not a believer in Josh Morgan, folks. While Morgan is valuable to the Redskins because of his solid size and blocking ability, coupled with a willingness to make tough catches in traffic, he has virtually no upside for fantasy purposes. Sure, he has somehow managed to average a very respectable 12.7 yards per reception over his five-year career, but the Redskins kept a leash on him last season, as he managed just 510 yards on 48 receptions with a pair of scores. Go for someone with more upside than Morgan has to offer.
WR Santana Moss
(2012 WR Rank – #41, 6.7 FPts/G; #48 PPR, 9.2 FPts/G)
It seems like the 34-year old Moss is the receiver the Redskins just can’t make go away. Of course, when the young bucks fail to step up, it’s hard to put the old ones out to graze. Moss averaged a very respectable 6.6 PPG last season; but don’t be fooled by that, as he caught a whopping eight touchdown passes, the third most of his 12-year career. With 41 receptions on the season, that works out to one touchdown for every five receptions, a ratio that isn’t sustainable. Don’t chase the touchdowns, folks, and that means passing on the declining Moss in 2013.
WR Leonard Hankerson
(2012 WR Rank – #63, 4.9 FPts/G; #67 PPR, 7.4 FPts/G)
After sitting out the opening week of the season, Hankerson put together three solid performances, gaining 181 yards and scoring a touchdown. Then he got mothballed, popping up a few times over the course of the season on his way to 38 receptions, 543 yards, and three touchdowns. The Redskins’ 2011 third-round pick has solid size at 6’2”, 205 pounds as well as decent speed, but inconsistency has been the hallmark of his career. While only the marginally talented Josh Morgan sits in front of him on the depth chart, it is also worth noting that the Redskins enter training camp with a deep group of wide receivers that includes older speedsters Devery Henderson and Donte Stallworth. Hankerson could break out in his third season or he could find himself on the street. Monitor his preseason and adjust accordingly.
WRs Aldrick Robinson, Devery Henderson and Donte Stallworth
These three players all possess outstanding speed but they are one-trick ponies, especially Henderson and Stallworth, a pair of aging veterans hanging around for one last shot. The diminutive Robinson was a big play waiting to happen in 2012 but just wasn’t given that many opportunities. With a crowded depth chart, we can safely conclude that it is best to avoid these three speedsters.
TE Fred Davis
(2012 TE Rank – #44, 4.7 FPts/G; #41 PPR, 8.1 FPts/G)
Davis averaged 54 receiving yards per game over the first six weeks of last season before suffering an Achilles injury that landed him on injured reserve. The fantasy world seems to be down on his prospects for 2013 due to the injury and his subpar 4.6 PPG average from last season, but there is a decent chance he could play a big role in the Redskins passing offense this year. Retained as a franchise player, head coach Mike Shanahan is clearly enamored of Davis’s potential, if not his maturity. It takes all of a couple of pass patterns to see that Davis is a talented player whose speed makes him dangerous up the seam and whose size shields defenders from making plays on the ball. He failed to find the end zone last season, hence his low PPG total, but he offers intriguing potential in a Redskins offense that features just one consistent playmaker at receiver outside of the aging Santana Moss. With the fantasy love for Davis in decline, you can grab him cheaply, and that’s a low-cost gamble that could pay off big.
By: Dave Stringer — August 1, 2013 @ 9:14 am
Harvin’s re-draft value is scraping the bottom of the barrel.
Seahawks wide receiver Percy Harvin has stated that he will undergo surgery on his hip making his availability for the 2013 uncertain.
Acquired by Seattle during the offseason in a blockbuster deal with Minnesota, Harvin was expected to add a missing playmaking dimension to the team’s passing attack.
However, those plans will go on hold as Harvin is expected to undergo surgery on Thursday, which would cause him to miss roughly three months.
Depending on how the surgery goes and how well Harvin recovers, he could open the season on the Physically Unable to Perform List, returnable injured reserve or normal injured reserve, which would cause him to miss the entire season.
With Harvin in the fold, Seattle had emerged as a trendy Super Bowl pick, providing the offense with a dual threat as a receiver or runner as well as providing a threat on special teams as a returner.
His absence leaves the team with Sydney Rice, former starter Golden Tate and Doug Baldwin as the team’s main threats at wide receiver.
Harvin’s loss is a major blow to Seattle’s offense and quarterback Russell Wilson in particular. While Rice and Tate are solid receivers, neither is regarded as a true leading wide receiver.
Rice remains injury prone and Tate, while providing explosive big plays last season, remains an inconsistent performer. With Harvin out, Wilson becomes a lower tier QB1 or upper tier QB2 in 10-team leagues.
Rice and Tate see their fantasy values increase with Rice becoming a little more trustworthy as a lower tier WR3. It should be noted that he is having injury problems of his own. Rice is currently in Switzerland, where he is having a non-surgical procedure on his knee.
While he doesn’t play the same inside position as Harvin, Tate sees his fantasy value increase the most as he moves from being a backup in an offense that loves to run to the starting lineup. Given the inconsistency he has shown throughout his career, he is best drafted as a WR4 with upside.
Doug Baldwin will take over the slot position for Harvin. Baldwin is coming off a season filled with injury which saw him catch 29 passes for 366 yards and 3 TDs. Those numbers should increase with Harvin out but his fantasy value maxes out as a WR4.
As for Harvin, barring a miraculous recovery, it is difficult to see him providing any fantasy value in 2013. Even an optimistic recovery period would see him available for a few games at the end of the season and it would be hard to stick him in your starting lineup at that point.
Tight end Zach Miller sees his fantasy value move a tick higher but that’s not a bill of goods that fantasy owners should be buying.
At running back, Marshawn Lynch becomes an even more valuable commodity as he will take away most of the carries the coaching staff was planning on giving Harvin. He is a rock solid, mid-tier RB1 provided he keeps himself out of trouble.
By: Dave Stringer — July 31, 2013 @ 9:46 am
QB Eli Manning
(2012 QB Rank – #14, 19.3 FPts/G)
If you were looking for a brief summary of Manning’s 2012 season, you could say that he, his fantasy owners and the Giants were all frustrated by it. After having arguably the finest year of his career in 2011, Manning saw his numbers dip last season as he struggled with turnovers and clearly missed having a healthy Hakeem Nicks in the lineup. With none of the team’s backup wide receivers stepping up, Manning finished the season with 3,948 passing yards, 26 touchdowns and 15 interceptions. While that is decent production, Manning was wildly inconsistent. Let’s take a closer look. Just under 32 percent of his fantasy production came in three games, including a Week 17 blow out of the Eagles. Just under 56 percent of his fantasy production came in six games. He also had five games with 12 fantasy points or less. The good news is that Nicks is expected to be completely healthy on opening day and the team expects Rueben Randle to take a leap forward in his second year in the league. Brandon Myers has replaced Martellus Bennett at tight end, basically an even trade off. Add it all up and Manning seems poised for a fantasy bounceback in 2013. You can likely grab him as an upper-tier backup with the potential for him to re-emerge as a mid-tier QB1.
RB David Wilson
(2012 RB Rank – #47, 4.9 FPts/G; #54 PPR, 5.2 FPts/G)
Wilson is getting a lot of love in fantasy circles this year as a potential breakout candidate. The 2012 first-round pick disappointed for much of his rookie season before earning a consistent role when Andre Brown was lost for the year in Week 12. Over the final four games, Wilson amassed 247 yards and three touchdowns on just 43 carries as he displayed some of the game-breaking ability the Giants were expecting. Wilson enters training camp as the starter and there is little reason to doubt that he will build on the progress he displayed last season. The issue is how the Giants coaches will split the playing time in the backfield, with Andre Brown coming off a breakout season. If Wilson can hold up in pass protection and not have any ball security issues, he could be in line for a breakout season. Unfortunately, Brown is almost assured of getting the goal-line looks, and that limits Wilson’s upside. Consider him a mid-tier RB2 in redraft formats and an outstanding dynasty league prospect.
RB Andre Brown
(2012 RB Rank – #32, 10.6 FPts/G; #39 PPR, 11.9 FPts/G)
After bouncing around from team to team during the first three years of his career, Brown earned a solid role with the Giants last season, gaining 385 yards and scoring eight touchdowns on just 73 carries despite appearing in just eight games. A broken leg ended his season in Week 12 after he had established himself as the team’s top backup. With Ahmad Bradshaw having been released, Brown will compete with 2012 first-round pick David Wilson for a starting position in 2013. While all indications are that Brown will lose that battle, the Giants will almost certainly stick to the committee approach they have used for several years. Although he lacks great speed and agility, Brown is a road grader, a solid pass protector and an outstanding short-yardage runner. Given Wilson’s lack of experience, poor pass blocking ability and reputation as a fumbler, Brown rates as a solid flex play and low-end RB3 entering 2013.
RB Da’Rel Scott
(2012 RB Rank – #145, 0.9 FPts/G; #149 PPR, 0.9 FPts/G)
While the Giants think their 2011 seventh-round pick has some upside, he was passed on the depth chart last season by Andre Brown and once again faces an uphill battle for playing time in 2013. The speedy Scott dressed for just four games last season, getting the rock in just one game—a six-carry, nine-yard performance against the Panthers in Week 3. With the Giants committed to David Wilson and Andre Brown, Scott is unlikely to see the field much in 2013 barring injury to one of those two players.
Cruz has twelve 100-yd receiving games over the last two seasons.
WR Victor Cruz
(2012 WR Rank – #13, 10.6 FPts/G; #14 PPR, 16.0 FPts/G)
Well, aren’t we all glad that Cruz got his contract extension so we don’t have to read about it anymore? Kudos to Cruz, who erased any doubts that his 2011 breakout season was a fluke by catching 86 passes for 1,092 yards and a whopping 10 touchdowns last season. That brings his two-year haul to 168 receptions for 2,628 yards and 19 touchdowns. If you weren’t convinced that he was a worthy WR1 prior to last season, you should be now. While Cruz may lack Hakeem Nicks’ athletic ability and he failed to generate as many big plays as in 2011, he has clearly earned quarterback Eli Manning’s trust and has been a healthy, consistent producer with 12 100-yard receiving games over the past two years. The Giants like to throw it, they don’t have a proven No. 3 wide receiver, Nicks can’t seem to stay healthy, and there are questions about how well Brandon Myers will fit into the Giants offense. That makes Cruz a relatively safe low-end WR1 in 2013.
WR Hakeem Nicks
(2012 WR Rank – #54, 7.3 FPts/G; #53 PPR, 11.7 FPts/G)
After a solid rookie season and two years where he displayed the potential to be among the league’s leading receivers, Nicks was a huge disappointment in 2013 as he struggled with foot and knee injuries. While he was healthy enough to appear in 13 games, he lacked the explosiveness that he displayed during his first three years in the league, catching just 53 of his 100 targets for 692 yards and three touchdowns. With Eli Manning at quarterback and playing alongside the talented Victor Cruz, Nicks’ only issue is staying healthy, but can we expect that in 2013? Although he has missed only ten games during his four-year career, he seems to be consistently dealing with various nicks and sprains, raising doubts over his ability to ever realize on his immense potential. While Cruz has been the straw that stirs the Giants passing attack over the past two seasons, it is Nicks who the team feels is their most talented wide receiver. Since the shine has rubbed off of Nicks’ fantasy luster, you can likely grab him as a WR3, which should be considered an absolute steal.
WR Rueben Randle
(2012 WR Rank – #85, 4.3 FPts/G; #89 PPR, 6.1 FPts/G)
Considered a steal as a second-round pick and one of the most Pro-ready receivers in the 2012 draft, Randle was expected to carve out a role as the Giants’ top backup receiver as a rookie. While he flashed some potential, the 6’2”, 208-pound LSU product failed to take on a consistent role despite Hakeem Nicks’ injury issues. Look for that to change this season, although the Giants have hedged their bets by re-signing Ramses Barden and acquiring journeyman Louis Murphy. Still, Randle should be considered the front-runner to earn the top backup role given his bigger upside and the fact that Nicks is entering the final year of his rookie contract. Randle rates as a WR5 with upside because of his potential and Nicks’ injury history.
WR Ramses Barden
(2012 WR Rank – #122, 3.1 FPts/G; #124 PPR, 5.1 FPts/G)
After four seasons that seemed to generate plenty of offseason hype but little in the way of on-the-field production, Barden hit the free agent market this offseason, hanging his hat on a wonderful nine-reception, 138-yard performance against the Panthers in Week 3 last year. Unfortunately for Barden, team’s were more focused on the production he put up over the entire season, which, with 14 receptions for 220 yards and no touchdowns, wasn’t all that impressive. The Giants ended up signing him for a song, but he will need to have a solid preseason to land a roster spot.
WR Louis Murphy
(2012 WR Rank – #97, 2.7 FPts/G; #95 PPR, 4.3 FPts/G)
After a middling year in Carolina where he caught 25 passes for 336 yards and a touchdown, Murphy brings his dog-and-pony show to the Big Apple. After being taken in the fourth round of the 2009 draft, Murphy had a couple of solid seasons but struggled to earn playing time with the Raiders in 2011 and was jettisoned to the Panthers last year. Once again he was unable to land a major role despite Carolina’s lack of depth at wide receiver. Well, the Giants do have a talented depth chart at the position, so Murphy is a long shot to earn anything more than a minor role in 2013.
WR Jerrel Jernigan
(2012 WR Rank – N/A)
Taken in the third round of the 2011 draft, Jernigan, a 5’8”, 189-pound Troy State product, has been a bust for the Giants, hauling in just three receptions for 22 yards during his first two years in the league. Expected to earn some playing time out of the slot, the Giants have chosen to move Victor Cruz inside in three-receiver sets and go with various options outside rather than hand Jernigan much playing time. It won’t be a surprise if he finds himself on the street come opening day.
TE Brandon Myers
(2012 TE Rank – #9, 6.5 FPts/G; #6 PPR, 11.5 FPts/G)
After spending most of his first three years nailed to the sideline, Myers emerged last season to win the Raiders’ starting tight end spot. And once in the starting lineup, he proved to be a steady, reliable receiving option for quarterback Carson Palmer, hitting career highs in all major categories with 79 receptions for 806 yards and four touchdowns. Myers brings those talents to the Giants offense in 2013 and, while there is some uncertainty as to his role there, New York has generally received solid production from the tight end position over the last several years, despite never employing an upper-tier option at the position. Since the Giants possess far more talent at the wide receiving position than the Raiders did, a repeat of Myers’ 2012 production seems unlikely. Consider him a mid-tier TE2 with moderate upside.
TE Adrien Robinson
(2012 TE Rank – #95, 0.0 FPts/G; #95 PPR, 0.0 FPts/G)
The Giants acquired Robinson in the fourth round of last year’s draft and the former basketball player barely saw the field as a rookie, playing in just two games. While the team feels he has considerable upside, and didn’t make a huge investment in Brandon Myers, it seems a stretch to expect Robinson to earn a major role in 2013. He is a lower-tier dynasty prospect.
By: Dave Stringer — July 30, 2013 @ 2:06 pm
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Vick’s fantasy value is surrounded by questions and concerns.
QB Michael Vick
(2012 QB Rank – #26, 20.7 FPts/G)
Vick has struggled to replicate his 2010 success over the past two seasons but appears set to earn another opportunity to try again in 2013. While he will need to beat out second-year signal caller Nick Foles, that seems like a mere formality. Vick has endured plenty of criticism over the past two seasons but his passing production has remained decent, the only issue being his propensity for turnovers. In the run game, Vick has remained productive, but the nine touchdowns he scored in 2010 have been replaced by a pair of single-rushing-touchdown seasons in each of 2011 and 2012. With Chip Kelly now in Philadelphia, Vick is getting a decent amount of fantasy buzz given his upside as a read-option quarterback and the talented skill position players the Eagles have on offense. The question is whether he can run that type of offense and stay healthy for an entire season. We have our doubts. Consider Vick a mid- to lower-tier QB with a solid upside in 2013.
QB Nick Foles
(2012 QB Rank – #34, 17.0 FPts/G)
The Eagles say they are going to give Foles a chance to compete with Michael Vick for the starting quarterback position, and there isn’t any reason to doubt that. We just doubt Foles’ ability to beat out Vick, and presumably the Eagles do as well, or else why draft Matt Barkley in the fourth round of this year’s draft? Foles was serviceable as a six-game starter during his rookie season, throwing for 1,699 yards with six touchdowns and five interceptions. While his accuracy is decent, he doesn’t move well in the pocket and he doesn’t seem like a good fit in Chip Kelly’s offense. Consider Foles as a stopgap measure if he ends in the starting lineup in Week 1 or if Vick gets injured once again in 2013.
RB LeSean McCoy
(2012 RB Rank – #21, 12.6 FPts/G; #16 PPR, 17.1 FPts/G)
The man they call Shady took a bit of a pounding in fantasy circles last season as his PPG average dropped from 18.8 in 2011 to just 12.6. Not helping matters was that he was unavailable from Week 12 to 15 with a concussion, basically extinguishing several fantasy teams with his absence. However, a closer look reveals that McCoy remained a solid producer, averaging 101 total yards per game, just a half a yard off his production in 2011. His 20 touchdowns in 2011 were what padded his PPG totals that season, and expecting a repeat of that was unrealistic. And it’s unrealistic to again expect 20 touchdowns in 2013. McCoy isn’t getting the fantasy love that he deserves because of the drop in his touchdown production and the solid performance of Bryce Brown as his fill-in last season. I say Brown’s presence is being overblown. Consider the 25-year old McCoy a mid-tier RB1 and a player worthy of being taken as early as the fourth overall pick in your fantasy draft.
RB Bryce Brown
(2012 RB Rank – #39, 5.4 FPts/G; #42 PPR, 6.2 FPts/G)
Seriously talented but lacking maturity, Brown wasn’t taken until the seventh round of the 2012 draft, but the Eagles landed a steal in acquiring the Kansas State product. When LeSean McCoy was lost to a concussion, Brown put together two monstrous performances, totaling 372 yards in games against Carolina and Dallas. However, he struggled over his next two starts and saw limited touches once McCoy returned to the lineup. The knocks on the speedy Brown are that he doesn’t use his powerful frame enough— choosing to take too many runs outside of the tackles—and ball control, as in he has pretty much none. If he can learn to protect the football and be a better inside runner, Brown has the potential to be one of the league’s top backup running backs. It remains to be seen how new head coach Chip Kelly will rotate his backups, but if Brown can earn eight to ten touches a game, he could be a decent flex option in 14-team leagues. If that doesn’t happen, he is at least a must-have handcuff for McCoy owners.
RB Felix Jones
(2012 RB Rank – #31, 6.1 FPts/G; #35 PPR, 7.7 FPts/G)
After five subpar seasons with the Cowboys, Jones languished in the free agent market before getting an offer from the Eagles. He will compete for LeSean McCoy’s scraps with Bryce Brown, who had an outstanding run as the Eagles starter last season when McCoy was hurt. While Brown may have had a propensity to cough the ball up, he is younger and far more explosive than the injury-prone Jones. Don’t be shocked if Jones is on the street by opening day.
RB Chris Polk
(2012 RB Rank – N/A)
A degenerative shoulder condition kept Polk from being taken in the 2012 draft, and Bryce Brown’s emergence kept him from getting a single touch in the Eagles base offense as a rookie. With Felix Jones having been signed to join the backup brigade behind LeSean McCoy, Polk’s path to playing time seems completely blocked. Dynasty leaguers can now pretty much forget about Polk ever replicating his prolific collegiate production in the pros.
WR DeSean Jackson
(2012 WR Rank – #60, 7.4 FPts/G; #37 PPR, 11.1 FPts/G)
In 2011, Jackson had a subpar year, and that was blamed on the distraction of not having received a lucrative long-term contract. Prior to last season, he got the contract extension and we told you that his already high fantasy risk factor got even worse because he’d been paid. Sure enough, he hauled in just 45 receptions for 700 yards and two touchdowns in 11 games. After averaging double-digit fantasy points in 2009 and 2010, his PPG averages have plummeted to 8.0 and 7.5 over the past two seasons. Let’s hope new head coach Chip Kelly can motivate DJax back to high-end WR2 production and with Maclin (ACL) lost for the season, he’s got every opportunity to do so. Just don’t hold your breath on that happening. Kelly’s offense dictates getting the ball out early and letting his receivers rack up yards after the catch. Jackson is good at the latter part of that equation but not so good at hauling in quick hitters. Let’s just say we don’t see this as a match made in heaven. If you can grab Jackson as a low-end WR3 or upper-tier fantasy backup, do so; but don’t reach for him.
WR Jason Avant
(2012 WR Rank – #70, 4.6 FPts/G; #62 PPR, 8.4 FPts/G)
Hanging on to his role as the Eagles’ third receiver, Avant put up respectable numbers in 2012, catching 53 passes for 648 yards but failing to find the end zone. At 30 years of age, the days of hoping that he could turn into a consistent fantasy contributor are over, and there is a chance the Eagles could go in another direction in 2013. Avant offers almost no big-play ability, with just 10 touchdowns over his seven-year career. So it won’t be a huge surprise if the Eagles roll with recently acquired Arrelious Benn as their third receiver this season. While Avant has no chance of ever earning a starting role, Benn just might.
WR Arrelious Benn
(2012 WR Rank – #162, 1.1 FPts/G; #161 PPR, 2.1 FPts/G)
The Eagles acquired Benn from the Bucs in the offseason and proceeded to sign him to a one-year contract extension. Don’t get confused into thinking the extension means they have big plans for him. More likely, the Eagles had Benn over a barrel and he knew that his odds of making the squad this season were more likely if the Eagles had him signed at a modest cap hit in 2014. In Benn, Philadelphia acquired a player who has shown glimpses of big-play ability but one who has been unable to remain healthy. After a pair of moderately productive seasons, he missed eight games last year, finishing on injured reserve with a knee injury. In Philadelphia he will get a chance to supplant Jason Avant as the team’s third receiver. With a new coaching staff and Avant now on the wrong side of 30, there is a chance the 24-year-old Benn, a strong, physical receiver with good speed, could earn that role. However, until it happens and he shows some consistent production, you don’t need to consider him for your fantasy squad.
WR Damaris Johnson
(2012 WR Rank – #113, 2.4 FPts/G; #113 PPR, 4.2 FPts/G)
A little spark plug, Johnson earned a minor role as an undrafted free agent last year in Philadelphia, hauling in 19 receptions for 259 yards. At 5’8” and 170 pounds, Johnson seems unlikely to earn significant playing time, and his lack of size relegates him to working as a slot receiver and on gadget plays. While he will likely earn a spot on the Eagles roster, he shouldn’t earn one on yours.
WR Riley Cooper
(2012 WR Rank – #93, 3.9 FPts/G; #93 PPR, 6.0 FPts/G)
The Eagles fifth-round pick in the 2010 draft, Cooper has increased his target count and receptions each year he has been in the league. Unfortunately, the big-play potential that he displayed in 2010 and 2011 seemed to disappear last season as his 23 receptions only resulted in 248 yards. Cooper has a bigger fantasy upside now that Jeremy Maclin (ACL) has been lost for the season. For now, the Eagles have decided to address this issue in house and that means Cooper will likely get first opportunity to fill Maclin’s void and crack the starting lineup. We’re not sold yet on Cooper being anything more than a fantasy WR4 at this point but stay tuned.
TE Brent Celek
(2012 TE Rank – #22, 5.0 FPts/G; #17 PPR, 8.8 FPts/G)
Celek has been a roller coaster ride over the past four seasons, struggling to match the production from his career year in 2009 when he caught 76 passes for 971 yards and eight touchdowns. He was solid in 2011 but struggled during the 2010 and 2012 seasons and now appears to be on the outs in Philadelphia. New head coach Chip Kelly signed James Casey as a free agent, and the team also drafted Zach Ertz in the second round. Both players offer more big-play potential than Celek, and 2010 fourth-round pick Clay Harbor remains on the roster, coming off a 25-reception season in 2012. While the final note on Celek’s career in Philadelphia may not have sounded yet, his days as a solid fantasy producer appear to be over, especially with Kelly having said that his strength is as a blocker.
TE James Casey
(2012 TE Rank – #33, 3.2 FPts/G; #32 PPR, 5.4 FPts/G)
The Eagles handed Casey a boatload of money ($12 million over 3 years with $8 million guaranteed) to leave the Texans so you would have to think they have big plans for him in 2013. They then proceeded to talk him up as a “move” tight end or H-back, but a knee injury held him back in the offseason so we don’t really know how they plan to utilize him. And really, should we be convinced that the 240-pound Casey could handle a full load at tight end? Don’t get overly excited by his fantasy prospects.
TE Zach Ertz
(2012 TE Rank – N/A)
With the Eagles looking to add versatile pieces among their array of offensive weapons, they used an early second-round pick in this year’s draft to acquire Ertz. The 6’6”, 252-pound Stanford product had a productive year in 2012 and has the ability to line up all over the field. More receiver than blocker, he currently stands behind Brent Celek on the depth chart with James Casey also expected to earn some snaps. The crowded depth chart keeps Ertz from being an exciting option in redraft formats, but he does offer intriguing dynasty potential if new coach Chip Kelly can replicate his collegiate success at the pro level.
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