Fantasy Football Strategy, Advice, and Commentary
By: Mike Krueger — March 16, 2013 @ 9:35 am
Jennings gives Ponder a legitimate weapon on the outside.
Following the path of other ex-Packers (QB Brett Favre, K Ryan Longwell, S Darren Sharper), wide receiver Greg Jennings tested the free agent market and found a home in Minnesota.
Jennings signed a five-year, $47.5 million deal with the Vikings worth roughly $27 million over the first three years. His contract comes in below deals recently signed by Mike Wallace (5 years $60 million) and Dwayne Bowe (5 years, $56 million) but substantially above Wes Welker’s agreement in Denver (2 years, $12 million).
Minnesota had little choice but to sign Jennings after trading away their main receiving threat, Percy Harvin, to the Seahawks in exchange for draft picks. Jerome Simpson was resigned earlier this week but given the lack of talent in the receiving corps it won’t come as a surprise if the Vikings use one of their two first-round draft picks (#23 & #25) on a receiver.
The 29 year-old Jennings appeared in eight games last year due to injury and turned in his worst season as a pro (36 rec, 366 yds, 4 TDs). He fills a gaping hole in the Vikings offense and has the ability to play on the outside or in the slot. Regardless of any moves at the receiver position yet to come, he will be the focus of the passing attack.
An attack led by Christian Ponder, not Aaron Rodgers.
Ponder and the Vikings passing offense won’t be confused the Packers aerial assault anytime soon. Minnesota ranked 31st in passing yards last season and with Ponder averaging 6.1 yards per attempt (31st also), Jennings could catch 90 balls and not break 1000 yards. And do forget, the offense runs through Adrian Peterson and their run-first philosophy won’t change anytime soon.
It’s not all doom and gloom however, as Jennings would be one of many mouths to feed in Green Bay as Randall Cobb, James Jones, Jordy Nelson and TE Jermichael Finley are very deserving of targets… and will get them. In Minnesota, Jennings will be the big fish in the purple pond but will have a hard time cracking WR1 territory without significant improvement from QB Christian Ponder and the Vikings demonstrating a willingness to open up the offense.
In the end, this likely is a neutral move for Jennings’ fantasy value, representing as a low-end WR2 with very little upside due to below average quarterback play.
By: Dave Stringer — March 15, 2013 @ 10:07 am
The Falcons have themselves a workhorse at running back.
With a gaping hole at running back following the release of Michael Turner, the Atlanta Falcons have landed the top free agent at the position in former Ram Steven Jackson.
Reports indicate that Jackson will sign a three-year, $12 million contract.
Atlanta’s interest in Jackson was perhaps the league’s worst kept secret entering the free agency period. It is likely that only the lukewarm interest Jackson received from the Green Bay Packers kept him from agreeing to terms with Atlanta earlier.
In the 29-year-old Jackson, the Falcons gain a player long considered one of the league’s premier power running backs and perhaps the most consistent player at his position, as evidenced by his eight consecutive 1000-yard seasons. In 2012, he gained 1,042 rushing yards and scored four touchdowns while averaging 4.1 yards per carry. He also chipped in 38 receptions for 321 yards.
With Jackson on the roster, third-year player Jacquizz Rodgers will remain the team’s top backup, with Jason Snelling providing additional depth.
Jackson has ranked as the 17th, 11th and 14th fantasy RB in the past three years, as his low touchdown totals (4, 6, and 6, respectively) have held his ranking down.
In Atlanta, with one of the league’s leading offenses, Jackson figures to approach the 11 touchdowns Turner scored in 2012, meaning the only issues that could prevent Jackson from being a lower-tier RB1 in 2013 are injuries (two missed games over the last four years) and a decline in performance.
While Jackson will hit the dreaded 30-year-old mark prior to the season and has accumulated 2,395 rushing attempts and 407 receptions over his nine-year career, his performance in 2012 was not indicative of a player on the downside of his career.
His yards per carry was a respectable 4.1 (just off his career average of 4.2) and he caught 38 passes, making it the eighth straight year he has caught at least that many, while averaging 8.4 yards per reception. With Roddy White, Julio Jones and Tony Gonzalez around to keep opposing defenses honest, Jackson won’t face the eight- and nine-man fronts he saw during most of his tenure in St. Louis.
In an era dominated by the running-back-by-committee approach, Jackson bucked that trend as a true workhorse during his stay with the Rams. However, with Rodgers in tow as his backup, and worthy of 8 to 10 touches per game, Jackson is likely in line for 250 to 280 touches in 2013. That should make him an upper-tier RB2 with an outside chance of low-end RB1 production. Rodgers is a solid handcuff and decent flex option in 12-team leagues.
Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan gains another option in the passing game (Turner had a career-high 19 receptions in 2012), which should add to his production. He remains just outside of the big four at quarterback.
Jackson’s presence has little to no impact on White, Jones and Gonzalez.
By: Dave Stringer — March 14, 2013 @ 9:04 am
Wes Welker moves from Hall of Fame QB to another.
In one of the more stunning free agent signings in recent years, Wes Welker has agreed to terms with the Denver Broncos.
Unable to reach a deal with New England after playing the 2012 season under the franchise tag, Welker chose to leave the Patriots and end his longstanding and productive relationship with quarterback Tom Brady to sign with the Broncos, where he will join Peyton Manning.
In an era of ever-churning news cycles, Welker’s decision to leave New England for Denver will be debated for a long time, particularly given that he agreed to a modest deal (reportedly two years and $12 million) shortly after Brady signed a below-market extension that granted the Patriots an abundance of salary cap space.
Brady’s reaction to the deal will be almost as interesting as watching Welker on the field in Denver with Manning.
Regarded as the league’s premier slot receiver, Welker recorded 672 receptions during his six-year stint in New England, endearing himself to the team’s fan base with his solid production and toughness. He missed just three games due to injury despite suffering a torn anterior cruciate ligament in the final game of the 2009 season.
Last season, Welker caught 118 passes for 1,354 yards and six touchdowns.
Well, the widespread assumption was that if Welker left the Patriots, he would be hard pressed to match his production in New England with his new team. However, if there is a quarterback that can keep Welker relevant, it is Manning.
If a 36-year-old Brandon Stokley can catch 45 passes playing out of the slot with Manning, Welker has a solid chance to surpass 100 receptions for the sixth time in the past seven seasons.
In Denver, Welker joins a pair of 1000-yard receivers in Demaryius Thomas and Eric Decker, but there is little reason to suggest he can’t top 100 receptions and 1,000 yards with the Broncos. Throw in another six- or seven-touchdown season and Welker will once again rate as a high-end WR2 in 2013.
With Welker owning the slot, the team’s tight ends will almost certainly become persona non grata in the Broncos passing attack. Jacob Tamme and Joel Dreessen are once again expected to share that role, so neither will be worth owning for fantasy purposes.
Thomas and Decker both had outstanding seasons in 2012, and Welker’s signing shouldn’t have a major impact on their production as both players enter their fourth season in the league.
Of the two, Thomas has the most upside, having accumulated 1,442 receiving yards and ten touchdowns last season. He has the potential to become a top three fantasy WR in 2013.
Decker was the seventh-ranked fantasy WR in 2012, with 1,064 yards and 13 touchdowns. But since such a large portion of his production came from touchdowns, another top 10 fantasy season seems unlikely. Decker still shapes up as a mid-tier WR2 next season, however.
As for Manning, he moves from being a mid-tier QB1 to an upper-tier option, given the plethora of outstanding talent the team now possesses at receiver.
In New England, Brady will be left to lament the loss of his security blanket, as will his fantasy owners. Although reports indicate that the Patriots have signed former Ram Danny Amendola to replace Welker, he is little more than a poor man’s version—and an injury-prone one at that.
With Welker’s departure, Brady becomes a riskier fantasy option, though he remains an upper-tier fantasy QB for 2013.
By: Mike Krueger — @ 1:04 am
Fantasy highlights from Day 2 of free agency. It didn’t disappoint.
The biggest splash occurred when Wes Welker moved on from Tom Brady and into the arms of Peyton Manning. The Patriots reportedly offered the prolific slot receiver $10 million plus incentives for two years. The Broncos offered $12 million for the same time frame. This move creates a ripple effect in Denver. Eric Decker‘s fantasy value takes a hit along with the Broncos’ tight ends. Downgrade the fantasy value of Welker also. It’s hard to catch 100 passes with Demaryius Thomas on the outside… but our own Dave Stinger doesn’t agree.
Injury history is a huge red flag with Amendola.
After losing Welker, the Patriots turned right around and picked up Danny Amendola to fill the void. Long thought of as a poor man’s Wes Welker, Amendola’s fantasy value took a jump today but his huge injury risk limits his leap. He’s missed 20 games in the last two years.
If the Patriots hold firm with the receivers they have now, the biggest beneficiary may be TE Aaron Hernandez who is capable of playing in the slot and could rack up huge numbers if Amendola continues to demonstrate his brittle nature.
After a quiet Day 1, the running back position made some noise as Reggie Bush left South Beach for Detroit, signing a four-year deal. This gives Bush added upside but with Mikel Leshoure still in the mix and likely to get goaline carries, Bush’s value will be greatest in PPR leagues with 60 catches a real possibility.
Rashard Mendenhall reunites with Bruce Arians as the former Steelers running back signed a one-year deal with Arizona. Mendenhall tried to come back last season after tearing his ACL in early January of 2012. He never rushed for more than 50 yards in any game. If Mendenhall can win the starting job over Ryan Williams he may slide into low-end RB2 territory but with injury concerns and no quarterback play, that’s wishful thinking.
Tennessee added depth at running back, picking up Shonn Greene from the Jets. Both Greene and Chris Johnson take hits to their fantasy value with this move. Greene could become a vulture at the goaline and gives the Titans the option to form a RBBC if desired. This is still CJ2K’s starting job but a 65-35 split wouldn’t surprise me.
By: Dave Stringer — March 13, 2013 @ 10:40 pm
Bush’s PPR value is on the rise.
With the free agent market at running back lacking quality, the Detroit Lions moved quickly to address their need at the position, agreeing to terms with former Dolphin Reggie Bush.
Reports indicate that Bush will sign a four-year deal worth $16 million.
Detroit’s interest in Bush comes as no surprise to league observers, as the team had shown plenty of signs that it had given up on former second-round pick Jahvid Best due to his history of concussions and their need to add playmaking ability at the running back position.
Arguably the most talented running back available in free agency, Bush will assume the starter’s role in Detroit ahead of Mikel Leshoure, who had a disappointing sophomore campaign after missing all of his rookie season due to an Achilles tendon tear.
After five largely disappointing and injury-plagued seasons in New Orleans, Bush joined Miami prior to the 2011 season and topped 1,000 rushing yards for the first time in his career. In 2012, he played in all 16 games for the first time since 2006, finishing just shy of consecutive 1000-yard seasons with 986 rushing yards.
In Miami, Bush finished 2011 as the 12th-ranked fantasy running back, dropping a couple of notches to 14th this past season as he clearly established himself as a quality lead runner for the first time in his career. Those were impressive feats given his previous production in New Orleans coupled with the lack of playmakers and questionable quarterback play in Miami.
The Lions clearly don’t have the offensive issues that Bush had to deal with in Miami. With Calvin Johnson lining up out wide and strong-armed Matthew Stafford at quarterback, opposing defenses will have to pick their poison, and it is safe to assume they will choose to double cover Johnson rather than Bush.
That should translate into Bush facing fewer eight-man fronts, as well as having plenty of open space in the passing game. It should be noted that he hasn’t topped 45 receptions since the 2009 season and failed to reach 300 receiving yards in each of the last three years.
Expect those trends to change in 2013 given the Lions reliance on their running backs in the passing game. Bush should approach 1,000 rushing yards and 400 receiving yards provided he remains healthy. Throw in seven or eight touchdowns and he would rate as a low-end RB1 or high-end RB2 in 2013.
If you’re looking for red flags, there are a couple. First off, Leshoure is a solid short-yardage back and Joique Bell isn’t a slouch in that area either. Their presence will cut down on Bush’s looks inside the 5-yard line. Secondly, Bush’s injury history can’t be ignored (20 missed games during his tenure in New Orleans), although he did miss just one game during his two-year stay with Miami.
Given Bush’s solid upside and recent run of good health, fantasy owners should feel comfortable drafting him as an upper tier RB2 in 2013.
By: Mike Krueger — @ 10:11 am
Whew. It was quite a day as the NFL kicked off the calendar year with over 50 players changing teams. Here’s a quick recap of the fantasy highlights…
After a very public phone conversation between Buffalo GM Buddy Nix and Tampa Bay GM Mark Dominik, in which Nix was heard longing for a franchise QB, Ryan Fitzpatrick got cut… Hmmm. Expect the Bills to go after a QB early in the draft. They have pick No. 8.
Chase Daniel, backup to Drew Brees in New Orleans, signed in KC. He’ll backup Alex Smith as the trade between the 49ers and Chiefs will be filed with the league today.
All was quiet on the RB front on Tuesday. We’ll be watching Steven Jackson and Reggie Bush closely today. As we speak, Bush is paying a visit to Detroit while it appears the Packers may have cooled on Jackson.
The Pittsburgh Steelers tendered offers Jonathan Dwyer and Isaac Redman allowing them to match any offers they receive in free agency. Dwyer and Redman will likely share duties at running back for the Steelers in 2013 unless the Steelers pursue a free agent running back or address the position in the draft. This is a fantasy situation will have more clarity by the time training camp comes around in late July.
The Giants re-signed Ryan Torain. He’ll provide depth behind David Wilson and Andre Brown.
Wallace to Miami. The biggest move of the day was expected.
The Dolphins got their man for 5 years, $60 million with $30 million guaranteed. Mike Wallace will provide a much-needed lift to Miami’s offense but his fantasy value may have taken a hit into the low-end WR2 territory.
Surprisingly, Jerome Simpson was re-signed by the Vikings. They currently have the worst wide receiving corps in the league after trading Percy Harvin to Seattle.
Darrius Heyward-Bey got the axe in Oakland while the Jets retained Santonio Holmes. Holmes battled foot problems last season and didn’t play a snap past Week 4. His guarantee for 2013 ($7.5 million) forced the Jets to keep his services. On a team in rebuilding mode, Holmes will be a very risky WR3 in fantasy drafts this summer.
Some interesting moves in this category. Jared Cook landed in St. Louis and judging by the contract he got (5 years, $31 million, $19 million guaranteed) he should be a focal point of the offense. His fantasy stock is on the rise.
Martellus Bennett left the Giants for Chicago and gives Cutler a legitimate receiving threat at the position.
Anthony Fasano was signed by Kansas City. He will be paired with the oft-inured Tony Moeaki. While Andy Reid likes to use the tight end position, neither will have much fantasy value unless one is thrust into a clear starting role.
The Titans lost Cook but gained Delanie Walker from San Francisco (4 years, $17.5 million, $8.6 guaranteed). He hasn’t had a chance to be a primary target at his position and is better known for his blocking ability. He’ll likely share time with Taylor Thompson.
Guys we’re keeping our eye on include Reggie Bush, Steven Jackson, Greg Jennings, Wes Welker and Danny Amendola. The frenzy is under way.
By: Antonio D'Arcangelis — February 26, 2013 @ 9:21 am
Wallace’s contract issues may have affected his play last season.
1. Mike Wallace (PIT) – Wallace is a proven deep threat with world-class speed, and he’s best when paired with a steady possession receiver. Last season, he struggled to get in sync within the Steelers offense after a lengthy preseason holdout. He contributed a few big plays, but for the most part was a major fantasy disappointment. So far, negotiations with the Steelers have been frosty at best, and the early word is that the Dolphins have made Wallace (who would command roughly $10-12 million per season in a long-term deal) their top priority this offseason. Wallace would be a low-end WR1 or top WR2 if signed by the Dolphins.
The Best Fit: Dolphins, Bengals, Chiefs
2. Dwayne Bowe (KC) – Like Wallace, Bowe totes some baggage when it comes to work ethic and character, though his athletic ability is nearly unparalleled, even among the league’s elite receivers. At his best, Bowe is a premier red zone threat, but the past few signal callers in Kansas City have been highly dubious options without the chops to take full advantage of his skills. Ideally, Bowe would sign a short-term deal for a team with a Top 15 quarterback, allowing fantasy owners to capitalize on his upside.
The Best Fit: Chiefs, Vikings, Chargers
3. Greg Jennings (GB) – Jennings could have commanded a huge payday this offseason had his previous two seasons not been marred by nagging injuries that forced him to miss 11 games. He’s 30 years old and won’t get the $14 million per year he’s reportedly demanding, but there are teams that will throw him a multi-year deal—the Vikings being one of them. Jennings could once again be a Top 10 fantasy WR, but that all hinges on his staying healthy and clicking with whatever new offense he ends up in.
The Best Fit: Vikings, Broncos, Bengals
4. Wes Welker (NE) – Welker’s racked up 672 catches for 7,459 yards and 37 touchdowns in his last six seasons with the Patriots, and he turned down a two-year, $16 million offer from New England last offseason. While the Pats aren’t planning on slapping the franchise tag on Welker, there’s still a chance he could get signed before he leaves for free agency and a potentially monster contract with the Bears, Chargers or Broncos—the three teams most mentioned in conjunction with the veteran slot receiver. Welker will be 32 on May 1 and still has plenty of productive seasons left, but NFL GMs—as well as fantasy owners—should be concerned that his standout numbers were partly a product of his amazing rapport with Tom Brady.
The Best Fit: Bears, Chargers, Patriots
5. Danny Amendola (STL) – If you thought Jennings had a hard time staying healthy, then I humbly offer up the sad tale of Danny Amendola, who’s missed 20 games over the past two seasons. Amendola is a PPR maven and solid possession receiver who’s right at home in St. Louis despite a rough road. The Rams will likely scoop him up for the hometown rate on a multi-year deal, but if he hits the open market, there’s a good possibility a team will spring for a large one-year contract. If Welker escapes New England, Amendola makes sense as a replacement.
The Best Fit: Rams, Patriots, Broncos
By: Antonio D'Arcangelis — February 21, 2013 @ 12:50 pm
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Jackson will void the final year of his contract and test the market.
1. Steven Jackson (STL) – Jackson has a player option for 2013 but has said he wants to test the free agent waters. The St. Louis brass claim they want him back in uniform, but the $7 million they owe him for next season might be better spent to relieve cap space before the NFL Draft. Jackson has a lot of mileage on his 29-year-old body, and he’s one of the more battle-tested free agents available (Cedric Benson and Brandon Jacobs are two more who didn’t quite make this list). It’s not outside the realm of possibility that Jackson comes back to the Rams, but whatever happens, it’s hard to see him reversing his statistical descent. He’s best avoided in fantasy drafts until the younger, more dynamic backs are off the board.
The Best Fit: Broncos, Falcons, Rams
2. Reggie Bush (MIA) – While Bush isn’t a workhorse back, he brings a healthy dose of experience and explosiveness as a free agent addition to just about any team. As a pass catcher, Bush is nearly unrivaled, and he’s still capable of spectacular touchdown scampers. The team that corrals Bush will likely have to throw big money at the veteran scatback. There’s a good chance Miami just bites the bullet and does it themselves, but the Lions make sense for obvious reasons—Jahvid Best is done and the team, in desperation, tried out several journeymen at feature back in 2012. Bush is still a solid No. 2 fantasy RB if he lands in the right situation.
The Best Fit: Lions, Packers, Jets
3. Ahmad Bradshaw (NYG) – The Giants recently cut Bradshaw to clear $2.75 million in cap space, signifying their confidence in 2012 draft pick David Wilson, who showed glimpses of brilliance last season but struggled with ball protection. Bradshaw has his own baggage, including a pair of brittle ankles that could always turn into multiple spans of unavailability. The 26-year-old veteran is still a solid playmaker with plenty of upside, but the pass-first team that takes a shot on him probably won’t be using him for much more than 12–15 touches per game, limiting his fantasy value.
The Best Fit: Packers, Falcons, Cards
4. Rashard Mendenhall (PIT) – Mendenhall found himself in the Steelers doghouse last season after spending the first few weeks on the PUP list recovering from a 2011 ACL tear. His first game back (Week 5 against Philly) was a nice little revelation (13 carries for 68 yards and 3-33-1 receiving), but he quickly lost luster after battling with coaches and eventually not showing up for a game. There are a handful of teams that could use a punishing back like Mendenhall, but don’t except a long-term deal until the 25-year-old, former 1000-yard rusher proves he can still handle a full season of touches.
The Best Fit: Bengals, Rams, Chargers
5. Shonn Greene (NYJ) – The much-embattled Greene will probably be moving on from the Jets, who haven’t been happy with his performance and will look to a committee spearheaded by Bilal Powell and change-of-pace back Joe McKnight. In 2011, Greene ran for 1,054 yards and six touchdowns (4.2 YPC), but he’s been a disappointment as a workhorse back. He’s still a capable fantasy option because he’s a grinder and makes perfect sense as a goal-line back—he just doesn’t break off too many big runs. In a perfect world, he’d find himself as the short-yardage back to complement Jamaal Charles in Kansas City or with another organization that could use a sturdy plodder.
The Best Fit: Chiefs, Bengals, Raiders
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