Fantasy Football Strategy, Advice, and Commentary
By: Dave Stringer — January 4, 2013 @ 4:41 pm
Reports indicate that former Philadelphia Eagles head coach Andy Reid will be joining the Kansas City Chiefs for the 2013 season.
With Reid in tow, the Chiefs jettisoned general manager Scott Pioli, who was unable to build a playoff caliber roster over the past four seasons. Pioli had a strong hand in running the organization and would have had to accept a reduced role with Reid likely to have final say on personnel matters as the Chiefs head coach.
Pioli compiled a 23-41 record with one playoff appearance during his tenure in Kansas City which was marked with a number of questionable personnel decisions, including the decisions to trade for quarterback Matt Cassel and linebacker Mike Vrabel, trade away Pro Bowl tight end Tony Gonzalez and use the 3rd pick in the 2009 draft on Tyson Jackson.
Piolo also refused to re-sign the team’s own free agents including cornerback Brandon Carr and failed to reach a long-term contract extension with wide receiver Dwayne Bowe, even though free agent signee Steve Breaston had failed to produce and 2011 1st round pick Jonathan Baldwin had failed to develop.
It is expected that the Chiefs will hire either former Cleveland general manager Tom Heckert or John Dorsey, Green Bay’s director of college scouting, to fulfill the general manager’s role. Reid has ties to both Heckert and Dorsey.
In Reid, the Chiefs acquire a head coach with a long history of success, having compiled a 130-94 record during his 14 seasons in Philadelpia. While Reid’s teams were consistently solid, they failed to win a Super Bowl, losing Super Bowl XXXIX in 2004 and losing in the NFC Championship Game four other times.
Don't worry fantasy owners, there will be plenty of touches for Charles in Andy Reid's offense.
In Kansas City, Reid inherits a team with issues at the quarterback position, a dynamic running back in Jamaal Charles, the makings of a solid offensive line and uncertainty at the wide receiver position with the pending free agency of Bowe.
With Michael Vick unlikely to return to the Eagles and Kevin Kolb not likely back in Arizona, Reid could decide to reunite with one of his former quarterbacks while grooming a replacement taken in this year’s upcoming draft. Cassel is not likely to be retained.
That would solidify the team’s offense and improve the Chiefs chances of re-signing Bowe, the type of big, playmaking receiver that Reid rarely had in Philadelphia outside of Terrell Owens. With a veteran quarterback running Reid’s version of the West Coast offense, Bowe’s production could approach his career year in 2010 when he caught 72 passes for 1,162 yards and 15 touchdowns, which would make him a mid-tier WR1.
Tight end Tony Moeaki could also see his production increase given Reid’s ability to generate passing yardage in the screen game, an area the athletic Moeaki could excel in.
With Baldwin having done little to justify his selection in the first round of the 2011 draft and Breaston having caught just seven passes in 2012, the Chiefs are expected to replenish the wide receiver position in the draft or free agency.
At running back, Reid has generally chosen to go with one player in a workhorse role and that means that Jamaal Charles is likely in line for plenty of touches in 2013. The Eagles LeSean McCoy topped 1,600 total yards in each of the 2010 and 2011 seasons while totaling 29 touchdowns. Even though Reid has shown a propensity to throw the ball more than any other coach, his running backs have generally been solid producers.
Charles’ career-high in touchdowns is eight (during the 2009 and 2010 seasons) and that should increase with Reid calling the Chiefs plays. Consider Charles a mid to low tier RB1 in 2013.
By: Dave Stringer — @ 12:12 pm
Entering the 2012 season, the consensus had evolved that the stud RB draft strategy was essentially dead in the water in re-draft leagues due to the lack of quality options at the position after you got past the top seven or eight players.
That line of reasoning proved correct as the top eight players at the position managed to top 210 fantasy points (Jamaal Charles put up that total) with the Vikings Adrian Peterson putting up an astonishing 309 points despite returning from an ACL injury suffered late in the 2011 season.
After that, there was little reason to reach for a running back as the point differential from the 9th ranked fantasy running back to the 21st player at the position was just 52 points.
In 2012, waiting to grab your low end RB1 all the way down to a low end RB2 likely paid off.
Expect more of the same in 2013 with several question marks at the position as we enter what proves to be another intriguing offseason.
1. Arian Foster, Texans – Despite getting 60 more touches in 2012 (391 vs. 331), Foster’s total yards dropped from 1,841 to 1,628 as his usage (drop in receptions by 13 to 40) and effectiveness as a receiver (11.6 yards per reception in 2011 vs. 5.4 in 2012) both declined. Foster still managed more fantasy points this season courtesy of 17 touchdowns. He remains in consideration as the league’s top all purpose threat at running back and 2013’s top ranked fantasy running back. Sorry, AP fans.
You'll need the first or second pick if you want to land AP in 2013.
2. Adrian Peterson, Vikings – With Percy Harvin on the shelf for much of 2012, the Vikings turned to Peterson and he was lights out, finishing just eight yards shy of matching Eric Dickerson’s single-season rushing mark of 2,105. Over his last ten games, AP had 1,598 rushing yards to go along with ten rushing touchdowns as defenses couldn’t stop him even with eight and nine players in the box. He’s likely to be the consensus top rated fantasy running back but not here as his career-high touches in 2012 and unsettled situation at wide receiver keep AP at number two. It’s worth noting that the five previous 2,000-yard rushers combined to average 1,072 rushing yards in the following season.
3. Ray Rice, Ravens – With the Ravens moving to more of a passing attack, Rice was solid in 2012 but not quite as spectacular as he was in 2011. His total yards dropped to 1,621 as well as his touchdowns (10 from 15 in 2011). Rice’s rushing and receiving yardage were his worst since his rookie season in 2008. This is where the second tier of fantasy running backs begins.
4. Marshawn Lynch, Seahawks – Lynch finished the year with a career-high 1,590 rushing yards and 11 rushing touchdowns, one off his previous high set in 2011. Once the Seahawks offensive line started to gel at mid-season, he got on a hot streak, totaling 941 rushing yards and nine touchdowns over Seattle’s final nine games. Don’t expect much to change in 2013, making Lynch a top five fantasy back once again.
5. Doug Martin, Bucs – The Bucs traded back into the 1st round to grab Martin to pound the ball at opposing defenses and he did nothing to disappoint them in his rookie season. The Boise State product totaled 1,454 yards and 11 touchdowns on the ground to go along with 472 yards and a score as a receiver. Martin relegated LeGarrette Blount to pure backup status and emerged as the top rookie running back in 2012. With Schiano back in 2013, expect Martin to once again approach 400 total touches (368 this year) and his fantasy production to remain steady.
6. LeSean McCoy, Eagles – McCoy was a big disappointment in 2012, finishing the year with 1,213 total yards and just five touchdowns in 12 games. With the Eagles offense unable to get in sync and left tackle Jason Peters out for the year, McCoy wasn’t the same player he was in 2011 when he finished the season with over 1,600 total yards and 20 touchdowns. A concussion caused him to miss four games near the end of the season. With Nick Foles likely taking over at quarterback, there is some risk that the Eagles offense will struggle once again in 2013.
7. Trent Richardson, Browns – Despite playing two-thirds of the season with broken ribs, Richardson put together an impressive rookie campaign despite playing in an inconsistent Browns offense. He totaled nearly 1,000 yards and 11 touchdowns on the ground while contributing 51 receptions for 372 yards and a score as a receiver. While there will be a new head coach in Cleveland in 2013, one thing is for certain and that is that Richardson will get the ball plenty. With improvement from Brandon Weeden at quarterback and a pair of emerging wide receivers in Josh Gordon and Greg Little, the Browns offense could surprise next season.
8. C.J. Spiller, Bills – If you had to rank the reasons why Chan Gailey was given his walking papers by the Bills, his refusal to hand the starting reigns to Spiller has to rank at or near the top. Despite averaging 6.0 yards per carry and 10.7 yards per reception, Spiller only had 250 touches in 2012, gaining over 1,700 yards. Duh. Spiller finished as the 7th ranked fantasy running back and figures to be in that vicinity once again in 2013.
9. Jamaal Charles, Chiefs – His season stat line was impressive (1,513 rushing yards, 236 receiving yards and six touchdowns) but owning Charles was an exercise in fantasy frustration in 2012. His production was wildly inconsistent (six games with less than seven fantasy points and 52.1% of his fantasy production coming in four games) as the Chiefs confounded pundits by limiting him to 16 or fewer touches in seven games. Question marks at quarterback and wide receiver (Dwayne Bowe is an unrestricted free agent) hinder Charles’ fantasy value.
10. Chris Johnson, Titans – After starting the season slowly with 108 total yards in his first three games, CJ2K (does that nickname still fit?) came on, totaling 1,361 total yards and six touchdowns over his final 13 games. The Titans offensive line was a mess and Jake Locker failed to emerge at quarterback but Johnson didn’t help matters by consistently trying for the big run rather than taking what the defense gave him. He has the potential to emerge as the top ranked fantasy rusher but his inconsistency is bound to drive his fantasy owners crazy.
11. Matt Forte, Bears – If it seemed like the Bears weren’t using Forte correctly in 2012, it’s because they weren’t. After the season general manager Phil Emery called out the team’s former coaching staff for Forte’s lack of use and effectiveness as a receiver, as he had career lows in receptions (44) and yards (340) while averaging just 7.7 yards per reception, the 2nd lowest average of his career. Expect Forte to be used more by the Bears new coaching staff and for him to emerge as a low-end RB1 in 2013.
12. Alfred Morris, Redskins – Where or where do you rank Alfred Morris? The rookie 6th round pick had an outstanding season, finishing the year as the 5th ranked fantasy running back with 1,606 rushing yards (2nd in the league) and 13 rushing touchdowns (also 2nd). Unfortunately, Morris was persona non grata as a receiver with just 11 receptions for 77 yards and we are all aware of head coach Mike Shanahan’s penchant for his brief love affairs with his running backs.
13. Stevan Ridley, Patriots – Ridley enjoyed a breakout season in 2012, finishing as the 10th ranked fantasy running back with 1,263 rushing yards and 12 touchdowns. The issue with Patriots back over the last few years had been their inconsistent usage but Ridley was surprisingly consistent in 2012, gaining eight or more fantasy points in 12 of 16 games.
14. Maurice Jones-Drew, Jaguars – After years of heavy use, MJD got a break in 2012 as a foot injury limited him to just six games. The limited use should prove to be helpful as he carried the ball more than any running back form 2009 to 2011. However, the Jaguars offense remains a mess with a questionable quarterback situation which limits MJD’s upside,
15. DeMarco Murray, Cowboys – Murray looks great when he’s healthy but that hasn’t been often during his two-year career as he has missed 13 games. A sprained foot suffered in Week 6 caused him to miss six games and his production suffered behind a bad Cowboys offensive line, limiting him to just 66.3 rushing yards per game in the ten games that he was healthy. Murray topped 100 yards in Week 1 but not again and his fantasy upside is limited by his injury issues, the team’s offensive line and the Cowboys propensity for throwing the ball.
16. Ryan Mathews, Chargers – There weren’t many bigger busts than Mathews in 2012 as he failed to live up to the Chargers offseason predictions that he would emerge as one of the league’s top talents at running back and remain healthy even with a planned increase in his workload. Mathews broke his right clavicle in the preseason and by midseason, the Chargers had clearly abandoned the heavy workload plan in an attempt to keep him healthy. A broken left clavicle in Week 15 ruined that plan and Mathews finished the year with just 707 yards on the ground to go along with a 3.8 yards per carry average and just a single touchdown.
17. Darren McFadden, Raiders – We’re into the huge talent, huge injury concern portion of the rankings with Run DMC up next. Despite playing in five more games in 2012 than in 2011 (12 vs. 7), he managed to increase his yardage total by just 197 as he was held to a career-low 3.3 yards per carry. McFadden didn’t seem to gel with the Raiders new zone-blocking scheme, whose ineffectiveness caused offensive coordinator Greg Knapp to be sent packing. Look for the Raiders to return to a power rushing attack in 2013 but a breakout season for McFadden seems unlikely given that he has missed 23 games over his five-year career.
18. Frank Gore, 49ers – Gore didn’t fall off the cliff in 2012 as many expected, finishing the season with 1,212 rushing yards and eight touchdowns, nearly identical totals as he put up in 2011. Gore will turn 30 prior to the 2013 season but neither Kendall Hunter nor LaMichael James seems ready to assume starting duties, making Gore a solid RB2 next season.
19. Reggie Bush, Dolphins – Bush will be playing somewhere in 2012 but it’s anybody’s guess as to where. Miami is clearly desperate for playmakers so a return to the Dolphins seems in order but the team has a pair of young backs in Lamar Miller and Daniel Thomas that it may wish to develop. Bush fell just 14 yards shy of hitting the 1,000 rushing yard mark for the 2nd consecutive season but he still managed a solid 4.3 yards per carry on the ground while averaging 8.3 yards per catch. At 28 on opening day, Bush has lots of gas left in the tank.
20. Steven Jackson, Rams – Despite ceding touches and playing time to 7th round pick Daryl Richardson, Sjax topped 1,000 rushing yards for the 8th consecutive season, finishing the year as the 17th ranked fantasy running back. He also remained productive in the passing game with 321 receiving yards but managed just four total touchdowns for the season as the Rams struggled on offense. His contract situation is a question mark but expect Jackson to return to St. Louis in 2013 and approach 300 touches once again next season.
21. Darren Sproles, Saints – Coming off a 2011 season in which he set career highs in rushing yards, receiving yards and touchdowns, Sproles was a marginal disappointment in 2012 as a broken hand limited him to just 13 games. His PPG dropped from 11.6 to a still respectable 10.7 but his usage in the running game declined. With Sean Payton likely back in New Orleans in 2013, look for Sproles to put together another solid season.
22. BenJarvus Green-Ellis, Bengals – The Law Firm topped 1,000 rushing yards for the second time in 2012, as he finished the season strongly with four 100 yard games and 543 rushing yards between Weeks 11-15. Unfortunately, he remains a plodding runner, averaging under 4.0 yards per carry for the 2nd consecutive season. The Bengals clearly like him but with multiple 1st round picks in tow may decide that an upgrade at running back is in order.
23. Ahmad Bradshaw, Giants – Bradshaw looks good and runs hard when he’s healthy but that hasn’t been often enough for the Giants liking. He topped 1,000 rushing yards for the 2nd time this season but both Andre Brown and rookie 1st round pick David Wilson showed flashes of brilliance, clouding Bradshaw’s future with the Giants. His return is likely but not guaranteed.
24. Mikel Leshoure, Lions – Leshoure was merely decent in 2012, averaging 3.7 yards per carry and gaining 798 yards and nine touchdowns on the ground. He displayed some ability as a receiver with 34 receptions but ceded playing time to journeyman Joique Bell during the season, a sign the Lions weren’t satisfied with his performance. With Jahvid Best’s return in doubt, Leshoure figures to get one more crack at solidifying his hold on the starting job in 2013.
25. Shonn Greene, Jets – A free agent at season’s end, Greene set career highs in rushing attempts (276), rushing yards (1,063) and rushing touchdowns (eight) in his contract year. Unfortunately, he looked like the same old Shonn Greene plodding his way to a 3.8 yards per carry average. With little behind him on the depth chart, look for him to remain a Jet in 2013.
26. Mark Ingram, Saints – After two seasons in which he averaged 3.9 yards per carry and totaled 1,076 rushing yards, it is safe to say the Saints nabbing Ingram late in the 1st round of the 2011 draft was a mistake. The sunny side up crowd can point to his production over the last four games (250 rushing yards) as hope for 2013 but Ingram no better than a RB3 entering next season.
27. Fred Jackson, Bills – 2013 looks like the year Fjax will cede the starting job to C.J. Spiller. Jackson remains a talented player but the Bills offense sorely needs the playmaking ability which Spiller supplies and that should relinquish Jackson to backup duties. Even then, he should see enough touches to be a solid RB3 or flex option. It’s not like the Bills are loaded with other options at the offensive skill positions.
28. Vick Ballard, Colts – Ballard isn’t ever going to get in the conversation discussing the league’s top backs but the 2012 5th round pick had a solid rookie season with 814 rushing yards and 152 passing yards as he nudged his way to the starting job throughout the course of the season. He averaged 67.9 rushing yards over the Colts final 11 games and would have been a low end RB2 if not for his paltry touchdown total (two). Donald Brown and Delone Carter both return in 2013 but the starting gig is Ballard’s to lose.
29. Willis McGahee, Broncos – On the plus side, McGahee performed well in 2012, gaining 731 yards and four touchdowns while averaging 4.4 yards per carry during the ten games he played. Unfortunately, a torn MCL ended his season and backup Knowshon Moreno performed just as well in his absence, gaining 668 yards and scoring three times over the Broncos final six games. Expect a timeshare in 2013 with 2012 3rd round pick Ronnie Hillman also getting in on the action.
30. Knowshon Moreno, Broncos – See above. The Broncos backfield looks like it will resemble the Panthers backfield in 2013
31. DeAngelo Williams, Panthers – Ah, the Panthers backfield. Three solid running backs plus the league’s top rushing quarterback. Williams at least stayed healthy in 2011 and was solid down the stretch with 517 total yards and four touchdowns in his last four games.
32. Jonathan Stewart, Panthers – See above. Stewart appeared to be the Panthers back to own in 2011 courtesy of his superior pass catching ability but this dude just can’t stay healthy.
33. Michael Turner, Falcons –With little tread left and a $5.5-million salary, Turner may not return to the Falcons in 2013. He averaged a career-low 3.6 yards per carry in 2012 with Atlanta turning into more of a passing team. There were several games where Turner was an afterthought in the game plan and it won’t be a surprise if the Falcons jettison the 30-year old prior to next season.
By: Dave Stringer — January 2, 2013 @ 11:05 am
At this point of the fantasy season, most fantasy owners are pondering the what ifs, could have beens and what was I thinking’s. Since it’s good to only dwell on a lost season for so long (hey, losing can teach all of us something), let’s turn the focus to the endless possibilities that exist in 2013.
As in, 2013 fantasy football domination. Up first are the quarterbacks.
The weapons are endless for Brady.
1. Tom Brady, Patriots – Even if Wes Welker doesn’t return, Brady has more than enough weapons to be the top ranked fantasy quarterback in 2013.
2. Drew Brees, Saints – Most likely gets his buddy and head coach Sean Payton back next year and it’s likely going to be a pass heavy offense in New Orleans given the state of the team’s running backs.
3. Aaron Rodgers, Packers – Not willing to hand him the number one ranking given that wide receiver Greg Jennings and tight end Jermichael Finley are unlikely to return to Green Bay. With Jennings injured and Finley inconsistent, Rodgers’ fantasy stock took a hit in 2012.
4. Cam Newton, Panthers – Didn’t show a pile of improvement as a passer in 2012 but piled up the fantasy points on the ground and that’s not likely to change next year. Bit of a risk at wide receiver with the aging Steve Smith leading the way for Carolina.
5. Robert Griffin III, Redskins – Injury risk is there but he was dynamite as a rookie in both the passing and rushing departments despite missing leading wide receiver Pierre Garcon for a large portion of the season. Might have hit 1,000 rushing yards had he not suffered a late season knee injury.
6. Andrew Luck, Colts – The hotshot rookie showed he is the real deal in 2012, leading the Colts to a surprising winning record and playoff spot. Luck set the rookie record for passing yards and a long string of 4,000-yard seasons seems certain.
7. Matt Ryan, Falcons – The Falcons will return in 2013 with what is likely the best wide receiver tandem in the league in Roddy White and Julio Jones but tight end Tony Gonzalez has vowed to retire, hurting Ryan’s fantasy prognosis for next season.
8. Peyton Manning, Broncos – Young wide receivers Eric Decker and Demaryius Thomas are only going to get better and Manning’s production should benefit from having a year under his belt in Denver.
9. Matthew Stafford, Lions – Immaturity, inexperience and injury hurt the Lions at wide receiver in 2012 and Stafford suffered as his touchdown passes plummeted from the 41 he put up in 2011.
10. Eli Manning, Giants – He has to be in the top 12, right? Right? Look for a bounce back season for Eli in 2013 on the assumption that Hakeem Nicks can maintain better health than he did in 2012.
11. Tony Romo, Cowboys – Romo will likely set a career high in passing yards in 2012 as he benefitted from the emergence of wide receiver Dez Bryant and the continued strong play of tight end Jason Witten. However, his interception total caused his touchdown pass totals to drop as did the team’s poor rushing attack for much of the season. A renaissance season from Miles Austin would go a long way in helping Romo’s fantasy value.
12. Josh Freeman, Buccaneers – With the wide receiver position solidified with the signing of Vincent Jackson and Mike Williams’ comeback season, Freeman figures to set career highs in passing yards and touchdowns in 2013. Those players plus Doug Martin and a solid offensive line figure to give the Bucs plenty of years of solid offensive production.
By: Dave Stringer — December 21, 2012 @ 3:18 pm
Has Luck hit the rookie wall?
1. Currently on pace to set a rookie record for passing yards and lead Indianapolis to a wild card playoff berth, the Colts Andrew Luck has lived up to his billing as the premier quarterback in the 2012 rookie draft. While Luck has played well, he appears to have hit the rookie wall over the last two weeks as the Indianapolis offense has struggled against the defenses of the Titans and Texans. With a subpar offensive line, the Colts struggles against Houston were hardly surprising as the team managed just 196 passing yards and 272 total yards in a 27-19 loss. Most concerning was the play of the offense in a 27-23 win over the Titans as the offensive line struggled to protect Luck, who was held under a 50% completion and finished the game with just 196 passing yards. In fact, Luck has completed fewer than 50% of his passes in three straight games and has completed just 54.6% of his passes for the season. While the Colts are likely to secure a playoff berth, a first round exit seems likely unless the team’s offensive line regains its health and the Colts rediscover the strong passing attack that has led them to a 9-5 record.
2. Sticking with rookie passers, in Miami, the Dolphins Ryan Tannehill has also enjoyed solid success as a rookie, throwing for 2,929 yards with 10 touchdowns and 12 interceptions through 14 games. Tannehill has been more of a caretaker of the Dolphins offense, throwing for a career-high 431 yards in Week 9 but failing to top 300 yards in any other game while failing to top 200 passing yards seven times. However, the issue with the Dolphins passing attack isn’t so much Tannehill’s play as that of the wide receivers. Miami has arguably the least talented group of wide receivers in the league as its decision to sign Chad Johnson in the preseason and go with Brian Hartline in the leading role has proven to be disastrous. While Hartline has had some decent games, he is more suited to a backup role as is fellow starter Davone Bess. With Greg Jennings hitting free agency and unlikely to be back in Green Bay, it won’t be a surprise if he joins his former offensive coordinator Joe Philbin in Miami. That seems a match that will almost certainly come to fruition in early February.
3. In a marriage of convenience, the Broncos signed former Saints cornerback Tracey Porter to a one-year, $4-million contract in the offseason in the hopes that he would shore up the starting position opposite perennial Pro Bowler Champ Bailey. While the Broncos have shored up the position, Porter has spent most of the season on the bench as injuries and his poor play early in the season have cost him playing time. Both Chris Harris, a second year former undrafted free agent, and Tony Carter, a 2009 former undrafted agent, have passed Porter on the depth chart. Given his lack of playing time, Porter will likely be on another one-year deal in 2013, this time with his third team in three years and for far less money than he will earn in 2012.
4. The 49ers Randy Moss became the third all time leader in receiving yards this week in San Francisco’s win over New England. With 15,220 receiving yards, Moss passed former Ram Isaac Bruce.
5. Raiders backup running back Mike Goodson has had an up and down four-year career. Drafted in the 4th round of the 2009 draft by the Panthers, Goodson barely played as a rookie but was productive in 2010 when injuries struck DeAngelo Williams and Jonathan Stewart. Goodson finished that year with 452 rushing yards, 310 receiving yards and three touchdowns despite receiving seven or fewer touches in ten games. He spent most of 2011 on injured reserve before the Panthers gave up on him this year, trading him to the Raiders. After missing time with two separate injuries, Goodson had 89 yards on 13 carries this week and should see decent playing time over the balance of the season. With 2011 4th round pick Taiwan Jones being a non-factor during his first two years in the league and the Raiders with plenty of other needs, look for Oakland to make a solid effort to re-sign Goodson as Darren McFadden’s backup for 2013.
6. The Vikings have made an unexpected playoff run in 2012, currently sitting as the NFC’s 6th seed on the strength of Adrian Peterson’s outstanding season. While the Vikings are thought of as a young team (and to some extent they are), they are also loaded with players whose contracts will expire within two years, not to mention the current situation with enigmatic wide receiver Percy Harvin, who seems at odds with Vikings management. Four starters are free agents at the end of this season, the most important of which are starting right tackle Phil Loadholt and linebacker Jasper Brinkley. However, Harvin and defensive ends Jared Allen and Brian Robison lead the brigade of players hitting unrestricted free agency after the 2013 season. Vikings management will need to dole out plenty of long-term extensions to avoid having the team gutted over the next two years.
7. The 2012 rookie draft is being hailed as the best draft ever with respect to quarterbacks, with only the 1983 draft being in consideration of that honor. That draft provided the league with a number of Pro Bowl quality quarterbacks in Dan Marino, John Elway and Jim Kelly as well as other players who enjoyed productive careers. However, this class appears likely to feature at least four players who figure to remain starters for several years in Luck, Robert Griffin III, Ryan Tannehill and Russell Wilson. In addition to those players, Brandon Weeden has likely shown enough to remain the starter in Cleveland in 2013 regardless of who is spearheading the team’s football operations and Nick Foles will likely enter next season as the Eagles starter. Perhaps most impressive of all is that Luck, Griffin and Wilson have the chance to lead their team to playoff berths, a remarkable achievement considering each of their franchise’s had losing records a year ago.
By: Dave Stringer — December 18, 2012 @ 10:13 am
Wilson: Saving his best for last.
Russell Wilson, Seahawks
Despite a middling fantasy performance in Week 14 due to a blowout 58-0 win over the Cardinals, Wilson is averaging 27.9 FPts/G over the last three weeks making him the 2nd rated fantasy quarterback over that period. This week, he did it once again, throwing for 205 yards and a touchdown and managing three rushing touchdowns and 92 yards on the ground in another Seahawks blowout win, this time over the Bills. Wilson’s been using his legs more in the last few weeks and that’s padding his fantasy point totals.
Mark Sanchez, Jets
Yeah, the receivers are bad but Sanchez made a pile of awful decisions on Monday night. Decisions that a player wit four years of experience and 61 career starts under his belt should not be making.
Colin Kaepernick, 49ers
Sure, Kaepernick’s fantasy point total looked good, courtesy of his 216 passing yards and four touchdown passes but those touchdowns weren’t exactly beauties and he could have had even more if he knew enough to put some air under the ball. Announcers drive me nuts with their fawning over newbies and that’s what happened this week with Kaepernick. Dude’s got plenty of potential but he was 14 of 25 this week despite having a whole host of wide-open receivers to throw to.
Josh Freeman, Bucs
The Bucs season was likely over anyway but Freeman provided the last nail in the proverbial coffin, courtesy of his four pick effort against the Saints.
Vick Ballard, Colts
Ballard’s getting it done in the running game for a Colts team that hasn’t been able to muster a consistent rushing attack over the past several years. The rookie 5th round pick topped 100 yards for the first time in his career this week despite facing a tough Texans run defense and with Donald Brown having another injured plagued season, look for Ballard to be the lead dog in Indy in 2013.
Beanie Wells, Cardinals
Three touchdowns was nice but the 3.9 yards per carry average against the Lions was somewhat modest. Up next are the Bears and 49ers and let’s make the assumption the Cards won’t roll up 38 points against those defenses. In fact, let’s make the assumption they won’t score 38 points in total to finish out the season.
Danny Woodhead, Patriots
Meet the only Patriots running back who didn’t fumble during this week’s home loss to the 49ers. His reward? Touches and plenty of them. Woodhead was a focal point of New England’s furious comeback, gaining 61 yards and a pair of touchdowns on 12 carries and catching five passes for 23 yards. With easy matchups against the Jaguars and Dolphins up next and the playoffs just around the corner, here’s betting that head coach Bill Belichick will send a message to Stevan Ridley and Shane Vereen by loading up on Woodhead’s touches over the balance of the season.
Curtis Brinkley and Jackie Battle, Chargers
With Ryan Mathews lost for the season, Brinkley or Battle will likely step into the starting line-up. While Battle may be the better player at the moment, look for Brinkley to gain the majority of the touches as he is the younger player and the Chargers may want to see what they have in him. Of course, he hasn’t done much so maybe they already know the answer to that question.
Ryan Mathews, Chargers
Touted by the Chargers to become a heavy touch, Pro Bowl caliber running back this season (not to mention consensus top five fantasy back), Mathews was a total bust as injuries and ineffectiveness ruined his season. Headed to injury reserve with another broken clavicle, Mathews will finish his 3rd season in the league with 707 rushing yards, 252 receiving yards and one touchdown. Given his inability to stay healthy, it won’t be a surprise if San Diego uses a mid-tier selection in this year’s draft to provide some competition for him.
Stevan Ridley, Patriots
Two fumbles, one lost, a trip to the bench and nine carries for 23 yards. Ridley carried some teams to the fantasy playoffs but his fumbleitis likely cost more than a few fantasy owners a win this week. And therein lies the conundrum of owning Ridley or any New England back over the last several years. All it takes is a fumble or two and a bad performance to see a player’s workload decrease dramatically that week and in subsequent weeks.
Antonio Brown, Steelers
Look who’s back and hopefully just in time to help his fantasy owners grab a championship. After a pair of okay performances since returning from injury, Brown was Ben Roethlisberger’s favorite target this week, hauling in eight receptions on 12 targets for 76 yards and a score, his second straight game finding the end zone. Brown is averaging 8.8 targets per game this year and with the running game struggling, expect plenty of looks for Brown over the remainder of the season.
Brandon Lloyd, Patriots
A disappointment for much of the season, Lloyd has become a big part of the Patriots offense over the past two weeks, catching 17 of his 26 targets for 279 yards and a touchdown. With New England playing from behind this week, he set a career-high with 190 receiving yards and was Tom Brady’s go to guy on the deep ball. Maybe the Patriots have finally figured out that’s what he does best and that’s why they signed him.
Danny Amendola, Rams
The little man that could is finally back fully healthy and immediately returns to his role as the Rams top wide receiver. He was only decent this week, with six receptions on 12 targets for 58 yards and a score, but he was shaking off the rust so expect better performances to end the season as he attempts to gain leverage for offseason contract negotiations with St. Louis.
Larry Fitzgerald, Cardinals
Weekly Fitz update. Four receptions for 22 yards this week. Guess the Cardinals got the screen game going this week. No, I wasn’t watching. Five weeks totals: ten receptions for 89 yards. That’s 1.8 FPts/G, folks.
Jonathan Baldwin, Chiefs
He was Moving Up last week based on opportunity so it is only fair that he’s Moving Down this week based on squandered opportunity. No receptions on four targets. Looks like the Chiefs have two options at wide receiver. Give in to Dwayne Bowe’s salary demands or draft another wide receiver high.
Danario Alexander, Chargers
A donut at precisely the wrong time. Ouch.
Dennis Pitta, Ravens
Slow week at tight end so Pitta gets the nod to be Moving Up. He had the best game of his three year career this week, setting career highs in receiving yards with 125 and touchdowns with two while hauling in seven of 10 targets. He had disappeared from the Ravens offense for several weeks but apparently in back in vogue.
Vernon Davis, 49ers
Hey, what team needs a blazing fast tight end when they have Michael Crabtree? The San Francisco 49ers, that’s who. Davis got open for a touchdown this week but unfortunately Colin Kaepernick couldn’t get him the ball. Can’t remember what happened on his other TWO TARGETS.
By: Dave Stringer — December 15, 2012 @ 12:11 am
1. With former commissioner Paul Tagliabue ruling that the Bountygate suspensions should be vacated and placing the blame for the scandal squarely at the feet of the New Orleans Saints management and coaching staff, we can safely now conclude on who the real losers were in relation to this whole fiasco. First off, the Saints organization and their fans come out as losers as they watched their team struggle out of the gate to an 0-4 start on their way to their current 5-8 record. A team just two years removed from a Super Bowl victory and with a talented roster was not able to overcome the adversity that Bountygate brought to the organization and head coach Sean Payton shares plenty of blame in this regard. Not only did Bountygate happen on his watch but Payton refused to hand over the reigns of the coaching staff to an experienced hand such as defensive coordinator Steve Spagnolo, instead relying on inexperienced offensive coordinator Pete Carmichael, who in fact held that title in name only prior to this season. General manager Mickey Loomis presumably also had a hand in that regrettable decision. Secondly, Roger Goodell has clearly been exposed as a commissioner more interested in laying down his version of the NFL’s law and playing the league’s top sheriff as opposed to being a calm voice of reason, capable of balancing the facts of a case, arriving at a fair conclusion and dishing out punishment that is warranted without being heavy-handed. One can only guess as to Goodell’s true personality but it’s not hard to imagine him being the smartest person in all the rooms he walks into. He clearly wants his legacy to be that of the law and order commissioner who stood up for player safety but his desire to fulfill that legacy clearly clouded his judgment in this case. And having scuttled the Saints season because he was unable to view the facts in the proper light should net Goodell some sanctions of his own, perhaps even his job. However, given the solid state of the league’s overall affairs, and especially their sound financial footing despite the state of the American economy over the last several years, that is a remote possibility at best.
2. Sticking with the Saints, their prospects for 2013 aren’t great given the uncertainty surrounding the team’s coaching staff as well as the team’s current salary cap situation and a defense loaded with aging veterans. Payton will be a free agent once he is reinstated by Goodell, leaving him free to negotiate with any team. Saints owner Tom Benson isn’t exactly known for tossing money around like a drunken sailor so there are no guarantees Payton will return, particularly given the uncertain future of Cowboys head coach Jason Garrett. On defense, the Saints have struggled in 2012, relying on veteran mainstays such Will Smith, Jonathan Vilma, Jabari Greer and Roman Harper. While all of those veterans remain useful players, collectively the Saints defense lacks the speed necessary to defend against the league’s faster skill position players. In addition, the lack of a pass rush hurt the team this season although 2011 first-round pick Cameron Jordan appears on the verge of being a Pro Bowl quality player. With the Saints well over next year’s expected salary cap, New Orleans will be forced to purge a number of veterans from the roster and the defensive shortcomings this season dictate that the purge will focus on that side of the ball, particularly if Payton, an offensive minded coach, returns in 2013.
Jennings will likely be in a new uniform in 2013.
3. Entering a contract year and having suffered an abdominal tear in Week 1 that caused him to miss eight games while watching 2011 2nd round pick Randall Cobb emerge as a potential leading wide receiver in the Packers offense, veteran Greg Jennings has plenty of reasons to be motivated over the final three games of the season. Jennings has clearly not been his normal self over the past two weeks, hauling in just five receptions for 73 yards. Clearly the Packers leading wide receiver entering the season, there are now serious doubts as to whether he will remain in Green Bay following 2012. With Cobb emerging as a solid threat, Jordy Nelson coming off a career year in 2011 and James Jones having a career year this season and signed to a modest contract in 2013, it won’t qualify as a surprise if Jennings is in a new uniform in 2013. Not helping matters is the team’s desire to sign certain veterans to contract extensions before their current deals are up.
4. The Steelers offensive line struggled to stay healthy in 2011 and that remains the case this season with only left tackle Max Starks, signed to shore up in the line during the preseason, remaining healthy for the entire season. At this point, veteran guard Ramon Foster will line up on the left side for the injured Willie Colon while rookie 1st round pick David Decastro is expected to see his first action of the season as right guard playing alongside fellow rookie Kelvin Beachum, a 7th round pick. Center Maurkice Pouncey has missed time for the second consecutive season while rookie 2nd round pick Mike Adams has struggled when in the line-up at right tackle for the injured Marcus Gilbert. Add it all up and it appears that the Steelers are likely to address the offensive line once again in the 2013 draft.
5. Despite the readily apparent lack of playmakers on the Dolphins offense, there are no assurances that veteran running back Reggie Bush will return to the team for the 2013 season. A free agent at season’s end, Bush entered 2012 coming off a contract year but he has not lived up to the team’s expectations, even being benched at one point this season. With 2011 3rd round pick Daniel Thomas and rookie 4th round pick Lamar Miller waiting in the wings, the Dolphins could very well decide that it is time for a changing of the guard at running back with the salary cap space that re-signing Bush would require being allocated to the wide receiver position, where the Dolphins have what is arguably the least talented depth chart in the league. With Miami having made little to no effort to re-sign Bush, the odds are looking good that he will be elsewhere in 2013.
By: Dave Stringer — December 11, 2012 @ 6:06 pm
Kirk Cousins, Redskins
With RGIII battling a knee injury, Cousins may step into the starting line-up this week. Roundly panned for using a 4th round pick on Cousins after surrendering a bundle of picks to the Rams in order to draft RGIII with the 2nd pick in the draft, head coach Mike Shanahan is looking pretty smart for taking Cousins given his performance in limited playing time this season. He came off the bench to get the Redskins into overtime against the Ravens and helped earn the team a win and looked decent in Week 5 against the Falcons. RGIII owners should feel starting him this week against the Browns if the need arises.
Nick Foles, Eagles
With his 32 of 51, 381 yards, two touchdown performance during this week’s 23-21 win over the Bucs, Foles has clearly put the clamps on the Eagles starting quarterback position in 2013.
John Skelton, Cardinals
Turns out that Skelton’s 6-2 run as a starter in 2011 was pure fluke. This year, he’s been awful, tossing nine picks in just 201 passes and displaying the same lack of accuracy that he somehow got away with last season (54.9% completion rate in 2011). This dude is seriously bad and should be out of the league in 2013.
David Wilson, Giants
Some times this job is tough. Other times, not so much. David Wilson was an easy Moving Up inclusion this week courtesy of his coming out party against the Saints. The Giants 1st round pick carried the ball 13 times for 100 yards and a pair of scores and displayed some electrifying moves in the return game as well, piling up 327 all purpose yards. With Ahmad Bradshaw once again iffy with a knee injury, Wilson could be in line for his first career start this week against the Falcons and their 23rd ranked run defense.
Mikel Leshoure, Lions
Leshoure wasn’t great this week against the Packers (14 carries for 49 yards) but he had six touchdowns in the five games prior while accumulating 333 total yards. The schedule looks good with the Cardinals 29th ranked run defense on tap this week followed by the Falcons 23rd ranked run defense.
Knowshon Moreno, Broncos
With Willis McGahee out of the line-up, Moreno has been getting loads of touches, averaging 28 per game over the last three weeks, and he was a one-man wrecking crew this week against the Raiders. Sure, it was the Raiders run D but Moreno was a beast with 167 total yards and a score. He chewed up the clock in the 4th quarter and could be used in that role again against the slumping Ravens and Browns over the next two weeks.
Montell Owens, Jaguars
With 91 rushing yards this week against the Jets, Owens nearly matched his career rushing total of 112 yards in one game. And this cat has been around since the 2006 season. I never would have guessed.
Bryce Brown, Eagles
The Bucs run defense is solid but they have given up plenty of rushing touchdowns – just not this week. And they didn’t give up much else to Brown either as he managed just 12 yards on eight carries. Up next is a solid Cincinnati run defense in a Thursday night matchup.
Beanie Wells, Cardinals
It’s hard to run when your team is relying on high school level talent at the quarterback position and that’s Beanie’s problem in Arizona. Defenses can basically stack nine guys in the box on every play given the putrid play of the Cardinals’ quarterback. Net result – 21 carries for 40 yards over the last two games for Wells.
T.Y. Hilton, Colts
I’m making up for last week’s miscue by not having Hilton in this section. This week, he was merely decent against the Titans catching a pair of balls for 50 yards. However, in the four games prior, Hilton had three 100-yard games and accumulated 21 receptions for 335 receiving yards and four touchdowns.
Miles Austin, Cowboys
With the possibility of a hot Dez Bryant out of the line-up due to a finger injury, Austin will move into the lead wide receiver role for the Cowboys. The schedule isn’t pretty this week with the Steelers top ranked pass defense on tap but Austin figures to be a target machine. And just in case you are really desperate, it is worth noting that Dwayne Harris has 16 targets over the past three weeks compared to just eight for Kevin Ogletree.
Jonathan Baldwin, Chiefs
After a solid offseason, Baldwin has had a disastrous second season in Kansas City, catching just 18 passes for 261 yards and a touchdown despite lining up opposite Dwayne Bowe on the outside for much of the year. The 2011 1st round pick figures to get a chance to shine over the balance of the season, however, with Bowe out due to a rib injury. With Bowe a free agent at season’s end, Baldwin should have plenty of motivation to show the Chiefs what he can do.
Brandon Lloyd, Patriots
After being mothballed in Week 13 against the Dolphins (one target) due to his lackluster performance in the five weeks prior to that (15 receptions for 150 yards), Lloyd was dangerous once again this week, hauling in seven of his nine targets for 89 yards and a score against the Texans. Those numbers could have been even better had quarterback Tom Brady not missed him on a throw down the sideline.
Jason Avant, Eagles
With Djax out, Avant has caught 11 passes for 212 yards in his last two games.
The Titans' offense is becoming more focused on Britt.
Kenny Britt, Titans
Britt’s stat line this week (eight receptions for 143 yards) might indicate that he’s now fully healthy. Or maybe he was healthy enough to take advantage of a young Colts secondary. Maybe he’s going to do something stupid and end up in jail on Sunday morning. Who knows.
Larry Fitzgerald, Cardinals
Not to pile on Larry, a fine gentleman if there ever was one, but it is mind boggling that a player of his talents has caught just a single pass in three of his last four games, totaling six receptions for 67 yards. Another truly remarkable fact is that Fitz has caught just six of his last 37 targets, a completion rate of just 16.2%.
Jeremy Kerley, Jets
Kerley is a fine little slot receiver but his lack of playmaking ability in the red zone hurts his fantasy value and the Cardinals and Jaguars have put the clamps on him over the past two weeks, limiting him to seven receptions for 64 yards in those games. After scoring twice during the first three weeks of the season, Kerley hasn’t found the end zone once in his last 10 games.
Aaron Hernandez, Patriots
After a subpar performance in Week 12 in his return from an ankle injury, Hernandez has put together two fine games, catching eight passes for 97 yards in Week 13 and dismantling the Texans on Monday night this week with eight more receptions for 58 yards and a pair of scores. He’s hot at just the right time.
Dennis Pitta, Ravens
With 18 targets over the last three weeks, it looks like Pitta is once again in offensive coordinator Cam Cameron’s offensive game plans. Whoops, Cameron just got fired. Either way, Pitta has played well in recent weeks, averaging 7.6 PPG over the last three weeks and he has scored touchdowns in three of his last five games.
Greg Olsen, Panthers
It looks like the late season swoon that Olsen had in 2011 won’t repeat itself this season. Olsen remains a key cog in the Panthers passing attack, with 344 receiving yards and four touchdowns in his last six games.
Tony Scheffler, Lions
Brandon Pettigrew suffered an ankle this week and is questionable for this week’s matchup against the Cardinals. Since the Lions will likely have 50 minutes of time of possession, Scheffler should be able to at least match last week’s production of 20 yards and a score. Not pretty, I know, but the 10 targets were nice.
Vernon Davis, 49ers
Davis has been here before and now he is back again. This week, he was once again persona non grata, catching one pass for four yards against the Dolphins, a team that doesn’t exactly possess the most athletic safeties in the league. Davis’ three weeks totals are now three catches on six targets for 19 yards and no touchdowns. Looks like the 49ers are saving him for the playoffs (no, not the fantasy playoffs).
Antonio Gates, Chargers
At this point, it’s safe to conclude that Gates is either playing hurt or a shadow of his former self. This week against the Steelers, he caught just three of eight targets for 31 yards. He has failed to find the end zone in four straight and has amassed just 224 receiving yards in his last seven games.
By: Dave Stringer — December 7, 2012 @ 2:45 pm
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A big Week 14 from Moreno may lead to a bigger 2013.
1. After spending eight consecutive weeks on the inactive list, Broncos running back Knowshon Moreno was expected to fill a backup role behind rookie Ronnie Hillman and Lance Ball when he was added to the game day roster when Willis McGahee was lost for the remainder of the season with a torn MCL. However, Moreno was inserted into the lead back role and has responded with three solid performances, including this week’s 119 rushing yard, 48 receiving yard, one touchdown effort against the Raiders in a game in which he received a whopping 36 touches, a career high. That marked the first time Moreno had topped 100 rushing yards since Week 13 of the 2010 season and gave him 361 total yards and a touchdown during his three game renaissance. His performance ensures that Moreno will remain the Broncos starter over the remainder of the 2012 season and opens the possibility that he will regain the starter’s role in 2013. McGahee will almost certainly return to the team given his manageable salary of $2.5-million and with Moreno set to earn just $1.7-million and Hillman $515,000, Denver figures to have a solid three player rotation at the running back position for a very reasonable salary cap charge.
2. Sticking with the Broncos, with his 310-yard passing performance in Week 14, Peyton Manning is now on pace to finish the season with 4,701 passing yards which would be a career high. His previous best was the 4,700 yards he threw for during the 2010 season. With 30 touchdown passes with three games to go, Manning is likely to post the 2nd most touchdown passes of his career, bettering the 33 he threw for during the 2000, 2009 and 2010 season. In the preseason, Manning’s fantasy value took a hit based on the historical differences in his production in games played outdoors and his return from a neck injury but it is now long past time to put those theories to rest. Manning shapes up as an upper tier QB1 for the 2013 season.
3.In San Diego, reports circulated this week that Chargers owner Dean Spanos would fire both general manager A.J. Smith and head coach Norv Turner at the conclusion of the season. Turner was surprisingly retained following a disappointing 2011 season that reportedly also almost cost Smith his job. Now it appears that a third straight season out of the playoffs will cost both men their jobs. With the team’s personnel clearly in decline, Smith has been blamed for a number of less than stellar drafts in recent years, including the questionable decisions to draft players such as Craig Davis and Larry English in the 1st rounds of the 2007 and 2009 drafts. In addition, Smith’s run of finding solid role players later in the draft ended years ago. However, Smith’s biggest mistake this past offseason was the decision not to sign veteran wide receiver Vincent Jackson to a long-term contract. Jackson was a huge asset to an aging and seemingly in-decline Philip Rivers at quarterback and free agent acquisition Robert Meachem, signed to replace Jackson, was an absolute bust before finally losing his starting job to in-season pick-up Danario Alexander.
4. After starting the season 7-1, the Bears have dropped three of their last four games to fall to 8-4 and to 2nd place in the NFC North behind the surging Green Bay Packers. While Chicago’s schedule over their remaining four games likely ensures a playoff spot, a deep run into the postseason seems unlikely. The Bears have struggled against quality opponents, losing four of five games against teams that would currently qualify for the playoffs and that win came in Week 1 against an Indianapolis Colts squad that is a vastly superior now than they were back then. With a banged up Brian Urlacher, a defense that is no longer turning turnovers into points and the league’s 31st ranked passing attack, look for the Bears to make an early exit from the 2012 playoff picture.
5. Cleveland currently sports a very modest 4-8 record, a mark that is likely to cost head coach Pat Shurmur his job after the team’s recent management shuffle. However, a closer look reveals a squad that could make some noise during the 2013 season. The Browns have won their last two games and three of their last five with the defense surrendering an average of just 15.2 points per game over that five-game stretch. In addition, the average margin of defeat in Cleveland’s eight losses has been 6.5 points, with three losses by four or fewer points and two more by seven points. With five potential cornerstone pieces on offense (left tackle Joe Thomas, running back Trent Richardson, quarterback Brandon Weeden and wide receivers Josh Gordon and Greg Little), the Browns figure to show marked improvement in their scoring ability in 2013. The defense also features a number of young, up and coming performers (defensive linemen Phil Taylor and Jabaal Sheard, cornerback Joe Haden and safety T.J. Ward) as well as solid veterans such as Ahtyba Rubin and D’Qwell Jackson on a unit that currently ranks 16th in points allowed missing key players due to injuries and suspension during the season.
6. Long considered a mainstay of the Dolphins offensive line, there are now serious doubts as to whether left tackle Jake Long has played has last game in a Miami uniform. With a triceps injury, Long will finish the year on injured reserve for the second consecutive season. He will be a free agent entering the 2013 season and the Dolphins will have the remainder of this season to determine if rookie 2nd round pick Jonathan Martin is a potential replacement for Long at left tackle. While the Dolphins are high on Martin, they appear to be committed to re-signing Long although the two sides have thus far failed to agree on extending his current contract. With Long’s recent injury history and coming off what may have been the worst year of his career, the Dolphins will likely prefer using the franchise tag to retain Long’s services giving them the option to re-sign him at the conclusion of the 2013 season provided he bounces back strongly next season.
7.Another player with an interesting contract situation is Rams wide receiver Danny Amendola. Clearly the team’s top threat at wide receiver (with apologies to solid rookie 4th round pick Chris Givens), Amendola is a free agent at season’s end and has proven to be both productive and injury prone over the past three seasons. Given his small stature and inability to remain healthy, it seems unlikely that St. Louis would sign Amendola to a lucrative long-term contract or place the franchise tag on him.
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