Fantasy Football Strategy, Advice, and Commentary
By: Dave Stringer — August 2, 2011 @ 11:40 pm
Burress (one-year deal) will have to prove it to the Jets and to fantasy owners.
With a difficult salary situation and a hole at wide receiver opposite Santonio Holmes in their starting lineup, the New York Jets have reportedly reached a contract agreement with former Giant, Plaxico Burress.
The Jets lost backup receiver Brad Smith to division rival Buffalo and were apparently not willing to meet Braylon Edwards’ contract demands to secure his return to New York. That led to the signing of Burress, who will likely assume Edwards’ role as a red zone target and deep threat.
Burress returns to the league after a two-year absence stemming from a jail term related to shooting himself in the leg in a New York nightclub.
Although a significant market for his services seemed slim, there turned out to be remarkable interest, and the Jets were in the market for a veteran receiver. He was also recently linked to the Giants, Steelers, Eagles, Rams, and 49ers.
Given his age and time away from football, Burress faces significant challenges in returning as the player he was when he left the league. He will get that opportunity with the Jets, but in New York’s heavily run-based offense, his upside would appear be limited. In fact, it’s basically what Edwards accomplished in 2010—53 receptions for 904 yards and seven touchdowns. And the odds of Burress getting there seem remote.
He is 34, he hasn’t played in two years, and he has never had the reputation as a truly dedicated player. Not to mention that the Jets still have Jerricho Cotchery as their top backup receiver, a player who has 64 starts over the past five seasons.
For Burress to move up to WR3 status, he will need to find the end zone plenty because he’s just not going to get close to 1,000 yards. He will likely become the team’s top red zone target, so he could reach seven or eight touchdowns, but banking on touchdowns is never a smart thing.
If you’re willing to gamble on those touchdowns and the inconsistency that comes with them, you could roll Burress as a WR3. But there are better options out there that possess far more upside.
By: Dave Stringer — @ 11:29 pm
With Sproles in the mix, the Saints are now 4-deep at running back.
Having traded Reggie Bush to the Miami Dolphins, the New Orleans Saints were in the market for a versatile player to replace him. They found that player in former San Diego running back Darren Sproles.
Sproles figures to assume much of the role that Bush performed during his five-year career with the Saints. He joins a revamped Saints running back depth chart that includes Pierre Thomas, second-year player Chris Ivory, and rookie first-round pick Mark Ingram.
The Chargers franchised the diminutive Sproles for the 2009 season and retained his services last year, paying him close to $14 million over the past two seasons. Reports indicate the Saints will pay Sproles that amount over the next four years.
Because San Diego had a difficult salary-cap situation and had Mike Tolbert, 2010 first-round pick Ryan Mathews, and 2011 sixth-round pick Jordan Todman on their roster, it was expected that Sproles would leave as a free agent.
While Sproles is a dynamic player, he doesn’t enhance an offense the way Bush did, and he is unlikely to have as big an impact in New Orleans as Bush had.
In addition, Lance Moore was re-signed to a lucrative contract extension this offseason. A receiver’s new contract may seem to have little bearing on a running back’s production, but Moore was essentially Bush’s replacement as a receiver, often posting big numbers when Bush was injured. While Sproles will certainly contribute in the passing game, Moore’s lucrative deal likely means that he will get more playing time in 2011 than in previous years.
In the run game for the past few seasons, Bush essentially split time with Pierre Thomas and a second running back (first Mike Bell and then Chris Ivory last year). With Sproles now on the roster, the Saints are four deep at running back. This ensures that, barring injuries, Sproles won’t be receiving a significant number of carries.
If the presence of Sproles in New Orleans doesn’t sound too exciting from a fantasy perspective, there’s a reason for that. It’s all about opportunity. It’s hard to see Sproles getting significant touches in New Orleans, and that leaves him as waiver wire material unless those above him on the depth chart become injured.
By: Dave Stringer — August 1, 2011 @ 3:14 am
With a youth movement under way and their star wide receiver no longer in their plans, the Cincinnati Bengals have traded Chad Ochocinco to New England. Reports indicate the Bengals will receive the Patriots’ fifth-round draft pick in 2012 and their sixth-round pick in 2013.
Me? No longer the imposing deep threat?
The enigmatic Ochocinco has spent the last few seasons talking his way out of Cincinnati. With the team expected to start rookie quarterback Andy Dalton and having used their fourth pick in the draft on wide receiver A.J. Green, Ochocinco finally got his wish.
In New England, he will join a receiving unit that has lacked a proven deep threat since Randy Moss was traded early in the 2010 season. He will start opposite Deion Branch with Wes Welker playing out of the slot.
Ochocinco is coming off a disappointing 2010, having caught just 67 passes for 831 yards and four touchdowns during a season in which Terrell Owens overtook him as the team’s lead receiver.
In Cincinnati, Ochocinco would have been the lead receiver on a team that will likely start a rookie quarterback and would have been looking to reduce the receiver’s role as they underwent a youth movement.
Going to New England, Ochocinco joins one of the NFL’s most prolific offenses led by arguably the league’s top quarterback in Tom Brady, so this trade increases his 2011 fantasy prospects.
However, expecting him to return as the fantasy stud he was a few years ago is ill-advised.
New England’s offense features a pair of solid, young pass-receiving tight ends in Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez; Welker remains the league’s top slot receiver; and Branch was a good, if inconsistent, performer last season after coming over from the Seahawks.
In addition, Ochocinco is approaching 34, he has failed to reach 1,000 receiving yards in two of the last three seasons, and he is no longer the imposing deep threat he was for most of his career.
He was a WR5 in Cincinnati, and while the move to New England should increase his production, he still ranks no better than a low-end WR3 with the Patriots.
The biggest fantasy losers in this deal are Dalton and Branch. Dalton loses his top receiver while Branch will likely see his targets reduced. Branch was rated as a WR3 before the trade but drops to an upper-tier WR4.
By: Dave Stringer — July 29, 2011 @ 2:31 pm
After failing to reach an agreement on a long-term extension in Seattle, Matt Hasselbeck has landed in Tennessee with the Titans.
Hassebleck to Tennessee - Music to fantasy owner's ears?
Reports indicate that Tennessee was willing to give Hasselbeck a lengthier contract than Seattle was, and he is expected to open the season as the Titans’ starter.
With rookie first-round pick Jake Locker previously atop the depth chart because of Kerry Collins‘ retirement, the Titans were interested in acquiring a veteran to help ease Locker’s transition into the NFL. Hasselbeck’s solid character and experience make him a perfect fit for that role.
In Seattle, Hasselbeck had become redundant after the team came to terms with former Vikings quarterback Tarvaris Jackson.
Going from the unemployment line to starting in an offense with Chris Johnson certainly improves your chance of success, so the move is positive from Hasselbeck’s perspective.
That’s not to say you should plan on owning him in 2011.
While the Titans’ solid offensive line should keep him upright more than he was in Seattle, it is hard to ignore that he suffered through his worst year as a starter last season. He is also 36 years old and is coming to a team with major question marks at tight end and wide receiver. Avoid Hasselbeck in 2011.
However, Johnson’s value gets a slight uptick since Hasselbeck will help take some of the pressure off the rushing game.
The Titans wide receivers and tight ends also see an increase in their fantasy value. Of those players, only Kenny Britt has the potential to be a fantasy starter, and his off-the-field troubles make him a huge risk.
Even with Hasselbeck on board, the only Titan offensive player you want to own is Johnson.
By: Doug Orth — @ 12:40 am
After attempting to plug in four different quarterbacks last season, the Arizona Cardinals looked north to find what they hope is answer to their quarterback problems. The question: is Kevin Kolb that answer?
Kolb will have a very capable receiving corps at his disposal.
On Thursday, Arizona sent former Pro Bowl cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie and a 2012 second-round pick to the Philadelphia Eagles for Kolb, hoping they filled the sizable void left behind by the retirement of Kurt Warner. In addition to shipping a 25-year-old defensive back to the Eagles one season removed from a Pro Bowl appearance, the Cardinals gave Philadelphia another second-rounder one year after it fleeced the Washington Redskins for one in the Donovan McNabb trade. To its credit, Arizona immediately stepped up with a five-year contract worth over $60 M.
It was no secret that Arizona needed a quarterback in the worst way. In a league where a 60% completion rate is considered acceptable, the quartet of Derek Anderson, Richard Bartel, John Skelton and Max Hall combined to connect on just over 50% of their passes last season. By comparison, Kolb has a career 60.8% completion rate over parts of four seasons with the Eagles.
However, is Kolb worth the cost both in terms of his contract and the resources required to acquire his services? Despite his aforementioned accuracy, Kolb was 3-4 in his seven career starts for Philadelphia with a 10:13 TD-to-INT ratio. While one could say his opportunities to keep a starting job in NFL have been virtually non-existent, it is hard to defend anything less than a 1.5:1 TD-to-INT ratio throwing to the likes of DeSean Jackson, Jeremy Maclin, Brent Celek, Brian Westbrook and LeSean McCoy over the years with the Eagles.
Perhaps the stability of a new contract and the certainty of a starting role will help Kolb fulfill expectations. More than that, however, is the knowledge that he will have the opportunity to throw to one of the league’s elite receivers in Larry Fitzgerald. Along with rookie surprise Andre Roberts and Early Doucet, the Cardinals will have a very capable receiving corps on par with the one he grew accustomed to as an Eagle.
Fantasy owners would be wise to tread carefully with Kolb despite the presence of Fitzgerald. There is substantial reason to doubt Kolb with his mediocre track record – albeit in limited time – so viewing him as anything more than a high-upside QB in 12-team leagues is probably wishful thinking.
By: Doug Orth — July 28, 2011 @ 2:29 pm
Despite introducing the “Wildcat” into the public consciousness, the Miami Dolphins haven’t been regarded as one of the NFL’s most dynamic offenses lately. They are hoping that changes now that Reggie Bush will be frequenting South Beach.
With two player-acquisition brushstrokes, the Dolphins have moved on from their aging and injury-prone backfield of Ricky Williams and Ronnie Brown over the last several years. Miami moved up in April’s draft to select its new running game focal point in Kansas State running back Daniel Thomas and, on July 28, sent a late-round pick and safety Jonathon Amaya – a special teams standout – to the New Orleans Saints for Bush. Much as he did when he first arrived in New Orleans in 2006 for Deuce McAllister, Bush figures to serve as the explosive passing-complement to the 6-0, 230-pound Thomas.
12-15 touches per game is exactly what Bush is looking for.
Bush’s relevancy in fantasy – which was already in question following the 2010 season – became even more clouded following the Saints’ addition of Alabama’s Mark Ingram in the first round in April to a backfield that already possessed Pierre Thomas and Chris Ivory. Because Bush was due $11.8 M this season with New Orleans, the Saints knew they had to address his contract one way or the other, be it via renegotiation or trade. Considering Bush still views himself as something much more than a complementary piece, a trade out of New Orleans became a likely option.
Make no mistake, Thomas is the present and the future in Miami’s backfield and is a good bet to push or exceed 250 touches this year, but this trade should allow Bush to be the 12-15 touch per game player he wants to be while also preserving the rookie as he gets introduced to the NFL. If Miami follows through on another trade for Denver’s Kyle Orton, then Bush should find himself in about as good of a situation as he could have hoped for this offseason.
Since he was moving toward irrelevance as a Saint, a trade to Miami represents a definite boon to Bush’s fantasy stock. The absence of Drew Brees and Sean Payton as his quarterback and play-caller, respectively, will hurt, but the promise of regular touches in a Dolphins’ offense that promises to be more aggressive under new offensive coordinator Brian Daboll should give Bush a chance to be a regular flex starter in fantasy, at least in PPR leagues.
By: Dave Stringer — @ 10:14 am
Looking to bolster a wide receiver depth chart devoid of playmakers, the Seattle Seahawks landed Sidney Rice, the premier wide receiver available in free agency.
Rice is reunited with offensive coordinator Darren Bevell.
The acquisition of Rice immediately upgrades the Seahawks’ passing attack, providing their starting quarterback with a true No. 1 wide receiver, a role Mike Williams was ill-suited for. Who will be starting at quarterback for the Seahawks remains a major question mark, with Charlie Whitehurst and the recently signed Tarvaris Jackson expected to compete in training camp and through the preseason.
Chosen in the second round of the 2007 draft, Rice did little during his first two years in the league before reaching the Pro Bowl in 2009. With Brett Favre at quarterback, Rice had 83 receptions for 1,312 yards and eight touchdowns.
His production fell dramatically in 2010, however, as poor quarterback play and a hip injury suffered at the end of the 2009 season limited him to just 17 receptions for 280 yards and a pair of scores over six games.
Prior to the Vikings’ acquisition of Donovan McNabb, moving to Seattle would have made little difference to Rice’s fantasy prospects, with each team having major question marks at quarterback. But while McNabb is clearly on the downside of his career, he represents an obvious upgrade over rookie first-round pick Christian Ponder in Minnesota, as well as over the Seahawks’ pair of Whitehurst and Jackson.
In addition, the Vikings’ offense features more talent at the skill positions and along the offensive line than Seattle’s. That figures to limit Rice’s touchdown count with the Seahawks.
In Seattle, Rice will be reunited with former Vikings offensive coordinator Darren Bevell, so he should make a smooth transition to the Seahawks offense—always a concern when a wide receiver joins a new team.
While that is a positive, Rice’s fantasy value takes a hit with his move to Seattle because the Seahawks are likely to struggle with a pair of unproven quarterbacks and a rushing attack that also has major question marks. Rice remains a WR3 but moves down a couple of notches in the rankings, and the odds of him having a big season are far less likely in Seattle than they would have been in Minnesota.
By: Dave Stringer — November 4, 2010 @ 2:49 pm
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The Tennessee Titans have been awarded Randy Moss on waivers.
The Titans have a need for a receiver with youngster Kenny Britt expected to miss at least four weeks with a severe right hamstring injury, so it was not unexpected that they would put in a claim for Moss.
However, the biggest surprise is the teams ahead of the Titans in the claim process did not make a claim.
Of the playoff contending teams, the St. Louis Rams, Washington Redskins, Chicago Bears, Oakland Raiders, Chicago Bears and Seattle Seahawks all had waiver priority over Tennessee and are in need of help at the wide receiver position but decided against making a claim for Moss.
Their decisions allowed the Titans to claim Moss, moving him to a team that can use his deep threat ability while at the same times giving Chris Johnson more room to operate in the running game.
The Titans become Moss’ third team in 2010, having been traded to the Vikings from the Patriots on October 6th before being waived on Tuesday.
The Vikings decision to wave Moss so soon after acquiring him, resulted from his lack of production on the field, a well-publicized altercation with a catering staff, and a rambling five-minute post-game press conference that criticized Vikings’ coaches and praised his former head coach, Bill Belichick of the New England Patriots.
The Titans are clearly gambling on Moss but it’s easy to see why they claimed him on waivers.
Chris Johnson: The clear winner.
Their rushing attack hasn’t been as successful in 2010 because opposing defenses are clamping down on Chris Johnson, playing eight men in the box on a regular basis.
With Britt out for an extended period, this problem would have been even more exaggerated with Washington and Justin Gage in the starting line-up at wide receiver.
With Moss in the line-up, opposing defenses will play two safeties deep more frequently and that should give Johnson more breathing room in the running game. That makes Johnson a clear winner with the addition of Moss.
At quarterback, Vince Young and Kerry Collins also benefit from the addition of Moss. They get a player still capable of getting deep on a regular basis and that should also translate into more success for the receivers playing opposite Moss on intermediate routes.
Both quarterbacks are solid deep passers and become an upper tier backup for fantasy purposes with Young clearly having more upside given his ability to also contribute in the running game.
At wide receiver, Justin Gage has clearly lost his chance at moving into the starting line-up so he’s a fantasy loser with this move. He was a potential pickup in only the deepest of leagues anyway.
Nate Washington remains the second option but will be out of the starting line-up when Britt returns. Washington should see a slight increase in production until he loses his starting spot to Britt.
Britt goes from being the number one option to playing second fiddle to Moss but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. He has proven capable of being productive when defenses focus too much attention on Johnson. If defenses focus exclusively on shutting down Moss and Johnson, Britt will have some big games when he returns. Consider Britt a mid-tier WR2 when he’s back in the line-up.
As for Moss, while this isn’t the ideal landing spot for him (that would have been New England), this isn’t a bad second option. He will fulfill the same role he did with the Patriots and Vikings. Look for him to getting plenty of deep looks and red zone work with Tennessee.
What should whet the appetite of his fantasy owners is the Titans schedule over the second half of the season. After a Week 9 bye, they face a number of weak passing defenses. Here is a list of the teams the Titans face between Week 10 and 16 and their pass defense rankings: Dolphins (18th), Redskins (31st), Texans (30th), Jaguars (32nd), Colts (13th), Texans (30th) and Chiefs (12th)
Moss shapes up as a mid-tier WR2 with upside but a player who brings considerable risk given his surly attitude and extremely questionable behavior in 2010. If motivated, he could be a significant fantasy contributor over the balance of the fantasy season considering the Titans schedule.
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