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Dolphins Get Brandon Marshall from the Broncos—Fantasy Impact

By: — April 19, 2010 @ 9:12 am
Filed under: Transactions

The Miami Dolphins made a significant move to bolster the team’s anemic passing game by trading for troubled wide receiver Brandon Marshall. In exchange, Miami sends their second round pick in the upcoming rookie draft and a 2011 second round pick to the Denver Broncos.

The acquisition of Marshall immediately upgrades the Dolphins offense and gives third-year quarterback Chad Henne a true number one receiver, something the team has lacked in recent seasons. Although Marshall doesn’t possess outstanding deep speed, he has shown the ability to get past defenders and has excellent ability after the catch due to his size.

The team’s passing attack finished 20th overall in 2009, averaging just under 200 yards per game. Opposing defenses weren’t required to double team any of the team’s receivers last season and Marshall’s presence should benefit whoever lines up opposite him in the starting line-up.

The move comes on the heels of the New York Jets acquisition of wide receiver Santonio Holmes from the Pittsburgh Steelers, and could be regarded as the Dolphins response to keep pace with an aggressive Jets front office.

Reports indicate that Marshall subsequently signed a four-year contract extension that will make him the highest paid wide receiver in the league.

In Marshall the Dolphins are getting an enigmatic player but one who has excelled on the field despite accumulating a lengthy list of off the field discretions that have landed him in trouble with the law, the league, his teammates and Broncos management. They are taking a risk on a player whose next transgression will likely result on a one-year suspension from the league.

Suffice it to say, there will be mixed feelings in Denver regarding his departure.

Fantasy Impact

From a fantasy perspective, there is a clear winner and a clear loser with this trade and they are the respective quarterbacks on each team. Henne comes out on top as he acquires a player who recorded over 100 catches and 1,000 yards in each of the last three seasons.

Simply put, Marshall is head and shoulders above any receiver the team had last season. Henne was the 25th ranked quarterback in my initial rankings but he moves up to 19th overall and is a decent option in dynasty leagues.

In Denver, Marshall was a lock for 100 receptions, 1,100 plus yards and seven to ten touchdowns and was my fifth ranked wide receiver. However, the Dolphins have an outstanding running attack and are not going to change the team’s offensive identity to accommodate Marshall.

In Miami, he is unlikely to top 100 receptions although he may get more shots down the field due to the dual threat at running back in Ronnie Brown and Ricky Williams. Although I previously commented that he wouldn’t fall out of the top ten wherever he landed, I have moved him down to 12th overall.

Look for Miami to move Davone Bess to the slot with Greg Camarillo and Brian Hartline battling for the starting spot opposite Marshall. Bess figures to see a huge drop in production in the slot but my previous ranking of 53rd assumed he was destined for the slot anyway so his prognosis doesn’t change much.

None of the three players is worth owning except in deep leagues.

The Dolphins subsequently traded Ted Ginn Jr. to the San Francisco 49ers for a 5th round draft pick.

Broncos quarterback Kyle Orton gets the short end of the stick as he loses his top target and now has a receiver depth chart consisting of Eddie Royal, Jabar Gaffney, Brandon Stokley and Brandon Lloyd. He drops down to 25th in the quarterback rankings.

Of the four receivers, only Royal is considered a talented player and he is coming off a hugely disappointing second season with 37 receptions for 345 yards and no touchdowns. That came on the heels of an outstanding rookie campaign in 2009 when he finished with 91 receptions for 980 yards and five touchdowns.

Royal moves up to 33rd in the wide receiver rankings from 57th previously but is currently a high risk, high reward option. If the Broncos fail to take a receiver in the first or second rounds of the draft, he becomes a more intriguing option.

The team now has three selections in the first two rounds of the draft and will likely use one of those selections on a wide receiver. If that transpires, whoever they select figures to have some potential in dynasty leagues.

Steelers Unload Santonio Holmes on the New York Jets—Fantasy Impact

By: — April 12, 2010 @ 11:41 am
Filed under: Transactions

With recent legal issues engulfing two of their team’s biggest stars, the Pittsburgh Steelers decided today to reduce the negative publicity surrounding the team by trading wide receiver Santonio Holmes to the New York Jets. In return, the Steelers will reportedly receive the Jets fifth round pick in the upcoming rookie draft.

Holmes is coming off a career year in 2009 and caught the game winning pass in the team’s Super Bowl Championship season in 2008 so this move is clearly not based on his ability on the field.

With quarterback Ben Roethlisberger recently involved in a second sexual assault investigation since last July, the move by the team’s management to trade Holmes would seem to be an attempt to help clean up the team’s public image, an important consideration for an organization long considered to be one of the most respectable in all of pro sports.

Despite his considerable talent on the field, Holmes has had numerous legal difficulties since entering the league. This month, a woman in Florida claimed he threw a glass at her in a nightclub resulting in a cut above here eye. He has also been arrested for marijuana possession and domestic violence.

Although the Steelers only received a fifth round pick in the trade, the deal is not as one-sided as it appears to be. Holmes faces suspension given his latest legal troubles, suspected to be a four gamer, and he is entering the final year of his rookie contract and will be looking for a lucrative long-term extension from the Jets.

In New York, Holmes will likely assume a position in the starting line-up alongside Braylon Edwards with Jerricho Cotchery moving to the slot. There is also an outside chance Cotchery is moved at the draft.

The Jets now possess one of the better wide receiver depth charts in the league and this trade positions them as the team to beat in the AFC East.

Fantasy Impact

Holmes topped 1,000 yards for the first time in his four-year career in 2009, finishing with 79 receptions for 1,248 yards and five touchdowns. In New York, however, his fantasy prospects dim due to the Jets focus on running the ball and the number of talented veteran wide receivers now on the roster.

Assuming Holmes receives a four game suspension, look for him to finish with about 800 yards and six touchdowns through 12 games. Edwards projects to stay at around 800 yards with the same number of touchdowns. However, neither player can be considered to have great upside unless Cotchery is traded.

Cotchery is now only worth owning in deep leagues.

Holmes presence on the Jets certainly helps the fantasy prospects of quarterback Mark Sanchez, who now has three solid wide receivers to throw to as well as pass catching tight end in Dustin Keller and running back LaDainian Tomlinson. He moves up to the 20th spot in the quarterback rankings from 26th previously.

However, the biggest winner of this trade from a fantasy perspective is Steelers wideout Mike Wallace. The third round pick dazzled as a rookie, making several big plays on his way to catching 39 passes for 756 yards and six touchdowns.

Wallace has excellent speed and Steelers management is showing they are confident he is ready to step into the starting line-up to replace Holmes’ production. He becomes a high end WR3 or low end WR2 in larger leagues but one with tremendous upside. Look for him to hit 950-1,000 yards with 7-8 touchdowns in 2010.

I was big on Wallace as a dynasty league candidate already due to Hines Ward’s age and Holmes’ troubles. He becomes much more attractive in those formats now.

Roethlisberger takes a slight hit with this trade moving from the sixth ranked quarterback to ninth overall, mostly because the Steelers don’t have great options to replace Wallace: Antwaan Randle El, Limas Sweed and Arnaz Battle. Diminutive returner Stefan Logan is also an option given the team’s musings about getting him more involved on offense.

Eagles Trade Donovan McNabb to Washington Redskins—Fantasy Impact

By: — April 5, 2010 @ 9:33 am
Filed under: Transactions

With new head coach Mike Shanahan at the controls, the Washington Redskins and their flamboyant owner Daniel Snyder promised the team’s fans that the days of wild free agent spending and veteran acquisitions were over.

The new vision died a quick death with the team’s decision yesterday to trade for the Eagles’ Donovan McNabb. In order to acquire, the 33 year old quarterback, the Redskins shipped their 2010 second round pick (37th overall) and a conditional pick in 2011 that will be either their third or fourth round pick.

While the price is reasonable, the vision of the Redskins turning to the draft to reverse the team’s sagging fortunes over the past few years seems over. In that regard, the new administration is following the same philosophy as previous regimes did in Washington under Snyder – eschewing developing young players in favour of playing aging veterans in the hopes of a quick fix.

The Redskins have a solid defense, one that is perhaps worthy of contending for a championship. However, the offense is not yet ready to lead the team to a division title and it’s difficult to envision McNabb as the final piece of the puzzle that pushes them over the top in 2010. In fact, they will need to push the right buttons in free agency and the draft just to have a chance to make the playoffs in 2011.

The trade increases the likelihood of the team using the fourth overall selection in the draft to plug the hole that was created at left tackle with Chris Samuels’ retirement. It also increases the chances of incumbent starting quarterback Jason Campbell being moved before the draft, possibly to the quarterback needy Buffalo Bills.

The move is a bold one for an Eagles front office known for its conservative player personnel moves.

McNabb has been to the Super Bowl, five NFC Championship games, six Pro Bowls and holds almost all of the franchise’s career records. In trading him to a division rival, the team is signalling that they are confident that Kevin Kolb is ready to lead the franchise and that McNabb’s presence in Washington won’t push the Redskins into Super Bowl contender status.

The Eagles brain trust has a history of solid personnel moves so the odds of them being right on Kolb seem likely. However, that doesn’t lessen the shock that they were willing to trade a player of McNabb’s stature in order to clear a spot for him in the starting line-up.

Fantasy Impact

While McNabb was my fifth ranked fantasy quarterback a month ago, his fantasy stock plummets with a move to Washington. In Philadelphia, he would have been surrounded by outstanding young talent at the skill positions in wide receivers DeSean Jackson, Jeremy Maclin and Jason Avant as well as tight end Brent Celek and second-year running back LeSean McCoy, and protected by a solid offensive line.

While Redskins tight ends Chris Cooley and Fred Davis are arguably only a notch below Celek, their wide receivers are no match for the Eagles threesome. In addition, their offensive line is in shambles and they have an aging group of running backs in Clinton Portis, Larry Johnson and Willie Parker that are well past their best before date.

McNabb becomes my 15th ranked fantasy quarterback and barring a breakout campaign from either Devin Thomas or Malcolm Kelly, it’s difficult to conclude that he has much upside from here. His risk factor also increases considering he is an aging quarterback playing behind a leaky offensive line and he has managed to stay healthy for a full season only four times in his 11 year career.

Of the Redskins wide receivers, Santana Moss figures to benefit the most but he will be 31 on opening day and has topped 1,000 yards once in the last four seasons. Plus, his small stature reduces his usefulness in the red zone.

He moves from WR5 status to being a WR4 in 10 team leagues and a marginal starter in 12 team leagues. I have him ranked 35th overall at wide receiver.

The odds of Thomas and Kelly breaking out in their third year in the league increases but predicting that is a stretch. They move from being waiver wire candidates in most leagues to potentially being worth a spot at the end of your fantasy bench depending on their play in the preseason. Keep your eye on this position battle during training camp.

Given Celek’s production over the past couple of years and Shanahan’s frequent use of the tight end position, Cooley and Davis figure to benefit from McNabb’s arrival but splitting the production is never a recipe for fantasy success at tight end.

As for the Redskins running backs, it’s best to avoid them altogether.

With the Eagles, Kolb obviously benefits the most from this move. He played reasonably well in a pair of starts last year against New Orleans and Kansas City, topping 300 yards in each game and throwing four touchdowns and three interceptions. He completed almost 65% of his passes in those games, displaying solid accuracy. Of course, the Saints were playing soft coverage because they had a big lead for most of the game and the Chiefs secondary was amongst the worst in the league.

Nonetheless, Kolb hasn’t played enough in the league to provide an accurate gauge of his fantasy prospects for the 2010 season. Fantasy owners are left to decide whether or not they trust the Eagles front office in installing him as the team’s starting quarterback on a roster that has the ability to challenge for the division title next season.

He will benefit from a solid supporting cast but young quarterbacks can be expected to throw more interceptions than veterans so expect a few more picks from Kolb than McNabb has thrown in recent seasons. Kolb figures to pass for between 3,500 and 3,800 yards with 20 plus touchdowns.

He becomes my 12th ranked fantasy quarterback but with upside and is an excellent option in dynasty leagues. Move him a couple of notches lower in leagues that penalize interceptions.

At wide receiver, Jackson, Maclin and Avant figure to move down slightly but not significantly. Jackson moves from sixth to eighth in the wide receiver rankings while Maclin moves from 25th to 30th. Avant remains worthy of owning in deep leagues and is a solid waiver wire candidate in shallower leagues if Jackson or Maclin is injured.

It’s worth noting that Celek caught 16 passes for 208 yards and a touchdown in Kolb’s two starts last season so there is plenty of reason for optimism with regards to his fantasy prospects.

However, in moving him from my second ranked tight end to fourth, I’m choosing to ignore that rather important statistic in putting Celek behind Antonio Gates, Vernon Davis and Dallas Clark. He remains an excellent player to own in dynasty leagues and could benefit from this move but he slides as his projected number of touchdowns is reduced with Kolb at the controls.

The Eagles running back tandem of McCoy and Mike Bell doesn’t see a material change in their fantasy prospects as a result of this trade.

Suspension Looming for Steelers’ Ben Roethlisberger, Fantasy Impact

By: — April 1, 2010 @ 8:25 am
Filed under: Transactions

With NFL commissioner Roger Goodell’s announcement that he plans to meet Ben Roethlisberger at the appropriate time to discuss his recent off the field issues, there is a growing sense that the league will suspend the Steelers quarterback for a portion of the 2010 season.

Roethlisberger was involved in a second sexual assault investigation since last July when, in early March, a 20 year old college student accused him of assaulting her in a bathroom of a bar in Midgeville, Georgia. Previously, Roethlisberger was accused of raping a hotel employee at Lake Tahoe in Nevada. He still faces civil proceedings related to that incident.

In Pittsburgh, fans largely supported him after the Lake Tahoe incident but that support seems to have eroded since the second allegation, as the number of troubling incidents regarding his behaviour seems to have reached a breaking point.

Fans in Pittsburgh are well aware of his penchant for the town’s night life and his refusal to acquiesce to the teams request that he wear a helmet when riding his motorcycle as well as the sexual assault allegations.

It seems clear that the NFL, the Steelers organization and its fans are troubled by aspects of the star quarterback’s behaviour and his seeming inability to avoid situations that could bring him, the league and the team into disrepute.

With Roethlisberger not attending the team’s offseason conditioning program, Steelers management is tacitly acknowledging that his presence would be a distraction to the team. They have not commented on when he will return to the team.

Possible Suspension

The league’s personal conduct policy allows Goodell to suspend players before they are convicted of any criminal offences. Due to the serious nature of a sexual assault allegation and the fact that Roethlisberger has been accused of sexual misconduct twice within a nine-month period, Goodell’s announcement that he was monitoring Roethlisberger’s situation and intends to meet him should come as no surprise.

If the investigation into the early March incident results in charges being filed, the chances of Goodell suspending Roethlisberger increase. If Roethlisberger is charged but not convicted, Goodell could decide against suspending him if he determines the charges were largely unfounded. Alternatively, he could determine that a one or two game suspension is warranted given the pattern of Roethlisberger putting himself in troubling situations.

If Roethlisberger is convicted of sexual assault, he will likely face time in prison as well as a lengthy league suspension. However, given the slow moving nature of criminal proceedings, a conviction during the 2010 season seems unlikely.

Fantasy Impact

Roethlisberger is coming off his best season as a pro and finished as the eighth ranked fantasy quarterback in 2009. With the Steelers moving to more of a pass based offense and possessing three solid wide receivers in Hines Ward, Santonio Holmes and second year speedster Mike Wallace, Roethlisberger was expected to meet or exceed his production from a year ago.

However, his fantasy prospects for 2010 are clearly diminished with the threat of a suspension looming and the obvious distraction of criminal and civil proceedings. His fantasy value is negatively impacted due to the increased risk he carries.

Roethlisberger owners in dynasty leagues may want to gauge his trade value and move him if another owner isn’t asking for a discount due to his current situation.

The biggest fantasy issue arising from Roethlisberger’s predicament resides with the team’s wide receivers and tight end Heath Miller. With the aging Charlie Batch and unproven Dennis Dixon in reserve, there is a huge dropoff at the quarterback position.

Keep abreast of Roethlisberger’s situation if you’re considering any of his receiving options for your fantasy roster in 2010.

Possible Landing Spots If The Broncos Trade Brandon Marshall

By: — March 30, 2010 @ 9:54 am
Filed under: Transactions

With the Denver Broncos choosing to place a first round tender on Brandon Marshall, the wide receiver was expected to receive plenty of attention as free agency opened. Surprisingly, that hasn’t happened and a player who has had three straight 100-reception seasons has made only one free agent visit.

With the rookie draft approaching, the chances of a team signing Marshall to an offer sheet prior to the April 15th deadline are dwindling. Reports indicate that the Broncos are now willing to accept less than a first round pick for Marshall and may be willing to move him for a pick in the second round.

Unfortunately for Broncos head coach Josh McDaniels, his running and well-publicised feud with his talented wide receiver has hindered the team’s attempt to receive fair value for Marshall.

Potential suitors are well aware of the volatile relationship between the coach and his player. McDaniels forced Marshall to come off the bench for the opening game of last season, and then questioned Marshall’s ability to play through a hamstring injury at the end of the season. McDaniels benched him for the team’s week 17 home loss to Kansas City.

Also hurting Marshall’s trade value is the fact that any team acquiring him will have to sign him to a lucrative long-term contract extension. That is a significant risk considering any further violations of the league’s personal-conduct policy could result in an eight game suspension or more.

Seattle Seahawks

The new Seahawks brain trust has already proven they are willing to roll the dice given their acquisition of third string Chargers quarterback Charlie Whitehurst. With T.J. Houshmandzadeh and Deion Branch on the downside of their careers, and Deon Butler coming off a disappointing rookie season, the Seahawks are in need of a playmaker at the wide receiver position.

Fantasy Impact

Marshall would immediately become the Seahawks top receiver and could top 100 catches in 2010 provided Matt Hasselbeck stays under center for 16 games. However, Whitehurst will likely be given a chance to take over the team if they struggle or if Hasselbeck cannot stay healthy.

Expect one of those two scenarios to play out with Whitehurst taking over at some point in 2010. It’s worth noting that Marshall’s production would likely take a hit if Whitehurst moves into the starting line-up during the fantasy playoffs.

Marshall’s downside risk certainly increases without Hasselbeck at the controls. However, he is likely to top 1,100 yards and eight to ten touchdowns if Hasselbeck starts the majority of the team’s games next season.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

The Bucs currently possess the league’s worst pair of starting wide receivers in two of Michael Clayton, Reggie Brown, Maurice Stovall and Sammie Stroughter. With quarterback Josh Freeman entering his second year, it would make sense for the team to surround him with a better supporting cast at the wide receiver position.

Armed with two second round draft picks from the Gaines Adams trade with Chicago, the Bucs could afford to move picks to Denver to acquire Marshall. The Bears pick is the 42nd overall and could be enough to pry Marshall away from Denver. It also helps that the Bucs own selections are the third of each round, except for the fifth round which they traded.

Diminishing the odds of a trade to Tampa Bay is that the Bucs may not want to add Marshall’s questionable character to their young team.

Fantasy Impact

Although Freeman flashed some ability as a rookie, his accuracy and decision making leave much to be desired at this point in his career. Expecting him to make a big jump in his second year in the league may be asking too much.

With Tampa Bay, Marshall’s string of three consecutive 100-reception seasons would almost certainly come to an end. A season with between 80-90 receptions, a little over 1,000 yards and 6-7 touchdowns would be more likely. In Tampa, Marshall slides to WR2 status.

New York Jets

The Jets have a solid tandem of starting wide receivers in Braylon Edwards and Jerricho Cotchery, but with Edwards on a one-year contract, there has been much speculation that the Jets want to acquire a wide receiver in the draft.

Increasing the odds of a Marshall move to New York is that Mike Tannenbaum is one of the least conservative general managers in the league and is not afraid to move draft picks to acquire veteran players.

The Jets 29th pick of the second round may not be enough to entice McDaniels but an additional late round selection in this year’s draft or in 2011 might be. Alternatively, moving Cotchery and a late round pick would give the Broncos a solid veteran that would help them immediately.

Fantasy Impact

Marshall’s fantasy value in New York would depend on the maturation of Jets quarterback Mark Sanchez. For all the accolades Sanchez received as a rookie, the bottom line is that he had a 54.8% completion rate and threw 20 interceptions against 12 touchdowns in a conservative offense.

Sanchez certainly has upside and the moxie to establish himself as one of the better quarterbacks in the league but he needs to mature and reduce his risk taking when the team gets behind. Of his 20 interceptions, 15 came in just four games.

Simply put, the Jets don’t throw enough to have any receiver catch 100 passes and Marshall’s presence wouldn’t likely change that. They are built to run early and run often. Expect a season of 80 receptions for a little over 1,000 yards and 7-8 touchdowns in New York.

New England Patriots

The Patriots recent history suggests they aren’t afraid of trading for malcontent veteran wide receivers providing the price is right. In addition, they are in need of a receiving threat to play opposite Randy Moss given the uncertain timetable for Wes Welker’s return from the knee injury he suffered at the end of last season.

With three second round picks as well as their fourth and sixth rounds picks and two picks in the seventh round, the Patriots have the ability to acquire Marshall which would give quarterback Tom Brady the best pair (or trio, with Welker) of wide receivers in the league.

Fantasy Impact

Marshall would fit in nicely in New England as the team’s intermediate possession receiver with Moss handling most of the deep work and Welker assuming the underneath routes once he is healthy.

The sky might be the limit in New England for Marshall provided the offensive line returns to its pre-2009 form when it struggled for the first time in recent memory. On the Patriots, Marshall would likely catch a little under 100 passes but be around 1,100 yards and ten or more touchdowns. Marshall’s numbers in this scenario are highly dependent on the return to health of Wes Welker.

Dallas Cowboys

Would the Cowboys like to pair Marshall with Miles Austin? Absolutely.

Would Cowboys owner Jerry Jones be willing to admit the colossal mistake he made by acquiring Roy Williams and a 2010 seventh round pick from the Lions for first, third and sixth round picks in the 2009 draft? Absolutely not.

Fantasy Impact

Marshall would look good in a Cowboys uniform but Austin would likely be the team’s deep threat with Marshall assuming more of a possession type receiver role. However, tight end Jason Witten has been Tony Romo’s security blanket so Marshall’s impact in this role would certainly result in less production than as been the norm in Denver.

With the Cowboys, Marshall would likely catch 80-90 passes for around 1,100 yards with seven or eight touchdowns.

Washington Redskins

Would new Redskins head coach Mike Shanahan love to be reunited with his former star pupil? Absolutely.

Does McDaniels want to reunite the pair and watch from a distance as the Broncos former coach and Marshall help reignite a dormant Redskins passing offense? Absolutely not.

The odds of McDaniels doing anything to help resurrect the career of Shanahan and potentially embarrass Broncos owner Pat Bowlen are slim to none. McDaniels may have had a rough ride in his first year as coach of the franchise but there’s no way he’s foolish enough to risk moving Marshall to Washington.

Fantasy Impact

We know what they did together in Denver and Jason Campbell is good enough to allow Marshall to top 100 catches and 1,100 yards. However, the Redskins offense figures to be a work in progress so projecting more than eight touchdowns in Washington would be a stretch.

Chicago Bears

Similar to the Redskins scenario, McDaniels isn’t about to bring about a Jay Cutler-Brandon Marshall reunion in one of the NFL’s largest markets.

Fantasy Impact

Marshall does not seem to really fit the mould of a Torry Holt or Isaac Bruce, who excelled in the Mike Martz offense, but given their past we would expect Cutler to lean heavily on Marshall in this hypothetical situation. Not to mention, Mad Mike will almost certainly have Cutler near the top of the league in pass attempts. This would be the best possible destination for Marshall from a fantasy standpoint. Chalk them up for the pair’s third 100-reception season together, and Marshall’s fourth straight of his career.

Possible Landing Spots If The Eagles Trade Donovan McNabb

By: — March 25, 2010 @ 11:21 am
Filed under: Transactions

Philadelphia Eagles head coach Andy Reid let the rest of the league in on the worst kept secret of the 2010 off-season—the team is listening to offers for all three of its quarterbacks. What was left unsaid was which of the team’s three starting calibre quarterbacks was most likely to be traded.

While Reid was quick to point out the current depth chart has Donovan McNabb starting with Kevin Kolb backing him up and Michael Vick occupying the third spot, it seems clear that if one of them is to be traded it will be McNabb.

Kolb was drafted to be the team’s quarterback of the future and there is nothing to suggest the team wants to move him. Vick is entering the final year of his contract, played little in 2009 and would not command much in a trade.

That leaves McNabb as the quarterback most likely to be moved.

The most probable potential suitors for McNabb right now appear to be the St. Louis Rams, Buffalo Bills, Oakland Raiders and Cleveland Browns. Let’s analyze the current situation for each team, and what the fantasy impact would be acquiring McNabb.

St. Louis Rams

The Rams own the 1st pick in the draft and there are indications the team is strongly considering using the pick on University of Oklahoma quarterback Sam Bradford, provided they are convinced he has recovered from surgery on his throwing shoulder.

The team’s first free agent acquisition was veteran quarterback A.J. Feeley, and they have hinted they will have Bradford in for a visit just prior to the draft. Feeley could begin the season as the team’s starter if Bradford isn’t deemed ready. The visit will allow them to examine the shoulder after his pro day workout this coming Monday.

Reports have indicated the Rams may be willing to part with the first pick in the 2nd round and either safety O.J. Atogwe or defensive tackle Adam Carriker for McNabb.

However, players not under contract cannot be traded and Atogwe has not signed his one-year tender for $1.2 million and is unlikely to do so because the Rams have to increase their offer to $6.7 million on June 1st or release him. The Eagles interest in Carriker seems questionable given the team’s depth along the defensive line and recent acquisition of Darryl Tapp.

Also working against McNabb going to St. Louis is that he is entering the final year of his contract and the rebuilding Rams cannot afford to move a high draft choice unless they agree to an extension prior to a trade.

For what it’s worth, Rams general manager Billy Devaney has steadfastly denied being in trade discussions with the Eagles.

It’s also worth noting that should the Eagles trade McNabb to the Rams, they will increase the likelihood of the division rival Washington Redskins using the fourth pick in the draft on Bradford.

Fantasy Impact

At the moment, the Rams most explosive wide receiver is Donnie Avery but his growth stalled in 2009 and it does not appear that he will develop into a true number one receiver. Laurent Robinson and Brandon Gibson figure to vie for the other starting spot and Danny Amendola has potential as a slot receiver. However, the team lacks a receiving threat at tight end.

There also wouldn’t be much on the way in the draft since acquiring McNabb would free the Rams to take defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh.

Even with Pro Bowl running back Steven Jackson in the backfield with him, McNabb’s fantasy prospect for 2010 would take a serious hit with a move to St. Louis. He would likely be nothing more than a high end backup.

Buffalo Bills

The Bills have major question marks at quarterback with Trent Edwards, Ryan Fitzpatrick and Brian Brohm on the depth chart and they may not be in a position to address them at the draft. The team has the ninth pick in the draft that is widely regarded as having two quarterbacks worthy of selections in the first round, Bradford and Notre Dame’s Jimmy Clausen.

Unfortunately for the Bills, both players could be gone by the time the Bills are on the clock. Washington, Cleveland and the Seattle Seahawks are all rumoured to be interested in taking a quarterback before the Bills pick. The Bills could always attempt to move up but they would have to pay a steep price to get ahead of the Redskins or perhaps Seattle who picks sixth.

That is why the Bills are the most logical destination for McNabb, provided he is willing to go there. The Bills generally make at least one notable transaction each off-season (note the Terrell Owens free agent signing last year) and acquiring McNabb would certainly ignite their somewhat disenchanted fan base.

Buffalo has the ninth pick in the second round and that pick and perhaps Roscoe Parrish as a return threat to reduce DeSean Jackson’s workload could entice the Eagles.

Fantasy Impact

In Buffalo, McNabb’s fantasy prospects would take a hit with only Lee Evans a proven threat at wide receiver. However, the team is high on Shawn Nelson as a pass catching tight end and wide receiver James Hardy is entering his third year after two disappointing seasons.

The team has solid depth at running back in Fred Jackson and Marshawn Lynch and would likely use their first pick in the draft on a left tackle. Nonetheless, McNabb would be a fantasy backup in Buffalo.

Oakland Raiders

Raiders owner Al Davis is loathe to admit his mistakes and acquiring McNabb would be admitting that taking JaMarcus Russell first overall in 2008 was a major misfire. That alone would seem to rule out the Raiders but Davis is as unpredictable as his teams have been predictably bad over the last few years.

The team received strong play from backups Bruce Gradkowski and Charlie Frye last year and both players return to challenge Russell for the starting position. The Raiders have many needs so moving draft picks for an aging quarterback given their current depth chart at the position would seem a questionable move at best.

However, nothing the Raiders do should come as a surprise at this point so a move to trade for McNabb shouldn’t be ruled out. The Raiders’ second round pick and a LB, where the Raiders do have some quality depth, could net McNabb in a trade.

Fantasy Impact

The Raiders offense was one of the league’s worst in 2009 but it is not a stretch to conclude that was a direct result of poor play at quarterback. The team has a number of young, talented skill position players who could excel with increased production from the quarterback position.

The running back depth chart features a potential thunder and lightning duo in Michael Bush and Darren McFadden. Tight end Zach Miller could have a break out season with McNabb at quarterback and there is potential at wide receiver in Darrius Heyward-Bey, Chaz Schilens, Louis Murphy and Johnnie Lee Higgins.

With McNabb on board, the team could solidify its offensive line by taking an offensive tackle with the eighth pick in the first round.

Cleveland Browns

The Browns have completely revamped their quarterback depth chart over the last month. Brady Quinn was traded and Derek Anderson was released to make way for free agent signee Jake Delhomme and Seneca Wallace, acquired in a trade with Seattle.

There have also been rumors that new general manager Mike Holmgren wants to use the fifth pick in the draft on Clausen, assuming Bradford is off the board by them. That seems logical given that none of Delhomme, Wallace, or third string quarterback Brett Ratliff can be considered the team’s quarterback of the future.

The Browns are loaded with draft picks with all of their own picks except their seventh round selection as well two additional third round picks, three additional fifth round picks and an additional sixth round picks.

Although McNabb may be a solid fit in Cleveland and the Browns have the draft picks to make it happen, the more likely scenario is the Browns taking a quarterback with the fifth pick in the draft or packaging it and additional picks to move up.

Fantasy Impact

The Browns are bereft of talent at the skill positions so a move to Cleveland would be the worst possible scenario for McNabb’s fantasy prospects in 2010. Even running back Jerome Harrison, widely touted as a breakout candidate next year, is somewhat suspect given his lack of use over his first three years in Cleveland.

If you have McNabb in a dynasty league, look to unload him if he ends up in Cleveland.

Ravens Acquire Boldin—Fantasy Impact

By: — March 5, 2010 @ 11:35 pm
Filed under: Transactions

Moving quickly to improve on what has been the weakest position on their roster over the last several years, the Baltimore Ravens acquired Anquan Boldin from the Arizona Cardinals on the opening day of the 2010 league calendar.

Baltimore gave up its 3rd and 4th round picks in this year’s draft to acquire Boldin, a move that significantly upgrades the position from last season regardless of whether unrestricted free agents Derrick Mason and Kelley Washington re-sign with the team.

The Ravens immediately signed Boldin to a 3 year contract extension that will pay him $28 million over four years.

In acquiring Boldin, the Ravens obtain the most physical wide receiver in the league and a player with a history of solid production. In seven years in the league, he has topped 1,000 yards five times while amassing 7,520 receiving yards to go along with 44 touchdowns.

Fantasy Impact

For Boldin, his move to the Ravens is marginally positive from a fantasy perspective. At this point, Joe Flacco is more of a known commodity than Matt Leinart so there is a reduced risk fantasy wise. In addition, the depth the Cardinals have at wide receiver caused the offensive touchdowns to be spread out in 2009. Boldin shapes up as a low end WR1 or top tier WR2 in 2010.

At quarterback, Flacco acquires his first bona fide number one wide receiver since he entered the league. While Mason was productive in Baltimore, he was rarely a game-breaker. Simply put, Boldin is bigger, stronger and faster. Whereas opposing defenses respected Mason, they have to fear Boldin. Flacco should be considered a top quality back-up fantasy quarterback with upside.

In Arizona, Leinart certainly sees his fantasy stock drop with Boldin’s departure although not as much as one might think. The team has perhaps the most skilled wide receiver in the league in Larry Fitzgerald. Steve Breaston moves into the starting line-up and he topped 1,000 yards in a back-up role in 2008. Early Doucet flashed some ability last season and had 14 receptions for 145 yards and two touchdowns during the team’s two playoff games.

As for Mason, at this point he is a player without a team. Given that he considered retirement last year, it is possible he may go that route unless the Ravens step up to the plate to re-sign him.

Stallworth Suspended Indefinitely

By: — June 23, 2009 @ 10:41 am
Filed under: Transactions

The NFL has suspended Browns wide receiver Donte Stallworth after his plea bargain with Miami prosecutors for his role in the death of a married father of a 15-year old girl. Stallworth struck and killed Mario Reyes while driving under the influence early in the morning and plead guilty to DUI manslaughter last week. The plea agreement was heavily criticized because it called for only 30 days in jail as well as financial compensation for Reyes’ family, in addition to a lengthy period of probation, a lifetime driving suspension and two years of house arrest.

NFL commissioner Roger Goodell suspended Stallworth indefinitely but indications are that Stallworth will face a lengthy suspension. Goodell used strong language throughout his press release, leaving little doubt where the league stands on these types of situations and that Stallworth’s punishment from the league will be severe.

Goodell commented that Stallworth’s actions were “inexcusable” and “caused irreparable harm to the victim and his family, your club, your fellow players and the NFL.” He also stated that Stallworth’s conduct “plainly violates the Personal Conduct and Substances of Abuse policies” and that “there is ample evidence to warrant significant discipline under both policies.” Finally, Goodell stated that “all NFL employees recognize that alcohol-related violations of the law will not be tolerated.”

The league has come down hard on repeat offenders of the league’s Personal Conduct policies. Former Cowboys cornerback Adam Jones received a six game suspension after receiving an indefinite suspension for his numerous legal issues. Bengals wide receiver Chris Henry faced an eight game ban for repeated violations of the law and Rams defensive end Leonard Little faced an eight-game ban after he struck and killed a Missouri woman while driving under the influence. Little was suspended in 1999 at a time when the league was more lenient regarding suspensions for violations of the law.

Based on Goodell’s efforts to strengthen the league Personal Conduct policies, his previous suspension decisions and Little’s eight-game suspension in 1999, a 12-game ban seems very likely with an outside chance that Stallworth is suspended for the entire 2009 season.

Fantasy Football Impact

It is worth noting that since Stallworth’s arrest, the Browns have signed free agent wide receivers David Patten and Mike Furrey and used 2nd round draft picks on Brian Robiskie and Mohamed Massaquoi. With Braylon Edwards clearly established as the team’s top wide receiver, standout returner Josh Cribbs occupying a roster spot at wide receiver and the Browns unlikely to give up on 2007 7th round pick Syndric Steptoe, Stallworth does not appear to be in the team’s plans for 2009.

In fact, it is likely that he remains on the team’s roster only because releasing him would result in a $7.6-million salary cap charge. With a salary of under $1-million for 2009, there is a strong possibility the team will pay a pro-rated portion of his salary for the year (and likely request he not attend at the team’s facilities) rather than release him. This exact scenario played out in the Falcons decision to retain Michael Vick on their roster for 2008. In addition, if the CBA is not extended and 2010 is an uncapped year, the team can release Stallworth in 2010 with no cap charge.

In essence, it appears the Browns have given up on Stallworth and if he plays in 2009, which seems unlikely, it will be with another team, requiring him to learn a team’s playbook in short order. If the Browns have given up on him, then you should too in your fantasy league.

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