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2009 NFL Mock Draft

By: — March 30, 2009 @ 1:05 pm
Filed under: Mock Draft, NFL Draft

The NFL rookie draft has taken on a larger than life persona over the past 20 years as fans and pundits attempt to decipher the positional needs of their team and other teams and weed through the information and misinformation that each team supplies. Basically, it’s an exercise in futility to try to figure what is real and what is fake.

Nonetheless, mock drafts are great fun for a number of reasons. First off, they are great for finding out who are the most knowledgeable columnists, and it’s not based on their ability to predict which team takes what player. Occasionally, a mock will have a team taking a player and the reasoning will defy logic. A quarterback to the Browns when they have two? A 295-pound nose tackle going to a team that employs a 3-4?

Secondly, it’s an opportunity for discovering perspectives different from your own. The Chargers taking a running back in the 1st round when they re-signed LaDainian Tomlinson and franchised Darren Sproles?

Finally, watching players rise and fall is simply a fascinating experience when they have had up to four years to showcase their ability ON THE FIELD. Chris Wells looks like a surefire top five pick then runs a slow 40 at the combine only to run a much better 40 a few shorts weeks later. Where else can you find such theatre of the absurd? On to my own mock draft. Mocking comments welcome.

  1. Detroit – OT Jason Smith – Let’s give new coach Jim Schwartz the top tackle in terms of run/pass blocking skills. If they can run, Daunte Culpepper can throw it up top.
  2. St. Louis Rams – OT Eugene Monroe – They would love LB Aaron Curry but a combination of Alex Barron and Jacob Bell at tackle isn’t very inspiring.
  3. Kansas City Chiefs – LB Aaron Curry – New GM Scott Pioli gets to pick between Curry and DT B.J. Raji and goes with the multi-faceted linebacker who also happens to be the safest pick in the draft.
  4. Seattle Seahawks – QB Matthew Stafford – They would prefer an offensive tackle when faced with the choice of Stafford and Raji, and go with the quarterback due to Matt Hasselbeck’s age (34 in September) and off-season additions of Colin Cole and Cory Redding.
  5. Cleveland Browns – LB Brian Orakpo – Desperate for pass rushing help, team goes for the player with perhaps the most pass rushing potential as an outside linebacker in the 3-4.
  6. Cincinnati Bengals – DT B.J. Raji – Team gets a steal as the draft falls their way for once. Coach Marvin Lewis can’t turn down the draft’s best defensive tackle to add depth to the team’s lacklustre defensive line talent.
  7. Oakland Raiders – WR Michael Crabtree – Raiders have perhaps the worst wide receiver depth chart in the league so this one is a no-brainer.
  8. Jacksonville Jaguars – OT Michael Oher – They would love Smith, Monroe or Raji but are forced to reach a little for Oher.
  9. Green Bay Packers – OLB Everette Brown – Moving to the 3-4 and are desperate for a DE with size or a pass rushing OLB. Brown offers more upside than any of the draft’s large DE’s so he’s the pick.
  10. San Francisco 49ers – CB Malcolm Jenkins – Walt Harris isn’t getting any younger and Shawntae Spencer’s days may be numbered due to a knee injury last year and $3.5-million cap charge despite his backup status.
  11. Buffalo Bills – LB Rey Maualuga – Would love a pass rushing DE but value is at LB and Paul Posluszny has the ability to move outside to accommodate Maualuga at MLB.
  12. Denver Broncos – LB Brian Cushing – Team needs help at every position on defense so they go with the best defender left on the board.
  13. Washington Redskins – OT Andre Smith – Team needs help at DE and OLB but always goes with veterans on the defensive line and no OLB is worth this pick so they gamble on Smith and attempt to get younger on the offensive line.
  14. New Orleans Saints – RB Chris Wells – Have addressed many defensive needs in free agency so they get a big back to team with Reggie Bush and Pierre Thomas, who struggle in short yardage.
  15. Houston Texans – OLB Aaron Maybin – They need a pass rushing threat at OLB to take some heat off Mario Williams and Maybin fits the bill.
  16. San Diego Chargers – S Louis Delmas – Team wasn’t pleased with the play of Clinton Hart last year and doesn’t currently have a player to challenge him. Running back is a possibility but they have Tomlinson, Sproles and Michael Bennett to handle that role in 2009.
  17. New York Jets – QB Mark Sanchez – Jets go with a young QB in an attempt to replicate the 2008 Ravens who featured a tough defense and a young passer.
  18. Chicago Bears – WR Jeremy Maclin – The wide receiver needy Bears breathe a sigh of relief the equally needy Jets pass on Maclin.
  19. Tampa Bay Buccaneers – QB Josh Freeman – Luke McCown isn’t the answer and Freeman might not be either but the Bucs gamble on him anyway.
  20. Detroit Lions – DT Peria Jerry – Lions continue to build in the trenches and take the second best DT in the draft.
  21. Philadelphia Eagles – RB Knowshon Moreno – Team goes with Brian Westbrook’s eventual replacement and fills a hole created with Correll Buckhalter’s departure.
  22. Minnesota Vikings – OT Eben Britton – Ryan Cook and Artis Hicks aren’t the answer so the team goes with Britton, who started on the right side until his final year in college.
  23. New England Patriots – OLB Larry English – Pats go with a prospect who can help out in pass rushing capacity in 2009.
  24. Atlanta Falcons – CB Vontae Davis – Falcons attempt to replace Dominique Foxworth and provide some competition for Chevis Jackson.
  25. Miami Dolphins – DT Ron Brace – They need help at CB and would like another pass rushing OLB but the value isn’t there so they go with the draft’s best 3-4 nose tackle.
  26. Baltimore Ravens – WR Darius Heyward-Bey – Could go CB but with Derrick Mason on his last legs and Mark Clayton and Demetrius Williams too inconsistent, they go with Heyward-Bey.
  27. Indianapolis Colts – DT Evander Hood – Keyunta Dawson and Antonio Johnson combo needs upgrading and the Colts get lucky that Hood falls to them.
  28. Philadelphia Eagles – TE Brandon Pettigrew – Eagles add another piece to help their woeful short yardage game and team with Brent Celek. OT William Beatty also makes sense here.
  29. New York Giants – WR Kenny Britt – Barring a trade, the Giants need help at WR and Britt has too much potential to pass up at this spot.
  30. Tennessee Titans – CB Alphonso Smith – They would like to address MLB and defensive line but Smith offers too much value and fills a need with Chris Carr’s departure.
  31. Arizona Cardinals – DE Michael Johnson – Everybody has them taking a RB here but they go for Johnson who has the potential to replace and be more effective than Antonio Smith.
  32. Pittsburgh Steelers – C Alex Mack – Steelers long tradition of outstanding centers has been interrupted by the mediocre play of Sean Mahan in 2007 and Justin Hartwig in 2008.

Bears Solidify OL With Shaffer Signing

By: — March 27, 2009 @ 8:45 am
Filed under: Free Agents

The Bears, who recently lost projected starting right tackle John St. Clair to the Browns, signed former Brown right tackle Kevin Shaffer to a reported three-year contract. The teams have essentially swapped right tackles with the Browns ending up with the better player for their system.

Nonetheless, the signing is a key one for the Bears because of the implications it has for the organization in this year’s rookie draft. With only the untested Frank Omiyale as an option at right tackle prior to Shaffer’s signing, the team would practically have been forced to use a high draft pick on an offensive tackle one year after selecting left tackle Chris Williams in the first round.

Fantasy Football Impact

The Bears first option was obviously re-signing St. Clair but this move fills a huge hole for the team, potentially allowing them to use their first round pick at the wide receiver position where they are desperate for depth. This is a solid fallback option and the journeyman Shaffer figures to provide better run and pass blocking than a rookie would. Matt Forte and Kyle Orton’s prospects look a little better today.

Running Back Rankings

By: — March 25, 2009 @ 12:38 pm
Filed under: Forecast

Last year was certainly an odd year for running backs in fantasy football. The theme was breakout players and struggling superstars with a number of major surprises amongst the top ten fantasy performers.

Leading the way was DeAngelo Williams of the Panthers, a player who had failed to beat out journeyman DeShaun Foster two years in a row and who hadn’t topped 750 yards rushing. No surprise then that he went off for 1,639 total yards and 20 touchdowns. Michael Turner of the Falcons certainly looked talented as LaDainian Tomlinson’s backup in San Diego but few would have predicted that he could become fantasy football’s second rated running back.

Rookies also surprised with Matt Forte of the Bears and Steve Slaton of the Texans cracking the top ten and Chris Johnson of the Titans just missing at number eleven, despite not playing in week 17. Jets veteran Thomas Jones also enjoyed a career season at age 30 with over 1,500 total yards and 15 touchdowns.

The surprises on the downside included the Cowboys’ Marion Barber, Joseph Addai of the Colts, Steven Jackson of the Rams, Frank Gore of the 49ers and the Chiefs’ Larry Johnson. Injuries explained a major part of the underperformance in each case. Each of these players would have cost an early pick or major auction dollars but handcuffs wouldn’t have helped much except in Dallas where Tashard Choice, the second handcuff behind first handcuff Felix Jones, performed well.

  1. Adrian Peterson – Trade for Sage Rosenfels should make Peterson’s life easier and he figures to top 2,000 total yards in 2009.
  2. Michael Turner – 2008 wasn’t a fluke but team will want to reduce number of touches from 379.
  3. Marion Barber – Would have been top 5 without the injuries and team will rely more heavily on the run with Terrell Owens gone.
  4. DeAngelo Williams – Panthers will run heavily and no reason why offensive line won’t continue to open the holes.
  5. LaDainian Tomlinson – 1,537 total yards and 12 TD’s is an off year? Sproles isn’t a threat to take over as the number one.
  6. Maurice Jones-Drew – Finally gets to be a true number one but value hurt by ridiculously poor receiving core.
  7. Joseph Addai – Look for a bounce back season and plenty of TD’s.
  8. Frank Gore – Mike Singletary says they’re going to run and, if healthy, Gore’s going to top 1,600 total yards.
  9. Matt Forte – Not overly talented but heady player gets huge touches and makes the most of them.
  10. Brian Westbrook – Still solid but 71% of his production came in just five games which is cause for concern.
  11. Clinton Portis – Top fantasy performer before injuries slowed him down. At just 27, stories of his demise are greatly exaggerated.
  12. Steve Slaton – Almost assuredly will see touches reduced as team wants a big back for short yardage work.
  13. Brandon Jacobs – Top five if he could ever stay healthy. Touches should increase with Derrick Ward’s departure.
  14. Steven Jackson – Second most talented back in the league but no help from the offensive line or the passing game.
  15. Chris Johnson – Proved that size wasn’t an issue but unlikely to see more than the 294 touches he had last year.
  16. Ronnie Brown – Solid production in 2008 with less than 250 touches. Says here there will be less of a committee approach in 2009.
  17. Ryan Grant – Struggled with nagging injuries but still managed to top 1,200 yards rushing. Was hurt by low TD total.
  18. Thomas Jones – Wants more money. Jets might want more Leon Washington.
  19. Kevin Smith – 670 yards rushing and four TD’s over the last eight games, despite having to face the Jags, Panthers and Vikings.
  20. Marshawn Lynch – Solid player who suffers from having to face the Pats, Dolphins and Jets six times each season.
  21. Derrick Ward – New regime in Tampa will hand the reins to their guy with Earnest Graham in reserve. Might not see the short yardage work.
  22. Reggie Bush – Average PPG last three years – 11, 11 , 12. He’s missed ten games in two years.
  23. Jonathan Stewart – Plan is to split carries but will bust out if Williams goes down.
  24. Pierre Thomas – He takes over Deuce McAllister’s role full-time and gets increased touches when Reggie Bush is out.
  25. Darren McFadden – He will be the starter with Michael Bush in a short yardage role. Lack of TD’s will hurt him.
  26. Willie Parker – Productive when healthy and not facing top defenses. Breakaway speed might be gone.
  27. Larry Johnson – Still talented but needs a change of scenery to rekindle motivation.
  28. LeRon McClain – He epitomizes what the Ravens want in a back more than Willis McGahee. Expect increased touches in 2009.
  29. LenDale White – Gets a lot of slack but has averaged 10 PPG two years in a row and gets the short yardage work.
  30. Earnest Graham – Not as effective as in 2007 and rank assumes he will get the goal line touches in Tampa.
  31. Tim Hightower – Looked great as a backup but lost as a starter. Not convinced Arizona will commit to the run.
  32. Jamal Lewis – Bit of a surprise they haven’t tried harder to replace him. TD’s will be hard to come by.
  33. Julius Jones – Greg Knapp brings his massive run production to Seattle but lack of TD’s will hold him back.
  34. Cedric Benson – Only productive Bengal back in 2008 but likely gets some competition in the draft.
  35. Leon Washington – Look for the Jets to get him more involved in 2009.
  36. Willis McGahee – What a waste. Expect this to be his last year in Baltimore.
  37. Darren Sproles – Too small to be a starter, good luck predicting when he’ll go off.
  38. Felix Jones – Absolutely dynamic when healthy last season. Dallas has to give him 8-10 touches a game.
  39. Fred Jackson – Averaged 11 touches in 2008 and will get between two and four starts with Lynch suspended.
  40. Fred Taylor – Unless the light goes on for Maroney, he’s easily their most talented back.
  41. Jerious Norwood – He looks great. Every year we hear about more touches but it never happens.
  42. Ricky Williams – Skills are still there if Brown were to go down.
  43. Michael Bush – Week 17, 177 yard, two TD effort against the Bucs wasn’t a fluke. He produces when given a chance.
  44. Chester Taylor – Touches decreased from 186 in 2007 to 146 in 2008. Expect another drop in 2009.
  45. Rashard Mendenhall – Boom or bust. Hopefully in 2009, he doesn’t take on Ray Lewis.
  46. Correll Buckhalter – Least talented starting back in the league and Denver won’t run as much as in prior years.
  47. Sammy Morris – He’ll have a couple of decent games before he gets hurt.
  48. Ray Rice – Looks good but lost in the shuffle in Baltimore.
  49. Ahmad Bradshaw – Runs as good or better than Ward but not as good as a receiver.
  50. Jamaal Charles – Talented back who will be the first option if Johnson is traded.
  51. Mewelde Moore – Looked better than Parker for much of last year but now 3rd on the depth chart.
  52. Maurice Morris – He is what he is. Now he’s the backup in Detroit.
  53. Brandon Jackson – Proved in 2008 that he had some ability but no challenge to Grant as the starter.
  54. Kevin Faulk – Best of luck figuring out when he will have a big game.
  55. Laurence Maroney – Looks like Tarzan, can play like Tarzan but more brittle than melba toast.
  56. Jerome Harrison – Cleveland’s only backup and Lewis is getting old.
  57. T.J. Duckett – He’ll get some TD’s but not much else.
  58. Kolby Smith – Could produce if Johnson is traded.
  59. Greg Jones – Currently the top backup in Jacksonville.
  60. LaMont Jordan – Buckhalter is unlikely to last 16 games.

Tight End Rankings

By: — March 24, 2009 @ 12:06 pm
Filed under: Forecast

In 2008, tight ends basically were grouped in five different tiers. In the top tier, there was one player and that was Tony Gonzalez of the Chiefs with over 1,000 yards receiving and ten touchdowns.

The second tier consisted of the Cowboys’ Jason Witten, Dallas Clark of the Colts and Antonio Gates of the Chargers. Each of these players was held back by injury at some point in the season or else they might have joined Gonzalez in the top tier.

That was followed up the threesome of Visanthe Shiancoe (Vikings), Owen Daniels (Texans) and rookie John Carlson of the Seahawks. Shiancoe and Daniels enjoyed career seasons while Carlson benefitted from the injury issues Seattle had at wide receiver.

The next tier included Greg Olsen, Anthony Fasano, Zach Miller, Chris Cooley and Tony Scheffler. Cooley was a bit of a disappointment and Fasano was a revelation although he was very inconsistent. Olsen, Miller and Scheffler were all young players who continued their ascension up the tight end ranks.

After that, it was a cast of disappointments like Kellen Winslow and Heath Miller or players with mediocre skills or who weren’t quite ready for prime time like Kevin Boss.

With the top tight ends significantly outscoring those in the third and fourth tiers, it is position worth using a reasonably high draft pick or auction dollars on. The top four or five tight ends figure to outscore players below them significantly in 2009 so they are worth spending resources on to secure their services in your fantasy starting line-up. Just don’t go overboard in doing so.

  1. Jason Witten – Five total points in games without Tony Romo plus Terrell Owens is gone.
  2. Dallas Clark – Could have huge year if his red zone targets increase.
  3. Tony Gonzalez – Hard to see him duplicating his 2008 performance.
  4. Antonio Gates – Averaged over 120 targets between 2004-2007, only 92 in 2008.
  5. Owen Daniels – 862 yards in 2008 with only two TDs, but that should increase in 2009.
  6. Kellen Winslow – QB issues in Tampa but should rebound from an off year in 2008.
  7. Chris Cooley – Elite status not likely given poor 2nd half performance by the Washington offense.
  8. Greg Olsen – This should be the year he relegates Desmond Clark to the bench.
  9. John Carlson – Targets should be down with T.J. Houshmandzadeh signing, and a healthy Deion Branch and Nate Burleson.
  10. Tony Scheffler – Could be higher but what team will he be on in 2009?
  11. Visanthe Shiancoe – Don’t expect seven TD’s in 2009.
  12. Zach Miller – Bad offense in Oakland holds him back.
  13. Kevin Boss – Giant offense might be without Plaxico Burress but replacement is likely.
  14. Dustin Keller – Expect lots of catches but few TD’s unless the QB situation changes.
  15. Heath Miller – Better prospects in 2009 with Nate Washington gone but still a fantasy backup.
  16. Brent Celek – Could be in for a big year but plenty of options in Philly.
  17. Jeremy Shockey – Just a bit part in the New Orleans offense.
  18. Bo Scaife – Solid receiving tight end but doesn’t get enough targets.
  19. Vernon Davis – Doesn’t taste as good as it looks in the wrapper.
  20. Randy McMichael – Torry Holt is gone and remaining receivers are young.
  21. Anthony Fasano – Boom or bust and unlikely to get seven TDs in 2009.
  22. David Martin – Decent player playing part-time.
  23. Benjamin Watson – See Vernon Davis.
  24. Donald Lee – Solid in 2007 but an afterthought in 2008.
  25. Todd Heap – More of a blocker now and will split time with L.J. Smith.
  26. Jerramy Stevens – Decent option given his skills and Winslow’s injury history.
  27. Martellus Bennett – Talented player could produce with Owens gone and better understanding of the playbook.
  28. L.J. Smith – See Todd Heap.
  29. Marcedes Lewis – The light hasn’t gone on yet, and it is unlikely to now.
  30. Billy Miller – Solid producer when Shockey was out of the lineup in 2008.

Raiders Get Satele From Dolphins

By: — @ 7:44 am
Filed under: Free Agents

Despite starting every game for the Dolphins during his first two years in the league, Samson Satele was traded to the Raiders. The writing has been on the wall for Satele over the last few weeks, when comments from general manager Bill Parcells surfaced that he wasn’t pleased with the center’s ability to handle the mammoth nose tackles employed by the Patriots (Vince Wilfork) and Jets (Kris Jenkins). And, as everybody knows, once the Big Tuna decides you’re not cutting it, it’s time to pack your bags.

Satele’s release continues Parcells dramatic roster turnover of the Dolphins as he brings in players that fit the description of what he wants at each position, which generally means bigger is better. The former 2nd round pick was well regarded by the previous regime of Randy Mueller and Cam Cameron but wasn’t as big or as physical as Parcells prefers his offensive linemen to be. For reference sake, consider the Cowboys massive offensive line prior to Parcells leaving Dallas.

The Raiders thought enough of Satele to move their 6th round pick in this years draft to the Dolphins and also swap 4th rounders, which allows Miami to move up 18 spots in that round. Nonetheless, this trade shapes up as a decent one for Oakland considering they acquire a former 2nd round pick with two years of starting experience who fits their scheme well and who carries the league minimum salaries over the final two years of his rookie contract.

Fantasy Football Impact

The Raiders have struggled to find a center for a number of years going through Barret Robbins, Adam Treu, Jake Grove, Jeremy Newberry and John Wade. It would be a major surprise if Satele isn’t the team’s starter on opening day and he figures to provide stability at the position for the next two years.

The team still needs to solidify a starting offensive line that currently lists starters from left to right as Khalif Barnes, Robert Gallery, Satele, Cooper Carlisle and Cornell Green. Green’s roster spot is in jeopardy courtesy of domestic battery charges coupled with the team’s acquisition of Barnes and former Broncos right tackle Erik Pears in free agency. With 2007 3rd round pick Mario Henderson also in the mix at tackle, this unit figures to improve on its performance in 2008. That would bode well for the impressive running back trio of Darren McFadden, Michael Bush and Justin Fargas.

Browns Bring Back WR Patten

By: — March 23, 2009 @ 9:15 pm
Filed under: Free Agents

Desperate for help at wide receiver, the Browns brought David Patten back into the fold in an effort to shore up depth at the position. With Donte Stallworth’s availability in doubt given his pending legal issues, Patten’s signing provides insurance at the position and also increases the likelihood of the team releasing Stallworth and perhaps moving Braylon Edwards in a trade.

Productive in 2007 with 54 receptions for 792 yards and three touchdowns, Patten was relegated to a backup role last year. He was inactive for 11 of the New Orleans Saints’ last 12 games due to the emergence of Lance Moore, Devery Henderson and Robert Meachem.

Patten’s main role in Cleveland figures to be that of a backup and mentor to the team’s young receivers, particularly the enigmatic Edwards, who has been linked in trade rumors involving the Giants.

Fantasy Football Impact

Patten still possesses deep speed but can’t be expected to hold up as a productive starter for 16 games. However, he can show young wideouts like Edwards, Josh Cribbs and 2008 7th round pick Syndric Steptoe how to be professional and productive in the league.

Quarterback Rankings

By: — @ 12:15 pm
Filed under: Forecast

With teams now focused on the owners meetings and draft preparations well underway, free agents signings have slowed to a crawl and there has been little football news to relay, in particular with much of a fantasy football impact. Therefore, lets fill the void with my initial 2009 fantasy football rankings, kicking off with the quarterback position. These are re-draft league rankings, and certainly subject to change by the time July, August and September roll around, but they make for some dandy discussion right now.

In standard scoring leagues last summer, quarterbacks took the top two positions, six of the top eight, seven of the top ten and ten of the top 20 positions. What does this mean? It means that this position is typically going to be overvalued in all leagues but particularly so in ten team leagues. In leagues with twelve or more teams, then you probably don’t want to be the last person holding the bag before drafting your starting QB. Probably.

In general, with so many quarterbacks scoring so well in standard formats, there is no need to draft one too high or overpay for one in your auction.

  1. Drew Brees – With a healthy Reggie Bush and more experience for the teams young receivers, Brees gets the nod at top spot.
  2. Aaron Rodgers – Ryan Grant should be better and the team returns its top four receivers, all talented receivers to boot.
  3. Philip Rivers – A full year of a healthy Antonio Gates will help make Rivers even more prolific.
  4. Tom Brady – He’s back and so are Randy Moss and Wes Welker. The knee remains a concern.
  5. Kurt Warner – The Cards return its offensive nucleus and should add offensive line and running back talent in the draft.
  6. Peyton Manning – A year older and no proven talent at backup wide receiver.
  7. Jay Cutler – Key pieces return on offense but drama with the new head coach could be an issue
  8. Tony Romo – Terrell Owens departure leaves the team thin at receiver but a healthy Marion Barber would nearly even that out.
  9. Matt Schaub – Perfect candidate to vault into the top five if he could ever manage to play 16 games.
  10. Donovan McNabb – Underrated every year, but could suffer this season if a decent left tackle isn’t found in the draft or free agency.
  11. Matt Hasselbeck – Injury issues and age are red flags, but T.J. Houshmandzadeh, Deion Branch, Nate Burleson and John Carlson form a solid nucleus of receivers.
  12. Chad Pennington – Enjoyed a solid season in 2008 despite lack of talent at wide receiver. Benefits from no late season bad weather in Miami.
  13. Carson Palmer – With no Houshmandzadeh, an offensive line in flux and Cedric Benson as the current starter at running back, Palmer has a lot of forces working against him.
  14. Jason Campbell – This might be Campell’s last chance to put it together. He is going to need contributions from the youngsters Malcolm Kelly and Devin Thomas.
  15. Eli Manning – A perennial fantasy underachiever, who averaged less than 10 points per game without Plaxico Burress.
  16. Ben Roethlisberger – Average, steady production. Doesn’t need to throw a lot of passes with his defense and loses his top deep threat in Nate Washington.
  17. David Garrard – Had surprisingly strong season totals in 2008 thanks to the rushing yards. The team’s current wideouts are a major cause for concern.
  18. Matt Cassel – Could (better) match Tyler Thigpen’s production provided Tony Gonzalez, Larry Johnson and Brian Waters aren’t traded.
  19. Trent Edwards – Finally gets a 2nd option at receiver and one big enough to move the chains (Terrell Owens, in case you missed the memo).
  20. Matt Ryan – A sophomore slump is unlikely but the Falcons are a running team.
  21. Joe Flacco – Ditto Ryan.
  22. Kyle Orton – He is what he is, receivers are what they are. It’s mediocrity everywhere and Frank Omiyale at right tackle.
  23. Jake Delhomme – His receivers are a year older and his running backs are a year better. More ground and pound from the Panthers.
  24. Brady Quinn – Prospects seemed reasonable prior to the Winslow trade. Now, not so much.
  25. JaMarcus Russell – The team’s major strength is at running back. Russell’s wide receivers are just awful.
  26. Shaun Hill – Head coach Mike Singletary made it clear he wants to pound the rock and play defense. Youngster Josh Morgan is not exactly a number one receiver, yet.
  27. Kerry Collins – Unless the running game struggles, which seems doubtful, Collins won’t have an opportunity to produce big numbers.
  28. Sage Rosenfels – His upside is limited with the team’s emphasis on the running game.
  29. Marc Bulger – An offensive line in flux and the youngest group of top three wide receivers in the league spells potential disaster.
  30. Luke McCown – Surrounded by decent talent but his accuracy is an issue.
  31. Daunte Culpepper – One receiver, albeit a potentially great one, a decent running game and below average offensive line. Discount for the Lions factor.
  32. Kellen Clemens – Hello to the worst current starter in terms of fantasy potential. When the rubber hits the road, you’ll be drafting some backup QB with a high upside ahead of Clemens.

Current backups who could produce if given an opportunity include Matt Leinart, Chris Simms, Vince Young, Derek Anderson, Kevin Kolb, Alex Smith and Tarvaris Jackson.

FB Weaver Finally Signs with Eagles

By: — March 20, 2009 @ 8:18 pm
Filed under: Free Agents

The Eagles and fullback Leonard Weaver finally agreed to contract terms, ending the former Seahawks first foray in free agency. Plenty of teams were interested in the multi-dimensional player but it appears, as is generally the case with fullbacks around the league, no teams were willing to sacrifice much salary cap space on the position. ESPN is reporting the deal is for one year and $1.75-million with the opportunity to earn additional $750,000 in incentives.

Weaver’s skills are perfectly suited as a fullback in the West Coast offense but it remains to be seen whether Eagles head coach Andy Reid will utilize Weaver in a meaningful way. With the Seahawks, Weaver was employed as a receiver out of the backfield and as a runner and blocker in short yardage.

The Eagles struggled mightily in short yardage last season and Weaver figures to help out in that area. However, Reid’s preference is to run three wide receiver sets so Weaver’s role in the base offense will likely be to spell Brian Westbrook and contribute in short yardage as a blocker for Westbrook and running behind incumbent fullbacks Dan Klecko and Kyle Eckel, provided they are on the team’s roster come opening day. Although Weaver isn’t a dominant blocker, he’s certainly serviceable and provides a better combination of agility and power than any player the team employed in that role in 2008.

Weaver’s presence on the roster also provides the team additional flexibility on draft day given the many roles he can play. The team doesn’t necessarily have to use picks on both the running back and tight end positions, given Weaver’s running skills and usefulness as a check down option in the passing game.

Fantasy Football Impact

With the team returning Westbrook and its top five wide receivers in DeSean Jackson, Kevin Curtis, Hank Baskett, Jason Avant and Reggie Brown and tight end Brent Celek a solid option as a receiving tight end, it is almost impossible to imagine Weaver getting more than a handful of touches per game. If Westbrook continues to struggle in short yardage, Weaver could vulture some rushing touchdowns but even that is difficult to imagine.

Nonetheless, Westbrook will be 30 by the time the season starts and he does have an injury history. With the only other backup option being the underwhelming Lorenzo Booker, Weaver figures to be in the mix as Westbrook’s handcuff in 2009 provided the team doesn’t expend a first day draft pick on the position in the draft.

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