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Week 3 Moving Up, Moving Down

By: — September 29, 2009 @ 11:47 am
Filed under: Player Analysis

Week 3 of fantasy football season is in the books and it was an interesting week. While some players rebounded from a poor start to the season (Matt Forte, Steve Slaton, Santana Moss), others confirmed that it might be a long season for their fantasy owners (hello Clinton Portis, Terrell Owens and Darren McFadden). Plus, there were a couple of players who cemented their status with solid performances. Let’s get to them off the top.

Moving Up

  • Cedric Benson, Bengals – It’s official: Benson has arrived. After solid performances against the Broncos and Packers, Benson faced a stiff test this week against the Steelers and put up 76 yards and a TD on the ground. Here’s what you need to know. The Bengals defense is solid, Benson isn’t splitting time, he’s scoring against solid defenses, he’s second in the league in touches to Fred Jackson and I can’t find a reason why any of this would change.
  • Willis McGahee, Ravens – Fantasy afterthought to RB1 status. My how things can change in only three weeks. Whereas the Ravens backfield was a three-headed fantasy mess in 2008, the roles are clearly defined this year. Ray Rice gets the work between the 20’s while McGahee spells him, gets the goal line work and finishes games off. With 6 TD in 3 games, McGahee is the leading candidate for Fantasy’s Comeback Player of the Year Award (there’s no such award but it sounds nice and helps my argument).
  • Ray Rice, Ravens – McGahee is getting all the pub in fantasy circles because he’s such been such a surprise. However, Rice is on pace for 1,475 combined yards and 5 TD which makes him a solid RB2.
  • Santana Moss, Redskins – He wasn’t listed as moving down after putting up just five catches for 41 yards over the first two games because of his well earned reputation for being streaky. However, it was nice to see that head coach Jim Zorn finally figured out how to get him more involved this week against the Lions to the tune of 10 receptions for 178 yards and a score.
  • Pierre Thomas, Saints – What is there to say? Whoever runs the ball for New Orleans is apparently guaranteed of putting up a stud performance. Thomas notched 24 fantasy points this week (124 yards and 2 TD) on just 14 touches. It’s worth noting that one of Thomas and Mike Bell have had a significant injury in every game this season so we don’t yet know how head coach Sean Payton will split the carries. Nonetheless, Thomas was supposed to be the starter entering the season and this performance was good enough for him to continue in that role.
  • Knowshon Moreno, Broncos – Moreno and Correll Buckhalter split the carries in Week 1 but it’s been close to a 2-1 split since then in favour of Moreno and he has 24 fantasy points over the last two weeks. The next 8 weeks look tough with only the Chargers (twice) looking like a nice matchup but the last four weeks of the season could be bountiful for Moreno owners (Chiefs, Colts, Raiders, Eagles).
  • Joe Flacco, Ravens – Flacco is off to a phenomenal start in his sophomore season and is averaging 280 passing yards and 2 TD per game. He hasn’t faced great defenses (Chiefs, Chargers and Browns) and there is an argument to sell high on him but he’s been much better than anticipated. While Matt Ryan was the consensus bust out sophomore QB candidate in most fantasy circles (not here), it looks like Flacco may take that title from him. Unfortunately, we can’t say we predicted that either.
  • Donald Brown, Colts – It’s officially a time share in Indy. Joseph Addai has had more touches every week but the difference has been reduced each week (9 to 2 to 1). Although Addai seems to be getting more red zone work, Brown is finishing off the games.
  • Brent Celek, Eagles – I liked him before the season (12th ranked TE) and I like him even more now. He’s had a pile of targets and converted them into 22 catches for 245 yards and 2 TD. The Eagles offense is moving and Celek is their leading receiver thus far.
  • Donald Driver, Packers – Defenses have been rolling coverages towards Greg Jennings and Driver is taking advantage of it. At 34 years old entering the season, Driver seemed like a candidate for a drop off but he’s on pace for his best season since 2006.
  • Ahmad Bradshaw, Giants – I wasn’t sold on Bradshaw entering the season, not because he isn’t talented but more because of his off the field issues and uncertainty surrounding how much trust the team would place on him. However, he went over 100 yards this week against the Bucs and is on pace to better Derrick Ward‘s 1,025 rushing yard campaign of a year ago. Unfortunately, he hasn’t found the end zone yet, a problem Ward also had a year ago when he only scored twice.
  • Willie Parker, Steelers – I wrote him off last week and then he puts up 93 yards on the ground to go along with 36 and a TD through the air. He’s still RB3 material and you should peddle him if the matchups aren’t good for the weeks when your starters have byes.
  • Glen Coffee, 49ers – The 3rd round pick was all the rage in the preseason but the buzz died down once he put up 10 yards on 10 carries over the first two weeks of the season. Coffee struggled this week against the Vikings tough run defense, putting up just 54 yards on 25 carries after subbing in for an injured Frank Gore. With Gore expected to miss time with an ankle strain, Coffee looks like a solid Week 4 play against a struggling Rams team.
  • LeSean McCoy, Eagles – With Brian Westbrook out with inflammation in his ankle, McCoy stepped up this week against the Chiefs, posting 20 carries for 84 yards and a TD. McCoy also ran well in Week 1 against the Panthers. With Westbrook showing signs of wear and tear, McCoy is a must have handcuff and a decent option in deep flex leagues.
  • Pierre Garcon, Colts – I said last week that Garcon may see significant time over the remainder of the season and he backed that up this week with 3 receptions for 64 yards and a nice TD.
  • Jerome Harrison, Browns – With Jamal Lewis out with a hamstring injury, Harrison put up 85 yards on 21 touches against a tough Ravens defense. Rookie 6th round pick James Davis was relegated to the backup role behind Harrison and didn’t see significant time. With the Browns likely to struggle this season and uncertainty whether the 30-year old Lewis is in the team’s plans for next season, Harrison’s role could expand as the season progresses.

Moving Down

  • Clinton Portis, Redskins – It was understandable that Portis struggled in Week 1 against the Giants but over the last two weeks against the Rams and Lions he put up 136 total yards and 0 TD. The Redskins had success through the air this week so there is some hope but the offensive line isn’t opening up any holes on the ground and Portis might finally be in decline.
  • Terrell Owens, Bills – T.O. had his first 0-fer this week since Week 7 of his rookie season back in 1996, ending his consecutive games with a reception streak at 185. Surprisingly, Mount Owens didn’t erupt during his post-game press conference. But, yes, it is coming. The eruption, that is, not necessarily the production. T.O. hasn’t topped 100 yards FOR THE SEASON and rookie offensive coordinator Alex Van Pelt doesn’t seem to know how to get him involved.
  • Michael Turner, Falcons – It’s not so much that Turner hasn’t produced because he is on pace for just over 1,200 yards and 11 TD, which is fine production from your RB1. However, it’s also a far cry from last year’s 1,699 yard, 17 TD performance. With no truly bad defenses on the horizon until week 12 (the Bucs), it’s highly unlikely that Turner is going to approach his numbers from last year.
  • Tom Brady, Patriots – Similar theme to Turner. The good news this week was that the team found a way to pass protect. The bad news is that they had to settle for 4 FG to go along with 2 TD. A couple of years ago, this would have been a 42-10 thrashing of the Falcons. Brady isn’t quite as accurate as he used to be, Moss isn’t quite as explosive, Welker may be iffy all year and Joey Galloway better improve or he’s headed for the unemployment line (7 receptions for 67 yards on 19 targets).
  • Darren McFadden, Raiders – The 3 fumbles this week (4 on the year) aren’t going to cause McFadden to go to the bench because the Raiders aren’t going anywhere this year anyway. The problem is that the offense led by JaMarcus Russell is simply putrid and finding somebody now willing to predict a breakout year for McFadden is like looking for a needle in a haystack.
  • T.J. Houshmandzadeh, Seahawks – With 145 yards and 0 TD over three games, he is on pace for just 77 fantasy points. He isn’t even the Seahawks best receiver (Nate Burleson is). Just saying.
  • Darren Sproles, Chargers – I honestly never thought he was up to the task of replacing LaDainian Tomlinson and the last 2 games proved it. Removing his 81-yard TD against the Ravens which was courtesy of a blown coverage, Sproles had just 124 combined yards and 0 TD in his two starts. LT owners can breathe easy that Sproles won’t be taking the job other than because of injury.
  • Chris Wells, Cardinals – It didn’t help that the Cardinals got behind early but the bottom line is that he fumbled twice in Week 2 and got 2 carries in Week 3. I guess there’s a reason they made him carry a football around all week and sent a message in how he was used this week. His time is coming but it might be further off than originally thought.
  • Ted Ginn Jr., Dolphins – Ginn was moving up last week courtesy of an 11 reception, 108 yard performance in Week 2. However, he dropped a couple this week (one was difficult) and figures to suffer with Chad Henne stepping in for Chad Pennington, who suffered a shoulder injury this week and is out for the season.
  • Donnie Avery, Rams – The plus for Avery owners is that Laurent Robinson went out a knee injury and may miss significant time. The bad news is that Robinson went down early this week and Avery still didn’t produce (3 catches for 12 yards). At this point, it’s safe to conclude that the ankle injury he suffered during the preseason is still affecting his performance.
  • Chris Chambers, Chargers – I wrote him off last week and he had no catches on 3 targets this week. I like it when that happens. I just wish it would happen more.
  • Chris Brown, Texans – When you’re the goal line back, you’re not supposed to fumble at the opponents 1-yard line with time winding down. Sorry but that’s just the way it is. It also doesn’t help when you haven’t scored a TD in three weeks. With the Texans offense looking like a potential juggernaut entering the season and Brown expected to get the goal line work, he seemed like a decent flex option. Now, not so much.
  • Randy McMichael, Rams – He’s had some bad drops over the last two weeks and with Robinson out, Avery struggling and the team needing a big play, they twice went to backup TE Daniel Fells on out and up calls. End result – 2 TD for Fells and the end of McMichael’s fantasy relevance.

Not Sold Yet

  • Julius Jones, Seahawks – It’s time for some honesty. There are only two categories you will see Jones in this year. One is Not Sold Yet and the other is Moving Down. It just doesn’t matter what he does. I’ve been burned too many times. Go somewhere else if you want objectivity on Jones.
  • Nate Burleson, Seahawks – I said above that he is the Seahawks best receiver. That doesn’t mean I’m sold on him. In fact, I probably never will be but the bottom line is that he has 33 targets in 3 weeks and he’s putting up some numbers.
  • Felix Jones, Cowboys – Watching the game on Monday night, I had decided it was a good idea to trade for Jones in one of my dynasty leagues. Then Jon Gruden said he was hurt. Which made me think, this guy is always hurt. On talent, he looks like the Cowboys best RB but I’d like to see him stay healthy for a few weeks before I make a move for him.
  • Vernon Davis, 49ers – Davis had by far his best day as a pro this week, posting 96 receiving yards and 2 TD. The last time Davis scored double digit fantasy points was during Week 15. Of the 2007 season. In 43 career games, he’s hit double digit fantasy points 5 times. In case you’re not good at math, I’ll spell it out. Using the law of averages, he is likely to score double digit fantasy points one more time this season.

Week 3 Buy Low, Sell High

By: — September 24, 2009 @ 11:29 am
Filed under: Player Analysis

Week 2 of the fantasy season has come to a close and there are likely numerous 0-2 teams whose owners are wondering what exactly happened at your league’s draft or auction. Although they aren’t likely ripe for the picking just yet, there’s always a chance they are ready to pull the trigger and give up on a player or players they were high on.

With a number of high profile players struggling to get fantasy points due mainly to poor schedules, it’s time to get aggressive on the trade front. As my gramma used to say, “if you snooze, you lose.”

Sell High

Cedric Benson, Bengals – Benson is here reluctantly and let me explain why. You likely got him cheaply in your draft or auction, he’s coming off two solid games and there are a number of disappointing backs whose owners would love to get some RB depth. The downside is that the Bengals will face the Ravens and Steelers twice and the Vikings once over the remainder of their schedule and last year they were not able to run against solid run defenses. Maybe that’s changed, maybe not. Benson’s likely your third back so check out when you need him. If those matchups aren’t favourable, move him now before his week 3 matchup against the Steelers.

Ronnie Brown, Dolphins – Hey, Brown is coming off a 2 TD, 136 yard performance – what’s not to like? Well, Ricky Williams showed Monday night why the platoon system in Miami isn’t going away any time soon. He’s too good to sit on the bench. The Dolphins run plenty so Brown will be useful against bad or mediocre run defenses but will likely have a number of 40-50 yard, 0 TD performances given their schedule. He’s worth hanging on to this week since they face a severely run challenged Charger defense. After that, it might be time to unload him.

Tim Hightower, Cardinals – Hightower is coming off two nice games. He benefitted in week 1 because the Chargers were hurting at wide receiver and playing from behind, hence his 121 yards receiving. In week 2, they got ahead early and ran often plus backup Chris Wells fumbled twice, hence 72 yards and a TD on the ground for Hightower. The schedule is soft with the Colts, Texans and Seahawks up next so his value could be up. Unfortunately, that could prove fatal if Wells moves ahead of Hightower on the depth chart during that time.

Cadillac Williams, Bucs – Williams is clearly a great story and his fantasy owners definitely got him on their rosters for ten cents on the dollar. However, he struggled in week 2 against a Bills run defense without Paul Posluszny at middle linebacker. His fantasy stats were saved by 56 yards and a TD through the air but that won’t happen many weeks. If Caddy is your RB4 and a team wants him as their RB3 and is willing to pay up, kiss him goodbye.

Trent Edwards, Bills – After two weeks, Edwards is the 8th ranked QB for fantasy purposes. However he has put up decent numbers against a Pats defense that struggled week 1 and a Bucs defense that might struggle all year. Bottom line is that he’s known as Mr. Checkdown for a reason and the weather in Buffalo isn’t exactly balmy in November and December. If someone is buying, you should be selling.

Buy Low

Matt Forte, Bears – Forte will likely never be considered a top five back in terms of talent but he is good enough to succeed in the NFL. He had an impressive rookie season but has struggled during the first two weeks of the season. However, Forte is ready to come out of his slumber with the Seahawks, Lions, Browns, Bengals and Cardinals on the schedule during the Bears next six games. Basically, it’s buy now on Forte before his stock begins to rise. It’s worth noting the Bears face the Ravens and Vikings in weeks 15 and 16.

Steve Slaton, Titans – Slaton’s poor start is even more understandable than Forte’s given he has had to face the Jets and Titans. However, head coach Gary Kubiak called him out this week, hinting the team was disappointed not to have signed Cedric Benson in the offseason. Ouch. With that extra piece of motivation and the Jags, Raiders, Cards and Bengals up next, Slaton should get it going. Week 14-16 matchups against the Seahawks, Rams and Dolphins enhance his attractiveness.

Brandon Jacobs, Giants – 121 total yards and 0 TD in two weeks isn’t what Jacobs owners envisioned. With the Giants surprisingly effective in the passing game and struggling on the ground, Jacbobs owners have to be concerned about the effectiveness of the team’s offensive line and the coming of age passing game. It says here that these are aberrations and the running game will click into high gear for the next several weeks with the Bucs, Chiefs, Raiders, Saints and Cards next on tap. Get aggressive on this one.

Brandon Marshall and Eddie Royal, Broncos – Marshall occupied this slot last week and this week he’s joined by his running mate in Denver. Both have been major fantasy disappointments but are too talented not to get it going. Marshall obviously carries some additional risk (editorial restraints restrict from listing all of his issues) but there’s a reason he caught 206 passes over the last two years. If you think Marshall and Royal are too good to be in a rotation with Brandon Stokley and Jabar Gaffney (and you should), then take a look at these two guys.

Carson Palmer, Bengals – With four picks in two games, the rust is clearly showing. However, the Bengals go four deep at wide receiver and Palmer is a big time talent. With Benson running well, the team’s offense could surprise this year provided the offensive line holds up its end of the bargain (no guarantee, mind you). If Palmer struggles this week against the Steelers, see what it would take to get him.

Fred Jackson, Bills – This one is for flex leagues only. He’s not here for poor performance but if Jackson’s owner is fixated on the fact Marshawn Lynch returns in week 4, then grab him. After two weeks, he has earned additional playing time when Lynch returns and there is no reason for Bills coaches to rush Lynch into the mix given Jackson’s outstanding performance. More likely, they will ease Lynch into the game plan, making Jackson pretty attractive over the next few weeks.

Donnie Avery, Rams – This isn’t a ringing endorsement for Avery. He’s been horrible over two weeks but he is the team’s most talented wide receiver. Sorry folks, there’s a reason the Falcons gave up on Laurent Robinson although he has looked good. Odds are decent that he’s available on the waiver wire in some leagues or viewed as a WR5 on many rosters. He’s worth taking a shot on if you can get him cheap.

Hold Tight

Willis McGahee, Ravens – Generally drafted as a RB3 or RB4, McGahee is looking like gold after two weeks. We had him as a sell high last week but he ran well this week and looked better than Ray Rice did. Plus, he’s been getting the goal line work.

Week 2 Moving Up, Moving Down

By: — September 22, 2009 @ 1:56 pm
Filed under: Player Analysis

Week 1 in the NFL schedule generally is the one week of the season that you can put on the shelf and ignore. With teams not getting truly ready for the opening of the season due to injury concerns (hey, no point in losing your $15-million a year QB in the first game), upsets, shoddy play and poor performances are plentiful. However, by the end of week 2, trends are beginning to form. After week 1, it was a fluke that Willis McGahee scored 2 TD. After week 2, not so much.

Moving Up

  • Willis McGahee, Ravens – After his 2 TD performance in week 1, I thought he may have had his last 2 TD performance of the year. This week, McGahee not only had 2 TD against an admittedly banged up Chargers defense but he topped Ray Rice in carries, 15 to 8, and got the end of game work. This was his best performance since his time in Buffalo.
  • Kevin Kolb, Eagles – I had him down for 210 yards and 2 TD this week and he surpassed that by 181 yards. The 3 interceptions don’t help in leagues that take points away for INTs. However, he looked capable and Donovan McNabb owners can stick him in there this week against the Chiefs if McNabb isn’t ready and their backup is weak.
  • Fred Jackson, Bills – Two games, 328 total yards and a TD. Jackson’s play will almost certainly result in him retaining a significant role in the offense when Marshawn Lynch returns. Plus, with Jackson performing, look for the coaching staff to bring Lynch along slowly when he does return.
  • Santonio Holmes, Steelers – I wasn’t sold on Holmes entering the season mostly because of his history of inconsistent performances. However, after two solid games (14 receptions, 214 yards, 1 TD), it looks like he’s ready to contribute on a regular basis.
  • Felix Jones, Cowboys – This week, Marion Barber reminded us how injury prone he is (strained left quadriceps) and Jones reminded us how explosive he is (7 carries for 96 yards and a TD).
  • Ben Roethlisberger, Steelers – Well, the Steelers can’t run the ball so they’re going to have to throw it. Sometimes it’s that simple.
  • Mario Manningham, Giants – Last week, we had Domenik Hixon in the moving down section and that seems prescient given Manningham’s 10 reception, 150 yard, 1 TD performance against Dallas on Sunday night. Steve Smith is getting more targets but Manningham is the team’s best big play threat at wide receiver and TDs in consecutive games likely warrant the coaching staff getting him involved on a weekly basis.
  • Ted Ginn Jr., Dolphins – Ginn has clearly established himself as Chad Pennington‘s go to wideout. Although he is inconsistent and not a solid starter every week, Ginn looks capable of putting up solid numbers against mediocre and suspect secondaries.
  • Laurent Robinson, Rams – Robinson followed up his 87 yard week 1 performance with 54 yards and a TD this week against the Redskins. The TD came in the end zone where he utilized his size to outleap DeAngelo Hall. With Donnie Avery looking abysmal, Keenan Burton a non-factor and Randy McMichael not exactly having a renaissance season, Robinson figures to get plenty of targets.
  • Mike Sims-Walker, Jaguars – The good news is that he caught 6 balls for 106 yards and a TD. The bad news is that it was in garbage time. The question is whether you think the Jags will be throwing it a lot in garbage time this year. It says here they will.
  • Pierre Garcon, Colts – Nice little TD run on Monday night plus it sounds like the Colts coaches are high on this guy. With Collie more of a slot player and Gonzalez also best suited in the slot, there is a decent chance Garcon could see significant time lined up outside for the remainder of the season.
  • Justin Forsett, Seahawks – Julius Jones is fantasy football’s Jekyll and Hyde. Gangbusters in week 1 against the Rams and then 9 yards on 11 touches this week (okay, he did get a receiving TD). Forsett stepped in with 92 yards on 11 touches. In deep leagues, he’s worth taking a flyer on.

Moving Down

  • Matt Forte, Bears – It’s not so much that he had 29 yards on 13 carries against the Steelers. The bigger issue is that he had 55 yards on 25 carries against the Packers in week 1 and Cedric Benson put up 141 yards on 29 carries against Green Bay this week.
  • Steve Slaton, Texans – Slaton and the entire Texans offense looked overmatched in week 1 against the Jets. However, while the passing game bounced back in week 2 against the Titans, Slaton did not, with 34 yards on 17 carries. After two games, he is averaging less than 2 yards per carry and has 51 yards rushing.
  • Tom Brady, Patriots – Brady looked rusty in the first half against the Bills and the Jets neutralized the Pats passing game through a combination of blitzes and Darrelle Revis blanketing Randy Moss. Not every team has a Revis at their disposal but Brady can expect to see plenty of blitzes until his offensive line play improves. Matt Light looked especially bad this week. Julian Edelman looked decent this week but Wes Welker is Brady’s main option on blitzes and Brady will suffer until Welker returns.
  • Carson Palmer, Bengals – His week 1 performance could be chalked up to being rusty but after two weeks, Palmer has just 432 yards and has thrown 4 picks and 3 TD. What’s really ugly is that it came against the Broncos and the Packers. What to expect against the Ravens and Steelers? Exactly.
  • Thomas Jones and Leon Washington, Jets – For the Jets talented running back duo, it’s pick your fantasy poison. They’re going to split the carries with Jones getting the goal line work and the explosive Washington getting more opportunities in the passing game. It kills the value of both.
  • Willie Parker, Steelers – It’s not a sin to struggle against the Titans and Bears run defenses (66 yards on 27 carries, 0 TD). While there were reports Parker had hamstring problems, the bottom line is that he looks bad running the ball and offers nothing as a pass catcher. His straight line speed doesn’t seem to be there anymore. Worse yet, he’s leaving yards on the table due to a reluctance to run up the middle. Unless Parker improves, at some point, the team has to give 2008 1st round pick Rashard Mendenhall a shot.
  • Eddie Royal, Broncos – Seems like Royal is suffering a bit of a sophomore slump with five receptions for 38 yards in two games. The targets are there (13 in total) but the production isn’t.
  • Matt Hasselbeck, Seahawks – He had nice fantasy numbers in week 1 against the Rams but looked very bad in doing so (2 picks despite the Rams generating practically no pass rush). This week, he apparently suffered a fractured rib. Two weeks – ineffective once, hurt once. Oh yeah, he’s 34 and missed extensive time last year.
  • Lance Moore, Saints – Wasn’t sold on him in the preseason (ranked 42nd and cited as a potential bust), and certainly not sold now that he has 38 yards on 2 receptions in two games. Moore was blanked this week, suffered a hamstring injury and is getting about 20 snaps a game in the Saints wide receiver rotation of Marques Colston, Devery Henderson, Robert Meachem and Moore. Oh, there’s also Reggie Bush, Pierre Thomas and Mike Bell looking for touches in New Orleans.
  • Josh Morgan, 49ers – One of fantasy football’s biggest sleeper picks went 3 for 38 in week 1 and wasn’t targeted once in week 2. The bloom is off the rose.
  • JaMarcus Russell, Raiders – Russell was just 7 for 24, 109 yards this week against the lowly Chiefs. On the season, he has completed just 35.2% of his passes. So much for the hype surrounding his nice three week run at the end of last season (626 yards passing with 6 TD and 2 interceptions).
  • Chris Chambers, Chargers – Yeah, that’s right, I said he was a fantasy tease in the preseason (ranked 52nd) and he’s proven it after two games with nothing in week 1 and 30 yards this week. Despite 10 targets this week, he managed just 2 receptions. It’s worth noting that Malcom Floyd had two deep targets and hauled one of them in for 45 yards. At some point, the Chargers have to get Floyd or Legedu Naanee more involved at Chambers expense.

Not Sold Yet

  • Darren Sproles, Chargers – The good news is that Sproles had 17 touches for 150 yards and a TD against the tough Ravens defense and Michael Bennett only had 6 touches. The bad news is that 81 yards (and the TD) came on a screen pass where the defense blew the coverage and there has been no word on how long LT will be out.
  • Trent Edwards, Bills – Solid backup QB numbers with 442 passing yards and 4 TD augmented with 49 yards on the ground. However, his reluctance to go downfield leaves little upside.
  • Julian Edelman, Pats – Eight catches for 98 looks good. However, the bottom line is that Edelman is a pure slot receiver and not big enough to be successful outside, if you were thinking he could be moved there to replace the disappointing Joey Galloway. Think of him as Wes Welker’s backup. If Welker goes down for a lengthy period, Edelman is worth owning. Otherwise, forget about it.

Buy Low, Sell High

By: — September 18, 2009 @ 1:03 pm
Filed under: Player Analysis

Week 1 of the NFL season is in the books so its time for fantasy football enthusiasts to begin taking stock of their rosters. Inevitably, at least one or two owners in each league begin panicking that they have a weak roster.

With the waiver wire generally still plentiful in most leagues, owners can be reluctant to begin making trades. Unfortunately, that can leave you with a gaping mouth pointing toward your computer screen once the first few trades of the league get sent out by email. Move fast and avoid wondering why you didn’t offer up Thomas Jones for Steven Jackson to an owner who has lost his or her senses.

I’m not going to state the obvious here (move injured players, pick up their substitutes). We’re going to look at players that should be on rosters in all fantasy leagues. These are bargaining chips and trade targets.

Sell High

Thomas Jones

Thomas Jones

Thomas Jones, Jets – Jones looked good last season and he looked good in week 1 against the Texans. If there’s an owner in your league who now thinks that Mark Sanchez is the second coming of Joe Montana and Jones is ready for a repeat of his 1,300 yard, 13 TD season of a year ago, move him. He’s a decent second RB in your fantasy lineup but if somebody’s willing to overpay, take it.

Julius Jones, Seahawks – Let’s include both Jones brothers. There are a couple of bad defenses on the Seahawks schedule but overall it’s not looking pretty. With questions on the offensive line and Jones coming off a solid game against the Rams, it’s a good time to see what he’s worth.

Willis McGahee, Ravens – Ravens won’t be playing the Chiefs every week and McGahee may just have had his last multiple TD game of the season. The Ravens schedule is actually quite friendly over the first part of the season (Chargers, Browns, Patriots, Bengals, Vikings, Broncos, Bengals, Browns, Colts) so there is an argument to be made to hold onto McGahee and watch his value increase. If some RB needy team comes calling, sell high.

Joe Flacco, Ravens – Career day in week 1 for Flacco with 307 yards and 3 TD. The buzz is that the Ravens are going to throw plenty in 2009. Of course, maybe the Ravens coaches figured week one against the Chiefs was just the week to throw plenty. Just guessing.

Mark Sanchez, Jets – If there’s an owner in your league thinking Sanchez is going to put up nearly 300 yards and a TD every week, then it’s time to move him. Rookie QBs generally struggle and the Texans secondary is the weak spot on their defense, especially considering star cornerback Dunta Robinson missed all of the preseason.

Buy Low

Greg Olsen

Greg Olsen

Greg Olsen, Bears – Bears offensive coaches have poured over the game film and almost certainly figured out that 13 targets for Earl Bennett and only six for Olsen and four for Devin Hester is just a little out of whack. Olsen has been a bit of a fantasy tease for two years now so his owner just might be in panic mode.

Kurt Warner, Cardinals – Remarkably, the fantasy buzz is that Warner looked bad in week 1. However, 18 fantasy points seems pretty decent given that he was playing against a division opponent without Steve Breaston and with Anquan Boldin struggling mightily with hamstring issues.

Steven Jackson, Rams – Rams offense looked horrible and Jackson remarkably only had 16 touches with none of them coming through the air. Presumably they can’t be that bad and offensive coordinator Pat Shurmur will give Jackson more touches because, well, these things go hand in hand. Then again, it is the Rams.

Steve Smith, Panthers – Panthers offense struggled in week 1 courtesy of Jake Delhomme‘s five turnovers. Delhomme’s struggles affect Smith’s value but it’s doubtful he will be as putrid going forward as he was in week 1.

Brandon Marshall, Broncos – The fantasy world was down on Marshall before the season began and his stock dropped even further after a poor week 1 performance (4 receptions for 27 yards, 0 TD) against a suspect Bengals pass defense (presumably you saw the last second Brandon Stokley TD). However, Marshall missed most of training camp, wasn’t putting forth much of an effort when he was there and didn’t get a chance to develop any chemistry with his QB, who, by the way, was playing injured in week 1. It can only go up from here.

Week 1 Moving Up, Moving Down

By: — September 15, 2009 @ 3:20 pm
Filed under: Player Analysis

What a week to kick off the 2009 NFL season. Stud performances headlined by Drew Brees and Adrian Peterson, dud performances, key injuries, a Denver miracle in Cincinnati, a Buffalo collapse and finally, the Raiders looking respectable. For fantasy football purposes, here are the players moving up, moving down and ones that surprised, but lets keep our expectations in check.

Moving Up

  • Mike Bell, Saints – No touchdowns but a 143 yard performance in week one clearly establish that Bell is, at a minimum, the handcuff to Pierre Thomas. Plus, reports out of New Orleans suggest Thomas will have to earn his job back.
  • Thomas Jones, Jets – Jones didn’t look too promising in the pre-season courtesy of a rookie QB and no proven number two receivers. However, he posted 107 yards and 2 TD on the ground against the Texans.
  • Cadillac Williams and Derrick Ward, Bucs – The Bucs running back situation looks settled. Cadillac Williams and Derrick Ward will provide the 1-2 punch and split the goal line work.
  • Cedric Benson, Bengals – The guy everybody loves to hate put up 108 total yards and a TD and ran hard. If there’s a buy low candidate, Benson is likely it. There is a mounting evidence that he has become at least a servicable NFL running back.
  • Nate Burleson, Seahawks – With seven receptions for 74 yards and a TD, Burleson proved he has completely healed from a torn ACL suffered in week 1 of last season.
  • Mario Manningham, Giants – Three receptions for 58 yards, including a 30 yard TD is a nice start to the season. With rookie Hakeem Nicks out at least 2-3 weeks and Domenik Hixon not producing, Manningham has a chance to carve out a larger role in the Giants offense.
  • Austin Collie and Pierre Garcon, Colts – Anthony Gonzalez is out betweeen 2-6 weeks with a strained knee and perhaps for the season if he has a torn ACL. Collie and Garcon assume the 2-3 spots in the wide receiver rotation and it’s doubtful Reggie Wayne can go off for 10 receptions, 162 yards and a TD every week.
  • Mark Sanchez, Jets – Rookie jitters? Forget about it. 272 yards, a TD and a pick in his first game looks very promising.
  • Joe Flacco, Ravens – Established a career high with 307 yards plus a TD, indicating that the second year playcaller has earned the trust of offensive coordinator Cam Cameron.
  • Patrick Crayton, Cowboys – Crayton produces when he’s thrown to as indicated by his 135 yard, 1 TD performance. With Sam Hurd and Miles Austin not pushing for playing time, Crayton looks like excellent value.
  • Chansi Stuckey and Dustin Keller, Jets – With Sanchez playing well Stuckey and Keller each had solid games with Stuckey notching 64 yards and a TD and Keller totalling 94 yards.
  • Ben Watson, Patriots – Joey Galloway didn’t get Tom Brady‘s attention at all in week 1. Maybe this is the year Watson finally gets consistent targets.
  • Todd Heap, Ravens – It was the Chiefs but expectations were so low that you have to be impressed by his 5 reception, 74 yard plus a TD performance.
  • Mark Clayton, Ravens – Similar sentiments here with the talented but injury prone Clayton putting up 5 receptions for 77 yards and a TD despite not playing a single down in the pre-season because of a hamstring injury.
  • Earl Bennett, Bears – Seven receptions for 66 yards and it seemed like QB Jay Cutler was tossing it his way all night.
  • Andre Caldwell, Bengals – Laveranues Coles and Chris Henry had a catch each, while Caldwell hauled in 6 for 54 yards. Could be a solid option in PPR leagues.
  • Isaac Bruce, 49ers – Keep hearing about the team’s other receivers but Bruce put up 74 yards including a 50 yard catch.

Moving Down

  • Jake Delhomme, Panthers – You saw the highlights (lowlights). He has committed 11 turnovers in his last two games and might find himself on the bench unless he improves drastically in week 2 against the Falcons in Atlanta. Think the Panthers are regretting giving him $20-million guaranteed during the offseason?
  • Donovan McNabb, Eagles – Team figures to have a top five offense this season but McNabb won’t be leading it for a while courtesy of a cracked rib. He’s out at least a week but likely longer and you have to wonder how effective a QB can be while playing with this type of injury.
  • Ronnie Brown, Dolphins – It’s not that Brown looked particularly bad. It’s just that the offensive line did plus Brown had only 13 touches compared to 9 for Ricky Williams.
  • Earnest Graham, Bucs – One carry for 1 yard. It looks like he doesn’t have a role in Tampa Bay.
  • Sammy Morris, Patriots – No carries and apparently behind Laurence Maroney on the depth chart.
  • Hakeem Nicks and Domenik Hixon, Giants – The Giants are saying Nicks is out 2-3 weeks with a foot sprain but he was on crutches after the game. Sounds like the team is a little overoptimistic on his recovery. Hixon saw a reduced role, perhaps confirming that the team doesn’t see as much upside in him as with the team’s younger receivers.
  • Brandon Marshall, Broncos – Maybe Kyle Orton is a huge downgrade from Cutler after all.
  • Braylon Edwards, Browns – One catch, 12 yards. More of the same from the enigmatic Edwards.
  • Donnie Avery, Rams – Let’s see, the Rams were shutout and managed just 13 first downs and 247 yards total offense against a suspect Seahawks D that was without Marcus Trufant and lost Leroy Hill and Lofa Tatupu to injury. Not pretty.
  • Jay Cutler, Bears – Hopefully it was just week 1 jitters. Even still, his performance in Green Bay was ugly with a capital “U”.
  • Greg Olsen, Bears – Seemed to disappear in week 1, something that happened all too often in 2008.
  • Deion Branch, Seahawks – Knee troubles already to go along with a bad hamstring resulted in him not suiting up on Sunday. With rookie 3rd round pick Deon Butler looking good, Branch isn’t worth owning in fantasy leagues.
  • Danny Ware, Giants – One play, one dislocated elbow. Out a minimum of two weeks, maybe more.
  • Jason Hill, 49ers – Despite Brandon Jones being out with and injury and 1st round pick Michael Crabtree not having signed, Hill was still inactive on game day. He’s buried on the depth chart and not worth holding on to.

Not Excited Yet

  • Julius Jones, John Carlson and Matt Hasselbeck, Seahawks – It was the Rams, folks, and frankly, that was about as sad as a 279 yards, 3 TD performance as you will ever see from a QB. Against a real NFL defense, Hasselbeck would have looked very poor on this day.
  • Willis McGahee, Ravens – He got the goal line work and 2 TD (one receiving) but the Ravens won’t get to play the Chiefs every week.
  • Tim Hightower, Cardinals – Guessing that he’s not going to catch 12 balls for 121 yards every week. Just a hunch, though.
  • Devin Hester, Bears – Nice game in week 1 with four catches for 90 yards, including a 36 yard TD and an impressive catch near the sideline. However, the touchdown was the result of poor safety play and Bennett seems to be Cutler’s top target.
  • Roy Williams, Cowboys – 86 yards and a TD came on only 3 catches but a solid signal nonetheless.
  • Jeremy Shockey and Devery Henderson, Saints – Nice performances but it came against the Lions, who, as a reminder, were 0-16 in 2008. First TD for Shockey since week 10… of the 2007 season. Ouch.
  • Jerheme Urban, Cardinals – Nice week 1 performance with 5 catches for 74 yards but that came with Steve Breaston out and Anquan Boldin playing banged up.
  • Robert Royal, Browns – He caught a garbage time 26 yard TD pass. How nice.

Analyzing ADP – Wide Receivers

By: — September 8, 2009 @ 7:30 am

We analyzed the average draft position of quarterbacks and now we’re on to the wide receivers. With the number of stud running backs dwindling and numerous solid fantasy options at tight end, the wide receiver position is more than ever likely to determine your fantasy success or failure.

When it comes to drafting wide receivers, there has been a general trend to avoid solid veteran receivers who are unlikely to produce a surprise top ten fantasy season in favor of younger wide receivers who have upside but lack a history of production and are, for the most part, unproven. That being said, there are always a few big names that generally get drafted before they should.


Terrell Owens, BUF (ADP 3.10) – Owens has missed significant time during Buffalo’s preseason, QB Trent Edwards has looked horrible (and tentative) and the Bills have an inexperienced offensive line that will likely be amongst the league’s worst. The O-line will likely relegate the team to few deep throws and Edwards does not appear to have changed from his low risk approach of the past two seasons. Add it all up and Owens carries significant risk from both production and disruption perspectives.

Lee Evans, BUF (ADP 6.05) – Evans is a big play threat playing in a conservative offense led by a quarterback who is reluctant to throw deep. At his current ADP, he is the 25th receiver off the board and it is easy to find plenty of better options than Evans.

Lance Moore, NO (ADP 7.02) – He was one our projected busts and his current ADP (29th wide receiver) makes him an overvalued player in fantasy drafts. As we noted previously, in the six games that Reggie Bush missed, Moore averaged 15.5 points per game. In the other ten games, Moore averaged six points per game. In the five games in which Marques Colston, Bush and Moore all played, Moore averaged 3.3 points per game. If you draft Moore, you are banking on one or both of Colston and Bush being injured. That was his recipe for fantasy success in 2008. Remember that when you decide to overpay for Moore.

Anthony Gonzalez, IND (ADP 4.12) – Amongst wide receivers, Gonzalez is currently sandwiched between DeSean Jackson of the Eagles and Brandon Marshall of the Broncos. If that seems odd, that’s because it is. While Gonzalez possesses decent talent and plays in what figures to be a solid Indy offense, he isn’t a great red zone threat and his average yards per catch declined in his second season as he received more attention from opposing defenses due to Marvin Harrison’s decline. Gonzalez is a solid option as your third receiver but drafting him as a low end number two will prove costly.

Percy Harvin, MIN (ADP 8.02) – Let’s go back to the comparison we used above. Harvin is sandwiched between Jerricho Cotchery of the Jets and Derrick Mason of the Ravens. Harvin doesn’t have a defined role but we keep hearing that he will be used in multiple roles (wildcat, quick screens, reverses, out of the backfield). Given his lack of maturity and the number of roles he is being expected to learn, it seems more likely that he will struggle to remember his assignments. Given the history of rookie wide receivers and Harvin’s undefined role in Minnesota, this ADP makes no sense whatsoever.


Derrick Mason, BAL (ADP 9.02) – Although there is a small risk he could reconsider the retirement option, there is also a high probability that Mason will provide significant production in 2009. He has chalked up seven, 1,000 yard seasons over the last eight years and missed only six games during his 12 years in the league. In summary, he’s consistently healthy, consistently productive and his ADP represents little cost with a solid upside. What more can you ask for?

Hines Ward, PIT (ADP 7.03) – As we noted, veteran receivers are often undervalued so it isn’t a surprise that our second bargain at receiver is another veteran. Ward is coming off a 1,047 yard, seven touchdown season in which he was slowed in two games due to injury. Add in that the Pittsburgh running game isn’t what it once was, Santonio Holmes has yet to eclipse Ward as Ben Roethlisberger‘s main target and security blanket and Ward is a solid fantasy option in 2009.

Josh Morgan, SF (ADP 10.09) – Rookie hotshot Michael Crabtree‘s ADP is 9.10 and Morgan’s is 10.09. While Crabtree hasn’t signed a contract or proven anything, Morgan has taken over as the team’s number one wide receiver after an impressive rookie season that could have been outstanding were it not for injuries, the team’s reluctance to play the rookie more and the situation at quarterback. Basically, the talent is there and he has an opportunity to produce given the team’s current lack of depth at wide receiver. Look for Morgan to be a surprise fantasy performer in 2009.

Brandon Marshall, DEN (ADP 4.12) – Marshall clearly carries major risk given his ongoing feud with Denver management. However, he finished 10th in the wide receiver rankings in 2007 and followed that up with an 11th place ranking last year. He has caught 206 balls over the last two years, is in an offense that figures to rely heavily on the pass and is playing for a team that figures to be behind early and often. Plus, can new head coach Josh McDaniels really afford to run both his star QB and his star WR out of town before he’s even coached a game? Stranger things have surely happened but that sounds like career suicide. If he’s playing, Marshall will produce and it says here that McDaniels needs Marshall playing if he wants to return as head coach in 2010.

Domenik Hixon, NYG (ADP 10.05) – Hixon isn’t an overly talented wide receiver but, given the poor performance of the team’s young receivers during the preseason, he figures to be the team’s top receiving threat in 2009. With the Giants possessing a solid running game and one of the league’s better offensive lines, Hixon is unlikely to be regularly double teamed. In the middle of the 10th round, the receiver options are limited so grabbing the number one receiver on a team with a solid offense is excellent value.

Analyzing ADP – Quarterbacks

By: — September 7, 2009 @ 10:40 am

As we noted in one of our draft strategy articles, value is king when deciding which players to select in your fantasy football draft or auction. Every year there are certain players that are picked too early or are available late for various reasons. Sometimes a player’s outlook is generally being regarded more optimistically than it should be or perhaps an injury or change in a team’s personnel has caused a player’s stock to fall.

Analyzing average draft position (ADP) data is a great way to find value in your league’s draft or auction. In 2008, Cardinals quarterback Kurt Warner provided outstanding value because his ADP was the ninth pick in the 11th round in 12 team leagues, one spot below Jon Kitna, then of the Detroit Lions. This despite the fact that Warner had put up outstanding fantasy seasons previously with the high powered Rams offense, that it was widely known he was going to start over Matt Leinart because of Leinart’s meltdown in the team’s third preseason game and that the team was stacked with outstanding players at the offensive skill positions. Nonetheless, Warner was generally available as a backup fantasy quarterback.

Owners were rewarded with a great season. Warner was remarkably consistent (at least one TD pass in 15 games, 11 games with at least 250 yards passing) and finished as the 4th ranked fantasy QB. Throw away a game against the Patriots in a blizzard in New England when most owners likely benched him and he would have finished as the 2nd ranked fantasy QB.


Matt Ryan, ATL (ADP 6.07) – Quite predictably, the 2nd year pivot is being overdrafted in fantasy leagues this year. He finished a respectable 15th in the fantasy rankings as a rookie but is going off the board as the 9th best QB this year. Although 9th seems a bit optimistic, the biggest problem is that he’s going in the middle of the 6th round ahead of decent quality third receivers and running backs. In Atlanta’s run heavy offense, he doesn’t provide much opportunity for a top five performance but he’s being drafted as such.

Brett Favre, MIN (ADP 9.11) – He’s already banged up, he looked awful in his debut, the team lacks a true number one wide receiver and they will run the ball plenty. Favre is at best a low quality backup with limited upside. Players that figure to be high quality backups are still available when Favre comes off the board. Matt Hasselbeck, Matt Cassel and David Garrard are a few examples of players with much more upside and less risk who are available after Favre gets drafted.

Peyton Manning, IND (ADP 3.02) – It’s hard to put Manning in here but the bottom line is that he’s being drafted ahead of Philip Rivers, Aaron Rodgers and Kurt Warner, each of whom should be ranked ahead of Manning, and he simply isn’t worth a high 3rd round pick. Manning’s points per game have declined from 23 to 21 to 19 over the past three seasons and the Colts no longer possess three quality wide receivers. Manning is remarkably consistent and never misses a game but his ADP does not represent solid value.


David Garrard, JAX (ADP 12.01) – Some players are undervalued every year and Garrard is one of those players. Perhaps it’s because he not a glamour quarterback, he doesn’t play in a big market and the team has never had a true number one wideout during his tenure. Of course, he was the 9th ranked fantasy QB in 2008 and 15th in 2007 when he only played in 12 games. Based on average points and excluding players with a minimal number of starts, he was ranked 12th in 2007. Plus, the team added Torry Holt in the offseason, who, even though he is clearly in decline, represents Garrard’s most reliable wide receiver over the last two years.

Matt Hasselbeck, SEA (ADP 10.01) – Hasselbeck’s age (34 in September) and wonky back are certainly cause for concern in fantasy circles. However, his current ADP makes him the 15th quarterback off the board although there is a solid chance that, if healthy, he will crack the top 10 or 12. With Seattle’s run game a mess and the team possessing three solid receivers as well as an excellent pass catching tight end, look for the Seahawks to throw the ball plenty in 2008. The Seahawks followed a similar strategy in 2007 when Hasselbeck finished as the 7th ranked QB.

Looking At The Deep Sleepers

By: — September 4, 2009 @ 1:11 am
Filed under: Player Analysis

There are sleepers and then there are the deep sleepers. Players that, although they aren’t likely to make or break your fantasy season, can fill in holes on your roster at key times during the season and allow your team to continue on its winning ways. Occasionally, a deep sleeper comes along and makes a big contribution to your squad and helps push it over the top.

In 2003, Anquan Boldin burst onto the fantasy scene and quickly caught the attention of fantasy enthusiasts and NFL fans alike who had marginal expectations for the 2nd round draft pick. It turned out that the Cardinals knew exactly what they had and had been hiding Boldin during the preseason by minimizing his playing time. In week one against the Lions, Boldin posted 10 receptions for 217 yards and two touchdowns. By season’s end, he had amassed 101 receptions for 1,377 yards and eight touchdowns.

In 2005, Willie Parker was a little thought of 2nd year, former undrafted free agent expected to get minimal playing time behind Jerome Bettis, Duce Staley and Verron Haynes. After a week one performance that included 209 total yards and a touchdown, fantasy owners were clamoring to nab Parker off the waiver wire. Parker finished the season with 1,420 total yards and five touchdowns, fantastic production for a deep sleeper.

In 2008, Steve Slaton of the Texans, Tim Hightower of the Cardinals and Matt Cassel of the Patriots were a few of the deep sleepers that put up solid fantasy production. Think of the production that these players plus Boldin and Parker put up in their coming out seasons when it comes time to make the last few picks in your fantasy draft. You just might strike gold.


Shaun Hill, SF – It’s tough to be high on a journeyman quarterback starting for a team that figures to run the ball plenty in 2009. However, head coach Mike Singletary was focused on the run in 2008 and Hill still managed to post nearly 20 fantasy points per game. With an improved offensive line, the addition of rookie running back Glen Coffee and a potential breakout year for receiver Josh Morgan, Hill could be a surprisingly solid fantasy option at quarterback.

Running Back

James Davis, CLE – Let’s see. Cleveland is clearly in a rebuilding mode. Their starting running back Jamal Lewis is 30 years old. The other contender for the backup spot Jerome Harrison was drafted by the previous regime and has missed two preseason games and posted four yards in three carries in the game he did play. Oh, and Davis averaged 7.8 yards per carry during the preseason, including an 81-yard touchdown run. This rookie 6th round pick is looking like a solid prospect as your number four running back.

Rashad Jennings, JAX – Jennings isn’t about to steal any carries away from Maurice Jones-Drew and the goal line carries will go to Jones-Drew or Greg Jones. However, Jones-Drew is in his first year as the team’s full time back and, while there are few concerns about his durability, the bottom line is that he’s never had to carry the full load for 16 games. If he were to go down, it’s very likely the team would look to Jennings to replace Jones-Drew because he is a closer version of Jones-Drew than Jones would be.

Mike Goodson, CAR – The rookie 4th round pick has had an impressive preseason, posting 118 yards and a touchdown on 25 carries. With top backup Jonathan Stewart, a 1st round pick in 2008, having missed OTAs and much of the preseason with an Achilles’ tendon injury, there is a decent chance that Goodson will be DeAngelo Williams‘ top backup for at least part of the season. With the Panthers expected to finish in the top five in rushing in 2009, Goodson is an excellent deep sleeper.

Tashard Choice, DAL – Choice’s situation in Dallas is very similar to Goodson’s. Choice, who averaged almost 13.5 fantasy points per game over the last five games of 2008, is currently running third string behind Marion Barber and Felix Jones, the team’s 1st round pick in 2008. Barber’s hard charging running style make him susceptible to injury and he missed one game in 2008 and played sparingly in three others. Jones was impressive as a rookie but missed 10 games due to injury. With the departure of Terrell Owens and questions about Roy Williams‘ ability to duplicate Owens’ production, the team is expected to rely more heavily on the run in 2009 than they did last year.

Danny Ware, NYG – The Giants featured the league’s best running attack in 2008, utilizing Brandon Jacobs, Derrick Ward and Ahmad Bradshaw. With Ward’s departure and a season ending injury to rookie 4th round pick Andre Brown, Ware will enter the season third on the depth chart. The injury prone Jacobs has played in just 24 of 32 regular season games over the past two years, which makes it very likely Ware will split carries in at least a few games with Bradshaw. It’s also worth noting that the Giants brass is high on Ware.

Wide Receiver

Austin Collie, INDAnthony Gonzalez put up solid number as Indy’s third wide receiver and Collie has the inside track for that job. Either Collie lines up in the slot with Gonzalez outside or Pierre Garcon gets the outside looks in the three wide with Gonzalez shifting to the slot. If Collie wins out, the 4th round pick has an excellent opportunity to put up solid numbers in 2009. With reports out of Indy suggesting that Gonzalez is struggling somewhat, the situation in Indy bears watching.

Laurent Robinson, STL – Robinson has already won the starting spot opposite 2008 2nd round pick Donnie Avery and, although the Rams offense figures to struggle, the situation in St. Louis is intriguing. Avery struggled to stay healthy as a rookie and then was hurt early in training camp this year. Keenan Burton, who was expected to win the starting spot opposite Avery, has a long history of injuries, both in college and the pros. Third year player Derek Stanley is coming off ACL surgery, rookie 5th round pick Brooks Foster is on injured reserve and veteran retreads Ronald Curry and Tim Carter are destined for reserve roles, if that, as the team rebuilds. Botton line is the Rams have to throw it to somebody and Robinson figures to get plenty of looks.

Brandon Stokley, DEN – With Brandon Marshall currently doing whatever it takes to get out of Denver and new head coach Josh McDaniels already succumbing to the trade wishes of disgruntled quarterback Jay Cutler, Stokley is looking like a solid sleeper pick in all leagues. In fact, with McDaniels now in Denver and Stokley expected to fill the Wes Welker role in the offense, Stokley is a solid pick in point per reception leagues already. The Marshall situation is just icing on the cake.

Malcom Floyd, SD – The 27-year Floyd enters his fifth season, third on the depth chart in San Diego. Floyd surpassed 2007 1st round pick Craig Davis last season and put up solid numbers (237 yards and two touchdowns) during a four game stretch when Chris Chambers was injured. With Chambers coming off the least productive year of his career and San Diego featuring a high powered offense, Floyd is an excellent deep sleeper.

Tight End

Jermichael Finley, GB – Finley failed to impress the Packers brass as a rookie in 2008, mostly due to his brash attitude and poor understanding of the playbook. However, he seems to have matured during the offseason. Finley will almost certainly start the season as the backup to Donald Lee but he is the team’s future at the position so a move into the starting line-up will not be a surprise. At 6’5″, Finley has the height to be a solid red zone option and he has scored two touchdowns during the preseason. It’s also worth noting that Lee scored 11 touchdowns over the last two seasons.

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