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Seahawks Cut the Fat, Release LenDale White—Fantasy Impact

By: — May 31, 2010 @ 10:11 am

A little over a month into his career with the Seattle Seahawks, LenDale White was released by the club on Friday.

LenDale White

End of the road for LenWhale?

The Seahawks acquired White and defensive tackle Kevin Vickerson during the NFL draft in April in exchange for the teams swapping fourth and sixth round draft choices. Although the cost to acquire White was minimal, it was a shock that his former college head coach Pete Carroll would release him prior to training camp.

However, general manager John Schneider’s comments regarding the decision to release White left little to the imagination. Schneider commented that White, “was not ready to be a member of the Seattle Seahawks” and that he does, “not appear to be the right fit at this point in our program.”

Reports also indicate that White is facing a four-game suspension for violating the league’s substance abuse policy, although the Seahawks were apparently aware of that at the time of the trade.

The looming suspension explains why the team was able to acquire White at such a minimal cost.

The 25 year old White is coming off the least productive season of his four-year career, finishing 2009 with 222 yards rushing on 64 carries to go along with two touchdowns. During the 2008 and 2009 seasons, White accumulated 1,883 yards and 22 touchdowns.

Entering 2009, it was expected that White would continue to pair with Chris Johnson in a thunder and lightning backfield but Johnson’s emergence as perhaps the league’s best running back left White with only a minimal role in the team’s offense.

Fantasy Impact

For White, this could very well be the end of the road for him in the NFL. He has been mostly a bust during his career and is likely viewed by most team’s as a marginal talent whose production does not overcome the many issues that he has had.

Expect White to remain a free agent and perhaps an option if a team suffers an injury at the position during the preseason.

The biggest winner from White’s release has to be Julius Jones. When the team acquired White and former New York Jet Leon Washington during the draft, it was expected that Jones would be jettisoned by the club because Justin Forsett is a similar player with a much cheaper salary.

However, Jones now figures to compete with Forsett for the starting role during preseason while Washington recovers from a horrific leg injury suffered last year. Louis Rankin and Quinton Ganther are also on the roster but neither player is likely to earn much playing time in the team’s base offense.

While White’s release provides Jones with an opportunity to earn a roster spot, expect the diminutive Forsett to earn the starting role on opening day. Jones’ Seahawks career has been marred by inconsistency and an inability to run the ball inside the red zone (1.8 yards per carry) and play well on the road (180 yards in 2009).

Forsett displayed much more big play ability than Jones in his first extended playing time in 2009, finishing with 619 yards rushing to go along with 350 receiving yards and five total touchdowns. He finished the year with an impressive 5.4 yards per carry rushing average and averaged 8.5 yards per reception.

However, while Forsett may win the job on opening day, it is likely that Washington will be given an opportunity to earn a significant role once he returns to full health.

With so many questions marks in the Seahawks backfield, it wouldn’t be a surprise if the team were to acquire another veteran rusher to add to the mix. Marshawn Lynch’s days in Buffalo appear to be numbered and Brian Westbrook remains on the market.

With the Seahawks in a rebuilding mode and issues along the offensive line and at quarterback, the Seahawks backfield is certainly one to avoid when drafting your fantasy football squad in 2010.


Possible Landing Spots for Brian Westbrook—Fantasy Impact

By: — May 14, 2010 @ 10:07 am
Filed under: Free Agents

It appears that the once dormant market for former Philadelphia Eagles running back Brian Westbrook is heating up. Fresh off a trip to the Washington Redskins, Westbrook is in Denver visiting the Broncos.

The Broncos’ interest appears to be serious, as reports indicate that the NFL free-agent Westbrook cancelled an engagement in Washington to head to Denver immediately after meeting with the Redskins.

Westbrook visited St. Louis two weeks ago, where he passed his physical and was offered a contract by the Rams. In St. Louis, he would be reunited with former Eagles quarterbacks coach Pat Shurmur, who is the Rams’ offensive coordinator, and runs the same offense that the Eagles use.

The 30 year old Westbrook is coming off a season in which he suffered two concussions, causing him to miss eight games. He finished the season with 274 rushing yards and 181 receiving yards, to go along with two touchdowns, easily his lowest production since his rookie season.

During his eight years in the league, the former Villanova product has amassed 5,992 rushing yards, 3,790 receiving yards, and 66 touchdowns.

Although Westbrook has hit the dreaded 30 year-old mark for running backs (he will be 31 on opening day), he was productive when in the lineup in 2009, averaging 4.5 yards per carry.

However, given his age and injury issues, he is clearly viewed as a backup capable of assuming a change of pace, be it a receiving role, or as a fill-in.

Both the Redskins and Broncos are deep at running back with Washington featuring three older backs in Clinton Portis, Larry Johnson, and Willie Parker. However, the only major financial commitment is to Portis.

In Denver, the Broncos will start second-year player Knowshon Moreno, and have Correll Buckhalter and J.J. Arrington in reserve.

Former Eagles quarterback Donovan McNabb is apparently pushing Redskins management, as well as new head coach Mike Shanahan, on the merits of adding his former teammate Westbrook to the roster.

Although the Redskins’ and Broncos’ interest in Westbrook seems genuine, former San Diego Charger LaDainian Tomlinson’s signing with the New York Jets likely provides the best clues as to where Westbrook will emerge.

Tomlinson wound up on a Jets team that runs the ball heavily, and has a player ahead of him on the depth chart with a limited resume of success. Hence, Tomlinson has a bigger opportunity to carve out a significant role with the Jets than he did with the Minnesota Vikings, his other suitor.

Of the three teams interested in Westbrook, the Rams figure to provide him with the most opportunity for playing time. Their feature runner, Steven Jackson, has a history of dealing with injuries and just underwent back surgery, and there is no proven backup on the roster.

The team’s wide receivers feature young, and up-and-coming players, and the depth chart at tight end features five players who have a combined 52 receptions in the NFL. Westbrook would likely be featured in the Rams offense even with Jackson healthy.

Fantasy Impact

Westbrook is an intriguing player for fantasy purposes, given his history of production, and ability to produce in a limited capacity as a receiving threat out of the backfield. Even on a team that figures to struggle offensively like the Rams, he will likely put up reasonable production provided he can stay healthy.

Although the knock on Westbrook has been that he is injury prone, a closer look reveals that not to be the case. In his first seven years in the league, he played in 99 of 112 regular season games.

Clearly, the concussion issue is a significant one, but Westbrook is definitely worth taking a later round flier on in fantasy leagues, especially if he winds up in St. Louis behind Jackson.

Fantasy Football Rankings—Wide Receivers, Updated

By: — May 13, 2010 @ 2:13 pm
Filed under: Forecast

Here’s the final instalment of this round of my updated fantasy football player rankings. With the quarterbacks, running backs and tight ends already covered, this time we look at the wide receiver position.

There are some significant movements in the rankings. In the top 20, we see Larry Fitzgerald now cracking the top five, Brandon Marshall dropping out of the top ten, DeSean Jackson barely holding on to his ranking in the top ten and Hines Ward and Santonio Holmes seeing significant movement due to Holmes’ trade to the Jets.

Lower in the rankings, Wes Welker drops due to injury concerns, Mike Wallace has his fantasy value solidified, Santana Moss moves way up and Jerricho Cotchery and Roy Williams see their fantasy values plummet.

The biggest developments since my initial rankings, published in early-March, were as follows:

  • Brandon Marshall traded to the Miami Dolphins,
  • Santonio Holmes moving to the Jets,
  • Donovan McNabb traded to the Washington Redskins,
  • Ben Roethlisberger’s four to six game suspension, and
  • Jason Campbell traded to the Oakland Raiders.

The only potential major issues to be resolved before training camp are where Terrell Owens lands and if Chargers wide receiver Vincent Jackson is suspended.

Each player’s prior ranking is noted in parentheses after the current ranking.

1. (1) Andre Johnson, HOU

Has topped 1,500 yards and eight touchdowns in each of the last two seasons. He’s the consensus number one wide receiver for fantasy purposes and I fully expect every ranking to have him here. If not, find a ranking by a sane person.

2. (2) Randy Moss, NE

Wes Welker figures to miss at least a portion of the season so Moss will get plenty of targets and he’s still a threat in the red zone and on deep plays. Unless he pouts, Moss is pretty much guaranteed production.

3. (3) Roddy White, ATL

Matt Ryan and the Falcons offense should improve on a somewhat disappointing 2009 season and White figures to benefit.

4. (4) Miles Austin, DAL

You could make the case that the presence of first round pick Dez White will cut into Austin’s production but Roy Williams figures to lose out from that more than Austin. Bit of a risk because 2009 was a breakout season but he’s obviously Tony Romo’s go to guy in a solid offense.

5. (11) Larry Fitzgerald, ARI

Moves up six spots but still a risk with Matt Leinart and Derek Anderson atop the depth chart at quarterback. Fitz benefits from others moving down.

6. (8) Calvin Johnson, DET

The Lions offense should be more explosive with the addition of running back Jahvid Best and Johnson figures to benefit in the touchdown department. In fact, the Lions offense could surprise in 2010 so Johnson should be considered a bit of a buy low option.

7. (9) Greg Jennings, GB

Dropped to four touchdowns after scoring 21 during the 2007 and 2008 seasons but expect a rebound in 2010.

8. (10) Marques Colston, NO

Mike Bell is gone so maybe the Saints will pass it even more in 2010. Either way, Colston looks like a sure bet to finish in the top ten.

9. (7) Vincent Jackson, SD

If healthy, he’s pretty much guaranteed production. However, monitor his situation since he could be suspended for one or two games due to his off the field troubles.

10. (6) DeSean Jackson, PHI

Plenty of big plays but moves down a bit with the trade of Donovan McNabb. I like Kevin Kolb but expect a slight drop-off from what McNabb would have accomplished this year in Philly.

11. (12) Reggie Wayne, IND

Really slumped during the last seven games of 2009 with 385 yards and two touchdowns which may be a signal that he’s slowing down a bit. The emergence of Pierre Garcon and Austin Collie coupled with the return of Anthony Gonzalez figures to impact his production as well.

12. (5) Brandon Marshall, DEN

Simply put, the Dolphins offense runs the ball too much and Chad Henne is too green to put a Dolphins receiver, even one as talented as Marshall, in the top ten. Sometimes, it’s that simple.

13. (13) Sidney Rice, MIN

Bit of a risk due to his breakout performance in 2009 but one I’m willing to take at this point, especially with expectations of Favre returning in 2010.

14. (16) Anquan Boldin, BAL

If he’s healthy, chalk him up for 8-10 touchdowns and over 1,000 yards. Don’t believe the hype that he produced in Arizona only because he had Fitzgerald opposite him.

15. (15) Hakeem Nicks, NYG

Younger version of Boldin, he had 115 fantasy points on only 74 targets, ranking him fifth in fantasy points per target in the league last season (minimum 45 targets), showing how explosive he is. The Giants are sure to have him more involved in 2010.

16. (17) Chad Ochocinco, CIN

A year older but Antonio Bryant won’t cut into his production and they didn’t add anything in the draft that would reduce his role.

17. (20) Steve Smith, NYG

Two Giants in the top 17. Yikes!

18. (18) Michael Crabtree, SF

No change for Crabtree but less risk and more upside potential with the addition of two offensive lineman being taken in the first round.

19. (22) Steve Smith, CAR

Up three spots but a bit more risk if rookie Jimmy Clausen takes over for Matt Moore midseason.

20. (26) Hines Ward, PIT

Loses with the Roethlisberger suspension but gains targets with Holmes departing for the Jets.

21. (21) Percy Harvin, MIN

More convinced than ever that he’s the real deal. Upside at this point but hard to have him higher in the rankings.

22. (19) Mike Sims-Walker, JAC

Talented player who lacks consistency. However, little risk given he’s clearly the top wide receiver in Jacksonville.

23. (23) Dwayne Bowe, KC

Needs to get it together and stay out of Todd Haley’s doghouse. Next screw up could cost him a 16 game suspension.

24. (24) Donald Driver, GB

Only had 185 yards and no touchdowns during the last four regular season games of 2009 so there are some signs he’s slowing down. However, that risk is offset due to his prominence in Green Bay’s solid offense.

25. (28) Mike Wallace, PIT

I liked him before the Holmes trade and I love him now, even with the Roethlisberger suspension. Wallace has an explosive rookie year with 756 yards and six touchdowns, and certainly made the Steelers’ decision to turf Holmes much easier.

26. (38) Braylon Edwards, NYJ

Why is he up 12 spots even with the Holmes addition? I guess I figure the Jets offense will be more explosive in 2010 and he will benefit in the touchdown department. I still have him projected for under 1,000 yards however.

27. (33) Robert Meachem, NO

Has all the tools and major upside playing in the Saints offense. Look for an increased role for Meachem at the expense of Devery Henderson. Recent toe surgery increases Meachem’s risk.

28. (29) Kenny Britt, TEN

Coming off a nice rookie season with over 700 yards and three touchdowns, but with reports that he was so out of shape that the Titans refused to let him practice, apparently it’s gone to his head. Add a risk factor to this second year player.

29. (34) Malcom Floyd, SD

Another case of a player benefiting from an addition on offense, in this case rookie running back Ryan Mathews. The Chargers love tall, physical receivers and that description fits Floyd.

30. (25) Jeremy Maclin, PHI

I like Maclin and think he will be a star but he moves down with Kolb taking over at quarterback.

31. (32) Devin Aromashodu, CHI

Earl Bennett is a little slow, Johnny Knox is a little small and new offensive coordinator Mike Martz has said Devin Hester is best suited for the slot. Although head coach Love Smith disputed Martz’ version of where Hester will line up, Martz is nothing if not stubborn. Add it all up and Aromashodu is the guy I’m gambling on to benefit from Martz’ presence in Chicago.

32. (31) Steve Breaston, ARI

Moves into the starting line-up with Boldin’s departure but I expect Larry Fitzgerald and Early Doucet to get more red zone looks which limits his upside.

33. (27) Wes Welker, NE

It now appears that Welker will miss time in 2010 so he’s moving down, but watch for rehab updates and don’t wait too long to grab him, especially in PPR leagues.

34. (36) Mario Manningham, NYG

If Steve Smith is the real deal (more likely than not), then Manningham has limited upside given Hakeem Nicks is all but guaranteed a starting spot. He is definitely worth taking a flier on though.

35. (35) Nate Burleson, DET

36. (51) Santana Moss, WAS

Moves up a whopping 15 spots courtesy of the Redskins acquisition of Donovan McNabb and rookie offensive tackle Trent Williams.

37. (39) Pierre Garcon, IND

Coming off a solid season but he and Peyton Manning were clearly not always on the same page, hence his completion rate of 51% as opposed to Manning’s overall rate of 68.8%. The Colts prefer reliability and Anthony Gonzalez may bring more of it which would limit Garcon’s upside unless he hits the playbook hard.

38. (41) Derrick Mason, BAL

Up a little but there’s no reason to think he will reprise his role from previous seasons because he and Boldin are similar players, only Boldin is bigger, stronger and faster.

39. (14) Santonio Holmes, PIT

Most significant drop in the rankings due to his trade to the Jets and subsequent four-game suspension. Buy low and hope he contributes heavily over 12 games.

40. (43) Anthony Gonzalez, IND

I like his game but Garcon deserves playing time outside and Collie deserves playing time in the slot. However, he’s a solid option for Manning who has caught 71.8% of the passes thrown his way during his first three years in the league.

41. (40) Lee Evans, BUF

No upgrade at quarterback so no upgrade for Evans.

42. (44) Devery Henderson, NO

What you see is what you get. In six years, the highest fantasy points per game he earned is 8.0. There’s no reason for him to surpass that in 2010.

43. (45) Mohamed Massaquoi, CLE

He was productive as a rookie and has some upside but only a little upside given the Browns quarterback situation and anaemic passing attack.

44. (37) T.J. Houshmandzadeh, SEA

Down seven spots due to rookie Golden Tate’s presence in the line-up.

45. (46) Chris Chambers, KC

46. (NR) Golden Tate, SEA

Our first rookie wide receiver, Tate has a solid opportunity to get playing time in Seattle. If only the quarterback situation were more stable.

47. (42) Earl Bennett, CHI

Definitely not the prototypical wide receiver for a Martz offense given his lack of speed.

48. (49) Chaz Schilens,OAK

On the plus side, the Raiders figure to be better at quarterback with Jason Campbell and he is Oakland’s best receiver. On the minus side, he recently had follow up surgery on his left foot which he broke last August.

49. (50) Early Doucet, ARI

Doucet looks the part but has been inconsistent in Arizona. However, he has ability and could surprise. Doucet represents solid sleeper material.

50. (NR) Dez Bryant, DAL

Cowboys rookie has Pro Bowl potential but giving up his lunch during his first OTA was not encouraging. If he can beat out Roy Williams, he moves way up.

51. (57) Eddie Royal, DEN

What a fantasy roller coaster of an offseason for Royal. Huge fantasy disappointment in 2009 kept him down in the rankings, the Brandon Marshall trade moved him back into the low 30’s and the acquisitions of Demaryius Thomas and Eric Decker in the draft leave him at 51, up six spots.

52. (30) Jerricho Cotchery, NYJ

Solid player but way down due to the Holmes trade.

53. (52) Kevin Walter, HOU

Could benefit if Owen Daniels is slow to recover from a torn ACL.

54. (47) Antonio Bryant, CIN

Bryant is mercurial, the Bengals don’t throw it a lot and they have a pile of wide receivers.

55. (NR) Demaryius Thomas, DEN

Head coach Josh McDaniels clearly has no use for any player he didn’t bring in so Thomas figures to get plenty of playing time. Unfortunately, he might be catching (or trying to catch) passes from Tim Tebow by mid-season.

56. (54) Devin Thomas, WAS

It’s nice that Donovan McNabb is in town but not so nice that the Redskins are loading up on journeyman retread wide receivers. Not a sign of confidence in Thomas and fellow third year wideout Malcolm Kelly.

57. (48) Donnie Avery, STL

Avery here is proof that love is not always blind. Hence, this Rams fan puts the first Rams wide receiver in the rankings way down at 57.

58. (55) Josh Morgan, SF

Look for Crabtree and tight end Vernon Davis to get most of the targets in 2010.

59. (NR) Arrelious Benn, TB

Guaranteed a spot on opening day, but also guaranteed to be average with Josh Freeman at quarterback. Check back in 2011.

60. (59) Jacoby Jones, HOU

Texans head coach Gary Kubiak says he loves Jones’ potential. If that’s the case, why did they sign Kevin Walter to a lucrative long-term contract?

61. (70) Malcolm Kelly, WAS

Why is he up nine spots? Good question.

62. (60) Jason Avant, PHI

Has improved in each of his four years in the league but unlikely to supplant Jackson or Maclin.

63. (62) Johnny Knox, CHI

Monitor him to see if he cracks the starting line-up.

64. (63) Bernard Berrian, MIN

I don’t like him, never have and Rice and Harvin are too good not to get the targets.

65. (64) Devin Hester, CHI

Upon further reflection, Hester really didn’t show much last year and now he has to learn the Martz offense.

66. (NR) Greg Camarillo, MIA

Probably the best option on the outside opposite Marshall.

67. (68) Laurent Robinson, STL

Was pretty good for two games last year before getting hurt.

68. (65) James Jones, GB

Looks like he’s solidified his spot ahead of Jordy Nelson.

69. (56) Roy Williams, DAL

Here’s the thing—when you catch 44.2% of the passes thrown your way, your team may use its first round pick on a wide receiver to replace you and then your fantasy value plummets, even if you were considered top 20 fantasy material a year ago.

70. (67) Brandon Gibson, STL

I like his game. Gibson showed some potential as a possession receiver and rookie quarterback Sam Bradford is going to need a security blanket. Maybe he surprises in PPR leagues.

The following players dropped off the rankings from last time:

NR (53) Davone Bess, MIA
NR (58) Mike Thomas, JAC
NR (61) Deion Branch, SEA
NR (66) Nate Washington, TEN
NR (69) Patrick Crayton, DAL

Fantasy Football Rankings—Tight Ends, Updated

By: — May 11, 2010 @ 9:15 am
Filed under: Forecast

The rookie draft and free agency didn’t produce any significant player movement at the tight end position but a number of players were affected by their team’s ability to secure talent at the other offensive skill positions.

Our updated rankings don’t include any major movements with Heath Miller, Greg Olsen and Brandon Pettigrew moving down and no player moving up significantly. Fred Davis of the Redskins moves up from 25th to 19th, but he’s a fantasy backup at best with solid upside for dynasty leagues.

The 2010 tight end crop is loaded with talented players so the days of needing to grab one of the top three or four players at the position are over. The drop-off starts at four after Dallas Clark but it wouldn’t be a surprise if any of the next four players finished in the top five.

However, the value and upside starts dropping quickly after Jason Witten at number eight. If you miss out on one of the top eight, then my advice is to move on to other positions and wait until later in your draft or auction to address the position.

Each player’s prior ranking is noted in parentheses after the current ranking.

1. (1) Antonio Gates, SD

No change at the top. I expect Gates to reclaim the title of fantasy football’s premier tight end. The addition of running back Ryan Mathews shouldn’t hurt Gates’ touchdown totals.

2. (3) Vernon Davis, SF

Do you believe? Apparently I do. Expect a repeat of his 2009 breakout campaign but maybe not quite the 13 touchdowns he had last year.

3. (2) Brent Celek, PHI

Don’t be shocked. He’s talented, he plays in a solid offense and new quarterback Kevin Kolb loves throwing to him (208 yards and a touchdown during Kolb’s two starts last year). Not to mention he was the fourth ranked fantasy tight end in 2009.

4. (4) Dallas Clark, IND

Career year in 2009 but more competition for targets with Anthony Gonzalez returning plus Pierre Garcon and Austin Collie earning more looks after improving throughout the 2009 season.

5. (5) Jermichael Finley, GB

Laugh at me now if you like but you might be crying later. Finley amassed 97 fantasy points in only nine starts and averaged 11.5 fantasy points per game over the last five games of the season. There is a good argument that he should be the top ranked tight end in dynasty leagues.

6. (6) Owen Daniels, HOU

Bit of an injury risk so his recovery needs to be monitored. However, he was having a career year last year and likely would have been the top ranked fantasy tight end had he not torn his ACL. Daniels averaged 11.4 fantasy points per game during the first seven weeks before going down in week eight.

7. (7) Tony Gonzalez, ATL

Here’s the dilemma—does he have upside because he was underutilized last year or downside because he’s a year older? Gonzalez stays in phenomenal shape but it is hard to move him higher.

8. (9) Jason Witten, DAL

Plenty of yards last year with 1,030 but finished eighth in the rankings because of his two touchdown receptions. Cowboys feature big wide receivers in Miles Austin, Roy Williams and Dez Bryant to go along with an outstanding short yardage runner in Marion Barber. Expect more touchdowns and fewer yards with hotshot rookie Bryant on board.

9. (11) Zach Miller, OAK

Miller gets a decent quarterback for the first time in his career in Jason Campbell. Miller is the most underrated tight end in the league so he could surprise.

10. (10) Kellen Winslow, TB

Racks up the yardage totals when healthy but has never topped five touchdown receptions in a year, which begs the question why anyone should bank on that happening in 2010 given the team’s young, raw talent on offense.

11. (8) Heath Miller, PIT

Coming off a career year but moves down due to Ben Roethlisberger’s four to six game suspension. Miller may become a solid check down option for Dennis Dixon, Charlie Batch or Byron Leftwich, but touchdown totals will almost certainly suffer.

12. (12) Visanthe Shiancoe, MIN

He’s been solid two years running but with Shiancoe, it’s all about the touchdowns. Has never surpassed 600 yards but has 18 touchdowns over the last two seasons. That means his production is going to be inconsistent and it also increases his risk factor.

13. (15) Chris Cooley, WAS

He’s talented and the Redskins have upgraded the talent at quarterback with Donovan McNabb, but Fred Davis is breathing down his neck. I expect Cooley to retain the job but Davis is too good not to be utilized or else I would have him higher. An ankle injury from last year is of no concern for 2010.

14. (14) John Carlson, SEA

Coming off a sophomore slump, Carlson has a new head coach in Pete Carroll who figures to be more imaginative on offense. However, if he has to pass protect to help the offensive line, he will be around the 80 target mark again in 2010 which prevents him from being a quality starter for fantasy purposes.

15. (17) Kevin Boss, NYG

Somewhat surprisingly, the Giants failed to draft a tight end. Boss has increased his yardage totals every year but the team ignored him in the red zone for the first half of 2009. Boss did finish with five touchdowns over his last nine games so it’s up to you to decide whether that was a mirage or whether it foreshadows fantasy glory in 2010.

16. (13) Greg Olsen, CHI

He’s talented but new offensive coordinator Mike Martz is stubborn and doesn’t utilize tight ends. Look no further than the case of Vernon Davis. Forgotten by Martz, Davis became a Pro Bowl tight end once Martz left.

17. (18) Todd Heap, BAL

Heap had a bit of a bounce back season in 2009 but has two rookies behind him who the Ravens are high on. No upside potential here.

18. (19) Dustin Keller, NYJ

Underutilized by the Jets in 2009 and with Santonio Holmes now on board to compliment Braylon Edwards and Jerricho Cotchery, there is no reason to expect that to change in 2010.

19. (25) Fred Davis, WAS

Looked good last year replacing Cooley but has limited upside until one of them is on a new team.

20. (20) Jeremy Shockey, NO

Played well when he was healthy in 2009 but has promising rookie James Graham and solid receiver David Thomas behind him. It wouldn’t be a total shocker if Shockey is fighting for his job in August.

21. (16) Brandon Pettigrew, DET

Last year’s top ranked rookie tight end but is recovering from a knee injury and may not be fully healthy on opening day plus he now has Tony Scheffler to contend with. In a nutshell, the odds of him breaking out are pretty much zilch. Too bad since he was playing well when he was hurt (15 receptions for 165 yards and two touchdowns in the three games before the injury).

22. (22) Marcedes Lewis, JAC

Keeps adding to his yardage total but can’t top two touchdowns in a season. Why should you expect that to happen in 2010? You shouldn’t.

23. (21) Tony Scheffler, DET

Goes from being a forgotten man in Josh McDaniels’ Denver wonderland to being a backup in Detroit. Makes you wonder what Scheffler did in his past lives.

24. (NR) Evan Moore, CLE

This guy looks the part of a solid pass catcher. No, really. I mean it. Oops, Jake Delhomme is his quarterback.

25. (NR) Jermaine Gresham, CIN

Forecasting solid production from rookie tight ends is kind of like expecting to win the lottery. It is very rare, especially when they play in an offense that’s going to run and run a lot.

26. (23) Anthony Fasano, MIA

It’s all about the touchdowns with Fasano and the Dolphins got some guy in the offseason named Brandon Marshall who has pretty good size.

27. (27) Bo Scaife, TEN

Showed some promise as a young player but his ceiling seems to be 30-40 yards a game and maybe a touchdown or two on the season.

28. (34) Leonard Pope, KC

Chiefs have to throw to some tight end. Maybe Pope’s the guy.

29. (24) Daniel Fells, STL

The talentless Rams didn’t bother to offer him a tender but re-signed him when the Patriots showed some interest. Luckily for Fells, the Rams had so many needs that they didn’t bother drafting a tight end until the fifth and sixth rounds of the rookie draft. If they don’t like him, why should you?

30. (31) Jared Cook, TEN

He’s talented and Scaife has a low ceiling, so Cook’s playing time will increase but maybe not until midseason. Has some upside if he can win the starting job.

31. (29) Brad Cottam, KC—Yawn.

32. (28) David Thomas, NO

I like this guy but unless Shockey is cut, Thomas’ playing time will decrease due to the presence of rookie James Graham.

33. (30) Dante Rosario, CAR

Looks like Tarzan, plays like Jane.

34. (32) Ben Watson, NE—See above.

The following player dropped off the rankings from last time:

NR (33) James Casey, HOU

Nothing against Casey but Gresham has to be included and other players figure to have more opportunity. Casey remains a decent option for dynasty leagues.

Fantasy Football Rankings—Running Backs, Updated

By: — May 6, 2010 @ 1:23 pm
Filed under: Forecast

The post-rookie draft quarterback rankings are in so let’s move on to the running backs, the meat of any fantasy football roster.

With the rookie running back crop weaker than normal and only one of the top four backs guaranteed a major role in 2010, the NFL rookie draft didn’t significantly alter the fantasy landscape for next year.

The biggest developments since my initial rankings, published in early-March, were as follows:

  • Ryan Mathews drafted by the Chargers,
  • C.J. Spiller drafted by the Bills,
  • Jahvid Best drafted by the Lions,
  • Ben Tate drafted by the Texans,
  • LenDale White and Leon Washington traded to the Seahawks,
  • Brandon Marshall traded to the Dolphins (Knowshon Moreno’s touchdown opportunities take a hit),
  • Donovan McNabb traded to the Redskins (Portis looks more intriguing now),
  • LaDainian Tomlinson signed by the Jets,
  • Montario Hardesty drafted by the Browns, and
  • Ben Roethlisberger’s suspension (more work for Rashard Mendenhall).

I’ll end the suspense—very little changed at the top of the rankings but there are some significant considerations later on. No change in the top nine.

It’s worth noting that Brian Westbrook is the only notable veteran running back that remains unsigned. However, he passed a physical with St. Louis and is mulling his options which appear to be limited. Bet on him being a Ram in the coming weeks. Don’t bet on him having any impact on Steven Jackson’s fantasy value.

Each player’s prior ranking is noted in parentheses after the current ranking.

1. (1) Adrian Peterson, MIN

Would have taken a hit had the Vikings taken a solid pass catching back in the draft such as Jahvid Best. However, second round pick Toby Gerhart isn’t such a threat and is very similar to Peterson.

2. (2) Maurice Jones-Drew, JAC

There were some rumors that the Jaguars would use the tenth pick in the draft on C.J. Spiller but that didn’t happen.

3. (3) Chris Johnson, TEN

The trade of LenDale White removes a slight bit of risk to Johnson’s opportunities, but I figured White’s role would have been the same this year as it was last year had he stayed anyway.

4. (4) Ray Rice, BAL

Holding steady at number four.

5. (5) Frank Gore, SF

Same position as the prior rankings but more upside here due to the addition of two offensive lineman in the draft. Put it this way—he’s much closer to Rice than he is to Steve Jackson.

6. (6) Steven Jackson, STL

The presence of rookie quarterback Sam Bradford doesn’t impact Jackson much but the addition of Rodger Saffold helps along the offensive line. Ignore the back surgery—all indications are that it was not a significant procedure.

7. (7) Michael Turner, ATL

8. (8) DeAngelo Williams, CAR

9. (9) Ryan Grant, GB

Waiting until the sixth round to take James Starks shows management’s confidence in Grant.

10. (13) Cedric Benson, CIN

Up three spots. No real reason other than I’m more comfortable that his 2009 season wasn’t a fluke.

11. (14) Rashard Mendenhall, PIT

Up three spots due to Ben Roethlisberger’s suspension and others sliding.

12. (11) Chris Wells, ARI

13. (12) Jonathan Stewart, CAR

14. (16) Pierre Thomas, NO

Up a couple notches. The Saints ignored the position in the draft and Lynell Hamilton is no threat to eat into Thomas’ carries.

15. (19) Shonn Greene, NYJ

Up four spots. Addition of Santonio Holmes makes the offense more explosive which should translate into more goal line opportunities for Greene.

16. (17) Matt Forte, CHI

Getting more convinced that Chester Taylor is destined for backup duty.

17. (10) Knowshon Moreno, DEN

Likely the most significant drop in the projections as Moreno falls from 10 to 17. Brandon Marshall’s trade leaves the team without a true number one receiver and if Tim Tebow is starting at the end of the season, Moreno will almost certainly struggle during the fantasy playoffs.

18. (NR) Ryan Mathews, SD

Rookie lucks out going to the Chargers high-powered offense. Touchdown opportunities await.

19. (21) Joseph Addai, IND

The misfortune of others moves Addai into the top 20.

20. (20) Ricky Williams, MIA

Don’t be surprised to see Ricky ahead of Ronnie. His role in the passing game puts him here.

21. (22) Jamaal Charles, KC

Don’t worry about the addition of Dexter McCluster. He’s going to be used in the slot with Charles the main threat on first and second down.

22. (23) Ronnie Brown, MIA

Are you getting the player who looked like a fantasy star for the first part of 2009, or the one who seems to get injured just when he’s starting to look like a fantasy stud?

23. (24) LeSean McCoy, PHI

24. (26) Brandon Jacobs, NYG

I guess I believe that his undisclosed knee injury from last season slowed him down. Could be a great value pick in 2010.

25. (28) Felix Jones, DAL

It looks like he’s the starter, but that doesn’t mean much if he can’t shoulder the load.

26. (29) Marion Barber, DAL

Seems like the Cowboys are convinced he’s a backup. At least he’s in a solid offense and figures to get the goal line work.

27. (30) Ahmad Bradshaw, NYG

With Jacobs at full health, does Bradshaw’s role get reduced?

28. (27) Carnell “Cadillac” Williams, TB

Williams fits in the top 30 but there is not a lot of upside here.

29. (35) Clinton Portis, WAS

Can’t believe I moved him six spots. Yikes! Donovan McNabb helps his value so he moves into the top 30.

30. (31) Darren Sproles, SD

It looks like you can expect a duplicate performance from 2009 while Mathews is the bell cow.

31. (NR) C.J. Spiller, BUF

Here’s the second rookie on our list. Hard to believe he’s going to bust out behind the Bills shaky offensive line in a division loaded with solid defenses.

32. (15) Fred Jackson, BUF

Poor Freddie. It takes the Bills coaches almost a whole season to realize he should be starting ahead of Marshawn Lynch and then the team’s new management takes Spiller with the ninth overall pick. Jackson is likely the biggest fantasy loser from the rookie draft.

33. (NR) Jahvid Best, DET

I have a sneaky suspicion that Best could have a surprising season. Detroit’s offense is on the way up (but not way up, mind you).

34. (33) Michael Bush, OAK

While others overspend on Darren McFadden, you wait and get the value pick in Bush and are rewarded.

35. (34) Reggie Bush, NO

Keeps losing touches but that might be reversed in 2010 with Mike Bell out of the picture.

36. (36) Thomas Jones, KC

37. (NR) LaDainian Tomlinson, NYJ

Not likely going to eat into Shonn Greene’s goal line carries but should produce behind the Jets solid offensive line.

38. (NR) LenDale White, SEA

White figures to be get the first and second down work as well as be the goal line back in Seattle. Unfortunately, the offense is looking highly suspect for 2010.

39. (40) Darren McFadden, OAK

Not convinced he will bust out or be a solid producer in his third year.

40. (NR) Ben Tate, HOU

Rookie is going to share the load with Steve Slaton and get the goal line work. Tate could surprise in the Texans powerful offense.

41. (38) Steve Slaton, HOU

Bit of a risk due to his neck injury but will be solid if healthy as a change of pace and receiving option for the Texans.

42. (19) Kevin Smith, DET

Lions didn’t trade up to take Best in the first round to play behind Smith. Once healthy, Smith figures to rotate in and get the goal line work.

43. (25) Jerome Harrison, CLE

Here’s my partial quote from the initial rankings: “the bottom line is that he did nothing for three years and 89 of his 150 fantasy points came in three games against the Chiefs, Raiders and Jaguars.” Then the Browns traded up to take Montario Hardesty in the second round.

44. (39) Donald Brown, IND

45. (NR) Montario Hardesty, CLE

Browns general manager Tom Heckert said he views Hardesty as a feature back. Harrison looks more attractive this year as the pass catching option on a bad team but Hardesty will get the goal line work so he’s the better Browns running back in dynasty leagues.

46. (44) Laurence Maroney, NE

47. (41) Tim Hightower, ARI

Interesting that the Cardinals still list him as the starter.

48. (42) Chester Taylor, CHI

Could surprise if he overtakes Forte but I don’t see that happening.

49. (43) Willis McGahee, BAL

50. (53) Leon Washington, SEA

Trade to Seattle revives his fantasy value but hard to count on a pass catching running back coming off a bad leg injury playing in what figures to be a poor offense.

51. (46) Sammy Morris, NE—Yawn.

52. (48) Mike Bell, PHI

53. (NR) Lynell Hamilton, NO

Thomas owners better handcuff him with Hamilton. Hamilton could be solid if Thomas goes down.

54. (49) Correll Buckhalter, DEN

55. (52) Kevin Faulk, NE

56. (51) Derrick Ward, TB

Big flop last year is now stuck behind Williams.

57. (NR) Toby Gerhart, MIN

Must have handcuff for Peterson owners.

58. (32) Justin Forsett, SEA

Likely going to get some playing time early in the season but will be stuck on the bench once Washington is healthy.

59. (55) Jason Snelling, ATL

Surprisingly productive last year, I’d rather have Snelling than Jerious Norwood.

The following players dropped off the rankings from last time:

NR. (37) Arian Foster, HOU
NR. (45) Julius Jones, SEA
NR. (47) Leonard Weaver, PHI
NR. (50) Marshawn Lynch, BUF
NR. (54) Bernard Scott, CIN
NR. (56) Jerious Norwood, ATL
NR. (57) Maurice Morris, DET
NR. (58) Brandon Jackson, GB
NR. (59) Mewelde Moore, PIT

Fantasy Football Rankings—Quarterbacks, Updated

By: — May 4, 2010 @ 2:50 pm
Filed under: Forecast

With the free agency portion of the offseason nearly complete and the NFL rookie draft in the rear view mirror, it’s time to update my 2010 quarterback rankings.

The initial rankings noted the significant number of solid fantasy performances last season and there’s little reason to doubt a repeat in 2010. The biggest developments since my initial rankings, published in early-March, were as follows:

  • Ben Roethlisberger’s four to six game suspension,
  • Brandon Marshall traded to the Miami Dolphins,
  • Donovan McNabb traded to the Washington Redskins,
  • Jason Campbell subsequently being traded to the Oakland Raiders,
  • St. Louis Rams drafting Sam Bradford, and
  • Brett Favre’s recent announcement that he requires ankle surgery.

The only potential major issue to be resolved before training camp is where former Rams quarterback Marc Bulger signs. The Pittsburgh Steelers seemed like a logical destination but they picked up Byron Leftwich from the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

Teams currently thought to be interested in Bulger include the Chicago Bears and Arizona Cardinals, with the Cardinals an intriguing option given the question marks surrounding Matt Leinart and Derek Anderson.

Each player’s prior ranking is noted in parentheses after the current ranking.

1. (1) Aaron Rodgers, GB

Fantasy football’s top ranked QB from 2009 returns to the top spot for 2010. What propels him to the top of the projections is his rushing ability (304 yards and five TD last year).

2. (4) Drew Brees, NO

Moves from four to two. The Saints failed to take a running back in the draft and lost Mike Bell to the Eagles, so they figure to match their passing production from a year ago.

3. (2) Matt Schaub, HOU

Schaub led the NFL in passing yards last year but moves down a notch due to the drafting of running back Ben Tate and concerns about Owen Daniels production as he returns to full health.

4. (3) Peyton Manning, IND

He’s fourth because he usually gets a game or two off at the end of the season. Otherwise, he’d be my second ranked quarterback.

5. (6) Philip Rivers, SD

The drafting of Ryan Mathews causes Rivers’ projected points to drop but he moves up a notch due to the trade of Donovan McNabb, my original fifth ranked QB, to the Redskins.

6. (9) Tony Romo, DAL

Coming off a top 5 fantasy season and moves up two notches due to the addition of a new toy on offense in rookie wide receiver Dez Bryant.

7. (8) Jay Cutler, CHI

He’s going to have to live with the team’s current crop of wide receivers but the Mike Martz factor propels him to the seven spot.

8. (11) Tom Brady, NE

Brady moves back into the top ten with two others falling and the addition of Torry Holt as a decent veteran to play outside with Randy Moss and Wes Welker. Still, there are issues at tight end with an aging Alge Crumpler and a pair of rookies.

9. (10) Eli Manning, NYG

No fancy additions in the draft but Eli moves up a spot due to McNabb and Roethlisberger moving down (drops behind Brady). Nice upside at wide receiver in Steve Smith, Hakeem Nicks and Mario Manningham and no additions to the depth chart at running back so there’s little reason to think they will run significantly more in 2010.

10. (NR) Kevin Kolb, PHI

Kolb passed for over 300 yards in both games he started last season and benefits from a solid supporting cast. He is a bit of a risk due to his lack of playing time but also possesses major upside and is a great option for dynasty leagues. Kolb will routinely be compared to Aaron Rodgers in his first year as a starter by fantasy pundits leading up to the start of the season.

11. (13) Joe Flacco, BAL

Anquan Boldin was a nice addition and Derrick Mason’s re-signing was icing on the cake but this is still a run first team with an aging Todd Heap at tight end.

12. (12) Brett Favre, MIN

Sixth ranked fantasy quarterback last year but hard to believe he can duplicate his performance coming off ankle surgery and being a year older. There’s a risk factor here that’s hard to ignore.

13. (18) Alex Smith, SF

Moves up courtesy of a pair of first round offensive lineman in Anthony Davis and Mike Iupati. The 49ers’ offense should surprise in 2010 given the young talent on the roster.

14. (5) Donovan McNabb, WAS

McNabb was ranked fifth previously assuming he would benefit from having perhaps the best young group of offensive skill position players in the league in Philadelphia. There is a big drop off in the talent surrounding him in Washington.

15. (17) Matthew Stafford, DET

Nate Burleson adds a nice deep threat opposite Calvin Johnson and the addition of rookie first round pick Jahvid Best reduces the concerns about the running attack as Kevin Smith fights his way back from injury. Tony Scheffler’s acquisition also provides insurance in case Brandon Pettigrew isn’t 100% at the start of the season.

16. (15) Matt Ryan, ATL

The Falcons rely on the run and there were no fancy additions in the draft. Unfortunately for Ryan, he has to rely on Michael Jenkins once again as his second receiver opposite Roddy White.

17. (19) Vince Young, TEN

Played well last year but still has to be considered a boom or bust candidate. Damian Williams was added in the draft but the team figures to rely on an out of shape Kenny Britt, Nate Washington and Justin Gage once again in 2010.

18. (16) David Garrard, JAC

The Jaguars ignored the wide receiver in the draft so Garrard has to hope one of Mike Thomas, Jarrett Dillard or Tiquan Underwood develops opposite Mike Walker. Not much upside here.

19. (26) Mark Sanchez, NYJ

Sanchez figures to improve on a decent rookie season and benefits from the team’s trade for Santonio Holmes as well as the team’s ability to bring in a veteran running back to replace Thomas Jones.

20. (25) Chad Henne, MIA

Henne moves up five spots courtesy of the Brandon Marshall trade. The Dolphins will run plenty in 2010 but Marshall will open it up for the team’s other wide receivers as well as provide a deep threat and plenty of yards after the catch.

21. (24) Matt Leinart, ARI

Leinart will likely be drafted before he should be. He loses Boldin and the offense figures to run much more this year than they did in 2009.

22. (20) Carson Palmer, CIN

The Bengals are going to run heavily again in 2010 and Palmer will almost certainly be drafted before he should be based on his name recognition and past fantasy achievements.

23. (14) Jason Campbell, OAK

It’s worth noting that the Raiders passing offense was significantly better last year when JaMarcus Russell was on the bench in favour of Bruce Gradkowski or Charlie Frye. Campbell is much better than either of those two. Unfortunately, there’s no number one wide receiver.

24. (23) Josh Freeman, TB

Freeman gains a pair of rookie wide receivers in Arrelious Benn and Mike Williams, so he’s looking decent for 2011. This year, not so much.

25. (7) Ben Roethlisberger, PIT

It was a career year for Big Ben in 2009 but he’s facing a four to six game suspension, loses Holmes and the Steelers figure to run more in 2010.

26. (22) Matt Cassel, KC

Unless scatback/slot receiver Dexter McCluster provides a major shot in the arm to the offense, Cassell is destined for fantasy irrelevance. There is little upside here.

27. (27) Matt Hasselbeck, SEA

Hasselbeck is likely keeping the position warm for Charlie Whitehurst.

28. (21) Kyle Orton, DEN

Orton was okay last year but loses Marshall and will likely have to rely on a pair of rookie wide receivers in Demaryius Thomas and Eric Decker. It will come as no surprise if Brady Quinn or Tim Tebow gets a shot early in 2010.

29. (NR) Sam Bradford, STL

There is no competition in St. Louis but loads of question marks at wide receiver and tight end. There is some upside at receiver but it is difficult to forecast any breakouts in 2010.

30. (29) Matt Moore, CAR

Moore’s prospects got a lot less exciting due to Jimmy Clausen’s presence. Actually, I wasn’t that excited to begin with.

31. (NR) Jake Delhomme, CLE

He’s been horrible for the last season and a half and the Browns depth chart at wide receiver is absolutely scary.

32. (31) Trent Edwards, BUF

Two people in NFL management circles think Edwards is a starting caliber quarterback and they happen to the Bills head coach and general manager. Edwards wins the lottery on that one but he won’t win any fantasy games for you, that’s for sure.

33. (NR) Charlie Whitehurst, SEA

Whitehurst is probably the only player likely to enter the season as a backup but almost certainly guaranteed to be starting by midseason.

The following players dropped off the rankings from last time:

NR. (28) Brady Quinn, DEN
NR. (30) Marc Bulger, FA
NR. (32) Bruce Gradkowski, OAK
NR. (33) JaMarcus Russell, OAK
NR. (34) Seneca Wallace, CLE
NR. (35) A.J. Feeley, STL

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