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Player Outlooks – Denver Broncos

By: — June 30, 2010 @ 11:04 am

The Broncos enter 2010 on the heels of a disappointing 2009 campaign in which they started out 6-0 but stumbled down the stretch to finish 8-8. The team’s defense crumbled during a four–game losing streak at the end of the season, allowing 1,573 yards and 122 points over that stretch.

The defense has been addressed this off-season, including three new starters along the defensive line with several veterans signed to plug the holes. The most significant off-season move was the trade of star wide receiver Brandon Marshall to Miami.

Marshall became the second young Pro Bowl quality player (following quarterback Jay Cutler) to be shipped out by head coach Josh McDaniels, who enters 2010 squarely on the hot seat.

Quarterback Kyle Orton posted career-high numbers in most categories last year but there are no guarantees he will be the team’s starter throughout 2010. The Broncos traded back into Round 1 of the NFL Draft to select Florida quarterback Tim Tebow and acquired former first-round pick Brady Quinn from the Browns via trade. If Orton falters, look for the Broncos to bench him quickly.

At running back, Knowshon Moreno figures to get the majority of work and his running style meshes better with the power running attack the Broncos will employ this year. However, a breakout season might not be in the cards if the passing offense struggles and with a lack of weapons on the outside, there’s a good chance it will.

With Marshall in Miami, the Broncos will turn to aging veterans Brandon Stokley and Jabar Gaffney as well as third-year player Eddie Royal along with rookies Demaryius Thomas and Eric Decker. While McDaniels may not have appreciated Marshall’s attitude, he will struggle to replace his production with the current crop of wide receivers on the roster.

QB Kyle Orton
Orton is coming off a career year in which he completed over 62% of his passes while throwing for 3,802 yards and 21 touchdowns (all career highs) with only 12 interceptions. The Broncos were so impressed they brought in not one but two quarterbacks to compete with him. They acquired Brady Quinn from the Browns in a trade and moved up into the first round to select Tim Tebow. If the Broncos aren’t impressed, then you shouldn’t be either. With Brandon Marshall having been traded and Eddie Royal coming off a horrific sophomore season, the wide receiver depth chart is littered with veteran retreads and rookies. It will come as no surprise if Quinn or Tebow gets a shot early in 2010.

QB Brady Quinn
When the Broncos acquired Quinn from the Browns, the initial thought was he would be given an opportunity to unseat Kyle Orton with many prognosticators thinking he would enter the season as the team’s starter. However, head coach Josh McDaniels has twice stated that Orton will begin the pre-season as the starter. The Broncos system featured numerous short and intermediate routes in 2009 so accuracy is a point of emphasis, which doesn’t work to Quinn’s advantage. His average completion percentage in three years with Cleveland was a woeful 52.1%. While Quinn may eventually get a shot in 2010, he appears to be a work in progress and would only be keeping the position warm for rookie Tim Tebow.

RB Knowshon Moreno
Entering the offseason, Moreno looked like a potential top-10 fantasy running back. Despite hitting the rookie wall late last season (2.7 yards per rush over his last four games), Moreno had a solid rookie campaign running for 947 yards and 7 touchdowns while showing adequate pass receiving ability. The Broncos have indicated they plan on getting Moreno more touches, which is music to the ears of fantasy owners, however, the trade of Brandon Marshall to Miami leaves the team void of a proven number one receiver and the quarterback situation also looks desperate. It won’t be a surprise if Brady Quinn or Tim Tebow is starting at some point – both factors could lead to opposing defenses stacking the box against Moreno until the Broncos prove they have playmakers in the passing game. Moreno shapes up as a mid-tier RB2 with upside.

RB Correll Buckhalter
At times in 2009, Buckhalter seemed to outplay hotshot rookie Knowshon Moreno, particularly in the running game averaging 5.3 yards per carry to Moreno’s 3.8. However, the Broncos plan to feature Moreno more in 2010 and have signed J.J. Arrington to help as a receiver out of the backfield which means Buckhalter is looking at fewer touches this season. If Moreno goes down with an injury, Buckhalter’s value would kick into gear given Arrington is not a good insider runner. Buckhalter is worthy of drafting as a handcuff but doesn’t figure to be useful as a flex option in leagues until more opportunities on the field present themselves.

WR Eddie Royal
Royal was one of the biggest fantasy disappointments in 2009, finishing with 345 yards receiving and 0 touchdowns after a rookie season of 91 receptions for 980 yards and 5 TDs. One of the most disconcerting aspects of Royal’s 2009 season was most of his targets came on short passes yet he caught only 46.8% of passes thrown his way, whereas Marshall had more deep attempts and caught 65.6% of his targets. Brandon Marshall has been traded and head coach Josh McDaniels has given lip service that Royal is going to be more involved in 2010. This coach speak should be viewed with some skepticism since the Broncos used 2010 draft picks on wide receivers Demaryius Thomas and Eric Decker. Nonetheless, there is some upside here but don’t reach too early for Royal. Consider him a low-end WR3 but monitor how he is used in the preseason.

WR Demaryius Thomas
Head coach Josh McDaniels clearly has little use for any player he didn’t bring in so Thomas, drafted in the 1st round this year, figures to get plenty of playing time. Unfortunately, he might be catching (or trying to catch) passes from Brady Quinn or Tim Tebow by mid-season. There’s a good chance he’ll be in the starting lineup Week 1 but the quarterback situation and overall prospects for the Broncos offense will make it difficult for him to have a solid impact as a rookie. He is definitely a viable prospect in dynasty leagues but will be drafted before he should in re-draft leagues. It’s all about value and raw, rookie receivers with unstable quarterback situations should generally be avoided.

WR Jabar Gaffney
Gaffney was surprisingly productive last year, finishing second on the team to Brandon Marshall with 54 catches and 732 yards and a pair of touchdowns. However, 213 of those yards came in the final game of the season against Kansas City and he scored his two touchdowns in week 16 making his fantasy consistency factor useless in 2009. The wide receiver situation in Denver is unsettled and Gaffney may enter the season in the starting line-up although that may change as the season progresses given the rookies on the roster. The bottom line: slight upside with Gaffney to go along with plenty of risk.

WR Eric Decker
Let’s see, Josh McDaniels clearly likes his guys, Eddie Royal isn’t one of them and he was a bust last season. Jabar Gaffney and Brandon Stokley aren’t the long-term answers so Decker will get a shot at some point and don’t be surprised if it’s this year. However, expecting much from the 2010 3rd-round pick is a bit of a stretch considering the team appears to be reloading on offense and has personnel issues at the quarterback position.

TE Daniel Graham
Tony Scheffler is gone so Graham will move into the starting lineup, which unfortunately means nothing to fantasy owners. Graham is a blocking specialist and the Broncos don’t significantly utilize the tight end in the passing game. Graham may not even beat out second-year player Richard Quinn for the starting spot. Frankly, having a back-up tight end on a good offensive team would bring more fantasy benefit than either tight end options in Denver.

TE Richard Quinn
Inexplicably, the Broncos took Quinn at the back end of the 2nd-round in 2009, which is far too early for a blocking tight end (12 receptions over his last two years in college). With the trade of Tony Scheffler to Detroit, Quinn will battle Daniel Graham for playing time. Offseason reports indicate Quinn has struggled catching the ball so he should be avoided for fantasy purposes.

Player Outlooks – New York Jets

By: — June 29, 2010 @ 7:58 am

The Jets enter 2010 hoping to better their 2009 season that saw them reach the AFC Conference Finals before losing to the Indianapolis Colts. Rookie quarterback Mark Sanchez led the Jets on their surprising playoff run, playing a caretaker role with the team’s rushing attack and exceptional defense leading the way.

The Jets offense will once again feature the run in 2010. They remain largely intact minus left guard Alan Faneca and starting running back Thomas Jones – both released. Jones was let go despite having a career year with 1,402 rushing yards and 14 touchdowns. Shonn Greene, a second-year player who flashed in the playoffs, takes over as the team’s starting running back and former Charger great LaDainian Tomlinson was signed to fill a backup role.

Big things are expected of Greene, who has the size to run over tacklers and the agility and speed to beat them in the open field. While his potential as a runner in unquestioned, his receiving ability leaves something to be desired as evidenced by his zero receptions as a rookie.

The signing of Santonio Holmes from the Steelers would lead you to believe that offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer has ideas of opening up the passing game. He will also have a full year of Braylon Edwards at his disposal, who was acquired after week four of last season. While more is expected from the Jets passing attack, a fantasy breakout campaign from Sanchez is unlikely given New York’s run-first mentality and both Edwards and Holmes may struggle to produce consistent fantasy points given the limited targets and multiple receiving options.

QB Mark Sanchez
Sanchez figures to improve on a decent rookie season and benefits from the team’s trade for Santonio Holmes as well as the their ability to bring in a veteran running back to replace Thomas Jones. He is surrounded by solid skill position players to go along with one of the league’s best offensive lines so the ingredients for fantasy success are there for Sanchez in 2010. Although the Jets feature two solid running backs to go along with three proven wide receivers and a pass catching tight end, they will likely once again rely on the run more than any other team. The reality is, Sanchez will likely be drafted before he should be and his upside is limited in an offense that takes few risks and relies heavily on the run.

RB Shonn Greene
Last year, Greene was an up and coming rookie playing behind Thomas Jones, who had a career year. The two backs combined for 1,942 yards and 16 touchdowns on the ground. This year, the team returns all of its key starters on offense except for left guard Alan Faneca and the addition of wide receiver Santonio Holmes figures to make the offense more explosive. Greene takes over the feature role with an aging LaDainian Tomlinson in reserve and the likelihood is that he will handle more of the workload in 2010 than Jones did in 2009. Look for Greene to approach Jones’ 1,400 rushing yards with more touchdowns, production that will put him just outside the top five running backs for fantasy purposes.

RB LaDainian Tomlinson
For those of you out there looking for a return to glory for LT in New York, you can think again. The Jets jettisoned Thomas Jones and replaced him with LT partly because they were worried about Jones accepting a demotion to backup Greene. While Jones had over 1,400 yards and 14 touchdowns last year, LT only had 730 in San Diego, averaging a paltry 3.3 yards per carry. Simply put, LT’s not likely going to eat into Greene’s goal line carries but should have reasonable production behind the Jets solid offensive line.

WR Braylon Edwards
Edwards is a maddeningly inconsistent player on a team that likes to run the ball plenty. Even with the acquisition of Santonio Holmes, Edwards is likely to fulfill the role as the team’s main deep threat. On the plus side, he is likely the only Jets receiver who will start 16 games in 2010. On the down side, he averaged just six targets a game with the Jets, too low to even be a WR3. Let others bite on this overrated receiver who has just 1,553 receiving yards and seven touchdowns over the last two years.

WR Santonio Holmes
Holmes finally delivered on his promise with a solid season in 2009 but still left something to be desired with only five touchdowns, including a nine-game stretch when he failed to find the end zone. However, with a four-game suspension and moving from a Steelers offense that featured the pass in 2009 to a Jets offense that throws only when it has to, expect a large drop in his production in 2010. Buy low and hope he contributes heavily over twelve games.

WR Jerricho Cotchery
Cotchery has been a solid player for the Jets but there was always the lingering suspicion that the team wasn’t sold on his abilities. With Braylon Edwards and Santonio Holmes being acquired over the last year, that suspicion was confirmed. In leagues that feature 15-18 roster spots, Cotchery isn’t worth drafting since he won’t get enough targets to be a fantasy difference maker.

TE Dustin Keller
More was expected from Keller in his second year but he was held in to pass block more than expected. His production received a boost when Leon Washington went down but not as much as expected. The Jets underutilized Keller 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.

Player Outlooks – New England Patriots

By: — June 28, 2010 @ 6:19 am

With Tom Brady at the helm, the Patriots were one of the league’s best offensive teams again in 2009. While it was expected the team would generate significant yards in the passing game, the team’s ability to effectively run the ball came as a surprise.

Despite lacking a featured runner and having injury problems at the position, the Patriots were a very solid twelfth in the league in rushing. Laurence Maroney came back strong after a disappointing year in 2008 and showcased the ability to be the team’s lead runner. Fumbling kept him on the bench at times but he played well enough to warrant consideration as a sleeper pick.

Although the Patriots figure to be solid on offense in 2010, there are more risks than in seasons past…

Left tackle Matt Light appeared to be a player in decline last year, the tight end position is a major question mark and most significantly, slot wide receiver Wes Welker, the league’s best at the position, is coming off a serious knee injury that occurred late in 2009. Of course, the possibility of a Randy Moss blow up remains. While those issues could have a material impact on the offense, most NFL teams would gladly trade their offensive situation for the Patriots “problems”.

QB Tom Brady
Brady is coming off a somewhat disappointing 2009 campaign as the seventh ranked fantasy quarterback. However, 43 of his fantasy points came during a 59-0 blowout win over Tennessee. In 2010, expect similar numbers from Brady and an improvement over 2009 seems reasonable given he will be two years removed from the ACL injury that derailed his 2008 season. However, much hinges on the health of Wes Welker, the league’s best slot receiver and Brady’s unquestioned security blanket on third down. Randy Moss returns and veteran Torry Holt is better suited for to the third role than Joey Galloway and Sam Aiken were last year. Welker’s health needs to be monitored but reports indicate he could be ready on week one. If that holds, Brady is headed for a top five fantasy ranking in 2010.

RB Laurence Maroney
Maroney is the ultimate tease for fantasy owners and Patriots fans. He seemingly changes from looking like a stud running back to a player more interested in avoiding contact by stepping out of bounds from play to play. He is coming off a modest season in 2009 where he finished with 757 rushing yards and nine touchdowns even though he found himself in coach Bill Belichick’s doghouse courtesy of four fumbles. During a nine-game stretch from week 7 to week 15, Maroney averaged almost 14 fantasy points per game on 709 total yards and nine touchdowns while averaging almost 19 touches per game. If he can avoid Belichick’s doghouse, he is a decent option as a fantasy backup with some upside given the age of the Patriots other running backs.

RB Sammy Morris
Morris is a dependable back whose ability running between the tackles keeps him employed. However his sporadic playing time in the Patriots backfield gives fantasy owners fits. Sure he will score a few fantasy points but it will almost certainly happen when he’s sitting on your bench. Injuries generally hold Morris back. He has played 16 games only three times during his ten years in the league all of which occurred during seasons where he was barely used. While he’s a key cog in the running back-by-committee approach used by the Patriots, you should avoid him in all but the deepest of fantasy leagues given his lack of upside, injury history and competition for carries in New England.

RB Fred Taylor
The Patriots were hoping Taylor would have a resurgence during his first year in New England but that failed to materialize as he suffered through the worst year of his 12-year career. An ankle injury limited him to just six games and he finished with just 269 yards rushing and four touchdowns. Laurence Maroney played well in Taylor’s absence and will enter training camp as the favorite to start in 2010. Maroney does have a history of disappointing so Taylor may be worth adding as a waiver-wire pickup in-season should Maroney falter.

RB Kevin Faulk
Faulk keeps on chugging at age 34 and has yet to relinquish his role as the Patriots top receiving option out of the backfield. If the Patriots are behind late in games (which happens more frequently now), Faulk is generally in the backfield for his receiving and pass protection abilities. However, predicting when he will be used is difficult and given his age, there is no chance he will earn enough touches on a consistent basis to even fill a role as a flex player. Faulk is strictly a fill in option in all leagues.

WR Randy Moss
Moss comes off a 2009 campaign in which he had solid statistics while not necessarily being a solid citizen. In 2010, the stars may be aligned for Moss to have an excellent fantasy season, perhaps even supplanting Andre Johnson as the top fantasy wide receiver. Success = opportunity + motivation + ability and Moss has all three. Opportunity – Wes Welker may miss the early part of the season or at best be limited as he recovers from tears to his ACL and MCL. Motivation – Moss is entering a contract year and hoping for one final big payday. Ability – In the two years that Brady has been healthy, Moss has accumulated 2,757 receiving yards and 36 touchdowns. In addition, Brady will be two years removed from tearing his ACL. Expect plenty of targets, plenty of big games and plenty of production from Moss in 2010.

WR Wes Welker
Welker has been PPR gold with 347 receptions for 3,688 yards over the last three years however, he tore both his ACL and MCL during the last regular season game of 2009 leaving his fantasy prospects for 2010 on shaky ground. A full recovery from such a severe injury seems unlikely. Although some reports indicate he may be ready on opening day, it is wishful thinking to suggest he will be 100% by week one. In fact, it is likely wishful thinking to expect he will be fully recovered at any time during 2010. Welker relies on quick cuts on short and intermediate routes to get open and the injury he suffered will at least partially negate his strengths as a receiver. A fourth straight 100-catch season isn’t in the cards and Welker is unlikely to be a solid fantasy contributor in 2010.

WR Torry Holt
Holt has spent the last few years wallowing in the moribund passing attacks of the Rams and Jaguars. This year, he moves from the run heavy offense in Jacksonville to an offense led by one of the league’s top quarterbacks in Tom Brady. In 2009, Holt never seemed to be on the same page with quarterback David Garrard and the two missed several opportunities to connect for big plays. Still, the veteran managed 51 receptions for 722 yards (both career lows) for a respectable 14.2 yards per catch but suffered fantasy wise as he failed to find the end zone. If you subscribe to the theory that the Patriots want a dependable receiver to start opposite Randy Moss and Wes Welker, then Holt is your bet to win the job ahead of second year player Brandon Tate, rookie Taylor Price and Julian Edelman. Even so, Holt has limited upside in 2010 unless he can rediscover his ability to find the end zone.

WR Julian Edelman
Edelman quickly proved himself to be a Wes Welker clone during his rookie season in 2009. An injury to Wes Welker allowed Edelman to haul in 16 passes for 147 yards and 2 touchdowns during week 17 and the Patriots playoff loss against the Ravens. Edelman figures to be used heavily early in 2010 unless Welker is fully recovered from the significant knee injuries he sustained late last season. Edelman is clearly worthy of being drafted and has significant upside in PPR leagues if Welker fails to regain full health.

TE Alge Crumpler
The days of watching Crumpler split the safeties down the field are long gone. Although he moves to the pass-happy Pats in 2010, there is little chance of him resurrecting his days as one of the league’s top receiving threats at the tight end position. He has morphed into more of a blocker late in his career by adding several pounds, which in turn hampers his ability to get open. Too many dropped passes in 2009 show that Crumpler’s skills as a receiver seem to be on the decline. He’s no better than a TE2 for your fantasy league in 2010.

Player Outlooks – Miami Dolphins

By: — June 26, 2010 @ 9:16 am

The Dolphins are coming off a disappointing 7-9 season which came on the heels of a surprisingly solid 11-5 record in 2008. The team was aggressive to upgrade its roster and should rebound with a better season in 2010.

Head coach Tony Sparano favors a strong running attack to set up play action. With quarterback Chad Henne entering his first full season as the team’s starter and Brandon Marshall coming over in a trade with the Broncos, the Dolphins figure to have a more explosive passing game.

While that may happen, the Dolphins bread and butter is a rushing attack featuring two talented running backs in Ricky Williams and Ronnie Brown. Offensive coordinator Dan Henning uses the “Wildcat” formation liberally to keep defenses off balance but it became ineffective and its usage went down once Brown went on injured reserve with a Lisfranc fracture in his right foot.

In 2009, the Dolphins ranked 4th in rushing offense and 20th in passing but a slightly more balanced attack should be expected in 2010 with Marshall being the main cog in the passing game and the team’s remaining wide receivers fighting for the leftover scraps.

QB Chad Henne
Henne enters 2010 as an intriguing fantasy option, courtesy of the Dolphins acquisition of Brandon Marshall from the Broncos. With a true number one wide receiver in Miami, Henne’s fantasy prospects are much improved and the Dolphins offense should have a better run-pass ratio than in 2009 when they ran plenty to help make up for a weak group of wide receivers. The Dolphins will run plenty once again in 2010, which limits Henne’s upside, but Marshall will create opportunities as he provides a deep threat and plenty of yards after the catch. Nonetheless, Henne has only started 13 games in two years and this lack of experience is part of the reason he is a fantasy backup with marginal upside who will feed on short yardage touchdowns to pad his fantasy stats in 2010.

RB Ricky Williams
Don’t be surprised to see Ricky ahead of Ronnie. His role in the passing game puts him here and should allow him to top Brown’s numbers in 2010. The Dolphins rely on the running game, Williams looked fantastic last year, and Brown is coming off an injury (again) and may not be 100% to start the season. What’s not to like? While others are scooping up Brown based on his solid production prior to being injured last year, get Williams on the cheap and watch him attain mid-tier RB2 status.

RB Ronnie Brown
With Brown, you have to decide whether you are getting the player who looked like a fantasy star for the first part of 2009 or the injury prone tease who flashes signs resembling a stud RB1 (see 2007 and 2009)? He’s missed an average of four games a year over his five-year career and has only one 1,000-yard season. His 177 fantasy points in 2008, the best fantasy season of his career, would normally rank as a low end RB2. Just giving you the facts. He’s going to go higher than he should in most drafts but the value isn’t going to be there.

WR Brandon Marshall
Marshall moves to the Dolphins and brings considerable talent (and baggage) to an offense desperate for a true number one wide receiver. He’s finished among the top-eleven fantasy wide receivers in each of the last three years while having over 100 receptions in each of those seasons. The issue is whether he can succeed in a Dolphins offense that runs the ball more than the Broncos ever did. Simply put, 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.

WR Greg Camarillo
Camarillo will compete with Brian Hartline to be the Dolphins starting receiver opposite Brandon Marshall. However, don’t mistake that for solid fantasy prospects for Camarillo in 2010. He is a journeyman player with little big-play ability who will struggle to match his production from the last two years given Marshall’s presence. Camarillo will likely split time with Brian Hartline with Hartline getting the red zone targets. Camarillo is not worth owning in 2010.

WR Brian Hartline
The Ohio State product enters his second year having shown some playmaking ability as a rookie in 2009, finishing with 31 receptions while averaging a nifty 16.3 yards per catch. To be useful for fantasy purposes, he’s going to have to rise above Greg Camarillo and Davone Bess to earn more targets and that’s not likely to happen in 2010. Of the three, Hartline is the one to own for dynasty formats but he’s likely waiver wire fodder in most re-draft leagues in 2010.

WR Davone Bess
Bess has been the Dolphins most productive receiver over the last two years but he’s a small, shifty player who lacks top end speed, averages only 10.1 yards per catch and has only three touchdowns in two years. Basically, he benefitted from circumstance and circumstances have changed with the acquisition of Brandon Marshall. Bess might top Camarillo and Hartline’s production but there isn’t much upside here other than maybe as a flex option in larger leagues.

TE Anthony Fasano
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 which is going to cut down on Fasano’s red zone opportunities in 2010. Fasano’s highest yardage in a season was 2008 when he had 454 yards and it’s almost certain he won’t approach that total in 2010. There are similar tight ends with more upside, making Fasano not worth considering in your fantasy league.

Player Outlooks – Buffalo Bills

By: — June 24, 2010 @ 10:47 pm

Buffalo Bills The Bills enter 2010 with a new management in team in place. Buddy Nix takes over as the team’s general manager and he chose Chan Gailey as his head coach.

Gailey has a reputation of being able to cobble together solid offenses, utilizing the various talents of the players he has to maximum potential. He’s going to need that ability in spades in Buffalo, where the quarterback position and offensive line have been major issues for the past few years.

Inexplicably, the Bills failed to address either issue, using a seventh-round pick on developmental quarterback Levi Brown and signing veteran retread Cornell Green to man the right tackle position. The other huge hole on offense is opposite Lee Evans, where disappointing 2008 second-round pick James Hardy will compete with fellow third-year player Steve Johnson and rookie fourth-round pick Marcus Easley for the starting position.

Expecting the Bills to improve much on the 30th ranking in total offense from 2009 seems a stretch given the lack of upgrades on the offensive side of the ball.

QB Trent Edwards
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. With Edwards, the Bills have an injury prone, checkdown artist incapable of making plays on a consistent basis. It’s highly unlikely the light will go on for him entering his fourth year in the league. He couldn’t succeed in 2009 with Lee Evans and Terrell Owens lining up at wide receiver and the Bills wide receivers are significantly worse this year.

RB Fred Jackson
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. Likely the biggest fantasy loser from the rookie draft. However, look for him to assume the lead role for the early part of the season and perhaps the entire year, with Spiller spelling him and getting plenty of looks in the passing game. Jackson is worthy of significant playing time but Spiller’s presence and the Bills questionable offensive outlook make him a bit of a risk.

RB C.J. Spiller
The Bills had as many fumbles in the running game last season as touchdowns. That’s right, six rushing touchdowns to go with six fumbles. Needless to say, neither Fred Jackson nor Marshawn Lynch gave fantasy owners much joy in 2009. Bring on rookie C.J. Spiller who likely won’t take many carries from Jackson or Lynch on first and second down but will fill a dual role as a receiver and runner. Picture him more in the vain of Reggie Bush, Percy Harvin, or fellow rookie Dexter McCluster. His fantasy value will be sporadic and will only increase should Jackson or Lynch miss time due to injury.

WR Lee Evans
In 2009, Evans set career lows in receptions with and receiving yards with 612. His seven touchdowns helped him finish a respectable 33rd overall amongst wide receivers but he continued his tradition of being a fantasy tease. Remarkably the Bills did not acquire a replacement for Trent Edwards at quarterback so with no upgrade at QB, Evans figures to produce middling fantasy points again as a backup fantasy wide receiver in 2010.

WR Steve Johnson
With Terrell Owens and Josh Reed out of the picture, Johnson is fighting with James Hardy to earn a starting role. Don’t be surprised if he earns it. Unfortunately, the Bills passing offense is pathetic and the team will likely give Hardy every opportunity to win the starting role given his draft status. In any event, Johnson’s prospects for fantasy success in 2010 are minimal at best.

WR James Hardy
Hardy is confident, brash player entering his third year but has been a complete non-factor for two years in Buffalo. He is behind in his development due to missing all of last offseason with an injury that also caused him to miss a portion of the 2009 regular season. Fortunately for Hardy, the Bills have little depth at wide receiver or else he might be in danger of being released by the new management in Buffalo. Barring an excellent performance in the preseason, there is little reason to draft Hardy.

TE Shawn Nelson
The 2009 fifth-round pick looked the part as a rookie, displaying flashes of speed and an ability to get open. However, injuries and inconsistency prevented him from filling up the stat sheet and he finished the year with only 18 receptions for 157 yards and a touchdown. Nelson is a talented player with the athleticism to succeed but his prospects in 2010 are limited due to his lack of experience and the Bills lack of talent on offense. He should win the starting job and is a decent prospect for keeper leagues and worth drafting in deep leagues.

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