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2012 Player Outlooks – Arizona Cardinals

By: — July 27, 2012 @ 4:00 pm

QB Kevin Kolb
After suffering through their first season without Kurt Warner in 2010, the Cardinals chose to beef up the quarterback position by acquiring Kevin Kolb from Philadelphia in return for cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie and a 2nd round pick. That trade proved to be a disaster, with the Cardinals signing Kolb to a $63 million contract ($21 million in guarantees) and then watching him flop badly as the team’s starter. The Cardinals flirted with the idea of attempting to sign Peyton Manning but instead chose to pay Kolb a $7 million roster bonus and retain him as their starting quarterback in 2012. He will battle John Skelton for the starting position in training camp. While the Cardinals would prefer that Kolb win that competition, Skelton was the more impressive player in 2011, leading the Cardinals to a 6-2 record which overshadows Kolb’s less than stellar 2-6 mark. Losing offseason and training camp time hindered Kolb’s ability to pick up the Cardinals offensive scheme and he struggled with turnovers, coughing up eight interceptions and three fumbles in half a season. Look for Kolb to open the season under center for the Cardinals and for him to emerge as a lower tier QB2 provided he can get comfortable with Arizona’s offensive scheme and reduce his turnovers.

QB John Skelton
For the second consecutive year, the Cardinals turned to Skelton to lead their offense after watching a veteran struggle to lead the team. In 2010, it was Derek Anderson, with Skelton winning two of his four starts but failing to top 200 passing yards in any game. Last season, Kevin Kolb struggled with injuries and inconsistency and Skelton finished the season with a 6-2 record while throwing for 1,913 yards with 11 touchdowns and 14 interceptions. He led the team to a number of fourth quarter comeback wins but struggled early in games and with his accuracy, completing just 54.9% of his passes. While Skelton threw for more yards per game in 2011, he was a risk taker resulting in a high interception total. In 2012, he will battle Kevin Kolb for the team’s starting position but Kolb has the upper hand in that battle due to his superior accuracy and the commitment the team has made to him. Even if Skelton wins the job, his fantasy prospects aren’t great

RB Beanie Wells
After struggling in 2010 to build upon his impressive work as a rookie, Wells put together a career-year in 2011 as he emerged as a workhorse back for the Cardinals. The trade of Tim Hightower to the Redskins and rookie 2nd round pick Ryan Williams’ season ending injury in the preseason left Wells to carry the load. Despite struggling with a knee injury in Week 6 and missing two games, Wells ran for 1,047 yards and ten touchdowns on 245 carries, finishing the season as the 17th ranked fantasy running back. Consistency was an issue as he ran for 62 yards or less in eight games and amassed 60.6 of his 169.9 fantasy points in just two games. Wells entered training camp on the PUP list due to his slow recovery from off-season knee surgery but the team has indicated that they expect him to be ready for Week 1. The condition of his knees and Williams’ ability to recovery from a torn patella tendon are the two risks of Wells not repeating his strong performance from last season. However, the Cardinals failed to address the running back position in the off-season so we can assume that they are confident in his recovery. Consider Wells a high-end RB3 or low-end RB2 with upside in 2012 and drop him lower in PPR leagues due to his lack of ability as a receiver (just 27 receptions in three seasons).

RB Ryan Williams
Despite having Beanie Wells and Tim Hightower in the backfield, the Cardinals drafted Williams in the 2nd round of the 2011 draft and traded Hightower in the preseason once they were confident that Williams could replace his production. However, a torn patella tendon caused Williams to miss his entire rookie campaign and he will enter 2012 stuck behind Beanie Wells on the depth chart. While Williams is the shiftier of the two backs as well as being the better receiving option, he lacks breakaway speed and cannot match Wells’ size and power in short yardage. Williams appeared to have a chance to unseat Wells as the Cardinals primary threat at running back entering 2011 but the odds of that happening this season appear to be non-existent barring a Wells injury. Of course, Wells hasn’t been a bastion of good health since entering the league in 2009. Williams has some upside but a tore patella tendon is a significant knee injury and he shapes up as a solid handcuff with upside in 2012 and possibly a decent flex option if he can steal a decent number of carries from Wells.

RB LaRod Stephens-Howling
Entering his 4th year in the league, Stephens-Howling has displayed plenty of big play ability in limited touches with the Cardinals and was given his most extensive playing time in 2011. By extensive, we mean 43 rushes and 13 receptions. He took two of those receptions to the house, scoring on 73- and 52-yard pass plays but those plays didn’t convince the team’s coaching staff to use him more, even with Ryan Williams on the shelf for the entire year due to injury. Since the coaching staff doesn’t seem to give the diminutive Stephens-Howling any love, you shouldn’t either.

Larry Fitzgerald

Fitzgerald has averaged 85 receptions, 1,274 yards and 7 TDs over the past two years.

WR Larry Fitzgerald
Fitzgerald was the wide receiver equivalent to running back Maurice Jones-Drew in 2011 – highly productive despite playing in an offense with several significant issues. Despite subpar play along the offensive line and at quarterback from Kevin Kolb and the accuracy challenged John Skelton, Fitzgerald still managed to catch 80 passes for 1,411 yards and eight touchdowns, averaging a career-high 17.6 yards per reception and finishing the season as the 5th ranked fantasy wide receiver. After averaging 98 receptions for 1,313 yards and 11.7 touchdowns during the 2007-2009 seasons, it is safe to say that Fitzgerald has failed to attain the levels of production that he had when Kurt Warner was at the helm of the team’s offense. Nonetheless, he has remained highly productive, averaging 85 receptions for 1,274 yards and seven touchdowns over the past two years. With Warner gone, Fitzgerald’s touchdown production has declined and that is the biggest reason for the decline in his fantasy production from 13.1 FPts/G to 10.6 FPts/G. Entering 2012, Fitzgerald remains a solid, low risk WR1 although another 1,400-yard season will be a challenge given the return of Kolb and Skelton at quarterback and the marginal upgrades made along the offensive line.

WR Andre Roberts
While the fantasy football world seems to have penciled in rookie 1st round pick Michael Floyd as the Cardinals starting wide receiver opposite Larry Fitzgerald, it appears that Arizona’s management and coaching staff failed to get that memo. Offseason reports indicate that Roberts will enter training camp in the starting lineup and that the coaching staff expects him and Early Doucet to be key cogs in the team’s passing attack in 2012. The team’s 2011 4th round pick, Roberts played little as a rookie but stepped into the starting lineup last season and played reasonably well, catching 51 passes for 586 yards and a pair of touchdowns. Considered a raw prospect coming out of The Citadel, Roberts has plenty of room for improvement but given the depth of the Cardinals receiving corps, his 2012 fantasy prospects aren’t great. While a breakout season is possible, another 600-yard, 3-4 touchdown performance seems more likely. Keep your eye on Roberts in the preseason.

WR Michael Floyd
Given his combination of size (6’3”, 225 pounds), speed and production in at Notre Dame, Floyd was considered the wide receiver prospect with the most upside coming out of this year’s draft. However, character concerns caused him to be drafted behind Justin Blackmon and he was selected 13th overall by the Cardinals. While Arizona’s plan is to eventually pair Floyd with Larry Fitzgerald giving the team a pair of big, talented wide receivers, it appears that plan will not take hold by opening day. While Floyd may have the most upside of any of the challengers to start opposite Fitzgerald, off-season reports indicate that he has struggled to learn the team’s playbook and is likely to enter the season behind Fitzgerald, Andre Roberts and Early Doucet on the depth chart. If that happens, Floyd will be worth monitoring on the waiver wire in redraft formats. In dynasty leagues, Floyd is an outstanding prospect whose only issues would be playing alongside a top five receiver in Fitzgerald and the team’s issues at quarterback.

WR Early Doucet
What to make of Early Doucet? When he is healthy (not frequently enough) and in the game plan (more frequently in 2011), the Cardinals 2008 third- round pick has looked good. Witness his performance in the 2009 playoffs when he caught 14 passes for 145 yards and a pair of touchdowns. It is also nice that his targets, receptions and yards have increased every year that he has been in the league and that he scored a career-high five touchdowns last season. However, it is hard to get too excited about a 5th year player who is coming off a 97-target, 54-reception, 689-yard season who is facing new competition on the depth chart in the form of 1st round pick Michael Floyd. Although the Cardinals signed Doucet to a two-year contract in the off-season, they seem more committed to Floyd and Andre Roberts and those commitments will likely result in a decline in usage for Doucet at some point in 2012.

TE Todd Heap
After being a surprise preseason cut by the Ravens last season, Heap signed on with the Cardinals and immediately became the team’s starting tight end. Given quarterback Kevin Kolb’s penchant for throwing to the tight end position, Heap’s fantasy prospects seemed reasonable but injuries (hamstring) caused him to miss six games and he was only marginally effective when he was in the lineup, catching 24 passes for 283 yards and a touchdown. Those totals were his worst production since the 2007 season when he played just six games and at 32 years of age and with promising prospect in Rob Housler waiting in the wings, a bounceback season in 2012 seems unlikely. In fact, Heap could end up on the street once again this season given the presence of Housler and Jeff King, who is the team’s top blocking tight end. Heap is waiver wire material at best.

Robert Housler
The Cardinals 2011 third-round pick played little as a rookie catching 12 passes for 133 yards and failing to find the end zone. However, at 6’5” and 250 pounds, he has good size to go along with excellent speed for the tight end position. The Cardinals are intrigued by his raw talent and reports out of Arizona indicate that Housler will be given an opportunity to become a big part of the team’s offense in 2012. Of course, he needs to stay healthy (a hamstring injury limited him last season) and improve his run blocking if he wants to see the field more. With a pair of aging veterans in front of him (Todd Heap and Jeff King), Housler will be given every opportunity to win the starting job in the preseason. He will likely enter the season on the waiver wire in redraft leagues and is a decent prospect in dynasty formats, although one fantasy owners will not want to rely on in 2012.

Overvalued / Undervalued – Quarterbacks

By: — July 26, 2012 @ 11:55 pm

Quarterback has become the make or break position in fantasy football over the past couple years. Remember when running backs dominated the first two rounds of most drafts? It wasn’t that long ago. Now we see as many as three QBs going in the first round – but is it justified? In some cases, yes, but there are gems going in the later rounds that can help you win your fantasy championship in December.


Cam Newton – Carolina Panthers
Average Draft Position: 2.10

Cam Newton was an absolute fantasy beast last season – 4000 passing yards, 21 passing TDs and 14, count ‘em 14 rushing scores. The hype is warranted but his selection in the second round may not be. You don’t have to look back too far to conjure up examples of how multi-tooled quarterbacks have fared the year after a breakout season… think Michael Vick and Vince Young. Expect the rushing TDs to decrease – they almost have to with battering ram Mike Tolbert in the fold, snaking those red zone opportunities. That leaves the onus on Newton’s ability to throw the ball in order to appease his high ADP. He is good, not great and his weapons outside of Steve Smith are far from elite. Add in the fact that defenses will have had a full off-season to think about Newton’s attributes and he becomes the riskiest of the top 5 quarterbacks on the board.

Peyton Manning – Denver Broncos
Average Draft Position: 5.12

Manning has become one of the most polarizing players in the world of fantasy this off-season and rightfully so. The future Hall of Famer obviously has the skills, the smarts and the desire to prove his doubters wrong but a fifth round selection is too early. We know his amazing track record of consistency and the fact that he has reportedly looked OK in organized activities, but the negatives far outweigh the positives. There are the four neck surgeries, a new team, a new system and the fact that his weapons are Eric Decker and Demaryuis Thomas instead of Reggie Wayne, Dallas Clark and even Marvin Harrison. Manning is the classic risk/reward pick in the fifth round – better to look at Eli, Philip Rivers and even Matt Ryan who are being drafted a round or two after Peyton.

Robert Griffin III – Washington Redskins
Average Draft Position: 8.08

There is no doubting the talent of Griffin and the fact that he will one day be a solid pro. Where the problem lies is in people’s expectations. At present he is being drafted in the eighth round ahead of such names as Ben Roethlisberger, Jay Cutler and Matt Schaub to name a few. Cam Newton set the bar very high last year but people have to realize that Newton’s monumental season was the exception, not the rule. Peyton Manning, Tom Brady, Philip Rivers and Aaron Rodgers are all quarterbacks that struggled or were not ready to play in their first season as pros. Griffin has Pierre Garcon, an aging Santana Moss and a troubled Fred Davis in his arsenal. He also has the daunting task of playing the Giants, the Eagles and the Cowboys two times each this year. I have no problem with those who draft Griffin III as a QB2 with upside but to draft him as your starter is an enormous risk – one that I would stay away from.


Ben Roethlisberger

Big Ben is poised to have his best fantasy season to date.

Ben Roethlisberger – Pittsburgh Steelers
Average Draft Position: 8.11

Where is the love for Mr. Roethlisberger? People tend to forget that he has passed for 4000 yards and at least 20 touchdowns in two of the last three seasons – the other season he missed the first four games. There are a few of factors that we need to look at here. First, the Steelers significantly upgraded a glaring weakness on their team in the draft – they picked up two stud offensive linemen that instantly plug a gaping hole. Second, Ben has weapons – Mike Wallace (if and when he signs), Antonio Brown and Emmanuel Sanders strike the fear of God in opposing defensive coordinators. Third, is the injury to Rashard Mendenhall who figures to miss a good chunk of the season – do you trust Isaac Redman? And finally there is new offensive coordinator Todd Haley who, despite a bit of controversy has a chance to re-ignite this offense. Ben is a sure-fire every week fantasy starter and he is the 13th QB off the board. My bet is that he finishes this season in the top 10 and rewarding those who waited until the eighth round to select him.

Jay Cutler – Chicago Bears
Average Draft Position: 9.02

Cutler’s ADP is right behind that of Big Ben’s – behind Robert Griffin III? Amazing! The biggest story for Cutler in 2012 is the Bears’ acquisition of Brandon Marshall. Marshall caught 100 balls in 2008 when Cutler finished top five among fantasy quarterbacks. The Bears also drafted Alshon Jeffrey in the second round this year – needless to say the receiver position has been significantly upgraded. Mike Martz is out as offensive coordinator and Mike Tice is in. This move will allow the Bears to play to Cutler’s strengths – more five step drops instead of seven step drops. Add in the fact that the Bears possess one of the best pass catching running backs in the league (Matt Forte) and that potential shootouts with Green Bay and Detroit loom and one has to look at Cutler as a low-end fantasy starter this year – not the high-end QB2 that he is being drafted as.

Carson Palmer – Oakland Raiders
Average Draft Position: 11.02

Palmer is currently the 16th quarterback being taken in most drafts. Consider that he came off the couch last season more than half way through the year, learned a completely new playbook on the fly and still registered top ten fantasy numbers down the stretch (293 yards per game). Pretty impressive. In 2012 he will have a full training camp under his belt and he will have a rapport with a young and extremely talented group of receivers. His own defense figures to be poor again and he has the benefit of playing against some underwhelming AFC West defenses as well. It all adds up to a better than average year for Mr. Palmer who is certainly worth QB2 consideration with serious upside in the 11th round of your fantasy draft.

When Two Is One Too Many – Stewart vs. Williams

By: — @ 10:28 pm

In my continuing quest to contribute to your draft-day domination, I will compose a series of blogs over the next few weeks that focus on players that are sure to create some hardship for fantasy owners: players on the same team who play the same position that will likely have a significant fantasy impact. For those of you who regularly read and contribute to the FF Today Forums, consider this short series a distant relative to “Look-Alike Players”. My goal is to create a compelling case for and against each player before handing down a final decision. Let’s get started:

The players in question this week: Running backs Jonathan Stewart and DeAngelo Williams

The setup: Full-point PPR; 10 rushing/receiving yards equal one fantasy point; all touchdowns are worth six fantasy points.

Current ADP (courtesy of Fantasy Football Calculator): Stewart – 7.05 Williams – 8.03

What’s at stake: Grabbing the better fantasy RB3 of the two the Carolina Panthers have to offer.

The case for Stewart: There seems to be very little argument that Stewart is the best “backup” running back in the league. Not only that, but Pro Football Focus has identified him as the NFL’s most elusive back in two of his four seasons in the league. And it isn’t hard to understand why: at 5-10 and 235 pounds, Stewart possesses the rare combination of power and speed that would make him the featured back on several teams around the league. When it became clear that QB Cam Newton was the real deal early last season, Stewart showed an ability in the passing game that few people knew he had simply because he had never really been asked to serve in that role in college (51 receptions in three years at Oregon) or the NFL (34 career catches prior to 2011). Stewart became the de facto third-down back when Mike Goodson could not stay healthy and, despite a career low in carries, managed his second-best fantasy season thanks in large part to a personal-best 47 catches.

The case against Stewart: Opportunity, especially now that “Double Trouble” may now evolve into “Triple Threat” with the addition of another capable big back in Mike Tolbert. Despite the Panthers’ assertion that Tolbert will merely serve as the fullback, most teams don’t feel compelled to dish out a four-year, $8.4 M contract to a player at that position when the combination of Stewart and Williams averaged nearly 5.4 yards per carry last season without him. In my opinion, Tolbert was signed for several reasons (in order): 1) serve as insurance against Jonathan Stewart leaving as a free agent after the season, 2) be the goal-line back in order to reduce the likelihood that Newton gets hurt, 3) act as the third-down back and 4) resume his role as a special-teams ace. Assuming any or all of the first three assumptions are correct, it is probably a safe to say that no player’s fantasy value is going up anytime soon. Additionally, OC Rob Chudzinski was on the Chargers’ offensive staff during Tolbert’s first three years in the league, including his 11-TD season in 2010. Stewart was already on the wrong end of carry split with Williams last year (155-142), so if Tolbert robs Stewart of a sizable portion of his work in the passing game and the carry split with Williams remains about the same, Stewart will have trouble maintaining any kind of relevance in fantasy.

Stewart saw action in 55.2% of the team’s offensive plays last season while Williams (pictured) took part in 42.7%.

The case for Williams: People have been quick to write off Williams because of the immense talent Stewart possesses, but the 29-year-old still has plenty of explosion left as his 69- and 74-yard touchdown runs from a season ago will attest. So will the fact that he’s averaged 5.0 YPC or better in four of the past five seasons. The fact the new coaching staff saw fit to give slightly more of the rushing workload to Williams, which may have simply been a coincidence or acknowledgement that since Stewart is a more trusted option in the passing game, Williams should receive a few more carries. Whatever the reason, Williams has held the edge in rushing attempts over Stewart in all three years the two have played together in which they both have been healthy, which includes a head coaching change and a two different offensive coordinators. And, of course, there is the huge contract Williams signed last off-season, which gives us a pretty good indication that Carolina expects at least 10-12 touches per game from him.

The case against Williams: Ironically, almost the same case that can be made against Stewart – opportunity. What was already an uncertain backfield picture got even messier with the addition of Tolbert, but the signs of Williams’ role decreasing were already present last season. According to ESPN, Stewart saw action in 55.2% of the team’s offensive plays last season while Williams took part in 42.7%. Furthermore, Williams handled just two carries inside the opponent’s five-yard line last season and only had 13 opportunities (12 rushes, one pass target) inside the 20. And despite a catch rate of 73.8% over the course of his career, Williams has never been a high-volume pass catcher with his 33 receptions as a rookie back in 2006 still standing as his career high. Add it all up and we’ve pretty much eliminated just about every way a running back can consistently score in fantasy.

The verdict: Hung jury, anyone? While Chudzinski has already proven himself to be a brilliant offensive mind, it will be nearly impossible for him to keep everyone happy. In all my years of playing fantasy football, I cannot recall a situation in which three running backs were able to maintain fantasy value at the same time, especially in one where the quarterback is a big part for the rushing attack. With that said, the Panthers’ running backs still finished 13th overall in PPR scoring last season even though Newton stole much of the goal-line work. So it is safe to say the idea this backfield doesn’t have much to offer in way of RB fantasy points is an illusion despite Newton’s 14 rushing scores. Since I am being asked to rule in favor of one of the men on trial here, I will lean slightly towards Stewart, but don’t make the mistake of underestimating the impact Tolbert will have on this backfield.

2012 Player Outlooks – San Francisco 49ers

By: — @ 3:58 pm

QB Alex Smith
While Smith had a career-year in 2011 with highs in passing completions (273), attempts (445), completion percentage (61.3%), passing yards (3,144), rushing yards (179) and rushing touchdowns (two), it is doubtful his on field success did much for his fantasy owners as he threw for just 17 touchdowns. The success of the former 1st overall selection in the 2005 draft after six lackluster seasons made for a fine story as the 49ers took the Giants to overtime before losing in the NFC Championship Game and Smith enjoyed two solid performances in his first playoff action. Against the Saints, Smith led the 49ers to a miraculous comeback, throwing for 299 yards and three touchdowns while also scoring a touchdown on the ground. As is the case with many solid individual playoff performances, fantasy owners are going to place too much emphasis on one game in projecting Smith’s fantasy value in 2012. Is that realistic? Not a chance. With the addition of a pair of veteran wide receivers Randy Moss and Mario Manningham as well as A.J. Jenkins and LaMichael James in the draft, Smith has more weapons to work with further amplifying his perceived fantasy value. However, the 49ers success in 2011 was based on outstanding defensive play, solid special teams and a conservative offense approach and there seems to be little reason why head coach Jim Harbaugh would change that formula, especially given the weak competition the team will face in the NFC West. That limits Smith’s upside and makes him a somewhat intriguing low end QB2 for 2012.

RB Frank Gore
On the surface, Gore put together a solid season in 2011, finishing the year with the second most rushing yards of his career (1,211) and finding the end zone eight times. However, it was a roller coaster ride as Gore struggled in his first three games with 148 rushing yards and one touchdown before putting together a great five game stretch when he topped 100 rushing yards in every game and totaled 634 yards and four touchdowns. After that, his usage and production declined over the 49ers final eight games as he averaged just 15.8 touches and accumulated 429 rushing yards and three touchdowns. First year head coach Jim Harbaugh clearly seemed to be curtailing Gore’s workload in order to keep him fresh for the playoffs and with the addition of Brandon Jacobs in free agency and LaMichael James in the draft, that approach is likely to continue in 2012. That will mean fewer carries for Gore and since he was rarely used as a pass catcher last season (just 17 receptions after averaging 51 receptions over the previous five seasons), his days as a RB1 for fantasy purposes appear to be over. Look for Gore to struggle to reach 1,000 rushing yards in 2012 and finish the year as a low end RB2, provided he wins the short yardage role over Brandon Jacobs. If he loses that role, Gore will likely finish the year as a fantasy backup.

RB Kendall Hunter
In the “life isn’t fair” category, we present Kendall Hunter. Not much was expected of the 5’7, 199 pound rookie 4th round pick last season but he had a productive season, gaining 473 rushing yards and 195 receiving yards on 16 receptions while scoring twice. At season’s end, it appeared that Hunter had carved out a role as a 8-10 touches per game backup to Frank Gore. Then the offseason hit. Bam! The 49ers signed Brandon Jacobs. Bam! The 49ers shocked the football world by using a 2nd round pick on LaMichael James, essentially a Hunter clone. Whereas Hunter once appeared on the verge of being a must have handcuff to Gore and a potentially solid flex option, his fantasy value is now almost worthless, even in dynasty leagues.

RB Brandon Jacobs
Be careful what you wish for folks. Unhappy with losing his starting role to Ahmad Bradshaw with the Giants, Jacobs signed a modest one-year contract in free agency to join the 49ers but will end up fighting for playing time in 2012 and is unlikely to match his workload from last season. At best, Jacobs will win the backup job behind Frank Gore and also become the team’s top option in short yardage. At worst, disappointing third year player Anthony Dixon will blossom and push Jacobs off the roster although that seems unlikely given Dixon’s performance during the first two years in the league. Even if Jacobs ends up starting in the event Gore is lost to injury, he would simply become part of a committee approach and likely get 10-12 touches per game. Barring a solid preseason that sees Jacobs handily outperform Kendall Hunter and LaMichael James, Jacobs isn’t worth owning in 2012.

RB LaMichael James
Despite having a loaded backfield depth chart that includes Frank Gore, solid second year player Kendall Hunter, former Giant Brandon Jacob and Anthony Dixon, the 49ers surprisingly used a 2nd round pick on Oregon running back LaMichael James. James excelled in Oregon’s spread offense but his lack of size may relegate him to a change of pace, receiving role in the NFL. Of course it is possible the 49ers view him as Gore’s heir apparent since they drafted him highly despite Hunter, a 4th round pick in 2011, showing plenty of promise as a rookie. For fantasy purposes, it is best to take a wait and see approach with James since he could easily open the season fourth on the team’s depth chart. Consider him worthy of a late round selection as Gore’s handcuff provided he wins that job and a mid-tier prospect in dynasty leagues.

RB Anthony Dixon
After a pair of middling seasons, the 49ers seem to have moved on from Dixon, having signed big back Brandon Jacobs in free agency and used a 2nd round pick on LaMichael James. Dixon will enter training camp sitting fifth on the team’s depth chart and is unlikely to be on the San Francisco roster on opening day.

WR Michael Crabtree
After being a full-fledged enigma for the first three years of his career, Crabtree finally put together a solid season in 2011. Despite missing training camp with a broken foot and struggling early in the year as he recovered, he finished the season with 72 receptions for 874 yards and four touchdowns in 15 games. More impressive was his production over the 49ers final eleven games as he caught 61 passes for 742 yards and four touchdowns. While his performance thus far in his career suggests that he will never reach the expectations that were placed upon him coming out of Texas Tech, his solid play last year coupled with the fact that he has never had a full training camp suggest that is capable of building upon his production from last season. But he will have to do so in a role mainly as a short and intermediate option in the 49ers conservative passing offense which limits his fantasy upside. While the team added veterans Randy Moss and Mario Manningham during the offseason and has a solid receiving option in Vernon Davis at tight end, Crabtree figures to see plenty of targets as the team’s top wide receiver and has an opportunity to become the first 49er at his position to top 1,000 yards since Terrell Owens in 2003. Given the abundance of receiving options in San Francisco, Crabtree should be drafted as a low end WR3 with upside in 2012 and move him up your rankings if you play in a PPR league.

WR Mario Manningham
Stuck as a third receiver in New York, Manningham entered free agency hoping to land a big contract on the heels of an impressive performance in the Giants Super Bowl run from last season as well as his solid production as a backup in 2009 and 2010. When the big offers didn’t come rolling in, he signed a modest contract with the 49ers expecting to start opposite Michael Crabtree but now appears likely to enter the season as a backup, sharing the deep threat role he fulfilled with the Giants with Randy Moss in San Francisco. It’s one thing to be the third receiver in a pass-happy Giants offense that lacks a solid receiving option at tight end but quit another to produce in that same role in a conservative 49ers offense that has Vernon Davis. Manningham has never been a great on short and intermediate routes so he figures to see a decline in his production in 2012 (keeping in mind that he struggled with injuries last season). He might not be worth owning in standard 12-team, 16-player leagues in 2012.

WR Randy Moss
Lacking a proven deep threat at the wide receiver position, the 49ers signed the 35-year old Moss to a low risk one-year deal. Or should we say low risk in the financial sense since Moss has been a known cancer at times in his illustrious career. And playing in an offense with a quarterback not known for his deep passing ability and is content to run the ball extensively increases the likelihood of Randy spouting off. However, Moss’ rep as a player willing to tank it on a regular basis is unfounded, given his ten 1,000-yard seasons during the first 12 years of his career. In theory, he should be motivated given that his contract is for just one year. The bigger issues with Moss are whether he can consistently stretch a defense given his age, the fact he missed all of last season and his dreadful 2010 campaign, easily the worst of his career. That season included stops in New England, Minnesota and Tennessee with Moss establishing career lows in receptions (28) and yard (393) while scoring five touchdowns, the second lowest total of his career. In addition, tight end Vernon Davis will likely remain the team’s top deep threat and Michael Crabtree is coming off a career season in 2011. Given Moss’ age and expected role in San Francisco, expecting him to have a career renaissance in 2012 is unrealistic. In fact, there’s a good chance that he doesn’t have anything left in the tank. He’s a low-end WR4 or high-end WR5 at best.

WR A.J. Jenkins
With Michael Crabtree putting together his best year as a pro and the 49ers signing veterans Randy Moss and Mario Manningham in free agency, it was a surprise when the team used its late 1st round pick to add another player to the wide receiver depth chart. He displayed excellent speed and playmaking ability at Illinois but is considered a raw prospect that is unlikely to contribute much as a rookie. Spring practices have evidenced this as reports out of San Francisco indicate that Jenkins was badly out of shape and unable to use his modest size (6’0’, 192 pounds) to get free off the line. With little prospect of playing time, Jenkins isn’t worth owning in redraft leagues but is a mid-tier prospect in dynasty leagues.

Davis' playoff performance is fresh in the minds of fantasy owners.

WR Ted Ginn Jr.
While it was likely that many wrote off Ginn as a fantasy option at wide receiver a few years ago, there can be little doubt that it is now time to put the final nail in that coffin. Ginn will need to beat out second-year player Kyle Williamsto win a roster spot and even if that happens, he will sit behind at least three players on the depth chart in Michael Crabtree, Randy Moss and Mario Manningham.

TE Vernon Davis
Davis had a sleepy 2011 campaign before turning into an absolute beast in the playoffs and nearly helping the 49ers reach the Super Bowl. After a modest regular season with 67 receptions for 792 yards and six touchdowns that saw him finish as the 8th ranked fantasy tight end, Davis turned in a pair of dominant performances against the Saints and Giants in the playoffs, catching 10 passes for 292 yards and four touchdowns. Which Davis will fantasy owners get in 2012? While Davis is easily the most talented 49ers receiving option and capable of topping 1,000 yards and hitting double digit touchdowns, the team’s conservative offensive approach under head coach Jim Harbaugh make that unlikely to happen. Of course, Davis could turn in a solid year given that this is his second year in Harbaugh’s offensive system. It is also possible that Davis will be overvalued on draft day based on his wonderful playoff performance. He rates as a mid-tier fantasy tight end in 2012, one with a huge upside and little risk.

Projections & Rankings Update – 7/26/12

By: — @ 1:55 pm
Filed under: Forecast

Player Projections, Rankings & Cheatsheets
Change Log – 7/26/12


  • Colt McCoy (-4) Its likely McCoy will continue to slide as his time in Cleveland appears to be coming to an end.

Running Backs

  • Robert Turbin (+6) Could be thrust into action if Lynch is suspended.
  • Bryce Brown (+21) A legitimate threat to Dion Lewis for the #2 RB in Philadelphia.
  • Dion Lewis (-4) Will face competition for backup duties behind McCoy.
  • Anthony Allen (+20) Will start camp as the RB2 but Pierce is more talented.

Wide Receivers

  • Dez Bryant (+4) Back to his initial ranking. It appears his latest off-field issues may not lead to suspension. Stay tuned.
  • Santana Moss (+7) Consistently undervalued, Moss will begin camp as the Redskins WR2.
  • Andre Roberts (+15) Penciled in as the starter opposite Fitz until rookie Michael Floyd gets up to speed.
  • Brandon Tate (+76) Whoa! Tate was swimming at the bottom of the barrel but is competing for the #2 wide receiver job in CIN with Armon Binns.

Tight Ends

2012 Player Outlooks – St. Louis Rams

By: — July 25, 2012 @ 11:24 pm

Bradford's struggles in 2011 have damaged his fantasy reputation.

QB Sam Bradford
With Josh McDaniels at the controls and Sam Bradford coming off an impressive rookie season, there were high hopes for the Rams offense entering 2011. Unfortunately, the offense fell flat as Bradford struggled through an injury marred campaign and McDaniels stubbornly refused to alter his offensive approach despite having an array of offensive players ill-suited to carry out his marching orders. Bradford missed six games with a high ankle sprain but struggled mightily in his ten starts, throwing for just 2,164 yards and six touchdowns. McDaniels was fired after the season and replaced by former Jets offensive coordinator Brian Scottenheimer. Scottenheimer will employ a version of the west coast offense and that bodes well for Bradford, who excelled as a rookie in Pat Shurmur’s WCO. While Bradford is expected to take a leap forward in 2012, it is doubtful he will be a useful fantasy option. The Rams scored 16 touchdowns last season and lost their top wide receiver (Brandon Lloyd) and the offensive line has significant issues once again. How many touchdowns are in order for the Rams in 2012? Can’t be too many more than 16. That makes it pretty hard to predict a breakout season for Bradford in 2012. He remains a solid option in dynasty formats but he is a low end QB2 in redraft formats.

RB Steven Jackson
If you’re looking for consistent fantasy production at running back, look no further than the Rams Steven Jackson. The man known as “Sjax” has piled up seven consecutive 1,000 rushing yard seasons, the longest active streak in the league, and has been the focal point of the team’s offense for the last several years. While Jackson has been a workhorse back since 2005, averaging almost 340 touches per season, the team used a second-round pick on Isaiah Pead and the plan is for Jackson to see his touches go down slightly in 2012. However, given the state of the team’s crop of wide receivers and tight ends, Jackson is expected to carry the team’s offense once again and the offensive philosophy of new head coach Jeff Fisher and new offensive coordinator Brian Scottenheimer has been to pound the opposing defenses into submission using a power rushing attack. The only knock on Jackson’s fantasy production has been in the touchdown department, as he has averaged six touchdowns per season over the past five years and hasn’t hit double-digit touchdowns since his career-year in 2006. Sjax rates as a low end RB1 or upper tier RB2 in 2012.

RB Isaiah Pead
At long last, the Rams finally addressed the backup running back position by drafting Pead in the 2nd round of this year’s draft. The 5’11”, 200-pound Cincinnati product was a workhorse back in college but significant questions remain about his ability to fulfill that role in the NFL given his size. With the Rams in 2012, that isn’t going to be an issue since Pead will play behind Steven Jackson, a true workhorse back who has carried the Rams offense for the past several seasons. Jackson rarely comes off the field and when he does, he doesn’t usually stay off of it for long. And Sjax’s injury reputation is overblown since he has missed just one game over the past three years. While Pead was an intriguing selection for the Rams, his fantasy value in 2012 is as Jackson’s handcuff. However, with Jackson at 29 years of age and having averaged 336 touches over the past seven seasons, Pead’s combination of speed, elusiveness and future opportunity make him a solid dynasty league option.

WR Brian Quick
With the first pick in the 2nd round of the draft, the Rams swung for the fences with the selection of Quick, a physical specimen from tiny Appalachian State. The 6’4”, 220-pound Quick possesses solid, if not outstanding speed, a massive wingspan and was highly productive during his last season in college with 71 receptions for nearly 1,100 yards and 11 touchdowns. Whether or not his combine measurables and college production translates into success in St. Louis is the issue. Given the low level of competition he faced, Quick figures to get out of the gates slowly in 2012 even if he begins the season in the starting lineup… a reasonable probability given the state of the team’s depth chart at wide receiver. Quick isn’t worth drafting in re-draft leagues but is a decent prospect in dynasty leagues, especially those that use PPR scoring.

WR Brandon Gibson
After coming to St. Louis in a mid-season trade in 2009, Gibson was reasonably impressive as a rookie, catching 34 passes for 348 yards in just ten games. He followed that up with marginally better production the following season (53 for 620 and two touchdowns) but regressed in 2011 and was basically an afterthought by season’s end with just five targets in his last four games. With the Rams having drafted four wide receivers in the last two years and the free agent signing of (the other) Steve Smith, Gibson is little more than an insurance policy.

WR Danny Amendola
You could easily make the argument that the beginning of the Rams 2011 offensive collapse began when Amendola was lost for the season in Week 1 with an elbow injury. Operating out of the slot in 2010, Amendola was the team’s most productive receiver, catching 85 passes for 685 yards and three touchdowns. With Amendola out, the Rams lost their best chain moving option and several players tried unsuccessfully to operate out of the slot as his replacement. Amendola is ready to roll in 2012 and with the Rams receiver depth chart loaded with unproven young players and journeyman veterans, he should be in line for plenty of work this coming season. He is clearly a poor man’s version of Wes Welker but without the 100-reception upside. Since Amendola isn’t as quick and shifty as Welker, he isn’t as solid of an option in the red zone and it doesn’t help that the Rams as a team don’t spend much time there. He is, however, quarterback Sam Bradford’s go-to receiver, catching 69.1% of his targets in 2010. Amendola rates as a WR4 in standard scoring leagues and as a WR3 in PPR leagues.

WR Danario Alexander
In the life isn’t fair category, we present Danario Alexander. In college, the 6’5”, 220 pound Alexander looked like a poor man’s Calvin Johnson. In the pros, he has flashed his play-making ability in several games over his two-year career but has been unable to remain healthy due to a degenerative knee condition. The Rams have drafted four receivers over the last two seasons and Danny Amendola owns the slot position so Alexander will likely have to beat out Steve Smith to earn a roster spot. Given his poor durability, the Rams may decide to part ways with Alexander barring an outstanding performance in training camp.

WR Greg Salas
The Rams 2011 4th round pick was enjoying a moderately productive rookie campaign, replacing the injured Danny Amendola as the team’s main slot receiver, before a fractured fibula ended his season in Week 9. He finished the season with 27 receptions for 264 yards on just 38 targets but was benched for several games after fumbling a punt and making a key drop in a Week 2 loss to the Giants. Salas outplayed fellow 2011 rookie Austin Pettis but will need to hold him off to back up Amendola in the slot. Despite his 6’1”, 210 lbs frame, he wasn’t used much outside in 2011 so his upside for 2012 is minimal. However, Amendola is playing on a restricted free agent deal and may not be back in 2013 so Salas has some value in dynasty leagues.

WR Austin Pettis
Pettis had some promise entering 2011 as a rookie 3rd round pick out of Boise State but ended up having a miserable season. He was beat out by 4th round pick Greg Salas in the preseason, only to be reinserted into the lineup when Salas struggled. Once there, Pettis did precious little to suggest he was worthy of being a 3rd round pick, catching just 27 of 48 targets for 256 yards and showing little explosion or after the catch ability. To top it off, he was suspended for four games for using performance-enhancing drugs and that will cost him the first two games of this season. He’s not worthy of owning in re-draft leagues and his dynasty value is basically nothing unless he has a superb preseason.

WR Steve Smith
Smith joins the Rams in 2012 after a one-year stint in Philadelphia where he struggled to rebound from a serious knee injury he suffered in 2010 while with the Giants. Unable to supplant Jason Avant to become the Eagles third receiver, Smith appeared in just nine games with one start, catching 11 of his 20 targets for 124 yards and a touchdown. Back in 2009, Smith put together a Pro Bowl season with 107 receptions for 1,220 yards and seven touchdowns but he will struggle to make the Rams roster in 2012. St. Louis is hardly loaded with proven receiving options so Smith has an outside chance to emerge from the pack during the preseason but the odds are stacked against him.

WR Chris Givens
Lacking an established big play threat at wide receiver, the Rams used a 4th round pick in this year’s draft to acquire Givens. He has blazing speed but had maturity issues at Wake Forest and will need to polish his route running in the pros. Look for Givens to battle with second-year player Danario Alexander to be the team’s big play threat in 2012. He isn’t worth owning in redraft formats and is a lower tier option in dynasty formats.

TE Lance Kendricks
The Rams had high hopes for Kendricks entering last season. The 2011 2nd round pick displayed an ability to get open in the preseason and quickly gained a rapport with quarterback Sam Bradford. Unfortunately, he spit the bit once the season began, showing a propensity to get open but then drop easy catches. The team’s quarterbacking situation didn’t help but Kendricks was constantly nicked up and by season’s end had caught just 28 of his 58 targets for 352 yards and no touchdowns. Kendricks clearly has upside but he is no more than a low-end TE2 in 2012. He has more value as a dynasty option but even then his upside may not be that of a fantasy starter.

2012 Player Outlooks – Seattle Seahawks

By: — July 24, 2012 @ 4:34 pm

QB Matt Flynn
While I was philosophizing recently on the perceived fantasy football value of a number of quarterbacks, it dawned on me that similar to Robert Griffin III having his fantasy value increased due to the performance last season of Cam Newton, Flynn’s fantasy value is taking a hit due to the poor performance of Kevin Kolb. Is that fair? What does it mean? And what does it say about us fantasy football enthusiasts in civilization? These waters don’t run very deep my friends, and I got scared so I grabbed some beers and read up on Flynn. What’s not to like about his performance in Green Bay last year (480 yards and six touchdowns in his lone start)? It also says a lot when your former team considers placing the franchise tag on you since they felt they could reap a bountiful of picks and players in a trade. The critics have called him a game manager who lacks a big arm and may not be athletic enough to be a solid starter. A 480-yard performance and you are a game manager? As Key would say, C’mon man! While Flynn isn’t going to be mentioned alongside the most athletic quarterbacks, he has enough talent to succeed. The biggest impediments to his fantasy success in 2012 are the Seahawks group of receivers and the team’s preference to pound the ball in the running game. Their top wide receiver is the injury-prone Sidney Rice and although they have several other talented receivers, none is a proven second starter. The situation is a little rosier at tight end but Flynn has nowhere near the talent that existed in Green Bay. Flynn is worth adding as low-end QB2 provided he holds off Tarvaris Jackson and Russell Wilson to open the season under center.

QB Tarvaris Jackson
In his first extensive stint as a starter since the 2007 season Jackson played as well as the Seahawks could have expected, particularly given his injury issues. He played through a partially torn pectoral muscle that hindered his throwing ability, finishing the year with a 7-7 record in the games he started. While Jackson gets points for showing his toughness and resolve, he remains a below average passer, lacking consistency and failing to show an ability to lead the team to comeback wins. Although he set career-highs in yards (3,091) and touchdowns (14) while completing a respectable 60.2% of his passes, he topped 300 passing yards just twice in 15 games, failed to top 200 yards eight times, threw 13 interceptions and fumbled nine times. Injury issues at wide receiver to expected starters Sidney Rice and Mike Williams didn’t help matters but the team ran the ball effectively and Jackson did little to exploit opposing defenses that were stacked to stop the run. Jackson will compete with former Packer Matt Flynn and rookie 3rd round pick Russell Wilson for the starting position but in the unlikely event that he wins the job, he would still be nothing more than a low-end QB2.

QB Russell Wilson
The Seahawks took Wilson in the 3rd round of this year’s draft and the expectation was that the Wisconsin product would open the season as a developmental third string quarterback. However, his performance in OTA’s, and presumably he lackluster performances of Matt Flynn and Tarvaris Jackson, vaulted Wilson into contention for the team’s starting quarterback position in 2012. Frankly speaking, I’m not buying that. Given the huge amount of money paid to Flynn, he figures to open the season under center but given Jackson’s limitations as a starter during his time in the league, Wilson could end up starting at some point this season if Flynn falters. Wilson isn’t worth drafting but he is worth keeping a tab on in deeper leagues and two-quarterback leagues.

RB Marshawn Lynch
Considered a mid-tier to low-end RB3 heading into the season, Lynch turned in his best season as a pro in 2011, finishing the year with career-highs in rushing yards (1,204) and rushing touchdowns (12). He also recorded his best season as a receiver since the 2008 season, catching 28 passes for 212 yards and one touchdown. A talented player whose maturity and dedication were questioned in the past, Lynch emerged as the Seahawks best player and a team leader who earned his “Beast Mode” moniker with several thundering runs over the past two seasons. He was arguably the biggest fantasy surprise at running back, finishing the year ranked fifth overall on the back of a outstanding finish to the season. He was the second ranked running back from Week 9 until the end of the season, gaining 941 yards and nine touchdowns on the ground over his final nine games. Surprisingly given the state of the team’s offense, Lynch was one of the most consistent fantasy producers at running back, finding the end zone in ten of his 15 games and registering double digit fantasy points ten times. A big payday this off-season and an arrest for DUI in July (that may result in a suspension) are red flags that could impact his fantasy value in 2012. Consider him a lower tier RB1 or upper tier RB2 but lower those expectations if his DUI results in a suspension.

RB Robert Turbin
The Seahawks have been getting by with a pair of smurfs in Justin Forsett and Leon Washington as their backup running backs over the past two seasons but with the success of Marshawn Lynch, they decided this off-season to add a bigger back to the team’s roster. That player turned out to be Turbin, the team’s 4th round pick in this year’s draft. The Utah State product had a productive 2011 campaign and has solid size and enough speed to break long runs. With Lynch’s availability for all of 2012 in question due to a summer DUI arrest, Turbin may end up starting some games in his rookie season. Monitor his performance in the preseason but consider Turbin a must-have handcuff if you select Lynch in your fantasy draft. Given Lynch’s numerous off the field issues, Turbin shapes up as a solid prospect in dynasty formats.

RB Leon Washington
In the two off-seasons since acquiring Washington from the Jets prior to the 2010 season, the Seahawks have said they wanted to carve out an expanded role for him in the team’s offense. And for two straight years, it hasn’t happened even though he was signed to a four-year, $12-5-million contract during the 2011 off-season. While his recovery from a gruesome leg injury could explain his lack of use in 2010, there were no convenient explanations for his lack of touches this past season other than his performance didn’t warrant a bigger role. With Marshawn Lynch coming off a career year and rookie 4th round pick Robert Turbin likely to assume the backup position, there is little reason to suggest that will change in 2012. Washington is best left on the waiver wire unless Lynch goes down with an injury.

With only one 16-game season in five years, Rice has considerable risk as even a WR3.

WR Sidney Rice
The Seahawks took a huge gamble during the 2011 off-season by signing Rice, who had missed ten games in 2010 due to microfracture hip surgery, to a five-year, $41 million deal that included $18.5 million in guarantees. After an injury-plagued 2011 in which he caught 32 passes for 484 yards and two touchdowns in nine games, Seahawks management is probably wishing they could have a do-over. Rice suffered a labrum tear in his shoulder in the preseason and then dealt with several other injuries, including a pair of concussions over three games that forced the team to shut him down for the season. Rice needed a pair of surgeries this off-season to fix his shoulder issues and with just one 16-game season in five years, the odds are long that he will play a full season in 2012. While Rice’s injuries are a big issue, his standing on the Seahawks depth chart is not. He is clearly the team’s best wide receiver and remains capable of producing another blockbuster season like he did in 2009 when he caught 83 passes for 1,312 yards and eight touchdowns and made the Pro Bowl. Matt Flynn should represent an upgrade at quarterback and help Rice’s production in 2012 but that only matters if he can stay on the field and the bottom line is that he hasn’t been able to. Consider Rice a low-end WR and not worth reaching for on draft day.

WR Golden Tate
With the release of former 1st round pick Mike Williams prior to training camp, the Seahawks opened up a spot in their starting lineup and it seems clear that Seattle would love for Tate to fill that position. Unfortunately, this seems more the case of a team handing over a starting position than a player earning it. In fact, Williams’ release is a curious and risky move given lead receiver Sidney Rice’s injury history and leaves the team open to the possibility of starting Tate and 2nd year former undrafted free agent Doug Baldwin at some point in 2012… ouch. Tate, the team’s 2nd round choice in the 2010 draft, improved upon his poor rookie season with 33 receptions for 375 yards and a pair of touchdowns but there seems little evidence that he is ready to be a consistent performer. In 27 career games, he has topped 50 receiving yards just twice, a pretty low number for a player considered to be a game-breaker coming out of Notre Dame. Tate isn’t worth owning in redraft leagues and is a marginal dynasty prospect.

WR Doug Baldwin
As an undrafted free agent out of Stanford, Baldwin wasn’t on anybody’s fantasy roster entering 2011. There probably weren’t many people that even expected him to be on Seattle’s roster on opening day. However, he ended up being the team’s main receiving weapon out of the slot early in the season and by season’s end, he was their main receiving weapon – period. Baldwin caught 51 of his 85 targets, a solid 60% completion to target percentage considering the team’s quarterback play, for 788 yards and four touchdowns. Baldwin contributed several big plays, finishing the year averaging 15.5 yards per catch. While Baldwin was a solid contributor last season, there is a reasonable case that his production was mainly due to opportunity and not his talent level. Baldwin isn’t very big and although he is reasonably shifty, he isn’t anywhere near a burner. The Seahawks would much rather have Golden Tate, Deon Butler or Kris Durham in the starting lineup and may even prefer having Tate out operate out of the sot. Monitor Baldwin’s usage in the preseason and draft accordingly. Keep in mind that his production from last season may be his upper limit, leaving little room for upside.

WR Ben Obomanu
After playing well when given an opportunity to start in 2010, Obamanu regressed last season and struggled badly when he was used in the starting lineup. With injuries keeping Sidney Rice and Mike Williams out for long stretches, Obamanu started eight games but caught five or more passes just once in those games and eclipsed 51 receiving yards also one time. If he can’t produce when the Seahawks start him, he’s not worth owning, folks. After six years in the league, Obamanu has reached his potential and isn’t worth owning in any format.

WR Ricardo Lockette
With the Seahawks decimated by injuries at wide receiver, they signed little known rookie free agent Ricardo Lockette to the active roster and dressed him for their final two games of the year. The 6’3”, 210-pound Fort Valley State product (Division II) was targeted twice in each game, hauling in a 44-yard reception against the 49ers and a 61-yard touchdown against the Cardinals. Lockette will compete for playing time against a host of other options for playing time opposite Sidney Rice in 2012 and if the team is looking for somebody to stretch the field, Lockette has a chance to earn a significant role. He is worth taking a flier on in deeper leagues.

WR Kris Durham
The Seahawks like big receivers and that is why they chose Durham in the 4th round of the 2010 draft. Unfortunately for Durham and the Seahawks, he was barely noticeable before suffering a torn labrum in November that ended his season. Durham will get a chance to crack Seattle’s receiver rotation in 2012 but will need to unseat Golden Tate, Doug Baldwin, Ben Obamanu, Ricardo Lockette and Deon Butler to earn some reps. Good luck with that, Kris.

WR Deon Butler
A 3rd round pick out of Penn State in 2009, Butler flashed some promise in 2010 by catching 36 passes for 385 yards and four touchdowns in limited playing time, including eight starts. However, a broken leg ended his season in Week 14 and forced the Seahawks to place him on the PUP list for the first nine games of last season. He wasn’t ready to play until Week 13 and ended up finishing 2011 with six receptions for 51 yards in five games. Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll has a preference for bigger receivers and that likely means Butler faces an uphill battle to make the team’s roster in 2012. Of course, it’s not like the depth chart is loaded with proven talent so there is a chance that Butler could surprise this season… just don’t bank on it.

TE Kellen Winslow
One man’s trash is another man’s treasure. Well, in this case, maybe not treasure but let’s just say that Winslow landed in Seattle at a bargain basement discount for the Seahawks who surrendered just a 7th round pick in order to acquire a player who has had at least 66 receptions and 730 receiving yards in five of the last six seasons. Jettisoned by new Tampa Bay coach Greg Schiano because of his inability to practice on a daily basis due to knee problems, Winslow will split time in Seattle with Zach Miller and that all but ensures he will remain a backup fantasy tight end at best in 2012. While the exact pecking order has yet to be determined, it is hard to imagine that Winslow will relegate the younger, equally athletic and more adept blocker in Miller to a pure backup role. Barring an injury to Miller, Winslow is not worth owning.

TE Zach Miller
Signed by the Seahawks to a lucrative free agent contract prior to last season, Miller was basically a complete bust, having the worst year of his five-year career. After averaging over 60 receptions per season over his final three years in Oakland, he caught just 25 passes for 233 yards in 2011 and failed to find the end zone. While part of his drop in production could be blamed on the Seahawks frequently using him as a blocker on passing downs and their reliance on the ground game, Miller failed to display the big play ability he had shown in Oakland where he averaged 12.5 yards per reception from 2008 to 2010. He is waiver wire material in 2012.

Projections & Rankings Update – 7/19/12

By: — July 23, 2012 @ 1:08 am
Filed under: Forecast

Player Projections, Rankings & Cheatsheets
Change Log – 7/19/12


  • No change and probably won’t be any significant movement until camps get in full swing.-

Running Backs

  • Marshawn Lynch (-4) – Off-field issues may lead to suspension.
  • Mark Ingram (+12) – Saints backfield with be a three-RB-committee but my initial projections for Ingram were too low.
  • Pierre Thomas (-7) – Saints backfield with be a three-RB-committee but my initial projections for Thomas were too low.
  • Mikel Leshoure (+5) – Achilles and 2-game suspension are red flags but Best is no pillar of health either.
  • Robert Turbin (+19) Could be thrust into action if Lynch is suspended.

Wide Receivers

  • Brandon Marshall (+3) – Total number of receptions were initially projected too low.
  • Dez Bryant (-4) – Off-field issues may lead to suspension.
  • Kenny Britt (-4) – Another knee surgery and another arrest… yikes.
  • Kendall Wright (+12) – The benefactor of Britt’s freefall.
  • Michael Floyd (-5) – Rookie is no sure bet to crack the starting lineup anytime soon.

Tight Ends

  • Robert Housler (+11) – Flip-flopped King and Housler. Housler is the better receiving threat.
  • Jeff King (-11) – Flip flopped King and Housler. King will be used more as a blocker in Arizona.

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