Archive for Lester

Get ‘em or Don’t Sweat ‘em Week 13

By Ryan Lester,

There were some unusual heroes on Sunday. There always are. Let’s take a look at them and see if they are worthy of your fantasy rosters.

Chad Henne, QB, Miami Dolphins
Henne burned the Pats for 335 yards and a pair of scores. You can’t use him in the fantasy playoffs in a standard league, but with Jacksonville, Tennessee, and Houston up the next three weeks he is useful in two-QB leagues.
Ruling: Don’t Sweat ‘em.

Bruce Gradkowski, QB, Oakland Raiders
Gradkowski torched the Steelers for 308 yards and 2 TDs. While I think he’s the right man for the Raiders right now, he’s not the right man for your fantasy team.
Ruling: Don’t Sweat ‘em.

Brady Quinn, QB, Cleveland Browns
Quinn has been the butt of almost as many jokes as Charlie Weis. He tossed 3 TDs without an INT. His lines from the past four games should be enough for you to stay clear.
Week 10: 99 yards, 0 TDs, 2 INTS
Week 11: 304 yards, 4 TDs, 0 INTs
Week 12: 100 yards, o TDs, o INTs
Week 13: 271 yards, 3 TDs, 0 INTs
Ruling: Don’t Sweat ‘em.

Alex Smith, QB, San Francisco 49ers
Smith topped 300 yards for the first time in his career. He tossed multiple TDs for the third straight week. With ARI, PHI, and DET in the fantasy playoffs, he’s worth adding as a bench player and spot starter. He could be the perfect fill-in for Peyton Manning or Drew Brees in Week 16 if their teams are pulling starters.
Ruling: Get ‘em.
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Fantasy Football Profiles: Housh, Ocho, Anthony Gonzalez, Lee Evans

Housh has a new home in Seattle.  He downgraded in QB from Carson Palmer to Matt Hasselbeck, but he’s still in a pretty good situation.  Hasselbeck has never had a reliable receiver like Housh so expect him to be targeted early and often.  Housh isn’t going to burn you deep, but he knows how to get open and pick up yards at around 11 yards per catch.  He will pick up a ton of first downs.  The key is whether or not he’ll be able to get in the end zone.  Housh had four TDs last year after averaging 9.3 he previous three years.  Of course Carson Palmer missed the bulk of last season so it’s not surprising he took a hit in that department.  Seattle had a miserable year as well, but in 2007 Hasselbeck threw for nearly 4000 yards and 28 TDs.  If he can stay healthy, there will be TDs to be had.
Housh is a decent WR2 in standard leagues, and an excellent WR2 in PPR leagues.  Housh is going in the late third/early fourth round in fantasy drafts.  He isn’t really a risky play because he showed last year he can still perform with marginal QB play.  Though Hasselbeck is a bigger injury risk than Palmer, I think Seneca Wallace is a more adequate backup than he worked with last year.  I expect another 90 reception season with 1000 yards and 6 TDs.

Chad Ochocinco
Chad Ochocinco TD

Which Ochocinco will show up?  The one that averaged 1339 yards and 8 TDs from 2002-2007 or the one that phoned in the 2008 season?  He has said all the right things this offseason and has been relatively quiet considering who we’re dealing with.  He plans to tweet during games, but as long as it only costs him money and not playing time, I’m not too concerned.  He is going to draw attention to himself.  That’s what he does.  As long as he’s productive, I can care less.  Personally I don’t see what the big deal if players tweet during games.  I don’t know why the NFL would be opposed to something that would improve the communication with the fans.Back to Ocho.  He admitted he didn’t work out last year, which rightfully upset Bengals fans and his fantasy owners.  He’s in much better shape and has been on the same page as Carson Palmer.  He is a slight risk as a WR2 simply because of his mindset, but he easily can put up WR1 numbers.  He is going in the 4th or 5th rounds in fantasy drafts, but he could easily put up 2nd round numbers.  I think the risk is worth it personally.  I think he’s good for 80 catches for 1100 yards and 7 TDs in 2009.

Anthony Gonzalez
Anthony Gonzalez

Now that Marvin Harrison has moved on, Anthony Gonzalez takes over as the team’s #2 WR.  I believe the third-year WR out of Ohio State is ready to explode.  As a Rookie he had 37 receptions for 576 yards and 3 TDs.  Last year he had 57 receptions for 664 yards.  Not only do I think his reception total will increase again, I think his yards per catch will be closer to the 15.6 he averaged as a Rookie than the 11.6 he averaged last year.

Gonzalez showed some signs of what he could do in against Minnesota in Week 2 (9 catches for 137 yards), against the Patriots in Week 9 (2 TDs), and against San Diego in Week 12 (6, 95) and again in the playoffs (6, 97).  He’ll get more looks as the #2 and his numbers should increase dramatically.  I’m expecting 80 catches for 1100 yards and 6 TDs.  He is a decent WR2 and a great WR3.  He’s typically being drafted in the 5th round.

Lee Evans
Lee Evans catch

For years the Bills have needed to put a solid #2 opposite of Lee Evans to take away some of the pressure opposing defenses put on him.  One again they didn’t do that this offseason.  Instead they added a #1 WR in T.O. that will move Lee Evans to the #2 role, which is fine by Evans and his fantasy owners.  Now if you try to shut down Evans’ deep route T.O. will kill you across the middle.  If you try to take that away, Evans will burn you deep. 

Evans was decent last year with 63 catches for 1017 yards and 3 TDs.  His career high is 82 receptions, with 2008 being his second highest total.  Clearly he is not a PPR league value.  With T.O. on board he won’t have to deal with Safety help as frequently.  He should be able to get deep more consistently.  I still think he’s a all or nothing type players and while he’ll finish will impressive numbers, he will frustrate fantasy owners more than he pleases them.  He’ll go somewhere in the fifth or sixth round.  If you draft him, try and get a steady producer to compliment him.  I’m expecting 65 catches for 1000 yards and 6 TDs.

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Fantasy Football Profiles: D. Bowe, B. Marshall, R. Williams, S. Holmes, W. Welker

by Ryan Lester of Lester’s Legends

Dwayne Bowe catch
Dwayne Bowe
I was expecting big things out of Bowe this season, but I wasn’t expecting it to be his waistline.  Thankfully Bowe, who was overweight and out of shape dropped the weight and reported to camp lighter than he played last year.  So far Bowe likes his new build.  The goodwill didn’t last long though as new Coach Todd Haley isn’t pleased with Bowe’s conditioning.  Mark Bradley and Devard Darling practiced with the first team on Monday. Bowe is easily the best weapon on the Chiefs, but it could be a long, frustrating year for Chiefs fans and Bowe owners if he continually clashes with Haley.Bow had a solid, not spectacular, season with 86 receptions for 1022 yards and 7 TDs, which came on the heels of a 70 reception, 995 yard, 5 TD rookie season.  He finished with just two 100+ yard games and only had four 90+ yard games.  He was more of a force in PPR leagues than traditional leagues. 

This year is different though as Todd Haley brings a more offensive mindset, and it appears as if Matt Cassel will be an upgrade at QB, although it remains to be seen if he was simply a product of New England’s system or if he can flourish elsewhere.

With the questions that surround Bowe I would prefer to have Bowe as a WR2.  I would look to draft him in the late third or early fourth round.  I’m predicting 90 receptions for 1100 yards and 7 TDs.

Brandon Marshall catch
Brandon Marshall
Brandon Marshall, like Dwayne Bowe, is being sent a message as new Coach Josh McDaniels has Marshall listed on the second team on the Broncos’ depth chart.  Marshall has asked to be traded, had another run-in with the law, and has been unable to practice because of injury.  Not exactly the way to endear yourself to you new Coach. 

Marshall had two monster games in his return from suspension last year (18 receptions for 166 yards against San Diego & 6 receptions for 155 yards vs. New Orleans).  He only topped 100 yards one more time the rest of the way.  Yet, he finished with 104 receptions for 1265 yards and 6 TDs.  That of course was with QB Jay Cutler, who forced his way out of Denver.  New QB Kyle Orton doesn’t have the arm strength of Cutler, but he has proven to be a winner.  It will be interesting to monitor both QBs to see how they do in their new homes.  The questions surrounding Marshall make it difficult to rely on him as your #1 WR.  That’s the risk you’ll likely have to take on him as he’s going in third round of fantasy drafts.  I expect him to have another stellar year, assuming he does not get suspended.  He should catch 95 passes for 1200 yards and 7 TDs.  All things considered though, I would lean towards a WR that wasn’t quite as risky.

Roy Williams practice
Roy Williams
Roy Williams changed his number hoping for a reversal of fortunes for the talented WR.  He has a full offseason to work with Tony Romo to establish a rapport that never got on track last year.  Aside from the midseason trade, he battled through a foot injury, had to live in the shadow of T.O. and the pressure of a huge contract for his hometown team, and had to play without Tony Romo because of his injury for three weeks.  Not exactly a smooth arrival to one of the biggest stages in the NFL.

With all that he went through I’m going to give his 36 catch, 430 yards, 2 TD season a mulligan.  The key will be if he can play more like the WR we saw in 2006 when he had 82 catches for 1310 yards and 7 TDs, or the WR who hasn’t had 900 yards receiving in any other year.  My guess is it’s somewhere in the middle.  I love Roy as a WR3, and could tolerate him as a WR2 if I was loaded elsewhere.  I would take him in the 5th round.  Any sooner I rather go RB, QB, or elite TE.  A healthy Roy Williams should bring 80 receptions for 1100 yard, and 8 TDs.

Santonio Holmes
While two of the previous profiles (Dwayne Bowe & Brandon Marshall) have some growing up to do, Santonio Holmes did his growing up last year after he was busted with marijuana.  He accepted responsibility and earned back the trust of his teammates, coaches, and fans.  He went on to take Super Bowl MVP honors with nine catches for 131 yards and the winning TD.  That was the only time he had 100+ yards last year.  After catching just 1 TD pass in the first six games, he had four in his last nine games.  Holmes was a trendy pick to breakout last year, and aside from the clutch Super Bowl performance, his numbers decreased from 942 yards and 8 TDs to 821 yard and 5 TDs despite playing in two more games in 2008.

I think Holmes can have that breakout year in 2009 as long as his QB isn’t suspended because of the rape allegations.  I like Holmes as a WR2, but prefer him as a WR3.  He will likely be taken in the fourth or fifth round.  He should be good for 65 receptions for 1050 yards and 8 TDs.

Wes Welker cutting
Wes Welker
If anyone was ever tailor made for an offense, it’s Wes Welker for the Patriots.  Who loses a Hall of Fame QB in the opening week and hardly misses a beat with a QB that hadn’t started since high school?  Wes Welker, that’s who.  Welker had 112 receptions for 1175 yards with Brady and 111 catches for 1165 yards without him.  The only real difference is the 8 TDs he caught with Brady vs. 3 with Cassel.  I’m still convinced that he could have caught 20 passes in the Super Bowl loss to the Giants, as New York did not have an answer for him. 

The addition of Joey Galloway, who provides another vertical threat can help stretch defense so Welker can work his magic.  He is such a great route runner with amazing hands.  He’s quick, but he’s also shifty, which makes him so tough to defend on quick slants.  He’s even a tough little cat for  his size, taking the hits and popping back up.

Welker is a solid WR2, especially in PPR leagues.  He’ll likely go in the fifth round in standard leagues and as early as the third round in PPR leagues since he catches so many passes.  I see a 110 reception, 1100 yard, 6 TD season for Welker.

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Fantasy Football Profiles: G. Jennings, R. White, Colston, T.O., Boldin

by Ryan Lester of Lester’s Legends

Greg Jennings cutting
Greg Jennings
Greg Jennings hardly missed a beat in the transition from Brett Favre to Aaron Rodgers.  His TD total dipped from 12 to 9 without #4, but his receptions jumped from 53 to 80 and his yardage from 920 to 1292.  Aaron Rodgers should be even more comfortable this year, assuming the Packers aren’t serious about the Michael Vick Sweepstakes. 

Jennings had five 100+ yard games and had 90+ yards and/or a TD in 12 of his 16 games. Aside from TDs (3 home, 6 away) Jennings’ home-road numbers were nearly identical. The bulk of his receptions (48) were thrown ten yards or less, but he did show the ability to get deep with ten receptions on passes thrown over 20 yards, including four 41 yards or more.

Jennings is going in the second or third rounds of fantasy drafts and could be a great value depending on how late you get him. I’m expecting 85 receptions for 1300 yards and 10 TDs.

Roddy White flip
Roddy White
Roddy White is fresh off a fat, new contract.  I just hope his desire to prove he’s worth that big contract is equal to the drive he showed while auditioning for that contract.  White followed up his breakout third season of 83 receptions for 1202 yards and 6 TDs with an impressive 88 reception, 1382 yard, 7 TD performance.  This while playing with a Rookie QB in Matt Ryan, and a heavy rushing attack led by Michael Turner. 

It would be natural to expect another increase in production had the Falcons not acquired Hall of Fame Tight End Tony Gonzalez.  While Gonzo’s presence will help take some pressure off of Roddy, Gonzo’s going to get his share of receptions, which will cut into Roddy’s numbers.  Having Gonzo in the mix is great the Falcons, it diminishes everyone outside of Matt Ryan’s fantasy value.  Michael Turner’s TD total is bound to drop as Gonzo is great in the red zone.  Roddy and Michael Jenkins’ touches are going to decrease.  Even Gonzo will be targeted less with more weapons to share with.

So where does that leave Roddy in fantasy terms?  I would still take him as a #1 WR, but not until the third round when I have two RBs (or one RB and Brees, Peyton, or Brady).  I’m expecting 75 receptions for 1200 yards and 7 TDs.
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Fantasy Football Profiles: Calvin Johnson, Steve Smith, Reggie Wayne

by Ryan Lester of Lester’s Legends

Calvin Johnson TD
Calvin Johnson
Calvin Johnson became a fantasy beast in his second year catching 78 passes for 1331 yards and 12 TDs.  He had at least 90 yards and/or a TD in 12 of the 16 games.  He should get better QB play this year with Daunte Culpepper in better shape and familiar with the team, and the addition of the first pick in last year’s NFL Draft, Matthew Stafford.

Megatron’s size, 6?5? and 236 lbs., makes him a nightmare to cover.  Defensive Backs simply do not have the size and strength to matchup with him, and Linebackers don’t have the speed.

Look to Kevin Smith and Maurice Morris for a talented duo in the backfield to take pressure off of the passing game.  Two newcomers, free agent Bryant Johnson and Rookie TE Brandon Pettigrew will keep defenses from keying in too heavily on Calvin. 

The only problem I foresee is the fantasy playoff schedule.  The Lions face Baltimore, Arizona (Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie), and San Francisco (Nate Clements).  That’s not enough to deter me from taking Megatron in the second round of fantasy drafts and projecting him for 85 receptions for 1400 yards and 12 TDs.
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Fantasy Football Profiles: Larry Fitzgerald, Andre Johnson, Randy Moss

by Ryan Lester of Lester’s Legends

Larry Fitzgerald

|Larry Fitzgerald Stretch

Larry Fitzgerald put on a show last year shattering the NFL playoff record for receiving yards.  In the Super Bowl, he showed  an extra gear I didn’t even know he had.  Here’s the video:

Fitz recorded his third 1400+, 10 TD season in his last four years making him truly one of the most elite WRs in the game.  He had seven 100+ yard receiving games and caught TDs in nine games.  He had either 100 yards or a TD in 13 games last year.  That kind of consistency is remarkable.  Once the top five or six RBs (AP, Turner, MJD, Forte, LT, S-Jax) come off the board, I truly would rather take him than a Running Back with some questions.  Chris Johnson is awesome, but he’s in a job share with LenDale White.  Steve Slaton is great, but prove it again.  Sometimes Gore forgets to find the end zone.  Brandon Jacobs gets hurt.  Is this the year Clinton Portis breaks down?  Will Westy stay healthy?  Was DeAngelo’s year a fluke? Will Ronnie Brown look better another year removed from his knee injury?  Too many questions for my taste in the middle to late first round.  The rules favor the passing game and Running Back by Committees are becoming more prevalent.  When the elite RBs come off the board, give me some Fitz.

Andre Johnson

Andre Johnson TD

Andre Johnson is great because he’s built like T.O., but doesn’t come with all the attitude and self-entitlement.  At 6?3?, 228 lbs. he is very tough to cover.  His consistency is a little bit of an issue as he had six games of 130+ yards and five games of 55 or fewer yards.  He still managed to have 11 games with either 100+ yards or a TD though, which is why I have him as my #2 WR on the board.  He’s particularly deadly in PPR leagues as he hauled in 115 passes.  He has averaged 6.78 receptions per game the past three seasons.  Now that the Texans have surrounded him with complimentary talent (Steve Slaton, Owen Daniels, Kevin Walter, and Owen Daniels) it is harder to key in on Johnson.

Johnson did the majority of his damage on First Downs, showing how important his role in their offense is.  He had 57 of his 115 receptions (49.6%), 807 of his 1575 yards (51.2%) and 4 of his 8 TDs (50%) on First Down.  He’s not a deep threat as only seven of his receptions (6%) were thrown over 20 yards, but he’s great at getting yards after the catch.  He’s also good in the Red Zone, scoring six of  his TDs there.  He’s never caught double-digit TDs, which is why I have him a hair behind Larry Fitzgerald, but I would have no problem taking him at the end of the first round.

Randy Moss

Randy Moss

Perhaps nobody is as thankful for Tom Brady’s return than Randy Moss.  His receptions took a 30% hit, his yardage a 32.5% hit, and his TDs a 52% hit.  It’s not like his 1008 yards and 11 TDs with Matt Cassel were bad, but it was a far cry from the 1493 & 23 he produced in 2007.  Though it seems like Moss has been in the league forever, he’s just 32 and still should have a few high level seasons in him…if he’s motivated.  I’m sure he’s motivated this year as the Super Bowl loss and TB’s injury have left a bad taste in his mouth.

Despite the amazing 2007 season and being one of the best WRs of all time, I still have Moss ranked as the third best WR.  I just think Larry Fitzgerald and Andre Johnson have a little less risk associated with them.  Of course, Moss is going a few picks after them so he is a slightly better value.  I could see Moss putting up 1200+ yards and 12 TDs.  If Brady shows no lingering effects of his knee injury, those numbers could significantly increase.

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