by Ray Kuhn
Jonas Gray had his best game of the 2014 season while he was on either your league’s waiver wire or someone’s bench. There really is nowhere for Gray to go but down here. But is there anything wrong with that? And what does it mean for his value?
In just his fourth NFL game, Gray had a historical performance on Sunday night against the Colts. Regardless of how high you were on the rookie, you can never predict 201 yards on 38 carries and four touchdowns for any player. That is just impossible. You could argue that there were some signs pointing towards a big day for Gray, but certainly not of this magnitude.
by Eric Stashin (aka The Rotoprofessor)
The New York Giants are a team deep in offensive talent, though that doesn’t mean that there won’t be opportunities for younger players to make an impact. Hakeen Nicks always seems to be banged up and Victor Cruz took a step back, to an extent, in 2012 looking more like a possession receiver as opposed to a big play threat. Does that mean a potential opportunity for second year WR Rueben Randle?
The question shouldn’t be if there is an opportunity, because there should be one. The real question is if there enough balls to go around (if everyone is healthy) and if Randle is capable of taking the next step forward.
Randle should open the season third on the depth chart, meaning he should be on the field often. While David Wilson is going to get an opportunity to lead the running game, would it be a surprise to see the Giants lean more on Eli Manning and company?
by Eric Stashin (aka The Rotoprofessor)
A lot was expected of Alshon Jeffery in his rookie season after being drafted in the second round out of South Carolina. Unfortunately the production just wasn’t there, with 24 receptions for 367 yards and 3 TD in just 10 games. What exactly was the problem?
According to teammate Brandon Marshall (in a quote courtesy of Dan Pompei of The Chicago Tribune):
“He was softer last year, much softer,” Marshall said. “Now he’s strong. He’s a beast.”
According to the article Jeffery spent six weeks working alongside Marshall, which certainly should go a long way. A lot of the questions surrounded his conditioning, but Marshall apparently has helped get him straight. In another quote:
“He’s like a sponge,” said Marshall, a four-time Pro Bowler. “I say, ‘Hey bro, this is how you take care of your body.’ So he’s eating right. Got a chef. Seeing a chiropractor. Getting massages. Studying film. Working out hard. I can’t say enough about what he put in.”
According to Mike Triplett of The New Orleans Times-Picayune (click here for the article):
“Ingram got the majority of carries with the first-string offense during Monday’s practice and continued to look strong, fast and fluid. If this were Ingram’s first summer with the Saints, the buzz would probably be through the roof by now.”
Ingram rushed for 602 yards and 5 TD in 2012, his sophomore season in the NFL.
A 2011 first round draft pick (28th overall), Ingram has definitely been a disappointment over his first two NFL seasons. He missed 6 games during his rookie season and last year failed to distinguish himself from the team’s other RB.
Darren Sproles is going to continue to be the main running back in passing downs, but he hardly carries the football (48 carries in 2012). The back he is actually competing with for playing time is Pierre Thomas, who has hardly been a superstar over his NFL career (793 yards was his career high in 2009).
by Eric Stashin (aka The Rotoprofessor)
When we hear coaching staffs gush about one of their players, we have to take it with a bit of a grain of salt. We’ve become accustomed to hearing all of the cliches heading into the season, often with minimal results
However, what about when an opposing players sings an opponent’s praise? That has to be taken in a completely different light. According to Barry Jackson of the a Miami Herald (click here for the post):
“Gore’s mentoring of Miller has been one of the neater Dolphins-flavored stories of the summer, the four-time Pro Bowler and 49ers star taking the second-year protege under his wing. They work out together twice a day – with a group of other NFL players in the morning in North Miami Beach, and just the two of them, with a trainer, on a Davie field at night.”
Frank Gore was also quoted in the article as saying, in regards to Miller’s improvements since they began working together, “His footwork got a lot better.”
The Cincinnati Bengals spent a third round pick on Mohamed Sanu in 2012 and at times he showed some signs of breaking out during his rookie season. While his year ultimately was caught short due to a stress fracture in his foot, that will likely send him further under-the-radar as we head into 2013.
One thing working in Sanu’s favor is the significant talent that is around him. Obviously A.J. Green is going to get the bulk of the attention and is one of the premier wide receivers in the game.
After drafting Tyler Eiffert in 2013 they now own an impressive tight end duo, with Jermaine Gresham there as well. Defenses are going to have to game plan for them, helping to open things up on the outside.
The Bengals also added more talent to the backfield, drafting Giovani Bernard to pair with BenJarvus Green-Ellis. It’s just another weapon for defenses to try and stop.
In other words, defenses can’t possibly game plan for every weapon the Bengals have and the person that will often be forgotten will be the secondary wide receivers. Opponents are not going to want to let Green beat them. They are going to commit to shutting him down, and that should leave one-on-one matchups on the other side.
We are all already expecting big things this season from second year receivers A.J. Green and Julio Jones. Titus Young has gotten a lot of attention, and rightfully so, as he is in an enviable situation across from Calvin Johnson in Detroit. What about the rest of the sophomore receivers? Who is going to breakout a year before their “magical” third season?
Let’s take a look at a few options:
Torrey Smith – Baltimore Ravens
Smith may be the epitome of a big play receiver, at least he was in 2011 anyways.
Can we all remember his Week 3 performance, when he went for 5 catches, 152 yards and 3 TD? He is always going to have that type of potential, but he clearly hadn’t completely figured it out last year. Take Week 4, for instance, when he was targeted 6 times yet managed just 1 reception for 1 yard.
Before you say he is just just going to be targeted a handful of times and ultimately be nothing more than a big play threat, keep in mind that he was targeted at least 7 times in each of the Ravens final four games in 2011 (and 8 of the final 10). That’s a lot of chances for a player who is simply a “big play” guy, wouldn’t you say? Read more
We all know the theory that NFL wide receivers have a good chance of breaking out in their third year in the league. Obviously, there are some players who don’t qualify as “breakouts” like Dez Bryant or Victor Cruz, as they have already emerged as viable fantasy options. Let’s start taking a look at the receivers who haven’t yet fully emerged, but have the potential to do so this season:
Demaryius Thomas – Denver Broncos
He showed the potential to make the big play last season, with 32 receptions for 551 yards and 1 TD. His 17.2 yards per receptions placed him 11th among receivers with at least 30 catches. Now, just consider that it came with Tim Tebow throwing him the ball in the second half and in games that saw the Broncos complete 10 passes if they were lucky.
Now, imagine what could be possible with a healthy Peyton Manning throwing him the ball? It could be a big year for Thomas and he is well worth drafting in all formats. Read more
by Eric Stashin
I touched on him a bit in the TE rankings, but I wanted to take a deeper look at Vernon Davis of the San Francisco 49′ers. Drafted in the first round of the 2006 draft, there was plenty of talk about he would be the next big tight end, but in his first two season, it just hasn’t happened.
His first season was cut short at 10 games thanks to a hairline fracture in his left leg. He mustered just 20 catches for 265 yards and 3 TD’s, certainly not numbers that justified him being a first round pick, let alone a player worth owning in fantasy leagues.
Last season, he again suffered an injury, this time missing 2 games due to a sprained knee. His stats were still much improved, catching 52 passes for 509 yards and 4 TD’s, but there certainly is plenty of room for improvement. He has all the talent in the world, and with Mike Martz now in as the offensive coordinator, this could be the season he finally realizes his potential.