Archive for June 30, 2009

LT Getting Healthy, Ready to Silence Critics

by Ryan Lester of Lester’s Legends

One of the biggest question marks, as fantasy football players begin their rankings, is the health of LaDainian Tomlinson.  He is no longer considered the top pick, but he is still a first round pick.  I had the opportunity to take him in a mock draft with the fifth pick, but opted to take Larry Fitzgerald instead.  If the same scenario was presented to me today, I may have to reverse my thinking and take LT.  It’s close.

Some think I’m nuts for taking a WR with the fifth pick, but Chris Johnson is in a shared backfield with LenDale White, LT & S-Jax are coming off injuries, and there isn’t a proven track record for DeAngelo Williams and Steve Slaton.  Fitz has 1400 yards and 10 TDs in three of his past four years.  With roughly half of first round RBs typically falling short of expectations, Fitz just seems a safer play for a top pick.  This article isn’t about Fitz though, so let me get back to the matter at hand.

LT, by all accounts, had a down year in 2008.  The man had 1536 total yards (1110 rushing, 426 receiving) and 12 TDs (11 rushing, 1 receiving).  His ypc wasn’t great at 3.8, but he was dealing with a toe injury.  That injury has healed though, and according to an AP report he is  “kind of making sure my body’s in great shape, and making sure I’m as strong as possible.  I haven’t missed any time, worked out every single day. … I haven’t had a setback at all.”  Encouraging words for those who own LT in keeper leagues. Read more

Spotlight: Anthony Gonzalez

With Marvin Harrison no longer in Indianapolis, there’s a laundry list of players who will likely benefit.  Dallas Clark will get a chance to be a larger part of the offense.  Reggie Wayne has clearly taken over the reigns as the top receiver (though you could argue that he already had done that).

Third-year receiver Anthony Gonzalez, however, may be the biggest beneficiary of all.  He’s been a third receiver for the past two seasons, developing a rapport with Peyton Manning and growing into his role with the team.  He’s shown good progress:

  • 2007: 37 catches, 576 yards, 3 TD
  • 2008: 57 catches, 664 yards, 4 TD

Harrison’s 60 catches and 5 TD in 2008 have to go to someone, and while one receiver is not going to be the sole replacement, Gonzalez could see the lion’s share of those.  Wayne already had 82 catches last season.  Clark had 77. Read more

Early Top 10 Tight Ends for 2009

We’ve posted early rankings for Quarterbacks (click here to view) and Running Backs (click here to view), so now it is time to turn our attention to the Tight End position.  Things are likely to change as we get closer to the season, so we’ll continue to update and expand this list, but here’s my first crack at it:

1. Tony Gonzalez – Atlanta Falcons - Everyone can say what they want, but this guy is still the best in the game at his position.  The move should not affect his value in the slightest, considering he should morph into the safety valve for Matt Ryan.

2. Jason Witten – Dallas Cowboys - With Terrell Owens now in Buffalo, Witten can finally become Tony Romo’s go to guy.  Roy Williams will get his fair share of catches as well, so don’t expect him to suddenly jump to the 100-catch plateau.  Still, look for him to see the ball often this season.

3. Antonio Gates – San Diego Chargers - He is no longer the main focus of the offense, but a huge threat all the same.  He’s a great red zone target and should be among the Top 3 tight ends in TDs. Read more

Pre-Camp Review: Chicago Bears

by Matt Soltysiak

The Bears were a win and a Viking loss away from making the playoffs last year, but it didn’t happen.  Chicago finished 9-7, but they didn’t hibernate this off-season, they made some moves.  None is bigger than the acquisition of quarterback Jay Cutler.  Chicago sent a number of picks (and a qb) to Denver for the Pro Bowl quarterback.  This gives the team stability at the position for the first time in years.  The Bears also added Orlando Pace along the offensive line, re-signed running back Kevin Jones and tight end Michael Gaines.  Those departing the Windy City include quarterbacks Rex Grossman and Kyle Orton, receiver Marty Booker and defensive leader Mike Brown.

In the draft Chicago used two third round picks to grab defensive end Jarron Gilbert from San Jose State and receiver Juaquin Iglesias from Oklahoma.  Chicago ranked 30th in passing yards allowed last season, so getting more pressure on opposing quarterbacks is a must.  The Bears also need some targets for their new franchise quarterback. Read more

Pre-Camp Review: Minnesota Vikings

by Matt Soltysiak

By winning their final regular season game of the 2008 season, the Minnesota Vikings captured the NFC North title.  In fact the Vikings won five of their final six games to finish 10-6, but would lose in the Wildcard game.  There aren’t very many notable changes for Minnesota, at least not yet.  Gus Frerotte is gone as back-up quarterback, that job now belongs to Sage Rosenfells.  The Vikings re-signed tight end Jim Kleinsasser.  Of course their biggest move this off-season still involves a game of wait-and-see.  We’re talking about possibly bringing in Brett Favre to start at quarterback.  Will he or won’t he?  It should be sorted out soon enough.

In the draft Minnesota decided one of the best ways to help Tarvaris Jackson improve is to provide him with another target.  In the first round the Vikes grabbed receiver Percy Harvin from Florida.  In the second round the team took offensive lineman Phil Loadholt.  The former Oklahoma Sooner could help keep Jackson (or Brett Favre) on his feet a little more this season. Read more

Lester’s Top 25 Tight Ends

by Ryan Lester of Lester’s Legends

1.  Jason Witten
2.  Antonio Gates
3.  Tony Gonzalez
4.  Dallas Clark
5.  Chris Cooley
6.  Owen Daniels
7.  Kellen Winslow
8.  Greg Olsen
9.  Zach Miller
10.  John Carlson Read more

Fantasy Football Drafting Etiquette

by Ryan Lester of Lester’s Legends

Now that the NBA Finals and Stanley Cup Finals are behind us, it is safe to start thinking about the NFL again.  If you are a fantasy football player, you may have never stopped following the league news.  The NFL has successfully made it a year-round league with the Free Agency, NFL Draft, OTAs, mini-camps, training camp, preseason, regular season, playoffs, Super Bowl, Pro Bowl, and start it all over again.

As your dig deeper into your fantasy football research for the 2009 season you’ll begin to formulate opinions on certain players.  You’ll rank players by position as well as overall draft value.  Sometimes you’ll go with your gut expecting a particular guy to develop or another player to see a sharp decline.  Other times you’ll have two players with identical values so you’ll turn to strength of schedule, bye week, or fantasy playoff schedule to separate the two.  Whether you are going with a feeling or you have a formulated matrix to quantify the players, I urge you to avoid a practice that is becoming increasingly popular. Read more

Pre-Camp Review: Washington Redskins

by Matt Soltysiak

It seems every year the Redskins enter the season with high expectations, only to end it with mediocre results.  Last season Washington finished 8-8, which is good enough for dead last in the difficult NFC East.   There were a few changes this off-season, but not as many as there could have been (*cough* Jay Cutler *cough*).  Defensive back Shawn Springs is gone, as are tackle Jon Jansen, receiver James Thrash and defensive end Jason Taylor.  Washington did sign former first round draft pick Mike Williams, an offensive tackle.  Considered a bust, Williams is hoping to make the most of his second chance.  Of course, their biggest move in free agency is the addition of defensive tackle Albert Haynesworth.

In the draft Washington looked to add more pressure to opposing quarterbacks by grabbing defensive end Brian Orakpo.  Their defense already ranked in the top 10 last year, but it could be even better come 2009.  In the third round the Redskins added a defensive back. Read more

Ask the Expert: New York Giants

I recently had the opportunity to pose five questions to New York Giants beat writer Tom Rock, who writes for New York Newsday (you can read his blog by clicking here).  He gave some great insight into the Giants receiving corps, who may replace Derrick Ward, the team’s defense and much more.  Let’s take a look at what he had to say:

1) Which of the young wide receivers do you see stepping up and filling the void created by the departures of Plaxico Burress and Amani Toomer?

Tom Rock: So far in minicamp, the star has been the mini-receiver! Sinorice Moss has been fantastic, better than he’s looked since the minicamp of his rookie year (before those injuries started hitting him). Now, catching passes in June is different from doing it in September, but even his teammates have noticed an increased hunger and focus from him as he enters the fourth year of what has, to this point, been a pretty unfulfilling career. The other receiver I would keep an eye on is Mario Manningham. He’s a kid with all of the physical tools, but his development was slowed last year when he was injured for most of training camp and fell behind the learning curve. He committed himself to the playbook this offseason and has looked very sharp so far. Read more

Pre-Camp Review: Dallas Cowboys

by Matt Soltysiak

The Dallas Cowboys lost their last two regular season games to finish 2008 at 9-7 and miss the playoffs.  The team dealt with injuries during the season to starting quarterback Tony Romo, but he’ll be back, along with most other key players.  The notable exceptions not returning are star wide receiver Terrell Owens and safety Roy Williams.  Back-up quarterback Brad Johnson is also gone, replaced by a younger Jon Kitna.  The Cowboys re-signed receiver Miles Austin.

The draft was uneventful for Dallas in the first two rounds; they ended up trading away their picks.  Their first rounder was part of the deal for receiver Roy Williams last season.  In the third round the Cowboys grabbed linebacker Jason Williams and tackle Robert Brewster. Read more