When the Steelers shipped Santonio Holmes to New York they did so, at least in part, with Mike Wallace in mind. Off field problems or not, the team had to be confident that Wallace would be able to step up and fill the receivers spot opposite Hines Ward.
Obviously, there are a few problems facing Wallace over the first few weeks of the season, most notably the absence of Ben Roethlisberger. Byron Leftwich should be passable, at the least, so that shouldn’t be a main concern for fantasy owners.
No matter who the quarterback is, the Steelers are going to try to pass the ball in order to free up the running game. Yes, they may focus on the run a little bit more, but they are going to have to try and stretch the field.
In his rookie campaign, Wallace proved that he has the ability to be a game changer. While he caught just 39 passes, he averaged 19.4 yards/reception, the most among any receiver with at least 35 catches.
Santonio Holmes was tied for second in the league with 21 catches of at least 20 yards in 2009 (Andre Johnson led the league with 22), so the big plays have got to go somewhere. Read more
The addition of Mike Martz as the Chicago Bears offensive coordinator surely adds some intrigue, especially to the wide receivers. We all know the type of offense he likes to run, dating back to his “Greatest Show on Turf” days with the St. Louis Rams. With a gunslinger like Jay Cutler at the helm, it’s possible that the Bears try to replicate that game plan.
Of course, the Rams play in a dome while the Bears have to endure Chicago’s wicked winter weather, which could limit their passing late in the season. Still, let’s take a look at the Bears wide receivers and determine who has the most potential to make an impact:
Devin Hester – We all know the type of speed and ability he has, showing it off on numerous occasions in the return game. His move to the offensive side of the ball has come along slowly, with 57 catches and 757 yards in his second full season as a wide receiver. He’s still learning, but you have to think that Martz will invent ways to get him the ball in the open field.
Whether he designs screens, hands the ball off or lets Cutler unleash a deep bomb, Hester is going to be in the thick of things. He only scored three TDs last season, but the chances are high that he scores significantly more then that this season. Of any receiver on the Bears team, he has the most to gain from Martz’ presence. Read more
Wide Receiver is an interesting position for fantasy owners when you think about it. After the top 15-20 options, are there really many sure things? What you have is a number of options that could emerge, could stagnate or could fall flat. Let’s take a look at how I currently have everyone ranked:
- Andre Johnson – Houston Texans
- Larry Fitzgerald – Arizona Cardinals
- Reggie Wayne – Indianapolis Colts
- Randy Moss – New England Patriots
- Calvin Johnson – Detroit Lions
- Miles Austin – Dallas Cowboys
- Roddy White – Atlanta Falcons
- Brandon Marshall – Miami Dolphins
- Vincent Jackson – San Diego Chargers
- DeSean Jackson – Philadelphia Eagles Read more
Just one year ago Chris Cooley was regarded as one of the elite tight ends in the game. He had a string of four consecutive years of at least 734 yards, having set a career high of 849 (as well as 83 receptions) in 2009. Then, an injury to his ankle seven games into the 2009 season changed everything.
Second year player Fred Davis was given the chance to fill in the role and proved that he had the ability to perform just as well as Cooley. Over the season’s final eight weeks he caught 31 passes for 360 yards and five TDs.
Now, with Donovan McNabb at the helm of the offense, the Redskins enter the season with both TEs in the mix and a whole slew of questions. Will the team go with more two tight end sets? Will they trade one of the two prior to the season?
Mike Shanahan likes to run the ball. Just look at the names of the running backs who have generated 1,000 yard seasons under his supervision (outside of Terrell Davis and Clinton Portis):
- Olandis Gary
- Mike Gary
- Reuben Droughns
- Tatum Bell Read more
It wasn’t a surprise that the New Yorks Jets parted ways with Thomas Jones, despite having rushed for over 1,100 yards each of the past five seasons. The more shocking move was dealing Leon Washington at the NFL Draft, even with the concerns surrounding his return from injury.
Granted, they brought in LaDanian Tomlinson to serve as the second back, but we all know he has lost a step and will likely not challenge for RB1 status. That leaves second-year back Shonn Greene to shoulder the load.
Even after releasing Alan Faneca, the Jets offensive line should clear plenty of holes for Greene to run through. They showed last season that the line as a whole, not one 33-year old guard, was a force, averaging 142.0 yards per game on the ground. Yes, he was a Pro Bowler in ’09, but that was an honor that many feel he didn’t deserve.
Second round draft pick Vladimir Ducasse is expected to replace Faneca. Given the team’s success in developing Nick Mangold and D’Brickashaw Ferguson, I wouldn’t be overly concerned.
Greene showed how good he could be, averaging 5.0 yards per carry during the regular season. In the playoffs, he turned it up even more, leading the league with 304 yards and averaging 5.6 yards per carry. Read more
Both Vincent Jackson and DeSean Jackson made their marks for fantasy owners in 2010, and with extremely similar statistics. Just look at how close they were:
Receptions: Vincent – 68, DeSean – 62
Yards: Vincent – 1,167, DeSean – 1,156
Touchdowns: Vincent – 9, DeSean – 9
You just don’t get closer then that, so when trying to decide which one to draft, how do you select? It’s a close call, but let’s look at what separates the two in my mind…
The quarterbacks and supporting cast.
Kevin Kolb looked solid when given the opportunity to play last season, but does anyone really know exactly what he is going to bring to the table? We can think that he can take the next step, but until he does it week in and week out, he’s still a big unknown.
As it is, he barely threw more TDs then INTs last season, with 4 TD and 3 INT. Yes, he had over 300 yards in both of his starts, which is nice, but do we honestly think he can do that every game in 2010? It’s easy to do it for two weeks, but when you take a pounding for 16 games it’s a massively different story. Read more
Tight end is probably the most unpredictable position for fantasy football owners. In any given week, someone can surprise with a big game. That doesn’t mean there aren’t better options then others, however. Let’s take a look at my current draft day rankings:
- Dallas Clark – Indianapolis Colts
- Antonio Gates – San Diego Chargers
- Vernon Davis – San Francisco 49ers
- Jason Witten – Dallas Cowboys
- Brent Celek – Philadelphia Eagles
- Tony Gonzalez – Atlanta Falcons
- Jermichael Finley – Green Bay Packers
- Owen Daniels – Houston Texans
- Kellen Winslow – Tampa Bay Buccaneers
- Zach Miller – Oakland Raiders Read more
There are certain mantras fantasy owners believe in. For example, fantasy baseball owners believe in the third year starting pitcher breakout. For football owners, it’s the idea that a third year wide receiver may finally breakout.
There’s no real reasoning behind it. Maybe they have just become accustomed to the game. Maybe they have finally worked their way up the depth chart and will be receiving regular snaps. Whatever the reason, here’s a few third year receivers who could prove excellent sleepers on draft day:
Pierre Garcon – Indianapolis Colts
He was solid last season, with 47 receptions for 765 yards and 2 TD, benefiting from the absence of Anthony Gonzalez. While Gonzalez is likely to return to the field in 2010, there’s no guarantee that Garcon hasn’t done enough to overtake him as the #2 receiver.
Not that it really matters. We all know that with Peyton Manning at the helm, the Colts are going to spread the ball around the field. When you throw the ball over 550 times, there are plenty of passes for everyone to flourish. Read more
Depending on your league setup, running back may be the most important position on draft day. Many times, you don’t need just one or two, but at least three (with the FLEX), plus a suitable replacement for bye weeks. So, who is the best bet in 2010? Who is a viable late round sleeper? Let’s take a look at my current rankings:
- Adrian Peterson – Minnesota Vikings
- Chris Johnson – Tennessee Titans
- Maurice Jones-Drew – Jacksonville Jaguars
- Ray Rice – Baltimore Ravens
- Frank Gore – San Francisco 49ers
- Steven Jackson – St. Louis Rams
- Michael Turner – Atlanta Falcons
- Rashard Mendenhall – Pittsburgh Steelers
- Ryan Grant – Green Bay Packers
- DeAngelo Williams – Carolina Panthers Read more
Quarterback is generally the “glamor” position, the one that franchises draft in order to build their team around. While Sam Bradford was the top overall selection, does that necessarily mean he is going to be the top rookie QB in 2010? Let’s take a look at the best of the upcoming quarterback class and if they could have fantasy value this season:
1. Sam Bradford – St. Louis Rams
Selected with the first pick overall, the Rams are going to be paying an awful lot of money to have him sitting on the sidelines while A.J. Feeley runs the show. There’s no question that Bradford is the QB of the future in St. Louis and while he may not start the year as the QB1, he’s likely going to get there before long. With coach Steve Spagnuolo being quoted as liking the way Andy Reid developed Donovan McNabb (he made his first start in Week 10), it really appears to be just a matter of time. He may lack some tremendous weapons, but the opportunity to put up some stats is going to be there.
2. Jimmy Clausen – Carolina Panthers
He slipped into the second round on draft day, but he may have landed in the best situation for success. Unlike Bradford, he joins an offense with tremendous weapons, including a pair of star RB (DeAngelo Williams & Jonathan Stewart) and a top wide receiver in Steve Smith. All he needs to do is overcome Matt Moore, which isn’t so unbelievable, and he’ll be set for a solid campaign. The running game will be the feature, he’ll just be asked to manage the game (probably the only reason I didn’t push him to the top spot), so don’t consider him in one-quarterback formats. Read more