Michael Crabtree sits atop many people’s 2010 breakout candidate lists, and with good reason. Despite not yet playing in a preseason game due to a neck strain (though he has returned to practice) and playing in just 11 games in his rookie campaign due to a holdout, there is no doubting his talent.
Last season he had 48 receptions for 625 yards and 2 TD, only twice having as few as three receptions (and never having more then six). He was consistent, and that came despite questionable quarterback play and no preseason to get a rapport with his teammates.
While he has missed time during camp this year, he already has worked with Alex Smith. The two know each other and now just need to get their timing back on track. It doesn’t take four preseason games to do that.
The team has also improved the talent on the offensive side of the ball. Added are Ted Ginn Jr. and Brian Westbrook, not to mention Vernon Davis’ 2009 breakout. Throw in a healthy Frank Gore, and the 49ers actually produce matchup issues for opposing defenses. Read more
There have been some major rumblings surrounding running backs this past, especially Maurice Jones-Drew. How does that news affect the rankings? How about the performances from this past weekend? Let’s take a look, as we continue our week roundup of our final rankings prior to the start of the season (barring some major news):
- Chris Johnson – Tennessee Titans
- Adrian Peterson – Minnesota Vikings
- Maurice Jones-Drew – Jacksonville Jaguars
- Ray Rice – Baltimore Ravens
- Frank Gore – San Francisco 49ers
- Steven Jackson – St. Louis Rams
- Michael Turner – Atlanta Falcons
- DeAngelo Williams – Carolina Panthers
- Ryan Grant – Green Bay Packers
- Rashard Mendenhall – Pittsburgh Steelers Read more
Every time I write about tight ends, there is one common statement that runs throughout the article. You simply never know, from week to week, who may emerge and have a big week. It’s impossible to guess, because there always seems to be an unknown or unheralded player putting together a two touchdown day. It’s almost a matter of luck, unless you have one of the elite options.
This preseason, there is already a name that is surfacing to potential be a shocking performer. The Rams’ rookie tight end, Michael Hoomanawanui, has erupted to lead the team with 8 catches, 112 yards and 2 TD.
He had his biggest day this past week, in the third preseason game. He had four catches for 53 yards and two touchdowns, showing off a budding rapport with fellow rookie Sam Bradford. Considering how poor the offense could be, having a safety valve that you are comfortable with can go a long way.
It’s no guarantee that Bradford starts the season as the starting QB, but it would appear like it’s only a matter of time. The Rams’ are going to want to surround him with a safety valve and Hoomanawanui is looking to be that option.
Drafted in the fifth round, Hoomanawanui is 6’4″, 264 pounds. That certainly makes him a primary target in the red zone, at the least. Read more
With the major portion of preseason now in the books, it’s time to post our final preseason rankings (barring some significant news breaking). All week we’ll be posting a different position, so make sure to keep checking back.
While there haven’t been any major changes among the quarterbacks, the preseason schedule has certainly created some concerns. Whose performance has sent them sliding? Who played well enough to earn our confidence? Let’s take a look at how things currently shape up:
- Aaron Rodgers – Green Bay Packers
- Drew Brees – New Orleans Saints
- Peyton Manning – Indianapolis Colts
- Tom Brady – New England Patriots
- Matt Schaub – Houston Texans
- Tony Romo – Dallas Cowboys
- Philip Rivers – San Diego Chargers
- Brett Favre – Minnesota Vikings
- Joe Flacco – Baltimore Ravens
- Eli Manning – New York Giants Read more
We all know that tight end is one of the toughest positions to predict. From week-to-week you never know who is going to post a big performance. Will it be an unknown who manages to score two TD? Will it be a mid-level option who suddenly becomes a team’s top target?
The questions actually start at the top and filter all the way down. The truth is, there is no consensus number one tight end heading into 2010, though two clearly stand out for the distinction. Antonio Gates (ADP of 44.3 according to Mock Draft Central) and Dallas Clark (ADP of 46.1), are certainly the best of the class.
In my most recent rankings (click here to view), I have Clark at the top with Gates just behind. Should I be reevaluating that thought process? Let’s take a look.
First, let’s their 2009 numbers:
Clark – 100 receptions, 1,106 yards, 10 TD
Gates – 79 receptions, 1,157 yards, 8 TD
Clark certainly had the edge last season, but a lot has changed between now and then. Most importantly, the Chargers have undergone a significant overhaul in their offense. LaDanian Tomlinson is gone, replaced by rookie Ryan Mathews. In theory, Vincent Jackson is still on the roster, but has been rumored to be willing to hold out the entire season unless he gets a new contract. Read more
by Ryan Lester of www.lesterslegends.com
The last couple of rounds of fantasy drafts is the time when you take a flier on players that may or may not pan out for you. If they do, great. If they don’t, no sweat. You can pick up someone that plays well in the first couple of weeks of the season. Here are some guys that you can draft in the closing rounds of your fantasy drafts.
Derek Anderson, QB, Arizona Cardinals
Obviously DA will have to win the starting gig from Matt Leinart, but it appears the writing is on the wall as Anderson is starting the Cardinals’ third preseason game.
Kareem Huggins, RB, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
It looks like Huggins could win the #2 RB role for the Bucs. I know the backup RB of a team that finished 3-13 isn’t necessarily the most desirable fantasy player, but given Cadillac Williams injury history he could find himself as a lead back. Read more
LeSean McCoy showed enough in his rookie campaign to allow the Philadelphia Eagles to let oft injured veteran running back Brian Westbrook walk in the offseason. Selected in the second round of the 2009 draft, McCoy now has a chance to put his skills on full display.
The question is, how good do you think he will be? In abbreviated appearances (only 4 starts despite appearing in all 16 games) last season he managed to rush for 637 yards and 4 TD. He averaged 4.1 yards per carry, a more then respectable number.
As has always been the Eagles nature, he was a great option in the passing game. He had 40 receptions for 308 yards, showing the same type of ability as Westbrook did. In their offense that uses a lot of screens, Westbrook accumulated as many as 90 catches in a season and was always a threat.
With Kevin Kolb manning the quarterback position, it’s quite possible that the focus on using the running backs increases. Despite the ability Kolb showed last season, there’s a big difference starting week after week, as opposed to starting just one or two games (you can click here for my full thoughts on him). Read more
Miles Austin may have opened the 2009 season third on the Cowboys depth chart, but he finished among the elite receivers in the game. The real question is, can he repeat his success or is he a threat for a major regression?
Before we can talk about the future, let’s look at the past. Austin didn’t start the Cowboys’ first four games, picking up just five catches for 81 yards. In fact, in Week 3, he failed to catch a pass against the Carolina Panthers.
When Roy Williams suffered an injury, Williams slid into the lineup against the Chiefs on October 11 and never really looked back. He exploded for 10 catches, 250 yards and 2 TD. He followed that up two weeks later against the Falcons, catching six passes for 171 yards and 2 TD.
He finished with 81 catches for 1,320 yards and 11 TD. Among the successes:
- The yards were third in the NFL (first in the NFC)
- He was tied for fourth in TD among receivers, behind the leaders with 13 (Vernon Davis, Larry Fitzgerald & Randy Moss)
- He was second in the league in receptions of 20 or more yards with 21 (Andre Johnson had 22)
- He was third in the league in receptions of 40 or more yards with 8 (DeSean Jackson led the league with 10)
No matter how you cut it, it was a magical season after providing very little over his first three seasons (a total of 18 catches for 354 yards). There had been rumors of him flirting with the Jets prior to the 2009 season, but nothing ever came of it and he ultimately returned to Dallas. Read more
by Ryan Lester of www.lesterslegends.com
The Cardinals find themselves in the midst of an old-fashioned quarterback controversy as Derek Anderson was named the starter of the Cardinals’ third preseason game. The third preseason game is typically the game where the starters play for an extended period as a final tune-up for the season before resting in the fourth game.
Leinart who lost a QB battle to Kurt Leinart could once again be relegated to backup duty. It’s one thing to lose out to a former league MVP and possible Hall of Famer, but losing out to Derek Anderson would make the bust cries come in louder.
Leinart has had some success in the first two games completing a combined 10 of 13 passes (76.9 percent) for 77 yards. He has been sacked twice and hasn’t had a turnover. Anderson, who has a stronger arm, has completed 24 of 41 passes (58.5 percent) for 193 yards and 1 TD. Derek has been sacked once and has thrown two interceptions.
This should act as a wake-up call for Leinart. If he responds well, he could win his job back. Of course if Anderson delivers, he could take a firm grip on the starting gig. Either way, the Cardinals’ QB situation is beginning to stink. It’s probably one you should avoid in your fantasy drafts. Unfortunately it doesn’t help my confidence in Larry Fitzgerald, Steve Breaston, and Early Doucet either.
With Kevin Smith tearing his ACL towards the end of 2009, the Lions moved quickly to get a potential replacement. With the 30th selection in the 2010 draft, they selected Jahvid Best.
He set numerous records while at the University of California, including:
- Most rushing yards in a game – 311 yards on 12/06/08
- Most all purpose yards in a season – 2,247 in 2008
- Most rushing yards in the Emerald Bowl – 186 yards
- Most rushing TDs for University of California in the modern era – 5 on 09/19/09 (someone did score six back in 1922)
That’s not to mention that he had the second most rushing yards in season, rushing for 1,580 yards in 2008.
There’s no questioning Best’s ability, but is he going to get the majority of the carries or will Smith, who made his preseason debut this past weekend, return to his starting role? While Smith may claim to be close to 100%, his recent quotes in the Detroit Free Press (click here for the full article), tell a different story:
“Some days, I can wake up and forget I even had the surgery,” Smith said. “Some days, I can wake up and wonder how I’m going to get through the day. That just comes the part with an ACL. But it’ll get better. In four months, when I’m a year out, I’ll feel better. Next off-season, I should feel great.” Read more