Archive for July 31, 2011

Breaking Down The Saints Backfield: Will Mark Ingram Or Any Back Have Value?

The New Orleans Saints had a crowded backfield in 2010, though there was no one player who was entrenched as a must use option.  Injuries played a role, but a pass happy offense (they were second in pass attempts with 661 behind only the Indianapolis Colts) didn’t do their running backs any favors either. 

Led by rookie Chris Ivory, the numbers were spread out and uninspiring:

  • Chris Ivory – 137 carries for 716 yards and 5 TD
  • Pierre Thomas – 83 carries for 269 yards and 2 TD
  • Julius Jones – 48 carries for 193 yards and 0 TD
  • Ladell Betts – 45 carries for 150 yards and 2 TD
  • Reggie Bush – 36 carries for 150 yards and 0 TD

In other words, from a fantasy perspective, there was little that you trusted from week-to-week.  Unfortunately it’s not a new trend for the team, as Pierre Thomas led them in yards in 2008 & 2009 with 625 & 793 yards, respectively.  In 2007 it was Reggie Bush, who led the team with a meager 581 yards.  Read more

Sleeper Spotlight: Does Roy Williams + Mike Martz = Success?

Remember when Roy Williams was thought of as one of the next great wide receivers?  First the Lions selected him with the seventh overall pick in the 2004 draft.  Then, thinking that he could develop into a top receiver and be the heir apparent to Terrell Owens in Dallas, the team traded a first, third and sixth round draft pick to acquire him.

However he’s had one truly big season back in 2006, when he had 82 receptions for 1,310 yards and 7 TD.  Williams followed that up with 64 receptions for 838 yards and 5 TD in 2007, but after that it was all downhill.

In the three years that followed he has posted the following numbers:

  • 2008 – 36 receptions for 430 yards and 2 TD (split time with the Lions & Cowboys)
  • 2009 – 38 receptions for 596 yards and 7 TD
  • 2010 – 37 receptions for 530 yards and 5 TD

Those are hardly numbers that you would equate with a once promising player, are they?  Interestingly, the Lions had hired Mike Martz to be the offensive coordinator prior to the 2006 season and let him go after the 2007 year.  Is it a coincidence that Williams’ two most productive seasons came under Martz? Read more

Top 25 Quarterbacks For 2011: How The Recent Transactions Shakeup The Rankings

We are still waiting for the final domino to fall in the quarterback carousel (Kyle Orton likely being dealt to Miami), which will cause another minor ripple in these rankings.  Even without that move, there has been more than enough to cause changes in the rankings.  Let’s take a look at how things currently stand:

  1. Aaron Rodgers – Green Bay Packers
  2. Philip Rivers – San Diego Chargers
  3. Michael Vick – Philadelphia Eagles
  4. Peyton Manning – Indianapolis Colts
  5. Drew Brees – New Orleans Saints
  6. Tom Brady – New England Patriots
  7. Tony Romo – Dallas Cowboys
  8. Matt Ryan – Atlanta Falcons
  9. Matt Schaub – Houston Texans
  10. Ben Roethlisberger – Pittsburgh Steelers
  11. Eli Manning – New York Giants
  12. Joe Flacco – Baltimore Ravens Read more

Quick Hit: Will Mike Thomas Breakout In Year #3?

The Jacksonville Jaguars have been trying to find consistent production on the outside for the past couple of years.  For a while it looked like Mike Sims-Walker could be the man, but he just never has fully turned the corner.  Last season he managed just 43 receptions for 562 yards, only twice producing more than 4 receptions or 48 yards.

Enter Mike Thomas, who posted solid numbers in 2010 (66 receptions for 820 yards and 4 TD).  He had a few eye-popping days (8 receptions for 149 yards and 1 TD in Week 10, for instance), but needs to become a consistent producer in order to crack fantasy lineups.

He’s entering his third season, so now is certainly the time where he could take the next step in his development.  He’s not really a big-play receiver, but could develop into the perfect third-down receiver/safety net for whoever the team turns to as their starting quarterback.  If it turns out to be first round selection (tenth overall) Blaine Gabbert, his role becomes even more vital. Read more

Five Under-The-Radar Third Year Receivers Who Could Be Primed For A Breakout

An NFL wide receivers third season is often seen as his breakout season.  That’s really not news.  Let’s take a look at a few under-the-radar players who could live up this billing in 2011, and are therefore worth a late round flier:

Mohamaed Massaquoi – Cleveland Browns
Over his first two NFL seasons he’s been viewed as the Browns top wide receiver, at times.  What he has really lacked is consistency on the field, as well as a consistent quarterback throwing him the ball.  Last season the Browns used Colt McCoy, Jake Delhomme and Seneca Wallace.  Is it a wonder that the leading receivers were a tight end (Benjamin Watson – 68 receptions) and a running back (Peyton Hillis – 61 receptions)?  Is it a surprise that no wide receiver had more than 40 receptions?

It was much of the same in 2009, when the team used Brady Quinn and Derek Anderson at QB and Massaquoi actually tied for the team lead in receptions with 34.  The fact of the matter is, if the team doesn’t find a trustworthy option to throw the ball it’s not going to matter who they have lining up on the outside.  McCoy could ultimately be the answer, but we’ll have to wait and see if they ultimately add someone in free agency (to date they haven’t). Read more

Top 15 Kickers For 2011

While kicker is often viewed as an afterthought on draft day, that doesn’t mean you necessarily should consider them that way.  Let’s take a look at my current rankings:

  1. Sebastian Janikowski – Oakland Raiders
  2. David Akers – Philadelphia Eagles
  3. Stephen Gostkowski – New England Patriots
  4. Mason Crosby – Green Bay Packers
  5. Neil Rackers – Houston Texans
  6. Nate Kaeding – San Diego Chargers
  7. Adam Vinatieri – Indianapolis Colts
  8. Dan Carpenter – Miami Dolphins
  9. Matt Bryant – Atlanta Falcons
  10. Rob Bironas – Tennessee Titans
  11. Garrett Hartley – New Orleans Saints
  12. Matt Prater – Denver Broncos Read more

Sleeper Spotlight: Can Jared Cook Emerge As A Viable Tight End In 2011?

We all know that tight end is a position that you are never quite sure what to expect from.  In any given week there always appears to be someone that emerges out of nowhere to put up an impressive outing (Joel Dressens with 4 receptions for 106 yards and 1 TD in Week 11 against the Jets).  We’ve seen guys explode for a few weeks, only to regress back to being unusable (Dustin Keller in 2011).

If you choose not to go after one of the top tight ends in the league, it is sorting through the low-end guys and finding the diamond in the rough that could help lead you to fantasy success.  While Jimmy Graham is getting a lot of the attention as a tight end who could emerge in 2011, let us not overlook the Titans’ Jared Cook.

One of the knocks against him, at least right now, is the complete unknown hanging over who will quarterback the team.  As of right now Rusty Smith and Brett Ratliff are the two options on the depth chart, though we all know that once free agency “officially” begins later in the week, addressing this situation will be high on the priority list. Read more

Top 15 Tight Ends For 2011: Updated as of 07/26/11

With the lockout officially over it is time to kick fantasy preparation into high gear!  Let’s get things rolling with an updated look at the Top 15 tight ends for the coming season:

  1. Antonio Gates – San Diego Chargers
  2. Dallas Clark – Indianapolis Colts
  3. Jason Witten – Dallas Cowboys
  4. Jermichael Finley – Green Bay Packers
  5. Vernon Davis – San Francisco 49ers
  6. Zach Miller – Oakland Raiders
  7. Owen Daniels – Houston Texans
  8. Chris Cooley – Washington Redskins
  9. Tony Gonzalez – Atlanta Falcons
  10. Kellen Winslow – Tampa Bay Buccaneers
  11. Jimmy Graham – New Orleans Saints
  12. Brandon Pettigrew – Detroit Lions Read more

Onside Observations: Preparing Post-Lockout, DeAngelo Williams & More!

by Matthew Gordan

The lockout is over and this should make for one entertaining week of NFL. football. It seems signings—rookie, free agent and restricted free agents—trades, cuts and training camp will all collide within a few days of each other, inundating us with much more fun and interesting news then the previous few months of lockout updates. Strap that seat belt on and pay attention! There will be a lot of player movement that will directly affect the fantasy game, so take notes in preparation of your drafts and enjoy.

Now, many other websites and writers have said the following, and because I agree with it, I’ll repeat it and pretend it is my own unique thought: Enjoy the transactions, enjoy the possibilities that new players on new teams presents, but take it all with a grain of salt. The off-season plans teams usually go by, especially those with new coaches (who are installing new schemes), have been obviously scrapped for this year. Therefore expect a drop off in the production you would normally expect from a free agent skill position player or draft pick. Time is just not on their side. Read more

Top 20 Running Backs For 2011: Updated as of 07/25/11

Will today be the day that the lockout officially ends?  I’m sure I’m not the only one that will be relieved when we can finally get things rolling towards our fantasy drafts.  With that in mind, let’s take a look at the updated running back rankings:

  1. Arian Foster – Houston Texans
  2. Adrian Peterson – Minnesota Vikings
  3. Chris Johnson – Tennessee Titans
  4. Jamaal Charles – Kansas City Chiefs
  5. Ray Rice – Baltimore Ravens
  6. LeSean McCoy – Philadelphia Eagles
  7. Darren McFadden – Oakland Raiders
  8. Michael Turner – Atlanta Falcons
  9. Rashard Mendenhall – Pittsburgh Steelers
  10. Frank Gore – San Francisco 49ers
  11. Maurice Jones-Drew – Jacksonville Jaguars
  12. Steven Jackson – St. Louis Rams Read more