By Tom McAleese (@McAleeseFFA)
One week of preseason is in the books, which brings us a week closer to the start of the season. With only one series played for most of the starters, it’s a good idea to not overreact too much, however these guys improved their draft stock in limited action.
Chris Givens – Three catches for 82-yards and a score in limited action will move him up a lot of draft board as a possible sleeper. He looks to be the number one target for Sam Bradford, and could be on the verge of a breakout season.
Steven Ridley – If there was any concern about drafting Ridley as a RB1 there shouldn’t be anymore. Ridley racked up 92-yards on eight carries, although 62 of that came on one carry, he still looked good in the process. Don’t let the 100-yard day from LaGarrette Blount cloud your judgement, Ridley will be the man in New England.
Daryl Richardson – Only four carries, but looked good on a 12-yard run, and has the confidence of the coaching staff to be the starter. Isaiah Pead’s fumble just increased the gap between he and Richardson to become the starter.
Denard Robinson – It’s hard not to get excited every time Denard touches the ball after watching him in college, and you saw flashes of that on his 7-yard cut back run. The Jaguars want to use him and he’s starting to show up on the fantasy radar because of he can do.
E.J. Manuel – If he wasn’t on your draft board as at least a back-up before this week, he should be now. He looked good in his first preseason game, and will be the starter week one. Even if Kolb somehow beats Manuel out, he will find a way to injure himself.
Other guys who have made it on fantasy radars…
By Billy McAleese (@McAleeseFFA)
If you’re like most people, you wish you had seen Alfred Morris coming last year. He went undrafted in most leagues, and was taken as a flier if he was taken at all. Truth is, that happens every year. We find ourselves scouring the free agents after week two or three hoping to land a player that just blew up out of nowhere.
Some assume this year it will be Giovani Bernard. He, of course, won’t last to the late rounds. This is about those that will go undrafted in most leagues. The guys you’ll be shocked if they win games for you. There is zero guarantee on any of these guys, but that’s kind of the point. If things fall right, these guys won’t be dumped after a few weeks to try to grab the new rising star.
E.J Manuel (Bills) – A first round pick would seem out of place on a list like this, but it seems likely he’ll go undrafted in a lot of leagues. Early reports out of camp seem promising, and it seems certain he’ll start week one. The common knowledge seems to be that he’s terrible, and to be honest I never thought much of him at Florida State. I was shocked when he was taken in the first round, as were the on-air analysts. NFL people just nodded and moved on. Maybe we all missed something.
Denard Robinson (Jaguars) – The Jaguars are going to find a way to get this guy on the field. Is he a true running back? Not really. Nor is he a quarterback or receiver. He’s an offensive weapon. I’d look for him to be in for 10 – 20 plays a game. If he would have been taken by New England or Green Bay, no one would hesitate to take him in the middle rounds. The fact that he’s on few radar screens probably says more about Jacksonville than the man himself.
Armanti Edwards (Panthers) – I know what you’re thinking, “He’s still in the league?” He is, and has been a training camp superstar. That’s not worth much in the long run. However, it is unusual for a marginal player who has barely made the roster the past two seasons to receive such a public and effusive praise from the coaching staff. He is currently in a tough three-way battle just to be third receiver with Ted Ginn and Domenik Hixon. I’m not saying he will amount to anything, but if you find yourself in the late rounds, and you’ve already blown a pick on Kickalicous, he might be worth picking up.
Jordan Cameron (Browns) – Maybe everyone is talking about this guy and I just missed it. With just 20 catches last year, you can be forgiven for ignoring him. However, he figures to be the starting tight end this year, and Browns coach Rob Chudzinski loves tight ends. 60-80 catches out of this guy wouldn’t surprise me. The only question is weather Weeden has the wherewithal to find him.
Well, there you have it. Guys you should take because no one else will. You’re welcome.
By Tom McAleese (@McAleeseFFA)
With the preseason heating up this week here’s a list of RB battles to keep an eye on over the next couple of weeks.
BenJarvus Green-Ellis vs Giovani Bernard – I’ve been big on Bernard all offseason and it’s hard to see a scenario, outside of injury, that doesn’t favor Bernard. Plus, Green-Ellis has to be the least exciting starting RB to have on your roster in the NFL, whereas it’s great to have a rookie that’s fun to watch, like Bernard.
As of right now Green-Ellis is listed as the starter, but Bernard’s hands, and quick feet will make it hard for the Bengals to keep the ball out of his hands. Bernard may not have the ideal size, compared to Green-Ellis, for goal line work, but he has the ability to break a long one for a TD.
Who Will Win? Early indications are that Green-Ellis and Bernard will have a 50/50 split, but I believe by mid-season it will be more 70/30 in favor of Bernard.
Who should you own? Bernard is the guy you want to own. It may also be advantageous to own both, but you would have to draft them in back-to-back rounds, with BGE’s ADP at 98.9 and Bernard’s at 111.9, according to Yahoo.
Lance Dunbar vs Philip Tanner vs Joseph Randle – This battle will settle the back-up role for oft-injured DeMarco Murray, which in all likelihood means future starting RB of the Dallas Cowboys. If you watched the Hall of Fame game then I’m sure you were just as impressed with Philip Tanner as I was. Tanner’s 17 yard run in the second quarter was probably the best offensive play of the game.
As of right now Tanner is listed behind Lance Dunbar on the depth chart, with Joseph Randle listed fourth. Dunbar’s lack of use in the first preseason game suggests that the Cowboys feel confident that he will be Murray’s back-up, but after how well Tanner and Randle in played in the HOF Game this battle is far from settled. It has been suggested that Tanner may be on the bubble for a roster spot, but if he continues to play well in the preseason it will be hard to keep him off the final roster.
Who will win? I have to believe that unless Dunbar completely screws up, or one the other guys really shine, Dunbar will be the back-up.
Who should you own? Right now it’s Lance Dunbar, but this is still a fluid situation, and probably won’t be settled till the end of preseason. Whatever guy wins is an absolutely necessary handcuff for Murray. In deeper leagues it may be a good idea to pick up the third string RB on the as well.
Montee Ball vs Ronnie Hillman – This is probably the most intriguing RB battle this preseason, and will probably go on well into the regular season. John fox is known for using multiple backs, and going with the hot hand. Knowshon Moreno could also be thrown into the mix for carries, but the lions share will go to these guys.
As or right now Ronnie Hillman is listed as the starter, although Montee Ball is not far behind. John Fox stated that the depth charts were released only because the league makes them, and that the starter will be based on performance.
Who will win? I honestly don’t think it will matter, but Ball will probably begin the season as the starter. Both guys will be used, and used often. Ball will get early down, and goal line carries. Hillman will be in there on passing downs, and as a change of pace back.
Who should you own? In PPR formats Hillman will have value, but overall Ball will be the best one to own. Of course though it would be best to have both, and with Ball’s ADP at 79.7 and Hillman ADP at 119.5, according to Yahoo, it’s feasible, and smart to draft both.
Tomorrow I will talk about the battle to become Darren McFadden’s back-up, as well as starting RB battles in Green Bay and St. Louis.
By Tom McAleese (@McAleeseFFA)
This year’s NFL draft was boring, in respect to fantasy football. There were just five skill position players taken in the first round, and no running backs. That makes finding guys who will make an immediate impact a little harder. There will be rookie that will find his way into your starting line up every week, but who will that be?
Here’s a list of guys I think are top candidates to be rookie fantasy starters;
Le’Veon Bell – Bell is this year’s Doug Martin. He is a perfect fit as a Steeler, and I see him going down in Steeler folklore as one of the great ones. He runs well between the tackles, as well as outside. He catches well, and is great in pass protection. He’s an every-down NFL runningback, plain and simple. Target Bell earlier than his ADP, draft him with confidence, and then plug him in your line-up in week 1.
Tavon Austin – Austin was the top WR taken in April’s draft, so a breakout season from him would not be a complete surprise. There is a healthy amount of hype around Austin based on how the Rams coaching plans on using him. Cut from the Percy Harvin, Randall Cobb mold Tavon Austin has a great opportunity to become your new favorite player, and an every week starter.
Giovanni Bernard – If Bernard doesn’t start the season atop the running back depth chart ahead of BGE, it won’t take long for him to overtake him. Bernard will be a PPR machine, and may line up as a receiver in some formations. He has been praised for his pass protection skills, which will make it hard to take him off the field. The best comparison that could be made for Bernard is to Darren Sproles, but with better running ability between the tackles.
Aaron Dobson – Let’s face it, Amendola will not play all 16 games, and another receiver will need to step up, especially if Gronk misses regular season games. That paves the way for Dobson to become Brady’s favorite target, an advantageous position for any receiver to be in. Draft him late and wait for the inevitable.
Eddie Lacy – The Packers have been talking about having more balance to their offense for years, but never had the personnel at RB to make that happen. Eddie Lacy may be what they’ve been looking for. Lacy is has the tools, power, speed, hands, and pass protection that will make him an every-down back for the Packers. He may not gain a thousand yards, but he will probably rack up the TDs as the clear cut goal line back.
It’s Sunday morning, you’re staring at your roster, and there’s one guy you just don’t trust. Sure, he may put up 20 points, but he could just as easily put up a doughnut, or get injured. We all know that feeling.
On draft day you’ll see these guys still on the board long after you expected them to be gone, so you draft them anyway, and say, “He was a steal in this round.” Then week after week you agonize over starting them (see Michael Turner last year). If only you had a crystal ball to look into the future so you knew what guys to avoid. Well I do, and here are the guys I’m staying away from;
Josh Freeman – If you’re starting Freeman you’re either in a deep league, or the QB you drafted first got hurt…at least I hope. Freeman will have a good game then throw 4 interceptions the next. He is not a starting fantasy QB, and should only be used as a back-up and bye week fill in, if he has a good match-up.
Hakeem Nicks – Like most guys in this list it comes down to injuries. Nicks has all the talent in the world, but he just can’t stay healthy, and it’s never a big injury with Nicks. Right now it’s a groin, last year it was knee swelling. Those are the most annoying injuries for fantasy owners, because he will be given the dreaded game time decision tag. Sometimes you just wish he would blow out his knee so you can just cut bait.
Danny Amendola – Amendola will not play all 16 games. There, I said it. Unlike Nicks, when Amendola gets injured, he gets really injured. Hell, he almost died last year with a separated clavicle that could have cut his trachea and aorta. He is a great position to be successful and pick where Welker left off, but his body can’t take the beating that Welker’s could.
Lance Moore – It’s really hard to truly trust anybody on the Saints roster outside of Brees. Every week it’s a different guy that steps up, and unfortunately for Moore he is fourth in the peeking order for targets behind Graham, Colston, and Sproles. He’ll have a couple big games a year, but good luck figuring out which one those will be.
Josh Gordon – A lot of people are really high on Gordon, but I still don’t trust him. His work ethic has been called into question, he starts the season with a two game suspension, and he has Brandon Weeden throwing to him. He reminds of Titus Young in regard to how he’s being hyped in the offseason, but doesn’t seem to have the maturity to successful at this level.
Darren McFadden – How great could McFadden really be? I don’t think we’ll ever know. If he could stay healthy all year he could be the top fantasy RB, but that’s just the point, he can’t. Someone in your league will draft him in the first or second round then spend the rest of the year trying to replace a guy they drafted as RB1 based on name recognition. Don’t be that guy.
Ryan Matthews – It’s not just injuries that have plagued Matthews career, it’s also fumbling. When he’s actually in there he can’t hold on to the ball, then he’ll get injured. Even if he fell all the way to the fourth or fifth round and I still wouldn’t take him.
Tom McAleese (@McAleeseFFA)
It’s finally August, the summer heat has started to dissipate and the NFL is going to kick off the preseason on Sunday. Now is draft preparation time. It’s time to start looking for those diamonds in the rough that will lead you to a championship, and make look smarter than everyone else in your league.
With the lack of depth at RB the middle rounds will see WRs flying off the board. I don’t think any of these guys are going to lead the league in points, but could become a solid WR2.
Vincent Brown (SD) – Remember him? He was everybody’s pick for a breakout season last year, but a preseason injury kept him out all year. The decline of Philip Rivers has been well documented, but a new coach offers a clean slate for him and I expect a bounce back year. Rivers will win over fantasy owners once again, and Brown will be a big part of that. Brown will be the favorite target of Rivers and could post a top 10 season. My bold prediction…90 rec, 1200 yards, 10 TDs.
Michael Floyd (ARI) – The steady veteran hand of Carson Palmer brings some semblance of a legitimate NFL offense to Arizona, and that is great news for Floyd. After spending last year as Fitzgerald’s apprentice, the training wheels are off, and Floyd should see a lot targets. My bold prediction…65 rec, 850 yards, 7 TDs.
Emmanuel Sanders (PIT) – The departure of Mike Wallace opens the door for this third year speedster to step up. He will playing in Wallace’s spot, but offers a wider array of routes than his predecessor, and fits better into Haley’s offense. Antonio Brown may get more catches, but I wouldn’t be surprised if Sanders wound up with more yards. My bold prediction…70 rec, 1050 yards, 8 TDs
Alshon Jeffery (CHI) – All the Bears fans that hated seeing Lovie get fired will forget all about him once they see how Trestman transforms their offense. They will throw the ball more, and with Marshall garnering most of the coverage, this will leave Jeffery with very favorable match-ups. Jeffery has put in a lot of extra work this offseason, and it will pay off. My bold prediction…65 rec, 775 yards, 6 TDs.
Ryan Broyles (DET) – Last year was a roller coaster for Broyles. He got his first catch in week 7, blew up in week 12 with 6 for 126, then blew out his knee on his first catch the following week. His ex-teammate Titus Young was a very popular sleeper pick last year, but he went bat-shit crazy, and opened the door for Broyles. For all the same reasons Young was a popular pick last year is what makes Broyles a good pick this year. The Lions throw a lot, and of course, they have Megatron. Someone else has to step up when every DB on the field is covering Megatron. My bold Prediction…60 rec, 675 yards, 7 TDs.
Tom McAleese (@McAleeseFFA)