Long gone are the perfect systems. Systems in which teams had one main feature back that garnered carry after carry. Those were the reliable studs. Behind them typically use to be the occasional fullback that could get some sleeper fantasy points. The Zach Crocketts, Larry Centers, and backs that went from halfback to fullback such as Tyrone Wheatley. With dual and triple backfields in use now owners have to get creative in how they’re going to get reliable fantasy points. An area that has sort of bridged the gap from the use of fullbacks and halfbacks is the short yardage-dirty work plunging back.
This guy may not get upwards of even ten carries a game. Top tailbacks will have monster days and over 100 yards rushing. Only to be nullified of what should have been a great fantasy day with multiple touchdowns. Reason their stats did not meet you’re expectations surely falls on that pile forward moving back that gobbled a touchdown or two away from you. It is hard to predict when a back is going to produce a string of touchdowns especially when his carries and yardage totals are small. Yet, some of these backs are getting between eight and ten touchdowns a year. Who will they be this season?
LT- Were putting LT atop our plunger backs. His role is yet to be defined as a Jet. For all we know he could outdo Shonne Greene and win outright the starting position. Were going to say that does not happen and LT is their short yardage change of pace back. LT has a knack for getting into the end zone even with his other skills teetering away. Athletes that have had his type of success just do not fade completely away at age 31. He has surely lost some years with the burden of too many carries nine years in San Diego. Whatever he has left in the tank will be brought on the football field each and every Sunday. He’ll get double digit touchdowns once again.
Tim Hightower- What is going to keep Beanie Wells from being a sure lock second back in most drafts is Hightower. Not that Hightower is going to be in a perfect share load like last season. Where the question is at is if Hightower will still be the hog of success in the red zone. If it were not for Hightower’s ability to get in the end zone he’d likely have been cut by now. As the season goes past the halfway mark we’d expect the Cardinals to lean more heavily in Wells direction. Hightower should still get near six to eight touchdowns.
Willis McGahee- McGahee took no the relegated role of reduced carries and job loss better than almost any back over the last ten years. His production while on the field turned the Ravens second half of the season around. With Flacco struggling the Ravens saw they could pound away with McGahee and Rice. Even with defenses gearing to shut down the run. It’s a role the Ravens will milk until something goes awry. If McGahee can handle the lick he took last season than he can keep making fantasy owners happy with his red zone touchdowns. Ray Rice owners just want three to four of those McGahee plunges.
Marion Barber- Felix Jones may be the 2010 starter but if the time share is slightly in Jones favor we still like Barber’s value higher. Jones may be the home run hitter and high yards per carry guy, but Barber will be the man when it comes to touchdowns. He battled hard through injuries last season and was not the same athlete of years past. He’ll be healthy this season and may take his job back outright. Barber is one of our top sleepers going into 2010 fantasy drafts.
Thomas Jones- Based on what we’ve seen from prior thirty plus year old backs Jones should simmer down quite a bit this season. It’s as if the Jets saw what they could squeeze out of Jones and did just that. Heading to Kansas City, Jones will quietly take on a backup role. Jamaal Charles showed all of us enough (Lets hope you picked him up when we told you way before he put on as how last season) that replacing him would only happen because of an injury. We will soon find out if it was the Jets offensive line that made Jones or he truly matured as a professional mentally and physically with the Jets. He went much of his career as a labeled bust only to have back to back seasons of double digit touchdowns (13 in 08’ and 14 in 09’).
Montario Hardesty- Jerome Harrison was buried on the Browns roster for many of reasons, but one in particular. He is a tiny back all around. In height comparable to Maurice Jones-Drew, and in size compared to old Raider back Napolean Kaufman. What he did in the last quarter of the fantasy season gave owners the extra push to win their fantasy titles. Surely, Harrison probably went into the off-season and hit a tough regimen to add extra pounds to his body. Playing at an optimal size for Harrison’s skill level is where he was at last year. We just see him breaking down at some point in the season and losing his starting role to Hardesty. With the way the Browns like to shuffle around backs it may happen before week one. Harrison is a nifty back that deserves to be on the field. In a lot of ways though he is like Darren Sproles a few years ago. Teased a lot of fantasy owners into believing he can do it all, but the NFL is a different beast. You’ve got to be a big powerful back to have a lasting impact for you’re body to hold up an entire season or perform at a high level.
Mike Bell- Bell has close to thirty extra pounds on him then McCoy. McCoy was recruited by Andy Reid to play exactly to the style of Brian Westbrook. When Correll Buckhalter was healthy as an Eagle he someone that had a sporadic fantasy impact. Reason being he was hardly ever healthy. McCoy is not the same type of player as Westbrook as evidenced last season when he struggled. Therefore we think the time share will be better for Bell. Add the short yardage and goal line impact on Bell’s side and he is worth taking a flier as a deep late round pick. Don’t wait for the waiver wire period after week one or two.
The AFC has a great mix of veterans who are a lock to put up big numbers week in and week out, and young players who are making a name for themselves and will become the superstars of the next few years. By drafting the right mix of established studs and emerging talent, you can remain at the top of your league standings.
San Diego Chargers: The Chargers’ offense has been a high-scoring machine for years, and Philip Rivers and Co. should be able to put up points again this year, despite some departures and contract drama. Once the face of the Chargers, LaDainian Tomlinson is now a Jet, but the SD offense has put the emphasis on their passing game these past few years, and Rivers has grown into a number one fantasy quarterback who can start every week. Running back Ryan Matthews is an intriguing rookie, and with defenses focusing on stopping the passing game, he should be able to make up for some of the ground production they will lose. Matthews should be a number two back coming into the season. What is more concerning is the potential loss of breakout wide receiver Vincent Jackson. Jackson had become Rivers’ favorite target and put up top-10 numbers in receiving yards last year, but even if he leaves, no one should be panicking. Antonio Gates is still setting the standard at his position, and is a number one overall tight end. Rivers can also get the ball to his other big targets in Malcom Floyd and Legedu Naanee, who should both see increased production and could be number three wide outs.
Kansas City Chiefs: Even though the Chiefs only won four games last year, they do boast plenty of fantasy options. The acquisition of running back Thomas Jones was the biggest headline-maker in KC, and he should have another solid year. Don’t expect him to put up similar numbers to the 1,400 yard, 14 touchdown season he had a year ago though. He will have to split time in the backfield with Jamaal Charles, who is more of a game breaker than Jones, which makes him a better fantasy pick. Charles ran for over 1,100 yards and seven touchdowns last year, but the most impressive stat is his 5.9 yards per carry average. Charles is a number one fantasy back, and Jones can be a number two guy. It’s been a while since the Chiefs have had consistent production from a wide receiver, but Dwayne Bowe could be that kind of guy. After a down year in 2009, Bowe should get back to his earlier form. He put up solid numbers his first two seasons, and if he can go a full 16 games, he should be able to get back to the 900-1,000 yard, 5-7 touchdown range. Chris Chambers is a deep threat who can provide fantasy points as a late pick.
Denver Broncos: After Jay Cutler’s departure, the Broncos are now without another fantasy favorite. With the loss of receiver Brandon Marshall, the Broncos will have to rely on Eddie Royal, Brandon Stokley, and Jabbar Gaffney to make up for the loss of one of the best wide outs in the game. All three receivers are consistent players who can be solid third options. Second-year running back Knowshon Moreno established himself as a rushing and receiving threat last year, and should improve upon his successful rookie season and be a number one or two back. Quarterback Kyle Orton won’t put up impressive numbers, but he is more than just a game-manager, so he may be worth a shot if you’re looking for another quarterback.
Oakland Raiders: The days of woeful offense should be gone, and an unfamiliar optimism has arrived along with quarterback Jason Campbell, who replaces the disappointing JaMarcus Russell. Campbell might not be a number one fantasy quarterback, but he is definitely more reliable than Russell, and can be a number two guy. AFC West defenses can give up big plays, and with Campbell’s arm strength and a group of speedy receivers to throw to, the Raiders should have more opportunities to score. If wide receiver Chaz Schilens can stay healthy for an entire season, he should become Campbell’s number one target this year, and a smart second or third pick for a fantasy team. Louis Murphy should play well opposite Schilens and improve upon his solid 2009. Murphy would also make a good pick if you’re looking for someone to round out your group of reserve receivers. Running back Michael Bush should make use of his bigger role in the offense and his physical style to score a lot of touchdowns. Justin Fargas is another powerful Raider running back, who should be monitored throughout the season in case of a mid-season acquisition. Running back Darren McFadden has play-maker speed, but he’s inconsistent, so hold off on him.
Baltimore Ravens: Baltimore Ravens football has always been defined by a hard-hitting and dominant defense, and an equally physical running game. The Ravens are still the bruising team we are accustomed to seeing, but their passing attack will be the reason for another playoff run in 2010. Quarterback Joe Flacco is entering his third year, and is the leader of the pack. He doesn’t make as many mistakes or questionable passes as other quarterbacks with his amount of experience, and he will have plenty of weapons to throw to in 2010. Wide receiver Derrick Mason, whose reliability and toughness make him extremely valuable to a young quarterback like Flacco, is back for another year. Picking up Anquan Boldin was a great move. He’s a great possession receiver who has the ability to break tackles and extend plays. Both guys might not put up big numbers every week, but they are consistent targets, and can be great number two receivers for fantasy teams. Tight end Todd Heap isn’t the receiving threat he used to be, but can still be a good number two tight end. Running back Ray Rice showed his speed and ability to catch the ball out of the backfield last year, and is without question a number one fantasy running back. Willis McGahee and Le’ron McClain should each score a good amount of touchdowns in short-yardage situations, and will make good number two or three running backs.
Cincinnati Bengals: The Bengals of the recent past have been a playoff team if everyone is healthy. With a greater assortment of weapons for quarterback Carson Palmer to choose from, the Bengals should contribute to wins for fantasy owners. Last year, Palmer had a down year by his standards, but was coming off of an injury which forced him to sit out most of 2008. Look for Palmer to get back to the elite-level numbers he records when he is healthy. Receiver Chad Ochocinco should continue to put up over 1,000 yards receiving and 7-9 touchdowns. Antonio Bryant is another option for Palmer, and a strong number three receiver. Look out for rookie receiver Jordan Shipley. If he has a good start to the season, he should be available for a mid-season pick up. One of last year’s biggest surprises was running back Cedric Benson. After struggling in Chicago for the first few years of his career, Benson ran for over 1,200 yards and six touchdowns last year. With a healthier Palmer leading the passing game, look for Benson to have another great year as the leader of the Bengals’ rushing attack.
Cleveland Browns: The Browns are a team that has a few proven fantasy producers, with some younger players who may be worth taking a chance on. Joshua Cribbs has provided points as a kick returner and receiver for a few years now, and can be a number three receiver. Tight end Benjamin Watson would make a great number two tight end, and could be a starter. Kicker Phil Dawson has been one of the best in the business, and can be a great source of points if the Browns’ offense struggles to score touchdowns. Receiver Mohammed Massaquoi had a good rookie year, with over 600 receiving yards and three touchdowns, and would make a good number two or three receiver. Running back Jerome Harrison, who finished last season on a great note, and rushed for 286 yards against the Chiefs in week 15, could move up the ranks of fantasy teams if he picks up where he left off last year.
Pittsburgh Steelers: Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger’s suspension and the loss of receiver Santonio Holmes will affect the fantasy production of the Steelers by giving other players more opportunities. Running back Rashard Mendenhall will be a great player in the league, and is a number one running back. With Holmes gone, second year receiver Mike Wallace should get more opportunities, and looks like a good number three receiver. Tight end Heath Miller will have another great season, and receiver Hines Ward should have no problem continuing to be a tough and dependable target. Both guys can take a number two spot for their positions. The off-the-field controversies might cause some chaos for the Steelers, but there should be a good amount of players who can deliver for fantasy owners.
Indianapolis Colts: The consistency the Colts are known for translates perfectly to fantasy. Quarterback Peyton Manning is a sure thing, along with wide receiver Reggie Wayne and tight end Dallas Clark. Running back Joseph Addai is also a consistent producer, and a good number two back. Along with these players is a group of young and budding stars who will continue the Colts’ legacy of consistency. Receivers Austin Collie and Pierre Garcon gave Manning two more targets throughout last season, and should be great picks for a number two receiver spot. Running back Donald Brown should split time with Addai, and is also a solid number two back. Backup tight end Tom Santi could be a surprise producer as a reserve tight end.
Tennessee Titans: Though he probably won’t rush for 2,000 yards again, running back Chris Johnson will use his speed to score touchdowns on the ground and through the air for another terrific season next year. His contract dispute is a concern, but if he’s on the field, he can score at anytime. Quarterback Vince Young showed signs of maturity on the field last year, but his playing time might be affected by his recent off-the-field altercation, if the Commissioner feels it is worth a suspension. If Young can play an entire season, he can be a good backup quarterback because of his mobility. His numbers aren’t great, but if you are looking for another quarterback, he should do. Wide receiver Kenny Britt was a pleasant surprise last year, and should make a good number two or three option. If Britt can force defenses to focus on him, tight end Bo Scaife can improve upon his already solid 2009 numbers. Nate Washington, who caught six touchdown passes last year, is worth a look for a number three receiver spot.
Houston Texans: The Texans are a team that is ready for a playoff run, and they have the talent to get there. Quarterback Matt Schaub led the league with over 4,700 passing yards last year, and wide receiver Andre Johnson was number one in the NFL with over 1,500 receiving yards. Both players should finish 2010 with similar numbers. Jacoby Jones should make for a good number three receiver. He scored six touchdowns last year, and with defenses focusing on stopping Johnson, look for Jones to get more involved in the Texans’ passing game. Tight end Owen Daniels will have a great 2010 if he can be back to 100% after a knee injury cut short his 2009 season, which was still a good one. Rookie running back Ben Tate is expected to impress in his first year, and he should be a smart mid-round draft pick. Steve Slaton and Arian Foster can be good picks for a number three or fourth spot.
Jacksonville Jaguars: There aren’t many fantasy options in Jacksonville. Maurice Jones-Drew is the standout fantasy player from the Jaguars. A running and receiving threat, he is a top-10 fantasy running back who will put up double-digit touchdowns. Wide receiver Mike Sims-Walker came out of nowhere to have a big year in 2009, and if he can get help from the other Jags receivers, he may be able to record 1,000 yards receiving next year. There aren’t any other receivers that are good fantasy options besides Sims-Walker, but tight end Marcedes Lewis has put up good numbers in the past, and can fill in as a number two tight end. Quarterback David Garrard doesn’t throw many touchdowns, but doesn’t throw that many interceptions either. He can also run if he needs to, and could be a helpful number two quarterback.
New England Patriots: The Patriots are an aging team, but their fantasy options should be able to get the job done for the next few years. Quarterback Tom Brady will always have a spot on this team, amid the controversy that seems to happen with every other Patriots player when the front office considers not keeping them around. There has been talk that wide receiver Randy Moss is reaching this point, but there shouldn’t be any doubt as to how he will do this year. He seems to be mature enough to give his all despite the controversy, and will probably record another 1,000 yard, double-digit touchdown season. Reports indicate that wide receiver Wes Welker is quickly getting back to full strength after tearing his ACL late last season, and his production should be monitored throughout this year. Julian Edelman, who replaced Welker last year, could make a good number three pick. The Patriots don’t have much at running back, but Laurence Maroney can be a number three player if you’re looking for a back late in your draft.
Buffalo Bills: The Bills have under rated fantasy options that can help out your team. Wide receiver Lee Evans is a great number three receiver, who could be a number two into the season. Evans had over 600 yards and seven touchdowns last year, and those numbers should go up now that Terrell Owens is gone. The Bills don’t have a proven starter at quarterback, which could hurt the offense, but Evans should be a focal point regardless of who is throwing him the ball. Running back Fred Jackson had over 1,000 yards last year, and added over 300 receiving yards. He will have to split time with rookie C.J. Spiller, but he should be a good backup. If Spiller is able to produce in his first year, he will also be worth a pick as a backup.
Miami Dolphins: The Dolphins will get an offensive boost with newly-acquired Brandon Marshall on the field, and they have plenty of number two and three options as well. Marshall comes with baggage and controversy regarding his recent hip surgery, but he is still a number one receiver. Running backs Ronnie Brown and Ricky Williams will put up good stats for a number two spot on a fantasy team. Davone Bess, Greg Camarillo, and Brian Hartline will all make good number three receivers. All three had pretty good numbers last year, and should get more opportunities with defenders focusing on Marshall. Tight end Anthony Fasano should be a good reserve tight end who will probably be available in later rounds.
New York Jets: After getting to the AFC championship game with the proven combination of defense and a good rushing attack, the Jets will probably have to rely on those parts of their team again in 2010. Quarterback Mark Sanchez looks like he is still a few years away from becoming the leader of the team, but he does have several players who can help out. The loss of running backs Thomas Jones and Leon Washington makes Shonn Greene the leader of the Jet backfield. He is a quick back who complemented Jones’ more hard-nosed running style. Look for him to showcase his speed this year and be a number one running back. The arrival of wide receiver Santonio Holmes will help Sanchez. Holmes should be a number two receiver, and can benefit from lining up with other solid receivers who can free up space for him. Jerricho Cotchery and Braylon Edwards are good number three guys, and David Clowney might be a number three option if he can get some reps. Tight end Dustin Keller, who should be a number two tight end, will also help Sanchez grow.
Replacing starters is a weekly occurrence. Shifting from starters that had longevity though is not. There are a lot of teams gearing up their 2010 season with quarterbacks that have are inexperienced. Stats do not replace stats. Are there capable quarterbacks that can make a seamless transition from the old wily veteran to being a fantasy marginal option? Even a bye week filler. Lets see..
Old: Jamarcus Russell New: Jason Campbell
Campbell could step out week one and have a career day of three touchdowns and that would outdo a seasons worth from Russell. Oakland has finally made a wise move. Campbell has shown the skill set to be an NFL starter and a possible good one at that. He just needs to be set in a system where he can grow. That has not necessarily been the case in Oakland, but somehow an organization has to move forward. Oakland has some weapons offensively and Campbell should find a balance to keep the Raiders a dangerous team.
Old: Donovan McNabb New: Kevin Kolb
The spotlight will be the brightest on Mr. Kolb. Not only is he trying to show his value compared to McNabb, he also has to worry about Mike Vick who has one foot in bounds waiting for Andy Reid to tap him on the shoulder. Kolb may be more like Matt Schaub was when he left Atlanta. Looking great in a few spot starts but he is going to need a lot of on field action to develop into a pro starter. Expect a rough year in a city that is use to winning.
Old: Chad Pennington New: Chad Henne
Henne received some starts due to Pennington’s season ending injury last season. He showed that demeanor and attitude of a first string quarterback from day one. That was with Ted Ginn as his number one receiver, Davone Bess, and Greg Camarillo. Show us a tougher group of receivers for a rookie to break in the league with? When the wildcat had to be abandoned once Ronnie Brown was lost for the season, the Dolphins had to let their rookie Henne go. That’s when he began to get comfortable and had the type of outings that gave the appearance that Henne just needs more talent around him. Miami added Brandon Marshall which should be a great complement to Henne’s arm strength and accuracy for years to come.
Old: Jason Campbell New: Donovan McNabb
A new environment is not always the best. For McNabb becoming a Redskin was the last thing he wanted to do. Being an Eagle was what he had his hopes set out on. That obviously did not happen and now maybe McNabb will wake up and find that extra gear to finish out a season. He’ll build a winning attitude with Mike Shanahan from day one. Fizzling out and erratic play is what has notoriously plagued McNabb. Shanahan has loaded up on backs and will not be as pro pass as Reid has been in Philly. That will diminish McNabb’s numbers a bit and put into question if he is a fantasy starter.
Old: Kurt Warner New: Matt Leinart
This was flip flopped a few times but now is official with Warner being retired. All you can hope for Leinart’s sake is that he grasped and learned skills from Warner. Leinart is now 27 and it’s now or never. Arizona could have shipped him out or cut him to go in another direction. Now they’ll see if they can get a return on their first round investment. He allegedly has been working hard off the field. We’re hesitant to believe Leinart will be able to fill the shoes anywhere near the way Warner did. Arizona knows that and will find a way to cater to Leinart’s strengths. Quick passes and simplified decision making. Also expect the ground game not to abandon with ease as they would do almost on a weekly basis with Warner.
Old: Jake Delhomme New: Matt Moore
Delhomme never could recover from his catastrophic melt down performance against the Cardinals. It was similar to a pitcher getting lit up and not being able to get past it. Every time he dropped back he looked like a former NFL Europe player. Oh wait, he was. Matt Moore had semi decent success last year, as anyone should with a talented backfield as Carolina has. Likely the number one threat in the league. Moore is a hot sleeper that will stave off rookie Jimmy Clausen for a few years.
Old: Brady Quinn/Derek Anderson New: Jake Delhomme
Cleveland might be the only team to go from an awful quarterback situation to worse. We don’t know what’s going on in the front office at Cleveland, but we all know they love the back and forth musical quarterback game. What will be the games start split between Delhomme and Seneca Wallace? Will go with seven games for Delhomme and nine for Wallace.
Old: Kerry Collins New: Vince Young
Here’s another back and forth maneuver over the last few years. You’d think Tennessee would have ended all doubt for Young and cut Collins. Then you here of Young messing up off the field and think how smart of them. How Young keeps producing wins is almost as stupefying as how Jay Fiedler did it with the Dolphins. Young might make Jamarcus Russell type plays but he also has Chris Johnson alongside him. We don’t envision the Young project lasting several years, but will give it a few more. As far as being a fantasy performer, don’t even attempt to think about Young. Young’s games are going to be like a scatter plot. Games all over the place with no consistency.
Old: Marc Bulger New: Sam Bradford/AJ Feeley
Bradford is going to get introduced quickly on how to lose. Taking those licks and growing pains is something some young quarterbacks never get over. Ahem, David Carr. St. Louis has to be careful how they bring Bradford along. Starting Feeley out to get pummeled may be a smart idea here.
Old: Byron Leftwich New: Josh Freeman
Freeman was able to get the traditional type of rookie experience. Sit and learn from the sidelines the first half of the year and then on the job training the second half. Freeman did not show much too prove being an every week starter. Developing from year one to year two is usually where you can see if a guy has it or not completely. Freeman’s likely ranked near or dead last in every fantasy quarterback ranking so we won’t delve any further here.
Trending for potential overall fantasy points is always looked at on the basis of a cumulative average of anticipated touchdowns and yards. Predicting those variables has become some what of a measurable task and decent assessment for most fantasy analysts. The part that is becoming more overlooked is in the area of turnovers. Side stepping those marks of fumbles and interceptions can be a deadly move. Just ask Jay Cutler and Jake Delhomme owners last season. Most owners predicate their drafts based on running backs. The intangible points that come from a back can suddenly be offset by that minus two. Nothing is more frustrating than glancing at your stat tracker and seeing points taken off the board.
We take a look at some backs that have to be looked at from this perspective. Goal line fumbling is a big no-no, Matt Forte.
I may be a sleeper but will coach give me enough carries?
The following backs did not have what you would call huge seasons last year. In fact they had around 100 to 125 carries for a seasons worth. Yet they had sky high numbers when it came to fumbling the football. All these backs except for Steve Slaton are expected to have similar amounts of carries or even higher. A quick tempered coach in the NFL does not put up with issues as such unless you’re Adrian Peterson. Before the yank comes in terms of a back to permanently being seated on your fantasy bench or sent to the waiver wire, consider this.
Shonne Greene- He did enough in the playoffs to make the Jets think that he is their capable back for the next five to seven years. With only 108 regular season carries though he fumbled the football three times. New York likes to pound the football quite a bit. An average of near twenty carries a game for Greene makes him a hot commodity for upcoming fantasy drafts. Who knows maybe Greene was trying to impress too much during his limited time last year. You can believe opposing defensive coordinators know that Greene will and can place that ball on the ground. They’ll attack him with an array of strip tactics with swarming gang tackling to test him.
Steve Slaton- Talk about a rough sophomore season. Slaton went extremely high in most drafts last season. Late first round status in most leagues in fact. Sorry for those fantasy owners that had to endure Slaton as their number one back. What an ugly season that made for you. More than likely Slaton will be relegated to a third down back as they look to rookie Ben Tate. Slaton just didn’t show the same durability and coughed up the football five times on 131 carries.
Matt Forte- Everyone’s target to curse about weekly when it came to why they’re team was not winning. It’s still mind boggling how a back so young can have a phenomenal rookie season and just lose all ability a year later. There was no excuse for it. Correlating his poor production with his fumbling issues would be a reasonable assessment, but we’re not buying it. Forte is scattered on most fantasy rankings but should belong as a bottom tier second back if that. He’ll be hard pressed to ever duplicate his rookie season.
Darren McFadden- Who would of thought that Felix Jones could end up being the better overall running back? It just goes to show how much different college football is compared to the NFL. It’s a mans world on so many different levels not just the aspect of talent that gets so many college athletes by. McFadden has yet to adjust to NFL speed and will likely be behind Michael Bush when week one comes. You’re a top five pick and carry the football 104 times and fumble four. As Chris Berman would say, “COME ON MAN”.
Take -10 please with Beanie Wells and Hightower
If Minnesota is using a purple overweight medicine ball shaped like a football to try and cure Adrian Peterson’s fumbling issues, than out in Arizona they will need too invent a one upper. Last year a prime reason Kurt Warner was drilled and laid flat on his back so often was because of Tim Hightower and Beanie Wells. Poor pass protectors and a knack for dropping the pigskin. Beanie Wells is probably going to earn a higher share of carries from the almost 50/50 last season. You’ve got to be worried on how he will handle the burden of an extra five to eight carries a game. Fumbling issues do not go away in one season. A territory of five fumbles could be in sight for Wells.
Take -12 please with Adrian Peterson
The constant talk of AP fixing his issues when it comes to fumbling are as prevalent as Brett Favre playing at age 41. Unless AP redefines the way he attacks opposing defenders than he will continue to be prone to this issue. Almost all his fumbles except against the Saints came when fighting for extra yards and trying to attack the opposing defender. Sure he can carry the ball higher and tighter to his chest. How many times though has he offset his fumbles with a daring leveling of a defender and then bursting for extra yardage? A ton. So with Peterson were not as worried that his fumbling will be as big a deal as advertised.
Talk about a position that has went from “kicker” type classification in fantasy leagues to a must need necessity. Tight ends have skied to levels of high demand. Back in the days you would have a few tight ends worthy of differentiating from the pack. Yeah the Ben Coates and Shannon Sharpe world days and everyone else being meaningless are done. Teams have configured their playbooks to involve tight ends at a much higher rate. Most quality franchises have tight ends that are going to put up the range of numbers comparable to a second wideout on your fantasy team.
The bait pick of a tight end in drafts usually signals the biggest rip of panic in leagues nowadays. Last year we were calm and had a feeling Brent Celek would be a huge payoff and he was. Good luck finding that this year. Sleeping and holding out on a tight end until late in your fantasy drafts is not a wise choice.
1. Antonio Gates
Injuries have set him back a bit but he still has great hands and the ability to get open. What has hurt Gates the most is the emergence of Vincent Jackson. Still the Chargers have yet to develop a solid second wide receiver. Compared to some of the other tight ends highly ranked which have a solid base of receivers. Gates should hit double digit touchdowns for the first time since 2006 and reclaim top tight end positioning.
2. Dallas Clark
The type of lock on connectedness that Clark and Manning have is approaching video game level. Manning zips the ball in a wide array of aerial art. Clark has gained a unique camaraderie with Manning. It’s the type that barring injury is almost a sure bet to be a statistical monster.
3. Jason Witten
The past two years have been a let down to owners for Witten. Expecting touchdowns from a tight end is what you want. Witten has not been able to achieve that type of success and it can be frustrating to see another tight end with low yardage eating up touchdowns. The only stat you need to look at is that Witten is going to catch a lot of balls. With all the touches he gets you have to expect him to reach at least six touchdowns.
4. Vernon Davis
It was a year that many expected a long time ago. Davis is finally playing like an NFL athlete. Does he have the determination to continue up that road, or was he just willed by the challenge of Mike Singletary? We’d have him one or tow but we need to see one more year. After coming of an off-season with praise has he kept up his work ethic to come back even stronger?
5. Brent Celek
Celek went from a third tier tight end considered a relative low value bargain tight end. That changed with the quickness and now Celek is in prime position to be one of the better tight ends over the next five to seven years. With the Eagles penchant for throwing the football, only injuries could keep Celek from not being a major factor.
6. Visanthe Shiancoe
7. Jermichael Finley
8. Tony Gonzalez
9. Zach Miller
10. Kellen Winslow
11. Owen Daniels
12. Greg Olsen
13. John Carlson
14. Dustin Keller
15. Chris Cooley
16. Kevin Boss
17. Heath Miller
18. Tony Scheffler
19. Jeremy Shockey
20. Benjamin Watson
21. Todd Heap
22. Marcedes Lewis
23. Anthony Fasano
24. Fred Davis
25. Jermaine Gresham
26. Bo Scaife
27. Brandon Pettigrew
28. Zach Miller (Jacksonville)
29. David Thomas
30. Shawn Nelson
31. Martellus Bennett
One agent that deserves strong praise is that of Michael Vick’s. Away from the game over a year he landed Vick a contract over a million last year, and an option of 5.2 million for the second year. Well the Eagles brought him back after almost everyone expected them to part ways. That salary will make Vick one of the highest paid backups in the NFL. Pressure is on the young first year starting quarterback Kevin Kolb.
He knows the team made a huge sacrifice and gutsy move by parting ways with one of the biggest Eagles franchise players since the 80’s in Donovan McNabb. Playing in Philadelphia comes with expected results. Wins. Kolb needs to go out and produce from week one onward. If not guess who is awaiting in the wings to get out there and showcase his redemption attempt as a starting quarterback? Mr. Vick.
Last year was sort of like a tune up for Vick. We all know his capabilities and what his old weaknesses were. Those likely will not change. After all his time off though he looked out of gear sort of like when Michael Jordan came back in 1995 after a huge layoff playing baseball. Now that Vick has familiarized himself and been active in football like drills daily, his sense of the game is going to reappear on a stronger level. The Eagles must of saw some flashes of Vick’s old self or the project of brining him back would have ended abruptly.
Right now the Eagles have no clue what direction they’re headed. They will know by mid to late October though. This franchise is either getting turned over to Kevin Kolb or Michael Vick. The game of toying with Vick as a decoy and specially utilized player ten times a game will not happen anymore. It caused more harm to the flow of the teams overall chemistry than Andy Reid would of liked in 2009. Plus Vick is no longer the third string quarterback. As a backup entering 2010 they need to protect their insurance in case Kolb lands out with an injury. They surely do not want to have to start Mike Kafka.
Showcasing what the Eagles have done from a front office stand point it leaves them with options. They’re believing Kevin Kolb can get the job done but are they? They extended his contract that was set to expire after this year only an extra season. The value is only 12.2 million for both those years. Not the top of the heap when it comes to starting quarterbacks money. Vick will be making nearly just as much this season. Call it more of an investment strategy where the Eagles spent a combined 11 million to figure things out.
Fantasy discussions of Vick are premature but he will be a factor this season. It’s hard to name a first year starter that has come out and lit afire from the gate. It just does not happen and won’t for Kevin Kolb. There’s just a lot more things they can go wrong instead of go his way. Donovan McNabb basically led the Eagles to the playoffs like clockwork every season.
Bordering at or below .500 will only raise the pressure on Kolb and reasons to see Vick in action. If Kolb gets the team rolling, how will the typical string of losses affect him as they happen? Some quarterbacks fight it off and others succumb and fold even further. It’ll be interesting to see what happens but Vick will be ready to go. Once he gets out there what type of quarterback will we see? We think Vick can flourish in the Eagles system and create havoc just like he did a few years ago. This is not a dream like turn of events story that we envision happening. This is business related. You can see where this is headed with a binocular view from general manager Tom Heckert’s press box.
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