Archive for August, 2012

First Vince Young, Is Matt Leinart Next?

Friday, 31 August, 2012

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It has been barely over six years since Matt Leinart and Vince Young faced each other in a classic Rose Bowl. Vince Young got the best of the outcome that day, but both seemed primed for an excellent career in the NFL. From the time of that Rose Bowl game, Leinart and Young were going to be linked together for their football careers. As top ten picks in 2006 it looks like they both might end the same as well.

Both Leinart and Vince Young made it on the football field during their rookie seasons, starting in over ten games each. Common issues with rookies plagued both. High turnovers and adjustments to the NFL style left room for growth. Positives were also there as well, especially for Young who was a team leader right off the bat. Young had a knack for leading fourth quarter winning drives and finding a way to get it done with his legs.

Leinart on the other hand seemed indecisive on his reads and rushed to deliver a short dump off throw. His early starts with the Cardinals were marred by team melt downs. One that will stay in recent Monday Night Football history was crowned by Dennis Green. Arizona led 20-0, only to allow Chicago to come back and win by a point 24-23. All of their points coming from the aid of the defense or special teams.

Heading into the off-season of 2007, Leinart came in as the favorite but his poor play in the first five games of the year led to his benching. He was handed a clip board for three seasons and began being mentored from the sideline and practice fields. Learning from a potential Hall of Famer figured to be good for Leinart. Warner had fought of retirement talks after his days in St. Louis and revived his career with Arizona, throwing the football all over the field and leading a potent Cardinals offense.

Once Warner retired it figured to be Leinart’s job. He was the man in waiting and the Cardinals had kept him in their plans. Often times if a team feels it does not have a proper backup quarterback they will make moves quickly in case of injuries. Instead the job was handed over to Derek Anderson who out performed Leinart in the preseason.

That move may have been the ultimate confidence killer for Leinart as a Cardinal. He never was ready to prove himself after that even in stints of game action on the football field. The controversy had to end at some point and it did as the Cardinals parted ways with Leinart in the 2010.

A backup quarterback seemed to be the best chance for Leinart landing anywhere. After not signing with any teams in 2010, Leinart was given a chance by the Houston Texans. After Matt Schaub went down to injury, Leinart had the perfect opportunity to showcase himself once again. He went down to injury and TJ Yates fulfilled the role and supplanted Leinart as Houston’s backup.

Now Leinart is in Oakland where he has had a sub-par preseason. When your in a battle for a backup quarterback position and roster spot you need to show your value. Terrelle Pryor has outdid Leinart through the air and with his legs to solidify the backup role in Oakland. Leinart delivered simple check off throws in his preseason action, and is likely to be the teams third string quarterback.

What happens to him in the offseason? He will likely be let go once again, and may not be picked up this time around.

That would mean just like Vince Young, Matt Leinart would be out of the league.

Just like in 1999 when Tim Couch, Akili Smith, and Cade McNown faded as NFL Draft busts it appears the same is happening for the first two quarterbacks taken in the 2006 NFL Draft. You can bet the Titans and Cardinals would of loved to of drafted Jay Cutler instead.

How odd is it that the Buffalo Bills traded to get Tavaris Jackson? To secure quarterback depth after letting Vince Young go., the Bills traded to get Jackson who was drafted late in the second round of the same draft in 2006.

Do the Bills Have Confidence in Fitzpatrick?

Thursday, 30 August, 2012

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Over the years Buffalo has become one of the teams that loves to have quarterback controversy. From recent battles with JP Losman and Trent Edwards, to Fitzpatrick himself versus Edwards, and the great battle of Drew Bledsoe vs. Losman, and Rob Johnson and Doug Flutie. Just like their division rival Miami Dolphins, Buffalo has had just as much of a struggle solidifying their starting quarterback since Jim Kelly retired.

You would think a maximum contract value of 59 million over the course of six years would be the proper vote of confidence in Ryan Fitzpatrick. Oh those tricky Buffalo Bills. Fitzpatrick’s guaranteed money is only 24 million, which means Fitzpatrick still has to prove himself each and every game.

Buffalo has been much more willing to spend free agency money the past few seasons but none was a bigger statement than offering and securing Mario Williams. With the offense young and on the rise, Buffalo believes they could be a playoff contender if the defense rises another level.

It’s not often that a journeyman quarterback for over five years finally finds his niche and begins playing well, as a Rich Gannon or Trent Green were able to.

Fitzpatrick has done that at times. He has advanced with his reads and abilities to throw the football down the field. Areas he still struggles are in the turnover department. When he is off, he can be like Carson Palmer and throw for multiple interceptions like he can afford to. Full time starters in the NFL do not throw two or more interceptions in half the games they played, and that’s exactly what Fitzpatrick did last season.

After getting his new contract, the second half of the Bills season last year was woeful for Fitzpatrick. Some of that can be blamed on not having his bread and butter running back Fred Jackson. Jackson was the beat to the offense, and did more than most would acknowledge. Weeks nine through eleven Fitzpatrick threw two touchdowns and a total of seven interceptions. Followed by another stretch in December in which he threw four touchdowns and nine interceptions.

Those are stretches that would find most starters on the bench, and may have happened to Fitzpatrick last year if it were not for the contract he landed. Buffalo made a lot of commotion this off-season for a backup quarterback and landed both Vince Young. A journeyman many figured would put the heat on Fitzpatrick for starting snaps.

We all know how the preseason went, and Young was cut as a result. In many preseason battles teams would stop right there with quarterback acquisitions and have faith in there other backups. Tyler Thigpen is a quarterback that has started in both Miami and Kansas City, and won the backup quarterback position.

One solid backup is not enough for Buffalo and they decided to trade for Tavaris Jackson.

If you’re Ryan Fitzpatrick there must be sub conscious thoughts that the organization is having its doubts with him. He has fought off the doubts the past few seasons, but an area he has to cement for the organization is his consistency. When he is on, Fitzpatrick can be that quarterback gem you started on y our fantasy team and got away with it. When he is off he can be the sole difference in a loss for your fantasy team.

Something is up in Buffalo with all the quarterback moves they have made. Some would believe it’s just to have insurance at quarterback. Look around the NFL and look at the backup propositions if injuries were to occur. Less than ten teams probably have a quarterback that teams would be comfortable having to start beyond one game.

Downgrade Fitzpatrick’s fantasy value going into 2012. Just as the last few seasons, his play on the field would have to develop for him to have waiver wire meaning. I do not believe he finishes the season as Bills starter. His interception rate just gets to high at crucial stretches.

Back Most Affected by Dual Backfield System

Wednesday, 29 August, 2012

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Many fantasy owners are enamored by Reggie Bush heading into the 2012 season. As a Dolphin last year he finally had the type of success many thought he would getting drafted into the NFL. For a guy that has not had near the success in his first five seasons in New Orleans, many are wondering what will happen this year as a Dolphin.

While in New Orleans after failed chances at being the featured back, New Orleans decided to relegate his role to sort of a decoy. A few carries here and there and try to spring him out for quick passes to let him utilize his speed. When his free agency came along, the Saints did not feel the value offered by his agent was true to what he brings on the field.

Miami though decided they would try to re-tool and utilize him differently. Up until week thirteen of last year it looked as if Bush was going to have another sub-par season. He only had one game rushing over 100 yards up until that point, and Miami was content at using Daniel Thomas just as much as they were Bush.

Thomas was banged up though out the season and that’s when the door opened a bit for Bush. Weeks 13-16 Bush ran wild and totaled 519 yards rushing including his monster game against the Buffalo Bills. Those yardage numbers were almost equal his season total through twelve games. So was the finish to Bush’s season in 2011 an aberration or can it carry over to 2012?

Even though Miami has a new coaching staff, it has serious holes offensively. A rookie quarterback and a depleted receiving group will force Miami to run the football as much as last season. The fact remains to be seen though if Miami will give more carries to Daniel Thomas over Bush. Thomas is more of the prototypical back and had success as a rookie last season.

Bush will see his carries head backward from the twenty carries a game he received weeks thirteen through sixteen. Miami also drafted rookie running back Lamar Miller in the fourth round. He should not pose a threat to either Thomas or Bush. It’s more of a pick to secure the backfield due to Thomas’s injury history and Bush’s size.

I would not consider Bush as a weekly fantasy starter. He can be a RB3 with possible starts based on Miami’s consistency with Bush. The question for Bush owners should be how many fantasy points can they expect from Bush with around twelve carries a game. That is what he averaged the first eleven games of 2011. Thomas will figure to get near fifteen carries a game.

This is what makes it tricky for Bush owners, because Bush can be treated like a hot jump shooter in professional basketball. Once on the field, if his first five to seven carries are explosive and getting the offense going, Miami will likely feed him an extra amount of carries over Thomas. If he is not getting the necessary yards than Miami will pound it with Thomas.

It’s an unusual circumstance that does not occur with most backs around the NFL. Bush should average six to eight fantasy points per game in standard leagues, and ten to twelve in PPR leagues. Expect around 750 yards rushing and five touchdowns on the year.

Player Profile: Robert Turbin

Tuesday, 28 August, 2012

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It’s been quite some time since a rookie running back had a true fantasy impact in year one. Last season many were expecting Mark Ingram to be just that as a New Orleans Saint. Instead the tandem system and Ingram’s ineffectiveness lessened his work load as the season progressed. Pierre Thomas and Darren Sproles are both more fantasy friendly than Ingram.

The rookie that stirred a frenzy off the waiver wire last season was DeMarco Murray. He burst onto the scene because of opportunity and now is a top tier fantasy back. It all opened up for Murray because of injuries in front of him, and the fact the Cowboys had let Marion Barber and Tashard Choice go.

Who will it be this year that surprises? It may not be for a significant amount of games like Murray, but Seattle’s rookie Robert Turbin is already on many fantasy radar watch lists after his preseason. With the Seahawks letting workmanlike beast Marshawn Lynch rest in the preseason, Turbin has received the majority of carries and looked impressive.

The fourth round pick out of Utah State might be the most physically imposing running back in the NFL already. His physique particularly in his arms are comparable to former Arizona Cardinal/Tampa Bay running back Michael Pittman. Statistically Turbin has been solid from game one in the preseason, and last week against Kansas City he had over 90 yards rushing.

Pete Carroll sort of shares the same values as Mike Shanahan. If you’re producing he is not afraid to make a move. No matter the salary of the player that is supposed to have that position. It creates a continual reevaluation of roster positions even during the season.

Drafting in your fantasy leagues, Robert Turbin was already an automatic handcuff for Marshawn Lynch. A year ago Lynch received the majority of carries as the Seahawks did not have a back behind him capable of handling duties. That will change with Turbin, who should get five to seven carries a game to spell Lynch.

This could boost Lynch’s fantasy impact. He will be fresher over the course of the season and not overworked as he was a year ago.

Lynch has missed preseason action with a back injury that Seattle has said is minor. In fact Lynch has practiced in the majority of Seahawks practices. An area everyone knows Lynch is on a short leash is his off the field issues. It was one of the main reasons why Buffalo decided to let him go, and he has already had a few issues as a Seahawk. One more offense and a suspension or upper management move could come.

The style that Lynch runs with is not one of longevity for a running back. If Turbin was not handcuffed by Marshawn Lynch owners and you have roster spots to tinker with, pick up Turbin and sit him on your bench.

Bench players do not necessarily always have to be integral weekly parts of your fantasy team. If you are overloaded it just makes decisions harder on Sundays when you’re trying to fulfill your starters. Bench points you see can be frustrating and cause you a loss from the wrong insertion. So it’s always good to have a player or two with upside that won’t cause you headaches weekly.

Wide Receiver Rankings 8/27/12

Tuesday, 28 August, 2012

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Hut, hut, when that quarterback receives the hike, he is not turning to hand that football off as much as ten years ago. It’s a fast past league now, and in order to do that successfully with points on the board, it needs to come through the air. Here is the first installment of wide receiver rankings heading into the last week of preseason.

1. Calvin Johnson- Speed, height, freakish athleticism, and can out jump anyone in the secondary. Randy Moss when he had Randall Cunningham, except Johnson possesses better ability in crowds to corral the football.

2. Larry Fitzgerald- People want to lower his ranking based on the Cardinals quarterback situation. Just look at Fitz’s last two seasons and he still has flourished with poor quarterbacks. John Skelton and Kevin Kolb both performed last year. Whoever wins the job is going to perform better than a year ago. Fitz is the hardest working player in the game, and will continue to produce no matter who is throwing the football.

3. Brandon Marshall- Awfully high you say. Marshall has had the quietest off-season in recent memory. No antics in practice, selfish pouting, or off the field issues. He is revived with his old quarterback, and on an offense that should be potent. Behind Johnson, Marshall is the best height to speed receiver in the league. His Pro Bowl performance was not a fluke, and he will be targeted by Jay Cutler early and often.

4. Roddy White- Everyone is talking about last years quarterback class and this year quarterback class. Refocus back to Joe Flacco and Matt Ryan. Both seem ready to bust out the gate and have career years. Why not? Roddy White is an outstanding receiver. With Ryan gaining confidence White could have a Victor Cruz type of year from 2011.

5. Steve Smith- Too high again you may think. Smith is the Hines Ward of receivers nowadays. He has the tenacity and toughness and is just a competitor on every play. Cam Newton is going to progress and that means more deep balls to Smith. He will shine in consecutive years with Newton.

6. AJ Green- Last year in the beginning of the season everyone was wowed by Andy Dalton’s readiness for the NFL. The pinpoint answer to that was AJ Green. He got behind teams secondaries with such ease that even Tim Tebow could of hit him. With an off-season to sharpen his route running and add some weight to his frame, Green should be a gold mine for fantasy owners once again.

7. Andre Johnson- It’s always worrisome when an athlete starts a trend with injuries. Will they go away? Johnson would likely be ranked second if it were not for his history. Even if he plays twelve to thirteen games he has the capability of putting together a top fifteen fantasy season. Houston is a team that’s primed to supplant the New England Patriots. In order to do so they’ll need Johnson all season.

8. Eric Decker- He is just the perfect type of receiver for Peyton Manning. Last year reports were that Decker was shining in practice. With the Tebow offense of a year ago, DeMaryius Thomas was the main guy because of his height. Quick throws were easy for him to corral in, and risky throws were to his advantage as well with his size. Decker though can run the type of routes that meshes with veteran Peyton Manning. Connections with Manning have always produced great fantasy seasons. Marvin Harrison, Pierre Garcon, Austin Collie, Reggie Wayne, etc. The type of preseason Decker has had it’s a no brainer that it will continue in the regular season.

9. Torrey Smith- I profiled in an article a few weeks ago that Joe Flacco is ready for his breakout season. Lets face it, the Baltimore passing offense has been pedestrian every season. There one of the few teams that likes to run the ball continuously and rely on their defense. Their defense is aging and the Ravens know come playoff time, they’re going to need to score points to advance. Even with Baltimore’s toned down offense it still has been fantasy friendly for receivers. Imagine this season with more targets his way what Smith is going to do.

10. Wes Welker- Brandon Lloyd is going to hurt Welker’s value a bunch. Josh McDaniels has a chemistry with Lloyd and that will transfer over to play calling and on the field results. Not to mention that Tom Brady is going to continue eyeballing his dynamic tight end duo. Expect for Welker to be a high yardage guy and low touchdown performer ala Keenan McCardell. He is ranked this high now based on last season and not going to crazy on lowering him. I expect him to be a high teen receiver by the end of the season.

11. Jordy Nelson
12. DeSean Jackson
13. Hakeem Nicks
14. Greg Jennings
15. Victor Cruz
16. Stevie Johnson
17. Mike Wallace
18. Julio Jones
19. Dez Bryant
20. Marques Colston
21. Dwayne Bowe
22. Vincent Jackson
23. Justin Blackmon
24. Jeremy Maclin
25. Reggie Wayne
26. Anquan Boldin
27. Brandon Lloyd
28. Antonio Brown
29. Miles Austin
30. Percy Harvin
31. Santonio Holmes
32. Kenny Britt
33. Darrius Heyward-Bey
34. Michael Crabtree
35. Malcolm Floyd
36. Davone Bess
37. Lance Moore
38. Mike Williams
39. Pierre Garcon
40. Sidney Rice
41. Santana Moss
42. Robert Meachem
43. Randy Moss
44. Brandon Lafell
45. Demaryius Thomas
46. Kendall Wright
47. David Nelson
48. Titus Young
49. James Jones
50. Nate Washington
51. Austin Collie
52. Jonathan Baldwin
53. Stephen Hill
54. Greg Little
55. Laurent Robinson
56. Danny Amendola
57. Denarius Moore
58. Nate Burleson
59. Michael Floyd
60. Brian Hartline

Good Decision By Cowboys

Monday, 27 August, 2012

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If you own a police scanner in the NFL off-season you can roam the frequencies and like catching a fish you’re bound to hear about an NFL player getting arrested. Years ago media outlets would drag out initial reports on just about any athlete. Now it’s usually just a headline flasher and quick part of the news and notes segment.

It’s too common these days and NFL teams typically have run out of patience with athletes and arrests. Roger Goodell has a strict policy in place, and teams have clauses to protect themselves now. In certain instances though, athletes with high potential still outweigh waiting for the athlete to stack more newsworthy issues or live out his contract.

Dallas of the 1990’s know all too well about off the field issues with players. The organization took a proactive route and told Bryant not only do we employ you at the practice facilities, but were going to enlist a set of rules for you to abide to off the field. No more saying if you’re in an instance and need help, here is an immediate contact number. Bryant’s shown that he is still immature and needs the guidance of the organization to prevent him from straying into trouble.

The list of things Dallas has put into place is not abnormal. Rules such as not going to strip clubs or clubs is promoted by head coaches especially in training camp. Young athletes that think they’re invincible though and can not avoid their old friends egging them on, are going to continually get themselves put in ominous positions. The area that lets Cowboys fans know that Dallas is backing Bryant is by having full time security surround him.

Security is often looked at as preventing danger in front of bevies of people. The three security staff members that will surround Bryant though will do much more than that. They’ll develop a bond with Bryant and partake in many conversations with Bryant. Over time this will be more beneficial than any of the team rules listed on Bryant. The support of those guys around him all the time should finally develop the maturity people are seeking from Bryant.

Barring injury, this type of news boosts Bryant’s fantasy worth. Miles Austin’s hamstrings are red flags of an ongoing issue that will either limit his production or eventually cause him to miss more time in the regular season. Dallas is not going to slow down it’s passing game, and Bryant will be the main threat that benefits from this. His physical tools and youth are the reasons why he is still sporting a Cowboys uniform, and not on his way to the Cincinnati Bengals.