Fantasy Football

TOP BACKS SPLITTING CARRIES

Monday, 30 June, 2014

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- Fred Jackson- Age has always been a negative when a running back eclipses 30. For Jackson this trend has been correct the past couple of seasons. Once an out of nowhere fantasy stud he has dipped back into the unwanted running back. Injuries have held him back but 2014 could be an upswing for Jackson. His mileage is still low even for his age. Buffalo was one of the first teams to do a time share backfield even as far back as Willis McGahee and Marshawn Lynch. Owners of CJ Spiller know that his work load is as sporadic as it gets. Jackson could surprise some especially in the touchdown category, if the Bills offense maneuvers well.

- Stephan Taylor- Arizona has never been a haven for running backs. They’ve tried over the years with Thomas Jones, Emmitt Smith, Edgerrin James, Beanie Wells, Michael Pittman, and Rashad Mendenhall. An odd mix of drafted backs and second stop running backs. All struggled and have left the Cardinals dependent yet again in the backfield. This year they’re set to entrust their young backs in Andre Ellington and Taylor. Ellington seems destined for a breakout year but Taylor will get a sustained share of carries.

-Vick Ballard- The Colts likely would have saved themselves a first round pick if Ballard did not get hurt last season. Injuries at running back caused the Colts to reach for Trent Richardson. At first people were stunned at how quick the Browns let Richardson go. After a handful of games it was evident why they did so. Ballard is listed as the second back on paper, but may surge past Richardson if he continues to struggle.

- Lamar Miller- Some backs are system backs. Knowshown Moreno is going to have to prove the skeptics wrong. He had a great year for Denver a season ago and got the paycheck he wanted from Miami. The first portion of his rookie contract with Denver left a lot to be desired though. Miller is in the same situation that Moreno was in Denver. He has had the opportunities as a young back but didn’t cash in. His rookie deal still has two years left on it but he needs to show this year if he can cut it. If not Miami may cut him and draft a young back to build off of in 2015.

Others: Jonathan Stewart, Ka’Deem Carey, Terrance West, Ronnie Hillman, Shane Vereen, Khiry Robinson, Andre Williams, Bilal Powell, MJD, LeGarrette Blount, Mike James, and Bishop Sankey

TOP TEN DYNASTY LEAGUE QUARTERBACKS

Wednesday, 25 June, 2014

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Dynasty leagues continue to grow in popularity. Having the authority to retain players is the essence of being a general manager. Standard leagues owners can make mistakes and file for bankruptcy the following year—full clearance to redraft and disown their past mistakes. While in a dynasty league you would need to dig yourself out of mistakes by trying to grab young athletes.

Preparation for the future is also a must in a dynasty league. You may have a Tom Brady or elite veteran quarterback keeping you atop, but in a few years who is to say Brady is relevant still?

Here are the top ten dynasty league quarterbacks (QB’s in the league four years or less) for potential and upside.

1. Colin Kaepernick-
Kaepernick has the vote of confidence from the 49ers with his new contract. Unlike Mike Vick and other mobile quarterbacks of the past, Kaepernick has great size. He’ll be able to take the licks that other quarterbacks couldn’t. Look for Kaepernick’s progression to start to come to fruition in 2014.

2. Andrew Luck-
As Luck’s years progress he’ll lose the current mobility he uses to rank ahead of Kaepernick now. Where he’ll stay out in front of the rest of the league is with his arm and pocket presence. Indianapolis has always been great at keeping a steady group of consistent receivers.

3. Nick Foles-
Assuming Chip Kelly remains a coach in Philadelphia this pair should be a connection for awhile. Kelly’s offense showed last year it had no problem transitioning to the NFL. Counting on Foles to slump could appear for a mini stretch, but not enough to force him out of a top twelve fantasy quarterback.

4. RG3-
We may never see the RG3 from his rookie season. A second blownout knee just may be the dagger to that. He has the arm strength to be a flourishing passer. He just needs to convince Washington that.

5. Cam Newton-
Newton and the Panthers may have been the top team for blanketing their inefficiencies last season. Carolina won a bunch of games last year with ball control game plans. Sooner or later the team will need to find out if Newton can carry the team when needed.

6. Russ Wilson-
Wilson is who he is. I don’t think he’ll ever be a top tier fantasy quarterback. Similar to Eli Manning in his Super Bowl days, I’d expect Wilson to range between the ten to sixteen fantasy range.

7. Johnny Manziel-
The unknown is with Manziel. His maturation will be before our eyes in no time. Barring injury I fully expect him to rise to the occasion. He’ll continue to find a way to utilize his mobility and uncanniness to create on the run. It may take awhile for the Browns to be a playoff contender, but they’ll have new fans each and every week.

8. Ryan Tannehill
9. EJ Manuel
10. Teddy Bridgewater

WHAT VALUE DO SAINTS RB’S HAVE?

Monday, 23 June, 2014

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Perhaps no team in football has been as tortuous as the New Orleans Saints to figure out their stable of running backs. Pierre Thomas has had the highest prime value for the Saints. He went from a high carry back to an inordinate amount of carries. Last year his fantasy worthiness almost came exclusively out of the backfield.

The Saints have used a platoon of running backs intermittently that drives fantasy owners nuts. With Darren Sproles departed to the Eagles, it leaves the same backfield of players. Is the Saints backfield being overlooked from a fantasy standpoint because of this? Likely so.

It seems odd to think about, but Darren Sproles has been a main key to Brees career. Out in San Diego, Sproles played the lightning bolt to LT. When he became a free agent the Saints went after Sproles to replace Reggie Bush’s role. He filled it admirably.

Now who will Brees have to be his Reggie Bush or Darren Sproles?

Both guys were fantasy havens for PPR leagues and combined yards of rushing and receiving. It was a toss up between Sproles and Pierre Thomas for more effective fantasy running back. Neither lit the fantasy scoreboard on a weekly basis, but did just enough to be fantasy running back three or four.

Who is going to catch the out of the backfield receptions for the Saints? Sproles had over 70 catches for the Saints each of the last three seasons.

Based on the Saints current roster, you’d have to believe the Saints are planning on reducing Pierre Thomas’s carries some more. They dwindled quite a bit last year as he boosted his performance out of the backfield. Last year he caught 77 passes for over 500 yards. Before that career season he had over 40 catches just once in his eight year career. His yards per carry dipped to a career low of just 3.7 yards last season. This should be clear evidence that the Saints want to use Thomas as their Sproles/Bush 100 percent.

That leaves the big void of whom will be the Saints main tail back for rushing the football. Mark Ingram has been nothing short of a disappointment in his stint as a Saint. The former Heisman Trophy winner has struggled with injuries and consistency. One bright sign from Ingram was his finish to the 2013 season. He had two games in which he came close to 100 yards, including in a playoff victory over the Eagles. In the divisional round he did have a costly fumble against the Seahawks though.

The Saints other two running backs are Khiry Robinson and Travaris Cadet. Robinson had spots a year ago where he looked like he would overtake the main running back duties. It just never materialized and left fantasy owners regretful on taking a flyer on him.

Maybe that was a move warranted for this upcoming season. Robinson will likely have a fair amount of carries with Ingram. For now it’d be hard to rank one higher than the other. You’d expect the Saints to give Ingram every chance to gain the upper hand on the time split, but Ingram’s proven to drop the ball when given opportunities.

I’d still downgrade Ingram and have an asterisk on Cadet stealing some thunder from both. New Orleans has too many receptions and carries available to have fantasy eyes drifting. If you’re anti-Ingram take your shot in later rounds on Cadet or Robinson.

Top Backup QB’s Likely to Hit Field in 2014

Sunday, 22 June, 2014

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Pencil Vick as a starter now. He’ll be the opening day quarterback for the Jets.

It’s inevitable that the majority of NFL teams will need to utilize their backup quarterbacks at some point. Causes can range from injuries, blowouts, or even poor play. Stretches of backup quarterbacks on the field equate to an opportunity from a fantasy standpoint. Seventy percent of these situations usually are void of a fantasy juggernaut. Then there’s the quarterbacks capable of stepping right in and keeping the offense rolling.

Josh McCown did such a fine job that many wanted him to remain the Bears starter. Matt Flynn did not wow anyone with his on field demeanor but had a few games that he performed decent.

Everyone in the fantasy football world has their insurance 100 percent covered at running back and wide receiver. These dual starter positions usually get five to six players drafted on each fantasy team. Quarterbacks tend to be the forgotten insured position. People will draft their sure-fire starter and not give much consideration to the backup. After all they think they’ll be starting their starter all thirteen fantasy football weeks. Be prepared for any possibilities this season. Here are some current backup quarterbacks that likely will get their chance on the football field. They may even end up being a catalyst to help you win on your fantasy football team.

Johnny Manziel
I just wrote a piece on Manziel being a top twelve fantasy quarterback in the month of November. One thing you can count on from fantasy football owners is impatience. Some owners work the trade and waiver wire market too much. Chances are Manziel won’t be stashed away in the majority of fantasy football leagues. By late October I expect him to start. He’ll work his wonders for the month of November.

Michael Vick
Vick is being his own perfect public relations facilitator right now. Everything he states to the media has been politically correct. He stands behind and believes in Geno Smith. We all know that Vick is in New York to try and write a last chapter to his career. Being a permanent backup was the last thing on his mind. The book we saw on Geno Smith last year just has the makings for more early season disasters. New York may start Smith just to procure Vick’s health. He hasn’t been durable the last four years. Maybe bringing him in as starter in late September or October protects him for the rest of the season. Bottom line is that Vick will be on the field, maybe as early as week one.

Brandon Weeden
No one truly knows Kyle Orton’s plans. By bringing in Weeden, Dallas is showing their support to lean on Weeden as the backup. Cowboys fans know all too well Tony Romo’s injury history. Dallas’s organization has been quiet in regards to Romo’s health. Unless Dallas reshapes their offensive playbook, it’ll be a matter of time before Weeden steps onto the field. Their pass happy offense leaves quarterbacks vulnerable to big hits.

Thad Lewis
EJ Manuel missed time on the field on two different occasions last season. For the most part Manuel was a pocket passer. If he doesn’t learn to make quicker decisions with the football, he’ll have more setbacks in 2014. Buffalo kept themselves prepared with Lewis. Lewis shined in a couple of spot starts last year. Buffalo has a solid group of young receivers that was bolstered with the signing of Mike Williams and drafting of Sammy Watkins.

Shaun Hill
Hill seems like he has been in the NFL forever. Throughout his career he has been perceived as a solid backup. While in Detroit he filled in well when Matt Stafford went down. In St. Louis, fans and the media believe this is their year to make a move in the NFC. Sam Bradford is likely on his last leg if he can’t fulfill the first pick he was garnered. If the team struggles, Hill will become the starter, with assets galore offensively around him.

Charlie Whitehurst
Tennessee is making it clear to Locker he needs to become a more consistent quarterback. Some of the blame could go on the shoulders of an unsustainable running game with Chris Johnson. He is gone and the Titans did a fine job filling that position by signing Dexter McCluster and drafting Bishop Sankey. Locker is a veteran now and needs to start playing like one. Tennessee did the right thing by signing Whitehurst and drafting Zach Mettenburger.

Matt Moore
Miami burned an above average season with putrid losses. Most of their close losses were caused by single or multiple game killing plays by Ryan Tannehill. When they were winning though, he played a big part in their success. That’s expected for a second year quarterback. In his third season Tannehill must nix those mistakes. He has to show better control for an entire football game. If the play isn’t there, he must throw the football away. Miami’s team is very similar to last year. It’s one of the few teams in football that kept their roster at quarterback the same. Moore has been a fill in starter before in Carolina and in Miami during Chad Henne’s final season.

Kirk Cousins
RG3 supporters are all expecting him to answer to last years debacle with a bang in 2014. In college he responded by winning the Heisman two years after blowing out his knee. It’s going to take a complete 360 from RG3 to get back to his level of 2012. It may be in him, but there is no discounting his second major knee injury. Until he shows that same burst and speed, I won’t be a full believer. Washington sat him the last two games of last year as precaution, but who knows if he further damaged his knee the first fourteen games of the season. As has been the case the past two years, Kirk Cousins will be ready if need be.

CAN JOHNNY FOOTBALL BE A TOP 12 FANTASY QUARTERBACK?

Saturday, 21 June, 2014

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Thus far in Johnny Manziel’s career he has been a spectacle on and off the field. His journey to a media sensation has been stirred to new heights on the professional level. High profiled athletes are always out and about in nightlife Vegas scenes and other major areas.

In fact a week before Manziel was glorified for being in Las Vegas, St. Louis Rams, Michael Sam was there. Both have been getting major attention from the media, but Sam has the spotlight in a different way. I’m 100 percent sure that Manziel and Sam were not the only two NFL rookies that have ventured to Vegas in the past two months.

What it comes down to for Manziel is living up to his draft pick. By falling to the 20′s he is in the range of several quarterbacks over the last five years. Former Cleveland Brown quarterback, Brandon Weeden, was selected 22nd a few seasons ago. Tim Tebow was the 25th pick, Joe Flacco 18th, and Brady Quinn 22nd.

Only one of those four quarterbacks has had success. Quinn has bounced around as a third string backup. Tebow’s story is well documented, and Brandon Weeden was a failure in two seasons in Cleveland.

The high impact fans and the media are labeling Manziel needs to be toned down. Cleveland’s front office is doing their best to calm the media down. By stating that Manziel won’t be handed the job and has a lot of work ahead of him. It’s the way any organization needs to handle a drafted player, but Cleveland is putting it out there for the media’s eyes.

Without a doubt the media pressure will continue to build and inevitably Johnny Manziel will be on the football field in 2014. How will this help your fantasy football teams? Assuming Manziel doesn’t start right away, he’ll likely be thrown into the fray in mid to late October. This is usually when a poor team looks for one last chance. At four or five losses they’d only be a few games away from playoff elimination.

Rookie quarterbacks have shown strong promise before in fantasy football impact. Even Brandon Weeden had his share of 300 yard games. The list extends from RG3, Luck, Locker, Kaepernick, Vince Young, and even Tim Tebow. New quarterbacks on the field tend to cause disruption for defensive schemes and coordinators.

Scouting preseason film and college film is completely different from an NFL game plan. It typically takes defenses a handful of games to adjust to the new starting quarterback.

Therefore, I wouldn’t be shocked to see Manziel catapult himself as a top twelve fantasy quarterback in November. This could be crucial for fantasy teams looking for a new spark at their quarterback position. Manziel has had his critics for his skill to throw the football. His craftiness should allot for him to create on the run and spread the football around. I see no reason to discount his skill set from college to the NFL.

It didn’t stop Colin Kaepernick, Vince Young, Mike Vick, RG3, Tebow, and other scrambling quarterbacks initially.

Place Manziel on your draft lists. He’ll reward you like he did in college against the spread.

IMPACT NEW FACES IN NEW PLACES

Thursday, 19 June, 2014

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The lure of a new contract or a team looking to cut salary cap dollars creates new opportunities. These players sometimes are high priced commodities and others are just roster depth acquisitions on new teams. Time on the field is worth the attention of fantasy football participants. Here are some athletes to keep an eye on for your fantasy football drafts. Their new situations should bode well in transitioning fantasy football points for you.

Quarterbacks: Mike Vick and Josh McCown
Free agent quarterbacks have not made much noise for the fantasy football world in quite some time. McCown comes to the Buccaneers after surprise production filling in for Jay Cutler in Chicago. No one truly knows what the Jets plans are for Vick or how much Vick has left in the tank. It is arguable though that both could surprise on the fantasy radar. Vick has had a history of strong results and McCown did so just last year. The talent is around both to have watchful eyes in 2014.

Running Backs: Toby Gerhart (Jacksonville), Ben Tate (Cleveland), Knowshown Moreno (Miami), Rashad Jennings (New York Giants), Chris Johnson (NY Jets), Darren Sproles (Philadelphia Eagles), Maurice Jones-Drew(Oakland Raiders), LeGarrette Blount (Pittsburgh)
Rookie contracts tend to take running backs into their third or fourth seasons. For those that are top dollar players, they almost certainly get resigned on their original drafted team. Most end up hitting the true free agent market after their second deals are expired. By then their value is on the decline. Teams look for a veteran fill in back such as Chris Johnson, Knowshown Moreno, MJD, Sproles, and Blount. All of these guys have backup role type of fantasy football value. Their value will be spiked based on the touchdowns they can get and not yardage.

Then you have the unheralded rookie contract backs that outperformed. Toby Gerhart did so in spot starts for Adrian Peterson. One has to wonder if Gerhart will end up being the next Peyton Hillis. Rashad Jennings had short stints in both Jacksonville and Oakland, but is still a fresh young back for the Giants. Ben Tate was arguably the top free agent signee and the Browns assured themselves of a solid back for the next couple of seasons.

You won’t find any top fifteen fantasy running backs in this group. Instead lower tier second running backs and regular fantasy backups. From the tandem back veteran group I would give Maurice Jones-Drew the highest upside. One the Raiders are likely tiring of Darren McFadden. Secondly, the Raiders have produced solid second tier strength backs over the years (Jennings/Bush). From the young crop of backs Jennings offers high intrigue. The Giants backfield is up for grabs. Coughlin being the old coach he is, could roll with a prominent back for a decent amount of carries. If Jennings ends up being the feature back, he could spark a move into a fantasy starting backfield.

Wide Receivers: Desean Jackson, Eric Decker, Hakeem Nicks, Emmanuel Sanders, Golden Tate, Mike Williams, and Steve Smith
Out of all the main free agent position signees, wide receiver, has the biggest gap of high chance of return on investment. Drafting any of the aforementioned receivers is going to be a big risk. Even DeSean Jackson should pose as a red flag. He is in a pass friendly offense. But the same could be said all his years in Philadelphia. At times he would disappear even in the high passing offense with McNabb, Vick, Kolb, and Foles.

Golden Tate, Mike Williams, and Steve Smith are bottom tier bench fillers. A possible fifth or sixth spot on your team, with no patience if they don’t produce. All the years for Steve Smith as a number one receiver seem to have taken a big toll on him. I’d be surprised if he came close to 750 yards receiving and four touchdowns. Williams seems to be in trouble to make the Bills roster, and has had questionable character issues off the field. Sanders needs to show timely chemistry in the Broncos offense in a crowded position.

That leaves Eric Decker and Hakeem Nicks. Nicks could show a flash or too like he did as a Giant. But his injury history seems to have relegated him to a second or third option on an offense. Decker is the intriguing prospect. Can the Jets get their moneys worth? Signs are pointing that Decker likely was a system receiver in Denver, and that the Jets quarterback issues will weigh him down considerably.