The NFC is shaping up to be a fun conference to watch this pre-season. Have you been wondering about who to get between David Wilson and Ahmad Bradshaw? Or maybe the Kevin Kolb and John Skleton mess has you confused. With positional battles on almost every team, I dive in to the key ones that will affect us fantasy football owners.
New York Giants
Ahmad Bradshaw vs. David Wilson for RB1
Analysis: The Giants are clearly over Bradshaw’s inability to stay healthy, so they went ahead and drafted David Wilson with the 32nd pick of this year’s NFL Draft. Bradshaw, who missed four games last season, is expected by most people to begin the season as the leading rusher. However, if Wilson can prove he can handle pass protection fairly well, he could cut into the third-down role of veterans Bradshaw and D.J. Ware, possibly making the Giants use running back by committee (RBBC). Also because the Giants selected Wilson in the first round, signs have pointed to this year as Bradshaw’s last.
Opinion: Draft Bradshaw with caution. Be sure to nab Wilson as a handcuff. Bradshaw will be the RB1 until he goes down with an injury, then it becomes David Wilson’s job to grab and run with.
Tim Hightower vs. Roy Helu vs. Evan Royster for RB1
Analysis: The Redskins surprisingly re-signed Hightower, despite the fact that he’s coming back from ACL surgery, but it should be noted that he’s excellent in pass protection. Hightower, who has not practiced during OTAs, is not expected to get medically cleared to practice until training camp. Helu and Royster have been nursing minor injuries during OTAs. It is expected that Helu will enter training camp No. 1 on the depth chart, yet that’s not exactly set in stone. As most people know, Mike Shanahan is not a man to commit to one RB. Royster ended last season on a high note, making this backfield an even bigger mess for anyone drafting while trying to decipher who will be RB1.
Opinion: Save yourself the headache and just avoid this backfield.
Mikel Leshoure vs. Jahvid Best vs. Kevin Smith for RB1
Analysis: Leshoure, who is coming off a season-ending Achilles tendon surgery, didn’t play a snap as a rookie last season. He is also facing a suspension due to off-the-field issues. Best, as we’ve seen since he was drafted two years ago, is ideally used as a change-of-pace back because of his lack of size and durability. He also offers the team another option out of the backfield in passing situations. But Best has been dealing with major concussion problems going back to his college days. Smith came out of nowhere for the team last season before suffering another ankle injury. This situation is shaping up to be yet another RBBC, with Smith having the best chance at the most touches out of the three at this point. All three have some issues, but of the three, Smith seems to have the least.
Opinion: Wait and see how the preseason pans out and who gets the starting job. One of the RBs is bound to get injured, and that would create a clearer picture for fantasy football owners.
Kyle Rudolph vs. John Carlson for TE1
Analysis: The Vikings are expected to go with more dual-TE sets this season, which means both Rudolph and Carlson could see more time on the field together than first expected. Considering the weak wide receiver corps the team has, it seems to makes sense that both tight ends should see a lot of playing time this season.
Opinion: Rudolph is likely to get more snaps due to his athleticism and youth.
DeAngelo Williams vs. Jonathan Stewart for RB1
Analysis: While Williams started 14 games last season, Stewart saw 130 more snaps! The Panthers had a very odd rotation in 2011, while nothing seemed set from game to game. I am expecting a RBBC between these two backs. FB Mike Tolbert isn’t expected to get many carries, but he could see more touches in short-yardage and in passing situations in one-back sets.
Opinions: Drafting either is for the sole purpose of flex or bye-week fill-ins barring a breakout season.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers
LeGarrette Blount vs. Doug Martin for RB1
Analysis: The Bucs drafted the rookie Martin with the idea that he’ll be the starter this season. Blount has no versatility and is a straight-line runner. It doesn’t help that he is poor in pass protection, has fumblitis and is seen only as a two-down back. Martin is capable of being a three-down back and is solid in pass protection.
Opinion: I fully expect Martin to be the RB1 by the end of the preseason.
John Skelton vs. Kevin Kolb for QB1
Analysis: Kolb will enter training camp as the starter, but both QBs have shared practice time during OTAs. Kolb looked like a mess as he only nabbed one win last year (he owes Patrick Peterson a thank you). Skelton did a nice job last season when he got a chance to play, but he makes too many mistakes. He does have a stronger arm than Kolb.
Opinion: Doesn’t matter; do not bother drafting either unless in a very deep league.
Beanie Wells vs. Ryan Williams for RB1
Analysis: Wells will enter training camp as the starter, but based on his extensive injury history, he certainly can’t be trusted in that role. Williams missed all of his rookie season due to a torn patella tendon. I expect Wells will open the season as the starter, but Williams, if healthy, will get a chance to cut into that role. My major concern is Wells isn’t even healthy at the end of July.
Opinion: Do not draft either unless it is a late round.
Michael Floyd vs. Andre Roberts for WR2
Analysis: The Cardinals drafted Floyd with the belief that he’ll be a better option as an outside receiver than the undersized Roberts, who figures to see more time in the slot this season.
Opinion: Look for Floyd to win the job early in training camp. Roberts and is expected to play in the slot.
As a new writer for Fantasy Football Cafe, my life has become quite hectic. Between figuring out how to seduce women to get them to scratch my head and watching players say the same cliche lines over and over again, I can barely find time for my real love... The Hello Kitty MMO!
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