Head Coach: Lovie Smith (5th year as Bears HC)
Offensive Coordinator: Ron Turner (5th year as Bears OC)
Defensive Coordinator: Bob Babich (3rd year as Bears DC)
Projected Offensive Line: Pace(T), Garza (G), Kreutz (C), Chris Williams (G), Shaffer (T)
QB: Jay Cutler
RB: Matt Forte, Adrian Peterson, Kevin Jones, Garrett Wolfe
WR: Devin Hester, Rashied Davis, Earl Bennett, Juaquin Iglesias
TE: Greg Olsen, Des Clark
Turner will likely run a fairly balanced offense. As well as Forte ran you would think they were a run heavy team but the pass was favored 55% of the time. With Cutler coming in at quarterback you might even think that number would climb. The offense has been in place for awhile. Last year’s team is largely intact with the addition of Cutler and upgraded offensive line.
The Bears will sport a revamped offensive line. They secured Orlando Pace (StL) and former Cleveland starter Kevin Shaffer for tackle positions. Last year’s first round pick Chris Williams figures to come back from a trouble back to fill in the other G position with staples Garza and Kreutz. If healthy (read Pace) I would consider this a pretty good offensive line, better than last year’s most definitely.
With less talented and inexperienced players surrounding him at WR I would expect Cutler to take a step back production wise. His line should be better than Orton’s last year and he’s adept at creating some room for himself so the sacks should be fewer. I still think he is a fantasy starter but likely a bottom 3rd. His draft position will reflect that but he won’t be a steal. He will probably go right around where most people think he should.
Forte will be one of the first RBs off the board coming off last year’s surprise rookie season where he led the team in receptions as well. He has more help in the passing game and a better offensive line so it figures that he will have another very good season. He is not worth handcuffing. Should something happen to him, RB duties would likely be split between Peterson, Jones, and Wolfe in some respect. These guys should not be drafted.
Devin Hester figures to be a prime candidate to make big strides this year. He led the team in receiving yards last year and was 3rd in receptions (Forte, Olsen). While only having 3 TDs, the Bears feel Hester was missed by the QB on a number of opportunities, opportunities that they think Jay Cutler will capitalize on. Being an unestablished commodity and having the benefit of teams wanting to stop Forte, Hester should see ample opportunity to boost his numbers considerably. Though I’m not drawing a conclusion, I think back to when Steve Smith hauled in 50 some receptions with Rodney Peete at the helm. The following year Delhomme takes over as QB and Smith has a breakout year. I will do my best to have him on my teams this year unless a land swell in hype makes his price prohibitive.
With Forte, Olsen, and Clark figuring to garner a number of targets there’s not much more to go around to the other pass catchers to make me believe any will be fantasy relevant. I will not be looking to draft anyone else on this team, though some people may point to Earl Bennett as a potential deep sleeper because of his former rapport with Cutler at Vanderbilt, he’s not likely worth a look unless he passes Davis on the depth chart. Cutler made rookie Eddie Royal a semi-star last year. Could Iglesias see a repeat if he can somehow break into the starting lineup? Anything is possible, but drafting a rookie, who will be the 3rd, possibly 4th, target at best, is not advisable.
The Bears have 2 pass catching TEs in Greg Olsen and Des Clark. Olsen was a bottom third fantasy starter last year in just his 2nd year starting. He was second on the team in receptions and receiving yards. His size and speed (6’5”, 4.5 forty yard dash) will be a menace for anyone on the defensive side of the ball in coverage. Cutler will quickly realize he is either the best or second best option on the team. With the improved O-line, this also means he should not have to be kept in as much to help protect. I expect his numbers to elevate him into being a strong fantasy starter. I would feel comfortable locking him up if Gonzalez, Dallas, Gates, and Witten are off the board. I’d consider a pick between him and Cooley a near toss up.
Des Clark is not worth drafting as long as Olsen is healthy.
Lovie Smith, I supposed not satisfied with the defense, will reportedly take over the defensive calls for D-Coordinator Bob Babich. The Bears again has a rash of injuries to their defense with a number of starters going to IR. They are typically good against the run but their reliance on their front 4 to get pressure and inability to do so exposed their secondary. They still caused a lot of turnovers. Part of the draw with drafting this team was knowing you were going to get a handful of TDs from Hester in the return game. In 2006 and 2007 he turned in 6 in each year. Last year he gave you a goose egg. The success of the defense hinges on the pressure the front four down linemen can get. Tommie Harris needs to be a dominating force. The addition of Jarron Gilbert should help on the edge. I will for one will not be drafting the Bears as I think there are better opportunities out there.
Head Coach: Jim Schwartz (1st year as Lions HC)
Offensive Coordinator: Scott Linehan (1st year as Lions OC)
Defensive Coordinator: Gunther Cunningham (1st year as Lions DC)
Projected Offensive Line: Backus(T), Unknown (G), Raiola (C), Cherilus (G), Jansen(T)
QB: Daunte Culpepper, Matthew Stafford
RB: Kevin Smith, Maurice Morris, Aveion Cason
WR: Calvin Johnson, Bryant Johnson, Ronald Curry, Keary Colbert, Derick Williams
TE: Brandon Pettigrew
Remember Scott Linehan before the debacle in St. Louis? He managed a high powered Vikings offense from 2002-2004 before going to Miami for a year as OC. So maybe Linehan’s not HC material. He’s still a great offensive mind. I have to think with Schwartz coming from the defensive side of the ball (last 8 years as DC in Tennessee), Linehan will be given free rein on running the offense. Not only did Linehan have the Culpepper and Moss show going in Minnesota but they were also a great run team so he will keep the offense as balanced as he can. The problem is Detroit is still not very good on defense so they might be throwing a lot more than they would like. It should be noted that historically Linehan has used the RB and TE considerably in his passing schemes.
For whatever reason, the Lions put almost nothing into improving their offensive line even though they’ve given up no less than 52 sacks the last 3 years. They cut left guard Edwin Mulitalo. Lifers Backus and Raiola hold down the LT and C positions. They recently signed long time ‘skin Jansen, I suppose to take over either the RT or RG spot. Stephen Peterman started at RG last year. They also added long time journeyman starter Ephraim Salaam. I have no idea who they plan on using in their other guard spot and I’m just assuming that they would kick down Cherilus after picking up Jansen. The only effort they put into the draft was Lydon Murtha in the 7th round and added no noteworthy veteran linemen prior to Jansen. This line is still a mess. O-line coach George Yarno has one year of NFL experience as an assistant with Tampa last year. Expect this to be one of the worst offensive lines in the league again.
Whether it is Culpepper or Stafford, it’s not going to be a great year for the Detroit QB. Even with Calvin Johnson on the team and the potential to be heaving it in garbage time, I will not be drafting a Detroit QB. It’s a new system and the weakness of the offensive line will be prohibitive to a successful fantasy year for the quarterback position.
Kevin Smith is the unquestioned coming into this year. Some people will jump on his 2nd half production and figure him to be a solid RB2. Others will claim fresh RB syndrome and be wary of drafting him as such. I would tend to agree if this were a guy who started 5 or 6 games. But the man started 12 games and carried the ball 238 times while catching another 39 passes. Even with a bad offensive line and getting their brains beat in weekly, somehow Detroit managed to get the guy 20 carries a game once he wrestled the job from Rudi Johnson. He’s going to catch A LOT of ball too. The RB has always been very involved in the passing game in Linehan’s offense. Just check out Moe Williams and those guys in MN and then Jackson in StL. I think some people are scared to death of him because he’s on “the Lions”. But it’s not like Lions backs have not been productive. They’ve just been injured and unreliable thinking back to Kevin Jones and James Stewart. Will he wear out? I don’t know. I’m not a guy who thinks you can worry about injury or that sort of thing. The touches will be there. The yards won’t be as good as they would if the line were better. The TDs should be ok. I feel confident in calling him a solid RB2. The only thing to think about is how much Morris might mix in on 3rd downs, since that was his forte.
Calvin Johnson is one of the elite fantasy wide receivers. If you think of a number of things that might hurt a wide receiver’s production… poor pass protection for his QB, break in chemistry from having had multiple QBs throw to him, low number of catches in a game, all of which he experienced in the same year…none of these things prohibited Calvin Johnson from making his mark week in and week out. Even with counterpart Roy Williams in the lineup or gone, Johnson performed. This proves to me he’s a special talent, whose production could only be derailed by an injury. He’s arguably the single greatest athlete in the league. I have no fear of a rookie QB throwing to the guy. He’s a lock to be the 3rd WR off the board behind Fitzgerald and Moss. With any luck he could be the top fantasy receiver.
Bryant Johnson, Ron Curry, and Colbert will be in a battle for WR2. Johnson figures to have the leg up but he’s been a complete waste of talent in Arizona and San Francisco so I wouldn’t be surprised if he ended up being the 4th WR. The WR2 on Detroit’s team is not worth drafting for 3 reasons I think; the first being that the offense is not that great yet; the second is that the WR2 position has never been heavily used by Linehan (it’s more WR1, RB, and TE…I suppose he would if he had the talent like Bruce in StL, but he doesn’t); the third being the pressure will force a bunch of RB and TE check downs anyway. So the opportunities will just not be there to make whoever wins that spot a productive fantasy player. Derick Williams will likely be used more on special teams.
The Lions sunk their 2nd first round pick into Pettigrew, the best TE prospect in the NFL draft. He’s huge, not terrific speed, a great pass catcher, and a better blocker than that. He’s instantly going to be the 2nd best receiving threat on Detroit. And fortunate for him he was drafted by a team with an offense that WILL USE his skills. Check out these stats for TE’s under Linehan: 2002 – Kleinsasser and Chamberlain combine for 71 rec, 782 yards, 5 TDs; 2003 – Kleinsasser has 46 rec, 401 yards, 4 TDs; 2004 – Jermaine Wiggins has 71 rec, 705 yards, 4 TDs; 2005 – McMichael (MIA) has 60 rec, 582 yards, 5 TD.
OK, now from 2006-2008 I think a combination of 2 things happen; the first is that Linehan has more talent at his 2nd WR (Bruce) and the second is that his pressure as HC and gradually losing the team over 3 seasons overshadows his ability to effectively run his offense. Now his TEs never had exceptional numbers and Pettigrew is a rookie so there is also a learning curve. I would not be looking to draft this guy as my starting TE only because I want to try to get a top 6 guy or so. He’s a great fall back or backup option or even 2nd TE if you play in that type of league. Great value and could put up top 10 numbers.
I’ll make this short and sweet. We know that Jim Schwartz understand what it takes to build a good defense. He built a good defense. Cap problems caused Tennessee to purge a lot of their roster. They were bad and then he built them into a good defense again. Building a defense takes time. It won’t happen in 1 year. There is no reason to have the Detroit Lions defense on your fantasy team.
Green Bay Packers
Head Coach: Mike McCarthy (4th year as Packers HC)
Offensive Coordinator: Joe Philibin (3rd year as Packers OC)
Defensive Coordinator: Dom Capers (1st year as Packers DC)
Projected Offensive Line: Clifton(T), Colledge (G), Wells (C), Spitz (G), Unknown(T)
QB: Aaron Rodgers
RB: Ryan Grant, Brandon Jackson
WR: Greg Jennings, Donald Driver, Jordy Nelson, James Jones
TE: Donald Lee
There’s not much to comment on here. The Pack’s offensive unit and coaches remain intact down to a man with the exception of Mark Tauscher, who was released. What you saw last year is what you should get this year. Personnel wise, they are as seamless as offense could be in the NFL from one year to the next. It’s a pretty traditional offense when you think in terms of FF. It features one RB and the QB favors 2 top targets and spreads the ball to pretty evenly to a few other guys, all of which have negligible fantasy value.
The Packers have 4 of 5 guys back from last year’s team (actually 4th consecutive year together) that was a better than average offensive line. They aren’t overwhelming but they get the job done. Jim Campen is in his 3rd year as offensive line coach so everyone knows what to expect one another. I assume the Packers 3rd and 5th round tackle selections, T.J. Lang and Jamon Meredith, will compete for the RT position. Other than that, nothing really to note here folks.
Aaron Rodgers seems to have answered all the questions surrounding him coming into last year. His line is solid; though he was sacked 34 times last year, he knows what to expect. All of his skill position counterparts are back as well. Last year he also added a dimension of rushing for 200 yards and stole a few TDs from Grant. It’s difficult to predict what kind of impact a QB will have on short yardage TDs from year to year or week to week, especially one that is not a known runner. He may not have any this year with Grant healthy. One thing is for sure, Rodgers will be one of the first 5 or 6 QBs off the board and there is no reason he shouldn’t be.
Ryan Grant returns in a feature role. He battled through a nagging hamstring injury last year, even so still getting 312 carries and not missing a game. So we know he’ll play if at all possible. Grant gets enough touches and is in a good enough offense that his base should be that of a solid RB2 with potential to push into RB1 territory. It’s rare to see a back get the touches he does and only score 4 rushing TDs; twice that can be expected. Let’s not forget that he played through an injury that I’m certain did not go away entirely. I’m quite certain he’ll improve on last year’s numbers and I wouldn’t be disappointed with him as my second back.
Greg Jennings has proven with a solid 3rd year campaign that he was no fluke and is a bona fide WR1. Aaron Rodgers successful opening year starting has also helped reassure us of that as well. He’s a near lock to be the 5th WR off the board.
Donald Driver has sadly slipped into the borderline WR2/WR3 area, soon to slip into full out WR3 area. At 34 he gets into that dangerous area of “the wheels could fall off at anytime”. Marvin Harrison began breaking down at 35. Jordy Nelson is a big, fast, strong receiver that could change the guard this year. James Jones is a solid 4thoption for Rodgers. I’m not comfortable drafting Driver on my team this year. He used to be a sneaky pick when he was the No. 1 in GB; now he feels like a give up pick. “Well, I guess I’ll take Donald Driver”; kind of like “Well, I guess I’ll take Derrick Mason”. No thanks. I mean, I guess he has to be on someone’s team, just not mine. I don’t want a guy that’s probably going to give me 6 or 7 points a game. There’s little upside there. Jordy is talented and his day is likely coming and a Driver injury could make it this year. But A. You can’t plan on that and B. It’s not often that a team’s 3rd WR provides an adequate boost to your fantasy line up.
Donald Lee is not a starting fantasy TE. There are at least 15 guys that will dole out better stats than him. He just won’t be thrown to enough.
Hmm, the Packers are switching to a 3-4 with Capers heading up the defense. Usually 4-3 personnel do not translate well into 3-4 personnel. Green Bay began addressing that with the drafting of Raji and Matthews. They were adept at causing turnovers and scoring defensive TDs which made them a better fantasy defense than they were real defense. They could be a solid fantasy defense again but I’m leery of what issues the schematic changes will have in the first year implemented and I’ll be looking into to draft another team for my defense.
Head Coach: Brad Childress (4th year as Vikings HC)
Offensive Coordinator: Darrell Bevell (4th year as Vikings OC)
Defensive Coordinator: Leslie Frazier (3rd year as Vikings DC)
Projected Offensive Line: McKinnie(T), Hutchinson (G), Sullivan (C), Cook (G), Loadholt(T)
QB: Brett Favre, Sage Rosenfels, Tarvaris Jackson
RB: Adrian Peterson, Chester Taylor
WR: Bernard Berrian, Percy Harvin, Sidney Rice, Bobby Wade
TE: Visanthe Shiancoe
It’s obvious Minnesota’s offense is predicated around Adrian Peterson. Only 4 teams threw the ball fewer times than Minnesota. Though they do need to get more production out of the passing game, it won’t keep them from having a run first mentality with their mauling offensive line and all world running back.
Even though only Matt Birk has left from the line (to Baltimore), there will be some rearranging on the right side of the line. Mammoth 2nd round pick Phil Loadholt figures to secure the RT position. I’m assuming Ryan Cook will kick down to RG, though there may be a competition with incumbent Alex Herrerra. John Sullivan looks like he will be promoted to C having only to contend with 2 rookies, although he himself is only a 2nd year player.
People talk about Loadholt as though he should be a fixture there for years. Both Cook and Herrera have starting experience and should be sufficient at RG. The question is whether Sullivan can fill in adequately for Birk, who will be missed, probably more so in passing situations since he made the protection calls. From a rushing stand point, I would not be concerned for Peterson’s production.
Ah the turmoil, let’s go ahead and jump to conclusions to assume Favre starts for the Vikings this year. I could expect the offense to open up somewhat; I mean, Chilly did head up a pass heavy Philly offense as OC and Darrell Bevell was reportedly one of Favre’s favorite coaches when he worked with him in Green Bay. But you play to your strengths. I personally won’t be drafting a Minnesota QB regardless of who starts, but if you did think of Favre only as a backup QB. I wouldn’t even think about drafting Jackson or Sage.
Adrian Peterson is very likely to be the first player taken off the board as he should be. Chester Taylor is one of those must handcuffs. One thing I hate is when someone goes on and on about a player that provides no critical analysis other than to fill up space. Won’t find that here, next.
Minnesota hasn’t had an extremely productive WR since Randy Moss left. Bernard Berrian’s output last year neared WR2 numbers but I think this is overshadowed by his meager catch total (48), which was right on par with what the No.1 WR for the Vikings has produced since 2005. Bobby Wade led the team with 53 catches. Shiancoe chipped in with 42 and Taylor added 45. Peterson notably caught 21 passes. When your team’s total completions is only 267 and was 249 the year before and 35-40% go to the RBs and TEs, I don’t have much confidence that I’m going to get a consistently startable WR from that team. In the area where Berrian will be going I’m not even sure I’d want to draft him. With the limited touches everyone else there is likely to experience, no other Minnesota WRs appear worth selecting. Further, I'm not convinced Favre substantially increases the WRs value, as some of us made that assumption last year with Cotchery and were wrong.
Shiancoe produced respectable starting fantasy numbers last year. With limited opportunity to catch passes (as explained in the WR section) I would think that last year’s totals would be on the high end for both yards and TDs for him. Visanthe is probably a good backup TE if you so choose to carry one on your roster. I would not be confident in having him as a starter on my team.
Minnesota has the makeup of a starting team defense. They have everyone returning on defense. EJ Henderson will be a boost in the middle and draft pick Allen Asher may add some support to a secondary that was under fire last year. The Vikings stuff the run and get to the QB quite often. Their TOs could improve and lack of defensive scoring prohibited them from being a better fantasy defense. The offense’s style of play is very helpful to a defense as long as they can stay in the game or build a lead. I would not mind having Minnesota as a starting defense but they may be one of the first 5 off the board.
Head Coach: Wade Philips (3rd year as Cowboys HC)
Offensive Coordinator: Jason Garrett (3rd year as Cowboys OC)
Defensive Coordinator: Vacant Currently
Projected Offensive Line: Adams(T), Kosier (G), Gurode (C), Davis (G), Colombo(T)
QB: Tony Romo
RB: Marion Barber, Felix Jones, Tashard Choice
WR: Roy Williams, Patrick Crayton, Miles Austin, Sam Hurd, Isaiah Stanback
TE: Jason Witten, Martellus Bennett
Under Garrett’s direction the Cowboys have slipped from a nearly 50/50 split in run pass play calls to 58% in favor of the pass. With a discovered 3 headed rushing attack and exodus of TO, expect the run calls to jump a little but shouldn’t get anywhere near “run oriented”. The passing side of the ball should still be plenty effective as the cast of characters remains pretty much the same.
The Cowboys line is mainly intact and they have some depth though not great in talent. Gurode, Colombo, and Davis are all pretty solid players. Flozell Adams used to be a stalwart but his age and diminishing skills are catching up with him. Kyle Kosier is the weakest link in the line but better than Corey Procter who started in place of the injured Kosier last year. They largely do a good job and are group that would love to road grade the opponent in the run game as much as possible. They’ve never been great from a yards per carry stand point but the job gets done to produce reputable fantasy backs. I’d expect more of the same this year.
Tony Romo has been an elite fantasy QB for the past 2 years now. Terrell Owens leaving should not diminish his value a whole lot since Roy Williams will take his place. Now Williams is not the talent that Owens is but he’s a borderline NFL WR1. An increased role for Martellus Bennett should add another dynamic to the offense for Romo. Owens departure has seen Romo slip a bit in mocks as far as the 7th QB taken, which is allowing the selection of Tony to build some value. Romo would have been a top 3 QB again last year had it not been for injury. I would draft him with much confidence as a top end QB1.
The Cowboys return a trio of backs that each show brilliance in their own way. The logical thought is the Barber will go back to his 3rd down and closer type role he was in when Julius Jones was the lead back. He is still being drafted as a solid No. 2 back. In totality his numbers usually get to that point but in that role he is sometimes inconsistent game to game, giving RB1 numbers on occasion and dropping duds as well. In 2006, a third of his games were duds, in 2007 he scored 6 points or less in 6 games. To draft him as a No. 2 back is a gamble considering the role he figures to be in; this does not lend for much upside with the Cowboys having 2 other players who can carry the mail between the 20’s for three quarters. He’s not a bad flex player but he’s not getting to that point. A player like a Pierre Thomas figures to be in a similar role on a very good offense and is going rounds later.
Felix Jones and Tashard Choice’s roles in the offense have really yet to be defined and so they are selected as such. Jones is an extremely explosive and dangerous player as he proved last year averaging a ridiculous 9ypc in limited touches (30), while cashing in 3 of them for scores. Exactly how he will be used is unknown but one thing almost for certain is that it will be more than last year. He’s too good to only touch the ball 5 times per game. I think the number could be closer to 10. I think he’s a great player to have on the bench to use in a pinch. Think low RB3 with potential for more, depending on how his role emerges.
At this point Choice is nearly undraftable in normal size leagues just because of the nominal role he will be left with. Good talent just probably won’t see more than 5 touches a game.
Roy Williams fills in the void left by Terrell Owens. I think Williams draft stock is a mix between the wash of a season he had last year and the potential granted to him by fact of playing for the Cowboys. Let’s think about this for a minute, the man did catch 8, 8, and 7 touchdowns in his first 3 years with THE LIONS, a far inferior offensive team and had an excellent year in 2006. Williams has talent and is now in a much better situation with a full offseason under his belt. His problem has been the ability to stay healthy. He hasn’t played a full season but once in his 5 years. He’s a solid WR2 with potential for more. I’ll take it.
Patrick Crayton has been the WR2 and marked as a sleeper for the last 3 years but the man has done nothing but sleep and hasn’t been more than a WR3 in any of the years. If for some reason his position is eclipsed by say Miles Austin then perhaps we’ll revisit but it’s not worth exploring fruitless potential of the past since nothing has really changed.
Witten is an obvious favorite to be the first TE off the board. Considering it’s likely that he could have his best year being the most familiar face to Romo, he’s not being had for bad value from what I’ve seen. I would probably expect a renaissance of 2007 out of him. It’s totally up to you whether you like a top TE or like to have value at TE on your team. He is not overpriced.
Martellus Bennett had meager stats for fantasy purposes in his rookie year. Word out of Cowboys camp is his role is increasing this year. The Cowboys are featuring 2 TE sets more often and sliding him around in passing formations to take advantage of Bennett's talents. WItten is still the No. 1 option in Dallas. It is not advisable to draft Bennett as a starting TE but at the price (he's not even being drafted in 8 team leagues), he's worth a last round pickup to sit and keep an eye on for a few weeks of the season.
Dallas had a respectable fantasy defense last year. They led the league in sacks. They weren’t extremely adept at causing turnovers especially in the secondary with interceptions, which has been viewed as a weak point for years. A number of defensive contributors were let go in one form or another, namely Anthony Henry, Roy Williams, Zach Thomas, Greg Ellis, and Chris Canty. Igor Olshansky was signed to fill Canty’s spot. Mike Jenkins will likely fill the role of Henry. The Cowboys had a defensive focused draft, which was viewed to have vastly improved the “back end” of their roster, and will likely have camp battles to fill the ILB and OLB spots vacated by Thomas and Ellis. The defensive coordinator was fired but Wade Philips pretty much ran the defensive show. I would consider the Dallas D as a sleeper type, with the shedding of the older veterans and the injection of young talent. Though they lost many “name players”, the biggest loss is probably Canty, which hopefully for the Cowboys Olshansky can fill.
New York Giants
Head Coach: Tom Coughlin (6th year as Giants HC)
Offensive Coordinator: Kevin Gilbride (3rd year as Giants OC)
Defensive Coordinator: Bill Sheridan (1st year as Giants DC)
Projected Offensive Line: Diehl(T), Seubert(G), O’Hara (C), Snee (G), McKenzie(T)
QB: Eli Manning
RB: Brandon Jacobs, Ahmad Bradshaw, Andre Brown
WR: Steve Smith, Domenik Hixon, Hakeem Nicks, Mario Manningham, Ramses Barden
TE: Kevin Boss
Kevin Gilbride runs a very balanced offensive attack but the Giants dominating run game sets the tone. Without an established playmaker at wide receiver, it’s likely the Giants will try to assert themselves on the ground no less than last year.
The Giants Oline is one of the best in the league. Four of the starters have been together since 2005, all five since 2007. It’s a very cohesive unit. They aren’t incredibly great at pass protecting as Eli has been sacked around 27 times the last 4 years. They are one of the best run blocking units in the league and can even move the ball even against elite run stopping defenses (see Ravens last year). They also spent a 3rd rounder to give them more depth with William Beatty.
Eli Manning is a solid NFL QB that has no business starting for your fantasy team. He doesn’t throw for a lot of yards or TDs and after losing his best weapon (Burress) why would we expect things to change. His team currently appears to lack a playmaking WR. Perhaps one of the Giants WRs could develop into one but we have nothing solid to hang our hats on to give us confidence in selecting Eli. Perhaps a backup, but I look for a guy with more upside.
Jacobs is a solid RB2 with RB1 potential. He has some inherent risk built into him. In his 2 years starting he hasn’t made it a full season and his punishing running style lends to a possibility of him being injured. Jacobs great offensive line and TD scoring opportunities make the injury risk worth gambling on. Just make sure you get his backup…
Andre Brown, not Ahmad Bradshaw. Bradshaw gets drafted first because he’s been on the team a few years. But it makes more sense that Brown would take over Ward’s role being built more like him and having similar skill sets. I think Brown is a must have for the Jacobs owner and can be had very late in the draft. He may even be worth a spot play in a pinch against weaker defenses.
Ahmad Bradshaw will likely be erroneously drafted as Jacobs backup in many drafts. It is more likely he will retain his “Fire” role, which really is not much of a role at all. He’s not even fantasy relevant unless the Giants are creaming someone early in the 3rd quarter or Jacobs is hurt. Wouldn’t touch the guy.
The Giants 2 starting receivers at this point appear to be Steve Smith and Domenik Hixon. Maybe we can assume Hakeem Nicks will get a chance as the 3rd WR simply because of the 1st round pick spent on him; perhaps if impressive enough even working into the starting lineup. Besides those 3 there are a number of players on the Giants roster vying for the 4th and 5th WR spots including Manningham, Hagan, Sinorice Moss, Tyree, and Ramses Barden. It’s rare that a team will keep more than 5 WR (6WR at most) on a team. But none of these guys are fantasy relevant. If one player were to break out for them it would be Hixon, who’s shown big play ability but also a propensity for dropping the ball. Nicks could develop into that guy, but as a rookie on this team, don’t see it happening. Rookies have been making a splash more often but mostly on teams that tend to throw more. If I were to pick one guy on this team it would be Hixon as a WR4 but I usually have 4 WRs already on my team I like better by the time he gets drafted.
Kevin Boss may approach being startable fantasy TE this year. He hasn’t replaced Shockey’s production but should improve on last year atleast. I personally don’t like a guy who NEEDS to catch a touchdown to be relevant from the TE spot. He had one or zero catches in 7 games last year. If he catches 8+ TDs that almost makes a guy worth a pick straight away, but I don’t like leaving my TE selections to guesswork. He is a worthy backup if you have those on your team.
The Giants bring back one of the top defenses in the league that will likely be one of the first 3 off the board as a late single digit round selection. Their defensive line strength and depth is unrivaled. In addition to the returning defensive linemen from last year who recorded 34 sacks, they also signed Rocky Bernard and Chris Canty as free agents and get Osi Umenyiora back from injury. These guys will not get tired out pressuring the QB, which will give much relief to an already respectable linebacking corps and secondary and should result in more interceptions and sacks. Clint Sintim was also added to the line backers through the draft. The Giants did lose defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo to the Rams but Sheridan was brought up in the system and I would think it very difficult to screw up the talent on that side of the ball. The price might be a bit steep for my liking but if you like having a top rated defense these guys should not often disappoint.
Head Coach: Andy Reid (11th year as Eagles HC)
Offensive Coordinator: Marty Mornhinweg (7th year as Eagles OC)
Defensive Coordinator: Jim Johnson (11th year as Eagles DC)
Projected Offensive Line: Peters(T), St. Andrews(G), Jackson (C), Sh. Andrews (G), Unknown(T)
QB: Donovan McNabb, Kevin Kolb
RB: Brian Westbrook, LeSean McCoy, Lorenzo Booker
WR: DeSean Jackson, Kevin Curtis, Jeremy Maclin, Reggie Brown, Hank Baskett, J. Avant
TE: Brent Celek
We know what to expect out of this offense going on 7 years of Marty and Andy being together. The Eagles will typically run a 60/40 split in favor of the pass but because they throw to set up the run, it seems like they pass much more. Expect nothing less than Donovan to throw it 550 times while Westbrook still get his 240 touches on the ground.
The offensive line looks very good on paper. The right tackle is a question mark but if John Runyan’s microfracture surgery heals as planned you can bet the big man will be back for one more crack at a Superbowl. That would go a long way to solidifying this group as one of the top Olines in the league provided newcomers Peters and Stacey Andrews on the left side of the line gel together with the rest. This line is one of the largest in the league, no man going less than 6’4”, 330lbs. These guys should have no problem getting a push in short yardage and goal line situations like last year. McNabb should have more time than ever to work with his young, shifty crew of receivers.
An improved offensive line, a healthy Kevin Curtis, a year of seasoning on DeSean Jackson, and 1st round playmaker Jeremy Maclin point us towards McNabb having his best year since the 1 year love affair with Terrell Owens. Donovan has largely lacked even above average WRs to work with but made the most of it throughout his career. He has always been able to make people around him better and extend plays by buying time. Even with YOUNG talent, it should be that much easier for him now. The health of Brian Westbrook is important to a successful fantasy season for McNabb. Westbrook keeps drives alive and can bail McNabb out of trouble with his ability to find holes and seams in a defense. I like McNabb as a solid QB1 play this year.
Westbrook has established himself as an elite fantasy RB for 3 straight years now and has scored double digit TDs in the same time. The problem we all know with him is that he’s developing chronic knee and ankle problems. Even if he comes back 100% off ankle surgery, that’s no guarantee of his health throughout the year. He’s NEVER finished a full campaign yet in this league. Westbrook is a very dangerous play to anchor your team around. With the beef up front in the Oline, I think we should see resurgence in his yards per carry up near five. All injury qualifications aside I’m certain he can top last year’s fantasy production, maybe not in TDs but his total yards were relatively low. His production is not in question, just his availability. He consistently plays 12 to 14 games but we just keep waiting for that year where it all blows up and he’s done four games in. Outside of it costing me at most a low 2nd round pick I might develop another strategy if I were considering Westbrook, but that also depends…
On whether you think LeSean McCoy will be an ample replacement for Westbrook in the instance of injury. If you don’t think McCoy will provide a similar production level to Westbrook then I’d rethink drafting Westbrook. McCoy appears to be a fairly expensive handcuff for BWest. I personally think McCoy plays above and beyond his “measurables.” Not a tackle breaker and not terribly fast in his 40, McCoy still produced on the field, which trumps all “tests” in my opinion. The guy just knows how to play football.
DeSean Jackson is likely to be the best fantasy prospect this year within this group of WRs. However, McNabb spreads the ball around a good bit. Jackson made 62 grabs and Westy caught 54. Other than that, the team was pretty much worthless fantasy wise. There were 6 other players that caught between 26 and 37 passes. I think we could see a year for Jackson and Curtis this year like we had in 2007 for Curtis and Reggie Brown. Jackson could push for a WR2 and Curtis or anyone else on the team would likely be no better than a WR3. Maclin could provide some outstanding plays but unless he breaks into a starting role the opportunity for consistency that we seek in fantasy football won’t likely be there.
Brent Celek is a wait and see kind of player. LJ Smith is now gone so his numbers are very likely to increase a decent amount. People say Celek began developing a rapport with McNabb as the season progressed but the numbers won’t lead you to that conclusion. With any luck he could be a startable guy in a 12 team league. His price will be cheap and is worth a roster spot if you like having a backup TE on your roster.
The Eagles are generally a very good fantasy defense to have. Jim Johnson may not be with them this season but Sean McDermott has long been groomed in the system and will keep the pressure based, exotic blitzing Philly Defense tradition going. Notable departures are Dawkins and Sheppard, while the Eagles did pick up Ellis Hobbs and Sean Jones. DeSean Jackson and/or Jeremy Maclin are special teams TD threats. I have seen this defense slipping in drafts despite its production last year. There isn’t a whole lot wrong here. These guys are an excellent pick up and the price is not bad at all.
Head Coach: Jim Zorn (2nd year as Skins HC)
Offensive Coordinator: Sherman Smith (2nd year as Skins OC)
Defensive Coordinator: Greg Blache (2nd year as Skins DC)
Projected Offensive Line: Samuels(T), Dockery(G), Rabach (C), Thomas(G), Heyer(T)
QB: Jason Campbell
RB: Clinton Portis, Ladell Betts
WR: Santana Moss, Antwaan Randle El, Malcolm Kelly, Devin Thomas
TE: Chris Cooley
The Redskins run a pretty balanced offense predicated on the rushing attack of franchise back Clinton Portis. The passing game plays it closer to the vest as evidenced by Campbell’s career 6.4 yards per attempt average and doesn’t take a lot of chances. Perhaps the 2nd year coaches will “open it up” a little more this year, but with the good defense and fairly strong rushing game I would bet on Campbell staying in his “just don’t screw it up” role.
The Skins have a solid but aging offensive line. Dockery returns after a 2 year hiatus in Buffalo, which made Pete Kendall expendable. Jon Jansen, who was cut, is the only missing piece to a group that has started many games together. I have Stephen Heyer, who started 5 games last year, projected as the right tackle, though he could face a challenge from free agent acquisition and once starter for the Carolina Panthers, Jeremy Bridges. Unless injuries begin to mount, the Oline should not hinder the production of the skill players they protect.
Jason Campbell is probably not a QB that you want on your fantasy team. His numbers have increased each year but not in such a way that I would consider him to have upside that makes me want to target him as a backup. There have been no significant additions to his offensive weaponry. Malcolm Kelly and Devin Thomas are uncertainties yet, both fighting back from injuries. Unless these guys displace Moss and Randle El in the starting lineup (which would show that they’ve made significant strides), I see no reason why Campbell should be anything more than a low level backup.
Clinton Portis has been a solid anchor to fantasy teams for a number of years and typically very durable. He’s still a fairly young guy (turns 28 this year) but the miles have been put on at a hellacious pace. Not counting the year he missed half a season, Portis has averaged 356 touches in each of the other 6 years. He’s still a sure bet to clock in his usual numbers and a worthy RB1. Ladell Betts is a good inexpensive hand cuff that’s nearly guaranteed to take over the RB job exclusively if Portis gets hurt like he did in 2006.
Last year Santana Moss tortured the NFL for the first half of the season. In the 2nd half he was practically worthless. What happened was that his schedule got more difficult; he produced against the weaker defenses and got swallowed up by better ones. Plus I think teams started to game plan him more in the second half. That was his best year yet with Jason Campbell playing quarterback. He still has WR2 potential in him but his atrocious 48 yards per game and 1 TD over the last 8 games has driven down his draft stock considerably. A run so poor as that is unlikely this year but I’m scared to death of having him on my team. I’d rather grab a guy with more pure upside as my WR3 than a guy like Moss who’s in an offense that seems to be restricted at times, has a tendency to disappear for multiple games in a row, and has only made a full season twice in his career.
Every other WR on this team is just some kind of role player to me at this point. Maybe if Kelly or Thomas can’t break into the starting lineup, we take a look at this a little more, but when your primary WR and TE suck up most of the QBs targets and that guy doesn’t throw for a lot of yards and TDs then other people’s fantasy potential becomes marginal.
Chris Cooley for a few years now has always seemed like a value pick at TE. He’s usually going in the 8th round or so and puts up solid starting TE numbers, last year being the exception in the TDs department, though he did post career highs in catches and yards. The lack of TDs is a non-issue with me considering he’s caught atleast 6 the previous four years, unless you have reason to believe he was specifically left out of the red zone game plan. I think it was just an off year for him. Second in the league in catches, barely 3rd in yardage. I expect his TDs to return to the norm this year, which will likely put him not far behind players going a full 2 to 3 rounds earlier than him. Great pickup for your TE spot.
This is the defense that is laying in the weeds. In 2008 they were 6th in scoring defense, 7th in pass defense, 8th in rush defense, 4th in total defense. They only had 24 sacks, 18 turnovers, and scored no defensive TDs. This is why it didn’t translate to the fantasy stat sheets. To improve on that they invested heavily in the defensive side of the ball in the draft grabbing 4 defensive players with their first four picks including a guy who should be a pass rush specialist in Orakpo and also in the free agent market gobbling up big tackle Haynesworth. Orakpo and Haynesworth should now bring additional pressure the Skins were lacking. This should lead to more turnovers. I would not mind one bit heading into the season with the Skins as my defense and their pretty darn cheap.
Last edited by Azrael on Thu Jul 09, 2009 4:04 pm, edited 23 times in total.