OTA Injury Headlines

Don't sweat the minor stuff 3 months before the season begins

Ahhh! The end of May is nearly upon us and training camps open in less than two months. Before you know it, preseason games will be upon us and fantasy football drafts will be happening nearly every day leading up to the first game of the season. But right now, we have OTA's (Organized Team Activities; a fancy term that used to be called mini-camps. I have no idea why they changed it), and as usual, since we are parched for anything to read or talk about NFL and fantasy-wise, we see reports and start to worry about the little injuries preventing players from participating, and those who are not attending these voluntary workouts at all. I'll try to put the headline news into perspective here:
New England TE Rob Gronkowski: The lingering infection from previous arm surgeries finally cleared up and Gronk had a successful 4th surgery on his arm May 20th. While this injury could linger into training camp and preseason, it should be fully healed up before the start of the regular season. Of greater concern is the combination of this and an impending back surgery scheduled for sometime in mid-late June. Conflicting reports have surfaced about whether this back surgery is related to the back surgery Gronk had in college that caused him to miss a season. While the majority of the reports claim the back procedure is "minor", the simple fact is that you have to be concerned any time a player who has a history with a particular injury has to have another surgery. We won't know if Gronk will be able to play at the start of the regular season and that makes him a dicey bet as an early draft pick in fantasy drafts.
Houston RB Arian Foster: Foster suffered a calf muscle strain in OTA's and while he walked off the field on his own, he was carted to the training room and is now sporting crutches. All signs indicate that this is not a major injury. We have to remember that it's likely that if this was the regular season he might not even miss a game. There's no reason for teams to rush players back right now. The real games don't start for 3 months. Foster is very likely to be fine by the time training camp rolls around and be one of the first 4 RB's selected in fantasy drafts.
Cleveland RB Trent Richardson: Richardson has been sitting out practices because of a strained lower leg muscle. It's concerning that Richardson can't seem to stay healthy even in the off-season as his rookie year was marred by various minor injuries. He only missed one game though proving his toughness. The Browns are smart to not push him as they have more to lose than gain by it. But it is something to keep an eye on once training camp starts up. Currently Richardson is still considered a strong RB1 for fantasy purposes and remains locked in as one of the top 10 fantasy RB's in the 2013 fantasy football rankings.
Dallas RB DeMarco Murray: Murray has been held back in OTA's because of a hamstring strain. While it's believed to be minor, Murray has had a host of injuries his first two seasons in the NFL causing him to miss 9 games in that span. Murray is naturally talented but remains a boom or bust type of RB because of his inability to stay healthy and on the field. But this hamstring issue should be fine before training camp starts up and there's currently no reason to be overly concerned about it anymore than you would be with a player boasting Murray's injury history.
These are just some of the NFL player news that has been making some headlines in recent weeks. And with the exception of Rob Gronkowski, there really isn't anything here to be worried about for the regular season. But we're all gluttons for any news we can get this time of year and we have to remember that right now, 3 months before regular season games start, all teams are going to treat every minor injury with extreme caution. Only if these (or future) injuries linger into training camp should they really have you concerned. 


Washington Redskins to Change Name?

Here are a few alternative names for the team

Same story; new year for the Washington Redskins and the calls by some groups and congress for the team to change its name.
Now I'm not going to get into whether Dan Snyder should change the name. I personally believe that it's his team and if he wanted to call them the "Moonbeams" or "Clowns" he should be able to. It's not that I am unsympathetic to those who find the name "Redskins" derogatory, but rather liken it to the classic George Carlin attitude of if you don't like what you hear on the radio or see on the television, instead of forcing a change on everyone, why don't you just use the dial and change the station? But perhaps my example here is poor and doesn't convey the point properly.
Regardless, I don't want to get into that aspect of the debate. Rather, I would like to offer up some new names for a Washington D.C. based NFL team. Names that are synonymous with what good old D.C. is all about. Here are some to be considered:
Washington Liars
Washington D.C. is the home to some of the most adept liars in all the United States. Congress and the White House are full of them. Corporate lobbyists tell them daily to push their own agenda. I don't know the numbers, but I would bet that D.C. boasts more lawyers per person than any other place in the world. I think "Liars" would be an appropriate name. Not sure Daniel Snyder would like to have his NFL team identified with the name, but it certainly would be a name that represents the city. Just being honest. For the logo you could have a face on the side of the helmet giving you the eye wink while you see a wad of cash being put into a hand behind the figure's back.
Washington Lobbyists
If lawyers aren't the majority of the population of D.C., lobbyists must be. Not sure you could take a tour of the White House or Capitol Hill without tripping over half a dozen or so. And the reason is because there are lobbyists for everything. From big types of lobbyists (oil companies, gun enthusiasts, anti-gun rights, etc) to those lobbying for grants to be given to those who make "art" out of dog poo on the sidewalk and demand it be displayed publicly. Besides, at its baseness, isn't a competition between two sides (even a sporting competition) nothing more than a big lobbying party to determine which side can get its way? The logo can be a two small dollar sign's ($) with a third big dollar sign in between them.
Washington Georges
Just envision every fan coming thru the gate being given a mask of the first President of the United States on game day. Imagine being the opposing team and looking into the stands and seeing nothing but row upon row of nearly 80,000 George Washington's rabidly cheering against you. The effect would be demoralizing to know the Father of our Country (all 80,000 of him) want you to lose. The logo could be the historic painting of George Washington crossing the Delaware. Could you get more patriotic or use a more beloved figure?
Washington Warriors
After all, D.C. is the home to the Pentagon. And besides, you could have all sorts of different uniform designs for marketing purposes. You could conceivably keep the current color scheme and Indian logo as one type of "warrior". Then you could have several other types of "warriors" to increase the potential of sales to collectors who, like Pokémon masters, have to have them all. You could have a design for Ninja's, another for Samurai, one for each branch of the U.S. armed forces. Consult the Deadliest Warrior TV show for more ideas. The different jersey styles all selling at the same time tripling the current revenue generated, and at the same time, not getting rid of the current logo. Can you see the dollar signs Dan Snyder? Can you??
Washington Wackos
Really, does this name need to be explained after some of the whacked laws, bills, and judgments we have seen come out of D.C.? Just get an agreement with Warner Brothers and put a picture of the Animaniacs on the side of the helmet.
If you saw a name you liked, speak up and say so! Didn't see one you liked or think you have one that is better? Share it by leaving a reply!


Dynasty Experts Draft Results

Complete rosters of the 12 experts taking part in new dynasty league

If you've been following my blog the last week and a half, you know that I have been updating you on the results of the new dynasty experts league I am taking part in. We started last Monday (May 13th) and just finished up two days ago. I have posted each team's roster, along with the draft position. Remember, we allowed trades of draft picks, along with trades of players after they were drafted.  Please look each team over and leave a comment on the teams you think did well and those that didn't. 
(Teams are listed in their original draft order)
Rodgers, Aaron GBP QB
Weeden, Brandon CLE QB
Wilson, Tyler OAK QB
Gillislee, Mike MIA RB
Miller, Lamar MIA RB
Murray, Latavius OAK RB
Pierce, Bernard BAL RB
Richardson, Trent CLE RB
Robinson, Denard JAC RB
Britt, Kenny TEN WR
Gordon, Josh CLE WR
Green, A.J. CIN WR
Harris, Dwayne DAL WR
Hopkins, DeAndre HOU WR
Lloyd, Brandon FA* WR
Williams, Terrance DAL WR
Ertz, Zach PHI TE
Keller, Dustin MIA TE
Hartley, Garrett NOS PK
Steelers, Pittsburgh PIT Def
Luck, Andrew IND QB
Tannehill, Ryan MIA QB
Gerhart, Toby MIN RB
Greene, Shonn TEN RB
Johnson, Chris TEN RB
Peterson, Adrian MIN RB
Tate, Ben HOU RB
Woodhead, Danny SDC RB
Blackmon, Justin JAC WR
Broyles, Ryan DET WR
Jones, Jacoby BAL WR
Sanders, Emmanuel PIT WR
Smith, Torrey BAL WR
Wheaton, Markus PIT WR
Wright, Kendall TEN WR
Hernandez, Aaron NEP TE
Kelce, Travis KCC TE
Rudolph, Kyle MIN TE
Walsh, Blair MIN PK
Ravens, Baltimore BAL Def
Flacco, Joe BAL QB
Kaepernick, Colin SFO QB
Gore, Frank SFO RB
Hunter, Kendall SFO RB
Lattimore, Marcus SFO RB
Martin, Doug TBB RB
McGahee, Willis DEN RB
Wilson, David NYG RB
Austin, Miles DAL WR
Boldin, Anquan SFO WR
Fitzgerald, Larry ARI WR
Garcon, Pierre WAS WR
Hunter, Justin TEN WR
Jackson, Vincent TBB WR
Johnson, Stevie BUF WR
Daniels, Owen HOU TE
Escobar, Gavin DAL TE
Fleener, Coby IND TE
Gostkowski, Stephen NEP PK
Cardinals, Arizona ARI Def
Bradford, Sam STL QB
Brees, Drew NOS QB
Locker, Jake TEN QB
Bernard, Giovani CIN RB
Bush, Michael CHI RB
Forte, Matt CHI RB
Foster, Arian HOU RB
Powell, Bilal NYJ RB
Thomas, Daniel MIA RB
Williams, Ryan ARI RB
Brown, Antonio PIT WR
Cobb, Randall GBP WR
Hilton, T.Y. IND WR
Holmes, Santonio NYJ WR
Patton, Quinton SFO WR
Smith, Steve CAR WR
Miller, Heath PIT TE
Pitta, Dennis BAL TE
Prater, Matt DEN PK
Broncos, Denver DEN Def
Cutler, Jay CHI QB
Dalton, Andy CIN QB
Manning, Peyton DEN QB
Ball, Montee DEN RB
Harris, DuJuan GBP RB
Ivory, Christopher NYJ RB
Morris, Alfred WAS RB
Givens, Chris STL WR
Jeffery, Alshon CHI WR
Maclin, Jeremy PHI WR
Nelson, Jordy GBP WR
Sanu, Mohamed CIN WR
Swope, Ryan ARI WR
Wayne, Reggie IND WR
Wright, Jarius MIN WR
Davis, Vernon SFO TE
Finley, Jermichael GBP TE
Tucker, Justin BAL PK
Bears, Chicago CHI Def
Seahawks, Seattle SEA Def
Schaub, Matt HOU QB
Wilson, Russell SEA QB
Leshoure, Mikel DET RB
Michael, Christine SEA RB
Ridley, Stevan NEP RB
Sproles, Darren NOS RB
Thomas, Pierre NOS RB
Turbin, Robert SEA RB
Vereen, Shane NEP RB
Bowe, Dwayne KCC WR
Harvin, Percy SEA WR
Jones, Julio ATL WR
Patterson, Cordarrelle MIN WR
Woods, Robert BUF WR
Bennett, Martellus CHI TE
Davis, Fred WAS TE
Housler, Robert ARI TE
Reed, Jordan WAS TE
Janikowski, Sebastian OAK PK
Browns, Cleveland CLE Def
Romo, Tony DAL QB
Smith, Alex KCC QB
Vick, Michael PHI QB
Brown, Bryce PHI RB
Green-Ellis, BenJarvus CIN RB
Hillman, Ronnie DEN RB
Jackson, Fred BUF RB
James, LaMichael SFO RB
Jones-Drew, Maurice JAC RB
Lynch, Marshawn SEA RB
Moreno, Knowshon DEN RB
Spiller, C.J. BUF RB
Amendola, Danny NEP WR
Johnson, Andre HOU WR
Moore, Lance NOS WR
Welker, Wes DEN WR
Gonzalez, Tony ATL TE
Moeaki, Tony KCC TE
Bryant, Matt ATL PK
49ers, San Francisco SFO Def
Newton, Cam CAR QB
Rivers, Philip SDC QB
Murray, DeMarco DAL RB
Pead, Isaiah STL RB
Randle, Joseph DAL RB
Rice, Ray BAL RB
Stewart, Jonathan CAR RB
Taylor, Stepfan ARI RB
Alexander, Danario SDC WR
Austin, Tavon STL WR
Bailey, Stedman STL WR
Bryant, Dez DAL WR
Little, Greg CLE WR
Streater, Rod OAK WR
Williams, Mike TBB WR
Allen, Dwayne IND TE
Eifert, Tyler CIN TE
Olsen, Greg CAR TE
Dawson, Phil SFO PK
Rams, St. Louis STL Def
Palmer, Carson ARI QB
Ponder, Christian MIN QB
Ryan, Matt ATL QB
Ballard, Vick IND RB
Bell, Le'Veon PIT RB
Dwyer, Jonathan PIT RB
Ingram, Mark NOS RB
Richardson, Daryl STL RB
Williams, DeAngelo CAR RB
Allen, Keenan SDC WR
Baldwin, Jon KCC WR
Jackson, DeSean PHI WR
Johnson, Calvin DET WR
Moore, Denarius OAK WR
Thomas, Demaryius DEN WR
White, Roddy ATL WR
Myers, Brandon NYG TE
Witten, Jason DAL TE
Bailey, Dan DAL PK
Bengals, Cincinnati CIN Def
Cousins, Kirk WAS QB
Freeman, Josh TBB QB
Griffin III, Robert WAS QB
Mathews, Ryan SDC RB
McCoy, LeSean PHI RB
Mendenhall, Rashard ARI RB
Stacy, Zac STL RB
Crabtree, Michael SFO WR
Cruz, Victor NYG WR
Hill, Stephen NYJ WR
Jenkins, A.J. SFO WR
Jennings, Greg MIN WR
Nicks, Hakeem NYG WR
Quick, Brian STL WR
Randle, Rueben NYG WR
Wallace, Mike MIA WR
Cameron, Jordan CLE TE
Gates, Antonio SDC TE
Gresham, Jermaine CIN TE
Patriots, New England NEP Def
Manuel, E.J. BUF QB
Roethlisberger, Ben PIT QB
Stafford, Matthew DET QB
Bradshaw, Ahmad FA* RB
Brown, Andre NYG RB
Ellington, Andre ARI RB
Franklin, Johnathan GBP RB
Lacy, Eddie GBP RB
McFadden, Darren OAK RB
Williams, Kerwynn IND RB
Decker, Eric DEN WR
Hartline, Brian MIA WR
Jones, James GBP WR
Rice, Sidney SEA WR
Shorts, Cecil JAC WR
Stills, Kenny NOS WR
Graham, Jimmy NOS TE
Gronkowski, Rob NEP TE
Zuerlein, Greg STL PK
Chargers, San Diego SDC Def
Brady, Tom NEP QB
Mallett, Ryan NEP QB
Manning, Eli NYG QB
Smith, Geno NYJ QB
Bell, Joique DET RB
Bush, Reggie DET RB
Charles, Jamaal KCC RB
Davis, Knile KCC RB
Jackson, Steven ATL RB
Rodgers, Jacquizz ATL RB
Brown, Vincent SDC WR
Colston, Marques NOS WR
Dobson, Aaron NEP WR
Floyd, Michael ARI WR
Marshall, Brandon CHI WR
Rogers, Da'Rick BUF WR
Cook, Jared STL TE
Pettigrew, Brandon DET TE
Akers, David DET PK
Texans, Houston HOU Def


Crabtree Injury: Crippling to 49ers Offense in 2013

What Will Team Do Now?

Michael Crabtree's torn Achilles tendon injury is a stark reminder that injuries can happen to any player at any moment. OTA's, training camp, pre-season game, regular season game; heck just getting out of bed could cause an injury.
It's still yet to be determined how bad the injury is and how long Crabtree will be out, but unlike other recent success stories of players suffering this injury in spring and then coming back and being able to play during the regular season, those weren't WR's. The odds of Crabtree playing again in 2013 have to be considered slim at best.
This really hurts the San Francisco 49ers as Crabtree had finally started to live up to billing and play like an elite WR in 2012. He had an instant rapport with Colin Kaepernick and looked like he was going to join the ranks of the near elite fantasy WR's in 2013.
That all is over now.
Colin Kaepernick will have to prove he's able to build upon his 2012 season without his best weapon. And there aren't any WR's near his talent level in San Francisco. Mario Manningham is returning from a torn ACL and his status for the 2013 season is unsure. Anquan Boldin is a fine complementary WR but isn't a #1 WR at this point in his career. 2012 1st round draft pick A.J. Jenkins was a colossal disappointment as a rookie being inactive almost the entire season. The 49ers drafted Quinton Patton in the 4th round this year and while he has the makings of a fine future possession style WR, he'd be seriously miscast as a #1 WR.
Simply put, the 49ers have no one who can step in and fill Crabtree's shoes. The only players who benefit from this from a fantasy perspective are TE's Vernon Davis and Vance McDonald as the 49ers will likely feature both of these top end pass catching TE's more in the offense because of this.
There's a chance the 49ers will look to available free agents. Brandon Lloyd could make it full circle and return to the team that originally drafted him. But after failing to live up to expectation in New England last year Lloyd wouldn't be a significant upgrade. Maybe Randy Moss will return but he did little last season with Crabtree opposite him. Could the 49ers do the bizarre and bring back Terrell Owens? The mind shutters.
It's very unlikely any of those guys are signed by San Francisco, but there is likely to be a free agent signing at WR soon for the team. Currently their WR corps looks like this:
The Injured
Michael Crabtree - Torn Achilles. Not likely to play in 2013
Mario Manningham - Recovering from torn ACL and PCL; unsure to avoid the PUP list to start season
Kyle Williams - Recovering from torn ACL and unsure to avoid PUP list to start 2013 season
The Remaining
Anquan Boldin
A.J. Jenkins
Quinton Patton
Chad Hall
Joe Hastings
Chuck Jacobs
Ricardo Lockette
Marlon Moore
The first 3 names you probably know. Of the remaining, Lockette is the only one I could see having any chance of surprising and becoming relevant. Lockette has spent the last 2 seasons mostly on the Seahawks and 49ers practice squad. But there's always been some talk of him having the skills to take a step up. If ever there was an opportunity for him to do so, it is now.
But in all likelihood, this may be something the 49ers offense struggles to compensate for as Crabtree was on the verge of greatness. 


Dynasty Expert's League Rounds 7 and 8 Results

Trades coming into play more often. More runs at positions

2 more rounds have been completed in the DraftCalc Classic Dynasty Expert League. We have worked thru rounds 7 and 8 and teams are filling out their rosters with depth. Trades have been happening fairly often as teams move up and down getting the players they want. If you haven't been following along, you can see my comments about the first 6 rounds thru these links:
Dynasty Experts League round 1
Dynasty Experts League round 2
Dynasty Experts League rounds 3 and 4
Dynasty Experts League rounds 5 and 6
Here is what happened in round 7:
1) RB Chris Ivory (Fantasy Knuckleheads)
2) WR Justin Blackmon (FootballGuys; comment: "There is some risk in this pick, with the 4 game suspension looming, as well as future suspension potential. But the reward can be return ten fold. Let's be honest, there is a little bit of Kenny Britt in Justin Blackmon (minus the injuries), but there also could be a lot of Brandon Marshall too. At one time, Marshall was a big dynasty risk and look what he has turned out to be. Blackmon was in the Top 10 fantasy WRs over the last 8 weeks in 2012 - and that was with a so-so QB in Chad Henne. The sky is the limit for Blackmon and more importantly, his new coach, Gus Bradley is on his side. Sometimes winning teams are won with gambles. Here's my gamble contribution.")
3) WR Pierre Garcon (Bruno Boys)
4) WR T.Y. Hilton (RotoProfessor)
5) QB Andy Dalton (Fantasy Knuckleheads)
6) WR Cordarrelle Patterson (Xs & Ys Podcast; comment: "Huge upside, have three receivers already so he can develop on my bench. Ya never know")
7) QB Tony Romo (Wild Thing Football; comment: "This is the year Tony finally pulls it out.")
8) WR Mike Williams (FantasyIndex; comment: "Underrated. Trusting Ian here, who has him 15th at WR in prelim 2013 rankings.")
9) RB Vick Ballard (DrFootball)
10) WR Greg Jennings (Dynasty Football Warehouse)
11) WR Cecil Shorts (Fantasy Taz)
12) TE Jared Cook (Fantasy Football Starters; comment: "This may surprise some but I doubt the Rams paid Cook all that money to NOT use him a whole lot more than the Titans did. The Rams have little experience at WR and Brian Schottenheimer got some quality fantasy seasons from Dustin Keller while with the Jets. Cook has twice the upside of Keller and is the most likely candidate to join the ranks of the elite TE's.")
Observations from round 7:
*-Anyone who's been paying attention to me from before the NFL draft knows that I really like Cordarrelle Patterson and I was really surprised and disappointed he got selected this early. Xs &Ys took him here and I was really hoping he would last a little longer.
*-I traded away the first pick of round 8 in a prior deal and tried to trade back into round 7 to grab a WR as I figured the run on WR's was going to knock me down into a lower tier group by the time I picked again at the end of round 9. Unfortunately, there were no takers.
*- When it came to my pick I could either gamble on a WR, or I could try to stay ahead of the next run, which I figure was going to happen with the TE's. 5 TE's had come off the board by the end of round 6, and I didn't want to be on the tail end of the run on them as I wasn't sure if Cook would make it thru and I am convinced the Rams are going to take full advantage of his superior size and skills.
Round 8
1) WR Kenny Britt (DraftCalc; comment: "Fact: Kenny Britt is younger than AJ Green, and the same age as Julio Jones. Britt is almost insanely-undervalued in most leagues. He is just getting going.")
2) RB Johnathan Franklin (Fantasy Taz)
3) RB Jonathan Stewart (FantasyIndex; comment: "despise the Carolina running game, but talented starters can only fall so far")
4) RB Shane Vereen (Xs &Ys Podcast; comment: "Maybe no one was considering him but with RBs dwindling fast, I felt I had to secure player who is a must for me as Ridley owner. Now I can breathe easy at my RB1 spot (low-end as it may be)"
5) RB Zac Stacy (Dynasty Football Warehouse; comment: "We've been pimping this kid since long before the draft where he went to a favorable landing spot in STL. There is definitely risk, but in the end I think this is his job. Has a similar skill-set and compares well to Rice/MJD IMO. Swinging for the fences here.")
6) TE Tony Gonzalez (Wild Thing Football)
7) RB Mark Ingram (DrFootball)
8) TE Vernon Davis (Fantasy Knuckleheads)
9) TE Dennis Pitta (RotoProfessor)
10) WR Steve Johnson (Bruno Boys)
11) WR Kendall Wright (FootballGuys; comment: "Got sniped by Marc of Bruno Boys on Steve Johnson. Great value there. I'm a big fan of any WR who can consistently get good separation and Wright definitely qualifies. He is a young and emerging talent who reminds me of Steve Smith in that he is elusive in open space, but he can also be a reliable target down field - 61% reception percentage. His ceiling is largely dependent on his QB, so there is some concern there with Jake Locker. If he increases his yards per catch of 9.8, look out. He quietly totaled 60 receptions as a rookie despite not having as many snaps as Kenny Britt and Nate Washington. Interestingly enough, he still led the team in targets with 104. He's a great talent waiting to emerge. I seriously was considering him over Steve Johnson, now it's a no-brainer pick for me. Thanks Marc")
12) TE Tyler Eifert (FantasyIndex; comment: "Sniped on Pitta. Nice pick! Hope Eifert is a quick study, cause I need him.")
Observations from round 8:
*-The TE run kind of happened and I'm sure Cook wouldn't have come out of this round. Taking him at the end f round 7 was the right move. When you pick at the corners of a draft, you have to be able to know when the runs are happening and decide whether you can weather the run and still come out okay, or be ahead of it.
*-Dynasty Football Warehouse got one of my favorite pre-NFL draft RB sleepers in Zac Stacy. I was really hoping Stacy would make it back to me in round 9. But, apparently, I'm not the only one who believes Stacy is a lot more likely to be the future (and likely the present as well) for the Rams than either Daryl Richardson or Isaiah Pead.
*-DraftCalc's point about Britt's age has validity, but in reality Britt is only 49 days younger than Green while he is 5 months older than Jones. But that wasn't the point. His point was that Britt is the same age as these other two and has displayed big time ability like both, but doesn't get the same consideration as them. But a lengthy rap sheet and injury history will do that to any high upside player. 


Dynasty Expert's League Rounds 5 and 6 Results

Quarterback and Wide Receivers runs dominate these rounds

Another day, another 2 rounds in the books of the DraftCalc Classic Dynasty Expert League. We have worked thru rounds 5 and 6 and teams are taking shape. You can see my comments about the first 4 rounds thru these links:
Dynasty Experts League round 1
Dynasty Experts League Round 2
Dynasty Experts League rounds 3 and 4
Here is what happened in round 5:
1) WR DeAndre Hopkins (DraftCalc)
2) WR Torrey Smith (FootballGuys; comment: "There may be some better wide receiver options on the board in regards to 2013 production, but Torrey Smith is an up and coming young talent waiting to emerge. I like his chances to branch out this year as the Ravens primary receiving target. I expect him to lineup all over the field, running the entire route tree, including being a big red zone threat. He is a gem waiting to happen.")
3) QB Colin Kaepernick (Bruno Boys)
4) QB Drew Brees (RotoProfessor)
5) WR Jordy Nelson (Fantasy Knuckleheads)
6) QB Russell Wilson (Xs & Ys Podcast; comment: "QB stampede is winding down. I don't necessarily see top 3 potential from Wilson, but steady QB1 for a long time? Absolutely.")
7) WR Wes Welker (Wild Thing Football)
8) WR Tavon Austin (FantasyIndex; comment: "Too soon? Mebbe, but if the guy turns out to be a difference-maker rather than the safer but less dynamic options available at this point, I want him on my team.")
9) QB Matt Ryan (DrFootball; comment: "Youth over Brady")
10) RB Ryan Mathews (Dynasty Football Warehouse)
11) QB Matthew Stafford (Fantasy Taz)
12) QB Tom Brady (Fantasy Football Starters; comment: "While he lacks long term appeal, for the next few years Brady is still among the elite fantasy QB's and to get him here is nigh criminal")
Observations from round 5:
*-As I said yesterday, I knew the QB run was going to happen from late round 4 thru this round and when all was said and done, 9 QB's were selected since the 8th pick of round 4 thru the end of this round. I really wanted Colin Kaepernick as he is not just ranked in my top 10 fantasy QB's for 2013, but should also be a dynasty league stud for years to come. But I knew he wasn't going to fall to me when I failed to be able to make a trade up to get him. However I was very happy to get Brady as I was getting nervous after watching Brees, Ryan, and Stafford all go before my picks. Thankfully, in my opinion, Xs & Ys selected Russell Wilson instead of one of the QB's I really was hoping would fall to me. If Brady had been gone and Wilson had fallen to me, I probably would have held out until round 7 to take a QB as I am not convinced Wilson is a future star. In that scenario I was ready to go back to back with WR's in rounds 5 and 6.
*-Two rookie WR's went this round in DeAndre Hopkins and Tavon Austin. While both have a lot of upside, I'm not sure I like either over more proven guys like Marques Colston and Dwayne Bowe. But if they hit, they'll be great for years to come. I just am always leery of buying into rookie hype as it's more often just that: hype. And there has been a lot of hype with both of these rookie WR's.  
Round 6
1) WR Marques Colston (Fantasy Football Starters; comment: "3 consecutive years with 80+ receptions, over 1,000 yards and 25 total receiving TD's makes Colston a solid WR2 and while he only likely has another 3 years at a high level, I'll bank them over the other options available here")
2) WR Eric Decker (Fantasy Taz)
3) WR Mike Wallace (Dynasty Football Warehouse)
4) TE Jason Witten (DrFootball)
5) WR Josh Gordon (DraftCalc)
6) WR Danny Amendola (Wild Thing Football)
7) WR Dwayne Bowe (Xs & Ys Podcast; comment: "Nice high-upside No. 3 in start-three-receiver format. Don't love Alex Smith by any means but No. 1 target in Andy Reid offense does intrigue")
8) WR Reggie Wayne (Fantasy Knuckleheads)
9) WR Antonio Brown (RotoProfessor)
10) RB Frank Gore (Bruno Boys; comment: "His age is against him, however can't pass on a RB3 that averaged 4.7 yards per carry last year and plays on one of the most dynamic offenses in the NFL.")
11) TE Kyle Rudolph (FootballGuys; comment: "I really contemplated this pick an awful lot. As I said when I took Aaron Hernandez, a stud TE is huge in dynasty leagues. Getting two is a luxury and lineup saver, especially when I can flex one if needed. Rudolph has Gronk-like efficiency in the red zone and likely will be the main goal line target this year and many years to come.")
12) WR Jeremy Maclin (Fantasy Knuckleheads)
Observations from round 6:
*-I figured there was going to a WR run this round and there was. 10 WR's were selected this round.  Colston's age concerns me a little but his production just stood out as clearly better than the other options. Dwayne Bowe was my next highest ranked WR and he went a few picks later.
*-While Dynasty Football Warehouse took his 5th WR in 6 rounds, he also pulled off a trade during this round where he sent Julio Jones to Xs & Ys Podcast for RB LeSean McCoy. I think it was a straight up deal but if I had been Xs and Ys, I would have made draft pick swap part of the deal since DFW had a serious need for a RB (I turned down trading Jamaal Charles for A.J. Green) and McCoy was selected several spots ahead of Jones.
*-DraftCalc had traded away the last pick of this round in a prior deal with Fantasy Knuckleheads. But Smitty also made a trade with FantasyIndex to get back into this round and acquired the 5th pick of round 6 along with the 5th pick of round 20 in exchange for the 12th pick of round 8 and the first pick of round 9. His selection of Josh Gordon disappointed me as I was really kind of hoping Gordon would fall another round or two as he has great dynasty upside. 


Dynasty Expert's League Rounds 3 and 4 Results

RB's and WR's continue to dominate until near the end of round 4

Continuing to update you on the DraftCalc Classic Dynasty Expert's League draft, we have blown thru rounds 3 and 4 now. It's always easy to make selections in the first couple of rounds as the highest quality players are easily identified. But starting in round 3, that's usually where you start to see the vast differences in how each expert ranks players and how they are going about putting together their teams.
If you haven't been following you ca the results from the first two rounds:
Experts fantasy football dynasty draft round 1
Experts fantasy football dynasty draft round 2
We had our first trade in round 3. Smitty at DraftCalc traded back into round 3 for a second pick. He acquired the 5th pick of the round and the 8th pick of round 20 from Ray at Fantasy Knuckleheads for the 12th pick of round 6 and the 1st pick of round 7.
Here is how round 3 shaped up:
1) RB Lamar Miller (DraftCalc; comment: "Can't pass up this Monster breakout of ours! We could be looking at a top 5-10RB season out of Miller this year!")
2) TE Aaron Hernandez (FootballGuys; comment: "Hernandez is going to be a fixture of the Belichick offense for years to come. He is a tight end in a wide receiver's body that is perfect for New England's offense. There's not a lot of high end tight ends and Hernandez fits that role - plus he still has youth on his side. It's good to have position dominance in dynasty leagues. I'll have a good weapon for my tight end for years to come.")
3) WR Larry Fitzgerald (Bruno Boys)
4) RB Matt Forte (RotoProfessor)
5) WR Victor Cruz (DraftCalc; comment: "An undervalued low-end WR1.")
6) RB Stevan Ridley (Xs & Ys Podcast; comment: "Young, no health concerns and he's carrying the mail for a prolific offense. Should get lots of goal line looks. One of the safer bets at a scary position.")
7) WR Andre Johnson (Wild Thing Football)
8) QB Cam Newton (FantasyIndex; comment: "Quite happy to have Cam Newton, fake smile and all, leading my team for the foreseeable future.")
9) RB Le'Veon Bell (DrFootball; comment: "most upside w/o injury risk")
10) WR Hakeem Nicks (Dynasty Football Warehouse)
11) RB Eddie Lacy (Fantasy Taz)
12) RB Reggie Bush (Fantasy Football Starters; comment: "Bush has been a top 15 ppr fantasy RB the last 2 seasons in Miami. Last year in Detroit, the trio of Joique Bell, Mikel Leshoure, and Kevin Smith caught 96 passes. No reason to think that Bush won't catch 60+ this season in the motor city.")
My observations from round 3:
*-Again, Smitty at DraftCalc isn't afraid of making the bold move. There's a lot of hype surrounding Lamar Miller and while he is easily the top RB in Miami, he needs to prove he can handle a full load. Explosive potential though.
*-If Carson Palmer stays upright in Arizona, Bruno Boys getting Larry Fitzgerald in round 3 will prove to be a steal.
*-Gutsy move by FantasyIndex making Cam Newton the second QB selected. If Newton develops more consistency as a passer, this could be a brilliant pick. His production the last half of 2012 was stellar as he went from being a fantasy bust the first 8 games to finishing as a top 5 fantasy QB. However I rated 4 other available QB's higher than Newton as I am concerned about his being able to take the step up to consistently producing.
*-Fantasy Taz snatched Eddie Lacy right before my pick. I was really hoping to get Lacy as I am not concerned about his toe or attitude and do believe he'll be a top 10 fantasy RB for the next several years. Luckily for me, 2 of the 3 RB's I had pegged for my back to back picks were still available. They're just not young like Lacy with many years left.
Round 4:
1) RB Steven Jackson (Fantasy Football Starters; comment: "I knew the run on the remaining good RB's was going to happen before my turn came around again in round 5 so I had to get 2 more here. I wanted Lacy but am more than happy to get Jackson. While he lacks long term appeal, I think he has at least one great season left in him, and possibly more than one as the Falcons new featured RB.")
2) RB Darren McFadden (Fantasy Taz)
3) WR Michael Crabtree (Dynasty Football Warehouse)
4) WR Roddy White (DrFootball; comment: "Couldn't pass him up")
5) RB DeMarco Murray (FantasyIndex; comment: "Uh, not a Cowboys fan. But since I considered Murray last pick, I am pleased to get him here. If he can stay healthy, he will be a nice back to have over the next several seasons")
6) RB Maurice Jones-Drew (Wild Thing Football)
7) RB Darren Sproles (Xs & Ys Podcast; comment: "Not a sexy pick from the dynasty perspective, but Sproles can still be a PPR powerhouse in the short term.")
8) QB Peyton Manning (Fantasy Knuckleheads)
9) RB Giovani Bernard (RotoProfessor)
10) WR Vincent Jackson (Bruno Boys; comment: "Too good to pass up at No. 46 overall")
11) QB Andrew Luck (FootballGuys; comment: "Very pleased to find Andrew Luck waiting for me at 4.11. I see Luck and Cam Newton as the premier young quarterback talents to target in dynasty leagues. When the QB run comes in the late 4th, early 5th, be prepared. I am thankful that I was on the early side of the run and was able to pick the quarterback I coveted.")
12) QB Robert Griffin III (DraftCalc)
My observations from round 4:
*-Dynasty Football Warehouse drafted WR's in each of the first 4 rounds. I know we start 3 and can flex another but sooner or later he's going to need to go for another position. However, I can say that he landed one of my favorite breakout WR's in 2013 in Michael Crabtree here. He now has 3 of my top 10 fantasy WR's for 2013.
*-Was a little surprised that Peyton Manning was the 3rd QB selected in this draft since it is a dynasty league, but can't argue too much about it as he was back with the elite in 2012 and should be even better in 2013. Fantasy Knuckleheads is going for the sure thing with few years left over high upside young guys. That's always one of the conundrums when drafting in dynasty leagues.
*-Really liked the Giovani Bernard pick as I think he'll catch 40-50 passes this season and split rushing duties with BenJarvus Green-Ellis. Then in 2014, I expect Bernard will be the 3 down starter for the Bengals.
*-I tried trading back into the last half of this round as I knew the QB run was going to happen near the turn and I was right. But I couldn't get a deal done. Failing that I resign myself to knowing that while I'm not going to get the young guy I really want by the time I get to pick again at the end of round 5, I think likely that I will still get a high quality QB at that spot, it is just a matter of which one? 


Dynasty Experts League Round 2

Some surprise picks; 1st QB taken

Round 2 of the DraftCalc Classic Dynasty Expert League draft is in the books and we saw the first rookie taken. Yesterday I posted the round 1 results, and here are the selections in round 2 (note: we are a serpentine style draft so the order goes 1-12, 12-1 but we also allow the trading of picks; none happened this early though):
Round 2 (in order, with comments if the expert left any)
1) WR Brandon Marshall (Fantasy Football Starters; comment: "A ppr machine and in Trestman's offense should be amongst the top producers again. And right in the prime of his career")
2) TE Rob Gronkowski (Fantasy Taz)
3) WR Julio Jones (Dynasty Football Warehouse; comment: "Can't pass up the opportunity to have both AJ Green and Julio Jones")
4) WR DeMaryius Thomas (DrFootball)
5) WR Dez Bryant (FantasyIndex; comment: "Had I taken Megatron earlier, as I considered, I'd have gone with Lynch here. Not sure which combo would have been better. We'll see.")
6) RB Marshawn Lynch (Wild Thing Football)
7) WR Percy Harvin (Xs & Ys Podcast)
8) RB Montee Ball (Fantasy Knuckleheads)
9) WR Randall Cobb (RotoProfessor)
10) RB David Wilson (Bruno Boys)
11) RB Chris Johnson (FootballGuys; comment: "I am surprised and pleased to have Chris Johnson fall to me at 2.11. I like what the Titans did with their offensive line woes, collecting Andy Levitre at LG and Chance Warmack at RG. The duo definitely bolsters the line, which benefits Johnson and his ability to slash through open holes on his way to daylight. I hope he sees a lot of daylight as a result of the improved OL. Johnson is a workhorse back who has dropped in value recently, mostly due to the offensive line's inability to spring him free. Even among the down times, Johnson has never rushed for less than 1,000 yards in his career.")
12) QB Aaron Rodgers (DraftCalc; comment: "It's hard to not like having arguably the top RB and QB heading into 2013. Rodgers is a steal at 2.12.")
My observations from round 2:
*-It was either Marshall or Dez Bryant for my pick at the top of the round. While I love the upside of Bryant for a longer period of time (Bryant is 24 years old while Marshall is 29), I also had just enough reservations about his thumb injury to make me go with the safer pick in ppr monster Marshall. Julio Jones and DeMaryius Thomas were also considerations, but there are a lot of hands to feed in Denver now with the Wes Welker acquisition and Jones still has a couple of seasons of Roddy White to contend with for passes.  
*-It's obvious that Jim at Fantasy Taz is planning on using a TE in his weekly flex spot after taking Jimmy Graham in round 1 and Rob Gronkowski in round 2. Gronkowski has produced obscene numbers the last two seasons but his inability to shake off infections from his arm injury is a big concern in my opinion.
*-Dynasty Football Warehouse could have 2 of the top 5 ppr fantasy WR's for the next decade in A.J. Green and Julio Jones.
*-The first rookie came off the board when Fantasy Knuckleheads took Denver RB Montee Ball. Despite John Fox's historical reluctance to rely heavily on his rookies, Ball should have no trouble in establishing himself as a 3 down featured RB for the Broncos. Having Peyton Manning is a real plus for his fantasy upside.
*-A little surprised it took until the last pick of the second round for the first QB to be selected. No surprise at all though it was Aaron Rodgers. Rodgers will remain amongst the elite fantasy QB's for the next 5-8 years ensuring Smitty positional stability there.  


Dynasty Expert's League Round 1 Results

New Dynasty Fantasy League starting in 2013 season; first round yields a couple of surprises

I'm taking part in a new dynasty fantasy football experts league and thought you'd like to see how each round has gone. We have the ability to make trades within the draft of both picks and players and there are 12 teams. Here are the teams taking part (in order of draft position):
DraftCalc - Smitty
FootballGuys - Jeff Haseley
Bruno Boys - Marc Caviglia
RotoProfessor - Eric Stashin
Fantasy Knuckleheads - Ray Tannock
Xs & Ys Podcast - John Evans
Wild Thing Football - Cliff
FantasyIndex - Andy Richardson
DrFootball - Louie
Dynasty Football Warehouse - Jay Myers
Fantasy Taz - Jim Day
Fantasy Football Starters - Russ Bliss
We're broken up into two 6 team divisions. Head to head; standard scoring with ppr; 20 round draft (expanding to 22 roster slots next season); and we start 1 QB, 2 RB's, 3 WR's, 1 TE, 1 Flex (RB/WR/TE), 1 K, and 1 D/ST.
We just started Monday on our draft. It's a slow draft that likely will take a week or two to complete and I'll be updating each round here in my fantasy football blog as the rounds are completed. As I stated earlier, we are playing in a dynasty league. For those unfamiliar with dynasty leagues, basically it is a full roster keeper league. You can keep any players you have on your roster for as many years as you want. You can have them for their entire career if you choose to. There is no redraft, and next year when we hold our next draft, each team will decide whether to keep players on their team, or draft any new rookies or players who weren't on any of the participating fantasy team's rosters at the end of the prior season.
Here is how round 1 went (comments on picks are optional for each owner and included if they made one when making the pick or left one afterwards):
1) RB Trent Richardson (DraftCalc; comment: "T-Rich is my 1.01 in all formats. He could be in for a 15TD season in 2013!")
2) RB Adrian Peterson (FootballGuys; comment: "Hard to ignore Peterson here, although no RB coming off 2,000 yd season (N) has gained more than 1300 yards N+1. Then again, this is Peterson we're talking about here.")
3) RB Doug Martin (Bruno Boys)
4) RB Arian Foster (RotoProfessor)
5) RB Alfred Morris (Fantasy Knuckleheads)
6) RB LeSean McCoy (Xs & Ys Podcast; comment: "Coming off a down year and will share touches, but how many more touches will there be to go around? Still very much a fan of Shady's talent and optimistic about new offense.")
7) RB C.J. Spiller (Wild Thing Football; comment: "Spiller made the Top 10 RB's last year even though he had 100 carries less than the average of the other running backs in the top 10. The crucial key is that he averaged 6.0 yards per carry (matched only by AP), so Spiller could literally explode this year if he is given the right workload.")
8) RB Ray Rice (FantasyIndex; comment: "Franchise back should remain focal point of the offense for several years to come. Tempting to go with another position, but it's tough to field a strong lineup without one of these types of players.")
9) WR Calvin Johnson (DrFootball; comment: "Couldn't pass him up...didn't think he would be there")
10) WR A.J. Green (Dynasty Football Warehouse)
11) TE Jimmy Graham (Fantasy Taz)
12) RB Jamaal Charles (Fantasy Football Starters; comment: "Charles is ready to set new career highs in receptions with Andy Reid at the helm. An easy choice here")
Some observations of my own:
*-I've known Smitty at DraftCalc for a long time now and know he is never afraid of making the bold move or prediction. While I can't say I would have taken Trent Richardson 1st overall, I can understand his reasoning in the dynasty format. He really believes Richardson is the next young RB ready to step into elite status.
*-No surprise that RB's dominated the first round. But was a bit surprised that Jimmy Graham went this high. However, I am convinced that Graham can re-write the record books for the position if he can avoid the nagging injuries that have plagued him.
*-I was watching picks 6-11 closely as I had already identified the two players I wanted at the 12-13 turn. Charles was top 5 at the RB position for the ppr format to me and was glad to get him there. I was hoping A.J. Green (my #2 WR in ppr dynasty) would also be there for me take with the first pick of round 2, but Jay grabbed him with the 10th pick in round 1.
Round 2 coming tomorrow!


Denver Broncos RB situation

Rookie Montee Ball likely to start, but what about his backup?

The Denver Broncos are a team with a conundrum at RB. Not at who to start, but rather who to let go.
The drafting of Montee Ball in round 2 of last month's draft should effectively spell the end of Willis McGahee as the starter. Ball is younger, and has been the most productive RB in college football over the last 2 years. He should fit the Broncos offensive scheme to the proverbial "tee" as he reads blocks well, powers thru the hole with decisiveness, and is very underrated catching the ball out of the backfield. All in all, Ball has feature RB attributes and will succeed as a rookie (in part because of opponents not being able to key on him because of Peyton Manning and the Broncos WR corps).
But what about the two RB's who were both productive last season? Willis McGahee was on his way to another 1,100+ yards season before getting injured. Knowshon Moreno came in afterwards and proved to be capable of handling primary RB duties. One of these two is going to be let go.
Let's flash back to before the start of the 2012 season. At that time, Moreno was considered to be firmly on the roster bubble. His history of inconsistent on-field production and off-field incidents had him widely considered to be a long shot to make the final 53 man roster. It was a surprise the Broncos kept him and an even bigger surprise when they turned to him to be their primary RB when McGahee went down with a torn MCL and broken leg in November. Moreno put up 510 rush yards, 3 TD's, and 20 receptions over the last 6 games of the season.
McGahee was cruising along to a surprising 2012 campaign thru the first 10 games gaining 731 rush yards, 4 TD's, and 26 receptions before his leg injury. It wasn't expected that McGahee would produce so well for a RB on the wrong side of 30 years old. But he was. A healthy McGahee may have even been able to make a difference in Denver's playoffs fortunes. He clearly was the top RB over Moreno for Denver until the injury.
I expect that by the time we get to training camps, this situation should work itself out, but maybe not. It seems fairly clear cut that with McGahee being due $2.5 million in 2013 and turning 32 years old in October that he is the odd man out. Moreno is younger (he turns 26 years old in July), and due less money ($1.7 million on the final year of his original rookie contract). With Ball slated to be the feature RB, it should only make sense that the younger, cheaper guy should be kept, right?
Not so fast.
I think this is going to linger on into preseason. I think the Broncos want to see two things before making a decision here. First they want to make sure Moreno doesn't have any off-field incidents. And second, they want to see how McGahee's leg has recovered. Older veteran RB's who have proven to be effective like McGahee still have a place in today's NFL. They make excellent fall back options in case of injury or unmet expectations by younger RB's. The monetary difference between McGahee and Moreno is miniscule by today's standards and with Moreno very likely to leave via free agency in 2014, it's possible the Broncos mindset may be that they are much more likely to be able to sign McGahee to a new low cost contract after this season as a veteran backup to Ball than Moreno.
The impact this has on fantasy football is small. Whoever the top backup to Ball turns out to be will be nothing more than a handcuff for a fantasy roster. But it's one that right now, I don't think is as cut and dried as some think. 


The TE Position and 2013 Fantasy Drafts

Concerns about top 3 at position will linger into training camps and beyond

With the latest news about New England Patriots TE Rob Gronkowski possibly needing additional surgeries to clear up an infection in his elbow, the fantasy football landscape at the TE position will definitely be one of the more scrutinized during the months leading up to training camp.  
There are question marks about the players believed to be the top 3 fantasy producers at the position this off-season. Gronkowski's arm; his teammate, Aaron Hernandez just had shoulder surgery last month and the estimated timetable for his return is August; and finally, New Orleans Saints TE Jimmy Graham, who had wrist surgery back in January and has had a myriad of minor injuries the last 2 seasons that have led to him not being as dominant at the position as we have expected.
Gronkowski, Hernandez, Graham; these are the TE's that are deserving of early round consideration for 2013 fantasy football drafts, and each of them come with concerns.
Now in the case of Graham, he is supposed to be ready in plenty of time for training camp, but given a history of ankle injuries and minor back concerns, there has to be a certain level of trepidation with fantasy owners spending a high pick on Graham. There's no doubt that Graham could be fantasy football's dominant elite TE if he could avoid the issues that have plagued him as despite his injuries, he has only missed one game the last two seasons while putting up 184 receptions for 2,292 yards and 20 TD's in that span. But he finished 2012 with only 1 TD catch in the last 6 games as he dealt with ankle and wrist issues.
Gronkowski, when healthy, has been the best fantasy TE the last two seasons. He missed 5 games in 2012 with a broken arm (which is what has led to his on-going elbow problems since) but in 27 games the last 2 seasons combined he has amassed 145 catches, for 2,117 yards and a ridiculous 28 TD's. And this despite the presence of Hernandez and WR Wes Welker in New England. With Welker gone now, there is a chance for Gronkowski to be an even bigger focus of the passing attack in 2013. But this elbow infection has refused to go away and threatens his status for the start of the 2013 season, and possibly into the regular season. Dare I say that there is a chance it could be a problem that gets so big it threatens his season? I'm just speculating here, but it's been 4 months since the end of the 2012 season and he is still dealing with problems associated with his arm. And that is concerning, especially for those with fantasy drafts sooner rather than later.
And such worry would normally mean that Hernandez would be in line become a huge part of the Patriots offense. It's hard to imagine what Hernandez's numbers could be if he were used even more as he has produced 130 catches for 1,393 yards and 12 TD's in 24 games played the last 2 seasons. But he missed 6 games in 2012 with an ankle injury and 2 games in 2011 with a knee injury. Now we have this shoulder injury that is expected to linger into the preseason and he likely will at least start training camp on the PUP (Physically Unable to Perform) list and will need medical clearance before the start of the regular season to play.
That's the top 3 fantasy TE's all coming with question marks as we eagerly anticipate training camps opening in July.
And the concern has certainly reached the fantasy community as reflected in the average draft positions of these 3 players for 2013. On average, in a 12 team league, none of them are being selected before round 3 in current mock drafts. And I expect that as we get closer to the majority of real fantasy drafts, their ADP (Average Draft Position) could slip even a little further because of the uncertainty surrounding each.
For right now, I'm of the opinion that it may be the better value play to wait until round 6 or later before considering a fantasy TE. Jason Witten and Tony Gonzalez are regular falling into round 6, and you could even bank on a breakout for guys like Kyle Rudolph and Jared Cook as your starting fantasy TE and wait until rounds 9 or 10 to take them.
Sure, there are months to go before we have to make decisions about these players. But we're already into May and we have these questions. Training camps will be here before we realize it and if the questions remain, it will prove to be interesting on how to approach Graham, Gronkowski, and Hernandez in fantasy drafts. It may well be that if you select one of them in the first 3-4 rounds, you'll also need to draft a high quality backup as insurance. And I usually dislike drafting a backup TE if I don't have to. 


Zac Stacy: Fantasy Football Sleeper RB in 2013

Rams have opening for a new lead RB; why not Stacy?

Looking for a potential fantasy football sleeper RB in 2013? There is no shortage of candidates, but a guy I wrote about before the NFL draft is a guy I am still very high on, and that's former Vanderbilt RB Zac Stacy.
The St. Louis Rams selected Stacy late in round 5 and it's a great location for him in the NFL. After losing Steven Jackson in free agency the Rams have no proven bell cow RB on the roster. They do return the two RB's they selected in the 2012 draft, Isaiah Pead and Daryl Richardson, but both of these RB's are smaller guys who likely won't hold up carrying the football more than 10 times in a game. Pead (5'10", 197 lbs) was a disappointment as a second round selection and only had 10 rushing attempts all season. Richardson (5'10", 196 lbs) showed well as a part time player gaining 475 yards on 98 carries, but never had more than 7 carries in any game over the last half of the 2012 season. He only had over 10 carries twice the whole year. Add in that neither Pead nor Richardson scored a single touchdown and there is a definite need for a RB who can go between the tackles and get the tough yards.
Enter Stacy. At 5'8", 216 lbs, Stacy has a low center of gravity and rushed for over 2,300 yards and scored 24 rushing TD's in his last 2 college seasons. Vanderbilt wasn't blessed with a lot of talent and opponents usually made it a priority to stop Stacy from running on them. Stacy will bring some power to a Rams rushing attack their other top RB's don't have.
While Stacy isn't a great receiving RB, he is capable enough with 30 receptions the last 2 seasons combined. It's much more likely that the Rams will use Richardson or Pead as their 3rd down RB. But the primary rushing duties, that duty could fall to Stacy. Richardson is likeliest of the trio to get first crack at being the top RB in the rotation, but the lack of power he has as an inside runner is likely to mean he won't get most of the carries. Pead needs to put a disappointing 2012 behind him and prove he deserves carries in the preseason. But he too lacks the power to bang it inside.
I know that we still need to get thru OTA's and training camp before we get a clearer picture, but I think once we get into preseason the Rams are going to see they have a guy who can get them their tough yards rushing, and also be durable and reliable. Stacy isn't a big time RB with a high ceiling, but he has the makeup of being something neither Richardson nor Pead have: the primary RB in what is likely to be a RBBC and the Rams goal line RB. With improvements in their passing game, it's possible Stacy could score the annual 5-7 TD's Steven Jackson used to have. 


Marcus Lattimore: Dynasty League Fantasy Football Sleeper

49ers 4th round pick likely to be starter in 2014

I hope Dynasty leaguers looking for a real fantasy football sleeper for beyond the 2013 season were paying attention to the 2013 NFL Draft. Because if they were, they would notice that the San Francisco 49ers struck some gold. First they get the Dallas Cowboys to give up the 18th overall pick for ridiculously cheap, and then they waited until the 4th round to select potentially the best RB in this draft.
South Carolina's Marcus Lattimore was widely considered to be amongst the best RB's in this draft class but because of knee injuries, he likely wasn't going to be able to play much, if at all, in 2013. This caused him to slide on draft day, all the way to the 49ers in round 4. It was superbly brilliant by the 49ers to select him.
I fully expect Lattimore is going to start the 2013 season on the PUP (Physically Unable to Perform) list and then long about week 8 or so, the 49ers will decide whether to activate him or place him on injured reserve for the remainder of the season. The smart money is that barring any injuries to the RB's already in San Francisco (Frank Gore, Kendall Hunter, LaMichael James, and Anthony Dixon) Lattimore will go on IR so he can be brought back at full strength in 2014. At that time, he could very well challenge Gore for the starting RB spot. Gore will be 31 years old by the 2014 season and will be in the final year of his contract. Lattimore will be nearly 2 years removed from his last knee injury and cost a whole lot less. There's a good chance Gore will try to squeeze one more high $$$ contract before he becomes a true free agent and it's even conceivable that the 49ers would trade Gore before the 2014 season to a team that would be willing to sign Gore to a modest extension. That would just open the door for Lattimore t go in undisputed in 2014 as the lead RB for the 49ers.
I can hear some out there saying: "What about Kendall Hunter and LaMichael James?" For them I submit that neither of those 2 RB's are built to withstand being a 3 down featured RB. Hunter and James are both smaller RB's who should excel when getting less than 10 touches per game. Lattimore is built to be a workhorse and as long as his knees hold up, I fully expect him to take that job and literally run with it. Dynasty leaguers should take notice and not think short term with Lattimore in their dynasty drafts. 


Philadelphia Eagles: What Will Their Offense Be Like?

Differing styles of QB's make it difficult to project their future

Maybe I'm over-thinking it, but the Philadelphia Eagles are a hard team to project for the 2013 season. I thought I had a good read on them back in March, but now I'm not so sure.
I was pretty sure when Chip Kelly was hired as the head coach that I knew who the starting quarterback was going to be. I thought it was obvious that the Eagles would keep Michael Vick and that he was a great fit to run Kelly's offense in the NFL. When the Eagles signed Dennis Dixon, I figured they were going to let Dixon compete for the backup job to Vick as Dixon was successful running Kelly's offense when both were at Oregon. I believed that it was inevitable that the Eagles would trade Nick Foles to a QB needy team for whatever they could get in return and then in the NFL draft, select a quarterback who better fit the offense than Foles to compete with Dixon as the backup to Vick.
It all made perfect sense. But, as I often discover, what seems to make sense and what makes up reality are two different things.
The Eagles didn't trade Foles. There hasn't been a word said about Dixon in over two months. And the Eagles not only drafted a quarterback in Matt Barkley that doesn't appear to be a fit at all for the offense I envisioned the Eagles running, they traded up to get him!
Now every year, I am warning people about coaches being deceptive in what they say and do. But I can't imagine any such smokescreen applying to a 4th round pick in the draft. So I have to figure there has to be a reason why the Eagles drafted Barkley. There has to be a reason they traded up to the first pick in round 4 to do it.
I suppose that Kelly may have thought Barkley was just too much of a value pick to not grab him when he didn't get selected in the first 3 rounds. I suppose Kelly may have decided that his original idea for an offensive system in the NFL wasn't going to work and therefore he changed his mind about how to craft one. I suppose he may have watched Michael Vick and decided that maybe Vick isn't the right guy to run the offense he envisioned.
That's an awful lot of supposing.
Barkley's a very smart kid and good leader, but with a mediocre arm. He isn't a mobile quarterback, but he has some elusiveness. Matt Barkley is a lot like Nick Foles.
So what offense is this going to be? One that is tailored to the strengths of a Vick/Dixon combo? Or one that is tailored to a Foles/Barkley combo? Because to me, I don't see how Chip Kelly is going to create an offense that takes advantage of both combos. The type of skills between them is very different.
About the only thing I can think of is that Kelly is hoping that once we get to training camp and preseason that there are a rash of injuries to quarterbacks elsewhere in the league and that he will have ammo for making a trade. But that's supposing the quarterbacks you have impress enough to be valued by another team. And with Foles and Barkley, they haven't done that yet.
It is with great interest I'll be tracking the Eagles between now and the middle of preseason. It should be of great interest to everyone in fantasy football.